So . . . . you want a more accurate rifle barrel.
If you're finally ready to get a more accurate barrel for your rifle, this article can help
you save money and get much better results. Your single most important decision is to find the "best" skilled machinist for this particular project. I strongly
recommend choosing a gunsmith with an excellent reputation for chambering barrels on benchrest rifles. You want to be sure he does this for a living. With
very few exceptions, you can forget about finding some local gunsmith that chambers a barrel once in a while.
The next decision is . . . . do you want to neck turn your cases? For non-benchrest rifles, the accuracy benefit from neck turning is almost unmeasurable, and turning case necks is not for everybody. Most shooters agree that it's not practical for hunting or tactical rifles. You can build a half MOA hunting or tactical rifle that doesn't require turning your case necks, and that will reduce the time you spend handloading. If your rifle uses a magazine, you might not like the idea of having thin case necks.
The difference in cost between an ordinary barrel and a great barrel is usually less than $150. However, the labor to install one properly is usually well over $300. That's why I don't risk settling for a cheap rifle barrel. This is a list of top quality, barrel manufacturers. It is by no means a complete listing, but all of these companies consistently make outstanding barrels.
Competitive benchrest rifles require the most attention to detail when handloading. If your goal is absolute maximum accuracy where all groups will be carefully measured in thousandths of an inch and if you don't mind spending more time reloading, you'll want a custom chamber with a very tight neck diameter. These super tight necked chambers will never chamber factory ammo. They require all handloads to be neck turned to the exact size - just to fit in the chamber. The purpose of this step is to make handloads more uniform and to eliminate ANY extra clearance at the neck. This reloading technique is familiar to all benchrest shooters, because it increases accuracy. Failing to make your handloads fit perfectly can be a serious problem; but for the shooters that wish to get the ultimate accuracy, this is the only way to go.
When ordering the ideal chamber reamer for your needs, you should specify the exact chamber features you want to end up with. I've found that it's a good idea to send in a sample cartridge (minus the primer and powder) to a reamer manufacturer. Your sample cartridge needs to include the particular bullet that you intend to use, and it needs to be seated the way your handloads will be. You also need to specify how much freebore (bullet travel) before entering the rifling. I prefer to use a piloted reamer that provides near zero freebore, and I always want to be able to use a common FL resizing die. Keep in mind that this particular reamer isn't likely to be just sitting on the shelf.