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Best AR-15 Barrels In 2020 Reviews

What’s in a Barrel?

The manufacturing of the most important part of your AR-15 is an art and science.

Therefore, to assist you in purchasing the best barrel for your AR-15, we are reviewing some of the top choices that are currently available. There are many variables as to what makes the best barrel. For example, which barrel has the best profile? Which has the best gas system? As well as more specific matters, such as the length of the barrel and what it’s made of.

Best AR-15 Barrels
Photo by Staufhammer

Then there’s the twist rate, if it’s fluted or not, and whether or not the barrel is chrome lined. At the end of your search, you then need to ensure that your choice will suit your budget.

So, let’s go through the Best AR-15 Barrels on the market 2020 and find the perfect one for you…

Top 8 Best AR-15 Barrels On The Market 2020 Reviews


1 Faxon Firearms AR-15 Gunner Barrel – Best AR-15 Barrel for 5.56 NATO

This AR-15 Gunner Barrel from Faxon Firearms has been designed exclusively for 5.56 NATO rounds. It is extremely durable, and if you’re looking for a barrel that can provide accurate shooting, round after round over a long life expectancy, then this could well be the one for you.

A very popular profile…

Faxon’s AR-15 Gunner barrels have a profile which is much valued by shooters. This government standard pencil profile from the .625” gas block to the front, removes excess weight from the front of the barrel, giving better performance, and versatility.

Less whip, less weight, and longer life…

Heat resistance is one of the keys to longer barrel life, and along with it comes less barrel whip. This barrel weighs in at a light 1.2 pounds, which contributes to tighter groups, and more accuracy at longer distances.

Quality build…

There is no skimping on materials in this barrel’s construction, which is why Faxon use stress-relieved 4150 CMV steel. Every barrel runs a gamut of testing, including air-gauge, and is completed with a quality nitride finish. For improving the performance of your AR-15, the Faxon Firearm Gunner is literally a top runner.

Barrel Specifications

  • Steel: Stress relieved
  • Testing: Air-gauge
  • Material: 4150 CMV Steel
  • Type: Button Rifled
  • Caliber: 5.56
  • Twist: 1:8

Pros

  • Excellent heat dispersion.
  • Tighter groups and improved accuracy.
  • Fits most AR-15s.
  • Easy installation.
  • Highly durable.
  • Reduces weight from the front end of the barrel.
  • Lowers barrel whip.

Cons

  • Some fitting may be needed.
  • Regular cleaning needed to prevent rusting.
  • May not take heavier ammunition.

2 Ballistic Advantage – Ar-15 5.56 Barrels Hanson Profile – Best AR-15 Pistol Barrel

If you’re looking for a lightweight barrel, this short little number comes in at 7.5 inches. That may be on odd length for a rifle, but it is highly suitable for AR-15 pistols. It’s also compatible with most AR-15 accessories and parts.

But being short does not mean it is weaker in any way. Ballistic Advantage supplies a wide variety of quality products, and this barrel is one of them. It certainly qualifies for one of the best AR-15 barrels. While being short and stout, it will remain reliable for hundreds of rounds.

Hanson profile…

The heavy look of the “Hanson profile” is excellent for heat absorption while weighing a lot less than other barrels. Also, other lengths are readily available from 7.5” up to 18”.

And featuring a newer type of QPQ (Melonite) finish, it will deliver the advantage of chrome, with the same level of accuracy.

It’s perfect usage…

While being ideal for a pistol, this is also suited to rifles with shorter barrels. But make sure that you check what is legal in your area because there are a lot of regulations regarding shorter barrel lengths on rifles nationwide.

It will provide very tight shooting at longer distances and is at home in competitive target shooting. Therefore, it’s well worth a look if you want to combine durability and accuracy for years to come.

Quick as a flash…

Feedback from a broad number of users have commented on the speed and ease of installation. As well as on the range reports of nicely tight groupings from over 100 yards.

Specifications

  • Part no: BABL556002F
  • Barrel: 5.56 Hanson 10.3” Carbine Gas System 1-7 1/2-28
  • Cartridge: 5.56 mm NATO
  • Length: 10.3″
  • Contour: Hanson
  • Finish: QPQ
  • Gas System Length: Carbine
  • Muzzle Threads: 1/2-28

Pros

  • Easy installation.
  • Good accuracy.
  • Failsafe over 600+ rounds.
  • Lightweight design.

Cons

  • None to report.

3 Brownells – 16” 5.56mm 1-7 Govt Mid-Length Gas System Barrel – Best Budget AR-15 Barrel

Another great product from Brownells which bears the stamp of durability. Right out of the box, it displays tight shooting groups, with many happy shooters maintaining shooting groups up to an inch apart, at distances of 100-150 yards.

Have a look at the versatility…

At 16 inches, this barrel is a very good fit for a mid-length gas system. Also, meeting compliance with gun laws for most states that place restrictions on barrel length.

Excellent quality at a superb price…

​​Professional shooters have a long familiarity with this brand combining essential elements in a great package. Brownells have, as usual, used high-quality components in a genuine mid-length Gas Barrel System and what’s more, at the right price.

4150V steel is finished with a gleaming nitride coating, to ensure that the barrel is exceptionally strong. The nitride coating also offers a reduced break-in time and no feeding and function problems. The twist for a rifle is 1:7 and at pistol length 1:9.

An easy install…

This barrel carries on the great Brownells’ tradition of being very simple to install, so you can get going in the least time possible.

Due to the superlative machining and quality materials used, you will notice next to no difference between shooting cold or hot-bore. While the reduced recoil will also assist accuracy. Despite being a standard barrel with few innovations, you get quality that will last for thousands of rounds without any issues.

Specifications

  • Cartridge: 223 Remington, 5.56 mm NATO
  • Length: 16″
  • Contour: Socom
  • Finish: Black
  • Muzzle Threads: 1/2-28

Pros

  • Great value for money.
  • Very easy to install.
  • High-quality materials and construction.
  • A good fit with most mid-length gas systems.
  • Suitable for target shooting and hunting.
  • Long life expectancy.
  • Improves recoil dampening.

Cons

  • Not a fit for some AR-15’s, so check compatibility.
  • Needs regular cleaning to avoid rust.

4 Lothar Walther Precision Tool Rifle Barrel

Lothar Walther rifle barrels have to be included in our roundup of the best AR-15 rifle barrels. Literally, hundreds of world champion marksmen have relied on the quality of these barrels for decades. And the company has consistently maintained that quality to the present day.

Craftsmanship?

Every barrel is crafted meticulously and run through a series of tests to ensure consistent quality for maximum performance. A highly controlled environment assures bore uniformity, following which the barrel is finely lapped. Each barrel is button rifled or milled to maintain precision accuracy and the maximum in durable performance.

A very appealing barrel…

Contoured blanks are unchambered and finish machined for blue or white.

Simplicity in installation and very good value for money contribute to the appeal of this barrel. It fits on most suitable rifles and is very popular in both the competitive shooting and target practice market.

Consistent 5-star ratings…

Users frequently rate this product with 5 Stars time and again. Complementary comments abound like “worth every penny”, “cleans very easily”, “accuracy improving all the time”. In bore scope comparisons, it is comparable with much more expensive barrels.

Shoot into the 1’s…

With your bead on the target, this barrel will not let you down. You can take part in any competition, knowing that this will be very reliable over time.

In fact, it’s so good that many users come back to purchase this barrel time after time.

Specifications

There are four models on the Brownell’s site, and they are all:

  • Match grade LW 19 steel.
  • Available in stainless white and the very popular blue finish.
  • Have varying contours and twist.

950-000-001WB

  • Caliber: 264/ 6.5 mm
  • Contour:  #2100
  • Twist: 1-8
  • Mfr Part: 2640801

950-284-091WB

  • Caliber: 284/ 7 mm
  • Contour:  #1300
  • Twist: 1-9
  • Mfr Part: 28491300

950-284-092WB

  • Caliber: 284/ 7 mm
  • Contour:  #2100
  • Twist: 1-9
  • Mfr Part: 28492100

950-000-002WB

  • Caliber: 308/ 30 caliber
  • Contour:  #2100
  • Twist: 1-10
  • Mfr Part: 3081001

Pros

  • Easy installation.
  • Very competitive pricing.
  • Outstanding accuracy.
  • Simple to clean.
  • Attractive finish.
  • Long lasting.

Cons

  • None to report.

5 Rainier Arms AR-15/M-16 223 Wylde Match Barrels

Customer satisfaction is high with this barrel, with its lighter weight and superior durability being very positive features. You can also expect your shooting groups to become tighter. The test-firing of one full magazine shooting at 100 yards, got the grouping very close to the bullseye.

A choice of ammo…

Both light and heavy ammo suit the twist rate of 1:8. Adjoining this quality with a non-chromed lining allows for the best in long-range shooting. And the manufacturer’s guarantee that this barrel will fire sub-MOA, using match grade ammunition.

How about the quality of materials?

A lovely finish is achieved with the stainless bead-blasted appearance. It’s a nice looking barrel and comes in variants of 18”, 16”, and 14.5”. While the 18” model has a full-length gas system, the two shorter barrels are mid-length only. However, whichever you choose, you still get very good accuracy.

Accurate and reliable…

This barrel is most definitely versatile and will give you the accuracy and reliability you need if you’re out hunting, casual target shooting, lining up for a competition shootout, for home security, or in self-defense.

If you clean it regularly, it will last you well. As an excellent replacement for your factory barrel, it has a well-deserved place on our list of Best Barrels for AR-15.

Specifications

  • Model No: 100-016-082WB
  • Model Name: 16” 223 Wylde Match Mid-Length Barrel
  • Cartridge: 223 Remington, 223 Wylde, 5.56 mm NATO
  • Length: 16″
  • Barrel Weight: 2.125 lbs
  • Twist: 1-8
  • Contour: Medium
  • Mfr Part: RA273Pros

Pros

  • Highly durable, will take many rounds.
  • Will fit most AR-15 rifles.
  • Tight shooting groups.
  • Suitable for multiple ammo types.
  • Easily installed in minutes.

Cons

  • No noticeable problems.

6 Criterion Barrels AR-15 Hybrid Carbine Length Gas System Barrel – Best Chrome Lined AR-15 Barrel

Here is a barrel for all occasions and almost any buyer. A really good price point on this barrel supports a raft of excellent features and puts it right up there as one of the best value for money barrels for an AR-15. Criterion manufactures this for Carbine, mid-length, and rifle length barrels, giving a great choice to shooters with varying needs.

What’s so special?

If you simply don’t want or need to pay for one of the more expensive boutique barrels, you’ll find the Criterion price point gives you a lot of bang for your buck. So, if you don’t tend to worry about ¼” groupings, then this could be the ideal option for you.

Built to last…

Part of owning a chrome-lined barrel is knowing what ammunition to use. And using the right ammunition will give you the results your after. A good chrome-lined barrel will also give you as good a life span as you could hope for.

However, even though it is competitively priced, don’t forget that the Criterion is a match grade barrel, that will provide you with as much accuracy as 99% of shooters will need.

Specifications

  • Model No: 15160-HY6 – 1518S-HY12
  • Model Name: 16″ & 18” 223 Wylde Carbine & Rifle length Barrel
  • System: Gas
  • Caliber: 223 Wylde
  • Length: 16″
  • Gun Model AR-15
  • Twist: 1-8
  • Colour: Silver-stainless & Black Parkerized
  • Threads: 1/2×28
  • Profile: Hybrid
  • Lining: Chrome
  • Additional feature: M4 Barrel Extension.

Pros

  • Suitable for any function.
  • Good balance between weight and profile.
  • Excellent value for money.
  • Highly durable.
  • Will fit most AR-15 rifles.
  • Suitable for multiple ammo types.
  • Easily installed in minutes.

Cons

  • None.

 7 Daniel Defense AR-15 Hammer Forged Barrel – Mil-Spec AR-15 Barrel

This is a barrel that satisfies on a number of levels through any of the models available. From the 18” 1-11 twist, 10.5” 1-7 twist, to the popular 16” Carbine 1-7 twist, these appeal due to their great strength and durability combined with their lightweight construction.

Is it good on the range?

Yes, it is, shooters reporting above-average returns when using it. Not only that, but there are also good reports from users hunting elusive moving targets — the lightness of the barrel, allowing a quick response from the hunter.

Customer satisfaction…

Shooters returning to replace older barrels for a second time around indicates significant satisfaction in the product. This is partly due to its build strength – the steel being hammer-forged and honed to meticulous integrity. This is then strength tested using the same methods as used on much more expensive match rifle barrels. And any flaws are identified with vigorous magnetic particle inspection.

Superb for heavier rounds…

All the barrels are available in the lightweight variety or government profile, and the OD at the gas block comes in at .750”.

These barrels continuously provide competition for more expensive models. If you are a shooter using heavier rounds, this barrel will satisfy you for years.

Specifications

There are a large number of models of this barrel, and we are featuring the specs of the Lightweight Carbine as it is one of the most popular.

  • Model No: 100-009-472WB
  • Model Name: 16” Lightweight Carbine 5.56, 1.7 Twist
  • Barrel weight: 1.35 lbs
  • System: Gas driven
  • Contour: Lightweight
  • Finish: Black, Matte Black
  • Caliber: 5.56
  • Length: 16”
  • Twist: 1-7
  • Mfr Part: 0707808224018

Pros

  • The government profile is both lightweight and accurate.
  • Cold hammer-forged alloy steel for great strength.
  • Finished with manganese phosphate.
  • Corrosion resistant.
  • Long life from the bore lining.
  • Excellent for heavier rounds.
  • A step up from mil spec.
  • Military specifications but better strength.

Cons

  • More limited to heavy ammunition.

8 Criterion Barrels IncAr-15 Barrels, Fluted, Stainless Steel, Rifle-Length – Best Fluted AR-15 Barrel

Are you looking for a longer barrel?

If so, here is an excellent choice for you from the redoubtable Criterion brand. Once again, standing up to be counted in our roundup of the best barrels for an AR-15.

Will a longer barrel mean a heavier gun?

No, not necessarily, and a common technique for making a gun lighter is fluting. Criterion makes this fluted model in two lengths at 18” and 20”.

Does fluting affect the strength of the barrel?

Just because it looks arty and shaves weight off, it’s as strong as it needs to be for accuracy and durability. The fluting cools the barrel efficiently, and you can safely touch it, even after a heavy firing session.

Eight flutes are machined along the length of the barrel. This allows you to get an 18 or 20-inch barrel, which is no heavier than a regular 16-inch model. Smooth, but sharp jagged edges retain a great look, but more importantly, provide the cooling.

There’s more to this than meets the eye…

This model also features .223 Wylde chambering for solid accuracy with both .223 Remington and 5.56mm rounds. The rifling is a 1 in 8 twist rate. This provides good performance with any ammunition. However, a 1 in 7 twist rate would seem a better choice for a longer barrel.

M4 feed ramps and a threaded muzzle round out the package for reliability and customization.

It’s an excellent barrel for an AR-15 match rifle.

Specifications

  • Model Name: AR-15 barrel, Fluted
  • Barrel weight: 2.15 lbs
  • Finish: Stainless
  • Caliber: 223 Remington, 223 Wylde, 5.56 mm NATO
  • Length: 18”
  • Twist: 1-8
  • Mfr Part: 1518SFL12

Pros

  • Fluting for weight reduction and effective cooling.
  • Lighter profile nearer the muzzle.
  • Good accuracy from the .223 Wylde chambering.
  • Quality stainless steel construction.

Cons

  • 1 in 8 twist rate is not suitable for heavy ammunition.
  • Lack of coating for corrosion resistance.

More Superb Accessories for your AR-15

Are you thinking of upgrading more than just your barrel? If so, take a look at our reviews of the Best Aimpoint for Ar15, the Best AR 15 Charging Handles, the Best 9mm Ar15 Uppers, and the Best AR Cases.

You may also be interested in our informative reviews of the Ruger AR 556 and our Palmetto State Armory AR 15 review.

So, what are the Best AR-15 Barrels?

This has been a very difficult review to arrive at an overall winner. The competition is so close, and it really boils down to your individual requirements. Most of the barrels here are low to mid-range in price, therefore whichever best suits your personal needs is the one to go for.

They all feature excellent materials in manufacturing and will all give a long life and great accuracy. Some are more suitable for short or longer barrels, and some are better for lighter or heavier ammunition, while others can be used for a range of ammunition.

It is a tight margin; however, we have given our number one spot to the…

Faxon Firearms AR-15 Gunner Barrel

A great all-round barrel and probably the most versatile of the lot. It also comes at an excellent price considering the quality, accuracy, and versatility it offers.

Happy and safe shooting.

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