For the gun enthusiast or specialty gun user, high-quality, high-performance aftermarket accessories are a must. Custom barrels designed for improved tolerances, fit and performance to make them match grade will provide enhancements to any sidearm in your kit.
What Is “Match Grade?”
Aftermarket components marketed as “match grade” are machined with better materials and superior precision than typical parts. Anything match grade will have much higher tolerances, making it more accurate than the average gun issued by a law enforcement agency or military unity. A match-grade gun will be far superior to anything found in your local gun shop. However, making your handgun match grade requires purchasing aftermarket parts and upgrading the weapon yourself.
Match-grade weapons, with their customized barrels, grips, and other parts, are designed for competitive shooting matches. This level of precision extends to the needs of the military and law enforcement, where lives are on the line. For instance, one match-grade customization outfit specifies how many thousandths of an inch the bore may vary over its length.
Why Is a Customized Barrel Important?
Many people desire upgraded barrels on their handguns for concealed carry due to the improved safety, accuracy and functionality. Improved compensation is possible with customization as a broader range of threading options per caliber can also be arranged. Customers like being able to specify the barrel length for their handgun as well. Customers can also specify a custom barrel that is a true drop-in model with a highly reliable minimal tolerance. These tight specifications ensure repeated accuracy with every trigger pull.
How Is a Custom Barrel Made?
Match-grade custom pistol barrels start with stainless steel bar stock. Then, using state-of-the-art CNC machines and robotics and manufacturing techniques, the barrel is carefully crafted to each user’s specification. If rifling the inside of the barrel is required, most manufacturers use the button rifling process.
Button rifling uses a “button” tool made of tungsten carbide with a negative image of the inside of the barrel etched on it. This tool carves the rifling image into the inside of the steel barrel while a hydraulic cylinder pulls it through at the same time. Very high pressure is required to do this as all the materials are extremely hard. The bore of the barrel is lubricated first, but the process still puts a lot of stress on the gun barrel.
After rifling, the stress on the barrel must be relieved. De-stressing is done by heating the barrel in a vacuum to temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius, then allowing the metal to slowly cool. The process of heat treating the gun barrel prevents splitting and deformations when the gun fires.
Once the interior of the barrel is made and the metal has been de-stressed, the outside can be customized. The manufacturer tests tolerances to ensure they meet the match-grade requirements of the buyer.
Handgun owners have a unique opportunity to expand the utility of their weapon through customization. They can increase their gun’s accuracy and life span as well as its reliability and utility. In some cases, owners can change the caliber of their weapon or change the barrel to a threaded or rifled barrel. Customization allows you to take a stock gun and create the most accurate firearm possible without sacrificing the two most essential qualities: accuracy and reliability.