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ideal barrel length for patrol rifle

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by schiffer99, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. schiffer99


    Oct 11, 2004
    Going to start building a rifle that will eventually be used for patrol. I've considered as short as 11.5 all the way up to 18.

    Without considering NFA (ie: assume the lower is already registered)... what does everyone think is the ideal barrel length for a patrol rifle and why?
  2. ottomatic


    Oct 15, 2002
    SW Tennessee
    14.5 The M4 is that length, and works well in a variety of situations

  3. I have become partial to my 11.5" Colt 6933 with an AAC M4-100 suppressor. This combo still swings like a 16" gun, and if fired w/o hearing protection on the report is like that of a .22 magnum. If you had to respond to an active shooter, the most likely scenario for use of a patrol rifle, you will likely be indoors at a school, business complex ,etc. If you have to discharge it in an enclosed environment, the can will go a long way toward preventing any permanent hearing damage.

    I am really digging the Compressor from Spike's Tactical...8.5" Lothar Walther barrel with an integral suppressor.
  4. acpd541


    Aug 11, 2004
    Our patrol rifle consists of the Remington 870 loaded w/ slugs.
    SWAT has the MP5's.
  5. JoeDanger


    Feb 7, 2009
    I think the 14.5 inch M4 profile is a great all around set up. I have become quite partial to my 10.5 inch MK 18 style rifle for patrol and SWAT purposes. It is loud, but very handy maneuvering in close quarters and getting it out of the car, but still plenty accurate for purposes of a patrol rifle.
  6. groovyash


    Aug 5, 2003
    I'd never go back from my 11.5" 6933 to a 14.5" or 16" now. The 11.5" provides a well established level of reliability when built properly. It also gives acceptable ballistics at LE engagement distances (Assuming you work in a city/suburb) while making handling inside a structure infinatly better and offers a more lightweight platform for times where you're holding a perimeter for hours on end.

    (Did I mention I like the 11.5"?)
  7. Cochese

    Cochese Most mackinest CLM

    Jun 30, 2004
    Unmarked Rustbox
    I went from 16" to 10.5" to 14.5" and I'm building a 7.5" at this very moment.

    I'm going to run it with a Noveske KX3 as I did with my 10.5 until I save up the coin for a SF can.
  8. txleapd

    txleapd Hook 'Em Up

    Aug 27, 2004
    I would personally prefer something from 10.5" to a 12".

    We use our rifles in an around cars, during building searches, clearing rooms, and in a varity of confined spaces. The shorter length makes them easier to maneuver. Shorter barrels are easier to use when working with a ballistic shield. They also weigh less, which lessens fatigue on a perimeter and when holding people at gun point. One case in point is when conducting high risk stops, and you're getting a bunch of people out. A 16" heavy barrel absolutely sucks in that instance.

    Shorter barrels have enough terminal ballistics to be effective out to 100-200 yards with the loads we use. I work in a large city, so I can't foresee too many instances where I would have to engage a target that far out.

  9. silverado_mick


    Nov 30, 2006

  10. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    Probably a shorter barrel (10"-12" range) with a good muzzle device and QD suppressor would be my pick, if I could pick anything...

    ...but living in a non-NFA friendly state and not wanting a pinned muzzle device, I'll be sticking with my 16" bbl, which does just fine. I wouldn't go shorter than 10" or so or longer than 18" for an "all purpose" patrol rifle.


    Sep 29, 2005
    14.5 is a good all around length. It allows for a compact enough rifle to clear buildings but is long enough for some accurate distance shooting too. On the other hand for urban patrol work the 10"-12" inch range would be ideal because you'll likely never see a shot past 100yds anyway. 18" is way too long for patrol work!
  12. I detailed my preference for 11.5" suppressed carbine earlier in the thread, having detailed that my agency requires the use of the issue carbine, a Bushmaster 16" M4 profile barrel. I took over the firearms program about 3 months ago and am working on allowing personal guns. The current policy does not allow for mods, though I switched out the handguards for a Surefire M500 that I had laying around.

    My girlfriend just went to work for the agency I retired from about 5 years ago. She was issued a Viet Nam era M16A1 with a 20" barrel, converted to semi-auto. The A1 stock was replaced with a collapsible M4 style and the tri-anglular handguards were replaced with round rifle length. Both mods were done to utilize the in-car racks. Policy there does allow the use of personal guns.....guess what I will be building her soon?
  13. razdog76

    razdog76 Heavy Mettle

    Sep 26, 2007
    I am going to go with 16 inches.

    My personally owned 16" AR with a collapsible stock is a couple inches shorter in OAL than my issued 870 with the 18.5" rifle sighted LE barrel. The performance envelop is simply larger as well with both external ballistics, and reliability. Ask yourself why the M4 barrel length became 14.5, when any length shorter than 20 could have been used?

    At any rate, I know I dissent from the other posters, but why throw extra money towards shortening it, and making it reliable could be spent on ammo?
  14. boomhower


    Feb 14, 2010
    North Carolina
    One thing to keep in mind, if you ever have to use your rifle do you want your SBR locked away in evidence for a couple years?

    Outdoor Hub mobile, the outdoor information engine
  15. OLY-M4gery


    Nov 7, 2001
    Southern WI
    The shorter the barrel...............

    The lower the velocity.
    The more difficult it is to get the rifle to cycle reliably
    The louder the report, like instant hearing loss loud.

    14.5" with a permanent flash suppresor, so it's over 16" in total
    16" w/o a permanent flash suppresor.

    BULLRUNN Double Tap

    Oct 1, 2001
    Hampton Roads
    I have a 14.5 that I have dialed in at 300 yards on battle sights.. works VERY WELL... My 10 inch has a little to much barrel hop for me at that range..
  17. CW Mock

    CW Mock

    Feb 4, 2006
    I have a Styer AUG/A3 here that's as long as a 10 inch AR, but has a 16 inch barrel. Wish they would let me carry that at work ...
  18. groovyash


    Aug 5, 2003
    Bullpup designs are pretty cool no doubt about that. They run into problems though when you are clearing structures and are transitioning to your support side frequently. Which is a shame since the compact design fits the close quarters use specifically.
  19. i carried a 14.5 in the military for several years and did quite a bit of building clearing. my first tour was using a m16a2. it can be done. that said, i was doing house clearing drills last night in my own home with my 16" stag and found it much longer than i would prefer. still much shorter than my HD shotgun.

    all of this may not mean anything as i dont currently do LEO ops and dont carry a patrol rifle but i have int he past and still train in a similar fashion.
  20. groovyash


    Aug 5, 2003
    All valid points but an 11.5" will stay above the magic ~2700 fps "frag threshold" for m193 at most realistic LE engagement distances. 10.5" is likely to as well. If the rifle is ballistically effective at 300m is of little consequence to me since I'd be hard pressed to swear in court I could identify a threat at that distance with an unmagnified optic. Beside that point the vast majority of LE use an expanding round rather than a frag round like the military uses and as such is not handicapped by the velocity requirement as most JHP 5.56 rounds expand at far lower velocities.

    Any platform other than a 20" gun is a modified design and as such more prone to reliability issues. In general the shorter you go the more violent the firing cycle has to be and consequently the more issues arise, however the 11.5" Commando is a proven design with a long history of service and reliability. The 10.5" guns have a little less dwell time and tend to be more finicky and any system using a pistol length gas tube also requires more attention but none so much that it becomes "difficult" to get a gun built properly to cycle reliably.

    The report difference between a 14.5" gun and an 11.5" gun is negligible at the shooters ear. Both are absolutely in the "instant hearing loss" range. A 7.5" gun certainly does have a significant perceptibly louder report than either an 10.5-11.5" or 14.5" gun.

    While the issues you raise all have truth to them, none of them individually, or collectively outweigh the benefit of handling or weight savings gaining from the SBR lengths for most LE users IMO.