2018 Best-Rated AR-15 Barrels
The AR-15 is a popular semiautomatic rifle that suits the needs of casual and professional shooters alike. Since its creation in the 1950s, the AR-15 has been employed by both military personnel and civilians as a reliable and effective weapon. There is a vast number of AR-15 barrel manufacturers that are known around the world for their exceptional craftsmanship and ability to enhance your shooting experience.
The experts at Wing Tactical have compiled a list of the top AR-15 barrels of 2018 to help you choose the one that's best suited for your rifle. Before you discover the inherent benefits of barrels from renowned manufacturers like Odin Works, WMD Guns, Faxon Firearms and Ballistic Advantage, we suggest that you first identify which features of the barrel will give you the level of performance you need. The difference between the right barrel and the almost-right barrel could cause you to miss the target completely.
Things to Consider When Choosing an AR-15 Barrel
As you continue conducting research for your new AR-15 barrel, you'll want to pay close attention to each manufacturer's design process. Any knowledgeable gun owner knows that every detail of the barrel — from the weight and wear resistance to the choice of steel used in its manufacturing — directly impacts performance. Depending on how you intend to use your rifle, you'll require a barrel possessing certain characteristics to yield specific performance results.
In particular, you'll need to evaluate each barrel according to the following points:
- Twist rate
- Profile or weight
- Construction material
- Chamber type
Choosing the Right AR Barrel Twist Rate
The twist rate is the first detail you should acknowledge when searching for the best AR-15 barrels. The grooves cut into the interior of the barrel are known as the barrel's rifling and are measured in terms of twist rate. The twist rate defines the distance required to spin the bullet through a full 360° rotation. For instance, a twist rate of 1:10 causes a slower rotation while a twist rate of 1:8 requires less distance and thus rotates the bullet faster.
So why does twist rate matter?
Since the AR-15 can fire a variety of calibers, it's important to understand that certain twist rates won't provide effective stabilization for larger or longer caliber rounds. To determine the ideal twist rate for your personal usage use the formula Twist Rate = 150 (bullet diameter / bullet length to diameter ratio) or simply T=150(d/r). Depending on the specific ammunition you choose to use, you may want a twist rate ranging from 1:10 to a faster 1:7. Many of the best-rated AR-15 barrels feature fast twist rates.
Here are three examples of the ammunition weight grains and the twist rate that will provide maximum stability:
- 1:7 to 1:8 twist rate with 69 to 90 grain rounds
- 1:9 to 1:10 twist rate with 45 to 70 grain rounds
- 1:12 to 1:14 twist rate with 35 to 50 grain rounds
Selecting the Best Profile or Weight for Your Needs
The profile refers to the weight and shape of the barrel and is categorized as either lightweight, medium or heavyweight:
- Lightweight: Also referred to as pencil barrels, lightweight barrels are easier to carry around but do not have the durability of a heavier profile.
- Medium: Also referred to as government profile, these are slightly heavier than a pencil barrel but still provide a steady balance of weight and durability.
- Heavyweight: Heavier barrels will have the most durability because they provide the most resistance to the pressures of heat while firing.
- Hanson: The Hanson profile is that of a lightweight profile combined with a shoulder-less design. Lightweight feel without the lightweight limitations
Though the medium-weight barrel offers a mix of reliability and convenience, ultimately the best profile for you depends on your rate of firing and the firing conditions. For example, pencil barrels are much lighter to transport but heavyweight barrels can endure the pressure of rapid fire.
AR-15 Barrel Materials
The materials that were used to machine the barrel of your AR-15 will also impact its performance. Cold hammer-forged, stainless steel and chrome-lined barrels each have benefits that influence the lifespan of the piece:
- Cold Hammer-Forged: This relatively new way of rifling gun barrels involves first boring out the barrel blanks. Hammers then compress the blank inward to reduce its diameter. Though hot hammer forging is more expensive, cold hammer forging is more affordable and utilizes less-complicated machinery. Hammer forging can be used to make high-quality barrels as well as chambers, throats and outer profiles if needed. It creates an exceptional barrel with enhanced strength, great grain structure and an amazing finish.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is used in dozens of applications due to its inherent properties. For barrel manufacturers, it's easier to work with and doesn't require the addition of a chrome lining. While stainless steel does offer limited protection from corrosion, it may show signs of wear from heavy overuse throughout its service life. These barrels are known for their precision but may not be applicable for those desiring rapid firepower.
- Chrome-Lined: Chrome lining is commonly found in AR-15s and is the standard for military-issued rifles because it increases barrel life. The chrome lining has increased wear resistance because it can withstand pressure from heat and acts as an extra layer of corrosion protection. Its hard surface layer is also easy to clean — however, it may cause a slight drop in accuracy due to the unevenness of the chrome.
Popular AR-15 Catridges
- 5.56/.223 - The 5.56x45mm cartridge is one of the most popular rounds for any AR-15 platform. For decades the 5.56 and the AR-15 have been like the peanut butter and jelly of the gun world. As an intermediate round, this cartridge offers low recoil, quick target reacquisition, and versatile performance for Military, Law Enforcement and civilian operators
- .223 Wylde - .223 Wylde barrels, created by Bill Wylde, are built on the .223 chamber allowing operators to safetly fire.223 remington or 5.56x45mm NATO ammo
- 300 Blackout - .300 AAC blackout round, which is a carbine cartridge, and barrel were originally the United States' response to the Soviet's 7.62x39mm. The United States wanted to develop a similar round to the Soviets that could work on the AR-15 platform. The .300 AAC is built off the .223 case and built in the .30 caliber arena
- 6.5 Grendel - The 6.5 Grendel is an intermediate cartridge, that features lower recoil compared to some of the higher power cartridges in the AR-15 platform, while boasting consistent and sought-after accuracy in the range of 200 to 800 yards
- 9mm - While popularized by use with handguns, the 9mm (9mm Luger) has been an affect cartridge for AR-15s, offering shooters a reliable and accurate close range round with lite recoil offer quick target reacquisition
Difference Between 5.56 and Wylde Chambers
Knowing the key difference between a .223 Wylde and a 5.56 chamber is important. The .223 Saami chamber has a tight configuration that does not allow for 5.56 NATO ammunition to be used. However, the .223 Wylde chamber is sized between a .223 Sammi and a 5.56, enabling it to fire both .223 and 5.56 rounds safety. If you attempt to fire 5.56 rounds from a .223 Sammi chamber, you risk putting an excessive amount of pressure on the chamber that could result in the firearm exploding.
Best AR-15 Barrels
|ULTRALite Barrel||Odin Works||Lightweight||$275.50|
|Performance Series Barrel||Ballistic Advantage||Hanson||$194.75|
|5.56 NATO Pencil Barrel||Faxon Firearms||Lightweight||$151.05|
|.223 Wylde Barrel||Odin Works||Medium||$171.00|
|NiB-X Nickel Boron Barrel||WMD Guns||Medium||$209.95|
|Match Grade Stainless Steel Barrel||Seekins Precision||Heavyweight||$275.00|
|M4 5.56 LE Barrel||Spike's Tactical||Medium||$211.50|
|Stainless Steel Match Grade Barrel||Noveske||Lightweight||$432.25|
|Premium Fluted Barrel||Ballistic Advantage||SPR||$209.00|
|Flame Fluted Match Barrel||Faxon Firearms||Heavyweight||$289.75|
2018 Product Review: Best-Rated AR-15 Barrels
Odin Works .223 Wylde ULTRALite Barrel
Type: Lightweight, Pencil Profile
The Odin Works .223 Wylde ULTRALite Barrel is perfect for your lightweight AR-15 build. Weighing just under a pound and a half, this Odin Works barrel design sheds all extraneous materials to leave you with a strong and reliable chamber that can endure even the most intense usage. Increase your accuracy with .223 Remington and 5.56x45 NATO ammunition with this stainless steel barrel that gives you the optimal gunning experience only Odin Works can provide.
Ballistic Advantage Performance Series AR-15 5.56 Barrel - Hanson Profile
Looking for a barrel that offers a lightweight feel without the lightweight limitations in accuracy or performance? Then the Ballistic Advantage Performance Series 5.56 Hanson is exactly what you're looking for. A pre-threaded muzzle and extended feed ramps are just two of the redesigned features of this easy-handling barrel. With a symmetrically-limiting whip that enables the barrel to return to its initial position, this barrel is perfect for high-rate and full-auto firing. Ballistic Advantage's Performance Series barrels give your AR-15 the freedom and functionality it deserves.
Faxon Firearms 5.56 NATO Pencil Barrel
Type: Lightweight, Pencil Profile
With the lightest pencil barrels in the industry, Faxon Firearms barrels provide the perfect balance of performance and weight for your AR-15. Each is air-gauge tested, fully stress-relieved and individually checked for headspace. The Faxon Firearms 5.56 NATO Pencil Barrel uses certified 4150 Mil-Spec steel with QPQ Nitride bore and outside finishes, making it almost fully resistant to environmental damage. From casual shooters to industry professionals, the unparalleled quality of a Faxon pencil barrel is ideal for any lightweight AR-15 build.
Odin Works .223 Wylde Barrel
Type: Medium, Government Profile
You need a barrel that will improve your accuracy without succumbing to performance issues down the road. The Odin Works .223 Wylde Barrel features a tighter chamber throat ideal for competitive and casual shooters alike, allowing you to seamlessly fire both 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington rounds with maximum accuracy. This 416 stainless steel barrel has 1/2-28" threads that enable you to effortlessly attach a suppressor or compensator at a moment's notice. Want accuracy and performance? Get the best of both worlds with Odin Works .223 Wylde Barrels.
WMD Guns 5.56 NiB-X Nickel Boron Barrel
Type: Medium, Government Profile
The first thing you'll notice about WMD Guns 5.56 NiB-X Nickel Boron Barrel is its unbelievable finish. Using their exclusive advanced coating methods, WMD creates 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel barrels that have incomparable wear resistance and surface durability. Their Nitromet nitride bore treatment is mildly self-lubricating, unlike the chrome coatings traditionally used in chambers. The NiB-X barrel's nickel boron exterior finish gives its surface enhanced heat dissipation and resistance to wear. For unmatched durability and exceptionally smooth operation, WMD's coated barrels are your easily your best choice.
Seekins Precision .223 Wylde Match Grade Stainless Steel Barrel
Type: Heavyweight Profile
Select a Seekins Precision .223 Wylde Match Grade Stainless Steel Barrel and outfit your AR-15 with one of the finest barrels around the globe. Its 5R button rifling and 1:8 twist are ready to provide maximum speed, accuracy and reliability. Any .750" gas block can be installed onto these Armor Black-coated barrels. To ensure unmatched quality, each barrel is put through four rigorous tests to meet Seekins' renowned standards of quality. The .223 Wylde Match barrel lives up to Seekins' reputation for excellence.
Spike's Tactical M4 5.56 LE Barrel
Type: Medium, Government Profile
If you want a barrel for your AR-15 that will stand the test of time, you'll undoubtedly need a Spikes Tactical barrel. The M4 5.56 LE Barrel was made to please. Machined from a high-quality Certified MIL-B-11595E Chromoly Vanadium Alloy with a Mil-Spec M4 barrel extension, this barrel was built for the long-haul. High-Pressure Tested and Magnetic Particle Inspected, you'll know this barrel means business with its 1/2"-28 muzzle thread pattern and 1:7 twist rate. If you need precision and performance for years to come, you need Spikes.
Noveske Lightweight 5.56 Stainless Steel Match Grade AR-15 Barrel
Type: Lightweight, Pencil Profile
Every shot counts, which is why Noveske only manufactures high-quality stainless barrel stocks that deliver superior performance in every shot. With a hard bead blasted finish against 416R stainless steel, each barrel features an improved polygonal rifling process that enhances accuracy. Every Noveske barrel also comes with a specially designed gas tube and pre-drilled low-profile gas block. This lightweight match AR barrel has a 556 Noveske Match Chamber with extended M4 feed ramps. If you're aiming for superior performance, set your sights on a Noveske barrel.
Ballistic Advantage Premium Series .223 Wylde Fluted Barrel - SPR Profile
Type: SPR Profile (Special Purpose Barrel Profile)
If you're looking for a reduction in weight without sacrificing accuracy, look to the Ballistic Advantage Premium Series .223 Wylde Fluted Barrel. This SRP Profile barrel's extension has a nickel boron finish that allows it to smoothly feed without fouling. Ballistic Advantage truly does give you an advantage by guaranteeing that every barrel offers sub-Minute of Angle accuracy with match-grade ammunition. The unique fluted barrel of the SRP is designed to resist heat stress and distortion. Trust us — Ballistic Advantage has your AR-15 covered.
Faxon Firearms .223 Wylde Flame Fluted Match Barrel
Type: Heavyweight Profile
Searching for a match-grade .223 Wylde barrel that looks and performs like no other AR-15 barrel on the market? Faxon Firearms has the right barrel for you. Their .223 Wylde Flame Fluted Match Barrel provides better accuracy with less jump. Its nickel Teflon finish protects against corrosion and its QOQ Nitride finish improves barrel longevity. Faxon Firearms manufactures every aspect of these barrels with their exceptional craftsmanship, delivering a finished product with an appearance and performance you won't find anywhere else.
Find the Best AR-15 Barrels at Wing Tactical
Whether you're replacing an old barrel or getting started with a new AR-15 build, you know choosing a barrel that suits your specific needs is key. To decide which is right for you, first consider how you plan to utilize the weapon. Shooters who hunt or frequent target ranges should look for reliability while those involved in competitive shooting would be wise to seek out a precision barrel with a high twist rate. All barrels have advantages, but the key is determining which advantages are most applicable.
Wing Tactical is proud to carry a large assortment of high-quality AR-15 barrels from the finest manufacturers. We carry the best .223 Wylde barrels from the gun enthusiasts at Odin Works, the top 5.56 barrels from Noveske and the best stainless steel AR-15 barrels from Faxon Farms. Featuring high-quality barrels from Seekins Precision, Spike's Tactical, WMD Guns, Ballistics Advantage and other renowned manufacturers, Wing Tactical has a selection that can't be beat. Shop our vast inventory and find the best-rated AR-15 barrels for your build.
Since 2013, our veteran-owned business has helped service personnel, hunters, professional marksmen and civilians find the AR-15 parts and accessories they need. We make every effort to provide our customers with the best service, top-notch products and lowest prices. Shop our inventory today and let us help you secure one of the top-rated AR-15 barrels of the year!