Black Hole Weaponry Bolt-Action Pre-Fit Barrels
If you want 5 completely different (and probably wrong) opinions about what the best rifling profile or the best type of barrel steel or the best anything to do with guns all you’d have to do is ask 3 shooters. If you want to get 20 more or less ridiculously under-considered opinions about what the best company to get a gun part from is just ask 2 gun enthusiasts. The worst part is, usually when you ask either of those types of question the answerer will conflate the answers. You see, people often think (fallaciously) that companies with excellent customer service delivered by well staffed customer service departments defines a quality product and that quality products require finely tuned and well staffed customer service centers. Apart from demonstrating the severely lacking educational standards of the USA it also does not help at all when you decide you need some quality bits and bobs.
What I think of as a quality product is one that works precisely as designed and is designed to work precisely as advertised. Simple enough. If those 3 elements are in order then the customer service department might as well be an answering machine with no tape in it because I’ll never need them. Quality means executing on a specification and hitting that nail on the head. It does not mean being able to re-deliver a part and hope that this one makes spec. It is certainly not being able to let customers that had no understanding of what they were buying to bully the company about for what they see as fair treatment. Caveat emptor is a righteous principle but so is praestare quod promisit (roughly: perform the promised).
A year ago or so I had to get a new barrel for one of my meat guns. My 7mm Rem Mag chambered Winchester M70 was wearing an aftermarket barrel that had a sewer pipe of a sloppy chamber on it, wasn’t headspaced correctly and wouldn’t group to save its life with anything but Sierra MatchKing bullets which I have a profound dislike for. It ruined all of my brass and I didn’t find that out until I got back to the beginning of the pile to reload some and found them all with incipient case head separation starting because the headspace was so screwed up. The rifle was obtained as part of a trade and I knew what I was getting. I wanted the action. After saving up a bit and shopping around I decided on a polygonal rifled barrel from Black Hole Weaponry because they were then just starting Savage pre-fits and I had a few of their barrels on AR-15’s which were all bug-hole shooters. The barrels were easy as hell to clean and gave higher than expected velocities and were inexpensive as these things go. When they said “No problem” to doing my push-feed Winchester I was elated. It was also the first one that they would be doing and they didn’t charge any differently. That’s generosity.
After a couple months the pipe came in and a week or so later my free and completely custom made barrel nut came in. Now my Winchester is a switch-barrel rifle. After installation and headspacing and having to replace a busted extractor (unrelated) I finally got to do some load workups. Install was simple and the threads that were cut were very precise. I had sent them my old barrel so they could make sure to get the major and minor sizes right and to serve as a rough template for how it was set up. The barrel was Cerakoted, the muzzle threaded and the crown properly attended to.
I started some handload testing with a randomly selected load at .5grains under max with a 168gn Berger hybrid VLD, loaded up 10 rounds and headed out. At the range I quickly sat at a bench, got a rough zero at 200m with 2 quick shots and decided to stretch the legs on the old girl. I dialed up 4 mils and quickly sent 3 more shots at the 500m plate. The resulting group was right at 3″ which was pretty good for a first group. Vertical spread was less than one inch and winds were 0-10 shifting directions like a headless chicken.
You have to understand that this whole deal was a first. The first time BHW had cut a M70-post barrel. The first barrel nut they ever made for a Winchester. The first group from the rifle. The first everything. BHW delivered to me a quality product that operated within the design specification, they did it right the first time even without practice and the communication was top notch. The guy that was actually cutting my barrel was the one communicating with me for Pete’s sake.
So far I have 4 barrels from BHW in the safe. Every one of them has been a shooter right away. They’ve not been really sensitive about which load I feed them and they’re everything BHW said they were going to be. The only other area that’s not been discussed is price. BHW bolt action barrels start at $300. Add 35 bones for Cerakote and then if you want pop for their admittedly not cheap ($100-215) but high quality, diverse, unique and creative fluting options. If you overlook the fluting options then a completely custom ordered barrel with whatever taper you want to invent and whatever Cerakote color you want and whatever length (up to their limit of 24″) and whatever crown type or muzzle threading you want and you’re still well under $350. That’s with the chamber pre-cut and ready to set up. Add $40 if you need a new stainless and super pretty barrel nut and you’re still under $400 for a really awesome and very much match grade barrel.
One note, they don’t list a “match” grade anywhere. As far as I can tell they do not produce anything but match grade barrels.
If you’re thinking it’s time to get a new barrel or you want to try a new calibre without buying a whole new gun, check em’ out. I’ve got 2 more barrels to get from them this year.