Ultimate Guide to AR-15 Barrel Profiles: Choose the Right One

AR15 barrel profiles are important to the function and durability of any rifle.

The following rundown comes courtesy of Faxon Firearms.

Building or tweaking an AR-15 can involve a variety of things, some vital, some arguable or even cosmetic. It could be receiver sets, muzzle devices, anti-walk pins, or any of a dozen other things, but one of the most important considerations is that of a barrel – and when you’re choosing a barrel, you need to be thinking about barrel profiles.

Finding the right barrel profile is a Big Deal. It’s not just about looks; it shapes how your rifle handles and shoots and fits your shooting lifestyle, whether that’s defending your home, hunting in the woods, or just having fun at the range.

Why should you care? Because every profile offers something different; there relative advantages and arguable disadvantages to each one.

From the heavy hitters to the lightweight models, we’ll walk you through what each might mean for your build or intended upgrade. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or someone whose just getting started, we want to make the choice that feels – and functions – just right.

AR15 Barrel Profiles Explained

The term “barrel profile” refers to the thickness of the barrel on an AR-15-style rifle (like the Faxon Sentry). Different barrel profiles can impact the gun’s performance in various ways.

For instance, thinner barrels are lightweight and easy to handle, while thicker barrels provide more stability by adding weight to the front of the gun and can withstand more heat. The weight of your barrel is going to impact the weight of your rifle. Though those few ounces might seem insignificant, they’re not, particularly if you’re manipulating the weapon for extended periods, carrying a bunch of weight in other ways (armor, gear, etc.), or maybe just dealing with physical constraints or limitations.

It’s important to consider the trade-offs of different barrel options available (particularly vis-a-vis accuracy, heat dispersion, durability, and weight) before making your choice!

Let’s take a look at some AR15 barrel profiles and see what makes each one unique.

Faxon Gunner Profile

The Faxon Firearms Gunner profile is a blend of two of the best-performing profiles of all time, Government (Gov’t) and Pencil.

Faxon’s Gunner profile combines the durability of the Gov’t profile with the weight savings and maneuverability of the Pencil profile.

The Gunner profile brings the balance of the rifle back towards the shooter’s body, limiting fatigue and allowing you to shoot, train, or hunt all day long.

Government/SOCOM Profile

A SOCOM barrel for an AR-15 is designed differently from the standard M4/A2 barrel.

Instead of being consistently thick throughout, it has a thinner section past the gas block and a thicker section near the chamber. SOCOM barrels often have a slot for attaching a grenade launcher and provide a balance between strength and weight.

If you’re looking for a barrel that can handle sustained shooting while still being lightweight, a SOCOM barrel may be a good option for you.

Pencil Profile

The pencil barrel is the original profile for the AR-15. It typically measures 0.625 inches in diameter.

It is known for being slim and lightweight, making it easy to carry and handle. Its thinness, however, makes it heat more quickly than its cousins, particularly during rapid fire. Overheating the barrel leads to elastic deformation or warping, which in turn affects accuracy and reliability.

Unlike run-of-the-mill pencil barrels, Faxon Firearms barrels are properly heat-treated and stress-relieved. The Faxon manufacturing process improves heat resistance and longevity.

The durability of this AR15 barrel profile is ideal for shooters with a light or medium shooting schedule.

What is the best all-around barrel profile to use?

Of course, barrel profile doesn’t just affect AR15s and large-frame pistols. The barrel profile of any firearm can greatly affect its overall performance and handling.

Barrel profile, material, and design affect the performance and longevity of any firearm, from a Tisas 1911 to an AR57 and virtually anything else that shoots.
Barrel profile, material, and design affect the performance and longevity of any firearm, from a Tisas 1911 to an AR57 and virtually anything else that shoots.

We’ve looked at the three most common barrel profiles: Gunner, Government, and Pencil.

Of those, the Government/SOCOM provides the most stability with the greatest potential for accuracy. It does so because it’s the thickest and heaviest style, which adds weight to the gun and to the shooter’s aggregate loadout.

The Pencil version is the thinnest and lightest option, making it easier to handle and carry but it does sacrifice some stability and accuracy potential.

Faxon believes the Faxon Firearms Gunner barrel is the best general barrel choice. It provides the best balance of the other two, offering a good compromise between weight, performance, and durability.

Ultimately, the choice of barrel profile will depend on the individual’s personal preferences, but should absolutely be appropriate for the intended use of the rifle.

Consider the trade-offs and choose the barrel profile that best suits your needs!

Faxon pencil barrel or Faxon gunner barrel? Which should you be using? Or should you be using a SOCOM barrel profile?
Faxon pencil barrel or Faxon gunner barrel? Which should you be using? Or should you be using a SOCOM barrel profile?

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