One of the nice things about the whole gun and optics world is that you get to meet a large variety of people who are exceedingly good at what they do. That is a great thing for people like me who are always trying to figure something out.
Some years ago I ran into David Tubb at SHOT Show and he was careless enough to give me he contact info. I try to avoid abusing it, but I do reach out every once in a while when I have a question about guns, precision, etc. If you do not know who David Tubb is, here is a link to his brief biography. He forgot more about precision shooting than I will ever know and as soon as I can figure out how to convince my wife, there is a Tubb Adaptive Target Rifle in my future. That is an exceedingly clever design.
A little while back, I decided to ask him about all the different weirdly constructed barrels out there. We see all sorts of carbon fiber barrels out there and I use one of those made by Proof Research (and it works exceedingly well).
However, now there are all sorts of other designs out there. Tacom has their structured barrel, for example. So, I called David to pick his brain a little and see if he has any wisdom to share.
He mentioned that the “straightjacket” method originally used by Teludyne looks very promising. I did some research and figured that a company called Dracos (part of Falkor Defense) is selling AR barrels, while Teludyne converts existing boltguns barrels to their straight jacket technology.
Best I can tell, this is a new take on a tensioned barrel, where you turn down the actual steel barrel to a very thin wall thickness, center it in a much larger diameter aluminum tube and fill the empty space between with some sort of a non-metallic (I think) material. I am not sure what the material is, but sounds like some sort of a concrete-like substance.
End result is a very thick barrel (close to 1.5″ OD) that is incredibly stiff, comparatively light, and supposedly long lasting. Apparently, some third party testing determined that the chamber stays a lot colder with a straightjacket barrel than it does with a conventional design.
That seemed like an interesting idea to me, so I figured this is worth doing an article on. I went on Dracos website and discovered that the barrel runs close to $900 which is a bit out of my “just playing with it” price range. However, they have blemished (cosmetically) barrels on there that still carry the full warranty. Since I have just de-comissioned my LR-308, I figured I can pick up a 6mm Creed barrel and install it in the same upper. The twist in that barrel is a little on the slow side for the caliber: 1 in 9″, but I live in California where we can no longer order ammo online. I can, however, reload with whatever bullet I want. With that in mind, I sent them an e-mail asking about bullet recommendations. Basically, I was looking for the heaviest bullet they could stabilize in that barrel. That was mostly me being cautious. The best bullets on the market I know of are made by Badlands Precision and both of their 6mm offerings work in the 1-9″ twist, with the 84gr ICBM being of most interest to me. Still, I figured they must have tested their barrels with a good range of bullets out there.
That is when they dropped a bomb on me: “using handloads voids your warranty”. While in principle I understand why they have that policy. In practice, for calibers like 6mm Creedmoor, is there anyone out there who only uses factory loads?
Anyway, the customer service people at Dracos were exceedingly nice and polite. They cancelled my order and I am generally walking away from this experience with an overall good impression of the company.
The only centerfire caliber where I shoot almost exclusively factory ammo is 5.56, so I’ll keep an eye on their website and next time they have a 223 Wylde blemished barrel, I’ll pick one up and do some experimentation.
It will be very interesting to see if with a barrel this stiff I can lean against stuff with the barrel without changing POI.