I was looking to buy a new barrel for a rifle and i noticed that some have different types of rifling. i seen button, hammer forged etc. Out off all of the ones you can think of, is there one thats supposed to be the most accurate?
Cut is supposed to be the most accurate followed by button then hammer forged. Nowdays the difference is so small it really comes down to personal choice. These are the good old days as far as accurate factory rifles are concerned.
Hammer forged is used by the large manufacturers because it is an economical way to turn out a LOT of barrels. It is not economical for small manufacturers, thus you will rarely (if ever) see custom barrels done with that method. Doesn't mean it won't work as there are many accurate hammer-forged barrels.
Button rifling doesn't require the same number of barrels to pay for the machinery and you will sometimes see custom rifle barrels made that way. Douglas, for many years, advertised how smooth their button-rifled barrels were as a selling point. Remington invented the process but I don't know if they have switched to hammer forging or not. Marlin did button rifling with the Micro-Groove barrels, I think. Not sure what they do now. Ruger is forging barrels, I believe. Winchester went to hammer forging as part of the post-64 changes. Although the push-feed model 70s were maligned for the overall changes, the barrels were probably better than the previous cut rifling.
You can sometimes tell what method was used. If there are radial lines in the grooves, then it was forged or button-rifled (and probably a little rough when it went through the process).
There is EDM and I think that Smith & Wesson did that for some handgun barrels but I do not know if it is commonly done for rifle barrels. In theory that would be the smoothest of all, depending on the machinery setup, rate of production, etc.
Suspect the majority of the bench-rest rifles have either cut rifling or button rifling, because they come from very small scale manufacturers and get made a few at a time.
If you want an informed opinion, call Shilen, Pak-Nor, Krieger, etc. Be prepared for them to tell you THEIR method is best and the rest of the crowd doesn't know beans
I doubt highly you can get a definitive, provable, non-controversial, absolute answer. I'd speculate that whatever method drills the straightest, smoothest hole through the barrel at the start of the process is going to end up with the "best" barrel at the end of the process. One thing's for sure, if they aren't stress-relieved before contouring, then there may be issues with bores opening up a the muzzle end with the forged/button-rifled barrels.
A good barrel made with any technique is a good barrel. A lousy one, even if it has cut rifling, is lousy. Cut, button-rifled, hammer forged -- I don't think there's any way to put one forward as "most accurate".
Which ever one has the fewest defects in the rifling is the best. Hammer Forging is probably the least, but considering Remington, Winchester, Ruger, and Weatherby/Howa all forge their barrels or buy them pre-forged they sure aren't very bad. The nut behind the trigger is the biggest detractor to accuracy.
FWIW, some European makers of high dollar guns use hammer forging. Steyr comes to mind. Additionally, Russian competition .22 rifles have hammer forged barrels and they are VERY good. Some makers of hammer forged barrels leave the swirl or barber pole marks on the exteriors of their barrels as it can be attractive.
While I point out the above, I'm NOT claiming that hammer forging is the method that turns out the best barrels. All three methods can be outstanding and it really comes down to the care used by the maker without regard for the way the rifling is put in the barrel.
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