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Best AR Barrel for @ $200?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Crazy Coot, Jun 1, 2020.

  1. Crazy Coot

    Crazy Coot Member

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    I'm working on my 2nd AR build and I'm getting ready to buy a barrel. This will be a 5.56 in 16". What barrels would you recommend that could be had for around the $200 mark?
    This is primarily for home defense / range gun. I’m not concerned about super long range accuracy.
    Any input would be much appreciated!
     
  2. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    my DTI midlength "lightweight" is the best shooting rifle I have ever shot. I just took it to shoot steel plates at 200 yards (2'x3'), so not to hard, but still almost 100% hits and this is with the A2 iron sights. I shot my best group of 1.060 at 100 yards with this rifle and Midsouth Varmint nightmare 55gr, also with the Irons. Its now about 2500 rounds in, and no malfunctions. the profile is somewhere between pencil and heavy, and the rifle weighs 6.2lb empty.

    https://www.del-ton.com/AR-15-16-Mid-Length-LW-Barrel-p/bl1088.htm
     
  3. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    You may be better off just buying a complete upper from PSA. I have bought one with 16" mid length, MLOC, and chrome BCG and charging handle for $370. They always have things like that on sale.
     
  4. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Faxon or Ballistic Advantage. Seriously good barrels in your price range. Check out MASDefense.com

    I also just picked up an 11.3" performance series Ballistic Advantage Hanson barrel with a pinned gas block for $159 at opticsplanet.com

    They might have some other stuff on sale.

    If you want something that most would consider "battle" worthy (BCM, Criterion, FN, etc.), that's going to be out of your price range. I prefer Ballistic Advantage barrels and have shot the snot out of them and haven't had one fail. They behave themselves pretty well when you heat them up.
     
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  5. burrhead

    burrhead Member

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  6. 748

    748 Member

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    I'm interested in this too as I have a palmetto state cheap carbine lenth 16 inch upper that shoots absolute horrible groups with 55 and 62gr ammo.
    A barrel change and some go, no go gauges might be the way to go.
     
  7. BigBL87

    BigBL87 Member

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    Ballistic Advantage would me my first choice.
     
  8. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Regarding the above: better to tear it down and look things over, lap the receiver, re-torque the barrel nut, and see if there is improvement before throwing money at it.

    As for the OP, for the stated purpose, a $130 Ballistic Advantage barrel, 16”, Pencil Profile, Midlength Gas with Nitride coating has been my new go-to for lighter weight general purpose ARs. I have 3 of these now in addition to 2 shorter BA barrels and all are respectable in function and finish.

    A year ago I would have agreed with a no hassle PSA upper but the choice of barrel profile is often winnowed to 1. If heavier suits you, not a bad way to go.


    Minus muzzle device, optic, and magazine. I pulled this one from the safe last night to keep us company after multiple shootings and 2 gun related deaths the night before. It shared watch duty with my pistol AR.
    086915F0-5C55-4E0C-9074-E98311329DE9.jpeg
     
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  9. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    @Skylerbone - I can’t help but notice the coincidental weight on scale. How’d your scale know the chambering?
     
  10. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    I was weighing different rifles and working on a lighter solution than my 8 lb. AR when I plopped this one in the scale. Dumb luck, it hit 5 5.7 so I gently lifted it, re-scaled, and the magic number appeared when I snapped the pic.
     
  11. js8588

    js8588 Member

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  12. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    In that price range I've bought:

    Larue PredatAR 16" in .223Wylde
    Faxon, Gunner 16" .223 Wylde 5R match

    Both are lightweight and both turned out to be just sub MOA with good handloads. Cheap FMJ right around 1.5MOA.

    The Faxon's can be had in either 5.56 or .223 Wylde chambers.

    My next barrel will be another Faxon.
     
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  13. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    If you've decided on an AR for home defense, you may want to consider something in a 13.7 or 14.5 length and having a muzzle device pinned. This will save you some length and make the firearm a bit more maneuverable.
     
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  14. greyling22

    greyling22 Member

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    I've had uppers from spikes tactical, rock rock predator pursuit, palmetto premium upper, palmetto freedom upper, barrels from mas defense(blackout and x39) voodoo tactical, ballistic advantage, faxon, and probably somebody else. In calibers 556, 6.5g, 300aac supersonics 7.62x39. The only things that have failed to shoot under an inch with good ammo was the 9" faxon blackout barrel, the pa freedom barrel, and the mas defense 7.62x39 barrel. Lately I've been buying faxon and ballistic advantage thin profile barrels, but honestly I've had such good success with ar barrels I've about decided they're all the same and just buy based on price and profile.
     
  15. 748

    748 Member

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    The problem is the accuracy sucks and the brass ejects so hard that it dents on the ejection port and still throws the brass a good distance.
     
  16. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    I’ve experienced No accuracy issues with any of mine. Ejection has nothing to do with the barrel.
     
  17. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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  18. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Except that the barrel has too damn big of hole in the top.
     
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  19. 748

    748 Member

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    If the over active gas system can damage the brass what else is it damaging?
     
  20. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Yes but I measured the first one (don’t have numbers at work) and found it decidedly middle of the road vs published results in a chart. No dinged or ripped cases here using either standard carbine spring or flat wire with a full mass carrier and H2 buffer.

    Using brass catchers on my ARs and reloading I would be very aware of any misbehaving rifle. With five of their barrels I’m comfortable recommending them. Of the nine complete ARs in the safe only 1 uses any sort of gas mitigation, a JP AGB.


    DFADDF05-B285-4627-9647-EC0664638674.jpeg

    No dented shoulders to be had.
    3C71D7D5-4EC5-416D-82B0-BAB756B7A2FD.jpeg

    Plenty of evidentiary support.
    28209F2F-B1BA-4463-AC56-FD93785E5E32.jpeg


    64C3C0EF-BFF6-4F0B-8559-0C796D4B59F7.png


    B510C7BB-E09A-41F9-B009-C3D8ED23916D.jpeg

    No rim damage either.
    E4917CA7-76FC-4063-B8C1-756545EF2587.jpeg
     
  21. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    It depends on what you call damage. It will cause accelerated parts wear. Increased recoil. If running suppressed, lots of blow back, etc.

    Pretty easy to fix with an adjustable gas block.
     
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  22. Skeptic13

    Skeptic13 Member

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    I built my last AR using a faxon 18” gunner barrel. Good price, lightweight and accurate. I will build my next AR with a faxon as well. Faxon barrels seem to be mostly out of stock right now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  23. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    @748, my apologies, I misunderstood your post as referring to BA rather than your PSA carbine upper. For that dilemma I’d suggest a simple buffer upgrade. The PSA uppers I own are 18” rifle gas and have been fine with a standard carbine buffer and my range ammo.

    @Varminterror thank you for keeping me honest on barrel port size affecting extraction/ejection, yes of course it does. My snap reaction was in defense of BA’s measured port size.
     
  24. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    This is a good topic but I wish there were more data and less anecdotes.

    when I was much more serious about ARs 10-20 years ago there was a lot known about barrels but mostly because everyone was some flavor of milspec and they either were or were not chrome lined until noveske started double chrome line haha. And you had nato 223 SAAMI and wylde chambers.
    These days there’s 47 different coatings and treatments and God only knows if any two chambers are alike. Or what sort of steel they’re made from. Or how long they last or how they wear or how various powders affect them etc

    I’ve built a number of ARs in the past two years and none of them are as accurate as the ones from 10+ years ago. Kinda disappointing. But light weight stuff is getting easier to find and higher quality

    I haven’t been super impressed with anything I’ve bought lately
     
  25. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    I can remember when I bought my first AR. It was a Bushmaster Predator model and the reason that I learned about the AR because I had so many problems with it. It was also the last AR that I bought that didn't come in parts. I can remember when the big question between or among barrels was chrome lining or not. Was it necessary and how did it affect accuracy? It was almost as though you had to choose between accuracy and reliability. If you wanted a barrel for a "fighting" AR, up to 3 MOA accuracy was the norm. Then they came out with cold hammer forging. I can remember when that hit the market and then all of the barrels that were hot became less so and the prices dropped. I bought a bunch of Daniel Defense non hammer forged barrels when the prices on those dropped to under $200.

    I like the direction that technology has taken us in. Now we have various alternatives that are arguably as tough as chrome lining that allow us to have both reliability and accuracy. Although I got away from ARs for a while, when I got into bolt guns and shooting longer distances, I was still building ARs for friends and I found that building an AR that shoots MOA or better has gotten to be easier and less expensive to do.

    Still, if I was going to build a no holds barred, zombie apocalypse AR, it would likely be built around a Criterion barrel or something of the like that can take being mounted in a machine gun; but that ain't gonna be a $200 barrel. On the other hand, I've been running this 10.5" Ballistic Advantage barrel on my latest pistol that I put together to feed a renewed interest in ARs and after a few thousand rounds, I've been pretty impressed with it. I really haven't benched it with a high power scope, but it has done as well as I can usually do with a 4X scope on an AR that I know shoots well. My best with it has only been 1.5 MOA or so with 55gr Frontier HPs, but I'm not really that good of a shooter with failing eyes. I need high magnification to shoot small groups these days.

    I mean, I don't do meaningless mag dumps with it, but I have run drills on multiple targets when practicing recoil control and have emptied 3 or 4 30 rounds mags pretty quickly and it has never choked on me. What you can get for under $200 these days is far superior to what you could get for under $200 ten years ago.
     
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