View Full Version : Bottom of the barrel .... barrel. Or is it?

10-27-17, 00:48
We recently ordered a 16" 5.56 nitride 1:8 barrel. While we have access to some fantastic barrels sitting around, we wanted a couple cheap barrels to swap around and use just for pictures. However, like most extra parts, they tend to get build up into complete uppers or builds at some point. For roughly $65, we weren't going to be overly worried how tight it grouped.

In this case, a buddy wanted help building up an upper receiver. He wasn't looking for a expensive barrel, but before we were going to toss him anything, we wanted to see what sort of barrel we were looking at. The cheapo barrel was slapped quickly into a configuration, and a quick test fire was done. From 25 yards we fired generic two 55 grain fmj rounds into one hole, and another 3/8" or so away. Not bad for shooting unsupported. A friend was over, and he fired two rounds from standing that were pretty close to each other. That seemed pretty good for generic ammo. Next we fired 30 rounds through the barrel with no malfunctions. It seemed this barrel would do pretty well for a blaster, and was going to end up being pretty accurate to boot.

With the barrel seeming to shoot that well, we ordered a couple more. Once they came in, we mounted them in receivers and rails, and went out to see how good they would do for us in new builds. The results were less than we had hoped for. Before you get wrapped up in the below pictures, we need to point out the shooting was done at 80 yards due to the 100 yard position being unsat for the moment. We multiplied the groups by 1.2 to give an approximate 100 yard group measurement. This is why you see two sets of measurements. The notes are rough, and were taken to document things for ourselves. It wasn't until everything was done that it seemed worth a writeup. You can see that using generic 55 grain FMJ Q3131A, out groups averaged 3.46", with a best of 3.16". This was not overly impressive. Take note that 3 rounds would shoot well, and two would go wide almost every time.


Moving along from the above, it was decided to try out a few different high end loads. Only one of these targets was saved, but the numbers seemed to bear out what the other test target had shown. Using 55 grain Sierra Blitzking loaded rounds from Gorilla Ammunition, our corrected 100 yard groups measured 1.14", which didn't seem all that shabby. Next we used 55 grain TRU Tactical ammo, and hit a group measuring 1.77". In this case, much like the 55 grain SBK, the rounds looked to be stringing and were in a much tighter width than length. While it is possible we were having the text book answer of "you need to work on your breathing while shooting", we looked closer and found again that three rounds would group tight, and two would be farther away. Having been a firearm instructor and precision rifle instructor for decades, there seemed to be more at work than shooter error (but isn't that what we all say). Lastly, 69 grain Sierra Matchking rounds were fired (Gorilla Ammo), and the group came out to 1.52".


The next day we checked our equipment over, and went back at it with new ammunition, and figured that we may find something with a sweet spot, but overall it was hard to complain about a barrel which was low cost, and had fired a 1.14" group. We started with more Gorilla ammunition, which a buddy had sent to us awhile back. This was 77 grain Sierra MatchKing, and as we heated up the barrel, we had some surprising results. The first group was cold, and came in at 1.39", which wasn't bad, but we had fired an extra round accidentally and had to adjust focus after it was knocked out of whack. The second group fired nicely with three rounds touching for a total corrected group size of .808". The third group pulled a .75" group (after converting) with three in one hole. Last, but not least, the last four rounds went into a .986" group. Lastly, we fired off 55 grain Sierra BlitzKing from Australia Outback (Sierra) and had groups of 1.41" and 1.76" which seemed pretty close with the Gorilla Ammunition previously fired.


So what did we learn from an unmarked, no name 16" medium contour nitrided barrel? A few things. First, we were disgusted at the original groups we were getting using generic ammunition. While 3.5" groups may fall under "combat acceptable", or "close enough", we had really been hoping for something better (even though we paid bottom barrel pricing). Secondly, and what sticks out most in our minds, was the best group fired being .750" (corrected) using the 77 grain SMK loads. Three quarter inch groups are respectable out of any AR15 barrel, and exceedingly respectable for off the shelf ammunition. What stands out a bit is how good this barrel could have been. Even with the best ammo and groups, we still found uncalled fliers, and we found them with almost every group we fired.

Is the barrel worth the $65? Clearly it is, and the gas port doesn't appear to be overly massive either. The reason we aren't going to post a link is because there is no way of knowing who makes the barrel. Any orders made could very likely turn out to be utter garbage, from a different supplier, or who knows what. Knowing this, if you still want to gamble, shoot us a PM and we'll send you the link. The moral to this story is while this barrel clearly isn't perfect, at times there are diamonds in the rough, and for dirt cheap, it is nice to win sometimes.

Shown below, it is using a Santan Tactical Stickman lower, CMC Trigger, Magpul furniture, Gear Sector rail, Lantac Dragon Brake, Midwest Industries mount, and Trijicon 4-16x50, the charging handle and safety are from Radian.


10-27-17, 15:13
*** Updated to reflect if you send us a PM, we will send you the link to the barrel we used in this write up ***

Just understand that without a name prominently listed, we have no idea who, what, or where the buck stops with these. We are in no way endorsing them other than to state the above was our experience. For the given price, OURS is going to make a fantastic blaster, but it will never be our "go to" gun. It will always be for training and pictures. We have ZERO affiliation with this company.