Ultimate AR-15 Barrel Guide

by Ryan Cleckner

March 16, 2019

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Finding the Right AR-15 Barrel

We get it – the AR-15 is an awesome platform because of its modularity and how many aftermarket parts are available. However, that’s also why it is difficult to find the right part for upgrading your current AR-15 or building your own AR from scratch.

Just try to look at AR-15 barrels to see what’s available and which barrel is right for you. It’s very likely that you’ll quickly become overwhelmed by all the options.

To make matters worse, manufacturers don’t always make it easy to get simple information to compare AR-15 barrels – trust me, if you’re researching these all on your own, you’ll be doing conversions from ounces to pounds at least once. ????

Because we needed a tool that would allow us to easily search, sort and compare, we made it! Please check out our AR-15 Barrel Finder below.

AR-15 Barrel Specifications

Twist rate, gas-tube length, muzzle threads, contour?

There are a LOT of specs that go into describing an AR-15 barrel… let’s briefly explore what they mean so that you can better pick the right AR barrel for your next build/upgrade.

Contour

A barrel’s contour is its outer dimensions/profile.

A “pencil” contour is very narrow – this is great is you’d like a lightweight barrel, but it is not desirable if you’re looking for a barrel to take a lot of heat/abuse, or if you’re looking for rigidity for accuracy.

A heavy barrel is generally better for accuracy/durability but it is, well, heavy. Please note that heavier doesn’t necessarily mean more accurate. All else being equal, a stiffer barrel will be more accurate. However, all else isn’t always equal – a quality mid-weight barrel can easily outshoot a cheap heavy barrel.

Caliber

Of course, you need to be sure of what caliber you’d like. In some cases, it’s an obvious choice of what you want (300 BLK vs .223 Rem). However, .223 Wylde, 5.56 NATO, and .223 Remington chambers can all shoot .223 Remington ammo but only 5.56 NATO and .223 Wylde can shoot 5.56 NATO ammo. Be careful here.

Length

Unless you’re making a pistol or a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR), you’re going to need a 16″ or longer barrel (or a 14.5″ barrel with a permanently attached muzzle device, bringing the overall length to 16″).

Weight

A barrel’s weight can affect its accuracy and its ability to be easily carried/maneuvered. Also, it can impact its shootability – lighter barrels swing faster, but heavier barrels are easier to hold steady.

Twist

You’ll need the right twist-rate for your barrel. For 223/5.56, heavier bullets (75 and 77gr) generally perform better in faster twists rates of 1:8 or 1:7 whereas lighter bullets perform better in slower twist rates like 1:9. 1:8 is our favorite because it tends to handle everything well.

Note that 1:7 is fast, where 1:9 is slow. The larger number is a slower twist rate because it refers to how many inches in required for one revolution of a bullet. 1:7 spins fast enough to rotate once in 7 inches, whereas it takes a full 9 inches for a slower rotating bullet to make one revolution.

Muzzle

Check to ensure that the correct thread rate or muzzle device exists on the barrel you’re looking for.

AR-15 Barrel Finder

We’ve gathered specifications for just about every popular AR-15 barrel available!

Use our AR-15 Barrel Finder to filter and sort through AR-15 barrels to find the right barrel for your next AR-15 build or upgrade!

In the options at the top, you can filter to show only certain barrels. For example, you may only want to look at 16″ barrels. Then, once you’ve filtered the options to what you’re looking for in an AR-15 barrel, next you can sort the results by any of the features (such as weight or cost).

In addition to giving the price-range of barrels for your AR-15, we’ve also provided links to the best deals we’ve found!

MakeModelCaliberLengthWeightTwistMuzzleLatest Price
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO11.5"1.14 lbs1:71/2-28$100-149See Best Price$148.99
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO14.5"1.2 lbs1:71/2-28$150-199See Best Price$156.75
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO16"1.37 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$166.25
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO18"1.5 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$179.00
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO20"1.65 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$189.00
BrownellsB-TAC5.56 NATO10.5"1.21 lbs1:91/2-28$100-149See Best Price$105.99
BrownellsB-TAC5.56 NATO16"1.8 lbs1:71/2-28$100-149See Best Price$105.99
Proof ResearchCarbon Fiber.223 Wylde11.5"1.37 lbs1:71/2-28$900-999See Best Price$940.00
Proof ResearchCarbon Fiber.223 Wylde12.5"1.43 lbs1:71/2-28$900-999See Best Price$940.00
Proof ResearchCarbon Fiber.223 Wylde14.5"1.56 lbs1:71/2-28$900-999See Best Price$940.00
Proof ResearchCarbon Fiber.223 Wylde16"1.68 lbs1:71/2-28$900-999See Best Price$940.00
Proof ResearchCarbon Fiber.223 Wylde18"1.93 lbs1:71/2-28$900-999See Best Price$940.00
Proof ResearchCarbon Fiber.223 Wylde20"2.06 lbs1:81/2-28$900-999See Best Price$940.00
Faxon FirearmsPencil5.56 NATO14.5"1.0 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$169.99
Faxon FirearmsPencil5.56 NATO16"1.19 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$175.99
Faxon FirearmsPencil5.56 NATO10.5"0.9 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$151.05
Daniel DefenseLightweight5.56 NATO16"1.35 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseLightweight5.56 NATO16"1.5 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseM45.56 NATO14.5"1.77 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$289.99
Daniel DefenseGovernment5.56 NATO16"1.89 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseGovernment5.56 NATO10.3"1.29 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseGovernment5.56 NATO11.5"1.28 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$289.99
Daniel DefenseGovernment5.56 NATO12.5"1.4 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseGovernment6.8 SPC18"1.32 lbs1:115/8-24$300-349See Best Price$332.00
Daniel DefenseLightweight5.56 NATO14.5"1.38 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseM45.56 NATO16"1.75 lbs1:71/2-28$250-299See Best Price$275.00
Daniel DefenseS2W6.8 SPC16"2.5 lbs1:115/8-24$250-299See Best Price$286.00
Criterion Barrels
Hybrid.223 Wylde16"2.0 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Criterion Barrels
Hybrid.223 Wylde16"2.02 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Criterion Barrels
Hybrid.223 Wylde18"2.23 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$296.00
Criterion Barrels
HBAR.223 Wylde18"2.65 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Criterion Barrels
Hybrid.223 Wylde20"2.5 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Criterion Barrels
HBAR.223 Wylde20"2.9 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$296.99
Criterion Barrels
Hybrid.223 Wylde14.5"1.85 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Criterion Barrels
Hybrid.223 Wylde10.5"1.35 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Criterion Barrels
Government.223 Wylde16"1.74 lbs1:81/2-28$250-299See Best Price$269.99
Faxon FirearmsGov't/SOCOM5.56 NATO16"1.65 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$168.99
Faxon FirearmsGov't/SOCOM5.56 NATO20"2.15 lbs1:81/2-28$150-199See Best Price$194.99
Faxon FirearmsGov't/SOCOM5.56 NATO10.5"1.1 lbs1:81/2-28$100-149See Best Price$149.99
Christensen Arms
Carbon Fiber.223 Wylde16"1.7 lbs1:81/2-28$500-599See Best Price$506.99
Faxon FirearmsHeavy Fluted6.5 Grendel18"1.81 lbs1:85/8-24$300-349See Best Price$303.05
Faxon FirearmsHeavy Fluted6.5 Grendel20"1.98 lbs1:85/8-24$300-349See Best Price$312.55
Faxon FirearmsGunner6.5 Grendel16"1.53 lbs1:85/8-24$200-249See Best Price$223.25
Faxon FirearmsGunner6.5 Grendel18"1.68 lbs1:85/8-24$200-249See Best Price$232.75
BrownellsMedium6.5 Grendel18"2.0 lbs1:85/8-24$300-349See Best Price$325.00
BrownellsMedium6.5 Grendel24"3.37 lbs1:85/8-24$300-349See Best Price$325.00
JP EnterprisesSupermatch6.5 Grendel22"3.8 lbs1:85/8-24$700-799See Best Price$768.33
Faxon FirearmsPencil5.56 NATO
14.5" (pinned to 16")
1.22 lbs1:8Pinned Brake$250-299See Best Price$258.99
Faxon FirearmsPencil5.56 NATO
14.5" (pinned to 16")
1.2 lbs1:8Pinned FH$250-299See Best Price$258.99
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO
14.5" (pinned to 16")
1.3 lbs1:8Pinned Brake$200-249See Best Price$248.99
Faxon FirearmsGunner5.56 NATO
14.5" (pinned to 16")
1.26 lbs1:8Pinned FH$200-249See Best Price$248.99

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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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