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Discussion Starter #1
This is my first AR style rifle, went to the range today and got through about 15-20 shots with around 5-10 seconds between rounds and noticed my barrel was burning hot to the touch, is this normal? Should i wait longer between shots or would it be ok to continue shooting at that pace? Thanks..
 

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Yes they get very hot and smoke. It's from the oil burning off the new parts. It will do it for a while. The finish on the barrel gets baked on. Did you notice the shell casings are so hot you can't hold them ? Enjoy the new AR.
 

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The hand guard is more than for looks and to hang stuff on.
 

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I did that once. Got a burn blister from the front sight. Didn't realize it would get that hot from just one mag. Being a hot July day probably helped.
 

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How quickly an AR barrel heats up depends on its thickness or contour. Heavy (thick) barrels will heat up more slowly than thin "pencil" barrels, but will also take longer to cool down.

The Ruger AR556 barrel is said to have a "medium" contour, although some feel it is on the thinner side of the thickness range for medium contour barrels. But it doesn't heat up as quickly as a barrel with a pencil contour would.
 

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OP, target shooters who shoot bolt action rifles often shoot 2-5 rounds at a time before letting their barrels cool. A barrel gets very hot even after only 3 slowly and deliberately fired shots.

When my AR-556 was new, I decided the non-heat shielded handguards were a blessing in disguise, as they helped me know when my barrel was too hot.
 

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I used to do a lot of prairie doggin' with my Rem 700 chambered in 223 Rem. I noticed accuracy started to decline after 3 rounds were fired in about 1 minute. I took the rifle to a range along with one of those IR thermometer guns and found when the chamber area exceeded 150 deg F, accuracy started going down the tubes. You could safely shoot two rounds but if you fired 3 rounds too close together, the barrel temperature would exceed 150 deg making the 4th round a flyer. As it turns out, 150 deg F is about as much heat as your hand can stand so touching the chamber area of a bolt gun is almost as good as using a thermometer 鈥. if it is too hot to hold, it's too hot to fire another round.

Using this same concept, I took my AR 556's temperature and found the third round put it over 150 deg, even if I waited a few minutes in between shots. The handguard helps prevent you from burning your hand but it also prevents the barrel from cooling off as fast as a bolt action rifle so my AR556 was 2~3 round gun before accuracy dropped off.

Just for grins, I decided to make a "barrel cooler". I used a reloading funnel, duct tape, and a muffin fan scrounged from an old computer mother board. The fan was 12 volt so I used a rechargeable battery from a safety light. The fan blows air into the funnel which is forced into the muzzle with the bolt open. It takes just 2 minutes to cool down a rifle barrel for another shot or about 5 minutes to restore the barrel to ambient temperature. My experiment worked but it was just too much hassle to use this Rube Goldberg gizmo at a range, let alone in a prairie dog town. Instead, I take a 22 LR for close shots (under 75 yards) and use my 223 bolt gun for more distant shots. My AR 556 isn't accurate enough for most prairie dog shots where all you get is a little head peeking over a mound 鈥. with the target maybe the size of a quarter.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So its normal to get that hot that fast after only s few rounds? Is it ok to keep shooting after its that hot? Or will it mess the barrel up?
 

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This is my first AR style rifle, went to the range today and got through about 15-20 shots with around 5-10 seconds between rounds and noticed my barrel was burning hot to the touch, is this normal? Should i wait longer between shots or would it be ok to continue shooting at that pace? Thanks..
The temperature rise you observed is normal.

Barrel heat isn鈥檛 always as bad as most folks make it out to be. Low cost factory sporters can walk a bit on target as asymmetrically machined parts and internal stresses cause asymmetric pressures during thermal expansion, and (supposedly) running barrels hotter will cause throat erosion faster, but overall, shooters really should shoot the way their application dictates and not worry much about barrel heating.

Precision rifle and benchrest competitors will string rounds downrange as quickly as possible during a prevailing wind call. Action shooting (3 Gun, etc) competitors will pump a dozen or so rounds down range in a matter of seconds. In both cases, a lot of heat transfer is happening in a short amount of time, and barrels get hot. Heavier barrels heat more slowly, but they still get exceptionally hot - I burned myself on my Precision Rifle barrel after a stage two years ago badly enough to scab and discolor, taking over a week to come back to normal. My 3 Gun 鈥済o fast gun鈥 can get so hot on longer rifle stages even at the handguard that it鈥檚 difficult to hold. Just part of the game.

If you鈥檙e shooting casually and desire to minimize barrel wear, then keeping your barrels cooler will allegedly improve barrel life. Honestly, I haven鈥檛 seen it pay off in my own barrels outside of any normal distribution for barrel life, but it seems to make sense. Personally, I like shooting my rifles more than I like watching them cool, so I don鈥檛 bother too much. Barrels are like tires on your car - they鈥檙e consumable. Shoot how your application calls you to shoot.
 

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This is my first AR style rifle, went to the range today and got through about 15-20 shots with around 5-10 seconds between rounds and noticed my barrel was burning hot to the touch, is this normal? Should i wait longer between shots or would it be ok to continue shooting at that pace? Thanks..
Your barrel will get hot!

Uncle Sam taught me that if you weren't sure if an enemy combatant was really 'down' or 'just faking' you should kick him in the jewels or put the barrel of your rifle against his flesh. Either one would produce a pretty immediate reaction if the combatant was 'playing dead'.
 

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So its normal to get that hot that fast after only s few rounds? Is it ok to keep shooting after its that hot? Or will it mess the barrel up?
I have the MPR #8514 model.
https://www.ruger.com/products/ar556MPR/specSheets/8514.html
It's normal. Are you shooting 5.56 or .223?
5.56 is higher pressure than the .223 & will get hotter.
The AR-556 has a 5.56 chamber & will safety fire either one.
The barrels vary in length among the versions of the AR-556.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Im shooting the .223, i called Ruger and she said it was normal because the barrel is steel, and said it should be fine to continue shooting at that rate. Is there another barrel i can buy for the ar556 that wont get so hot right away?
 

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Any barrel you slap on there is going to get extremely hot at that rate of fire.

You could purchase a 'bull barrel' which heats up marginally slower (it still get super hot after 20 or 30 rounds). I'd say that would be dropping a lot of dough for what would probably not provide a satisfactory reduction in heat.


I'd say shoot the barrel you have and don't worry about being in a hurry to get a new one. If you ever actually shoot enough to damage it's performance you can always go upgrade at that time.

You could get some new handguards with better heat shields or some pretty rad scopes, lasers, optics etc for the kind of money a new barrel would cost... and make a *much* bigger difference in your shooting experience.
 

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Figured you could benefit in seeing a grossly overheated barrel on the ar platform. This is the extreme and nobody shooting a semi should even get close to this. However it shows the punishment one can bare before failure.

Look up ultimate ar15 meltdown on Youtube.
 

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Good Video

That's amazing on how much punishment an AR barrel can take. Wonder what the temperature of the barrel was.

Figured you could benefit in seeing a grossly overheated barrel on the ar platform. This is the extreme and nobody shooting a semi should even get close to this. However it shows the punishment one can bare before failure.

Look up ultimate ar15 meltdown on Youtube.
 

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That's amazing on how much punishment an AR barrel can take. Wonder what the temperature of the barrel was.
I figured a video would speak louder than words. Well being familiar with building construction in the fire service, (which I teach), steel begins to loose its structural strength at 1500 F and usually fails afterwards. I would imagine it was in that ball park, but who knows without having a thermal camera like we use on our fire engines to see. I wouldn't want to see it in person, however have no problem watching others do it on youtube.;)

But it is interesting how much stress it can take before failure. I would never push mine anywhere near that limit. It would probably be hard to do this with a semi anyhow, but anything in plausible. That guy has done several tests with several different firearms, very interesting results.
 

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As for the water cooled comment, if any of you saw the show sons of guns (now off the air and star in jail, google it) they did a double barrel water cooled AR. Kind of cool, but at the same time I was thinking the AR was the wrong choice for that application.


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