I am considering a sort of "mini MK12" upper project. Mid-length gas system, heavy profile, probably ~14", 223 Wylde, always suppressed with SF RC2, PRI front sight gas block and carbon fiber handguard, mated with a decent snug upper. The idea being consistent accuracy and performance out to, say, 400m, while retaining some decent handling by keeping it shortish. I am fine with having to cut and re-thread the barrel, as there is a somewhat local guy that has a reputation in precision, who I know wouldn't compromise the efficacy of whatever barrel I end up with.
Part of me wants to go chrome lined, as it seems as though, when done right, it doesn't degrade accuracy, and the perks are obvious. However, I have heard tell of cutting a CL barrel potentially presenting issues at the cut site, which may affect accuracy. Also, I am unsure on flutes. On paper, the benefits of flutes seem obvious, but I have seen mention of adverse effects when heat is a factor, and a fluted barrel may also present problems if I need to have a barrel cut, to fit my parameters.
Anyone have any manufacturer recommendations? It seems that you can spend $250-$450 for what is probably a good barrel, or under $200 for something that is "good enough". I don't care for that sub $200 barrel, in this project. This is really my first time being picky about a barrel, and I'd like to do it right. Another thing about it is whether the barrel is actually available; it seems more than a few of the reputable makers are regularly in a backorder status. Centurion seems to keep a good inventory, but they also seem to lack 223 Wylde options. My internet research indicates that 223 Wylde is definitely a good idea, if the pursuit is accuracy, so I'd like to go that way, unless wise men here give me reason not to.
I may be lacking something in my parameters, which, if defined, would help narrow my search. That is what I am hoping to get from y'all. What am I missing? Where am I going wrong?
Also, it seems some companies offer a nicely headspaced bolt. Is this something that can be duplicated with some go/no-go gauges and a handful of bolts to select from, or should I pursue a maker that offers this?
It seems a couple re-sellers have Criterion HBAR mid-length gas chrome lined barrels in stock. Criterion was a company I had considered, due to repeated appearances in search results, but their site had little in stock. This also re-raises the question of cutting through a chrome lined bore, as these are 16" barrels.This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSGM,
|quarter MOA visionary
IMO and experience all my precision barrels have been stainless with Wylde chambers.
Further accuracy comes from optics and trigger improvements and of course custom hand loads.
However, your inquiry is about barrels in which mine are mostly Ultra Match barrels from Ranier Arms and White Oak Armament.
Mine were based on Shilen blanks and a few years old but the current Ultra Mod Match 2 may be of another manufacturer, but I would have no problems with trying it.
Recently bought a couple Proof Carbon Fiber barrels but haven't built them yet so no range report available.
So SS and Wylde is a good start.
Good luck and let us know how it comes out.
Read you loud and clear. Both White Oak and Ranier did pop up in prior searches as well.
White Oak has one that certainly fits the bill; it checks the SS and Wylde boxes, but would need cut.
Ranier has the Mountain Mod2, which wouldn't need cut, but isn't a Wylde; it's also fluted, and no one can really seem to agree whether flutes are value-added or not, in what I've read.
I appreciate your suggestions.
|quarter MOA visionary
^^^ Flutes will reduce weight and perhaps aid cooling albeit not the main advantage.
My WOA is a 20" and fluted - dead on accurate.
My preference from Rainier wouldn't be the mountain but the UM Mod 2 list (available in many lengths), more expensive but> buy once - cry once.
I saw the UM; They don't permit the use of the gas block I'd like to use; that's why I landed on the Mountain line.
WOA offers the paired bolt. Is this something I should be caring about, or can I arrive at the same point by using a bolt from current inventory that has the tightest-feeling headspace on a "go" gauge?
|quarter MOA visionary
What is the redeeming value of your gas block choice, what is the problem?
If it comes down to a barrel vs the gas block - I would base my choice on the barrel if possible.
Getting a matched bolt is a plus but not necessary, you can of course use go/no_go gauges and would probably want to anyway.
I have only got a "matched" bolt when I did a 6.8spc and never had any issues with mostly JP Rifle bolts.
I have two Larue Stealth barrels, both are very good shooters.
The 20" is a pretty consistent 1.2-1.4 MOA barrel shooting 10 shot groups with my 73gr ELD handloads. It actually groups a little bit tighter with the Sierra 69 but I shoot the ELD for the higher BC.
If there is no wind, first round hits on 10-12 inch steel plates out to 700 yards are pretty routine. If there is wind, I am the weak link in reading the wind and it gets more difficult.
Shooting out the 400 yards is almost boringly routine with that setup.
There isn't a "problem", necessarily. The gun will have BUIS, whichever way I go, and the PRI gives me a folding front sight built into the gas block, while maintaining the MK12 aesthetic. I use them on two of my other guns, and like them a lot. All other things being equal, I'll go with what enables the PRI block; I may even make a tiny compromise in a barrel, to enable it's use.
If accuracy is the goal, then a quality SS barrel is the key. Definitely no chrome lining, and probably best to avoid melonite treatments. Chromoly is an option, however SS barrels retain their accuracy with greater consistency over the life of the barrel. When an SS barrel's throat is shot out, accuracy takes a dive right now. Chromoly barrels tend to have a more gradual accuracy deterioration with throat wear. A lapped barrel will almost always shooter better than an unlapped barrel. If accuracy is the goal, hammer forged isn't the way to go.
If fluting is done right, and if the barrel is stress relieved after fluting, then it doesn't affect accuracy. A fluted barrel won't cool more quickly due to the flutes -- the change in surface area for the majority of fluting styles is minimal. Fluted barrels heat up and cool down more quickly than their comparable unfluted barrels due to the reduced metal mass.
Wylde chambers should shoot more accurately than 5.56 chambers, if the shooter is using 223 ammo. It depends on how the chambers were cut, and the barrel's quality. A tightly chambered 5.56 barrel might shoot better than a so-so chambered Wylde. Case in point is my experience with Wilson Combat, where the 5.56 chambered barrels display accuracy that approaches that of 223 match chambers -- sub-MOA out to hundreds of yards.
Matched bolts are fine, but I haven't experienced any issues with quality non-matched bolts. My AR15 have Wilson Combat or JP bolts.
Short-list barrel sources include Wilson Combat, Compass Lake, White Oak, JP. Best accuracy twists are in the ballpark of 1:7.5 to 1:8, although a quality barrel in 1:7 is fine. Avoid barrels that have skinny profiles between the chamber and the gas block -- you want some steel mass here for best accuracy.
I have always read good things about Criterion.
I had come across more than a few recommendations for Criterion, in my searching. They actually seem to have one that'd fit the bill, though it would need cut.
That and the previously-linked WOA (also needing cut) are the ones I am coming back to.
Stats are very similar. Both 223 Wylde; both 416R; both offer headspaced bolts; both are right around $300. The WOA is a lighter profile, going off the weight stats. WOA is 1:7; Criterion is 1:8. Criterion mentions hand lapping; WOA doesn't. Criterion may be more appealing, based on fritz' comments; though he didn't name the brand.
This is the shop I'd use to shorten whatever I get.
Wilson doesn't seem to offer a heavy profile in a mid gas. All of JP's current offerings appear to be light profiles.
*The Wilson powermad references below has the short gas block journal, and is a lighter profile than I had in mind. Though he is, of course, right in suggesting compromises may be in order.
You may have to make some compromises with what you are wanting.
Not a .223 Wylde but it checks the rest of the boxes and since it will be suppressed this would work well.
I've been pleased with the 18" 223 Wylde I got from them.
I have the fluted version of this barrel in one upper -- 14.5" length, 1:8 twist, fluted, 556 chamber. I'll put it against anything this side of Bartlein or Krieger for accuracy. The upper has a NF 2.5-10x42 scope -- not Nightforce's best optic, but it works. SOCOM mini 30 cal suppressor.
I can post pictures at a later time if desired -- I need to upload them to imgur and don't have the time now.
From a day in Feb-20, winds 8-12 mph from my 5-7 o'clock. Factory Hornady 75 HBPT Black, 5 rounds for each group, shot from prone with bipod and rear bag. White-painted 12" steel plates, without a defined (i.e. painted) aiming point.
- First group at 320 yards -- 3.0" vertical variation and 3.5" horizontal variation
- Second group at 320 yards -- 2.0" vertical, 1.5" horizontal
- Third group at 300 yards -- 1.75" vertical, 3.5" horizontal
- Fourth group at 340 yards -- 1.75" vertical, 2.5" horizontal
From a day in Mar-20, winds 3-12 mph from my 1-2 o'clock, 430 or 440 yards on a white IPSC plate, 5 round groups of Hornady 75 black.
- After a switch from Federal 53 Vmax, the first two rounds of 75 Black fell low. Rounds 3-5 were on POA, 1" vertical and 1.5" horizontal
- Second group at 430-440 yards -- 1.5" vertical and 1.5" horizontal.
That's essentially 1/3 MOA at a quarter mile, with factory ammo.
Wilson Combat barrels shoot, and not just at 50 or 100 yards.
I’ve amazingly great results with V7 barrels. 5.56MM, polygonal rifling, stainless, and disgustingly accurate. The best part of these barrels; if you shoot one out, they replace it for free.
My records indicate I fired only 25 rounds on the Feb-20 day -- likely 5 at paper at 100 yards to confirm zero and 20 on steel. Likely was a cold day in February, given that I shot so few rounds.
The two targets at 320 yards. First group on the right, with 3" vertical. Second group on the left, with 2" vertical.
Third group at 300 yards, with 1.75" vertical.
Fourth group at 340 yards, with 1.75" vertical.
Correction to my earlier post -- I did have aiming dots on these 12" plates. There weren't painted aiming dots on the 430-440 yard plate.
It must have been a nicer day in March, as I shot a few different rounds that day. That was around the start of COVID supply issues and I was trying to find alternatives to my regular match rounds of Hornady 75, Hornady 73, and FGMM 69. I had just shot quite a few rounds of Hornady 53 Vmax, which performed well at short distances, but not so much at 300-400 yards. As I have discussed a few times in various threads, some types of ammo don't immediately shoot well after an ammo transition.
At either 430 or 440 yards, 5 + 5 rounds of Hornady 75 Black. POA even with the right point of the shoulder, first 2 shots impacted low, then the ammo settled down. Second group POA even with the right point of the hip.
|Caught in a loop
I've had very, very good luck with Criterion and Krieger barrels. A friend of mine swears by Bartlein 5R barrels as well. We both shoot PRS, though, so 1) bolt guns, and 2) long range.
I've got a couple of 24" AR uppers I built back in October. One has a Ballistic Advantage barrel, and the other a Criterion. The latter, I will say, is a hell of a rifle while the former is still a bit of an unknown as the scope on there is lackluster at best and I don't have much time to shoot right now. I definitely wouldn't buy a BA due to what I had to do to get the thing shooting (it involved a drill and the gas port because it was undersized) and how they handled it being damaged prior to transit. I think I posted about the whole mess here.
Wilson Combat is good stuff. They've got quite the reputation for consistent and affordable barrels. If I didn't have a spare Criterion sitting in the safe I might go with one once one of my 24" barrels craps the bed. I think they supply a good number of companies with OEM barrels.
I wouldn't look at the Criterion site for availability. I'd look at the usual suspects first - Brownells was where I bought both of mine from, and while they had stock the Criterion site had nothing, and they were surprisingly inexpensive - I want to say I paid $300 for each of them.
"In order to understand recursion, you must first learn the principle of recursion."
Here's the 14.5" Wilson upper, used for the targets above. Fluted Recon-profile barrel.
I have this 14.5 inch and two 16 inch WC barrels in service now. Have shot out a 16 and an 18. All of them shoot. I believe I have one each of 16, 18, and 20 inch WC barrels in the basement, for when I shoot out current barrels.
I have questions submitted to WOA and Criterion, concerning the two barrels previously linked. I want to know if the WOA is lapped, and I need to know if the Criertion has a full-length gas block journal. If the answer to both is yes, the only differences would be twist rate and profile. The WOA is 1:7, while the Criterion is 1:8; and the Criterion seems to be heavier, based on the weight specs (there's no picture). The 1:8 seems to be preferred, but is the extra weight going to be advantageous, or past the point of diminishing returns? If that extra weight means better accuracy through sustained high/rapid round counts, I could see that as a benefit.
The Wilson Combats just aren't going to work for me, because of the gas block journals; I am not ready to surrender my favorite PRI FSGB yet.
Heard back from both. Criterion confirmed full-length gas block journal; WOA said the following: "For this barrel we start with a barrel blank from Wilson Arms. The blanks are lapped before we receive them."This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSGM,
And now my benchrest shooter friend has me concerned that this could all be a fools errand. As previously stated, I am considering a 12" heavy profile barrel. This is more than likely going to require cutting a barrel. He seems to think the cutting, regardless of who performs it, could degrade the accuracy potential of the barrel. He also thinks that 12" may just be too short, even with a 1:7. The idea is a sacrifice in velocity and longer range ability, for the sake of a handier gun, while still having precision ability inside 400m, and retaining that ability even after a bout of high-volume rapid fire, with the help of a heavy profile. What are the SF thoughts on this? He also seems to think I should stick with 1:7, if I want to see consistent accuracy out of 70gr or heavier bullets, which I do. I trust the guy, but he's going counter to some stuff y'all have said; his experience with precision semi-autos is limited though (he has yet to shoot his MK18 without a "bobsled"), so I may do well to take his suggestions on the matter with a grain of salt.
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