If you want to improve the stopping power of your current 5.56 or .223 AR-15, one of the best ways to do so will be to upgrade the rifle to the .458 SOCOM round.
The .458 SOCOM is a larger and more powerful round designed to be fired through the AR-15, and it can be done simply by replacing the upper receiver on your existing 5.56 lower. Then, if you want to shoot 5.56 again later, all you have to do is swap out the uppers again.
When putting together the components for a .458 SOCOM upper receiver, one of the most important pieces (if not the most important) is the barrel because the performance of your round is only as good as the barrel is. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Best Overall Pick
|Brownells AR-15 .458 SOCOM Barrel
|$319 Shop NowClick to read my review
Best Budget Buy
|Faxon Firearms 10.5'' Gunner Big Bore .458 SOCOM Barrel
|$255 Shop NowClick to read my review
|Faxon Firearms 16'' Gunner Big Bore 458 SOCOM Barrel
|$270 Shop NowClick to read my review
In this guide, we’ll go over the benefits of the.458 SOCOM round and its purpose, as well as the top qualities to look for in a .458 SOCOM barrel. By the way, if you want lower felt recoil, the best way to do so is to attach a suitable .458 SOCOM muzzle brake to your barrel.
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A Bit History of .458 SOCOM
Designed and released at the turn of the millennium, the .458 SOCOM was intended for Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, who desired a round that could put down enemy combatants with only one round (US troops and special operations soldiers overseas were consistently having to shoot enemy combatants multiple times in order to take them down). In addition to being used by SOCOM units, the .458 was also adopted by the Coast Guard for situations where more punch than the standard 5.56 was needed.
Basically, the .458 SOCOM is very similar to the .45-70 Government. It offers a lot of knockdown power, although only within relatively moderate distances. Like the .45-70, the .458 SOCOM is not meant to be a long-range caliber and it should be used within four hundred yards or so. However, within those distances, the .458 has quite a lot to offer and can take down anything in North American such as deer, elk, moose, wild boar, wolves, mountain lions, or black or grizzly bears.
Why Go With .458 SOCOM?
The .458 SOCOM round significantly improves the stopping power of the 5.56x45mm NATO round, making it an excellent big game hunting rifle. In some ways, it also allows it to fit in existing AR-15 carbines and rifles while remaining fully compatible with existing AR-15 parts, including magazines.
For instance, the .458 SOCOM upper receiver will also fit on the 5.56 lower. As a result, you can still use your existing 5.56 magazines with the .458 SOCOM round. A twenty-round AR STANAG 5.56 magazine will also accept seven .458 rounds, and a thirty-round 5.56 magazine will hold ten. Whereas 5.56 magazines can hold the 5.56 rounds double stacked, it will hold the .458 rounds single stack. You can read more about .458 SOCOM magazines here.
Thus, installing a .458 SOCOM upper receiver on your rifle would be a worthwhile choice. And keep in mind that the barrel is the most important component to consider when assembling your .458 upper receiver. It has the most direct impact on the performance of your rifle! Following that, we’ll go over the most important qualities and features to look for in a .458 barrel.
Buyer’s Guide for The Best .458 SOCOM Barrels
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new barrel for your .458 SOCOM rifle:
Shorter length .458 SOCOM barrels are far more common than longer ones. The .458 is a powerful round but it has been optimized to be used in shorter length barrels measuring from 7.5 to 10.5 inches. You will need to abide by state and federal guidelines in regards to how short of a barrel length that you can have.
The main advantage of a shorter barrel is it makes the rifle much more wieldy and maneuverable in tight conditions. If you plan on using your .458 SOCOM AR primarily for either home defense or for brush hunting.
A longer barrel will give you higher velocity and overall better performance. If you want to use your .450 SOCOM to touch targets at longer distances of three hundred to four hundred yards (which the .458 is more than capable of doing), then you should go with a barrel length of at least sixteen inches long.
In short, the barrel length that you choose for your .458 SOCOM should come down to your intended use for the rifle.
Your barrel should be built out of durable and quality components such as steel. Popular options include stainless steel or CMV steel. These kinds of metals will be able to handle the heavy power of the .458 round, and can also sustain and resist abuse (such as accidentally dropping the rifle over a hard surface).
Furthermore, you should get a barrel that has rust and corrosion-resistant finish as well. Stainless steel is naturally a rust-resistant metal. But additional finishes such as Nitride or Cerakote can greatly help to improve the durability and rust-resistant properties of the barrel as well.
There are a variety of additional features that may not be truly necessary for your .458 barrel but that would still be nice to have.
For example, do you want to have the ability to add a suppressor to your rifle? If so, you’ll need the barrel to be threaded at the end. No, it’s not totally necessary to add a suppressor to your rifle. But it is still nice to have the option.
Another feature that will be nice to have is a target crown. It helps to protect and preserve the rifling inside the bore. As a result, your rifle will remain more accurate in the long run.
Another nice feature that could be nice is to have a fluted barrel. The grooves are cut into the barrel’s exterior to reduce mass and increase surface area. Thereby it promotes faster cooling and permitting extended firing sessions.
You don’t have to have these kinds of features in your .458 barrel if you don’t want to, but at the very least, they are worth considering.
Best .458 SOCOM Barrels
Here are the top three best .458 SOCOM barrels on the market:
Brownells AR-15 .458 SOCOM Barrel
The Brownells AR-15 .458 SOCOM barrel measures sixteen inches in length, making it a carbine-length barrel and gas system. This is a very practical and convenient length overall. For American civilians, 16 inches is actually the most popular barrel length.
Brownells machined this barrel out of 416R stainless steel and also built it to mil-spec standards. It means that it should work just fine with other mil-spec AR-15 components. Plus, you can install it into an upper receiver without needing the services of a gunsmith.
The nitride finish applied to the barrel’s surface is also rust and corrosion-resistant. The matte black look is overall not the nicest looking. But it is definitely effective at keeping the reflection from the sun at bay.
As an added bonus, Brownells installed a target crown onto the end of the barrel to protect the interior rifling, and preserve accuracy over time. The rifling itself on the inside of this barrel is the tried and true land and groove rifling design. The muzzle has also been threaded in order to allow suppressors to be attached if the user so desires.
As a whole, the Brownells AR-15 .458 SOCOM barrel is durable, effective at what it does, and designed well. It comes with a number of features that you would expect to be on a higher-end model, making the Brownells an overall great value.
- Built out of 416R stainless steel
- Nitride finishing is very rust and corrosion resistant
- Eleven degree target crown helps improve accuracy
- 16 inch barrel is practical and versatile length overall
- Built to mil-spec standards
- Utilizes traditional land and groove rifling
- Muzzle is threaded to allow suppressors
- Matte black finishing look is not the most aesthetically pleasing
Faxon Firearms 10.5” Gunner Big Bore .458 SOCOM Barrel
The Faxon Firearms AR-15 Gunner Big Bore Barrel for the .485 SOCOM has 10.5 inches barrel length. This short length will make packing your .458 AR-15 out in the thick brush and woods a breeze, as the shorter barrel is much more maneuverable.
Of course, to get that shorter barrel you’re also going to be sacrificing bullet velocity and performance, especially at longer ranges. Fortunately, Faxon Firearms took action to increase the accuracy potential of the Gunner Big Bore Barrel as much as possible, including adding button rifling to the inside of the barrel and an eleven-degree target crown.
The barrel itself is built out of a durable 4150 CMV steel and with a black nitride finish applied to the surface that is very rust and corrosion-resistant. As a pistol-length barrel, the Gunner Big Bore Barrel has a 1:14 twist rate with button filing.
The end of the barrel has also been threaded in order to accept suppressors. Since the barrel is already short at just 10.5 inches, this means that adding a suppressor to the end of your rifle will not add nearly as much length as to if you were using a full or mid-length version. You can actually add a suppressor while you’re out hunting, and if you find a wild game to shoot the noise will be dampened significantly. Alternatively, if you’re going to be target shooting where other people are in close proximity, using a suppressor will be much more courteous.
If you’re looking for a short barrel that is maneuverable in the brush or other tight conditions, you’ll definitely want to consider the Faxon Firearms Gunner Big Bore Barrel. Even though it’s only 10.5 inches, Faxon has added features to it to improve its accuracy as much as possible.
- Short 10.5 inch barrel is excellent for hunting in thick brush
- Built out of durable 4150 CMV steel
- Button rifling
- Muzzle is threaded to allow suppressors
- Black nitride finish is very rust and corrosion resistant
- Eleven degree target crown increases accuracy
- 10.5 inch barrel is unwieldy and maneuverable, but also sacrifices bullet velocity and performance at longer ranges
Faxon Firearms 16″ Gunner Big Bore 458 SOCOM Barrel
The Faxon Firearms has a 16-inch barrel and a twist rate of 1:14. This model is made of certified 4150 Mil-Spec steel, which is a tough material. The barrel has undergone stress-relief and air-gauge testing. Furthermore, the Nitride finish ensures that it does not corrode, allowing it to maintain its clean aesthetics and last longer.
When it comes to the best .458 SOCOM barrels for long gun use, this model made an impact due to its nice feature, and as a result, it became well-known. Another plus is that the items are handcrafted by a reputable company. This Faxon Firearms 16 inch barrel has low recoil, making it easy to use, and you will undoubtedly enjoy your shooting experience with it.
The Gunner Big Bore 16” barrel is ideal for experienced big-game hunters looking for quality barrel performance. You really can’t go wrong with all of the nice features it has to offer. So give it a shot. You’ll notice the difference between it and the other 458 SOCOM barrels on the market. It’s well worth the investment.
- Made in quality material
- Air-gauge tested
- Ideal for long barrel shooters
- Low recoil
- Superior performance
And that includes our list of the top three best .458 SOCOM barrels on the market today.
The Faxon Firearms 10.5” Gunner Big Bore .458 SOCOM Barrel is our Best Budget Buy. It is the shortest barrel on our list and the most inexpensive. And for our Best Overall Pick, go with the Brownell’s AR-15 .458 SOCOM Barrel. The Brownell’s AR-15 .458 SOCOM barrel provides you with everything that you will need in a barrel for your .458 SOCOM and for a price that is not at all outrageous.
Not all .458 SOCOM barrels are equal, and the specific barrel that you choose has the biggest impact on the performance of your rifle. By choosing one of the three barrels that we have discussed today or by choosing one that meets the qualities we discussed earlier as well, you can rest assured that you will have a solid barrel for your .458 SOCOM AR-15.