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AR 16in vs. 20in barrel .223

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by bbq fan, Dec 22, 2011.

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  1. bbq fan

    bbq fan Member

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    Hello folks:
    I am asking your help where I might find information on the realistic pros and cons of an AR with a 16in vs. 20in barrel. I searched the THR database and did not read something specific enough. (Background: This rifle will be a strict factory spec A2 type. No planned mods other than a sling and lighting device. I will be buying this fully assembled and brand new.) Thanks
     
  2. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    The 20" gives you about 100fps more velocity (depending on ammo), a longer sight radius, and an extremely soft shooting experience with the rifle-length gas system.

    The 16" is slower, shorter, has a shorter sight radius and a gas system that is potentially more finicky (carbine gas setup) and has more felt recoil than a rifle setup (both carbine and midlength).

    I would choose a 20" for a typical adult man who's going to be using it exclusively outdoors at targets more than 25 yards away. I would choose the 16" if any amount of indoor or <25 yard use is planned, or for smaller shooters.
     
  3. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    wouldn't that mean it should have a 20" bbl?
     
  4. Snowbandit

    Snowbandit Member

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    I have both the 16 and 24 inch models. That's the best of both worlds but, if I had only one, the 20-inch does pretty much everything.
     
  5. Ranger30-06

    Ranger30-06 Member

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    The longer sight radius is the best advantage of the 20" barrel. Target acquisition is a lot quicker and quite a bit more accurate at the longer ranges.

    The extra velocity is actually about 200 FPS more (50 FPS/inch) but negligible under 300 yards. I wouldn't base your purchase on this, unless you were specifically shooting over 300 yards on a regular basis, and even then you would be better served by a 24" or 26" barrel.

    The 20" barrel is usually a bit heavier, but I like it as I find it keeps the rifle a bit steadier provided you have an A2 stock; it's a little awkward with a lighter collapsible stock.
     
  6. crazysccrmd

    crazysccrmd Member

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    I like them short. An issue M4 is a 14.5" barrel and I've hit targets with iron sights at 500yds repeatedly on multiple occasions.
     
  7. wildchild2010

    wildchild2010 Member

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    Using for hunting, self defense, plinking? Heavier bullets like a different twist that the standard 1/9 many AR's use.
     
  8. Magog

    Magog Member

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    I would go 20 in every time. the 5.56 does wonderful damage to people but it needs all the velocity it can get to work its magic.

    16 in means the 5.56 is only good out to 100 yards, after that it is a common 22 mag round.


    Love that temperay cavity the size of a basketball, yawing, fragmenting, hyperstatic shock...
     
  9. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    And you base this on? You also post as if M193 & similar FMJ are the only 5.56 / .223 ammo available. MK262, MK318, and civilian JHP & Polymer Tip are far less dependent on velocity to be effective.
    I did two TDYs to Iraq While in the USAF, and I had to carry an M16A2 at times. Getting in & out of vehicles, and navigating through comm-electronics modules without the bbl hitting important equipment was a pain in the rear. I don't realistically see the need to shoot past 300 yards with a 5.56 / .223 rifle for anything I do, so I've stuck to 16" bbls. for my defensive AR rifles for ease of handling. If I were shooting DCM High Power matches I'd get a properly configured A2 for that sport. For varmint hunting / long range shooting I'd be looking at other longer bbl. AR type rifles. However, by stating that you want to add only a sling & a light it sounds like you want to use this rifle for defensive purposes.
     
  10. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Member

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    You could get a 16 in Dissipator. It'll give you that rifle length sight radius but still a 16 in barrel for defense purposes, if that's what you are going for. If you really can't decide buy one in 20 in configuration and then later down the road get another upper in 16 in or vice versa. It'll take about 7 seconds to swap out.
     
  11. bbq fan

    bbq fan Member

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    Thanks for everyones quick responses. You have give me much to consider...
     
  12. jad0110

    jad0110 Member

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    If you plan to use your AR for home protection, I'd heavily lean towards the 16". If it is going to be for range fun or hunting small to medium sized game, I'd go with the 20".

    The other thing to consider in addition to barrel length is the thickness. And that's kind of a personal preference thing. It is is going to be used to achieve maximum accuracy, a heavy barrel is preferred. If it is going to be a SHTF carbine used predominantly for home protection, I personally prefer the quicker handling of a lightweight, thin "pencil" barrel on my carbine. Then there's the "government profile", which is sort of in the middle (thin under the hand guards like the pencil barrel and thick from just behind the sight base/gas block to the muzzle like the HBAR), though IMO it feels more like a HBAR.

    Keep in mind also that putting a 20" HBAR on a rifle will shift quite a bit of weight forward. Putting on a light weight adjustable stock to this configuration will shift the balance even further forward. I've picked up a rifle set up like this (20" HBAR, CAR 6 position adj stock) and it felt plain odd to me. Felt like the balance point was just aft of the front sight base.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  13. benzy2

    benzy2 Member

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    It really depends on what you are looking to do. If you want a defense rifle I would pick one of the trusted "tier 1" rifles and buy one that comes close to milspec in most areas. A basic Colt is pretty cheap these days and is always a great option.

    I personally don't use an AR for defense so my idea of a perfect setup is different than those looking to fight with their rifle. I like the 20" setup. It's a good balance of weight and size as well as giving a long sight radius and slightly better velocity. Outside I've never had an issue where I was honestly upset that the rifle was 4" longer than a carbine. Again though, I've never had to ride in humvees or anything of the sort so what is important to me may not be to someone else.
     
  14. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    To me, generally, a 20" barrel is about as short as I'd want. With these itty-bitty cartridges, more velocity is a Good Thing. :)

    Past experience: I never had to reach out beyond a hundred yards to kill a coyote with my Mini-14, whatever barrel length that is. Jackrabbits to 150, on a hunt up in Nevada.

    My 22" bolt-gun .223 does quite well on prairie dogs to 300.

    My present Colt AR 20" gives me three-shot MOA groups with irons. With a slow-twist 20" upper and a K4, I also get MOA groups.
     
  15. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    We used to call any gun with a 20" barrel a carbine.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    20" should give less muzzle blast and flash as well, and what there is will be 4" further away. AR's are noisy.
     
  17. Agent Tikki

    Agent Tikki Member

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    Personally I'd choose a 16". I have fun with mine at 200 - 300 yards.

    20" if I wanted a more long distance shooter, or need the added velocity. I don't really think sight radius would matter much because I'd be using an optic beyond 300 yards.
     
  18. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    It becomes a personal preference. Before I retired from the Army, I always had to qualify with the M16A1 which has the 16" barrel. The farthest I ever shot on qualification days was 400 meters with iron sights. It is accurate with the 16" barrel. Now I own a RRA predator with a 20" barrel. It is heavier but just as accurate as any semi-auto rifle I have shot. If you plan to shoot of the bench or shoot alot of prairie dogs or go hunting with it 20" barrel will be a little heavier to lug around than a 16 barrel. Another thing you should consider is the rifle twist, either a 1;7,1:8 or 1:9. Once again that another whole ball of wax.
     
  19. Sergeant Sabre

    Sergeant Sabre Member

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    The M16a1, a2, and a4 all have a 20" barrel.
     
  20. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    :what: LOL, thanks for the correction, thinking one thing and typing another, a form of dyslexia.
     
  21. Sergeant Sabre

    Sergeant Sabre Member

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    I figured you just made a typo.

    As to the original question: It depends on the intended use. For any time of police duty, or home defense, or anything combat-related at all, 16". You get a lighter, faster-handling rifle, and really give up very little in velocity. The shorter sight radius can be negated with either an optical sight or a mock dissipator set-up.

    For hunting or field, probably 16". Again, a shorter, lighter rifle will be nice if you're hiking or maneuvering it in a blind or tree-stand. Velocity difference from the 20" won't be much, and you won't notice the difference out to 200yds, where nearly all hunting shots will be.

    For paper-punching at the range: Maybe 20". Especially so if you are going to shoot iron sights.
     
  22. exavid

    exavid Member

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    My Mattel toy has a 20" heavy barrel model which works well for me. Accurate and even with a 20" barrel is still a short rifle. Personally I like the longer, heavy barrel for shooting offhand standing on my hind legs. My rifle is the Stag M4L which is working out well for me so far after firing about 300 rounds through it at our local range. I do think I'm going to put a scope on it though, at my age my eyes aren't all that great even with the peep sight.
     
  23. baylorattorney

    baylorattorney Member

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    Ive had 14.5 - 24. For hunting the 20' bbl was the bomb. Faster, and more lethal, making shots on hogs at 300 yards, dead no problem. I couldn't or didn't ever make shots like that with anything shorter, enough tries and maybe probably could have.


    Mark, esquire
     
  24. Eb1

    Eb1 Member

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    Best of both worlds. 16" CHF Barrel in 1:7 twist, Mid-Length gas system, Rifle length sight radius. I have to admit though. I have a soft spot for a 20" A2. I think they shoot very well, and are probably the best all around rifle for this platform, but I have a match 20" upper, and wanted a plain, Jane 16" AR-15, but didn't want it to look like a Lego set. So this is what I come up with, and it fits me, and my personality.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011
  25. Zach S

    Zach S Member

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    Agreed. My go to AR and my AR22 are both dissipators.

    I would stay away from the rifle-length gas system uppers. IIRC, CMMG was the only one to have this option, but my mid-length CMMG runs great.
     
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