In a recent thread on one of the well known tactical rifle forums a member asked "how hot is too hot?" He was asking how hot can you allow the rifle barrel to get before you allow it to cool.
I let this sink into my head for a few minutes then let loose with my reply. My position is simply that you allow the rifle barrel to get as hot as it gets while you do what you need to do. If that's a ten round rapid fire string, then so be it. If it's twenty, then fine. If when you are done you can burn your hand on the barrel.....then don't touch the barrel. I went on to state that barrels are disposable, much like tires on a car. If you use your rifle you will replace the barrel. This apparently worried some members.
Let me clarify my position here. We come from different backgrounds and use our rifles differently. In my current line of work I am unlikely to need to fire more than one round in an engagement. Two or three would be an incredible stretch, and if I run through a twenty round box of ammo, the world is coming to an end. However when we train, we don't fire one shot and take a break. We fire numerous shots to simulate a worst case scenario. We may do it against time to create stress. We do it to force the student to run the bolt and reload smoothly. We do what we need to do.
When I compete the stage of fire determines how many rounds I shoot and how fast I do it. Some stages are "barrel heaters". So be it.
When I was in the military and issued a rifle, we used them. They got banged about, heated up, frozen, rained on and drug through mud. We cleaned them and cared for them. It wasn't abuse, it was USE.
In my current life I come in contact with a VAST range of civilian shooters. I run into like minded shooters who use their equipment as hard as it needs to be used, but they care for it. I run into shooters who abuse their rifles through ignorance or intent. I also come across shooters who treat their rifles like a fine sculpture. They place it on display and marvel at the form of the thing. They "ooh and ahhh" over the color, shape or the price tag. They wipe the fingerprints off the steel and they lament nicks in the paint. If they shoot the rifle at all, it's only to confirm the itty-bitty group it's capable of. When they are done, back in the safe it goes.
So what is your rifle? Is it a Toy, a Tool or a Trophy? Regardless of what it is, to be proficient with it requires that you shoot it. If you shoot it, you will eventually wear out the barrel. How quickly depends on how often and how rapidly you shoot. Some of us shoot every week or several times a week. Some shoot once a month. If I put 100 rounds a week through my rifle I am going to burn that barrel up quite a bit faster than someone who shoots 40 rounds once a month. Which shooter do you think will be more proficient?
Use your rifle the way you need to use it to reach your goal. "The Mission drives the Equipment." Not the other way around.