Cryo Barrel Treatment

Dear Readers,

I have never had a barrel cryo treated and so have no personal experience but, as you read in previous Technoid screeds, my inclination is to think that it is of little practical advantage to a shotgun shooter. Being a Luddite, I am not a big believer in most aftermarket “improvements”, such as including porting and backboring, either. I thought that you might like to read the following letter, especially since Abe agrees with me and uses even longer words.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid


Disclaimer: The information following may ignite a Jihad at Shotgun Report. I don’t know if you’ll want to publish it, but I think you should know all the same.

You recently discussed Cryogenic Barrel Treatment in your updates. Cryo freezing has been touted as a panacea for just about everything – “Makes Harleys run more fuel-efficiently; makes brass instruments sound fuller; makes guitar strings last longer (no kidding!); makes pocketknives stay sharp longer; makes firearms more accurate, resistant to wear and rust, better looking, more deadly, etc., etc., etc.”

I’ve got a lot of friends who are all metallurgists. Lots of them are shooters. Do you know how many have cryo-treated barrels? None.

The science behind it does not support cryo-treatment as being the panacea that it’s touted as. I am 100% certain that it improves some alloys. But it does not improve ALL alloys (i.e. ALL steels). The bottom line is that cryo-treatment is supposed to remove the last little pockets of a material called Austenite from the steel.

Austenite pockets CAN weaken steels. However, the process for removing Austenite can vary GREATLY between types of steels, based upon their stoichiometric composition and forging history. Do you know the AISI-SAE classification number of your barrel’s steel? If you don’t know, how do the Cryo guys? How do they know which process is right for your barrel?

There are a large number of people who believe that cryo-freezing is the only thing that keeps their bullets on the target. There are also a large number of people who believe they can’t hit a clay pigeon unless the lettering on their shells lines up just right. Having faith in a process doesn’t make it work as advertized. The power of the mind is an amazing thing. If I paid $50 for an improvement to my gun, you can bet I’d get an improvement one way or another. But it could be a confidence game. If I have absolute confidence it worked, I will most likely shoot better.

I have yet to see a test by one of these cryo companies that makes an effort to remove any sort of a “Placebo” effect. Why do you think that is? I met one guy who bought a brand-new pistol and never even test-fired it for accuracy before getting it frozen. He just KNEW that it would be inaccurate unless he had it frozen. Last I heard he was shooting better with his cryo-treated gun than he had been with his old gun. But that’s ANECDOTAL evidence, not SCIENTIFIC.

I’m not saying that cryo-treatment is a fraud, but I am saying that I’ve never seen a one-step solution that improves EVERY property of EVERY alloy. It probably won’t destroy your barrel, but whether it’s worth $50 to find out if it helps is your call.


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3 Responses to Cryo Barrel Treatment

  1. Pete Kennedy says:

    Cryo is the cold method for relieving stress in steel. Heat, of course, is the other method. The barrels of every modern shotgun has been stress relieved at the time of manufacture. If the metal has been relieved of all its stress nothing more is needed. In fact more treatment accomplishes nothing and could possibly be harmful in rare cases.


  2. Gerald Elwood says:

    It darn near takes the whole package to really make a difference. Crio barrels, forcing cones, shell selection, hard shot, finding the right wad, powder, primer combination, the right velocity, choke selection all can make a difference. We do not have the cripple quail we had in the 1960’s-70’s. I had a very busy bird dog in those days. Thur the 1990’s to today our birds are dead when they hit the ground. The big problem today is the high number of different barrel inside diameters. It can be costly finding the right choke shell selection etc.


  3. G. Barraclough says:

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.



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