Everything about our tactical long range precision rebuild is top tier. With names like Nightforce, Cadex Defense, and SWR Suppressors in the mix, we carefully weighed our barrel choice options. There are many barrel makers with outstanding reputations in the shooting community. We received numerous suggestions from those in the know. Given the high tech nature of the Cadex Defense chassis we used, we looked for a barrel maker that was also doing some high tech ground breaking work. We found Proof Research just outside Glacier National Park, Montana.
Really what we discovered is a remarkable two-year-old company making some bold claims about its patented carbon fiber-wrapped barrels. Proof Research says: “When we say PROOF’s carbon fiber-wrapped barrels are better, we really mean it. Here’s PROOF.” We had to put this to the test.
To be clear, I had second thoughts about using the carbon fiber-wrapped barrel once it arrived. This thing is a work of art. It literally sat on my desk for a month waiting for its turn in the rebuild process. I admired it, showed it off, and now wish I had another Proof Research paperweight on my desk.
Proof Research knows no small thinking. They see their barrels as changing the firearms world in the same way that polymer did. They have big goals. Ultimately, Proof is out to become the preferred supplier to US Armed Forces. Here at SHWAT™, we’re happy they were our supplier for this, the Grandpa’s Gun Reborn rebuild project.
And while as an entity Proof may only be a little more than two years old, the pedigree is impressive. Essentially, Proof Research is the integration of four highly reputable industry players: Advanced Barrel Systems (ABS), Lawrence Rifle Barrels, Lone Wolf Riflestocks and Jense Fabrication. Proof Research operates out of a 27,000 square foot state of the art manufacturing facility, complete with its own research and development, indoor range, 1 million frames per second ballistic camera, and administrative facilities.
The claims Proof Research makes are straightforward. Their barrels shed heat extremely well, creating longevity, durability and accuracy. Several components go into making this possible, starting with the barrel blank.
Sixteen months ago Proof acquired Lawrence Rifle Barrels, a Montana based, family run barrel maker. Inside the barrel making industry, Lawrence Rifle Barrels were known as producers of a high end rifled barrels. The fact that just two rifle makers bought virtually everything they produced explains the lack broader public awareness.
Once the barrel blank is ready, Proof Research then turns the heavy barrel down, shedding weight and diameter. This naturally raises the question of just how far they go in the process and the obvious safety concerns that could come up. The details are part of the proprietary Proof recipe, but even without the carbon fiber wrap, the turned down barrel can handle live fire safely. However, the lack of rigidity would allow the barrel to flex substantially, dramatically degrading accuracy.
The turned down barrel then receives its carbon fiber wrap. This is where Proof’s patent comes into play. Purchased two years ago from Mike Degerness at Advanced Barrel Systems (ABS), the patent covers both the application process and the agent that binds the carbon fiber chop together. Degerness originally set out to build the lightest, most consistently accurate barrels ever produced. Light weight barrels lacking consistent accuracy were simply not interesting to him.
As previously mentioned, the result is a work of art. But it’s more than skin deep. Jeff Badelt, National Sales Director at Proof Research describes it like this: “I tell people to think of our carbon fiber wrap as a screen door. The carbon fiber chop is the screen and the resin is what allows the heat to wick away from the barrel.”
Extreme efficiency in wicking away that heat can increase the mirage off the barrel in certain wind and weather conditions. In our initial test shoot at the King’s Arsenal private range in West Texas in ninety plus degree heat, we detected no mirage off the barrel shooting sixty rounds. Badelt received a report from a Phoenix area end user that after a range session in 104 degree heat, considerable mirage from the barrel was apparent, but “I still shot better than I ever have.”
The result of the heat reduction is two fold. Heat reduction allows for longer barrel life. Our barrel is a .30 caliber 1:10 twist twenty-two inch version. At $900 retail, long life is a serious part of the value equation. Of course the longevity variables include the load being shot, cleaning habits and the shooter’s cadence. That said, Proof Research gets reports from end users of barrel life two or three times longer than traditional barrels deliver.
Moreover, a cooler barrel is going to flex less, netting more consistent accuracy over extended shooting sessions. Bench rest shooters have historically mitigated point of impact shift as a result of barrel heating through the use of very heavy stainless steel barrels that simply act as giant heat sinks, taking longer to heat up. And while that might be acceptable for our upcoming Precision Rifle Class at Tac Pro Shooting Center, this is a long range hunting rifle and that kind of weight is simply out of the question.
Not only does weight matter, so does balance. Our twenty-two inch Proof Research barrel weighs only 3.2 pounds! Swapping Grandpa’s stock .30-06 barrel for the Proof barrel cut three pounds of weight off the front end of the rifle. So even after adding our pound and a half SWR Specwar 762 suppressor to the muzzle, we still came out ahead. You have to handle this rifle to appreciate the difference in balance. That difference could be a game changer when engaging a moving target on a hunt.
Once our .30 caliber carbon fiber-wrapped barrel left my desk, King’s Arsenal went to work. Jordan King is the technical advisor on the project. His precision builds are in the hands of numerous competent shooters. King’s Arsenal precisely threaded the barrel to match the action and threaded the muzzle, maintaining concentricity throughout the process. They then gave it a .300 Winchester Magnum match chamber. With the action trued and blue printed, a Pacific Tool and Gauge one piece bolt got a coating of Rand CLP and was inserted.
These steps are important for repeatable accuracy. It’s not just the barrel that determines the end result. Ultimately, it’s the barrel mated to a quality build in the hands of a skilled marksman with the right ammunition that wins the day. All King’s Arsenal bolt action rifles come with a ½ MOA guarantee, and our early break in shooting points to even better results. Our initial tests of the rifle demonstrate solid sub MOA capability. No surprise there. The real question is how tight of a group is really possible at this point.
I almost hate to leave you with a cliffhanger, but if you’ve followed this project, you know it’s a year long commitment and the story isn’t finished. Yes, Grandpa’s Gun, his box store Remington 700 has been transformed, has been reborn. It’s far more capable, modernized and upgraded. We still have to put it through its paces, evaluate the SWR Specwar 762 suppressor in detail, take it to Tac Pro’s Precision Rifle class and go hunting with it! And we’re going to keep testing ammo and report the results in our final installment. Be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter to stay on top of this story.
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