I’ve been thinking of an aftermarket match grade barrel for some time now, but never really knew the advantages or disadvantages of owning one, until now. The past few years I have been heavily involved in competition shooting (IDPA, USPSA, and GSSF), and I’m at the point where a little edge here and there is starting to matter, so I looked into match grade barrels and what they have to offer. After an extensive online search and review of the various barrels available, I decided on a barrel from Blacklist for my Glock 19.
Blacklist offers 4 different finishes: Stainless Steel, Armor (graphite black), Chameleon (rainbow), and Titanium Nitride (TiN – gold).
I choose the TiN barrel because I like how the gold color looks against the black. The Titanium Nitride finish is also very tough. It’s the same finish used on the gold colored drill bits.
The barrel arrived quickly from Reactive Gunworks and came in an awesome hard case with a foam insert. Also included where some Blacklist stickers.
Upon inspection of the barrel, the quality looks great. All machining looks very good. No burrs or defects. It comes with 8 flutes on the barrel. The crown is recessed for protection. The chamber and barrel lock up is a slightly tighter fit than OEM which should aid in better accuracy.
I tested the Blacklist match grade barrel side by side with the stock OEM barrel in my G19. I could tell right away the Blacklist barrel was a yielding tighter groups. The Blacklist barrel hands down was more accurate than the stock barrel from a bench rest. All groups were tighter and some were amazing. For loads I tested Zero Bullets 147gr JHP at 880 fps and X-Treme Bullets 124gr FP at 1040 fps. The Blacklist did well with both.
I used the famous author and competition shooter Mas Ayoob’s method for determining accuracy. He does his accuracy test the same way each time. In his own words: “Each five-shot group was measured once for all the hits, and again for the best three, the latter measurement having proven over the years that it will come very close to what the same gun/load combination will deliver for all five shots from a machine rest. Most shooters can shoot from a benchrest a whole lot more easily and less expensively than setting up a Ransom machine rest, and this lets more readers see how close their own gun comes to the one the gun writer tested. All groups were measured from furthest shot to furthest shot, center to center of the bullet holes, to the nearest 0.05 inches.”
Here is the data. I shot 6 groups with each barrel, 5 shots each. Below is the average from all 6 groups.
Stock Barrel, 15 Yards, 147gr JHP (Best 3 / All 5): 0.88” / 2.08”
Blacklist Barrel, 15 Yards, 147gr JHP (Best 3 / All 5): 0.35” / 1.62”
Stock Barrel, 25 Yards, 147gr JHP (Best 3 / All 5): 1.87” / 4.10”
Blacklist Barrel, 25 Yards, 147gr JHP (Best 3 / All 5): 1.23” / 2.73”
Blacklist Barrel, 15 Yards, 124gr FP (1 group only): 0.40” / 1.7”
The Blacklist was noticeably better in every group shot. At 15 yards, the best 3 holes were touching most every time. It also met the match barrel claim of under 2” groups at 25 yards. It actually averaged 1.23” at 25 yards which is incredible! That being said, the stock barrel held its own with respectable groupings and also did just under 2” at 25 yards, but the 5 shot average was much larger. The stock barrel definitely seemed to “wander” more, as seen by the 5 shot groups. The hits were spread out more. The Blacklist always had tighter and more consistent groups with the best 3 always very close.
Check out these groups!
The Titanium Nitride (TiN) gold barrel looks great with the black slide. Previously, I wasn’t crazy about the gold color, but then it grew on me after looking at some pictures, so I decided on that color. TiN usually costs about $50 more, but Blacklist does not charge extra. One negative about the TiN barrel is it gets dirty fast because the carbon is easily seen against the gold color. The good thing is you can see the spots you missed when cleaning it.
The Blacklist barrel has a fast 1:10 twist which is pretty much required to stabilize the heavy 147gr bullets. It also did well with 124gr plated bullets. Before deciding on the Blacklist barrel, I called KKM Precision and asked if they make a 1:10 twist barrel. They said they only go down to 1:16, and that’s custom. Stock is 1:20. They did confirm for a 147gr bullet, that the best twist is a 1:10 twist, the 1:16 would be marginal, and the 1:20 would not work at all. I don’t understand why they don’t make a 1:10 twist as the 147gr is probably the most popular weight in competition. The 9mm Glock OEM barrel comes with a 1:9.84 twist, so it’s even faster, but very close to 1:10.
The Blacklist barrel has 8 flutes on it, which looks nice but also reduces some wanted weight for heat dissipation and softer recoil. The stock barrel weighs 3.6oz and the Blacklist is 3.4oz.
At the time of this writing, I have run close to 1000 rounds through the barrel. I have not experienced a single failure. Time will tell if it remains 100% reliable.
There are other benefits too besides an increase in accuracy. One is a tighter tolerance in the chamber, which besides better accuracy, keeps the gun a little cleaner (less blow back) and is easier on the brass (less expansion). There’s also tighter tolerances on the outer dimensions for again better accuracy and also less wear and tear on the gun as it locks up tighter on slide return. The tighter chamber is also fully supported (more so than stock), which would help prevent a kaboom with a bad load.
I am very impressed with the Blacklist barrel. Will it make me a better shooter in competition? By law of averages it should. By how much, I’m not sure. Of course your skill level has to be up there to take advantage of the additional accuracy. I have had a few matches where I missed the next higher place by a second or two. That’s just one shot away in some cases! Many shots are always very close to the next scoring zone, sometimes hard to tell even as they almost are touching the "perf" line. The little bit of extra accuracy may have made a difference in these cases. I do feel the stock barrel performed quite well and is more than good enough for competition. However the Blacklist match barrel was definitely tighter in all groupings, enough so that I’m very glad to have bought one, and even ordered a second one for my Glock 34. I suggest before buying a match barrel, you do some serious testing of your stock barrel. You may have ended up with a really good one, or one good enough for your needs. But if you’re looking for every edge possible, the match grade barrel will help get you there.