Best Barrels for an AR-15 Build

I have always thought that building the lower receiver on an AR-15 build was low stress and carried a low likelihood of messing up the gun or having it spontaneously combust on me. The upper receiver was the scariest piece of the build. Recently though I built an EPC-9 upper. Easy. Why be intimidated by an AR-15 upper? We’ve found the best barrels for an AR-15 build, and it’s the BA Modern Series 16″ 5.56 Government Midlength Barrel.

The top barrels for an AR-15 build

  1. BA Modern Series 16″ 5.56 Government Midlength Barrel – Editors Choice
  2. Rosco Mfg Bloodline 12.5″ 5.56 Government Barrel with Gas Block, Gas Tube and BCG – Best Barrel Kit
  3. Diamondback Barrels 16″ 5.56 Carbine Barrel with Melonite Finish – Value Option
  4. BA Performance Series 10.3″ 5.56 Hanson Carbine Length Barrel with Lo Pro Gas Block – Barrel SBR Choice

#1. BA Modern Series 16″ 5.56 Government Midlength Barrel

Check Current Price | Editors Choice

16″ 5.56 GOVERNMENT PROFILE MIDLENGTH AR 15 BARREL, MODERN SERIES – BABL556015M

Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s

  •  QPQ Corrosion Resistant Finish
  • 16″ barrel length can be used with adjustable stocks without tax stamp
  • QPQ coated M4 feed ramp extension
  • 1:7 twist rate like government model AR platforms
  • Sub-MOA guarantee

Con’s

  • Gas block not included

Our experience with the BA Modern Series 16″ 5.56 Government Midlength Barrel

The Ballistic Advantage Modern Series 16″ Midlength Barrel is perfect for any AR-15 enthusiast. We like the QPQ coating on the feed ramp extension and its corrosion resistant finish. The length of the barrel is just right for anyone seeking a non-SBR rifle setup while also avoiding the pinned 14.5″ barrel option.

Read: What’s the best caliber for an AR platform?

Our next AR-15 build is going to feature this barrel with an Aero Precision AR-15 assembled upper without forward assist.

Read: What’s the Best AR-15 Stripped Lower?

Many of Ballistic Advantage’s barrels have gas block add-on’s available but this kit isn’t one of them.

#2. Rosco Mfg Bloodline 12.5″ 5.56 Government Barrel with Gas Block, Gas Tube and BCG, Government Profile

Check Current Price | Best Barrel Kit

Rosco Mfg Bloodline 12.5″ 5.56 Government Barrel with Gas Block, Gas Tube and BCG – SP-BL-125-556-BCG-GTC-NGB-001

Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s

  • High quality components
  • Includes gas block, gas tube, and BCG

Con’s

  • Requires a tax stamp or pistol brace (based on current ATF regulations)

Our experience with the Rosco Mfg Bloodline 12.5″ 5.56 Government Barrel with Gas Block, Gas Tube and BCG

We built our tax stamped SBR with these components and it runs beautifully. The packaged deal really saved us money and questions when choosing which gas block to use, the tube length or material, and the BCG was just the cherry on top. If they package included handguards, we would have taken them as well. Rosco Mfg has a high quality and precise manufacturing process. We’re pleased with this kit for our build.

Buyer beware if you purchase this kit and don’t tax stamp it or use a pistol brace. We feel like if you’re brand new to the AR-15 building game – you need to start with a 16″ or longer barrel. Getting into the legalities of 14.5″ pinned barrels or SBR length barrels with pistol braces could be a recipe for disaster.

#3. Diamondback Barrels 16″ 5.56 Carbine Barrel with Melonite Finish – Value Option

Check Current Price | Value Option

Diamondback Barrels 16″ 5.56 Carbine Barrel with Melonite Finish – 556C16MF50B7

Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s

  • Lower cost compared to other brands
  • M4 feed ramps
  • 1:7 twist rate like government AR platforms

Con’s

  • No sub-MOA guarantee
  • Gas block not included

Our experience with the Diamondback Barrels 16″ 5.56 Carbine Barrel with Melonite Finish

Putting rounds down range doesn’t require a fancy barrel or equipment. You may just want to focus on shooting fundamentals prior to buying precision rifle parts. That’s fine – the Diamandback Barrles 16″ 5.56 Carbine Barrel with Melonite Finish would be perfect for such a build. It’s lower comparative cost compared to other brands will keep your AR-15 cost down and allow you to shoot well when applying the proper fundamentals.

This barrel doesn’t feature a sub-MOA guarantee like the Ballistic Advantage barrels do. It also doesn’t include a gas block. We could find a gas block easily but as experienced shooters, we’d prefer a barrel with a sub-MOA guarantee.

#4. BA Performance Series 10.3″ 5.56 Hanson Carbine Length Barrel with Lo Pro Gas Block

Check Current Price | SBR Choice

BA Performance Series 10.3″ 5.56 Hanson Carbine Length Barrel with Lo Pro Gas Block – BABL556004F

Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s

  • Gas block included
  • Sub-MOA guarenteed
  • Popular Hanson barrel line

Con’s

  • Requires tax stamp or pistol brace

Our experience with the BA Performance Series 10.3″ 5.56 Hanson Carbine Length Barrel with Lo Pro Gas Block

We’re big fans of Ballistic Advantage’s barrel lines. We like this barrel because it features the Ballistic Advantage sub-MOA guarantee, is a part of their Hanson barrel line, and includes a gas block. This package is a steal compared to other sub-MOA competitors with the gas block included.

Read: What You Should Know About the SBR Barrel Length Rules

Again, please know your federal and local laws (especially when changes come along). Follow the ATF’s rules and guidance on SBR’s and pistol braced weapons.

How do I choose the correct gas tube length?

Gas tube lengths come in pistol, carbine, midlength, and rifle length. The barrel length configuration is what determines the length of the gas tube.

What is a gas block and which should I choose?

A easiest way to understand what a gas block is, is by explaining what it does. The gas block sends gasses and pressure back to the upper receiver and sends the bolt carrier group back into the buffer system (buffer tube), pushing the spring and buffer back to properly cycle the weapon.

If too little pressure, the weapon won’t cycle properly (failure to feed or extract). If too much pressure, the components are at risk for early failure. The recoil will be higher in this situation as well.

Which muzzle device should I use?

Muzzle devices come in different calibers and have different uses. A muzzle break reduces recoil, causes a larger fireball (as compared to an A2 flash hider), and is very loud. An A2 flash hider is your most balanced option for accuracy, reduced recoil, and reduced sound (nowhere near suppressed though). Another type of muzzle device is a device threaded for use with a suppressor.

A normal A2 flash hider (commonly referred to as a bird cage) is perfectly fine for most people.

Our listing criteria:

  • Is the barrel available on the open market?
  • Does our research or personal experience warrant a recommendation?
  • Cost
  • Accuracy
  • Warranties (if any)
  • Difficulty at installation
  • Customizability

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