Are you looking for the best AR-15 barrel? If so, then you’re probably in a difficult position trying to find one for yourself.
Even though there is a ton of them currently on the market, not all of them are created equal. While the purpose is the same, each barrel has its own unique features that stand out. And in turn, it may just be enough for a buyer to grab it off the shelf or online and attach it to their own rifle. We’ve handpicked 7 barrels on the market because each one has stood out in some way. Plus, this gives you an idea of what you should consider getting if you’re looking for a barrel that best fits your personal needs and preferences.
Review of the best AR-15 barrels
Rainier Arms AR-15/M-16 223 Wylde Match Barrels
Our first barrel up for review is the Rainer Arms AR-15/M-16 223 Wylde Barrel. These are milled from stainless steel to the highest quality and contour. The barrel has been chambered in .223 Wylde so it will let you shoot with a .223 Remington and 5.56X45 NATO. This offers a 1:8 twist rate, which is suitable for both heavy and light ammunition.
Couple this quality with the non-chrome lining, this barrel will also allow you to take long-range shots. RA also guarantees that this barrel will shoot sub-MOA with match grade ammunition. The bead-blasted stainless steel finish is one of the most unique features that is seen with this barrel. The RA is available in three different variants: 14.5 inches, 16 inches, and 18 inches. The first two have mid-length gas systems while the 18-inch barrel has a rifle-length gas system. The RA is solid and delivers exceptional accuracy.
If you are using your AR-15 for the purpose of competitive shooting, hunting, or self-defense, the RA barrel may be the barrel for you. It's no secret that a good barrel upgrade is needed for the purpose of accuracy. If your AR-15 seems a little off in that regard, give this barrel a deeper look.
- Available in three different variants.
- Milled from high-quality stainless steel.
- A 1:8 twist rate for heavy and light ammunition.
- .750” at the gas block.
- Very durable barrel.
- Very tight groups with various ammo used.
- Not a lightweight barrel, so it may make your gun a little heavier.
The Bottom Line
Right now, the RA barrel is currently considered to be one of the top overall barrels on the market. And it’s a well-deserved title for a good reason. Yes, the barrel may be a little weighty, but it comes with the territory of having a super strong barrel. The fact that it can handle heavy and light ammo is what makes it stand out a little more. So, if you’re looking for a barrel that can sustain a beating and work with pretty much any ammo you use for your AR-15, the RA is probably the best option for you.
Faxon Firearms AR-15 Gunner Barrel
Next up, we have the AR-15 Gunner Barrel from Faxon Firearms. This is the kind of barrel that is highly regarded among the professional shooting circles. That’s because this barrel has a unique and innovative profile. This utilizes a government profile dimension from extension to the .625” gas block, with a pencil profile from the gas block to the front. Overall, this barrel provides excellent performance.
This provides some pretty good versatility as it removes excess weight from the front of your AR-15 barrel. Plus, this is a heat resistant barrel so it will likely last you a great deal of time (especially your weapon components). This is a 14.5-inch barrel that weighs in at a total of 1.2 pounds. This paves the way for clear, immediate results. Barrel tolerances will be much tighter and your long distance accuracy will improve considerably.
The Faxon uses the best materials to craft their barrels. Obviously, this means your going to have a tough looking barrel to contend with. One of the materials that is included is 4150 CMV steel. These barrels are stress relieved and crowned with an 11-degree target. These are also air-gauge tested. Faxon prides itself from being one of the best brands for AR-15 parts (including barrels). And to ensure the best quality, they test each one before it even hits the market. Once the test is completed, the barrel is finished with nitride. This is the barrel you want if you want your AR-15 to last you a long period of time. Also, if improving your performance is a must, you’d be insane not to give the Faxon a further look.
- Constructed from high-quality material.
- Stress relieved for maximum durability.
- Reduced whip for increased shooting performance. Also increases accuracy.
- Rigorously tested, ensuring that this is one of the best quality barrels on the market.
- Very versatile with a range of applications and modifications.
- May be a bit on the pricey side.
- Some have complained about it being overgassed.
The Bottom Line
To know that a manufacturer like Faxon always tests their parts before they sell them tell you something. They care about their customers and want them to have the best quality gun parts that can last them for a long time. By creating this barrel, they've further proved themselves as a reliable brand. If you're looking for a really good barrel that helps with overall shooting performance and accuracy, then you'll probably love the Faxon model.
Brownells - 16” 5.56mm 1-7 Govt Mid-Length Gas System Barrel
Brownells is yet another brand that is well-known to many AR-15 gun owners and enthusiasts. That's because they are known for creating high-quality components that can also be sold at a reasonable price. This means that budget-conscious AR-15 owners won't have to break the bank to find their next barrel. If you're one of them, you might want to consider the Brownells model as one of your potential options.
One of the major features that stand out is the mid-length gas barrel system. This is manufactured from 4150V steel and finished with nitride coating. This is a barrel that provides an exceptional harness, very easy cleaning, and great lubricity. The twist length is 1:7 for rifles and 1:9 for pistols.
If you’re looking for a barrel that is easy to install, the Brownells model may be your best option. In fact, they are the one brand off the top of our heads that is known for making parts that are simple to install.
One of the major benefits of having this barrel is that there is no function or feeding issues. Plus, you can expect little to no break-in time thanks to the nitride coating. If you want a barrel with an accuracy that is top class, then you’ll want the Brownells barrel. You’ll notice that there is no difference between hot bore or cold bore shots. The recoil is pretty good and it ensures better shooting accuracy.
Although Brownells introduces no unique innovations, this barrel is still one of the best in the business. You’ll get a good quality barrel that can withstand thousands of rounds and still get the job done. Not bad for a barrel that is probably one of the most affordable on the market.
- Crafted from 4510V Steel for superior durability.
- Finished with nitride coating.
- 1:7 twist length on rifle, 1:9 twist length for pistols.
- Easy to install and really easy to clean.
- You’ll see a great performance thanks to the improvement of recoil.
- Will last you thousands of shots without any issue.
- Does not have unique properties.
- May need to be cleaned before use due to some white gunk that looks like corrosion from a battery terminal.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for a high-quality barrel at an affordable price, get the Brownells model. Just because you're on a budget, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality. As far as finding the best quality AR-15 barrel that you can afford, you'll be hard pressed to find a model as good as this. It's easy to clean, super strong, and can sustain a lot of beatings even through regular use. This will last you quite some time. If you find a barrel that lasts you years at a budget price, you can all that a steal.
Lothar Walther Precision Tool Rifle Barrel
Next, we have the Lothar Walther Precision Tool Rifle Barrel. This is a match-grade barrel that is manufactured from LW19 steel. This is calibrated for .264 (6.5mm) rounds and offers a 1:8 twist ratio. These barrels are button rifled (or milled) and lapped for precision and maintaining the accuracy of the bore. This barrel is easy to install and use. This is also a good barrel for those who happen to be on a budget.
This best AR 15 barrel will no doubt give you excellent performance and deliver exceptional accuracy, especially with 6.5mm rounds. If you're looking for a barrel that fits on most AR-15s, you won't be disappointed with the Lothar Walther. If you're a competitive shooter or use an AR-15 regularly for target practice, you should consider taking a closer look at this barrel.
- Manufactured from LW19 steel.
- Offers a 1:8 ratio.
- Delivers exceptional accuracy with 6.5mm rounds.
- Perfects for competitive and target shooters.
- Fits most AR-15s without any issues.
- Excellent steel finish.
- Some sanding may be needed before fitting.
The Bottom Line
This is yet another budget barrel for AR-15 that is also good in quality. However, this is more in line with those who are competitive shooters. If you're a competitive shooter that is also looking for a starter barrel for your AR-15, you should consider the Lothar Walther as one of your options. Plus, since it fits most AR-15s, this might be the perfect starter barrel for most gun users. Factory barrels tend to have a disappointing performance. But, the LW is a step up from that. Even for the price you pay, you'll find it is a lot better than just some factory grade barrel.
Ballistics Advantage AR-15 5.56 Barrel
The Ballistics Advantage brand is known for offering a wide variety of quality products. This barrel proves itself to be no exception. The “Hanson Profile” gives it a heavier look with its many functions (like heat absorption). But it weighs less other barrels in its class. This barrel comes in various lengths, from 7.5 inches to 18 inches. They all feature a low-profile gas block. This barrel has a QPQ (Melonite) finish. The finish is a newer type that claims to have the advantage of chrome without the accuracy issues.
This was developed by BA’s own barrel guru, Clint Hanson (the namesake of the profile). The Hanson profile is also designed to eliminate sharp shoulders and smooths tapers to symmetrically limit barrel whip that is caused by vibrations and flexing during prolonged shooting. It also controls barrel harmonics, allowing the barrel to return quickly to its “home” position after every shot. This is extremely beneficial for follow up shots at a high rate of fire or even at full auto fire.
This is a lightweight barrel that has the rigidity of a heavy-duty barrel. It's like having the best of both worlds.
- Comes in various lengths.
- QPQ (melonite) finish.
- Very lightweight.
- Very durable barrel.
- No barrel failures.
- 1:8 twist is excellent for most bullets.
- May be a little pricey for those on a budget.
The Bottom Line
The BA brand is a high-quality barrel. So, it obviously comes as no surprise that the price tag is steep on this. If money isn't an issue and you want a barrel that preferably would go well with your current or most frequently used AR, the BA model will probably be your best bet. One of the best AR 15 barrel on the market.
Krieger Barrels Inc AR-15/M-16 223 Match Grade DCM Barrel
The Krieger DCM Barrel is finished from stainless steel and features a .223 chamber and hand lapped single point cut rifling. The barrel’s twist rate is 1:7.7”. This is good enough for rounds that weigh anywhere between 69 to 80 grains. The barrel is measured at 20 inches long, so this is a pretty good barrel if you’re using your AR-15 for long distance or competitive shooting.
The gas port is placed on one of the grooves of the rifling. The barrel is suitable for .223 Rem ammo. It is important to note that you should not load and fire 5.56 rounds. This barrel weighs around 3.3 pounds, so the barrel is a bit on the heavy side.
- Comes with a barrel twist of 1:7.7”
- Finished from stainless steel.
- Measured at 20 inches long.
- Perfect for long distance and competitive shooters.
- Easily shoots .3 MOA at 100 yards.
- Stainless steel finish makes it durable and resistant to scratches.
- Some have complained about the head spacing being a little too tight.
- At 3.3 pounds, it is not the most lightweight barrel on the market.
The Bottom Line
Despite being not lightweight compared to most barrels, there are a few upsides. For one, it is super strong and has the ability to take plenty of beatings. Secondly, the accuracy for long range shooting is absolutely amazing. So, if you’re looking for a strong barrel that can do its job hitting targets from long range, the DCM could be the best one for you. If you’re also a competitive shooter or if you only use your AR-15 for target practice, this is a pretty good barrel to have.
Colt AR-15/M-16 16” 5.56 Barrel Assembly
Our final barrel for review is the Colt AR-15/M-16. Of course, with a name like Colt, people would buy it on the name alone. That's because it's been one of the most prominent gunmakers for generations. Even today, they still built high-quality accessories for the gun owner or enthusiast. This is milled from stainless steel and has a chrome-lined inside. This is designed to make sure that it is resistant to corrosion and also ensures the best durability.
The barrel is 16 inches long and chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO rounds. The barrel has a 1:7 twist rate, which is suitable for heavy rounds. The assembly includes a front sight base, front sight tower and parts, handguard cap, and barrel nut. The muzzle is threaded to allow a muzzle brake or a flash suppressor.
This barrel is perfect for AR-15 owners who use their rifle for long distance shooting, hunting, competitions, or any other application they desire. This has an ironclad warranty and is also available on the market for a very reasonable price.
- Chrome-lined to resist corrosion.
- Milled from stainless steel.
- Comes with a front sight base, front sight tower, and other assembly parts.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Shoots 1 to 2-inch groups at 100 yards with no issues.
- Chrome lining is done nicely.
- Assembly may be a little complex.
The Bottom Line
Colt has always been one of the more reliable brands among gun owners for a long time. By a long time, we mean nearly over a century. The great thing about this is not only you are getting a strong barrel, but you're also getting one that will give your rifle some pretty good accuracy. If you hold accuracy to a high standard, you may want to consider the Colt barrel to be your best choice.
Factors to consider when looking for an AR-15 barrel
Before you decide on the barrel for your own use, there are some factors that you need to consider. This will determine whether or not if an barrel you’re looking at is actually going to fit you perfectly. Here are some factors that past buyers have considered when buying their barrels:
Chrome Or Stainless Steel
These are two of the most important materials that are used to craft barrels. The chrome is typically found on the inside of the barrel to ensure that it is resistant to corrosion. It is imperative that you should limit your search to barrels that have this chrome lining on the inside. This guarantees that your barrel will last a long time, no matter how many rounds it fires off.
The lifespan of these barrels will typically be a longer period of time for chrome lined barrels. However, the lifespan of a "short-lived" barrel is said to be around 8 to 10 years in length. Stainless steel barrels are used for long-range shots, so if you're using an AR-15 for that purpose, a stainless steel barrel will be a perfect choice.
The profile is defined as the shape of the barrel. This shape affects the weight and in turn, will affect the gun’s overall weight. The most common barrel profiles include pencil, M4 Government, and Recce. The barrels with heavy profiles offer enough thermal mass to absorb and resist a lot of heat during full auto shooting. Pencil barrels are lighter and suitable for single shot or semi-automatic shooting. A Recce (which is a military term for reconnaissance) falls more on the heavier side with a mid-length gas system. The M4 is a mixture of both the lightweight and heavyweight barrels. It’s lightweight under the handguard and thickens just before the gas port.
Finding the AR-15 barrel doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you know what you’re looking for and know what the factors to consider, you won’t have a hard time figuring out which barrel is best for you. Be sure to check each review carefully. Always do your in-depth research if one barrel appears to stand out as your favorite.