So, you’re looking for a barrel huh? Not sure what to get or
why? We can help. Your AR15 Barrel is the center piece of your rifle. All your
other decisions like muzzle device, hand guards and so on should be determined
by the barrel. AR Barrels come in a variety of calibers like 5.56 NATO, .223
Wylde and .300 Blackout. The materials used can be 416R Stainless Steel, 4150 Chromoly
Vanadium Steel and some other proprietary alloys. The best way to choose your
barrel is to ask yourself what you plan to use it for. Are you going to the
range to plink and for home defense? Is it a Duty weapon for work? Is it to
hunt with? Or do you just want something that is high quality, looks good and
get to shoot it every so often?
The three main things you want to consider when choosing your
barrel are: Caliber, Material and finish so we’ll discuss them first.
5.56 NATO – This is by far the most common
choice for this platform as there are multiple ammunition manufacturers which
provide a world of options in terms of grain weight and usage. Generally speaking,
5.56 barrels are less expensive as they are so common.
.223 Wylde - These barrels are a
combination of .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO providing the best of both worlds. These
barrels are very popular with 3-Gun competitors and Varmint Hunters as the
tighter tolerances provide for greater down range accuracy.
.300 Blackout – This caliber barrel was
initially developed by Advanced Armament Corporation to address the U.S.
Military’s need for a round that that comparable to the 7.62x39 that the AK47
uses. Although the military never adopted the round, it is widely used in the hunting
community for hogs and animals as large as deer.
Additional Calibers – AR15 barrels can also be
found in 6.5 Grendel and 6.8 SPC which make great hunting rounds for medium
sized game. Growing in popularity are the AR barrels in pistol calibers such as
9mm and .45 caliber. Pistol caliber carbines arrived on the scene and have
taken hold in the competition community. They are easy for reloaders to fire
tons of ammo inexpensively. Lastly, you’ll find .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM and
7.62x39. These were initially perceived as a novelty but are gaining acceptance
every day. Due to the much heavier round they have also increased in popularity
as they can be configured into an AR15 Pistol and used for defense against large
predators in the wild.
Materials and common usages:
4150 Chromoly Vanadium Steel - This alloy is great
for your high round count rifles. These AR15 barrels can be found in virtually
all calibers to include: 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout, .223 Wylde, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8
SPC, 9mm, .45, .450 Bushmaster and 458 SOCOM. This material makes for a very
durable barrel which makes them the main stay for your plinking, hunting and
duty rifles on the AR15 platform.
416R Stainless Steel – These barrels are
favored by bench rest shooters and shooting competitors. Although most people
do not notice a difference between and 4150 and 416R, precision shooters notice
it in long range shooting applications. These can be found in the same calibers
Proprietary Metals – Some companies use their
own patented metal alloys to manufacture AR Barrels along with the ones listed
above. Lothar Walther for example has long used their own blend of steel to
manufacture barrels. Another company is Proof Research which manufactures their
own carbon wrapped barrel.
AR15 Barrel Finishes:
Nitromet Salt Bath Nitrocarburizing
(Melonite, Tennifer, Black Nitride)
This process is the new industry leader in bore coatings for
firearm barrels—achieving a significantly greater lifespan in the bore than
chrome lining. It provides a Rc 55 (Hardness) surface through a high
temperature diffusion process. This process is applicable to metals that can
withstand these temperatures such as barrels, gas blocks, magazines, steel
receivers, and so on. This process is a great option when used on 4150 CMV 5.56
Barrel for example. Generally, shooters that opt for 5.56 NATO are looking for
something they can shoot inexpensively and often. The nitride process is a
great fit for that use.
Phosphate - Mag Phosphate or
manganese (not “magnesium”) phosphate is coating on the outside of the barrel
using a sprayed or immersed salt bath to achieve a somewhat porous finish that
then more readily accepts and holds some sort of lubrication to help prevent
corrosion. Mag Phosphate is also called Parkerizing. A mag-phosphate finish
without lubrication can rust. A Mag Phosphate coating does nothing other than protect
the metal (if properly lubricated). For many years this has been the “MILSPEC”
standard finish for U.S. Military rifles.