Can the barrel of my 12 gauge bolt action be warped?

A reader asked us, “Can the barrel of my 12 gauge bolt action be warped?”

Wow, now that’s a classic shotgun you’ve got there!  The most popular model ceased production in the 1950s after Sears and Roebuck discontinued their shotgun, but there is indeed such a piece of work.  Before a weapon goes through cryogenic processing, it’s often important to determine if a barrel is warped, so we’ll help you keep straight about determining this indication.  For you to determine if your barrel is warped, you will likely want to set up a benchrest to compare your shots as your barrel heats up, or even compare your shots to another weapon of a similar caliber.

We recommend picking up a Little Sure Shot Gun Rest in order to quickly and easily mount your weapon outdoors.  However, for the best accuracy, you’ll want to acquire a standard bench rest to mount your test shotgun and a comparison weapon in exactly the same position on target.  Next, you will fire away at a consistent set of targets.  300 Below offers printable targets to the shooting community, too.  Just sign up over at our guns page:

Once you’ve got some targets set up, go ahead and take a few shots to establish a pattern on the target.  Then set up a new target, fire 40 shots through the barrel to the side to warm up the weapon, and come back on target after establishing the exact same shooting position.  You’ll know if your barrel is warping over time if the pattern shifts when comparing targets, and that is where cryogenic treatment can help you eliminate any shift in patterns over time.

Bolt ActionIf you’re more concerned about the barrel being warped as it is, you’ll want to compare a similar model using the same benchrest and fire onto the target you have setup.  If you notice a significant error after sighting the weapon, that will certainly be apparent after shooting into the same established target and comparing targets through an overlay or measuring the circumference and location of the shot burst from the center of the target.