Selecting the best barrel for your 6.5 Creedmoor caliber rifle does not need to have as challenging of a process as you may think it is.
Best Budget Pick: Criterion Barrels AR 308 and 6.5 Creedmoor Hybrid Barrel
The Criterion AR-10 Barrel is compatible with both the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester. It’s also a match grade barrel built out of 416R stainless steel for excellent rust resistance. However, it must be used with a DPMS-style AR-10 and not an SR-25 version.
Best Value Pick: Brownells Premium Barrels 24 inch M24E SS
The Brownells Premium offers a solid 416R stainless steel construction and is also capable of delivering sub-MOA groups at very long ranges thanks to its 1:8 twist rate and 5R button rifling. For the money, you’re getting an excellent quality scope that will last you for a lifetime and can be passed on down to future generations.
Best Overall Pick: Proof Research CamGas AR-10 Barrel
The Proof Research is a solid match grade 6.5 Creedmoor barrel that, while admittedly very expensive, offers a number of impressive features including superb accuracy and enhanced cooling properties to extend the life of the barrel for as long as possible.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is an excellent round that has been making substantial inroads in the firearm community. But at the same time, it’s only as good as your barrel is. That’s because there is literally no other part of your rifle that will have as much impact on the performance of your long range shooting as much as the barrel will.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the history and merits of the 6.5 Creedmoor round, why and when you should consider having your barrel replaced, the top qualities to look for in a 6.5 Creedmoor barrel, and then we will dive into the top three best 6.5 Creedmoor barrels available for sale today.
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Why Go With The 6.5 Creedmoor?
If there is one centerfire rifle round that has been all the rage the last few years, it’s the 6.5 Creedmoor. This round has exploded in popularity over the last several years, with many predicting that it will one day surpass the .308 Winchester as the most common and popular rifle round.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is also really only one many bullets in the 6.5mm category, just as there are also numerous bullets in the .30 caliber category including .308, .30-06, and .338. The 6.5mm in general has long been praised for its flat muzzle velocity and excellent aerodynamics. While .30 caliber bullets are capable of shooting just as flat as the 6.5mm, the bullet needs to be very long and also pushed to superior ballistics than what the .308 can do.
In other words, you need a longer and heavier .30 caliber round with more recoil in order to match the ballistics and potential of the 6.5mmm series of bullets. 6.5mm can offer flatter trajectory and easier-to-manage recoil in an overall smaller package. If you want to limit the recoil of your gun you should look into muzzle brakes.
One of the more common 6.5mm rounds in the United States was originally the .260 Remington, and while it’s a decent round, it’s also too long to fit into most detachable box magazines while also ensuring reliability. This is where the 6.5 Creedmoor comes into play: it’s a shorter 6.5mm round that can fit in and function reliably out of detachable box magazines that many bolt action and semi-automatic rifles alike such as the AR-10 come with today. If you want to read more about magazines for your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, check out this magazine buying guide. We recommend to stock up, you really can’t have too many.
Even though the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .260 Remington produce velocities that are roughly equal, the Creedmoor is capable of better handling the bullets that longer range shooters would prefer while still fitting in a shorter action rifle.
And when compared to the omnipresent .308 Winchester round, the Creedmoor is simply superior. It can hit harder, shoot flatter, and produces a little bit less recoil. That’s not to say that the .308 is a bad round (on the contrary, it’s a great round that has proven itself both on the battlefield and in the woods as a hunting round), but it is to say that the 6.5 Creedmoor is a little bit better.
When Should You Invest In A New Barrel?
When should you invest in a new barrel for your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle? Here’s something to know about rifle barrels: none of them are designed to last forever. They can wear out eventually. Of course, most people are not going to do enough shooting to wear out a rifle barrel, so 99% of you reading this will not need to worry about this.
Nonetheless, all barrels do have a finite life. This is referred to as barrel life, or the number of rounds that you can shoot through a barrel before accuracy has degraded below 1 MOA at one hundred yards.
Once the performance of your barrel has degraded to this amount or greater, it’s time for a replacement. When the rifle is no longer as accurate as it originally came from the family out of the box, it’s times for a replacement.
Here’s another way of putting it: you need to replace your barrel when the barrel is no longer providing the level of accuracy that you need from the rifle. For example, if your rifle degrades from 1 MOA to 2 MOA accuracy, that may still be acceptable enough for hunting purposes, but it won’t be acceptable enough for long range precision shooting.
But again, it’s going to take tens upon tens of thousands of rounds before your rifle’s accuracy is degraded in any way.
There are also steps you can take to improve the longevity of your 6.5 Creedmoor’s barrel as much as possible. These include:
- Allow the barrel to cool down in between shots
- Do not fire continuously in extended shooting sessions when it is not necessary to do so
- Always use a bore guide when you clean your rifle
- Shoot less powerful rounds with lesser bullet grains in your rifle
Also keep in mind that there are more reasons to upgrade to a new barrel besides it wearing out. For example, the factory barrel on your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle may work just fine, but you also may want a barrel that is more accuracy, durable, or otherwise better meets the various qualities that a barrel should have. If you want to become a precision shooter at long ranges especially, you would be wise to upgrade your barrel.
In the next section, we’ll discuss the top qualities that you should look for in a barrel for your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle.
Buyer’s Guide For A New 6.5 Creedmoor Barrel
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new barrel for your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle:
The barrel length has more direct impact on your accuracy and muzzle velocity than anything else. Barrels for 6.5 Creedmoor rifles are available in length ranging from as little as 10 inches up to 24 inches or greater. In the case of the AR-10, 18 inch to 24 inch barrels are by far the most common.
As a golden rule, the longer your barrel is, the greater your muzzle velocity and accuracy will be, but at the expense of your rifle becoming harder to maneuver in tight conditions. The rule of thumb to follow is that for every inch of length you add for a barrel, the feet-per-second velocity of your barrel will be increased by 200 feet.
Cold Hammer or Mil-Spec?
You can easily get away with a mil-spec barrel, which is the standard type of barrel the military uses. However, cold hammer forged barrels are undoubtedly superior. Cold hammer forged is when a big hydraulic machine is used to hammer the barrel from multiple sides, creating a more durable and tough product that will simply last longer than a mil-spec version.
The weight of the barrel is also referred to as the barrel profile. There are three primary types of barrel profiles: lightweight, government, and heavy. Out of these three, a heavy barrel will last longer than a government or lightweight, because there is more resistance to heat building up in the barrel during extended firing sessions.
But at the same time, a heavy barrel is, well, heavy. It will not be as fun to pack around while slung across your shoulder when you’re hunting out in the woods, for example. A lightweight barrel will be much more fun to carry around because it won’t weigh down on you as much, but at the same time, it will need to be cooled off after shooting enough rounds as it begins to get hot.
Make sure that you go with a barrel that is both very durable and resistant to the rain or humid environments. This is precisely why 416R stainless steel is such a great choice for a barrel. Stainless steel is incredibly tough (more so than carbon) and also offers excellent rust and corrosion resistance, which means that it will be a better choice for rough or inclement weather.
Last but certainly not least, always pay close attention to the barrel’s twist rate. The twist rate refers to the number of inches a bullet travels in order to make one rotation. For example, 1:8 twist rate means that the barrel will need to travel eight inches down the barrel before it makes on rotation.
A faster rotation means that the bullet will be more stable when it exits the barrel, which translates to superior accuracy at longer ranges. A 1:8 twist rate is ideal for the 6.5 Creedmoor round, and in fact comes standard on many match grade barrels for the round.
The 3 Best Barrels For Your 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle
Now that we’ve covered why you need to upgrade your 6.5 Creedmoor barrel, here are the top three 6.5 Creedmoor barrels on the market for you to consider today:
Brownells Premium Barrels 24 inch M24E SS
The Brownells Premium M24E SS barrel is an excellent quality barrel. Built out of 416R stainless steel, it’s incredibly durable and also very rust and corrosion resistant. Stainless steel is one of the best finishes and materials to look for in a barrel for these very reasons.
The interior of the barrel features a 1:8 twist rate and 5R button rifling, which both help contribute to the fact that this rifle can deliver sub-MOA groups while shooting most factory 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition (just make sure that you’re still purchasing ammunition from quality manufacturers). The end of the Brownells premium barrel is threaded to 5/8”-24, and the gas shoulder can also accept a 0.750” gas block.
While this specific 6.5 Creedmoor barrel is designed for use with the Remington 700 bolt action rifle (also known as the M24 rifle), there are also versions of this barrel built for AR-10 rifles too in both the 24 inch and 18 inch barrel lengths. Both of these barrels are likewise built out of 416R stainless steel with 1:8 twist rates and 5R button rifling. The 24 inch barreled version comes with a rifle length gas system, and the 18 inch version comes with a carbine length gas system.
All in all, the Brownells Premium is an excellent quality stainless steel barrel that is fully capable of delivering sub-MOA groups while only using factory ammunition. This is largely thanks to the 1:8 twist rate and the 5R button rifling design on the interior of the barrel. Besides the 24 inch version, it’s also available in an 18 inch configuration as well.
- Capable of offering sub-MOA groups with most factory ammunition
- Gas block fits perfectly
- Built out of 416R stainless steel
- Features 5R button rifling
- Has 1:8 twist rate
- Sometimes the crown may have a burr
Proof Research CamGas AR-10 Barrel
The Proof Research is an excellent quality AR-10 barrel for the 6.5 Creedmoor. This barrel comes with a number of impressive features, including excellent cooling properties to help extend the life of the barrel as much as possible. It also utilizes Proof Research’s unique CamGas system, which means that the speed of the bolt carrier is reduced in order to improve reliability.
In addition, the Proof Research ships with a proprietary gas tube, and delivers match grade accuracy. This barrel is also designed so that POI (point of impact) shifts will not occur during extended firing sessions.
If there’s anything negative to say about the Proof Research, it’s that it comes at a very high price and is sold for nearly the same amount of money as you could buy an actual 6.5 Creedmoor rifle for.
Overall, the Proof Research Camgas Barrel is a sold AR-10 barrel that offers a number of enhanced features over other barrels in its class, including enhanced cooling properties, superb accuracy, and a threaded muzzle. However, it’s because of these features that the Proof Research will fetch a higher price tag than most of its competitors.
- Built out of 416R stainless steel
- Match grade barrel
- Very rust and corrosion resistant
- Muzzle had been threaded so you can add other accessories
- Cooling properties will extend the barrel life
- Ships with a proprietary gas tube
- POI shift will not occur during extended shooting sessions
- Speed of the bolt carrier is reduced in order to improve reliability
- Very expensive for a barrel
Criterion Barrels AR 308 and 6.5 Creedmoor Hybrid Barrel
The Criterion AR-10 Barrel offers you the ability to shoot both .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor as it is a hybrid model thanks to the barrel’s unique contour. It’s built out of a very rust resistant 416R stainless steel material with a blackened finish.
This barrel features an M4 barrel extension, a finished chamber, and a rifle length gas system. Criterion recommend that you have the barrel head spaced by an experienced gunsmith before you install. The end of the barrel is also threaded with 5/8-2 so you can add muzzle accessories at the end.
However, the Criterion is only compatible with AR-10 rifles and carbines that are DPMS style, and it will not work with AR-10s that are of the SR-25 variety. This means that the barrel will work with DPMS-style gas tubes only.
If you are looking for a barrel for an AR-10 that can shoot both the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .308 Winchester rounds, the Criterion Barrel is simply one of the best options that you can go with. This is also a match grade barrel that is built out of high quality and rust resistant stainless steel with an M4 barrel extension. So long as you have a DPMS-style AR-10, this will be a great option for you to go with.
- Can shoot both the .308 Winchester and the 6.5 Creedmoor rounds
- Only compatible with DPMS-style AR-10s, and not with SR-25 style AR-10s
And that concludes our list of the top three best 6.5 Creedmoor barrels for 2020. The 6.5 Creedmoor is a great round that offers flat trajectories and limited recoil, and its performance can be amplified greatly by going with a high quality barrel for it to help improve your accuracy even further.
Any one of the three barrels that we have covered here today will be a good option, or alternatively, you can shop for other barrels while following the buyer’s guide that we have gone over today as well.
Featured image by RobEvans123