AR-15 Free-Float Barrels vs Normal Barrels, what’s the difference, and is it worth it?

Here I am going to address a few questions about AR-15’s and free floating an AR barrel. To do that I will start by answering a few questions:

1) What is a free-floating barrel and what are it’s advantages?
2) Can you free float an AR Barrel and is it worth the trouble?

Notice the things attached to the barrel. The front sightpost, Delta Ring (big Black ring) and Gas Block. These can all decrease accuracy.

1) Conventional rifle barrels attach to some sort of stock or receiver, be it wood, fiberglass, polymer, or metal. Also many times conventional barrels will have iron sights, or other accessories attached to the barrel. All of these can cause inaccuracy issues due to climate change, humidity, etc. Also one of the biggest issues is the resonance (or vibration) that happens to the barrel when fired. Things attached to the barrel can interrupt this resonance.

With high end, highly accurate, long-range rifles, most companies have solved the problem by using the free floating barrel, where the barrel is not touched at any point except where it makes contact with the receiver. This takes stress off of the barrel and allows it to shoot more accurately.

So, broken down, the advantages are:

  • Better accuracy (especially in long range shots)
  • Longer barrel life
  • Less chance of barrel stress
  • Lighter weight

2) So now we come to point number two, can you free-float an AR-15?

This is a Joe Firearms Free-Floated 24″ Barrel .308 (I know it’s not an AR-15, but it is exactly the same in theory and in practice). Notice that there is no front sight posts, also the gas block is not pinned into the barrel, helping to not throw off the resonance

The truth is yes and no, due to how an AR works, you cannot truly 100% free-float a barrel. BUT you can get pretty close. Here at Joe Firearms we do the next best thing to a true free floated barrel. On a Joe Firearms AR, the only thing touching the barrel is the gas block, which is necessary  to cycle the weapon.

Is it worth it?

The real question that must be asked here is how important is accuracy to you? If it is as important to you as it is to us at Joe Firearms, then yes it is worth it. To free-float an AR you will need to buy a handguard that does not rest on the barrel, there are a quite a few brands that we at Joe Firearms use and suggest, such as Troy, Midwest, or Samson. Also you will need new sights. Let’s not forget that among your options (and probably the best  and easiest option) is to buy an AR that comes standard with these features. Such as the Joe Firearms 145 carbine.

This is a Joe Firearms AR-15 with a free-floated barrel and a Troy handguard

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