FN-Barrel

FNH USA is known for making some amazing rifle barrels. I’ve seen their shop firsthand and was extremely impressed, and having shot a SCAR for a couple years, I know what that quality manufacturing can do. And I’m not the only one who adores their barrels — people have been known to buy their upper receivers from a certain online shop specifically to use off-label FN barrels in their rifle builds. It looks like FN has taken notice and will now start selling their barrels direct to the public, and at a remarkably reasonable price. Presser after the jump . . .

(McLean, VA – November 3, 2014) FN America, LLC is pleased to announce the launch of its new AR-15 commercial barrel line, produced at the company’s manufacturing facility in Columbia, SC.  Product specifications for each are listed below in Table 1.

Table 1:  Product Specifications for FN AR-15 Commercial Barrel Line

Product No. Description MSRP
36420 AR-15 Hammer-Forged Barrel 14.5”, OAL, Carbine Length Gas System, 5.56×45 mm $349
36421 AR-15 Hammer-Forged Barrel 16” OAL, Carbine Length Gas System, 5.56×45 mm $349
36422 AR-15 Hammer-Forged Barrel 16” OAL, Mid Length Gas System, 5.56×45 mm $349
36423 AR-15 Hammer-Forged Barrel 18” OAL, Rifle Length Gas System, 5.56×45 mm $379
36424 AR-15 Hammer-Forged Barrel 20” OAL, Rifle Length Gas System, 5.56×45 mm $379

“FN barrels are among the best in the world,” said Mark Cherpes, FN America President and CEO.  “Our parent company, FN Herstal, has spent decades perfecting the art of making cold hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrels. This knowledge has transitioned and is the same process we use today in South Carolina.  Top-quality materials, state-of-the-art equipment and rigorous quality testing produce the most precise, long-lasting barrels money can buy.”

“With the addition of this new AR-15 commercial barrel line, FN customers now have the option of upgrading their standard AR-15 barrel to an FN,” said Ken Pfau, Senior Vice President of Commercial and Law Enforcement Sales.  “This will allow shooters to customize their AR-15 platforms with top-notch components that give them a great return on investment both on and off the range.”

FN America produces more than 20,000 barrels each month for a variety of military and commercial products sold in the U.S., including the FN 15™, M4/M4A1 carbines, M16 rifles, M249 SAWs, MK 48, MK 46, M240, M240C, M240E1, M240B and M240L machine guns, and the FNX™ and FNS™ pistol lines.  Each is made from the highest quality steel available and is processed by more than $10 million in state-of-the-art equipment.  All barrels undergo rigorous automated and manual quality testing to ensure they are free of micro-stresses and cracks that could affect performance.  Any product that scores less than 100 percent is rejected.

For more information about the FN AR-15 commercial barrel line or other FN products, visit www.fnhusa.com.

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33 Responses to FNH USA Selling Hammer-Forged Replacement AR-15 Barrels

  1. Excellent! If these are coming off of the same line and undergoing the same batch testing procedures as their US Military M4/M16 counterparts, then these will be the only true “mil-spec” barrels available. I don’t think Colt has ever offered their barrels separately. Those are the only two actual “mil-spec” manufacturers, despite what others try to claim. I guess you could throw Daniel Defense in there since they manufacture the SOPMOD II kit.

    • Actually Colt has been selling barrels and other individual components for years, including the Colt SOCOM profile barrel in 14.5″ which is the correct barrel for SOPMOD II. Daniel Defense doesn’t manufacture any SOPMOD II components for the military other than the RIS rails and low profile gas block.

      • Thanks for the info! I didn’t realize they were only doing the rail. I had thought they had the barrel component as well.

  2. Would it be possible to buy a middle of the road AR-15, shoot some groups then swap to one of these barrels and repeat the groups? It might be interesting to see if you could measure any improvement.

    • Chrome lined, cold hammer forged barrels aren’t built for accuracy, they are made for longevity. Not to say they are substandard, just don’t expect crazy accuracy improvements.

      • +1 from me. Years ago I bought one of those M10B Lee-Enfield reproductions in .308. The feeding and extraction are flawless but the best accuracy I could get from the supplied chrome-lined barrel is about 6 inches with match grade handloads. I found that cheap Chinese steel-cased .308 grouped the same and was much cheaper. A rebarrel is in the plans. It is a shame because that chrome-lined barel probably has a life of over 10000 rounds. The story is the barrels were surplus mini-gun barrels and the chrome lining is so thick at the muzzle they swage the bullets down to .306 or even smaller.

        I would be more impressed if FNH could offer barrel blanks in .224 and .308 cut to a #3 or #4 profile.

      • I had an FN CHF 20″ barrel in my 3gun AR for a while. Was a decent barrel, but had stringing issues as it warmed up. Was a good enough barrel for normal use, and would have lasted a very long time. But wasn’t consistent enough for me so I replaced it with a stainless barrel .

    • Buy a Palmetto State Armory barreled upper reciever and build your lower to your specs. Can’t go wrong.

      • A premium Palmetto plain jane 16″ mid length upper with the FN barrel and no BCG is going for $319 on the PSA site right now. The 16″ mid length FN barrel above is listing for $349.

        I guess it’s useful for guys who like everything about their build and just want a barrel swap or something.

        Options they is good I guess, but it seems the best value is the PSA upper and just take off what you don’t want to use.

  3. With my optics/sights and what I am doing with my AR, I will not be limited by the accuracy of my barrel, but by the accuracy of me. My barrels are super cheap (nitrocarburized) and I don’t shoot them as often as I’d like, so longevity is not an issue for me as well. Unless i’m running full auto, or long runs of semi-auto rapid fire (high heat), I don’t see how these barrels would justify the price for me ($350 in lieu of $135).

    • Pretty much the same here. I have a melonite 18″ Hbar barrel with a .223 Wylde chamber that cost me just about what you paid. Most barrels out there when I was shopping ranged between $100 and $300 or so (the most expensive being the 24″ bull barrels. I don’t get FN’s pricing, since PSA sells them for less, and I doubt the military pays anywhere near that much for replacement barrels.

      • The military will pay $999.99 for each barrel. Are you forgetting that they have to fund the NSA? LOL. Remember the $400.00 toilet seats in the 80’s? Hey, whatever works and keeps the wolves away.

    • A more accurate barrel will always improve your accuracy, no matter how bad you are. Whatever mechanical variability the barrel has is added to the human variability you put into the rifle system. Thus, the less variability one barrel has compared to another, the more accurately you will shoot overall with the more accurate barrel.

      A rifle system has lots of component parts that all introduce some variability into the system. Each part contributes to the overall deviation from perfect accuracy. Just because you might happen to put more human-based variability into the system than other folks doesn’t mean you don’t benefit just as much as they do from reducing mechanically-induced variability.

      All that nonsense being said, as I understand these FN barrels, you’re supposed to be buying durability, not necessarily precision. So unless you’re shooting 1,000s of rounds in a place where you can’t easily replace a barrel, I don’t see wisdom of the extra $$.

      • I agree with everything you said. Allow me to clarify, however, regarding the optics. If I have 2 or 3 MOA red dot and my rifle shoots 1 MOA, no amount of improved accuracy is really going to help me.

        • This is an excellent point. I’m guessing more than a few of the folks that get hung up on so-called 1 moa barrels are running 2+ moa red dots.

    • It takes $6,000.00 in ammo to wear out a decent barrel. Why are you concerned about saving $180.00 or having a $600.00 rifle when the cost of ammo is ten times as significant when it comes to the life of the gun? I have the FN15 carbine upper and could not be happier. It will take at least $6,000.00 in ammo through it to wear out a $289.00 (street price) barrel that is the best one can buy (machine gun steel).

  4. It’s nice that they’re making them directly available. I expect part of the plan is to raise the market profile of FN, as they did through FN markings on, e.g., ST barrels. There’s a lot of Voodoo talk in CHF chrome-lined barrels, and AR’s generally. The chamber, barrel, and bullet (and optic) are really the sources of accuracy in an AR, and I personally don’t believe any AR assembler does a better chromed barrel/chamber. You could pop one of these on a fairly ordinary upper and lower…add a high-grade trigger/FCG and have, really, a great ‘tactical’ durable AR.

    For accuracy, though, you can order a top-of-the-heap remarkably accurate, precisely-machined Bartlein or Kreiger cut-rifled stainless-steel match-grade barrel for not much more money (less, actually, but then you have to pay for some finishing details). That’s the route I favor, but I’m not in a rush, I buy one barrel ahead so that it will be ready when I need it (which isn’t often), and I haven’t been particularly tactical in decades.

    • Yes, I’m not seeing the huge win here for an accuracy-minded person.

      The one caveat about Krieger barrels for AR’s is that I don’t think they’re crowned and chambered. You have to have that done by the ‘smith fitting it to your gun. Krieger drills the gas port into a groove, supplies the barrel extension, has already turned it true on centers, lapped the bore, etc. I’m sure Krieger will chamber/crown/fit up a barrel for a couple hundred bucks, and knowing Krieger, they’ll allow you to choose your exact chamber reamer, too.

      The pisser here is that FNH doesn’t even seem to tell you what the twist rate is on their barrels, or what chamber profile is being used. I’m going to assume a standard NATO chamber and 1:9 or some such. They tell you all about their stress-relief process, their coating and tactikewl lengths, but nothing about twist, which as any shooter knows, is something you’d like to know & verify before you go ordering a barrel.

      Krieger allows you to choose 1:9, 1:7.7, or 1:6.5, the last twist is needed if you’re going to single-load long 90gr bullets for long range competition.

      • I’ve seen 1:9, 1:8 and 1:7 advertised, but not 1:7.7 or 1:6.5. Can you elucidate? And what are your thoughts on the different twist rates? Or more critically, twist rates and bullet weights.

        • Actually, while most barrel makers and books worry about the bullet weight, the truth is that the length of the bullet engaged with the bore is a more critical issue in bullet stability. Since the advent of the new, all-copper match bullets that are substantially longer due to copper being lighter than lead and the longer VLD bullets, Greenhill’s formula is now somewhat insufficient to predict bullet stability requirements as a function of twist rate.

          Krieger’s customer market are people who are deeply concerned with accuracy, and they’re seeking to optimize the spin on the bullet to make sure the bullets you’re using are properly stabilized without being over-spun. Since Krieger also uses sine bar single-cutter rifling machines, they can produce any fractional twist their customers would like.

      • I don’t know what Bartlein offers, but Krieger will accept your AR15 upper with bolt and complete the chambering and installation. For $35 they’ll provide a custom twist rate other than the standard options. They’ll perform the same services on a bolt rifle, but only for a particular list of receivers/actions. Fortunately most Model 70 variants are on that list. Since you are a gunsmith, though, you probably prefer to do the chambering and fitting yourself?

        • Yea, and I prefer to contour the outside of the barrel myself for custom rifles.

          The benchrest guys and gals will tell us that profiling after lapping and air gaging means that we might see the muzzle end of the bore gage a tenth or such larger in bore diameter as a result of turning off material on the outside of the barrel, and that might even matter for group size. On a benchrest competition rifle, that might be a disqualification for profiling a barrel from a 1.250″ diameter blank, but on a sporting rifle, I’ve never see enough change in the group sizes to matter to me or more hunters.

          Most pre-contoured barrels will lack the “break” at the end of the cylinder area (the cylindrical contour ahead of the front ring of the receiver. This rifle is a great example of the break between the cylinder and the contour of the barrel:

          http://hallowellco.com/goudy%20250%20ackley.html

          The contour then sweeps down to the taper, which then runs all the way to the muzzle, and typically should not be more than 0.150 to 0.175″ in diameter.

          Most barrels that come to you pre-contoured from a barrel maker have been put on a barrel spinner and then someone has put the barrel against a belt grinder. If you sight down the barrel after it has been spun as such, you’ll see ripples and waves. When I’m done with a barrel, you can sight down the barrel and not see any wave, ripple, ring, etc. It’s polished to 400 grit before blueing. Using a pre-contoured barrel to achieve this level of work means that I sometimes have to spend more time, not less, getting the contour cleaned up, putting on a break, etc. I find it easier to just do it all myself, even if it takes a couple hours’ time on the lathe to put in the taper and the contour.

        • Thanks, DG. (And the skeletonized butt and grip cap on the example were, with the other details, remarkable.)

  5. Best barrels in the world? I wish they had put those on all the m16a4’s I’ve carried. FN makes decent guns. Nothing amazing though.

  6. Cool! I checked FN’s site for a complete rifle, but the 20″ AR has an A2 gas block (oh no!).

    I’d like to do a build based on an FN upper and their 20″ barrel. Does anybody sell FN upper receivers? If they do somebody post a link!

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