Barrels

Our selection of barrels is sure to satisfy even the most demanding AR15 enthusiasts. Barrels are arguably the most important parts of the rifle. Which is why it is important to choose the right barrel for your application. Here are some considerations worth noting:

  • Material
  • Finish/coating
  • Length
  • Twist rate/rifling

Material

Typical barrels are manufactured from chromoly steel. There are different types of chromoly steel, but generally barrels are made from 4140, 4142, and sometimes 4160 steel. They all have different strength properties but most shooters will not notice any difference. All chromoly barrels must be finished with either a hardening or coating process to keep them from rusting. Some barrels are also made from stainless steel. These stainless steel barrels should be made with at least 416R stainless steel which is specifically designed for rifle barrels. Do not be confused with 416 steel which does not have the same hardness properties and should not be used for rifle barrels. Stainless steel barrels tend to be more rust resistant than chromoly barrels but generally are not as hard and do not last as long.

Finish/coating

The finishing or coating of the barrel is very important. Traditionally rifle barrels have a phosphate finish which is a dark black finish and has good antirust properties, but is not the best alternative when it comes to hardness and longevity of the barrel life. Some barrels are manufactured through a process called hammer forging and then are chrome lined for long term durability. Although hammer forging process is exceptional, the chrome lining process reduces the accuracy of the barrel which is not a major issue unless you plan on precision shooting at long ranges. We do not recommend chrome lined barrels for this reason. Additionally we are very fond of the black nitride or melonite process being applied to chromoly or stainless steel barrels. Black nitride and melonite are essentially the same process and are excellent options as they increase the hardness and durability and therefore the life of the barrel significantly without compromising accuracy. Some shooters prefer the look of natural stainless steel and therefore purchase stainless steel unfinished barrels due to the aesthetic nature with the trade off being faster wear as opposed to a black nitride or melonite finish.

Length

Length of the barrel is also an important consideration as the longer the barrel, the higher the velocity achieved through the barrel. These differencesare not consistent and depend greatly on which caliber the barrel is chambered for. Although this is beyond the scope of this discussion, certain barrels are preferable in shorter lengths than longer lengths i.e. beyond 16”. Additionally barrels have a contour and a gas hole so the primary consideration in selecting a barrel is identifying the length of gas system which you intend to utilize as well as the contour of the barrel which will determine the ultimate weight of the rifle as the barrel is the heaviest part. Certain calibers should be used with shorter gas system i.e. pistol or carbine length while other calibers work best with mid and rifle length systems. Contours of the barrel can vary greatly and determine the ultimate weight and heat dispersion characteristics of the barrel. Barrels with fluting are better at dissipating heat and weigh less than their non-fluted counterparts. Pencil barrels i.e. .625 diameter barrels are generally not recommended due to their inability to dissipate the heat and sustain the load of repeated firings which lessen the accuracy of the rifle.

Twist rate/rifling

Barrel’s rifling and twist length are extremely important considerations as they directly impact the stabilization of larger grain bullets. This is not to say that a faster twist rate i.e. 1/7 is better than a slower 1/9 twist barrel. If the shooter intends to use his or her weapon with standard ammunition that is designed for 1/9 twist there is no problem using the corresponding barrel, but if the user intends to use a wider variety of bullet weights, then a faster twist rate may be preferable. Additionally twist rates vary depending on the caliber of the barrel.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about which barrel is the most appropriate for your intended use.