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Are AR 15 Barrels Interchangeable?

Are AR 15 Barrels Interchangeable?

May 22, 2017

Legos, Tinker Toys, K’Nex—whatever it was you grew up with, those sorts of modular build-what-you-want toy sets tend to be some of the most lastingly popular for kids. And, if we’re really being honest, many of us never quite grew out of loving them, even as we hit adulthood. If you’ve ever wondered at what, exactly, makes the AR 15 so popular, it’s pretty much the same reason Legos remain one of the most popular toys: they’re modular. Well, okay, it’s not necessarily just that ARs are modular, it’s that the modular nature—and the separation of upper and lower receiver—that means every AR owner can customize their firearm to their specifications, from the barrel length right down to rifle handguard options. So, if you’re asking whether the barrel of your AR 15 can be swapped out for another option, the short answer is yes.


Interchangeable Components

As any AR 15 owner knows, the lower receiver is the only part of an AR that is technically the firearm, which means that’s the only part of your AR that needs to be serialized and requires licensing and hoops to jump through in order to both sell and own. Everything on the upper receiver can be bought and sold online, through Craigslist, at your local garage sale, or however you choose to make that exchange of goods and money. It also means that manufacturers, like the team here at RailScales, can focus on making one or two custom AR parts or accessories and excel at what they do because of that specialized attention. Of course, with the abundance of custom AR parts and accessories on the market, the biggest issue most manufacturers face is how to ensure they’re making the best products while keeping them compatible with as many different variations on the market as possible.



Swapping Barrels

Whether you decide you’re interested in changing to different caliber rounds or you want to go from a Picatinny handguard to KeyMod rail panels, changing out the barrel should (and basically any other part of your upper receiver) should be easy enough as long as you take the time to match like with like. Which means that, if you’re sticking to the same caliber and only switching to, say, another barrel length, the parts should be easily interchangeable. Changing to a set-up that allows for a different caliber size can usually be done, but will require a bit more legwork to make sure all the converting components are doing their job. Generally, if you’re unsure whether a specific component will work with your current set-up, ask the manufacturer before buying or get help from a knowledgeable friend.


If you’re looking for custom AR parts to outfit your AR 15, shop RailScales online for rifle handguard and hand stop options that work with both M-LOK and KeyMod rail systems. Our rail scales offer lightweight but high-performance hand protection with a choice of different textures for grip. Shop RailScales online today or contact us if you have questions!