Guide to good barrels: more of a guide than a review.

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Creation date July 26, 2011
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This is a guide to show what to look for in a good aftermarket barrel. Many players think tighter is batter, but that is a misconception.

What makes a good barrel.

When we started playing airsoft in the mid-90's there was only 1 type of aftermarket barrel available. Now there are dozens of companies making barrels and some even have multiple types. PDI, Prometheus, Systema, Madbull, KM, JBU, Deep Fire, Matrix and many others offer aftermarket barrels. With so many choices how do you know what makes a good barrel?

When you ask that question 98% of the airsoft community will say tightness. Many people refer to aftermarket barrels as tightbore barrels. They cite that Tokyo Marui barrels are 6.08mm (as well as many other brands) and if you put something smaller or tighter it will shoot better. Because of this many companies make 6.03mm, and as tight as 6.01mm for the “ultimate performance”. Unfortunately that is the wrong answer.

What is important are how straight the barrel is and how even it is. A company can be totally honest that the barrel is 6.01mm at any point, but this does not address curves and bends. It is totally possible to have a barrel that indeed is 6.01mm but if it’s not straight it will not perform well. See photo 1.

In addition to being straight the diameter needs to be even throughout the length of the barrel. Many companies take several measurements and average the amounts giving an average bore size. These companies can again be honest in their claims because of the process they use. A truly even barrel would be smooth on the inside and free of pits, bumps and rings, resulting in good performance. See photo 2.

Some companies measure the barrels improperly. They might use calipers and other measuring devices that do not give an accurate measure. Unfortunately they believe they are doing it right and will tell you they make barrels of a certain size. See photo 3.

Unfortunately there is no quantitative way to explain how straight and even a barrel is with just a few numbers. They can label radius length deviance from the center point, and measure how smooth it is with friction coefficients, but most people would have no idea what that means.

To examine the quality of a barrel hold it up to a light and look down the bore.
If there are lots of grooves, ripples, or rings it is not a good barrel.
If the surface looks dull or rough it is not a good barrel.
If the inside looks smooth and even it could be a good barrel (not always).
If there is a mirror smooth polish and you can see clear reflections it could be a good barrel (again, not always).
Roll the barrel on a flat surface to be sure the barrel is straight and not bent.

So who makes good barrels?
Well first of all there is no perfect barrel for everything. Each has its strengths and you need to ask yourself what you really want most. From our 14+ years of playing experience and observations from installing thousands of barrels we can recommend the following:
PDI 6.01 for the best accuracy
PDI 6.05 for the best long range distance with good accuracy
Prometheus 6.03 for good distance and very good accuracy at shorter distances.
Prometheus 6.05 for very good distance and good accuracy, slightly cheaper than PDI 05
Guarder 6.02 for good accuracy in an inexpensive barrel

IMPORTANT: Some companies are making barrels claiming to be the same as PDI or Prometheus for less than half the price. Don’t believe them. Would you believe someone selling a Rolex for $100? We have tried them and had very bad results, worse than stock barrels. They lie and do it knowing you won’t take legal action or fly to China over a $40 barrel. Don’t trust them.

Esthetism rating: 5/10
Performance rating: 5/10
Precision rating: 5/10
Accessories rating: 5/10
Quality rating: 5/10
Overall rating:
5/10
Comments

wwiiaman By Prometheus 6.05 are you referring to the Prometheus ASH 6.05?

1 year ago

gillian159 I own a Madbull 455mm 6.01 tighbore, one of the cheapest on the market , yet good performance.

4 years ago

Viperwaurio What about Madbull?

4 years ago

impactgames Madbull is like the Bravo barrels from Diesel's comment below. Better than a Chinese barrel but not as good a s Prometheus or PDI.

4 years ago

Diesel Another barrel you should consider checking out are the Bravo barrels. I just purchased mine and accuracy and range had increased dramatically. It's not a barrel that alot talk about but for those who own one swear by it. This is my first "tightbore" barrel would love you see what you guys think of it or can I improve with a PDI or Prometheus

4 years ago

impactgames Bravo is an improvement over the barrels built into most Chinese guns, but we've seen stock barrels on quality guns (Tokyo Marui) are usually better or at least as good already. You would see an improvement going to the Prometheus or PDI.

4 years ago

Diesel thanks for the input i will have to invest in one

4 years ago

caddius what about Deepfire 6.02 barells ?

4 years ago

impactgames Problem we've seen with the Deep Fire is they're not always straight. We've seen some good ones that were near Prometheus quality but we've also seen a bunch of bad ones where the whole barrel has a slight bend in it. It's a gamble if you get a good one or a bad one.

4 years ago

curef99 it would be good to have a pistol GBB test to also compare the FPS of every barrel... but anyhow, good article.

5 years ago

impactgames For GBB we've found the PDI 6.01 tends to be the best in every aspect, velocity, range, and accuracy. But pretty much all the same rules apply on how smooth and well made the barrel is.

5 years ago

S3V3R Kudos on this review. Im glad the PDI 6.01 has come up in your good books! just invested in one!
Do you have any opinion on these "rifelled" barrels?
Massive novelty factor but I want to know if they perform!

5 years ago

impactgames Thanks :)Are you talking about the Tanio Koba hop-twist barrels? They work great for guns under 1J in power (awesome for Japan, UK, etc). Velocity will drop a little from air escaping (10-15fps) but range and accuracy improve quite a bit. It'll make a 300fps gun shoot like a 350fps gun. But if you use it in something strong, like a 400fps+ gun, the rifling is to much and your shots spin out to the side.

5 years ago

S3V3R Thanks alot! Sorry for taking so long to reply, been writing reviews and not really reading reviews. Its probably not worth it for me right now then. I have a WE M14 with the PDI barrel however I was going to put a TK Hop twist barrel in my AEG. I dont understand how it will work sadly. I would imagine the hop would screw it all up, but im not very well informed on this new type of barrel. Thanks again!

5 years ago

impactgames The TK hop-twist has a very wide bore barrel where the BB doesn't really touch the grooves. Instead the air around the BB circulates and makes a cushion which stabilizes the BB, resulting in great range and accuracy. Because it doesn't spin the BB you can still use hop-up.

5 years ago

Joro Really good info, cheers. I did chance the barrels of my primery & secondary weapons to PDI 6.01, and I can tell you, there is big difference over the stock barrel in my M4 ICS 6.08.

5 years ago

Striker024 Very good information. good illustrations! I have a PDI 6.05 in an M-14. Works great for dmr.

5 years ago

impactgames Thanks. I also have a PDI 6.05 in my M14 and love it. Only guns that out-range me are high power bolt-actions that also have PDI barrels.

5 years ago

AnKh thank's for that
I have a pdi raven 6,01 it's about 35$
and it's very efficient

5 years ago

Spearhead excellent information! I was looking for a guide just like this one. Thanks!

5 years ago

Anonymous Agreed. Thanks for the informative article. This was helpful.

5 years ago

Killimanjaro Good info. Remember this guide a while back.

I should be down at the store around September installing a PDI 05 into my G36K. This guide just reminded me.

5 years ago

Anonymous Good information. A few ideas on how to improve on what you already have: Perhaps you could elaborate on a few additional unknown aspects of tightbores. For example, I have heard it said many times that tighter than 6.03 will actualy decrease accuracy. Hard data to back up your claims would also help your case such as example pictures of real barrels that are low quality, and accuracy tests you did with those low quality vs good quality barrels.

5 years ago

impactgames Thanks Vaugith. What our experience shows tighter bores increase accuracy, but may decrease range. Well not really a decrease compared to a stock barrel but less range than a 6.05. But that's only true of good quality barrels. A PDI 6.05 might have a bigger bore than a Madbull 6.01 but the PDI we have noticed better accuracy and range. When in doubt just remember, you get what you pay for :)

5 years ago

marsniprr27 Just to add on the reason for loss of range with tighter barrels is due to the fact the bb can not spin as freely which limits the effect your hopup can have.

5 years ago
impactgames







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