Hammer Forging Diagram

Different Types of Rifling


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Rifling Broach Cutter
Rifling Broach Cutter

Q: What’s the difference between the three different types of rifling – cut rifling, button rifling and hammer-forged rifling? Which is the more accurate? Is it true that some barrels have only two grooves while others had up to 20 grooves?
John Osborne

A: Rifling formed by cutting away metal from the bore usually has fewer lands and grooves than “button rifling” formed by forcing a tungsten carbide die through the bore. Button rifling causes the metal in the bore to displace around the die and is

Rifling button
Rifling buttons

usually much shallower than conventional cut rifling. Hammer-forged rifling is formed by hammering the barrel blank around a mandrel that carries the rifling pattern in reverse. Some barrelmakers claim multiple shallow grooves deface the bullet less than do deeper, numerous grooves and therefore provide better accuracy; others claim the reverse is true. In my experience, both types of rifling are capable of fine accuracy. During the manufacturing rush of World War II some rifle barrels were made with only two lands and grooves; other rifles namely Marlin had Micro-Groove rifling with 16 or more lands and grooves.

Hammer Forging Diagram
Hammer Forging Diagram


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Nick Harvey

Nick Harvey is one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He has been writing about firearms and hunting for more than 65 years, has published many books and uncounted articles, and has travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject is unmatched. He has been Sporting Shooter's Gun Editor for longer than anyone can remember. Nick lives in rural NSW, Australia.

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