• Rock Creek Pre-Fit Barrel Review

    I always seem to be thinking about the next project rifle and this time I wanted to do something more double duty than usual so I built the rifle to be a target rifle out to 600 yards plus a varmint rifle if the opportunity ever presents itself. Well, every rifle needs a barrel and I had always wanted to try a fast twist .22-250 to run 80 gr bullets from. My wish came true.

    When Rock Creek announced that they were going to start offering Savage pre-fit barrels I had to try one. A friend of mine has a Rock Creek barrel on a GA Precision rifle and I have been very impressed. The accuracy Rock Creek get from their cut rifled barrels is legendary. Cut rifling is the method the upper tier of barrel-smiths use with button rifling being what most aftermarket companies and firearms manufacturers use and hammer forged being the most basic. Cut rifled barrels also tend to be the easiest to clean due to fewer tool marks and pits.

    The barrel I ordered is a medium Palma contour in 26 inch length and .820in at the muzzle. It has a recessed crown, 1 in 8 twist rate, 5 grooves, and chambered in .22-250 Remington. I stated I intended to use 80gr match bullets so the chamber was cut accordingly.

    The communication with the folks at Rock Creek was very good. They explained upfront what I could expect and how they do things. They also made sure I knew that there may be a delay in filling the order of a few months due to high demand for barrel blanks from the gun makers. That did turn out to be true but I had been reading about the problems other barrels makers were having with that so I knew not to hold my breath. Rock Creek informed me when the blank was available and confirmed the specs of my order. The barrel arrived about a week later.

    I'm not going into much detail on installing a pre-fit barrel on a Savage since there is already plenty of information covering that subject on the Savage Shooters forum. I will tell you that the shank (threaded end) is machine cut rather than die cut so the threads are more exact.with no slop. That made screwing the barrel into the receiver somewhat tedious. Once I cleaned the bore, chamber, and threads with lacquer thinner I put an engine assembly lube on the threads. This is my normal method especially when stainless steel is involved.

    As I got the barrel threaded about half way there was a lot of resistance. I removed the barrel and looked at the threads in the receiver and on the barrel and everything looked good. So I took it to a local rifle/pistol builder and he checked them and said the threads on the barrel were almost perfect but the threads in the receiver were far from perfect. While the threads are not worn or damaged they do have a bit of a curve while the receiver ring has a slight bow in it. It is quite common on mass produced receivers and is nothing to worry about. He said it will install I just had to put more effort into it. When I asked why he stated that it's due to the "slop" that exists between die cut barrel shanks and action threads. These threads are overly wide and deep. So, off I went and installed the barrel using the Clymer Go/No-Go headspace gauges and had everything set.

    My next task was to load some ammo for testing. This test was very limited since there is very little to choose from supplies wise. For bullets I found a box of Nosler .224 caliber 80gr Custom Competition and a box of Sierra .224 caliber 80gr MatchKings. I still had a little bit of Hodgdon's H4350 powder on hand and some CCI BR2 primers. Fortunately, I have enough Winchester .22-250 brass to get me by.

    For the test I shot a group of 10 for the Sierra and a group of 10 for the Nosler at a distance of 200 yards. There was a very strong south wind so some of the horizontal stringing was my fault. The best group for the Nosler was .773moa using 36.0gr H4350 and the best group for the Sierra was .865moa using 35.8gr H4350. I was definitely pleased with the accuracy under those very windy conditions and I believe I can find a tighter load once reloading supplies get back to normal.

    Once the barrel cooled off I proceeded to clean it. I used the Montana Extreme Cowboy Blend for powder fouling and 50BMG for copper removal. I thoroughly saturated the bore with both and let sit for a few minutes. I then removed the cleaning solutions with a dry cotton patch and coated a nylon bore brush in the solution and started brushing the bore. After this I cleaned the bore with dry cotton patches until dry. Finally I ran a patch soaked copper remover down the bore and waited a few minutes. When ran dry patches down the bore to remove the cleaner there was a very faint shade of blue on the first patch but the next three were clean. The barrel cleaned up completely in less than 15 minutes.

    I am very pleased with the accuracy and craftsmanship of the barrel and the ease of communication with the folks at Rock Creek was great. I would have no problem recommending their barrels to anyone seeking a high quality barrel.

    Contact Information
    Rock Creek Barrels
    101 Ogden Ave.
    Albany, WI 53502

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Deserthunter's Avatar
      Deserthunter -
      If I had that accuracy I'd be ashamed.... My 22-250 22-250AI, 5.56, 243, 6.5x47L, 27 and 308 all make those groups look like worm holes.....
    1. michaelnel's Avatar
      michaelnel -
      According to their website:

      November 1 , 2012 we are no longer taking orders on cut rifled barrels. This is due to the overwhelmingly high order volume we currently have, we apologize for the inconvenience. All current orders will be filled and shipped when completed. We will still be taking orders for button rifled rimfire barrels.

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