The Shilen name has been
synonymous with high quality
barrels for over thirty years. Ed Shilen is a hallmark in the world
benchrest shooting because he has constantly strived to
improve not only the
quality and accuracy of his product, but the standard for
accuracy in the
This interview with Eds son, Doug
Shilen, the current
President of Shilen, Inc., was like taking a walk back in time
because of the
long history his company has shared with Brownells. If you are
in the market
for a high-quality, accurate barrel for your favorite firearm, then
a look at the vast selection of Shilen barrels that our catalog
has to offer.
Youll be purchasing a barrel from a family-owned
company that has a long,
proud tradition of accuracy and quality.
ago did your
father, Ed Shilen, start Shilen, Inc ?
Ed Shilen (r)
Shilen, Inc. was
formed in March
Your father, started doing business with
Bob Brownell over
thirty years ago. Do you know how and when they first
manufacturers representative by the name of Dan
McKeever wrote up the
initial sales contact. Ed met Bob at an NRA Convention around
Has Shilen, Inc. always manufactured barrels?
What other products do
Yes, the original intent of the company
was to produce
accurate barrels. We also manufacture a replacement trigger for
700s and market .22 and 6mm, match quality
grow up in the shop helping your father make
went into Gunsmithing (rifle hobby turned business) fulltime in
1955. I was 6
years old at the time and was pulling bullet press handles for
At eight to
ten years of age, my father taught me to operate a lathe and a
My teenage years were spent working trap houses and
swaging bullets for
spending cash. We moved to Texas in 1966 and I went to work
fulltime in 1968.
1974 saw my sister, Mikel, join the company. She ran the deep
hole drill for a
couple of years, then took over as office manager in 1977. She
Vice-President of Shilen Inc. Her husband, Gene, came on board
in 1979. He is
our barrel installation supervisor. Jenifer, my oldest daughter,
the company in 1995. Her husband, Chris started in 1997. This
makes 33% of the
company family operated.
rifle all of your
barrels. Why do you think that button rifling is best?
There is not any
one rifling process that is more accurate than the other. The
difference is in
the repeatability of dimensions you are trying to maintain. The
gives us this repeatability advantage over the cut rifling and
What type of steel do you feel is the
very best for rifle
and handgun barrels?
Currently we are using a
special grade of 4140
chrome-moly and 416 stainless steel. We have used these basic
grades since the
60s, with the steel company making only minor changes
over the years. I
am experimenting right now with a 17-4 stainless for barrels
that could give
some accuracy life benefits if we can get the machining
problems worked out. We
have played with other grades over the years. You usually find
some kind of
trade off with the different materials.
briefly describe the
process you use to make a rifle barrel?
barrel is a fairly
detailed process, but heres a pretty quick rundown to
give you an idea of
what it takes. Raw material is received, hardened, stress
relieved and sonic
checked. The barrel material is cut to length. Machine starting
caliber. Deep hole drill initial hole. Quality Check (Q.C.) hole for
straightness and finish. Ream hole. Q.C. hole with air gauge for
size and inspect interior finish. Lubricate bore for rifling process.
die (button) through lubricated hole. Clean lubricant out of bore.
relieve barrel in vacuum furnace. Q.C. groove and bore diameter
with air gauge
and visually inspect bore with 8X bore scope. Oil bore. Profile
shape. Belt sand outside diameter. Clean bore. Q.C. bore size
with air gauge.
Oil bore. Barrel is ready for shipment.
shooters have won numerous awards using Shilen barrels. Do
you use special
machining equipment to make your barrels so consistently
There are lots of different forms of competitive
Ed was addicted to Benchrest group shooting which required
the most accurate
type rifles in the world. He was able to prove and disprove his
ideas on how to
make accurate rifle barrels. We still use this medium for our
really dont have any special equipment,
but we do have some
special tooling we manufacture in-house. This attributes to our
edge in the
You hear a
information about breaking in a new barrel, what
process do you
Basically, the break-in
process is to prevent
premature powder and jacket fouling problems from an
overzealous reloader or
hyper prairie dog shooter. We suggest cleaning after every shot
for the first
5-10 rounds; then after each 5 shot group for the next 50
rounds. To maintain
your best accuracy life, clean after each 15 shot string.
shooter has a Shilen barrel installed on their favorite rifle,
single most important thing they can do to help maintain their
Use proper cleaning procedures on the
barrel. Bore guides are
an excellent tool to help prevent throat wear but they are not
still see shooters bending the cleaning rod above the bore line.
Even with a
bore saver, the rod has to counterbend your input and it goes
right on the
rifling in the throat. When the throat area becomes off center,
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