Building Better Rifle Barrels

Green Mountain Rifle Barrels focuses on quality and consistency throughout the design and manufacturing process.

Building Better Rifle Barrels

The Green Mountain Rifle Barrel Company started out making high-end muzzleloader barrels but has since broadened its scope and carved out a much bigger piece of the rifle barrel market.

Founded in 1976 by Branch Meanly, Green Mountain initially moved from muzzleloader barrels into contract sales. Today, the company makes many different types of barrels, from muzzleloaders to large-bore centerfires as well as rimfire to pistol caliber options, and provides barrels from blank form to fully machined and finished. 

Green Mountain has expanded several times over the years to its current 32,000-square-foot facility with 50 employees making 15,000 barrels a month. The company was sold to Knight Rifles in 1995 to be a captive supplier, but Knight was sold to the Pradco Division of Ebsco Industries a year or two later. Rick Sanborn came on board as a production supervisor in 1996, becoming general manager around 2006. In 2013 he purchased the company from Ebsco.

Shooting Sports Retailer recently spoke with Sanborn about building rifle barrels, the current market and where Green Mountain goes from here.

SSR: You’re not the only aftermarket barrel manufacturer. What distinguishes Green Mountain?

Sanborn: A good barrel is based on the consistency of bore/groove measurement from breech to muzzle as well as the steel used to make it.

We have 47 years of experience that guides our process. We have a fully established quality control department that follows each order through the manufacturing process. Our attention to detail and vigorous quality standards as well as an affordable price line make us the go-to choice for many OEM and proprietary barrels.


SSR: What kind of materials are you using, and where are you sourcing them from?

Sanborn: We use mil spec 41V50, commercial 4140 and 416 stainless steels.

We purchase U.S.-manufactured alloy steel that is made to Mil-Spec standards for gun barrel quality specifications. Our stainless steel is typically imported. We have experience with 41V50, 4140, 1137, 32CrMov-12, 416SS and 410SS. We work with steel manufacturers to test new alloys and stainless that they are working to introduce to the industry.


SSR: What are your top product lines?

Sanborn: Our top sellers are primarily to industry customers that account for 90% of sales.

Green Mountain is both a job shop and a manufacturing facility. We carry our own line of barrels that sell well through our retail, dealer and distributor partners, but our bread and butter is contract work. We were founded on muzzleloader-style barrels and have grown from there.

SSR: You have greater manufacturing capacity than some of the boutique barrel manufacturers out there. How does that benefit the consumer?

Sanborn: Our manufacturing capacity that is used for industry allows us to be able to make barrels of most any type in a high-quality and cost-effective manner, for small customer-specific runs or our own barrels.

We are able to work on a project from start to finish. This means we engineer the barrel and the process, manufacture the barrels utilizing our quality control system, work with our outside process vendors, deal with logistics and handle any export issues that may arise. We are dedicated to the customer and stand behind our barrels.


SSR: How long does it take to make a barrel? Walk me through the process.

Sanborn: The time it takes to make a barrel varies widely depending on the type; a short unfinished barrel blank can be produced in a few days while a large, complex barrel with one or more outside processes such as chrome lining will take several weeks to move through its operations.

The actual time to manufacture one barrel is difficult to nail down. The total time put into one part can be calculated to the cycle time of the operation being done. We would say one barrel has roughly one hour of total machine time put into it. That does not include the stress relieving process or any outside processes such as nitride or chrome phosphate.  

Lead time is very important to our customers and we take pride in having tooling for standard calibers and twists available at all times. This negates the lead time for the tooling vendor and allows us to get started right away.

SSR: What trends are you seeing in the world of aftermarket upgrades? 

Sanborn: We see a greater demand in the sporting rifle arena, bolt-action, semi-auto and lever-style hunting and bench shooting rifles. Our customers are very happy with the accuracy of our barrels and send us great reviews and feedback.  


SSR: Has demand for aftermarket barrels mirrored the increased demand for firearms over the past few years?

Sanborn: The demand for aftermarket barrels is basically tied to firearm sales but only loosely. Enthusiasts who build their own rifles are generally not as affected by trends as our industry customers.

As the price for ammo and firearms has increased, along with demand, we see an increase in more affordable shooting calibers. The firearms industry is very unpredictable, which is why we are always ready for the next trend or demand.


SSR: What do you want retailers and their customers to think about when they hear the name Green Mountain?

Sanborn: Green Mountain's name should invoke a feeling of confidence that is afforded to a long-term business supplying industry and individuals for almost 50 years. Our prices are very competitive and our barrels speak for themselves at the range. Word of mouth and proven results are huge factors in the ever-changing industry.  


SSR: What sort of product and marketing support does Green Mountain provide for its retailers? 

Sanborn: We offer a wide variety of barrel styles and calibers. From rimfires to some obscure military barrels to blanks that customers can machine themselves or have their gunsmith finish. We also offer a retail, dealer and distributor pricing plan that allows new businesses to grow and get better pricing as they do without the need for large PO orders.



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