The AR15 barrel is the heart of the rifle and has a direct effect on the rifle’s accuracy based on a number of factors including rifling twist, composition, profile and length.
Each one of these parameters has a direct bearing on how the rifle will perform. It is important to take all of these facts into consideration when you are thinking about buying.
- 1 Comparison Chart
- 2 The Three Best AR 15 Barrels
- 3 $239.99
- 4 $289.00
- 5 $199.99
- 6 Daniel Defense – AR-15/M16 Hammer Forged Barrels
- 7 White Oak Armament – AR-15 Match Barrels
- 8 CMMG – AR-15/M16 300 BLACKOUT Barrels
- 9 Rifling History
- 10 Barrel Profiles
- 11 Benefits of a Barrel
- 12 Civilian Use of AR15 Barrels
- 13 Conclusion
|Daniel Defense Hammer Forged Barrel||$289.00||4.7|
|White Oak Armament Barrels||$249.99||4.6|
|CMMG 300 Barrels||$199.99||3.6|
|DPMS 5.56 Barrel||$169.99||3.6|
|Red X Arms Stainless Barrel||$129.99||5.0|
|Criterion Wylde Chrome||$269.99||5.0|
|Double Star Carbine||$269.99||4.2|
The Three Best AR 15 Barrels
We have taken all of the above into consideration and picked out the three best currently on the market. Each barrel below brings its own unique advantage and it is up to you to decide which would be best for your needs.
AR-15 Match Barrel
Wylde Chamber - Helps Maximize Performance .223 or 5.56 Ammo
- Maximize Long Range Performance
- 6' Rifling
- Muzzle Accepts Variety of Suppressors or Compensators
AR-15 Hammer Forged Barrel
Cold Hammer Forged for Superb Accuracy
- Chrome Lined for Durability
- Magnetic Particle Inspection(MPI) Ensures No Internal Flaws
- Three Models Available
AR-15 300 BLACKOUT Barrel
Converts Your AR to a .30 Caliber Round
- Direct Replacement
- Upgrade to 7.62x39 Ballistics
- Three Models Available
Daniel Defense is known for producing cold hammer forged barrels designed for accuracy. These chrome lined barrels are made from a high-grade alloy composed of chromium, vanadium and molybdenum. Part of the process in building these barrels includes magnetic particle inspection (MPI) to detect and reject any barrels that have an internal flaw in the barrel’s surface. The barrels are finished in a manganese phosphate for resistance to the elements.
These barrels are offered in a carbine or mid-length gas system and a variety of profiles from the aforementioned M4 to thinner profiles used by competitive shooters in three-gun events. A variety of calibers aside from 5.56 NATO and 223 Remington are available for a true custom build.
White Oak Armament builds one of the highest match grade barrels for a surprisingly affordable price. Constructed of stainless steel, White Oak makes use of a chambering style known as 223 Wylde that allows the shooter the ability to use both 223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.
Their 18″ barrels are configured in the Special Purpose Rifle (SPR) profile for superb accuracy beyond 500 yards and are considered some of the most accurate in the world.
A new cartridge has been taking the AR-15 community by storm known as the 300 BLACKOUT. The round was developed in-house at Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) on the older 300 Whisper cartridge. Essentially it is two cartridges in one. The standard loading behaves similarly to the Russian 7.62X39 cartridge and the subsonic load works extremely well in sound suppressors while providing a level of stopping power superior to most pistol caliber carbines.
The beauty of the round for the AR-15 platform is that the overall length of the round and the diameter of the rim are identical to the 5.56mmNATO round, allowing the user to chamber it in an AR-15 rifle using the standard bolt and magazine by only replacing the barrel.
CMMG’s replacement barrels in 300 BLACKOUT are available in 16″, 12.5″ and 8.2” versions and are coated inside and out with CMMG’s “Wasp” nitriding process.
Rifles get their name from the interior of their barrels. A rifle’s barrel features a series of longitudinal spiraling cuts in the interior known as rifling. The cuts are known as grooves and the raised portions are called the “lands”. The lands and grooves together make up the rifling and the spiraling is cut in a specific ratio known as a twist, which is based on bore diameter and projectile length.
The spin imparted on the projectile by the rifling is what keeps the bullet stable in flight over the course of its trajectory.
In 1959, when the AR 15 rifle was first designed, the barrels were rifled with a “1 in 14 twist”. That means for every 14 inches of barrel length, the projectile completely rotated one time. This worked well for the original 55 grain full-metal jacket ammunition. However, it was soon learned that if a round was fired with an air temperature below 32 degrees that the air density made the bullet lose its spin too fast and would result in shooters missing their targets at distances less than 100 yards. As a result the US Military had Colt change to a rifling of “1 in 12 twist”, to solve this problem.
When the US Military adopted the NATO SS109 round as the M855, the bullet utilized a steel core and was longer than the traditional 55 grain FMJ rounds that were in service. As a result the military had to change the requirements for rifling yet again. While a 1 X 10 rate would have been sufficient, the military decided on a 1 X 7 rate in order to accommodate longer projectiles, such as those of the M856 Tracer round.
Barrels for AR15 rifles are available in a number of different profiles. In addition to potential accuracy and performance of different ammunition types, the profile of the barrel has a great influence on the overall length and weight of the rifle.
When the AR 15 first debuted, the 20” barrel was of a thin profile and the overall weight of the rifle was a mere six pounds. As the rifle was improved over time to military specifications, the barrel took on a thicker profile. The most significant of these was the emergence of the “A2” profile. Early AR15 barrels were prone to bending when troops used the barrel as a pry bar to open crates or used the original three-prong flash suppressor as a wire cutter.
In the instances of the latter, GIs would envelope barbed wire on two points with the flash suppressor and twist the rifle to cut the wire. This twisting action often turned the barrel out of spec or would bend it, affecting accuracy detrimentally.
Benefits of a Barrel
A rifle’s barrel is like a tuning fork and tends to vibrate as projectiles travel down the bore. As it vibrates, the strike of the round can be affected. The thicker profile of the barrel on the M16A2 minimized this disruption.
As a secondary benefit, the thicker profile of the barrel aids in barrel cooling. The high velocity of ammunition used in the AR 15 causes barrels to heat up; this was notorious on the full automatic setting of the M16 rifle. As it heated up, it had an adverse effect on accuracy due to metal expansion. The thicker profile allowed it to cool quicker or transfer less heat.
These benefits came with a price; however, as the heavier 6 inches in barrel length contributed to the overall weight of the rifle, making the M16A2 (and civilian AR-15A2 versions) as much as 2 pounds heavier than the A1 profile.
Civilian Use of AR15 Barrels
Turning to the civilian side of development and the use of the AR15 in competitive shooting and hunting; barrels underwent another evolution as manufacturers began making bull barrels that were twice as thick as the A2 profile. These bull barrels were often used in conjunction with optical sights for use against varmints such as prairie dogs and coyotes. To aid in cooling, many of them featured longitudinal cuts in the external of the barrel known as fluting. These flutes aided the barrel in cooling by providing a greater surface area.
The US Military once again took cues from the civilian shooting world and experimented with heavier profiles. However, one of the requirements for troops in the field is to reduce as much weight as possible to the soldier’s individual combat load.
The compromise was made on the latest incarnation of the AR15, known as the M4. M4 barrels feature a turned down section to aid in weight reduction and to allow for the attachment of the M203 grenade launcher.
That wraps up this article and I am hoping that it has helped you make a smarter decision when it comes to buying a new ar15 barrel. There is a lot to think about and a lot that goes into finding a good barrel. Hopefully the three AR15 barrel reviews helped you get a good idea of the three best currently for sale. I would start by checking those out first. Thanks for reading and safe shooting! If you are looking for AR15 scopes then visit our page that is dedicated to ar15 scopes.