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topic 12151

Tantalum methods for the commercial firearms industry?


Is there a commercially viable(cost effective) way of depositing tantalum onto (into) the interior surface of commercial rifle barrels.

Michael Froman
Tulsa, Oklahoma



I doubt there is a "commercial or economical" method to deposit tantalum on any surface especially the inside of a tube. But why do you want such an exotic metal inside a rifle? I know that many well known manufacturers of arms specify electroless nickel as one of their best finishes (police and military as well). It resists corrosion products from combustion as well as salt from sweat.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


Since you are asking about tantalum, you may already know it. The only work under progress last year was by an U.S. Army laboratory, may be TACOM. Check with military databases.

Mandar Sunthankar
- Fort Collins, Colorado


Dear Michael, the best technology to coat any inside surface is the thermal CVD/HPHC. However, temperatures of about 700-1000°C are necessary. I already treated steel with TaC as a hard HCl resistant layer. A tantalizing method could probably be developed, but how about the high temperatures?

Best regards,

Dr. Andreas Szabo
- Ludwigsburg, Germany


I electro-polish the bores of machine gun barrels and can only think of one company doing research on this kind of work. Try Watervliet Arsenal, NY. If I remember correctly they are experimenting with plating from a liquid salt.

Most tantalum plating fails because of bubbling (that would be nasty in a gun barrel).

Tantalum is being used to coat the bores of larger caliber weapons because it can increase the service life by up to ten fold but I believe this is normally done by sputtering.

The Russians have been rumored to have a high temperature process (700 or 800 degrees C) but I have no idea of this would work on gun barrels.

You did not mention what calibers or the material from which the barrels are made.

Hope this helps.

Good luck,

John Holroyd
- Elkhorn, WI



Tantalum can be uniformly deposited using Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). The method is currently used to coat interior surfaces of irregular surfaces and for pure metal tubes on a mandrill. The result is a super hard surface that wears extremely well and can reduce friction due to the ultra smooth surface.

The temperature issue is mitigated with the choice of chemistries and the rate of deposition needed. Currently temperatures of 125-175 C are used for many metals.

Michael C. Hargett
Charlotte, North Carolina

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