PROOF Research makes carbon fiber-wrapped rifle barrels. The obvious attraction is that they are much lighter than steel barrels. Dig a little deeper and it turns out they have better accuracy and increased barrel life. Possibly one day soon, every factory precision rifle is going to have a PROOF barrel.
What makes these barrels so special? Well, PROOF says:
- They are up to 64% lighter than steel barrels
- Have Match-grade accuracy
- Improved heat dissipation for cooler and longer lasting barrels
- No point-of-impact shift during high-volume fire
- Reduced harmonic barrel vibration
- Unprecedented durability
How can that possibly be true?
PROOF Research is an American company on the leading edge of several technologies. The Montana firearms facility produces composite barrels, stocks, and complete rifles. The Ohio aerospace division works on high-temperature aerospace and defense projects – including the F-35 Strike Fighter and B2 Stealth Bomber. Their products include next-generation prepreg, resins, adhesives and composite materials with service temperatures up to 1500° F.
PROOF Research brings all this together to make a barrel no one else in the world can make. Their manufacturing process combines advanced composite materials and sophisticated thermo-mechanical design principles. They have solved the problems of heat resistance and durability with science producing barrels superior in every way to steel. They are also stiffer, creating greater accuracy potential.
The first cannon in history was used in 1282 in Manchuria. The barrel was made of iron. As the use of cannon later spread to Europe and the Americas, they were mostly made of bronze. Bronze is more expensive but it is more flexible than iron. Iron cannon tended to blow up unexpectedly which made them less popular with artillerymen. The last major material improvement in barrel making was 1856, when Krupp A.G. in Germany produced a 9 cm rifled gun of cast steel. In the 21st century, we are overdue for new material development. The PROOF carbon fiber wrapped barrels are the next major barrel improvement, every bit as revolutionary as the adoption of steel.
PROOF’s claims have been documented and verified in competition. I want to be part of this great transformation myself. I decided that an AR in .308 would benefit most from the 64% weight savings. I got a PROOF Research 18 inch barrel with a 1 x 10 twist and rifle length gas system for reliability. I took my new barrel to Tridentis Tactical and asked them to build one of their match-grade ARs around this barrel. It will include their new muzzle break, new .308 rail system and patent pending revolutionary buffer technology.
Once I get my new gun back, it should look something like the picture above with a much cooler barrel. I am looking forward to checking the durability and heat dissipation. Proof claims that they get no point-of-impact shift during high-volume fire, that in itself is enough to justify the barrel. Combined with reduced harmonic barrel vibration, this is going to be a great gun.
How do they make these barrels? They start with match grade 416R stainless steel barrel blanks that are made in-house and turn them down to reduced profile. This thin barrel is wrapped with high-strength, aerospace-grade carbon fibers impregnated with a high-thermal conductivity matrix resin using very sophisticated weaving techniques.
The aerospace-grade carbon fibers are 10 times stronger than the steel Krupp used in his barrels and has a specific stiffness nearly 6 times greater. The helical wrapping pattern dissipates the heat along the length of the barrel. The bonding agent contains a high-thermal pitch fiber.
This construction allows them to dissipate heat from the steel liner reducing the heat mirage effect which interferes with optics on heavy steel barrels. After assembly, the barrels are cured and hardened then ground to their final contour.
What you end up with is an aerospace-grade, high-fiber volume fraction composite barrel with less than 1% porosity. With the heat resistance and dissipation and the improved materials strength, Proof Research barrels are suitable for rugged environments, even military crew-served weapons.