When it comes to selecting the right barrel for your AR, sometimes less can be more.
A lot of people consider the barrel to be one of the most important parts of a rifle. On the AR platform, the chamber of the rifle is built into the barrel and when combined with the barrel extension, it makes up the headspacing of the rifle. Another important factor is the gas port, which is a hole that is drilled into the barrel, which is covered by the gas block, allowing the proper amount of gases to the bolt and causing it to cycle. The size is based both on the barrel length and the gas port location. When purchasing a barrel it’s important to buy from a quality manufacturer, if you don’t your rifle could end up being inaccurate, under or over gassed, and leave you with multiple failures. Or, in the most extreme scenario, bad headspacing can destroy a rifle due to a round being fired out of battery or with too much chamber pressure.
I’ve most recently been searching for a barrel to complement a light weight build that would still reward me with accuracy suitable for defensive training, but would also shoot all ranges of ammo as a reliable firearm. After many hours of researching and checking with several manufacturers, I discovered VooDoo Innovations. VDI is a fairly new company as far as the name goes, but they’ve been the barrel of choice for Adams Arms for many years. Knowing that, I was plenty comfortable picking up a barrel from them.
I ended up deciding on the 16-inch Midlength Evo Ultra Lite. As the name states, it’s a 16 inch barrel that has a midlength gas system. This has been the common choice for many builders and companies lately as they provide a smoother shooting rifle that is more reliable when combined with proper port size and the appropriate buffer. It also uses a 5.56 chamber, so it can run .223 ammunition as well as the 5.56 NATO version, which is slightly thicker and has higher pressures. The Ultra Lite also uses a 1-7 twist rifling. This was preferred so that I could shoot the inexpensive 55 grain ammo that are more common and cost efficient for training, but still use a heavier 75 grain round for defense or hunting with optimal accuracy.
Light is what I wanted and the Ultra Lite barrel is… well, ultra-light! The website lists it as 1.453 pounds but my scale read 1 pound and 3 ounces, which is lighter than some of the handguards I’ve used on AR platforms. This barrel certainly fits the term “pencil barrel” and uses a .625 gas block.
The VDI Ultra Lite is a perfect fit for my lightweight build and even with several different handguards, a billet lower receiver and a VLTOR A5 buffer system, I’ve yet to come up with a configuration over 8 pounds even with Irons, an Eotech and a magazine. I’ve put just over 500 rounds through it and the ammunition has varied from XM193 to the cheapest, nastiest stuff I can find with no hiccups, being anything but smooth.
With a price tag of only $281.00 from VooDoo Innovations the Evo Ultra Lite is certainly worth a look.