.22 barrel liner installation
.22 Long Rifle (.22LR) is an important cartridge that deserves more time on this site. Inexpensive to shoot and easily found chambered in rifles throughout the world, the .22 LR serves as the gateway cartridge for many shooters. In this post, we are going to take a look at how you can breathe new life into a beat up old .22 rifle by relining the bore.
If you are interested in learning more about the process after you read this post, I’d suggest reading .22 Caliber Barrel Lining Instructions and Equipment from Brownells. It is a great source document that outlines a few more scenarios than I do here. It also includes instructions on how you’d line a .22 without removing the barrel or using a lathe (both of which I do in this post).
The rifle we will be installing a liner in is an old Winchester model 06 pump action .22 rifle that belongs to my buddy. It was his grandfather’s gun that had been passed down three generations, he wanted to get it in shape for his son. The gun was poorly maintained and the finish on the wood and metal were mostly gone. For these reasons he decided to coat the metal parts and change out the stock. Problem was, after all that work the rifle still didn’t shoot particularly well.
I did bore scope the rifle and the inside of the barrel didn’t look good at all. I actually tried to capture some of the images of the bore for a before and after comparison, however, it didn’t work out so well. We did however, manage to capture some of the fired bullets and take a couple of pictures of them so you can get an idea of the barrel marks on the fired slug (above). Spoiler alert, at the end of the post we are going to compare this to a round fired from the newly lined bore.
Before we get moving on this old Winchester, let’s take a few minutes to read and understand the following disclaimer:
The contents of Rifleshooter.com are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. Rifleshooter.com and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.
Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.
Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.
To complete this project I ordered the following items from Brownells:
- .22 barrel liner
- Barrel liner drill
- Brownells action wrench
- Farrell barrel vise
- Do-Drill cutting oil
- Manson chamber reamer
- Man go and no go gauges
- Hawkeye bore scope
While it is possible to line a .22 rifle with the action on, I decided to remove the barrel to make accessing the chamber and crown easier. No need to build a special .22 action wrench for this, I just grabbed my Brownells Remington 700 action wrench (above) and flipped the top jaw upside down and grabbed both sides of the receiver on the flat surfaces. As always, I took the time to soak the barrel threads in Kroil for a couple of days prior to attempting removal.
A quick trip to the barrel vise and the action comes right off. I started using a Farrell vise with a 20 ton hydraulic press. The aluminum jaws work well and don’t mar the barrel. You’ll note the top jaw of the barrel vise is flipped upside down so the opening is small enough to grab the barrel. Time for the lathe.
To line the barrel, I need to drill the bore from both ends. I’ll start at the muzzle. To begin, I chuck the barrel in a 3-jaw SET-TRU chuck and dial the bore in.
A look at the very long barrel liner drill. Initially I was going to hold it with the tool post, however, I decided to grab it with a chuck in the tail stock.
The front of the drill has a short smaller diameter section, maybe an inch long, that acts as a pilot and rides inside the existing factory bore.
Another view of the set up. I ended up running the lathe with a spindle speed of 95 RPM. I’d slowly cut about 1/2-1″ of material, turn off the lathe, clean the drill and start over again. Initially I used quite a bit of Do-Drill cutting oil, however the barrel was so soft I stopped using it because I didn’t think it was necessary. I went slowly, no sense in clogging up in the drill and risking breakage.
Once I was a little over half-way through from the muzzle end of the barrel, I flipped the barrel in the lathe and started working from the chamber end. Somewhat surprisingly, this was the softest material in the entire barrel. It cut like butter.
With the hole drilled, I test fitted the liner. The liner looks a lot like a really long, rifled steel-straw. The liner can be secured in place with a number of different methods with the two most popular using Acraglas epoxy or silver solder. After surfing the Internet for alternate methods, I decided to use some green LOCTITE instead. I spent a good deal of time degreasing the liner as well as the bore to make sure it would properly adhere. Once everything was completely clean and free of oil, I coated the liner and then inserted it in place. Allowing 24 hours for it to cure, I headed back to the shop and hit the end with a ball-peen hammer to make sure everything worked like it was supposed to. It didn’t budge.
I need to cut a new crown and chamber. It doesn’t matter which you start with, so I decided to work the muzzle first. I dialed in the bore on the muzzle end.
The barrel is tapered and has some magazine tube guides on the bottom. This made grabbing it somewhat difficult. Rather than cut the crown with a single point tool, I decided to use a Manson 11-degree piloted form tool in a Manson floating reamer holder. This will cut the crown flush to the muzzle and concentric to the bore.
With a little bit of polishing the liner blends right in with the factory crown. In the picture above note that I didn’t really cut into the original barrel, once the liner was flush I stopped cutting.
Time to work on the chamber. Again, I dial in the bore with an indicator.
Next, I use a high-speed steel tool to face the liner flush with the end of the barrel.
I decided to use a 22 Bentz reamer for this application. Originally designed for semi automatic applications, the Bentz is sold as a reamer design that offers .22 shooters a balance of reliable feeding and accuracy; I guess you could think of it as the 223 Wylde of the rimfire world. I coated the reamer liberally with oil and ran the spindle at 70 RPM.
.22 Long rifle head spaces off the rim. In the image above you can see the slight cut into the breech face that allows this to occur. To determine if the headspace is correct, I screw the action back on the the barrel with the bolt in place and a go gauge in the chamber. When the bolt will close on the go and not close on the no go, it is cut to the proper depth.
The last step is to make the extractor cut in the bolt face. This is the relief of the liner to the right of the bore in the image above. I did this was a safe edge file. After a quick trip back to the barrel vise, everything is put back together. After a new stock, Cerakote and some wood…
Boom! Looks great doesn’t it? The real question is how does it shoot?
This a 25 yard group with Eley sport before it was lined.
And after. Quite an improvement in performance.
NOTE: If you are a regular reader you’ll note that my target looks different. I used to use 1″ orange dots on cardboard targets. They worked in most conditions, however, in heavy rain or extreme cold, the adhesive would fail and they would fall off of the target. I developed this target with Rite in the Rain. It is on waterproof stock with true 1.047 MOA green dots. The color provides excellent contrast and you can still see your impacts on the paper. Rite in the Rain sells these targets as well as paper that you can print your own targets on. To learn more about Rite in the Rain and their line of targets, click here.
Looking at some of the fired bullets from the barrel before and after the lining process, you can start to see why the newly lined barrel shot better. The bullet from the lined gun is to the left, while the original it to the right. In addition to the tool marks on the bullets, the bullet fired from lined barrel still preserved the “divots” on the front of the bullet (you can see them on the loaded cartridge below). On the original barrel these were mostly deformed. External diameters of both bullets measured the same.
Lining this old Winchester 06 was a blast. While I did it on a lathe, I don’t see why you couldn’t easily perform the task just a well with a hand drill and a bit of patience! If you’ve been looking to bring new life to an old .22, I’d suggest you give it a try!