October 01, 2010
The new StraightJacket barrel system delivers on its promises.
Alan Adolphsen developed the StraightJacket barrel system, which looks like a heavy bull barrel but is actually an outer jacket covering the rifle barrel itself.
It's not very often that something new appears in the firearms industry. This is especially true when it comes to rifles. Most of today's technology reaches back decades, if not further. It seems like if it can be done, someone already did it in the 1950s or 1930s.
So I was not only excited but more than a bit skeptical when I first heard of Teludyne Tech's new StraightJacket barrel system. While it sounded good, it was hard to accept that this late in the game someone could actually come up with a new twist that actually performed up to its claims.
Developed by Alan Adolphsen, a gifted fabricator from rural Maine, the StraightJacket is actually new and different--although Adolphsen himself is not new to the world of firearms.
He is perhaps best known for his line of handsome, scratch-built flintlocks. But he is no stranger to accuracy or long-range shooting. In a former life, he carried an M24 as a sniper in a U.S. Army Reserve mountain unit.
His quest to improve how a rifle performs began when he took up NRA Highpower. Lying on the 600-yard line one hot Maine summer day, he grew frustrated as his groups opened dramatically as the barrel heated. Scratching his head after the match, he vowed to fix the issue and retired to his shop.
His desire was not simply to swap out barrels but to make the barrel he already had perform. After numerous failed experiments over several years of hard work, he finally developed a system that actually performed and dubbed it the StraightJacket.
The patented system itself is simple. It consists of a standard barrel with an outer sleeve that's 1.25 inches in diameter. Carbon steel, stainless, aluminum and titanium sleeves are offered. Then a patented mix of bat wings and voodoo is poured into the sleeve and allowed to harden.
When completed, the StraightJacket becomes a part of the barrel and is extremely robust. During his initial testing, Adolphsen added a StraightJacket to an old, worn-out military M1898 Mauser barreled action he had lying around the shop. He then went to work on it with a hammer. After putting some minor dings in the stainless steel jacket, he began to swing it like a baseball against an anvil. He eventually succeeded in bending the Mauser action, but the StraightJacket remained intact.
So it's tough. But what does it do? Good question. Teludyne Tech's claims for the StraightJacket are: It will improve the accuracy of any barrel; heat more slowly than a conventional barrel; be lighter than a traditional bull barrel; reduce hot-barrel mirage effects; and be extremely robust.
My initial reaction was "Does it cook and clean, too?" Skeptical, I invited Adolphsen to demo his design on my 600-yard range. Rather than never hearing from him again, he showed up with a number of rifles and a pile of ammunition. His attitude was straightforward: Try it and tell me what you think.
Nothing wrong with this 100-yard, 10-shot group from a dead-stock Savage hunting rifle.
One of his mules was an old Lee Enfield No. 4 with a military two-groove barrel that was dark from corrosive ammunition. A Lee Enfield? I shook my head a bit more when I saw numerous boxes of Wolf .303 British ball. However, I shut up once I started shooting it.
At 500 yards it put seven rounds into one m.o.a. and all 10 rounds into 11„2 m.o.a.--with Wolf ball.
At 600 yards, despite a cheap 3-9X scope, it would rock a LaRue sniper target as quickly as you could work the bolt. Despite firing 20- and 30-round strings at 600 yards at a rapid pace, mirage from barrel heat never became an issue.
Next up was a Remington 700 Sendero in 7mm Remington Magnum. This had a light, sporter-weight barrel inside the Straightjacket. Even so, it plunked five rounds into 21„2 inches at 500 yards.
What was most impressive was that it did this immediately after firing 20 rounds on steel at 600 yards. Plus he claimed he had more than 3,000 rounds through the barrel before he installed the Straightjacket. That is a lot of rounds for a 7mm magnum.
While it looked good, I wanted to see a before-and-after test. So he pulled a brand-new Savage .308 hunting rifle from its box. This was a light barrel sporter with a factory installed 3-9X scope. Nothing fancy. I grabbed some Black Hills 168-grain Match ammo from my bunker, and we proceeded to shoot three 10-shot groups with it from the bench at 100 yards. It averaged a respectable 21„2 inches.
Next he walked into my kitchen (of all places) and installed his StraightJacket system. After letting it harden for 30 minutes, we hit the range again.
Ten shots using the same lot of ammunition put nine rounds into one inch with all 10 into 1.25 inches.
With the addition of the StraightJacket, the same rifle (and ammo) was able to do better.
Moving to 500 yards it averaged 1.2 m.o.a. for three 10-shot groups. Again mirage from barrel heat was never an issue. To show how heat is not an issue with his system, he rapid-fired 20 rounds of .338 Remington Ultra Mag and then grabbed the rifle by the barrel and pressed it against his cheek. It was barely warm.
Last, I played with a prototype 16-inch AR carbine he built. It was assembled using a standard chrome-lined, pencil-weight barrel with most of the gas tube hidden inside the barrel jacket. For this test I pulled out Black Hills 60-grain VMAX load.
Firing a 20-shot group--yes, that's right, 20 shots--from the benchrest at 100 yards, I put 14 rounds into 0.75 inch and all 20 into two inches. I fired this at a rate of one round every four seconds and admit to getting a bit sloppy toward the end. At 600 yards it put 29 out of 30 rounds onto a
10x18-inch LaRue despite being fired at a rapid rate.
Teludyne Tech's StraightJacket does indeed dampen barrel vibrations and does increase accuracy, especially during long strings of fire. While not featherweight light, it is lighter than a conventional heavy-profile barrel. Plus it does not heat up as fast as a conventional barrel. Think about being able to have a precision, sniper or varmint rifle without the weight.
The optional muzzle brake design (available in either integral or removable versions) also worked very well, especially on large magnums. In addition to the stainless jacket, the company also offers an aluminum model that is noticeably lighter. Added to a lightweight pencil barrel AR, this could make for a very interesting DMR or varmint rig.
Price to have a StraightJacket installed on your bolt action rifle starts at $299. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this new company.