Faxon’s Guide to the Rifle Barrel Profile: Choose What’s Right For You

by Tommy Grant

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Faxon Firearms, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based manufacturer of rifle and pistol components and complete firearms is working to educate gun owners, specifically AR fans, about the importance of different rifle barrels and the considerations that go into choosing a barrel that is right for you and your build.

Building or tweaking an AR-15 can involve a variety of considerations, some critical, some arguable or some simply cosmetic. Whether dealing with receiver sets, muzzle devices, anti-walk pins or any of a dozen other things, there plenty to consider when customizing or building out. But one of the most important considerations for any rifle 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 deall. It goes well beyond mere 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.

Every profile offers something different with advantages and disadvantages to each.

From heavy hitters to lightweight models, it’s important to understand what each might mean for your build or intended upgrade. Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or someone whose just getting started, there’s plenty to learn and consider.

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 blends 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 is designed to bring the balance of the rifle back toward the shooter’s body, limiting fatigue and allowing them to shoot, train or hunt for extended periods of time.

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 to consider.

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. However, its thinness 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.

Faxon has worked to improve this limitation in that unlike run-of-the-mill pencil barrels, they heat-treat and stress-relieve the barrels during the manufacturing process to improve 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?

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

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, especially during extended fire sessions.

Faxon believes their Gunner barrel is the best general barrel choice, which is why they designed it. It provides what their engineers consider 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!

Learn more about the Faxon Gunner Barrel (and other AR15 barrel profiles) in the following video.


Check out Faxon Firearms at their website.


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