The recessed target crown. The
11-degree target crown. Sounds exotic. Sounds accurate. Sounds special.
That's what gun makers want you to think.
While the ads make various muzzle crowns sound like the latest high-tech
accuracy feature, they really aren't. An 11-degree target crown won't
necessarily make your rifle any more accurate than a 9-degree crown, 13-degree
crown, rounded crown, or flat crown. And a rifle with a recessed crown isn't
going to save the day. But it might.
A recessed crown means the muzzle, the absolute end of the bore, is cut back
from the absolute end of the barrel. This leaves a rim or protruding edge of
barrel steel jutting a bit past the hole of the muzzle itself. This provides a
modicum of protection to this critical area, and here's how:
A rifle's muzzle, that final edge of the rifled
bore, can enhance or degrade a bullet's accuracy. If the edge is perfectly even
and concentric, it creates a precise release of superheated gases that jet
around all sides of a bullet evenly. But if the edge is dinged, scratched or
grooved so that gases jet from it before or behind the other gases, the bullet
can be disturbed or nudged off course.
A muzzle that is recessed is less likely to be gouged by contact with
foreign substances. What substances? Rocks. Gravel. Believe it or not, some hunters have been known to
travel with their rifles resting muzzle down on the floorboards of vehicles!
That's a great way to grind gravel into the critical edge of a muzzle and
damage the rifling lands or grooves.
Other gun owners have been known to
vigorously clean their barrels by ramming a rod gleefully and repeatedly down
the muzzle. If these rods are too hard or so soft (aluminum) that they hold
grit, they, too, can damage the inside edge of the crown/muzzle junction. This
is why you are advised to clean rifled barrels from the breech.
OK, fair enough, but what about this 11-degree target crown business? Over
the years I've found no definitive answer for that. Some gun makers say it's
the best angle for boat tail bullets. Others say that's a myth. Regardless,
it's probably overkill to your average hunter, plinker
or even long-range varmint shooter who can't begin to realize or appreciate the
subtle, if any, change in accuracy from one crown shape over another. In short,
don't sweat it.
However, if you have a damaged crown/muzzle edge -- or think you might --
your rifle's accuracy could suffer noticeably. Check for this by carefully
studying that edge with a magnifying glass. See any obvious dings or deep
gouges? Check the concentricity of powder residue at the muzzle, too. Is it a
nice, even ring, or lopsided? Another trick is to pull a Q-Tip across the muzzle
edge to see if the fine cotton fibers catch on any burrs or rough spots. If you
find or suspect damage, a gunsmith can repair it easily with a bit of honing or
re-crowning. If you're brave you can do the job yourself. Gunsmithing
supply stores sell hand crowning cutters for around $50 and brass muzzle
crowning laps for touching up muzzles at around $15 each.
Shop The Sportsman's Guide for a great selection of Shooting Accessories!
Ron Spomer has been photographing and writing
about the outdoors for nearly four decades. He's written seven books, hunted on
six continents and been published in more than 120 magazines. He's currently rifles'
editor at "Sporting Classics," Travel columnist at "Sports Afield," Field
Editor at "American Hunter" and "Guns & Ammo" -- Optics Columnist at "North American
Hunter," Contributing Editor at "Successful Hunter," Senior Writer at "Gun
Hunter," and TV host of "Winchester World of Whitetail." He will write on Shooting Tips weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You can read his
blogs and catch some of his YouTube videos at www.Ronspomeroutdoors.com.