AR Barrels?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Iowaboy, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Iowaboy

    Iowaboy Well-Known Member

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    What does it take to replace a barrel on an AR-15? Is it something that can be done at home or is it a gunsmith only thing?
     
  2. Kevin Thomas

    Kevin Thomas Well-Known Member

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    One of the many truly wonderful things about the AR; they don't need a gunsmith, just an armorer. No problem at all and it's a very easy process.

    Kevin Thomas
    Lapua USA
     
  3. Iowaboy

    Iowaboy Well-Known Member

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    Awsome!!! I have already swapped out a savage barrel and that was a piece of cake. Had to figure a AR couldn't be that much more difficult.

    So my next question is what brand of barrel would you guys recomend? I am wanting to go with a 20 practical for prairie dog shooting. All the reading I've done on it sounds like a great little round.
     
  4. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    That all assumes that you buy a barrel which already has the barrel extension installed and headspaced. Better barrels are headspaced to a specific bolt which is ether suppled by the barrel manufacturer or by the customer. Headspacing an AR-15 requires some machining.

    It also assumes that the barrel has been contoured and the gas port has been drilled by the barrel manufacturer. Determining the gas port location and diameter is generally taken care of by the barrel manufacturer, but may not be the case if your barrel is for a wildcat chamber or special loads. That too requires some machining skill to drill the hole, but far more important is the skill to determine the proper port diameter and location for a particular cartridge.

    Just installing a barrel can be done with just a vise, an action wrench. and a torque wrench (optional if you're good at estimating torque) and allen wrenches for tightening screws on the gas block. Installing a new pinned gas block requires machining.

    AR-15's were designed to have their barrels replaced in the field by military armorers with only simple hand tools. The military suppled barrels have the barrel extensions headspaced and gas blocks (front sight) already installed on the barrel Check what you're getting when you buy a barrel.
     
  5. Iowaboy

    Iowaboy Well-Known Member

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    Wow thanks Lou, I'll put that knowlege to good use when I order a barrel. Any opinions on were to get one though?
     
  6. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what YOU want. What are your targets? At what range? In what terrain?

    Some companies turn them out cheap, some expensive with custom chambers and many options.

    Shooting prairie dogs at 200 yards or 400 lb hogs at 50 yards or deer at 300 yards each needs a different barrel and cartridge. Different manufacturers are better at different things.

    I have AR-15s ranging from 5 to 14 lbs, 7.5 to 26" barrels and from 17 to 50 caliber. There's not much resemblance between a Carbon 15 and a 50 Beowulf Overwatch.

    Tell us more about what you want to use it for and you'll get better answers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  7. Iowaboy

    Iowaboy Well-Known Member

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    This is going to be pretty much a prairie dog shooting only gun. Looking at the 300 yard range for it also, if they get out past 300 I'll switch to a different gun as I have 223, 6br and 7mm mag bolt guns with heavy barrels for longer more windy shots.

    I was thinking the 20 practical because it would use the same 223 brass that works in any of my magazines, but offer a little more speed than the 223 and since our average p-dogs are 200 and under I think would work great on the little vermin.

    Unless you have other ideas on a good round for my uses.
     
  8. Kevin Thomas

    Kevin Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Lou's perfectly correct about the barrel extension, and I'd taken it for granted that you'd be talking about a finished barrel that came with the externsion already attached and properly headspaced to a new bolt. My comments pertained to one that comes set up this way, while Lou's are appropriate to a blank barrel that has to be set up; that's gunsmith territory. I've used primarily Hart and Satern barrels on my own ARs, with the vast majority of them used for Service Rifle competition. The Hart's I bought as blanks and had them set up by John Holliger (White Oak Arms), Frank White (Compass Lake Engineering) or Derrick Martin (Accuracy Speaks). All three turn out superb guns and I've been quite satisfied with all. Steve Satern turns out an outstanding cut-rifled barrel, and I've used his on my last several match uppers. Steve's barrels come with an extension in place, headspaced to a new bolt (included), and with the front sight tower already in place, gas port drilled and properly located in the groove. Definately worth asking before you plunk down any cash on a new project. A few questions to the vendor should clarify any and all issues before you get started.

    Kevin Thomas
    Lapua USA
     
  9. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    For a "no gunsmithing" 17 Rem, 204 Ruger, or 223 Varminter Shilen makes a nice 24" heavy barrel complete with matching bolt. Available from http//www.midwayUSA.com. You'll also need a gas block and gas tube but they're standard sizes. I have one in 17 Remington. In 223 just about everyone makes 223 24" heavy barrels. Krieger offers a 26". Pricy but excellent. For less money Model One Sales has 24" heavy SS ER Shaw barrels. They also offer a 24" 6PPC but that means using a 7.62x39 bolt and a little adjusting of the magazines. Still nothing I'd call gunsmithing you can't do at home.

    Even Walmart sells 40 grain 223. The others are more expensive to shoot unless you handload. I'd suggest you look at the ballistics of each and take advice from those who hunt prairie dogs. I don't.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  10. Iowaboy

    Iowaboy Well-Known Member

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    Great thanks Lou! How does that 17 rem in the ar shoot? Since I already have a bolt action 223 I was thinking something smaller than 22cal so that I could get more speed. More speed equals better effect on the p-dogs. But it still needs to shoot accurately.

    Out of the guys I p-dog shoot with I am the slowest bullet with the 223. Couple guys with 22-250 and 204s. I'm also going to be packing a 6br this year and the 65 grainers should be impressive.

    Thanks again.