Guide to Suppressed AR-15 Barrel Lengths
Barrel length is a topic of much debate for all firearms. Rifles, shotguns, handguns, you name it, people will argue about it. Most of the time, barrel length arguments are a wash and it’s simply best to adopt a live-and-let-live mentality to people’s personal preferences.
However, it’s a different story when it comes to different barrel lengths for an AR-15 – especially when you’re running a suppressor on the end of it.
What is the Best Barrel Length For A Suppressed AR-15
Trying to give a definitive answer to what is the best barrel length for a suppressed AR-15 is difficult because it’s kind of a loaded question.
To be blunt, there’s no barrel length out there for an AR-15 that wouldn’t benefit from the use of a suppressor.
Because of the greater length of a 20″ barrel compared to the shorter options available on the market, you’ll experience lower overall pressures and less concussive force. You’ll also experience the greatest amount of noise reduction with a suppressor on a 20″ barrel. Similar results will be had if you’re dealing with other common barrel lengths, such as 18″ or 16″, which is considered the carbine length versus a rifle length.
Getting shorter still, barrels down at the 12″ end of the spectrum and lower – like the 10.5″ and even the 7″ – almost require the use of a suppressor. Shooting one of these barrel lengths in an enclosed space without some kind of hearing protection will absolutely result in instantaneous permanent hearing damage, and that’s without even getting into the concussive force and blinding muzzle flash you’ll experience.
Putting a suppressor on one of these short barrels is the best way to mitigate – but not negate – the higher pressures, great concussive force, excessive muzzle flash, and deafening noise. To be sure, a suppressor will not make an AR-15 with one of these short barrels anywhere near hearing-safe in terms of decibel reduction, but it’s a good start.
How Does Barrel Length Affect Your Shot?
The modularity of the AR-15 platform has led to a tremendous amount of variation in terms of how different builds present themselves.
They are available in myriad different rifle and pistol calibers and with a dizzying variety of barrel lengths that range from 20″ down to 7.5″ and everything in between. Not only do each of those barrel lengths have an impact on your application with the gun, they also impact the effects of a suppressor on the gun.
In the most basic of explanations, a longer barrel is going to result in better velocity and better trajectory than a shorter barrel. Of course, what you’re planning on doing with a particular firearm may make those performance results less important. For example, if you’re using a 10.5″ barrel for home protection, you really aren’t concerned with how well the gun performs out to 100, 200, 300, or more yards.
What is an AR-15?
An AR-15 is a semi-automatic firearm that was developed by Eugene Stoner and introduced to the civilian market as a sporting rifle by Colt in 1963. Originally available with a fixed stock, 20″ barrel, and chambered for just one cartridge (5.56/.223), the gun has changed tremendously in the last half century, and yet, at the core, it still remains true to its original design.
Suppress Your AR
Thankfully, the popularity of the AR platform means that there are a ton of suppressors on the market that are compatible with these firearms.
You can choose to get a dedicated .223/5.56 caliber suppressor that is designed to work with just those two AR calibers, or you can opt to go with a slightly larger .30 caliber suppressor. This will allow you to use the suppressor on an AR in the traditional .223/5.56 caliber as well as other larger calibers that are also very popular with the AR platform such as .300 Blackout and .308 Winchester.A LOOK AT THE BEST AR-15 SUPPRESSORS IN 2023
Shooting Suppressed With an AR-15
As we mentioned earlier, shooting suppressed with an AR-15 can mean that you may be able to forgo traditional hearing protection with certain barrel lengths. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to use other types of ear pro if you so desire. There’s no shame in wanting to preserve your hearing by any means necessary.
And also, because it bears repeating, shooting suppressed with an AR-15 that has a short, pistol-length barrel is not a free pass to forgo traditional hearing protection. Those guns will still be too loud even with a suppressor and you will damage your hearing. Period.
AR-15 Maintenance and Care
If you’re going to run a suppressor on your AR-15, it’s important to understand that your gun will likely need some extra maintenance and care due to the uniqueness of running a suppressor on a semi-automatic firearm.
First off, a suppressor can allow for excess carbon build-up which will lead to your gun getting dirtier faster than it normally would. This is especially true if you’re shooting surplus ammo or another kind of ammo that tends to be dirtier than other regular factory ammo. As a result, you’ll want to clean your AR more regularly than whatever cleaning regimen you usually follow, paying extra attention to carbon build-up on the bolt.
Since using a suppressor has an impact on how the gases interact in your firearm, it’s possible that you may either need to adjust the flow if you have an adjustable gas block or get a different gas block if the one you have isn’t adjustable.
If your AR isn’t getting enough gas pressure, it can fail to cycle which could lead to issues with ejecting and/or chambering. Tweaking the gas system is an easy way to fix this, and an adjustable gas block is the perfect way to do it if you plan on switching back and forth between suppressed and unsuppressed shooting.
Get Your AR Suppressed
As we stated earlier, the best AR-15 barrel length for a suppressor can mean a lot of different things based on the shooter’s needs and the gun’s specifications.
Always remember, it’s your rifle and your needs that will dictate which AR-15 suppressor is the best for you. A longer barreled AR-15 will always be quieter than a shorter barreled firearm. Every shooter needs to assess what is more important based on their own equipment.
If you’re ready to get a suppressor for your AR, or if you’ve got some more questions before committing to a purchase, give us a call. Our sales staff have sold countless suppressors to AR owners will all sorts of different needs, setups, and goals, so they can help you pick the right one for your personal situation.
Silencer Central is the nation’s largest silencer dealer and we’re licensed to sell in all 42 states where suppressors are legal. Let us handle the entire purchase process for you and then enjoy the added benefit of having your suppressor shipped right to your front door upon approval!