[Review] Ballistic Advantage Barrel: Premium Hanson

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Looking for something accurate, light, and won’t break the bank?

The Ballistic Advantage Hanson series of AR-15 barrels might fit the bill.

Ballistic Advantage Hanson Barrel
Ballistic Advantage Hanson Barrel

I’ve been shooting a BA barrel for about 3 years, 2 seasons of rifle competitions, and an estimated 3,000 rounds.

Here’s my experience…and of course accuracy tests!

Table of Contents

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About Ballistic Advantage & Hanson Barrels

Aero Precision (manufacturers of my favorite stripped uppers & lowers) acquired Ballistic Advantage in the end of 2014.

That put it on the map for me…and I was happy to get my hands on one of their Hanson barrels after.

Hanson Barrel Profile
Hanson Barrel Profile

In a regular “Government” profile barrel there’s a “shoulder” that arises near the gas block.  Theory is that by removing the shoulder lump it reduces barrel whip and makes it easier for follow-up shots and overall accuracy.

There’s a lot of Hanson barrels…but the specific one I chose was this one:

All-Around Barrel
Ballistic Advantage 16" Hanson, .223 Wylde, Mid-Length

Ballistic Advantage 16" Hanson, .223 Wylde, Mid-Length

  • 16″ to avoid short barreled rifle regulations
  • .223 Wylde for increased accuracy (and still ability to shoot .223 and 5.56)
  • Mid-length gas system for a softer shooting impulse

My complete build is documented in How to Build an AR-15 Upper.

AR-15 Upper Receiver Parts
Ballistic Advantage Upper Build

To make it a little confusing…there’s two models of 16″ .223 Wylde Mid-length Hanson barrels.

One with a .750″ gas block (27 oz) and one with a .625″ gas block (22 oz).  I went with the smaller one for the weight savings.

Who Is It For?

In my opinion, a BA Hanson barrel is perfect if you are building a lightweight AR-15 but still want it to be accurate with the .223 Wylde chamber and shoulder-less design to minimize barrel whip.

Fit, Feel & Install

First off…it’s really light!  22 oz for a 16″ barrel is great…especially when regular Government profile barrels are in the 27 oz range.

I also like the bead-blasted stainless look that is different from traditional black coatings…but isn’t too shiny or a black hole for fingerprints.

Ballistic Advantage Hanson .223 Wylde
Ballistic Advantage Hanson .223 Wylde

Everything from the barrel nut, gas block, and muzzle brake installed normally and easily…and it’s still chugging along 3 years later.

Torque Wrench Barrel Nut
Torque Wrench Barrel Nut
Tighten to 35 in-lb
Tighten Gas Block Screws to 35 in-lb
Install Muzzle Device
Install Muzzle Device

And of course the finished product:

Ballistic Advantage Hanson Barrel Build
Ballistic Advantage Hanson Barrel Build

Check out the bleed-off from my favorite adjustable gas block after all these rounds!

Superlative Arms Gas Bleedoff
Superlative Arms Gas Bleedoff

How it Shoots

What you’ve been waiting for…

All I can say is that it shot super light.  Especially when I set the adjustable gas block to just the right amount of gas.

Editor's Pick
Superlative Arms Adjustable Gas Block

Superlative Arms Adjustable Gas Block

One negative of going lightweight is that there’s less mass to absorb recoil…but when you lower the gas to prevent your upper from sending the BCG back too fast…it kind of cancels out.

Movement between targets also sped up since there’s less metal to physically move around.

I say it definitely improved my rifle shooting game.

Accuracy

It can be the lightest barrel around…but if it’s not accurate it doesn’t matter.

How does the Hanson fare?

I didn’t break in my barrel initially and I haven’t copper cleaned it either in the thousands of rounds.  Keep in mind mil-spec M4 barrels are around 4 MOA.

I went with my standard testing equipment setup:

BA Hanson .223 Wylde Testing
BA Hanson .223 Wylde Testing

I shot at a slow-ish pace of around 1 shot per 10 seconds.  100 yard target.  And I let the barrel cool down to being able to be comfortably grabbed between each group.

BA Hanson Accuracy Results
BA Hanson Accuracy Results
  • Surprisingly good accuracy for Wolf Gold which is the cheapest brass cased stuff (I pulled those bottom two shots), I’d estimate 1.5 MOA (1.5 inches at 100 yards)
  • PMC and American Eagle opened up a little bit, estimate of 2 MOA
  • Gold Match was the tightest group at around 1 MOA with one flyer

Not surprising though…is how my build let me hit 400 yard targets during competitions when I did my part and had a good scope (Best 1-6x Scopes).

I’d imagine better groups if I cleaned it up and reloaded my own ammo.  But with 1.5 MOA using the cheapest brass cased ammo out there…I’m very happy.

Specifications

  • Length: 16″
  • Material: 416R Stainless Steel
  • Profile: Hanson
  • Finish: Bead Blasted
  • Gas System Length: Mid-length
  • Gas Glock Journal: 1″ Gas Block Seat for .625″ Low Profile Gas Blocks Only
  • Twist Rate: 1:8 inches
  • Muzzle: 1/2×28 Threaded
  • Weight: 22 oz
  • Other: HP & MPI Tested

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

No barrel based failures in my thousands of rounds.  Installed easily for barrel nut, gas block, and muzzle device.  Individually HP & MPI tested.

Accuracy: 4.5/5

Remarkably good for a pencil barrel and it ate up my cheapo ammo at 1.5 MOA.  Using match ammo brought it down to 1 MOA and I’m sure with reloads you can get it sub-MOA. The 1:8 twist is great for a wide variety of bullet weights too.  AND…there’s a 1-MOA guarantee using match ammo.

Looks: 5/5

Love the bead-blasted look that doesn’t shine nor attract fingerprints.

Bang for the Buck: 4.5/5

$250 for a high quality barrel is what I expect…but keep in mind that it does come with a gas block already.  It’s non-adjustable but if that doesn’t matter…it saves you about $30-40.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Conclusion

Hanson Barrel Top View
Hanson Barrel Top View

The Ballistic Advantage Hanson barrel has served me well.  I’m testing out other barrels all the time but I know I’ll be coming back to this one…especially for competition.

Lightweight, accurate, and pretty good bang-for-the-buck…it’s one of the barrels I wholeheartedly recommend in my Best AR-15 Barrels article.

All-Around Barrel
Ballistic Advantage 16" Hanson, .223 Wylde, Mid-Length

Ballistic Advantage 16" Hanson, .223 Wylde, Mid-Length

What’s your experience with BA barrels…or have you tried one of their other variants?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Jason T
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Jason T

I have the same BA Hanson Premium that you wrote about and it freaking awesome! I got very similar results as you, but I kept the factory gas block.
I have know idea what Mo Jones is talking about as far as customer service or problems. This is my 2nd BA barrel and both have been great. Every time I sent an email or called, BA always answered my questions and gave me their professional recommendations. Personally I plan to continue using BA barrels.

Mo Jones
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Mo Jones

Worst customer service ever had 2 of there barrels and nothing but problems and will never buy from them again.

sam Gevas
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sam Gevas

hey Eric, I’ve been looking at the Hanson barrel and would really like to get one, but can’t find any other instance of someone putting a 3rd party block on one. I will be running lightweight internals and will be using an adjustable block, but every BA hanson I’ve seen has their non-adjustable block pre pinned. The BA website says that the barrel is not meant to be used with 3rd party gas systems. So my questions to you is: 1st, where did you get a unpinned barrel?(Or did you just unpin it?) and 2nd, How hard was it to… Read more »

Tony
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Tony

Sam,
They come with without the gas block installed. You may use any suitable block you desire.