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14.5" vs 18" with brake for 3-Gun

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So I wanted to get an opinion on AR15 set for 3-Gun use. I own two AR's that are set up similar with 14.5" barrels and pinned Vortex flash hiders. One has an Aimpoint T1 on it and the other a 1-4x optic. I'm thinking about getting more into 3-gun and I noticed most of the serious guys are shooting 18" barreled guns with large breaks on them. For the most part the 3-Gun matches in my area are limited to 200 yards with the significant majority of rounds being fired well under that. But, I'm going to be shooting in the Thunder Beast Arms Team Challenge as the carbine shooter. The requirements out there will be to shoot out to 450 yards. My current guns have no problem shooting out that far and are light which will be a plus, I would assume, since this will be almost all long field stages. I load my own long range ammo with 75gr Hornady BTHP bullets that make about 2700 FPS out of the short guns. The 14.5" guns will shoot around 1.5 - 2 MOA at 100 yards and hit 12" steel from a supported position at 450 yards.

So... For 3-Gun and the upcoming TBATC match... Would there be an advantage in rebuilding an upper with an 18" barrel? If so what would the benefits be for me?

The only thing I can see at this point is the extra weight and brake will be a big advantage for recoil control, but would it equate to an advantage for the money it will cost me?

Thanks, Jason

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So I wanted to get an opinion on AR15 set for 3-Gun use. I own two AR's that are set up similar with 14.5" barrels and pinned Vortex flash hiders. One has an Aimpoint T1 on it and the other a 1-4x optic. I'm thinking about getting more into 3-gun and I noticed most of the serious guys are shooting 18" barreled guns with large breaks on them. For the most part the 3-Gun matches in my area are limited to 200 yards with the significant majority of rounds being fired well under that. But, I'm going to be shooting in the Thunder Beast Arms Team Challenge as the carbine shooter. The requirements out there will be to shoot out to 450 yards. My current guns have no problem shooting out that far and are light which will be a plus, I would assume, since this will be almost all long field stages. I load my own long range ammo with 75gr Hornady BTHP bullets that make about 2700 FPS out of the short guns. The 14.5" guns will shoot around 1.5 - 2 MOA at 100 yards and hit 12" steel from a supported position at 450 yards.

So... For 3-Gun and the upcoming TBATC match... Would there be an advantage in rebuilding an upper with an 18" barrel? If so what would the benefits be for me?

The only thing I can see at this point is the extra weight and brake will be a big advantage for recoil control, but would it equate to an advantage for the money it will cost me?

Thanks, Jason

I shot my 14.5 inch Noveske N4 for my first 3 or so years of three gun. It did fine up here locally. But I now have an 18 inch Noveske Rogue Hunter and I like it much better. It has a softer recoil impulse because of the intermediate gas system vs carbine, it has more accuracy and velocity as well.

pat

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Under the right circumstances a 16.25" can be competitive. There aren't many (if any) top 3-gunners shooting anything shorter than that.

The gas system is a bigger factor than the barrel length here.

Edited by DyNo!

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From what I understand, the reason the recoil feels much lighter is due in large part to the short gas system. The gas gets to the port faster at at higher pressure. So it unlocks the gun and throws the carrier back harder than a full or mid length gas system. I shoot a big heavy 20" gun and it recoils like a mouse fart. I've been playing with a 16" short gas gun lately and yes it feels like a lot more recoil but with a good compensator the recoil is straight back and about like a rabbit fart. So yes more recoil but not that big a deal.

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The reason everyone shoots 16"-20" guns is simple, it works! B)

If you're tight on cash, don't upgrade your equipment until it is holding you back.

You won't reap all the benefits right away anyway so you might as well fill your wallet first, practice, then buy.

Edited by DyNo!

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If you are only shooting a hoser local match a light gun with an 18" rifle length barrel and a red dot will shoot with minimal recoil and you can whip it around like a pistol. A red dot is easy out to 200 yards. You could shoot the short gun but recoil is gonna be harsher and your double taps may not be as fast. If u go with the carbine gas system get a big SJC or Rolling Thunder comp. Heck get one of those comps for both guns.

Edited by Jesse Tischauser

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My wife has 14.5" mid gas Lothar Walther stainless barrel with rifle length VTAC tube.

Adjustable gas system with lightened Carbine buffer, F2 comp, Swaro Z61 CDI scope, JP trigger group, CTR tele stock.

Very nice to shoot and accurate enough for 300m.

That setup has been most reliable and we have several AR-15 setups at home. :)

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If you're getting that much speed from the 75's out of that short of a barrel, I'd say don't mess with it if you're happy with the accuracy. The only thing you'll gain is a little softer recoil impulse like stated above. I was pretty successful at the IRTC, which the TBATC is a spin off of, with a 20" heavy barrel AR shooting 77g SMK's at 2750.

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I am struggling with this decision right now as well. Pretty much set on a JP upper, just can’t decide between an 18" with rifle gas or a 14.5" midlength. The issue I have is that I have been using a 14.5" Novekse N4 midlength, irons, and a Battle comp with decent results. The rifle only needs 20 MOA from 100 to 600 so it is hard for me to justify going to a longer barrel. I do plan on moving into using an optic and just picked up a Vortex HS 1-4. Since the reticle has 30 MOA of elevation, it should get me to 700 or ~ where it goes subsonic so I don’t see a need for more velocity.

I called JP today and the only reason (I took away from the discussion) for going with the 18” over the 14.5” is the reduced recoil/impulse.

Is it safe to assume a JP barrel would be as fast as an N4?

I may just base my decision off the additional $200 JP charges to cut the barrel and pin the brake.

Or….I could just call Noveske and see if they can slap a Titan brake on one of their Thunder Ranch rifles….

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Couldn't you use an adjustable gas block and have the same recoil impulse from a 14.5" as you would with a rifle length gas system? Assuming it would run?

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I have JP15 w/ 16" barrel w/ midlength gas and adjustable gas block. This gun has very little recoil compared to my 16 carbine without adjustable gas. I just got an 18" JP lightweight barrel w/ adjustable gas block on a new build and I am blown away by the reduction in recoil/impulse with the rifle gas even compared to my midlength gas which I thought was great until I shot the 18". My follow up shots are much quicker because I am staying on target much easier. My accuracy w/ the 18" is not any better than w/ my 16". FYI

So yes you can get a 14.5" to shoot softly but you will never get it to shoot as soft as a 18" rifle gas system.

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I run the JP 18" barrel with a rifle length gas tube and adjustable gas block because it seems to me to shoot softer than anything else that I have tried. I can call my hits way better with it and that gives me the confidnece to push the envelope. I would also recommend the lighter bolt carrier, spring and buffer.

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Well I made my decision several months ago and have had a chance to put about 2k rounds through me new 18" upper. I ended up buying the DPMS 3G1 upper from MidwayUSA. It arrived quick and was a super tight fit to my M&P15 lower. I'm just using a mil-spec carbine buffer and spring and the upper as it came. I've got a CMC trigger that I really like and everything has worked great. The only issues I've had were the gas block coming lose and the rifle length gas system not running my light 55gr loads 100%. I get a few that short stroke. Those loads were made for my 14.5" guns with carbine gas systems so I kind of expected them to be too light. I worked up a load with 75gr Hornady bullets that works great. I've had very good results out to 400 yards with a 1-4x MTAC.

The recoil, ability to stay on target and the speed of followup shots is amazingly better than with the 14.5" carbine setup. It's a huge difference and well worth the time and effort to switch over to this upper. I have actually pretty much stopped shooting the shorter gun.

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