|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.
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.