February 11th, 2023
Helix 6 Carbon-Wrapped Barrels — Pre-Fits and Blanks
Are you looking to shave POUNDS from your hunting rig or varmint rifle? There are now multiple options for folks looking for a weight-saving, carbon fiber-wrapped barrel. You’ve probably heard about Proof Research. Yes that’s a good company that crafts good products. But now Proof Research has some noteworthy competition — Helix 6 Precision in Washington State.
Helix 6 Precision crafts button-rifled and cut-rifled carbon-wrapped barrels in both conventional and “pre-fit” configurations. Pre-fits are offered for Savage rifles, Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) series, and SIG Cross rifles. These pre-fit barrels are not cheap. A 6mm Creedmoor RPR pre-fit costs $1449.00, while the Savage pre-fits are also $1449.00 for most chamberings. The carbon-wrapped Helix 6 barrel blanks cost $1249.00 for the listed chamberings.
While Helix 6 barrels do offer significant weight savings, the founders of Helix 6 say low mass wasn’t the number one design goal: “Accuracy was paramount and weight reduction was secondary. We’ve taken the industry’s most advanced carbon fiber engineering and pushed the technology further with our proprietary … carbon fiber process.”
The founders of Helix 6 Precision say they build some of the best carbon/steel hybrid barrels on the market: “Our unique carbon fiber-layup design dampens barrel harmonics for better accuracy. Each barrel is cut from a 416R stainless steel core, and carbon fiber-wrapped using the Helix 6 Precision’s advanced process. This creates match-grade accuracy barrels with high heat dispersion that are 30% lighter than a steel barrel of the same contour. The bores are … hand-lapped for precision accuracy.” Helix 6 claims its barrels are “lighter, stronger, and faster cooling than anything else available on the market.”
Myth vs. Reality — What Carbon Can and Cannot Do
Carbon fiber is formed using thin strands of carbon bonded together with a plastic polymer resin. The resulting material is very strong and light weight. There’s a reason Formula 1 cars are crafted with carbon-fiber composites. But is a carbon-wrapped barrel the right option for you? Here are some factors to consider:
Weight Savings — There’s no doubt that a carbon-wrapped barrel will weigh less than an unfluted stainless steel barrel with identical length and contour (outside diameters). Helix 6 claims a 30% weight reduction compared to a conventional stainless steel barrel. That’s significant.
Accuracy — Carbon-wrapped barrels are NOT commonly being used for F-Class or Benchrest competition. However, Proof Research carbon-wrapped barrels have performed well in PRS competitions in the hands of top shooters. So, we can conclude that carbon accuracy is good enough for the PRS/NRL tactical game, at least at the local club level.
Heat Dispersion — Carbon-wrapped barrel-makers claim their hybrid design disperses heat better than an all-steel barrel. Some independent testers disagree, saying: “hold on now — the carbon actually acts as an insulator, so more heat is retained in the barrel”. The jury is still out. One thing that is true is that the carbon barrels seem to generate less mirage from barrel heat. Ask yourself, “if less heat is coming OFF the barrel, where is that heat retained?” But the reduced mirage could be a function of the black woven surface which may release heat differently than polished steel.
Pre-Fit, AR, and Custom Barrel Options
Helix 6 precision barrels are available as pre-fits for both Savage and the Ruger Precision Rifle in many popular long-range cartridges. Helix 6 can also thread and chamber a barrel for any precision rifle. And pre-fit AR barrels are available in a wide variety of chamberings and lengths. Helix 6 Precision also supplies carbon-wrapped barrel blanks which can be chambered and fitted by a professional gunsmith. Helix 6 barrel blanks, buttoned-rifled or cut-rifled, are sold in many calibers. Buttoned-rifled barrel calibers are: .224, .243 (6mm), .264 (6.5mm), .284 (7mm), .308 and .338. Cut-rifled barrel calibers are: .224, .243 (6mm), .257, .264 (6.5mm), .284 (7mm), .308, .338, and .375.
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