Chroming Barrels


Hello Technoid,

Anyway, I am curious what a chrome barrel does. I have always shot wingmasters with regular (whatever regular is) and with my Benelli, one of the features highlighted was the chrome. Is this somewhat new? Of much value?

David

Dear David,

As to chrome lining a barrel bore, I like it. The chrome process that they use isn’t like the chrome on the bumper of your parents ’53 Buick and it doesn’t flake off. The stuff is really tough and on there to stay. Although I don’t know for sure, I believe that chrome plating is a slightly cheaper way of putting on a smooth final finish than barrel polishing is. I may be wrong, that that’s my guess. The Italians are big exponents of chroming the barrels of their less expensive guns. I also have some Belgian FN B-25s with chrome bores and my Japanese Parker Reproduction had chrome bores, except for the choke areas.

On the plus side, chrome bores can’t rust. I haven’t noticed that they are any better at keeping plastic from building up though. My 303s have chrome bores and plastic up heavily if I use shells with cheap wads. My non-chrome polished bore American market B-25s do exactly the same.

On the down side, the chrome used in shotgun bores is extremely hard. If you are going to do any subsequent barrel work to a chromed barrel (lengthening forcing cones or recutting the chokes on a solid choke gun), the gunsmith has to use an especially hard reamer, usually tungsten carbide. This makes the procedure more expensive, but still quite possible. The Parker Reproduction people solved this problem by chroming the entire bore with gunmaker’s chokes (extra, extra full) and then cutting the working chokes with carbide at the factory, leaving the choke area “naked”, but the bore and chambers protected with chrome. That way, if you wanted to do further choke work, you could without using special tools. Nice touch on an otherwise flawed little gun.

Belgian Browning B-25s are notorious for rusting while you watch. The chambers are a particular problem, especially if you are lax in your gun cleaning. At the factory the B-25s were (are?) offered with the option of chrome plated chambers. This makes a lot of sense.

Most modern mass production guns are now screw choked. Screw choking works great with chroming because the rust-prone area at the choke threads gets the extra protection of the chrome and there is no need to recut any chokes. I am surprised that more makers don’t take advantage of this process. Beretta does, but Browning Japan (Miroku) doesn’t nor does Remington, Perazzi or Krieghoff. I can’t remember what SKB does.

Bottom line: chroming a shotgun’s bore is a nice little plus, but not of any earth shaking consequences if you keep things clean on a regular basis.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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