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Press release: Camp Perry, Ohio (September 2016) –

With a score of 200-16X, U.S. Palma Champion, Norman Crawford won the 2016 Wimbledon Cup during the National Long Range Rifle Championships using a 32″ PROOF Research carbon-fiber composite barrel chambered in .284 Shehane. This prestigious cup, which dates back to 1875, is awarded annually to the winner of a 1,000-yard shooting competition consisting of 20 timed shots, fired from the prone position. Crawford’s win represents the first time in the cup’s 141-year history that it has been won with anything other than a steel barrel.

“I don’t know of anyone else in this sport using a carbon fiber barrel,” said Crawford, who’s been shooting PROOF composite barrels since 2013. “The benefits over a steel barrel are that you get a larger-diameter, stiffer, faster-cooling barrel that weighs less than a standard medium Palma-taper barrel, with no real downside I’ve been able to identify in three years of shooting them. All five PROOF barrels I own are capable of winning any match-providing I do my part.”

A 30-year Army vet and former Army Special Operations Sniper, Crawford has been shooting competitively since 1990. His list of shooting accomplishments is long, including winning the Camp Perry National Matches-considered the “World Series of the Shooting Sports”-in 2005 and earning runner-up in 2001 and 2003.

A three-time member of the U.S. Rifle Team to the World Championships, Crawford also used a PROOF barrel to tie the national record for a 600-yard Any Gun, Any Sight competition in North Carolina last November, one of five national records he has set or tied over the course of his shooting career.

According to PROOF Research CEO Larry Murphy, “We are honored that Norm chose our barrel to go up against the best shooters in the world with. His success in Palma shooting has been unparalleled and we are proud to be a part of it-and by putting our barrels to the test in intense competition, he pushes us to do our best as well.”

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  1. I don’t see any huge improvements in the way a firearm works in the last 30 years or so, but that last little bit that we can squeeze out of the firearm concept sure is fun to watch. The idea of a center-fire cartridge shooting down a rifled barrel is pretty damn old and who knows what’s next. The one thing we have all the time is that little tweaking of the barrel, a new action design, a new cartridge. This is a fun time to watch all the gun geeks at work!

      • Remington brought an electrically fired 700 to market about 10 years ago called the etronx. Didn’t go well.

        • On paper, sounds nifty. Gunbroker has one with 250 rounds for $900 – a big savings over the original $2k list for just the rifle. Midway has 1000 primers for $195.

          All in all, I’m curious to know where the failing was. Overpriced? Unreliable? Too innovative? Something else?

        • Problem is an electrical ignition primer. I would like to see a firearm with a trigger that electronically actuates a striker to shoot standard ammunition.

        • Solenoid fired guns have been around for decades, but they’re strictly high-dollar competition guns.

          Patented around mid ’40s, the mechanism has waxed and waned, but I don’t think anyone built serious target rifles with one until the ’80s (my memory may be off on this).

          There is an AR that showed up a coupla years ago – reviewed here IIRC, use ‘da search….

      • That might be one of the next steps. I am thinking one of the next large steps would be a self contained cartridge/projectile. I think HK tried this on something like this in maybe the g11?

        That’s a great question of the day: What is the next major step in firearms design?

  2. Proven superior to the other match barrels?

    I’d say proven good enough to win a match, which is pretty good considering the match it won.

    If it is clearly superior, expect to see all but one guy using it next year, instead of only one competitor using it.

    • Inovation moves the needle requiring others to adopt or accept second place.

      Fine for a match, real world not so much, other than another bit to bring rounds of a casual shooter into tighter groups. The benefit is volume manufacturing thus bringing greater accuracy to the masses.

      Who will be the first to adapt carbon to a handgun barrel?

      • Pistol barrels? They’ve been around at least 3 or 4 years that I know of.

        It’s a very old idea, Navy Labs or DARPA patented wrapping cannon barrels at least a few decades ago.

  3. I’d argue (like much of the improvements to modern firearms) while really cool and an interesting development, a composite barrel may help the ultra elite competition shooters, but for virtually anyone else simple practice and familiarity would be money better spent.

  4. It’s the Indian, not the arrow. That being said, the fact that the equipment is good enough to compete is all you really need to prove. If you don’t like your traditional barrel, at least you know you can choose a Proof barrel and not hurt your scores. I have a hard time believing the Proof barrel was the deciding factor, especially at 1000 yards with so many contributing factors.

    Props to both Proof and Mr. Crawford for putting in a great performance.

  5. Yeah, the logic in the press release seems to be “Everyone else who’s ever won any match anywhere in the world did so using a steel barrel. But because I won this one match, that proves that carbon fiber is better.”

    Logic doesn’t work that way. If instead it was “every match winner for the last 20 years has used a carbon fiber barrel”, then yeah, that’s a selling point.

    Turned around – they’re saying “hey world, look at us – for the first time in history, our barrel didn’t lose a match!”

  6. Is the bore itself carbon fiber, or is it a steel bore wrapped in carbon fiber? I shall google it. Either way, cool stuff.

      • That’s nothing new, then.

        Carbon-wrapped barrels are common in .22 match guns.

        Unless the actual innovation was in the fabrication, and elimination of carbon’s natural resonances.

        If that’s his target at 1000 yards, that’s an impressive group. How much sub-MOA is that group?

        • The target looks nothing like the 1000 yard targets I saw at Camp Perry during the matches 2002-2007. After that, the pretty colored patches show a tight group, but there are a lot of other holes in that target that are unexplained. Could this be a file photo?

  7. I’m always curious about what tools and techniques the best shooters in the world use. If I can use their stuff or their techniques, I will. Usually, I can’t. I suspect that’s the case for most of us. So, if I can use something *similar* to the best techniques and gear, I will. I don’t own any purpose-built calibers like the 6.5-284 or the .284 Shehane, but a 6.5 Creedmoor is certainly within the realm of possibility. Or a fancy shooting shirt. Probably just range time of any sort will have to do.

    I don’t personally have any use for a composite barrel. I like heavy guns with buff barrels. I may have shot out a .300 Win Mag Model 70, and may take the opportunity to replace the barrel with something a bit heavier. But I still like the fact that composite barrels exist, and I’m sure some folks like them for competition or chasing elk in the mountains.

    • One of the nice things about a carbon fiber barrel is that you can keep the weight the same, but drastically increase the diameter and stiffness of the barrel. Or, you can lighten the barrel, and heavy up your stock, bringing mass closer to your body and making it easier to move the gun. Or just keep the whole thing light for packing and make your shoulder suffer. Lots of options here.

      • It’s the same principal as ‘pre-stressed’ concrete. Stretch a steel cable to a set tension, pour concrete around it, release the tension, voila.

        Form a concave tapered and formed/broached/rifled barrel, put it under tension, wrap it in many layers of carbon-fiber, cure it, release the tension and re-check/hone the bore.

        I know a few people who have them on their “edc” rifles, who claim they’d take them (back) to war. If they are that “better” everyone’ll have them eventually and maybe the price will come down.

    • The shooting jacket is actually pretty important.

      Did anyone else notice the 5 10-ring pasters and the 5 X-ring pasters? That couldn’t be his winning target…

    • Haven’t been there in awhile, but when I volunteered at Perry for the matches 2002-2007, the 1000 yard target (for all matches including Wimbledon) was around 8 feet across and *all* black, the entire target here would fit inside the x-ring.

  8. Ok, thoughts!

    Its still a steel barrel, just wrapped in a bunch of carbon fiber, which makes it as stiff as a heavier barrel. Good idea, but not exactly revolutionary. It’s a weight saver. I’ve had this technology on a Magnum Research 10/22 for years. They’ve scaled it up to powerful centerfires. Congrats.

    Actually, the area this is least useful is competition, where weight doesn’t matter much. It’s nice to see there isn’t an accuracy downside, but this is most useful in carry guns or carbines. If you can halve the barrel weight of an AR, that’s useful. You could have a 20-inch barrel that handles like a carbine. Your varmint gun might not weigh the back of your truck down.

    Downside? It’s no more accurate than regular steel, because the bore is still regular steel, and it’s significantly more expensive. If you have tons of cash lying about and want to save a pound off the weight of your gun, here’s your chance.

  9. I don’t know about superiority, carbon fiber wrap over steel vs. just steel but it’s a damn sight lighter. To me that is not a good thing in a target/match rifle or pistol that I want to own. A hunting rifle is a different story. Anyhow, Norm’s not human. He’ in the Jerry Miculek class of shooter. He’s no spring chicken anymore but he can shoot better than most folks half his age. He runs some of the matches at Camp Butner 1000yd range. Congrats Norm!

  10. I’ve seen 2 .223 Wylde chambered AR’s. One was a built for a charity, the other I built for myself after shooting the first one. Amazing groups from a bag and bipod. Wife never shot an AR before, had made me poor behinder her Savage .223, not new to shooting, just to AR’s, shot less than an 1 at @100 yards. 69gr factory Outback ammo and bipod from a bench 1:7 Wylde chambered 18″, without optic, 6.25 pounds.

    Here is the first one, the young man shot just under 1 MOA at 100 yards also using a bag. Notice his left arm.

    Also there is a group around here that have a number of their barrels on various tools they use while hunting feral ragheads, they love them while on a walkabout. PR is DoD approved. There is a video of PR making the barrels, I thought it was posted on here a few months back. Worth the 8 minutes I think it is.

  11. I don’t know about superiority, carbon fiber wrap over steel vs. just steel but it’s a damn sight lighter. To me that is not a good thing in a target/match rifle or pistol that I want to own. A hunting rifle is a different story. Congrats Norm! He runs some of the matches at Camp Butner 1000yd range.

  12. Daniel Horner, army shooter, won a 3-gun I’m 2014 with a proof barrel, no idea if he still uses them. He also won a match with an SBR, 10.3 (?) barrel at one point. Pretty cool.

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