I am building another AR in 5.56 , and apparently the style I want to put together is either just another one of my stupid ideas, or simply a bad idea.

I already have a bunch of the stuff I plan on using. I have an extra rifle stock, Giesselie (or however it's spelled) BCG, and a lower with guts. I will grab a fancy trigger shortly.

 My question is regarding the barrel. I want a 16" tack-driver.    I want to toss a 1-8 LPVO on top, and turn it into a death ray from the muzzle out to no more than 500 yards.   I am getting ready to decide on a barrel, and as usual the more I read, the Iess I know.   Are Faxon barrels pretty good? I can't convince myself to pop $400 for a match grade barrel, and ain't going to fall for the $100 "guaranteed  to shoot under 1 MOA" bargains, and that's where things get "difficult".  Faxon barrels seem to get pretty good reviews, and they offer a couple of viable options.   A guy at the LGS that sells a bunch of AR stuff, including FAXON, told me he would consider----and remember I am merely repeating what he said-- of all things--a Rock River Match barrel. He claims they are made by Wilson, of which I have heard good things. I know the vast majority of Rock River stuff is barely one half step about paintball replica stuff, but according to this guy their upper end stuff is good.   

I really don't care how heavy it is, in regards to contour or profile. I don't even care about a threaded end for any type of FH or break.

At this point I haven't even started to think about what type of fore end to cover the barrel with, I'll burn that bridge when I get there.  

Original Post

I built my "Precision/3 Gun" 16" gun with a LaRue Stealth barrel. They are $225, add $20 for M4 feed ramps if you need them.  I've shot it to 600yds but can't say much about groupings at that distance as I was using 55gr Hornadys which struggled to get there.  I also have a 1-8x on it and I like the combo.

I did a similar project several years ago, and went with a 18" barrel.  This was primarily for a hunting gun, and I was wanting a lightweight pencil profile but gave up looking for that as everyone else on the planet apparently only wants barrels that length the size of a paper towel roll.  I disremember the brand I went with at the moment, but I'll look it up later...it's a stainless medium heavy contour.  Geissele SSA trigger, BCM bolt carrier assembly, VLTOR V5 buffer and tube, and a 1-6 Vortex.  It's killed a bunch of deer and hogs so far.  

Shooting some 62 gr. Hornady TAP that my agency has a (temporary) surplus of the thing will shoot sub MOA 10 round groups at 200 yards somewhat regularly, and if I do my part and the wind leaves me alone with get very close at 300.  A lot of my family and friends use it to shoot a 300 yard plate I have behind my house, it's been fun entertainment for a lot of gatherings.  I have a 500 yard gong that is pretty easy to hit if the wind is calm and I do my part.  

I say all that to say this....I have a 16" upper with the same scope on it using a 16" Faxon Gunner profile barrel, and it shoots every bit as well as the 18" upper.  Or maybe it's the other way around.  Either way, as a sample of 1, I'm very happy with it.   

EDIT:  The 18" barrel is from Wilson Combat.  

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Criterion makes some very accurate chrome-lined barrels for less that $300.  White Oak Armament can also make you  a tack-driving stainless barrel under $300.  Wilson Combat cranks out some nice stainless barrels in the $250 price range.  If you want to spend a little more, Compass Lake Engineering can build you a laser using a Criterion stainless blank for about $350.  IMHO Compass Lake is the top dog when it comes to accurate AR barrels....but most shooters can't really take advantage of their inherent accuracy potential.

Faxon and Ballistic Advantage are nice but in an altogether different league from the ones I've mentioned.

One other brand you could look into is TriArc Systems for $260.  TriArc uses barrel blanks made by F.J. Feddersen who is not as well known as the big barrel makers but who produces some very accurate barrels.  Feddersen's  .22 LR barrels are prized by those who build super accurate 10-22 rifles.  

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My first build was with a BCM 16" Stainless Steel barrel.   It is my coyote gun and consistently puts good ammo into thumbnail sized groups, or smaller, at 100, with a 1-4x scope.   I use Hornady 55 gr AMAX for coyotes and it is as accurate as the Federal 69 gr GMM.    

I have a (John) Noveske Afghan in a VLTOR VIS upper also.   It is sub-MOA accurate, but not MORE accurate than the BCM barrel.

Lots of solid advice from folks here, per usual.

I’ll throw my two cents in here.  I know you’re asking about 16”.  I’ll share my experience going from 18” to 11ish along with the brands used.  I took an 18” (rainier barrel) setup to a Defoor scoped rifle class a few years back.  After that class and hauling my 18” pig around, I built a 11” with a Noveske barrel from MSTN topped with a 1x8.  With Blackhills 77g it shoots lights out.  Somehow I managed to still build a pig by 11” standards.  Shooting partner built out a similar setup in 11.5 with a Faxon gunner.  Shooting the same 77g ammo we both shot them out past 500 in another scoped class here in Alabama getting good solid hits on the steel at those distances.  I forget target size (my notes are at the office), but the barrels did their part when we did ours.  All three brands have proven quite accurate, but none spent a huge amount of time in paper off the bench.  Hope that helps a little and let me know if you have questions.

 

Since I am putting a rifle stock on, and wasn’t planning on going the SBR route, I am pretty well stuck with a 16”.  As I recall, there is  some legality involved with  barrel and over-all length.  (26” overall, with a minimum 16” barrel, right? Any less and I am into class 3, right?)

If absolutely necessary I suppose I could  go with an 18”, but all the 18” barrels I have checked into are also available in 16”.  

At the OP..what's the application for this Precision AR15..match or practical-tactical or hunting.

For a tactical DMR that doesn't lose too much accuracy with high round count I was actually leaning on that BCM clone of the UK SFW spec.

Bill, Idaho posted:

Since I am putting a rifle stock on, and wasn’t planning on going the SBR route, I am pretty well stuck with a 16”.  As I recall, there is  some legality involved with  barrel and over-all length.  (26” overall, with a minimum 16” barrel, right? Any less and I am into class 3, right?)

If absolutely necessary I suppose I could  go with an 18”, but all the 18” barrels I have checked into are also available in 16”.  

Correct, on the SBR/Class 3 and that's what we have (well, I can't recall the OAL - but certainly anything under 16").  Just giving you data points. IMHO 16" is plenty good for what you're after, no need to bump to the 18".  My main points here were the 3 barrel makers in various lengths have served us well.  Sample of 1 on each I may add.

I see BCM mentioned, and I'm a fan of those guys.  They have a 1 / 7.7 twist barrel that is optimized for the 77g bullets.  May not be the perfect all around setup, but the ones in the class shooting the black hills 77g shot well.  For that matter it may be only offered as a complete upper.

 

If you have access to a competent gunsmith who can chamber and turn a precision barrel blank for you, you can take your pick of top-notch barrels at this website frequented by many competitive shooters:

http://www.bugholes.com/category-s/1818.htm    

They carry a good selection of the all the top barrel makers including Bartlein, Krieger, Rock Creek and several others.  Missing in their lineup is Douglas Barrels whose blanks are used in the military SPR and other DM/sniper systems:  https://www.douglasbarrels.net/   

As I mentioned before, most shooters can't really squeeze out the full potential of these barrels but if you're an experienced rifleman it warms your heart to see all your rounds impacting in one nice cloverleaf at extreme distances.  As Colonel Townsend Whelen famously said:  "Only accurate rifles are interesting."

PS-  Don't forget to put a good trigger in your rifle.  Geissele is top of the pack but Larue Tactical makes a very nice two-stage trigger out of S7 tool steel for about $85.  For optics look at the SWFA Super Sniper fixed magnification scopes.  $300 buys you a great scope and their high end 10X HD model ($800) gives the best European scopes a run for their money.  

Build a quality rig, load your own match ammo (or pay for quality factory ammo like Federal Gold medal) and join a local highpower or F-Class  club for some free coaching.  You will find that in very short order you will be shooting dinner plate sized groups easily at 600 yards and beyond. 

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I second that nomination!

I knew a guy who had a Faxon that never ran right after two or three trips back.

A good, custom 16" (thick under the 'guard or rails) will make you look like some kind of witch doctor out to 500 (and farther) with the right trigger, ammo, and scope. 

aegis305 posted:

If you have access to a competent gunsmith who can chamber and turn a precision barrel blank for you, you can take your pick of top-notch barrels at this website frequented by many competitive shooters:

http://www.bugholes.com/category-s/1818.htm    

They carry a good selection of the all the top barrel makers including Bartlein, Krieger, Rock Creek and several others.  Missing in their lineup is Douglas Barrels whose blanks are used in the military SPR and other DM/sniper systems:  https://www.douglasbarrels.net/   

As I mentioned before, most shooters can't really squeeze out the full potential of these barrels but if you're an experienced rifleman it warms your heart to see all your rounds impacting in one nice cloverleaf at extreme distances.  As Colonel Townsend Whelen famously said:  "Only accurate rifles are interesting."

PS-  Don't forget to put a good trigger in your rifle.  Geissele is top of the pack but Larue Tactical makes a very nice two-stage trigger out of S7 tool steel for about $85.  For optics look at the SWFA Super Sniper fixed magnification scopes.  $300 buys you a great scope and their high end 10X HD model ($800) gives the best European scopes a run for their money.  

Build a quality rig, load your own match ammo (or pay for quality factory ammo like Federal Gold medal) and join a local highpower or F-Class  club for some free coaching.  You will find that in very short order you will be shooting dinner plate sized groups easily at 600 yards and beyond. 

...couldn't agree with you more, I run the SWFA SS and geissele national match setups for several different builds for the AR in both 5.56 and .308 for over a decade now..still haven't found a better or more cost effective solution yet..despite my constant desire to tinker.

Kiko, thanks for the endorsement. You’ve learned what I have: chasing incremental gains via “better gear” is a fool’s errand once you have a decent rig. You are better off spending your dollars on more ammo and practice.

I’ll never be able to shoot as well as my Krieger cut-rifled barrel. Any shortcomings are due to my own shooting errors. 

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For inexpensive accuracy:

Criterion chrome line, mid-weight.  One of our guys bought one and it doesn't seem picky on ammo.  Prints our garbage training 55gr fodder inexplicably well even. 

White Oak Armament.   These don't seem fussy either.  A lot of guys new to the precision AR game and tend to yield good results.

Craddock Precision.  Paul can turn on multiple blanks.  His Criterions are the "budget" builds.  Native to my neck of the woods I believe he came from White Oak and poached a couple of bodies from Compass Lake.  Had one of his Bartliens that I stupidly let go for a piece of shit Proof CF barrel. 

 

FWIW, I've built countless SPR's and more often than not, my super duper laser beams have disappointed and I keep getting better hits from a 14.5" FN barrel with an 8x optic than I am with my super duper custom Bartlein rocking a 20x optic. 

pointblank4445 posted:

For inexpensive accuracy:

Criterion chrome line, mid-weight.  One of our guys bought one and it doesn't seem picky on ammo.  Prints our garbage training 55gr fodder inexplicably well even. 

White Oak Armament.   These don't seem fussy either.  A lot of guys new to the precision AR game and tend to yield good results.

Craddock Precision.  Paul can turn on multiple blanks.  His Criterions are the "budget" builds.  Native to my neck of the woods I believe he came from White Oak and poached a couple of bodies from Compass Lake.  Had one of his Bartliens that I stupidly let go for a piece of shit Proof CF barrel. 

 

FWIW, I've built countless SPR's and more often than not, my super duper laser beams have disappointed and I keep getting better hits from a 14.5" FN barrel with an 8x optic than I am with my super duper custom Bartlein rocking a 20x optic. 

...funny that you said that..in all my time precision shooting (since around my teenage years..used  to do competition rifle..yeah back when they did that in high school) the most difficult shot I've ever made was with an issue M4A1 with an FN 14.5in barrel. Gisselle National Match 2 stage trigger and 77gr mk.262 at 947m...my old TA01 ACOG bottomed out at 600m. To this day (more than 12 years now) I've been trying to duplicate that shot and I just can't get that perfect storm of being, training/shooting time on platform, dialed in, weather variables and overriding necessity to make that shot.

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Kiko posted:
pointblank4445 posted:

For inexpensive accuracy:

Criterion chrome line, mid-weight.  One of our guys bought one and it doesn't seem picky on ammo.  Prints our garbage training 55gr fodder inexplicably well even. 

White Oak Armament.   These don't seem fussy either.  A lot of guys new to the precision AR game and tend to yield good results.

Craddock Precision.  Paul can turn on multiple blanks.  His Criterions are the "budget" builds.  Native to my neck of the woods I believe he came from White Oak and poached a couple of bodies from Compass Lake.  Had one of his Bartliens that I stupidly let go for a piece of shit Proof CF barrel. 

 

FWIW, I've built countless SPR's and more often than not, my super duper laser beams have disappointed and I keep getting better hits from a 14.5" FN barrel with an 8x optic than I am with my super duper custom Bartlein rocking a 20x optic. 

...funny that you said that..in all my time precision shooting (since around my teenage years..used  to do competition rifle..yeah back when they did that in high school) the most difficult shot I've ever made was with an issue M4A1 with an FN 14.5in barrel. Gisselle National Match 2 stage trigger and 77gr mk.262 at 947m...my old TA01 ACOG bottomed out at 600m. To this day (more than 12 years now) I've been trying to duplicate that shot and I just can't get that perfect storm of being, training/shooting time on platform, dialed in, weather variables and overriding necessity to make that shot.

 

I know what you mean, had a shot like that last week.  First round dead center hit on the water mark from 755y.  Couldn't see the impact with bino's so I drove down to see the hit and bout peed myself:

 

Sadly, I'm talking like...every time I go out.  I mean, they're nice Hodge parts builds (not even Hodge-built guns).  Two identical...so much so I chrono'd one and used the data for the other and hit past 800y.  I use my cramped little 1-8x Dual CC Schmidt on both and can fucking crush the steel I've got in the 1/2 mile fence line from the property line which is about 745ish yards.  Just dropped down on my pack with 5 rounds of Mk262 and hit @745y on rounds 2, 3 and 5. 

Meanwhile, I keep chasing my tail with the high-end stuff.  Probably one of my best SPR's was a build done by High Caliber Sales with a Mk12 Douglas barrel.  That thing was a center punching machine...to 600-650y and the bullets just disintegrated I guess if I ever chased anything beyond that.  Had a good V7 barrel build and a good build on a Colt NM barrel WAAAAAAY long ago.  But yet had some dogs with some good barrels (Kreiger, Noveske).  Certainly had some that I couldn't  About the only thing I can figure is that the lesser optics, more duty grade Geissele and ligher guns keeps me a bit more honest/focused on my fundamentals. 

Molon has posted many of his very thorough tests of various barrels.  Including recently on this site.  He would likely be the best person to provide advice.   Do a search for his posts.  

Noveske SS barrels appear to consistently perform very well. 

 

 

Beren412 posted:

How are the SS LMT barrels and their monolithic system?

The MRP's are stupid accurate even with their chrome-line barrels. Back in the day, you could get the SS as Rock Creek blanks and guys were doing some work with those. 

Now that one can get them in MLok, it's worth a look if you don't mind putting up with LMT.

so you're looking to spend between 100 and 400? 

Do you already have all the other parts for the upper? If you don't I would recommend one of the BCM SPR type uppers. 

If you do, I would say Noveske. 

 

Regarding Rock River arms, they used to be quite popular with the High Power crowd for a non custom high power rifle. Many were used to win very competitive matches. 

I have no idea what their quality is like recently, the last time I Was exposed to them was 2014. They were still gtg as far as I'm concerned back then. 

 

https://www.lothar-walther.com/

I have a SPRish 16 inch using an LW barrel, I have not shot it (I have too much stuff) though so I cannot speak from first hand knowledge.  You can do some research as there is plenty of info on the net.  I always "heard" that the barrels will do .5 MOA and that Larue used LW barrels, although I cannot confirm either.

I have a Walther in .308 that was the factory barrel in Armalite AR-10Ts.  They shoot so ignorantly well people won't believe what you tell them about your results -- surely you gotta be bullshitting.

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