Firearm barrels can be made of several materials, although steel is by far the most common. However, carbon fiber is a more modern barrel material that you can find offered by many staple manufacturers.
What are carbon fiber barrels, and what are their benefits and disadvantages? Let’s answer both questions now.
The Ups and Downs of Using Carbon Fiber Barrels
What Is a Carbon Fiber Barrel?
A carbon fiber barrel is a type of barrel that has only recently become available for mass consumption.
In general, a typical steel barrel will be good for around 10,000 rounds unless you have a stainless lining or other durability enhancements.
A carbon fiber barrel will last for longer and is, of course, made of carbon fiber. This polymer-boosted material is made in fragments and filaments that are between five and 10 µm in diameter.
Carbon fiber has a high strength to weight ratio. In other words, carbon fiber materials are extremely durable without the added weight compared to typical materials like normal steel. Even better, carbon fiber is resistant to most chemical damage and is super resistant to temperature changes. As you can imagine, carbon fiber is a perfect material for the high pressure, high heat environment of a gun barrel’s interior.
Most carbon fiber barrels are made with stainless steel cores, which include rifling to spin your bullet as it leaves the barrel. The metal core is wrapped in carbon fiber composite material that provides several benefits.
Carbon Fiber Barrel Pros
There are lots to like about carbon fiber barrels. For one, they’re extremely rigid compared to normal steel barrels.
This dampens rifle vibration, meaning your weapon will be a little easier to control and will experience slightly less recoil.
As mentioned, carbon fiber barrels are much lighter than the competition.
You might consider using one of these for the same reason that a professional bicycler might use a carbon fiber bicycle frame; it’s easier to carry around without compromising durability. Furthermore, they can increase the accuracy of a weapon they’re attached to.
In this way, carbon fiber barrels are great since they provide plenty of benefits but don’t compromise your ability to hit distant targets. The resistance to heat damage that carbon fiber materials naturally have also means that your barrel will last a little longer and dissipate heat a little more effectively.
This could be a great thing if you use particularly high heat powders, or if you plan on taking your rifle to a high-heat environment.
Plus, everyone likes a barrel that lasts a long time. It means you get to enjoy your rifle for longer before needing to replace this major component.
Carbon Fiber Barrel Cons
There’s one major downside to carbon fiber barrels, though, so they’re not for everyone. Anywhere you look, carbon fiber barrels are expensive.
Carbon fiber materials, in general, are pricey to manufacture, so it’s no surprise that these special barrels are a little exclusive and can’t be easily purchased if you’re on a tight budget. However, just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time and money.
There is an argument to be made that it’s well worth picking up a pricier but longer-lasting barrel because you might save more money in the long run.
For instance, if your carbon fiber barrel lasts you for twice as long as a regular steel barrel, you could end up saving money since you won’t need to pick up two steel barrels within the same time frame.
Applications of Carbon Fiber Barrels
Carbon fiber barrels find applications in various fields, including:
- Firearms (e.g., rifles, pistols, and shotguns)
- Aerospace (e.g., UAVs, rockets, and aircraft components)
- Automotive (e.g., high-performance cars and racing vehicles)
- Sports equipment (e.g., fishing rods and archery bows)
- Industrial machinery (e.g., robotics and automation)
The lightweight, high-stiffness, and durability characteristics of carbon fiber barrels make them well-suited for industries where weight reduction, performance, and reliability are paramount.
All in all, carbon fiber barrels are pricey but are usually well worth the cost if you want a long-lasting and beneficial barrel for your next firearm.
They can serve as excellent upgrades for existing builds, too.
We think they’ll be a perfect choice if you want the best of the best and don’t mind high prices.
What do you think about carbon fiber barrels? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 21, 2023, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.