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[Review] Faxon 16″ Gunner Barrel: Best Bang-for-the-Buck?

How is Faxon's proprietary Gunner profile barrel? We cover fit, feel, install, shootability, accuracy, and more in our hands-on review.

    Looking for a solid AR-15 barrel for under $200…that’s light too?

    Faxon’s super-popular “Gunner” profile barrels ($175) might be the one for you.

    Faxon 16" Gunner 5.56 Barrel
    Faxon 16″ Gunner 5.56 Barrel

    Find out what makes the Gunner profile special when compared to the standard M4 profile…plus my take on fit/finish, shootability, accuracy, and more.

    By the end you’ll know if this do-all barrel is for you.  AND Faxon has given Pew Pew Tactical readers a special 5% off all Gunner barrels coupon.

    Goldilocks Barrel
    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Let’s do this!

    Table of Contents


    About Faxon

    Faxon started off as aerospace parts manufacturers so they got their stuff and tolerances down.  All their barrels are made in-house from “cradle to grave.”

    Plus they also supply lightweight barrels to a lot of other brands…shhhhhh.

    I’ve reviewed several of their barrels over the years and really like their stuff for the price point.

    Faxon Barrel Assortment
    Faxon Barrel Assortment

    But now I’m finally reviewing their flagship Gunner profile.

    What’s the Gunner Profile?

    Let’s first start with the M4/Government profile barrel…

    BCM M4 Profile Barrel
    BCM M4 Profile Barrel

    You can see the thickness tapers a little to a gas block diameter of .75″ and pretty much continues until the end.

    With a Gunner barrel…

    Faxon Gunner Profile
    Faxon Gunner Profile

    You get the stiff Government profile at the beginning which tapers into a pencil profile of diameter .625″ for the gas block.  It’s the best of both worlds.

    A regular M4 barrel can be up to 28 oz while the 16″ Gunner is 22 oz.  That’s a good 6 oz amount (hockey puck or billiards ball) of savings at the end of your AR.

    And the difference from the Gunner and a pencil barrel?

    Faxon Gunner vs Pencil
    Faxon Pencil (T) vs Gunner (B)

    The extended area after the gas block install which adds nearly 3 oz but more stability across different loads in our groups testing.

    Now you know what the Gunner is…let’s see how it does!

    Who Is It For?

    • Someone looking for the balance between weight and performance in a barrel
    • Someone looking for a soft shooting mid-length gas system barrel
    • Someone cost-conscious but wants something with a great rep in the builder community

    Fit, Feel, & Install

    The barrel is nicely QPQ Nitride finished so it’s a nice smooth black.  Not bumpy like phosphate and not excessively shiny.

    Faxon 16 Gunner Barrel
    Faxon 16 Gunner Barrel

    M4 feed ramps were all nicely cut across the Faxon barrels I’m testing/tested.

    AR-15 Barrel Ramps
    Faxon Feed Ramps

    Install was straightforward and I used their Ultra Low Profile Gas Block in .625″ ($32) and their mid-length gas tube ($14).

    Faxon Gas Block
    Faxon Gas Block

    I made sure to have the proper clearance from the shoulder to the block and each install has been great with thousands of rounds combined.  Check out our How to Assemble an AR-15 Upper Guide for help.

    I also combo-ed it with a Faxon Upper Receiver ($125) and Lightweight BCG ($249).

    Faxon Upper Receiver and BCG
    Faxon Upper Receiver and BCG

    Plus their lightweight Carbon Fiber Handguard ($329) to really take advantage of the Gunner weight savings.

    In previous builds I’ve used Aero Precision and Anderson Manufacturing uppers and Midwest Industries handguards.  Everything is up to spec and fits like the adult legos that AR-15s were meant to be.

    Best AR-15 Handguards
    Best AR-15 Handguards

    Check out more in Best AR-15 Upper Receivers and Best AR-15 Handguards.

    How It Shoots

    I tried the Gunner barrel in two builds…one with a standard aluminum handguard and another with Faxon’s Carbon Fiber.  Both builds my buddies and I were surprised at how light everything felt.

    Which translated into quicker movement between targets.  Removing that 6 oz from the front really helps!

    Also…even without an adjustable gas block the recoil was very manageable since it’s shooting 5.56.

    I used a Aimpoint PRO (Best Red Dot Sights) and was able to nail 100 yard plates in rapid succession with ease…even when standing up.

    Aimpoint PRO View
    Aimpoint PRO View

    After 500 rounds across several range trips and shooters…I was ready to test 100 yard groups.

    Faxon Gunner 100 Yards
    Faxon Gunner 100 Yards (By the Berm)

    With my go-to shooting rig setup.

    Faxon Gunner Barrel Testing
    Faxon Gunner Barrel Testing

    And a couple 5.56/.223 ammo loads.

    I shot at a decent speed of around 1 round each time I got back on target (3-5 seconds).  10 round groups.

    I waited for the barrel to be warm enough so I could grab it before moving onto the next load.

    Faxon Gunner Groups
    Faxon Gunner Groups

    The cheapest plinking round I had was the Wolf Gold and it did the most poorly…at about 3 MOA (3″ groups at 100 yards).

    PMC Bronze was slightly tighter.

    And I was having really high hopes for American Eagle for my first 6 shots that were about 1 MOA.

    Faxon Gunner American Eagle
    Faxon Gunner American Eagle

    But then it started opening up on the last 4.

    It seemed like this for the other groups as well.  Pretty close for the first 5 or so rounds…and then it opens up when the barrel warms.

    How about the match ammo?

    Recently I’ve been having a string of good luck where the cheapest ammo somehow did the best.  But this time things returned to normal and we see Gold Medal group 1 MOA.

    So what’s the conclusion?

    For ~$160 (with the special Pew Pew Tactical coupon at the bottom)…it’s pretty great to get a 1-3 MOA barrel from a trusted brand.

    One that’s good enough for 90% of the people and even competition shooters unless you’re shooting 400+ yards at smaller targets.

    I was able to hit 300 yards (3rd berm) most of the time crouched with my 1x Aimpoint.

    Angeles Range 100-600 Yards
    Angeles Range 100-600 Yards


    • Barrel Material: 4150 CMV Steel
    • Barrel Type: Button Rifled
    • Barrel Caliber: 5.56
    • Barrel Twist: 1:8
    • Barrel Length: 16”
    • Barrel Gas System: Mid
    • Finish: QPQ Nitride
    • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28 TPI
    • Gas Block Diameter: .625″
    • Gas Block Journal Length: 1.9″
    • Barrel Extension: M4
    • Weight:  1.37  lbs (22 oz)
    • Magnetic Particle Inspected!
    • 11-degree Target Crown

    By the Numbers

    Reliability: 5/5

    Nothing went wrong in 500+ rounds.  Feed ramps were cut correctly, gas block holes were in the right place, and it was easy to install onto two uppers and handguard configurations.

    Accuracy: 4/5

    Does the best with match ammo…but also did well with plinking ammo until it opens up due to the heat.  However still great for the price and enough accuracy for most people…even competition shooters.

    Looks: 5/5

    QPQ Nitride is smooth and not shiny (or dull).  No dents or tooling marks I could find.

    Bang for the Buck: 5/5

    An awesome overall barrel for around $165 (with coupon below).

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5


    Looks great, shoots softly, and transitions quickly.

    Faxon Carbon Fiber Handguard
    Faxon Gunner and Carbon Fiber Handguard

    There’s not too much to ask for a ~$165.

    Accuracy could be better with plinking ammo after the barrel heats up…but it didn’t seem finicky about which ones.  If I had to choose…I’d go with the American Eagle for mine (Best AR-15 Ammo).

    But always test your individual barrel since they can vary.

    I firmly recommend Faxon’s Gunner Barrel for your affordable builds where you want something light from a reputable company.

    Goldilocks Barrel
    at Brownells

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    And that 5% off coupon for Pew Pew Tactical readersFXPPTBARREL5

    If you’re looking for a one stop shop for your upper…Faxon’s other parts are a great value too:

    Are you going to get a Faxon Gunner profile barrel?  Or if you already have one…how’s it shoot compared to mine?  Check out the rest of our barrel picks in Best AR-15 Barrels.

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    16 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Nicholas Long

      Was this a "match" barrel or the regular gunner? Have you used any of the "match" barrels to see if they are worth the extra cash?

      December 3, 2018 4:58 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Hey Nicholas, this was the regular gunner. I have their 18" match that I'm testing right now...hopefully review out in a month once I get more rounds through.

        December 4, 2018 10:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I bought this barrel in 16” for my first AR build and I haven’t been very pleased with it. I have been shooting Federal green tip 62gr out of it and have been getting about 9-10” groups at 100 yds. Not really sure what could be going on but I am going to try some 55gr and see how that does. I also have a friend who built a gun with the same barrel and has been having much better results so I may trade him guns at the range to rule out user error. Has anyone else seen similar issues with their Faxon barrels? I had high hopes for this barrel, I hope I can figure out what is going on.

      October 4, 2018 10:16 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        Something is very wrong with your rifle, 10 MOA is just freakishly bad. All of my Faxon barrels have been sub-MOA at 100 yards.

        Have you inspected the cases after firing?

        Are the rounds keyholing or just huge groups?

        What did you torque the barrel nut to?

        October 5, 2018 1:33 am
        • Commenter Avatar

          Thanks David! I haven't looked too closely at the cases, I will look next time I shoot though. I am hoping to get out in the next week or so. No keyholing, that is something I was looking for though. I torqued the nut just over 50 ft lbs. It is an Aero M4E1 lower/upper with an Aero Atlas S-One handguard. BCG is Aero Nitride and I have a VG6 Epsilon muzzle brake. I am running the Faxon gas block on it. I checked the headspace as well and that was within spec. I have been shooting with a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x scope. My buddy built his gun with the same barrel and is running the same scope so I am going to swap him next time we are at the range and see how things go. He has been shooting 55gr ammo but I wouldn't think that would make THAT big of a difference. I will also take a look at the cases and see if I can find anything weird. I may also reach out to Faxon and see if they have any thoughts.

          October 5, 2018 2:13 pm
          • Commenter Avatar
            David, PPT Editor

            I agree that the ammo won't make that big of a difference.

            Swap with your friend and see if it is shooter error, after that I would reach out to Faxon. Sometimes something slips through QC and it might just be that you were the unlucky one.

            October 5, 2018 3:28 pm
            • Commenter Avatar

              I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks again

              October 6, 2018 8:30 am
            • Commenter Avatar

              Did you use a crush washer or shims to install your muzzle device? I have seen barrels lose a significant amount of accuracy when using crush washers, and overtorquing a muzzle device to get it timed properly.

              January 23, 2022 4:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John Turkington


      How do you get all these products to review? Do the manufacturers just sent them all to you? Do you get to keep them afterwards?

      September 25, 2018 2:19 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        I've spent an inordinate amount of money on firearms before I met my wife so a lot is from personal buys. But I do get a bunch from manufacturers now. However, we never accept payment for a review to eliminate bias.

        September 25, 2018 2:43 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          John Turkington

          Do you get to keep them afterwards? How long after you started this until manufacturers started to reach out to you?

          September 25, 2018 2:51 pm
          • Commenter Avatar
            Eric Hung

            It will vary and about after 2 years of consistent blogging.

            September 25, 2018 11:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Gary Burns

      I wish you would have mentioned the coupon earlier in the review. I already bought two Faxon barrels in 2015, and seeing this profile I just went and bought two of the Gunner barrels, gas blocks, and one hand guard. Sadly I missed out on coupon.

      September 11, 2018 7:42 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Hi Gary, sorry to hear that! I did mention it in the first section as a teaser..."By the end you’ll know if this do-all barrel is for you. AND Faxon has given Pew Pew Tactical readers a special 10% off all barrels coupon."

        September 11, 2018 11:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      James Rainey

      Very nice write up. Very informative. Thank you.

      September 11, 2018 5:15 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        You're so welcome, James!

        September 11, 2018 11:09 pm
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