Barrels For Custom AR-15s, Part 2

How barrel characteristics influence pressure, shooting military ball ammo, and determining optimal twist rates.

by Joe Carlos

Coupling proper assembly techniques and a scientific, unbiased analysis leveled the field in my barrel accuracy study. My analysis found almost every custom barrel manufacturer makes a really good barrel, some of the time and at at widely varying rates. Some barrel companies only produce about one really good barrel in ten while others go as high as eight for nine. That is a huge quality control spread and it behooves custom builders to hedge their bets by purchasing from those two makers on the high end while avoiding those on the lower end, if accuracy is a prime consideration.

Know Your Customer

That last qualifier was deliberate. My guns are built for those tiny few AR shooters trying to win High Power competitions, a tiny niche market. I have to constantly remind myself that for the much larger AR market, match-winning accuracy may not be the prime consideration for barrel choice.

Cost is a primary consideration. Those wearing a shop apron have to live within some budget constraints. When my sales are down and I go to the supermarket with only a few dollars, I have to choose between buying ice cream for Joe or cat food. Sucks to be Kitty on those days! Just kidding. More seriously, when a potential customer approaches me at my Camp Perry store or elsewhere, eyeballing the expensive Bartlein gain twist barrels and quipping he can buy two barrels elsewhere for the same price, he is revealing that cost is more important to him than accuracy.

Read more in the August 2017 issue.

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