Best M16A1 Barrels of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

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Finding the best M16A1 barrel might be a challenge, especially if you’re new to finding this important upgrade to your rifle. A great barrel will deliver accurate and dependable shots each time you use your M16A1 rifle for whatever purpose you see fit.

To give you a starting point in finding the best barrel for you, we’ve selected five of the best barrels we believe are the best on the market. Before we get to our list, we’ll talk about why you should get a new barrel for your M16A1 and how you can choose one from the other products currently flooding the market today.

It will take some time to make the distinction between a great barrel and one that might be considered ineffective or crappy. But rest assured, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for if you know what makes a great barrel stand out.

Comparison Chart of the Best M16A1 Barrels

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best overall M16a1 barrel.
  • Made from high-quality steel.
  • Best chambered for .223 caliber rounds.
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  • Best M16a1 barrel for the money.
  • Available in lightweight or government style.
  • Made from highly durable steel alloys for the best in durability.
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  • Best used for 5.56 NATO rounds.
  • Available in three different lengths.
  • Barrel twist ratio is 1:7 for accurate shooting.
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  • Intended for 5.56 NATO shots.
  • Available in three different lengths.
  • Made from high-quality carbon steel.
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  • Best fit for .300 Blackout rounds.
  • The 16-inch barrel can handle supersonic rounds.
  • Available in three lengths: 8.2 inches, 12.5 inches, and 16 inches.
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Why Should You Consider a New Barrel?

If you’re looking for a new barrel, odds are that you’re looking for either an upgrade from a current barrel you’re using or building an AR-15 rifle from the ground up and want to use great parts to create your custom creation. Either way, you want to get a new barrel that will make your rifle stand out among the rest. Here are a few reasons an upgrade or better-than-stock barrel is important:

Better Accuracy

To start, we have to mention accuracy. Yes, your barrel will play a huge role in the overall accuracy of your M16A1. One specific characteristic that makes accuracy great is the barrel twist ratio. The twist ratio will most likely be 1:7 for most rounds of a certain weight. When they work more effectively, chances are they will be able to deliver more accuracy and much faster shots (velocity).

Less Recoil

Some of these barrels will accept all kinds of muzzle brakes and flash hiders. This means you will be able to reduce a good amount of recoil using these accessories. To top it off, flash hiders will even put a stop to night blindness, which can be caused by the rifle’s shot flashes. A flash hider will also be ideal if you intend to use your rifle in a home defense situation. This will give you a stealth-like advantage over invaders and prowlers. They won’t know exactly  where you are in the dark.

Better Reliability

If you choose a barrel that is high in quality, rest assured it will make your rifle more reliable for years to come. This means you can expand the longevity of your rifle simply by finding the right parts and accessories. The better in quality, the better chance of it lasting longer.

What Makes a Quality M16A1 Barrel?

There are a handful of qualities that make a great barrel stand out from those that are considered crappy and ineffective. And it’s up to you to use this list to distinguish one from the other. As a first-time buyer or someone looking for an upgrade, using this list will be key. Here’s what you’ll need to look for while looking for a barrel of your own:

Price

As always, there will be budget shoppers who will usually make price one of their defining factors in making a decision, especially when they’re looking for a barrel for an M16A1. As you look at the price tag, you may want to look for other qualities like the material that it’s made from. If the price tag is affordable for your budget and the quality is top-notch, you’ll have a winner on your hands. Find the best barrel you can possibly afford rather than find one because it’s considered “cheap”.

White Oak Armament - AR-15/M16 223 Wylde Match Barrels is made of a precision-machined stainless steel barrel.

Material

If you’re looking for a high-quality barrel, there’s a good chance you’ll want to find one made from a hardened material that is resistant to damage. For example, most of the barrels made for M16A1 rifles are made from steel. Steel has been proven to be durable and can withstand multiple shots without malfunctioning. Plus, steel can also remain corrosion-free, even after long-term use.

Installation

Most M16A1 owners don’t have any expert level gunsmithing skills. If you fall into this category, it is highly recommended that you choose a drop-in style barrel to ensure installation is quick and only takes minutes of your time. On top of that, it will also take the right kind of tools for you to install a barrel on your rifle successfully.

Review of the Best M16A1 Barrels

Below is the list of five M16A1 Barrels currently available on the market. As you look through each one, be sure to note any features and functions which peak your interest.

You might also want to consider the pros and cons so you know what to expect when you select a barrel for your M16A1. With that said, let’s kick off our list by unveiling our choice for the “best overall” barrel for an M16A1 rifle:

Pros

  • Can Hit Targets More Than 600 Yards Out
  • A Very Accurate Barrel for Most AR-15/M16 Rifles
  • Has the Ability to Free-Float With Mid-Length Gas Systems

Cons

  • Installation May Be a Bit of a Challenge

Leading off our list of barrels, we’ll be taking a look at the White Oak Armament AR-15/M16 .223 Wylde Match Barrel. This is a barrel made from stainless steel and designed to work with .223 caliber rounds. If you’re looking to hit targets situated out at about 700 yards, then you’re in for a treat.

This barrel will do wonders for your rifle if you’re looking to hit targets from mid-ranges or even low-end long-range shots. If you’re looking for an excellent barrel for hunting or target shooting applications, the White Oak Armament product could be your cup of tea. These barrels are available for mid-length and rifle-length gas systems. So if you know what gas system you have, find the barrel that fits it. As simple as that.

If you’re looking to add on a flash hider or a muzzle brake, rest assured this barrel is measured to fit all kinds of them. Not only will it do wonders for your accuracy, but it will also provide you with a few more added benefits.

Reduced recoil? Check. No night blindness from rifle flash? You got it. So why not kill two birds with one stone and get a suitable flash hider to go with this barrel while you’re at it?

Bottom Line

For something considered the best overall, this barrel holds up its end of the bargain. It’s definitely something you want to rely on if you’re more of a mid-range shooter. It is even more beneficial if you’re hunting big game targets like deer or elk.

If you’re looking for a barrel that’s easy to install and easy to customize with your choice of a flash hider or muzzle brake, there is nothing quite like the White Oak Armament barrel to make your rifle a lot more functional.

Pros

  • Installation is Super Easy
  • Very Durable and Able to Last Years or Decades
  • Can Still Shoot Accurate Shots After 5,000 Rounds Fired

Cons

  • Some Users Say it’s Not as Accurate as Advertised

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the Daniel Defense AR-15/M16 5.56 Hammer Forged Barrel. If you’re looking for the best barrel you can afford on a budget, you’re going to go crazy once you find out a lot more about this barrel. This barrel is high-quality steel made from molybdenum-chromium-vanadium alloy guaranteed to be the strongest, most durable barrel for an M16A1 on the market.

If you’re looking for a top quality barrel that will work with 5.56 NATO rounds, the Daniel Defense barrel is exactly what you need. This will give you the ability to make your rifle look like a high-end rifle with superior accuracy to match. It might just be enough to make your M16A1 rifle the envy of the range.

Add it onto your current rifle or to a new rifle build, it doesn’t even matter. Once it’s installed, your rifle will have an unmatched performance. If that’s what you’re looking for, you may want to consider this rifle as your best possible option.

This has variations available in lightweight or government-style. You might want to go with the lightweight barrel if you don’t want to add on any additional weight to your rifle. It may get a little uncomfortable carrying around a rifle as if it were a 500-pound boulder.

And you get all of this at a price you can afford. If you want a barrel that won’t suck the life out of your bank account, get the Daniel Defense Barrel.

Bottom Line

Super durable, reliable, and ridiculously affordable. Those are the three things descriptors of this barrel from Daniel Defense. If you’re looking for a product that will last a long time, make no mistake, this item has that ability.

This might be the barrel that will likely be the last one you’ll purchase for a while. If you’re satisfied with it, you’ll remain quite happy in the long-term. Not bad for a “budget” barrel.

Pros

  • Well-Made and High in Quality
  • Ridiculously Accurate Shooting
  • Lightweight and Does Not Add Unnecessary Weight

Cons

  • Some Users Have Not Been Satisfied With the Finish
  • One Reviewer Was Not Happy With the Standard M4 Profile

Now we’ll be taking a look at the Brownells Premium Barrels for the AR-15/M16 5.56 NATO-chambered rifles. If you’re looking for a barrel that will provide superior shooting ability for your M16A1 rifle, then the Brownells Premium Barrel might interest you. The barrel features a black nitride finish that will protect your gun from all kinds of damage and corrosion, making it possible to last a long period of time.

As long as you care for your rifle regularly, this barrel will last longer than expected. The twist ratio for this barrel is 1:7, which means it will be insanely accurate if you’re using the right kind of rounds. Specifically, these rounds will weigh anywhere between 55-grain to 70-grain.

You can choose a barrel that will support either a mid-length or rifle-length gas system. Before you choose this barrel, double check which gas system you use.

This is also available in three different lengths: 10.5 inches, 14.5 inches, and 16 inches. Of course, the length will be more of a personal preference. Either way, you’ll still get reliable shooting performance that will leave you and your shooting buddies speechless. Imagine having more accurate shots the instant you install this bad boy on your M16A1 rifle.

Best of all, it only takes minutes to install. If you know what you want out of your rifle, you know it starts with a barrel like this. Consider looking at this barrel further while you still have the opportunity.

Bottom Line

Whether you prefer a shorter barrel for your mid-length gas system or a regular rifle-length gas system with a 16-inch barrel, you’ll still be able to get reliable performance from a barrel like the Brownells' brand barrel. This barrel will definitely work in your favor if you’re looking to upgrade your rifle’s accuracy.

No matter what application you use your rifle for, accuracy is always something a shooter holds to a high standard. If you’re one of the many that think the same way, your search for a barrel ends here with the Brownells' Premium Barrel.

Pros

  • Super Strong Durability
  • Affordable for Most Budgets
  • Very Accurate Even When the Barrel Gets Hot

Cons

  • Might Be a Little Heavier if You Add on Any Optics or Scopes

Now we’ll turn our attention to the Faxon Firearms AR-15/M16 Pencil Barrels. Like the name says, it’s quite thin for an M16A1 barrel. This will fit on any mid-length or rifle-length gas system (depending on which one you choose).

It’s chambered with 5.56 NATO shots and is made from high-quality carbon steel with a QPC finish for added durability. So if you’re looking for a barrel that will hold up well in the longevity department, rest assured that the FF brand barrel could be something you’ll want for your own rifle. The barrel is available in three different lengths: 10.5 inches, 14.5 inches, and 16 inches. Either way, you’ll still be able to get all kinds of accurate shooting, regardless of your intended application.

If you’re looking for a barrel that is reliable in its performance and made from one of the toughest materials in the world, you may want to consider the FF pencil barrel as a shortlist candidate.

Bottom Line

The FF Pencil Barrel is quite slim, but it’s ridiculously tough. Just because something is rail thin, it does not necessarily mean it’s easy to break. The manufacturers used some tough material to manufacture these barrels and they are guaranteed to take on all kinds of abuse.

Don’t be surprised if this is the barrel you go with and it lasts you a very long time. Other than that, your accuracy will get quite a boost with this type of barrel. If you’re looking for a good replacement barrel or for something to add onto your latest 5.56 rifle building project, the Faxon Firearms Pencil Barrel is worth a closer look.

Pros

  • Accuracy is Tight
  • Recoil is Very Light
  • Lightweight. and Doesn’t Add Any Additional, Unnecessary Weight 

Cons

  • Some Issues With the Magazine Feeding Were Reported
  • Some Users Reported Some Issues During the “Break-In” Phase

For our last M16A1 barrel, we’ll be taking a look at the CMMG AR-15/M16 .300 Blackout Barrel. If you fire off .300 Blackout rounds, then you finally have a barrel that will be compatible. Available in three lengths, these barrels will provide accurate shooting like nothing else.

If you’re firing supersonic .300 Blackout rounds, the 16-inch barrel will be more of your speed. Other lengths include the 8.2-inch and 12.5-inch barrels. These barrels will accept any .308 caliber flash hiders and muzzle brakes. So if you’re looking to add on more recoil suppression for your rifle, this barrel will be your best bet since it will fit your flash hider and muzzle brake of choice.

If you’re looking to fire off rounds weighing anywhere between 100 to 200-grain, this barrel will handle these rounds with ease. And they will fire quite accurately thanks to the twist ratio which is set to 1:7.

Whether you’re using an M16A1 rifle or an AR-15 pistol that fires Blackout rounds, this barrel might be your best possible choice if you’re looking for one that will fire .300 Blackout rounds and nothing but them.

Bottom Line

The CMMG is probably a great barrel to go with if you’re more of the handloading type. It will still work with magazines, but seems to function much better if you elect to do the former method instead. Other than that, it does a good job firing .300 Blackout rounds (especially the supersonic rounds).

Expect your shot groups to be a little tighter than before (prior to upgrade). Of course, with the use of this barrel, it will even play a role in reducing a small amount of recoil and therefore, allow you to have more control over your rifle.

Conclusion

The best M16A1 barrel is out there for you. Finding one that will fit your rifle can be a challenge. But if you know exactly what to look for, the process will be much easier. Find the barrel that will best fit your favorite caliber rounds and do some in-depth research on what people are saying about your barrel of choice. Once you gather some additional intelligence, you can make the determination of whether or not it’s a good investment on your end. 

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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