View Full Version : Carbine or rifle length AR15, which do you like?

November 9, 2012, 12:46 PM
It's not very often I see people with a full length AR15, the vast majority seem to invest into a carbine setup, other than the ease of maneuverability, and compactness, is there any other reasons ya'll seem to prefer the carbine over the rifle setup?

Personally, I like the long sight radius of the rifle length systems, and I like being different for the most part. Not to say I won't eventually own a carbine length AR15, the look of the "M16" always was more attractive to me for some reason.

I'd like to hear some of the opinions ya'll have.

November 9, 2012, 12:56 PM
My Colt Hbar has a 20 inch barrel. I shoot with the iron sights exclusively and like that longer sight radius.
Not only are most of the ARs that I see at the range carbines but virtually all of them have glass and or electronics mounted on them. Different strokes.

November 9, 2012, 12:58 PM
Mine is more or less a carbine type weapon.

It's lighter and more maneuverable. The sight radius doesn't matter because I use a holographic sight.

The muzzle velocity will be lower and the effective range slightly less than a something with a full length barrel, but that isn't as important to me as the size advantage.

I do, however, still think that the M16A1 was the best looking of the bunch.

Crow Hunter
November 9, 2012, 02:29 PM
If someone would make a rifle that wasn't a HB monstrosity, I would love to have one.

But most of them have full length Heavy Barrels that make the rifle nearly as heavy as a M1A or AR-10. If I am going to lug/swing around that much weight, I would just as soon have a bigger boom.

I used to have a A2 rifle and empty it was nearly as heavy as the M1A that I had and it was actually more nose heavy. The M1A was better balanced.

I have also grown accustomed to having an adjustable stock. It makes it much easier to keep the same eye relief. I have a Colt 6724 that has a A2 stock on it. I have the magnified optic (1998 vintage Leupold Vari-X III 4.5 X14) set so that I have the right eye relief at 14X from prone, but moving to sitting/standing/heavy clothing I have to move my head back or crane by neck forward at times.

I have other rifles with magnified optics and collapsible stocks and it is much easier to just adjust the stock.

I wish Colt would produce some M16A3/4 type rifles for civilian purchase instead of just HB Match Target rifles.

Are you listening Colt?:rolleyes:

Strafer Gott
November 9, 2012, 03:32 PM
Awhile back on another thread Kraig said something to the effect that for humping around in the boondocks, the lightweight A1 like in RVN or SP1 Colt made sense, and I totally agree. For shooting with irons while cruising around they are very comfortable, especially for physically challenged old timers such as myself. For range duty, a NATO barreled SP2 helps with accuracy. M4s get you back to the A1 weight. It's not easy to get glass to sit on the carry handle of A1 or A2. I like the Sig 556 for that, and it's not light either. I guess none of us appreciated the luxury that was extended us in Nam!

November 9, 2012, 03:39 PM
Mid-Length is the best compromise in my opinion. Even with a 16" barrel you get a longer sight radius and a slightly better gas system. I really see no advantage to the carbines with the short handguards.

I've had rifle versions, but rarely used them. Seems I always reached for one of the carbines. Sold one of the rifles and the upper to the other which I replaced with a mid-length.

Master Blaster 2
November 9, 2012, 03:50 PM
Carbine or rifle length AR15

I like both which is easy to do with an AR.

chad wanna dwink of wawa
November 9, 2012, 08:26 PM
I like my carbine length...

Can't really think of a true "reason" why though, maybe its just because thats what I have so thats what I like. :rolleyes:

I like the looks of a carbine length alot better but looks don't mean much...


Metal god
November 9, 2012, 09:45 PM
I think the reason you see more carbine is thats whats at the stores and on average will be less money . Rifle length ARs tend to have better heavy/bull barrels , free floated hand gaurds and that will push up the price .

I do not have a rifle length AR all mine are carbine or mid lenght 16" barrels . I can tell you this my carbine flings my brass farther away then my mid lengths do .I belive all the carbine length gas system was made for is to get a higher rate of fire . The carbine will cycle the BCG much faster then the rifle length. There is how ever some math involved when it come to where the gas port is in relation to the length of the barrel and how efficient the gun opperates .

November 9, 2012, 09:54 PM
Mine are 20-24" and have A2 stocks. I have no use for anything shorter. YMMV

Art Eatman
November 9, 2012, 11:43 PM
I've always had a "thing" for max velocity, so I like long barrels. My main set-up for my AR is for varminting, so that upper is a 1:14 twist 20".

223 shooter
November 10, 2012, 11:14 AM
For me it came down to the choice of optics or conventional sights. I thought of going with a 20" barrel National Match rifle with sights but as most of my shooting is with optics these days I went with a 18" Varmint barrel with no sights.

November 10, 2012, 11:23 AM
I do like the rifle length on this one for its accuracy and softer recoil impulse:


But I do like my carbine for defense and as a work gun:


November 10, 2012, 01:28 PM
I like my 16" carbine for a SHTF rifle. I'm building a 20" A2 and I've already fallen in love with it. I like all the variants, but it depends on the intended purpose. I'll just take a couple of each.

chris in va
November 10, 2012, 03:04 PM
I have a carbine, wish it was a traditional rifle.

November 11, 2012, 11:49 AM
With the AR type rifles, barrel thickness is USUALLY conducive to improved accuracy. I have carbines with very lightweight profile barrels up to rifles with HBar profiles and one bull barrel. Each has it's place. The carbine I carry most has an HBar profile 16". I tolerate the slight addition of weight since it makes the rifle easier to shoot. The thin barrels are nicer to carry but may be slightly lacking in the level of accuracy I require.

November 11, 2012, 12:24 PM
I prefer the 20" barrel. I'm tall, with long arms, so even an AR "rifle" isn't a big gun, though for "tactical" applications, negotiating doorways and such is going to be more difficult. My main concern is ballistics. My impression is that you really need 2700fps to get good terminal ballistics, and shooting 75 grain bullets in something like a M4, means your muzzle velocity isn't much more than that. I use iron sights almost exclusively, and the longer sight radius is a benefit, too.

November 11, 2012, 12:46 PM
To me the only thing that the gas system affects cyclic rate and recoil impulse. I could get the same sight radius out of a 16" barreled gun via handguard mounted BUIS as a 20" barreled gun. Even rifle length handguards don't go a full 20".

November 11, 2012, 12:58 PM
I prefer the 20" barrel AR15 while out-of-doors. For indoor work, I prefer the carbine. I spent a heck of a lot money having a custom built 20" upper which is for long distance work where accuracy is more critical. I spent much less for the Bushmaster carbine where accuracy is less critical for my purposes.


The 20" rifle has free-floated custom barrel and a Wilson TTU 2-stage trigger.

November 11, 2012, 03:40 PM
Mid-Length is the best compromise in my opinion. Even with a 16" barrel you get a longer sight radius and a slightly better gas system. I really see no advantage to the carbines with the short handguards.

I've had rifle versions, but rarely used them.

I agree. I like the old 20" pencil barrel but really today's 16" midlength offers a lot. I now have three and no 20" nor 16" carbine gas.

November 11, 2012, 05:00 PM
I own both. As long as they function 100% and more acurate than I can shoot, then it does not matter what the length.

I did build my M16 A4 clone for iron sights. I may eventually build an A2 for that purpose too.

November 11, 2012, 05:26 PM
After I got my 6933, everything else seemed too long.

November 12, 2012, 10:58 AM
My personal preference is for the M4 style of AR with telescoping stock and 16 inch barrell.. For target shooting I normally use the stock extended but if needed for clearing a building or house, and HD just collapse the stock and it's very easy to maneuver around.

November 12, 2012, 04:25 PM
For "minute-of-comrade" shooting out to 300m while running an optic, I think an M-4 type is fine. If you intend to use it for target or varmint hunting, probably a full length version is where it's at.

Generally, though, I don't think you miss what you give up for the handiness of carbine length.

Personally, I'm an old -A1 guy...Happy Veteran's Day!

November 12, 2012, 05:26 PM
As others have said, depends on the use. I have a RRA National Match A4 rifle that I use for service rifle matches. When not competing, the handle and iron sights come off and a Burris 3x9 scope, with quick-detachable mount/rings goes on and the rifle, with its 20" long, "Air Gauged Heavy Match Stainless Steel, 1:8" twist barrel, goes with me chuck hunting.

November 12, 2012, 07:21 PM
Mid-Length is the best compromise in my opinion. Even with a 16" barrel you get a longer sight radius and a slightly better gas system. I really see no advantage to the carbines with the short handguards.

I could not agree more. I had one carbine, and I liked it well enough, but I sold it and have a 16" with midlength system. But if you're going to have a 16" barrel, go middy for the gas system and longer sight radius. Indoors-midlength outdoors-rifle!

November 12, 2012, 07:35 PM
For the 5.56 round, a 20 inch barrel seems more appropriate, with a good compromise of velocity, moderate noise and sufficient barrel stiffness for length. However, the market seems very focused on 16 inch barrels with many options and lots of competition.

November 12, 2012, 09:14 PM
I've always been partial to the 20" AR's. I like the sight radius and the length is more of a blessing than a detractor. I'm not out kicking in meth lab doors with a team so don't need a shorty. I've shot a 16" bbl AR before and didn't like the increased muzzle blast over the longer tube.

Besides, the 223 is sort of a pipsqueak round anyway, and can use all the velocity it can get, ergo longer barrel.

Nickel Plated
November 13, 2012, 02:00 AM
I'm weird when it comes to aesthetics and how some guns are "supposed to be"

To me, a carbine is supposed to have a 14.5" barrel. If I can't have that then I see no reason to half-ass it. May as well just get a full-length 20" rifle.

So I guess there will be no carbines or commandos in my future until they either repeal the NFA or I feel like paying the SBR tax.

November 13, 2012, 04:16 AM
After using the M16 in the service and owning a few carbines, I have to say I really like the 18" barrel with rifle length gas system and adjustable stock. For me it works best.

November 13, 2012, 04:53 AM
For general purposes not involving long range shooting, the M4 Carbine models are just more compact and lightweight overall -- depending on your accesories of course. But if you keep everything to a minimum, a carbine will serve most uses and will be as reliable if set up correctly.

The other compromise as others have said is a mid-length with a 16 or 18-inch barrel. My 300Blackout middy with 12-inch rail was a good setup without the longer rifle profile and heavier weight.


I'd love to build an AR15 rifle length in the future..

November 13, 2012, 02:58 PM
I think that i have the same solutions everyone else does. I have a midleanth 16" for Home Defense, and a longer (18" MK12 Style) for target work and to get a boost in MV. I can for some situations really see the need for short barrels on the AR15, I know that the shorter you go the lower the MV goes, but sometimes the handyness of the system outweights the defects. If it were not for the horrible muzzle blast i would almost consider getting an SBR for home defense, but the combined effects of muzzle blast, paper work and fees just turns me away.

Now having fired both 16", and 14.5" weapons indoors I have to say that its loud and lots of flash but I did not notice the blast myself. (my concern in the future, would be hearing damage to members of my family from a defensive shooting.)

As for sight radius with mid, full, and carbine it does not matter to me. Since I mostly use some sort of optic I use the sight for backup. Even at times when shooting the three I did not notice that I shot any better or worse with oen vs. the other. I know that sometimes the theoretical differance in accuracy from something is midagated by our shooting skill. (or in my case sometimes lack there of!) It would be intresting to have some really good shooters do a study with the differant leanths of sights and then get some stats on what the exact effect is. We all know it does have an effect but how much really, or is it more like the differance between .15 & .20 MOA? I can't shoot that well to notice. just a thought.

November 13, 2012, 03:43 PM
I'm weird when it comes to aesthetics and how some guns are "supposed to be"

To me, a carbine is supposed to have a 14.5" barrel. If I can't have that then I see no reason to half-ass it. May as well just get a full-length 20" rifle.

It's not just aesthetics though.... The carbine length gas system is designed for (roughly) 10-14.5'' barrels. When you start using it on longer barrels it tends to put more force on the bolt/lugs and can (not always, I know...) cause sheering. From my understanding, this is why Colt now puts "H" buffers in their civilian 6920s. With the exception of my Colts, all my 16'' ARs are middys for this reason. Just throwing that out there :D

November 13, 2012, 04:13 PM
To me, a carbine is supposed to have a 14.5" barrel. If I can't have that then I see no reason to half-ass it. May as well just get a full-length 20" rifle.

So I guess there will be no carbines or commandos in my future until they either repeal the NFA or I feel like paying the SBR tax.

If I was going to go with a $200 tax stamp, I would not waste it on a 14.5" upper..... I would go with a max 12" and probably a 10.5" upper.

Spending that kind of money and only cutting back 1.5" just seems silly to me...

Nickel Plated
November 13, 2012, 04:32 PM
You know that the SBR stamp applies tot he lower right? So you're not really "wasting" it for just 1.5". You can put multiple uppers on the same SBR lower. 7s, 10s, 14s whatever you want.

So i would get one registered lower and 2 uppers. 14.5" and 11.5". Maybe a tiny 7" upper as well.

November 13, 2012, 04:45 PM
Yea I did....until I forgot while I was thinking about which upper I would pair it with :o

...my bad

I do have a question though, are you able to get SBRs in NY?

Nickel Plated
November 13, 2012, 06:02 PM
Not in NYC. I'm pretty sure not in the rest of the state either. AWB and all.

Metal god
November 13, 2012, 06:35 PM
The federal AWB expired during the Bush admin . At this time it would be a state by state ban not federal. You would need to check your state laws to see if the SBR is baned or not in your state .( "Don't quote me on that" :D )

Nickel Plated
November 13, 2012, 06:43 PM
Still very much alive and well here. And quite a bit worse than the federal AWB to boot.

The federal law allowed you to have 2 evil features. Here you're not allowed ANY evil features and pretty much all of the fun guns are banned by name regardless of how badly you neuter them.

9 more months and I'll be in Texas. *twiddling thumbs* :D

Metal god
November 13, 2012, 06:50 PM
Me to-ish . Im in C.A. and we have some tuff gun laws but not like N.Y. . In some ways I sure am glad we have the bullet button . It allows us to have all the cool stuff . I don't think we can have an SBR :(


November 13, 2012, 07:24 PM
9 more months and I'll be in Texas. *twiddling thumbs*

Welcome to freedom :)

...heck, in 9 more months you might not even reside in the United States ;)

November 13, 2012, 09:16 PM
I have trouble thinking of any AR as a rifle. They all seem like carbines to me. ASSAULT CARBINES!!!

Deja vu
November 14, 2012, 10:31 PM
I like shorter barrels. They feel more handy to me. I do like long barrels for activities like shooting Ground rats just because the added speed helps (some what) with bullet drop.

November 14, 2012, 11:33 PM
Rifle length

November 15, 2012, 06:09 AM
I have a 16" and was thinking about buying a 20" rifle length gun, but for ranges up to 300 yds others have told me their will be no increase in accuracy. With my 16" carbine I get groups at 100 yds that can be covered with a dime and groups at 300 yds that can be covered with a fifty cent piece using my hand loads, a bipod and nikon 3-9x40 scope.
So right now I am sitting on the fence as to if I should buy a 20" rifle or not.

Metal god
November 15, 2012, 07:18 AM
You get groups that a dime can cover at 100yds (1/4 MOA)?:eek: and you needed others to tell you that you would not get better accuracy with a 20" barrel :rolleyes:. Your not going to get much better accuracy with any other rifle on the planet little lone barrel . Thats some nice shooting :cool:

November 15, 2012, 09:03 AM
Rebs..... If you're getting groups that size.... It just don't get better than that.... At least making then better isn't as easy as buying a 20" rifle.

I say stick with what you've got.

Sent from my HTC One X

November 15, 2012, 02:52 PM
I like both and have both. Carbine length for HD, a 20" midweight barrel for varmint hunting, and a standard A2 HB upper with an M4 6 position stock.