The heart of your AR-15 Based Rifle
If you are interested in a CLE Barrel, Click Here for a pricing.
A note on supplying your own barrel blanks:
If you plan to supply your own .223 barrel for turning please make sure that the blank has a minimum of 1.05" outside diameter and a minimum of 1" over your desired finish length. See the .22 page for specifics on .22 rimfire blanks, they are different.
No matter how much you shoot, no matter how much load development you do, or how much you dry fire, you can never shoot any better than the intrinsic accuracy of your barrel. Making a barrel that will always challenge you to shoot better and better is our primary mission at Compass Lake Engineering.
We buy only the best barrel blanks from successful, respected barrel makers. The great majority of the barrels we finish are from Krieger or Douglas blanks. We routinely produce Douglas barrels in Chrome Moly and Stainless Steel. We carry the premium Krieger barrels in stainless steel only. We buy only barrel blanks and do all of the work ourselves.
A barrel blank is both ugly and a thing of beauty. You have heard the cliché that beauty is only skin deep but ugly is to the bone... well it is the opposite in a barrel blank. The real beauty of these blanks is the superb job the manufacturers do in turning a simple hole into a precision system of lands and groves. The dimensions and clearances of these precision 'holes' are carefully checked by the manufacturers before the blanks make the trip to CLE. Of course we verify those dimensions.
Our first operation is to cut the barrel to length. Most barrel blanks are about 28" in length. At this point the barrel becomes a space gun barrel or a service rifle barrel or one of the occasional "specials".
You have heard many times that the key to excellence in the shooting sports is the "circle within the circle within the circle". This precision rifled hole is the first and ultimate circle we deal with in shooting. If we don't get this in the center of the barrel, everything else we do with the rifle will end in frustration. You might think that after we have cut the barrel to length we would mount it in the CNC lathe and machine the barrel profile. That happens at a lot of barrel fabricators, but never here in Alford Florida.
Meet Frank White, Master Gunsmith and a man driven to get the circle within the circle absolutely perfect! This is where it must be done first.
This is a shot of a premium barrel in a 4-jaw chuck on a precision engine lathe.
You have probably seen in the precision reloading catalogs the very sensitive dial indicators used to measure the 'run out' of loaded ammo. These devices read down to .0005 inches. Frank uses one of these to adjust this two axis four jaw chuck on the lathe such the lands in this barrel are exactly centered as the blank spins in the lathe. In most cases, the outside surface of the barrel will be several thousands out off of concentricity with the lands.
Once one end of the barrel is centered such that the lands are concentric within .0002". The next step is to use a 'center drill' to put a precision countersink in the end of the barrel. This countersink will now be exactly in the center of the circle formed by the lands. This countersink can be seen clearly in the shot above of the 4 jaw chuck. The barrel is now reversed in the 4 jaw check and the same operations are performed on the other end. We now have a barrel blank with precision countersinks in each end that are concentric with the lands.
Next step is to take the blank and 'turn it between centers'. This is machinist talk for spinning the blank around those precision countersinks we have just bored in either end. You may be able to see a strange device on the barrel's left end. This is a 'dog' that is attached to he barrel to cause it to turn. Remember the barrel is held by precision ball bearing centers on each end.
A 'journal' is now machined into the barrel blank about one third of the way in from the muzzle end. This journal will now let the CNC Lathe grasp the barrel blank in such a manner that the bore will be centered in the CNC lathe and parallel to its axis. We now have the first circle perfectly centered in this circle. Up to this point the skill of the machinist has controlled what has happened. These operations have now defined just how precise our barrel can be. The CNC machine can, and will do a prefect job of profiling the blank. But the circle within the circle has already been determined by Frank. If you think about it, you really wouldn't want it any other way.
This is the CNC Lathe. What that means is this is a very precise, completely computer controlled and monitored lathe. In the upper right of the photo is the actual computer along with the various controls used to write, edit and maintain the 'programs' that control what the machine does. The door to the machine is open so the internal workings are visible. There is no barrel blank loaded into this machine at this time. You can see the Tool head in the center of the photo. This is a 12 position turret with many different types of tooling mounted into the 12 separate chucks. These are the tools that rough turn the barrel, final finish the barrel, cut the threads for flash suppressor, cut the special thread and shoulder for the barrel extension.
The journal we machined onto the blank above is visible where the special jaws of this lathe have grasp the blank. To the right of the picture is another of the 'live centers' secured in one of those counter sinks in our blank. The lathe Tool head is just about this live center. When we close the door and start the machine that tool head will index to the correct tool for the first cut, move into position and start to produce our finished barrel.
After a few minutes of machining the breech end of this service rifle barrel is almost complete. Note the journal is still there, but now we have the finished profile of the barrel that goes under the handguard and the thread that will be used to attach the barrel extension. The breech end of the barrel still needs to be chambered... an of course Frank himself will do that.
A close up of the thread on the beach end of this barrel. What makes all this so quick and precise, is all we did was close the door and push the START button. The OKUMA CNC Lathe did the rest. It turned on the coolant, moved the tools into contact with the blank, set the depth of cut and removed the material to leave the very nice finish seen in this photo. The machine then changed tooling and cut these threads for the attachment of the barrel extension.
Recognize our barrel now? This is the muzzle end of the same blank. Clearly visible is the journal we started out with. The breech end of the barrel is now in the chuck, and what will become the crown end has the live center inserted into it. The Okuma will now cut the 'Service Rifle' profile in this blank. In the photo below note the slight step down that will eventually become the journal for the front site base. A final cut will be made, to put suppressor threads on the muzzle end if called for.
No tomato stakes here! From left to right, a CM blank with just the journal, 4 CM blanks with the breech end completed. Next there are two SS blanks with journals, then 6 SS Blanks ready to go to the chambering facility.
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Please remember shipping is not included in our prices. Due to the ramped increase in shipping charges, shipping will now be determined on a per package basis.
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