Button Rifled vs. Cut Rifled Barrels: Which Option Is Right For You?

Choosing Between Vortakt® 400 and 500 Series Barrels

The Different Methods of Barrel Rifling

There’s a long-standing debate in the firearm industry about which rifling methodology provides the best performance. Whether it’s button rifling (100-400 Series), broach rifling, cold hammer forging, or single-point cut rifling (500 Series), there are plenty of valid options to choose from. Each process offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages, providing an optimal solution for the unique needs of certain manufacturers (but not others).

Vortakt’s 400 Series: The Pinnacle of Button Rifling Technology

Most US-based barrel manufacturers incorporate some form of button rifling operations into their production process, but all button rifled barrels are not created equal. Tooling selection, machinery design, proper stress relief, and additional finishing operations are all essential to creating a top quality 400 Series match-grade button rifled barrel capable of providing national record-setting performance.

Visual Differences Between Button Rifled and Cut Rifled Barrels

While our Series 100, 200, and 300 barrels also utilize the button rifling operation during the barrel blank manufacturing process, our 400 Series barrels offer the finest internal finish, bore and groove dimension consistency, and performance capability of our button rifled barrel selection. If you were to pull a 400 or 500 Series barrel out of inventory and inspect them with a bore scope, even the most experienced barrel manufacturer wouldn’t be able to visually discern if the barrels were button or cut rifled!

Running Factory Ammunition? Rifling Methods Won’t Make a Difference!

Some shooters will spend a lifetime attempting to isolate variables, seeking extreme consistency in all components comprising their rifle and ammunition. While an extremely small percentage of shooters reload, even fewer are able to produce ammunition capable of exceeding the performance of factory match ammunition distributed by manufacturers like Hornady, Berger, Black Hills, Lapua, and Creedmoor Sports, or custom loads produced by small-batch brands like Copper Creek Ammunition.

While those few shooters who remain may be able to custom-make handloads capable of outperforming their factory ammunition counterparts, few of these shooters are able to actually outperform the ammunition themselves! At the end of the day, inconsistencies in shooter and ammunition will likely be the biggest limiting factors in both 400 and 500 series barrels.

What Benefits Do Single Point Cut Rifled Barrels Offer?

With all of these variables (as well as other considerations like rifle design, environmental conditions, and optic quality) coming into play, the difference in performance between button and cut rifled barrels may be discernible to a select few top benchrest, F-Class, ELR, and precision rifle competitors who are able to mitigate all other factors. Even then, there is no guarantee that one may outperform the other!

Keeping those variables in perspective, there is one marginal benefit offered with single-point cut rifling technology: a lack of residual material stresses. While single-point cut rifling involves removal of material from the bore, button rifling cold-forms material throughout the barrel. The vast majority of material inconsistencies formed by the button rifling technique can be mitigated with a proper stress-relieving operation, but the only way to guarantee that no residual stresses remain in the material is by not introducing them in the first place. With single-point cut rifling, Vortakt is also able to use a single tool for a range of rifling configurations and twist rates, but this benefit is merely operational (not functional) in nature.

Unless you or your customers are world-class precision rifle competitors, there will be no functional difference between our 400 and 500 Series barrels. Both button and cut rifled barrels are capable of national record-setting performance in the hands of the right shooter, in the right rifle, running the right ammunition. Don’t let the clever marketing and the industry “black magic” factor sell you on one or the other. As long as the materials, internal surface finish, and dimensional requirements meet your specifications, both button and cut rifle barrels will get the job done.

For additional information regarding the various different rifling methods, please visit our recent Rifling Types 101 article.

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