View Full Version : Pencil Barrels: That's a Whippin'!

5 April 2016, 10:51
Taken from the SPR-ish thread: A discussion on Pencil Barrels.

DUX: I in no way intend to come of glib or step on anyones' toes, but I genuinely do not understand why people seem to like heavy barrels. I've read tons of opinions, and understand why some people theorize that they are more suitable for a rifle, but my practical experiencs--limited compared to some here as it may be--has my position favoring the opposite end of the spectrum. Is it just a school of doctrine issue? Have any of you who like the heavy barrels tried shooting pencil barrels and vice versa? Again, I don't intend to cause any emotional reactions. I'm purely curious and interested in any responses given.

UWone77: That's a government profile barrel. A true "heavy" barrel is thicker, .936 at the GB.

DUX: Understood, and thank you. However, the whole of the Vietnam War was fought with pencil barrels. Most AK's have pencil barrels. Throughout 20th century history most barrels have been pencil barrels. They've done an amazing job. They have taken out more bad-guys than any other kind. Why the fascination with more weight? I can understand that perhaps a sniper or some such might like one, but the AR isn't a Sniper grade weapons platform from everything I've come to understand about it. To me, it just seems like needless weight, and weight is a big deal for a combat weapon. Please expound if you desire.

BoilerUp: Pencil barrel? Yeah, got one of those, too: http://www.weaponevolution.com/forum....php?7278-Lite I'm pretty judicious about adding weight to a rifle. In fact, the main reason I don't have a large frame (.308) pattern AR is because of weight. Instead, I run 6.8 through the AR-15 platform and that does what I need, at least for now. But to say that "the AR isn't a sniper grade weapons platform" is partly true but also sells short the capability of the platform. Getting sub-MOA out of a decent AR isn't that hard. Getting down to .5 MOA isn't terribly hard, either, it's just more expensive. This is a ~$1,000 (ex-optics) rifle that is perfectly capable of ~3/4 MOA, probably better. I could tell you why I think a heavier barrel adds value, but I'd be just spitting out my synthesis and internalization of things I've read. I've never done the testing and don't have the raw facts and data to prove squat. But I know that the folks at NSWC Crane spent some time thinking about it and came with a barrel that we now call the "SPR profile" for the Mk12. The M110, which is considered a sniper system, also has a heavy profile barrel. Based on what I've read, I personally wouldn't grab my pencil barrel rifle if I had to grab something from the safe and head towards gunfire. But it wouldn't be this rifle, either.

DUX: Thank you for the lengthy explanation. I guess it's just what you have faith in. I'm right the opposite from you. If there was anything serious going on a heavy barrel is the absolute last thing I'd grab given the option. It takes all kinds I suppose. Thanks again.

Former11B: The whole of the Vietnam War was fought with lightweight/pencil barrels, yes, but that says nothing to accuracy, especially accuracy after high sustained rates of full auto fire from an M16A1 and an infantryman with no fire discipline. Just because everyone was shooting a specific rifle barrel has no correlation to the quality or benefit of said barrel. The rifle has changed and adapted quite a bit, so that ought to tell you something.

All things equal, a pencil barrel is probably just as accurate as a heavy barrel.....for the first few shots anyway. The heavier barrel will handle the heat of multiple shots much better as well as maintain the stiffness (harmonics) needed to repeat precise shots.

Unless I missed it, most benchrest and match shooters are using heavy barrels.

SINNER: Discussing barrel profiles with disregard to the parent material used in the manufacturing process of the barrel is the first mistake of this discussion.

Pencil barrels have their place and can function as well as a heavy profile in MOST applications. SCAR's are a perfect example of the manufacturing process allowing a pencil profile to function like a heavy barrel. Almost. They are still inferior to a heavier profile when it comes to hanging a supressor off the end and for maintaining a consistent zero firing long repeated strings of shots.

BoilerUp: Unloaded, rifle only (no optics or bipod) this rifle weights 7 lbs 2 oz, or about 12 oz more than a standard M4 (I believe they weigh around 6 lbs 6 oz). With bipod and glass it is 9 lbs 10 oz. The SPR barrel profile doesn't add a lot of weight. As UW indicated, the SPR profile is not a particularly heavy profile. It's more of a "medium contour". And it's interesting to note that a lot of 3-gunners prefer medium contour, rifle gas, 18" barrels.

When I think of pencil weight barrels on modern rifles, I think of the G36. It's reputation is shit in large part because of (reportedly) huge POI shift and wild groupings when it heats up.

For me, I just wanted a decent gun for 100-600 yard precision shooting so I can work on my basic marksmanship skills. A bolt gun would have been the easiest way to go, but that's no fun and doesn't irritate liberals as effectively as a scary black rifle. And given the accuracy potential of the AR platform (to my point above), why limit myself to a 170 year old technology?

Joelski: Mil-spec calls for button rifling. Most SPR and match grade barrels are cold hammer forged, which is arguably more accurate, and the most influential feature, next to floating.

Slippers: I think you're a bit confused. Any of the well known match barrel makers like Shilen, Lilja, Bartlein, or PacNor do not use hammer forging.

There are only a few places in the US capable of making hammer forged barrels, like Daniel Defense and FN. DD actually does make an 18" SPR barrel that is stainless and hammer forged, but that's pretty rare. A hammer forged stainless barrel would probably still require a good bit of lapping/finishing before it was match grade in terms of accuracy, too.

SINNER: Yeah, You are pretty much backwards on that comment.

UWone77: Other than DD, I really can't even think of anyone making a CHF SPR/Match Grade Barrels. I know Umbrella was working on a CHF Stainless Match Barrel, but that was years ago, and yet to see the light of day.

DUX: I feel like I kind of derailed the thread and that is what I did not want to do. Thank you for all your imputs fella's. They are most appreciated. Admins, would it be possible to seperate the pencil barrel part of the discussion into a separate thread? Thanks.

UWone77: No, you'll have to start your own thread.

DUX: Yes sir!


5 April 2016, 10:58
I like them because they get the job done good enough and you can carry them around for a long time, and they point quick. The bullet leaves the barrel well before any whip affects the projectile and if I'm rapid firing, I don't care about accuracy anyway. If I can hit a 12 inch circle at 50 meters on rapid I'm good! My 2 cents.

5 April 2016, 11:09
I also love Point Shooting, Standard Handgrips, Not wearing gloves, long walks on the beach, and my Pony. :)

Josh S.
7 April 2016, 15:32
It's all relative. What you consider "good enough" may not be "good enough" for someone else. If pencil barrels get the job done for you, then continue to take advantage of the weight savings and stick with it. I can tell you right now that 12" at 50 yards does not fly for me. My AR's are mainly used for hunting deer and hogs, and I prefer to have a medium-heavy barrel. I use barrels that allow me to be confident taking headshots on deer out to 300 yards, and that I can rely on while shooting multiple packs of hogs at varying distances. All else being equal, my SPR profile vs. your pencil barrel would probably perform the same the first 10 shots. After that, I assure you the heavier contour would outperform the pencil barrel. They both may get the job done, just one does it better. ;)

ETA: Btw, DUX...I'm going to be blatantly honest here and I don't mean to offend, but I think I speak for at least a few other people when I say I don't know what the hell you're talking about half the time. This is the first time I've ever responded to one of your posts because I think it's the first one that I could actually comprehend what you were getting at. My .02 cents, just try to be a little more clear with what you post. I/we would greatly appreciate it.

7 April 2016, 16:15
@Josh S. : Thank you for your reply. I'm not talking about hunting in this regard. I'm talking about "Someone is trying to kill me" kind of shooting. For paper punching or hunting with premium ammo, I see your point. I will try to be more clear from now on. Thanks again.