Testing a new barrel from Ballistic Advantage

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I had long been playing with the idea of trying the 6.5 Creedmoor round in my AR 10 rifle. And I had been looking at different barrel manufacturers for the 6.5 barrel. I was originally attracted to the Ballistic advantage brand by the price.

Though not the cheapest barrel price out there they were definitely on the lower end pricing in the market. Now normally I think that the cheap price means a cheap product and I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for. So, I started doing some research on the brand.

The Company Ballistic Advantage

Located in Florida Ballistic Advantage has been building barrels since 2008 not that long in the scheme of things. In December 2014 Aero Precision acquired the majority stakeholding in the company. This piqued my interest as I have been using Aero precision products for years and have always been happy with the quality of the product. If a company like Aero can see value in the brand it went a long way for my trust in it.

As far as online reviews for the specific barrel I was looking at there was not much. Most of the reviews I saw were for the 5.56 range of barrels. Most if not all were happy with the barrel and its performance.

The Barrel: 20” 6.5 Creedmoor Fluted Premium series SKU BABL65CR02PL

I ordered the Ballistic Advantage 20” Premium fluted barrel, using the rifle length gas system and a heavy profile. I opted for the fluted series for the weight savings being about 6.5 ounces lighter than the solid profile. Full disclosure, I paid full price for the barrel and did not receive any incentives from Ballistic Advantage for my opinion of their product.

Ballsitic advantage 20" 6.5 Creedmoor barrel
New barrel as it arrived

First impressions

When I received the barrel my first impressions were “wow” this looks great. Both ends of the barrel were sealed with caps to protect from anything getting into the barrel. The barrel finish has a nice uniform bead blast across the entire surface with exception of the barrel nut area. The barrel specifications are laser etched into the barrel and are clear and easy to read.

Barrel showing caliber and twist information
Satin Finsh with laser engraved barrel specifications

Installing the new Ballistic Advantage barrel

Installing the barrel was an easy operation. After the normal break down and removal of the old.308 Winchester barrel. Then followed by some routine clean up the upper receiver, the new barrel slid nicely into the receiver. The fit was nice and snug but required no effort to install. The barrel nut slid nicely over the barrel and everything torqued down nicely

Ballistic Advantage barrel installed into the upper receiver
New Ballistic Advantage barrel seated into the upper receiver

Checking the Head Space on the Ballistic Advantage Barrel

The first real test of the barrel was checking the headspace of my existing KAK bolt with the new barrel. I slid in the first go gauge and the bolt locked in nicely, no issues at all. Next, the no-go gauge and the bolt would not lock, Perfect. Sliding the bolt down into the barrel the locking lugs felt nice and smooth and I could easily seat the bolt using light pressure from my thumb.

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Prices correct at the time of publishing

Gas block and muzzle area

The 6.5 Creedmoor barrel cam with the .875 gas block machined surface. A quick measurement with the micrometer put it right-on size. I slid on a new adjustable gas block and a new rifle length tube. both fit perfectly. The same went for the barrel threads. The threads were clean and precise, and my original flash suppressor transferred easily onto the new barrel.

New adjustable gas block being installed
Gas block installation onto the new barrel

First Trip to the Range

With the rifle all back together it was off to the range to do the barrel break-in procedure and along with adjusting sights and gas block. Looking on the Ballistic Advantage website could not find a recommended break procedure for their barrel. So, I just followed the regular Military break-in of 

  • 10 single shots cleaning after each shot
  • 3 strings of 5 shots cleaning after each string.

Before removing the .308 I ran had run it through one last range test. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to establish a baseline of the .308 Winchester performance to compare it to the 6.5 Creedmoor performance. Secondly, I wanted to make sure that the sights were zero’ d so I could compare the new barrel to the old barrel at 100 M.

AR 10 308 winchester caliber test target
AR 10 Test Target at 100 M Federal Match Ammo 175 grain bullet

I fired the rifle at 100 M, set zero, and then ran it through its paces all the way out to 760 meters. I then did one last verify at 100 meters just to make sure that everything was good before the changeover.

First shots through the new Ballistic Advantage barrel

The first shot the barrel went off without a hitch. The shot landed 1.5 Mil’s high and about 1 Mil left of center. Adjusted the scope down and right and fired the next shot. Other than going a little too far right the shot was right on the waterline. Moved the scope .2 Mil’s left and continued to proceed with the break-in procedure of cleaning after each shot.

Though trying to practice good fundamentals of shooting I was not particularly trying to concentrate on my sight picture for the first 15 rounds on the break-in procedure. However, it was hard to not notice that all my shots were easily landing inside the confines of my target sticker.

6.5 creedmoor forst target
Barrel Break in and sight adjustment target Big difference from the .308 barrel

On my last 10 shots of the barrel, break-in procedure I moved to a new target and concentrated on what I was doing. Other than throwing one shot left, (all my fault), the 9 shot group was as advertised and sub-MOA.

10 shot group at 100 meters 6.5 Creedmoor
10 Shot Group at 100M 140 grain Hornday American Gunner Ammunition

First impressions of the new barrel

 My first impression of the barrel was very good. I had no issues with feeding or ejection of spent cases. I could see the difference in the cleaning patches as the shots progressed through the break period. The first 6 rounds through the barrel the bore swap came out really dirty with a lot of copper. However, as more rounds went through the tube it seemed to settle down pretty quickly. I would put this down as a normal break-in of freshly machined parts.

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Accuracy and repeatability were great. I had no problems making nice, neat holes right on top of each other at 100 Meters out. This was a big difference from the original .308 Stoner barrel I had just replaced. The recoil on the rifle is very different from the original .308 caliber. How much of that can be attributed to the barrel versus the 6.5 Creedmoor caliber change I am not sure. Off to the long-range targets next.

Long-range shooting

The next day I headed out to where we can get some distance. It was a nice cool morning being about 56° and at a density altitude of roughly 7700 ft. I fired one round to confirm zero at a 100-meter target with no problems, and a center hit.

kestrel showing current conditions
Kestrel Reading

350 Meters with the Ballistic Advantage Creedmoor barrel

The first target on the range is at 350 Meters, (383 yards). Took the best guess for an elevation and fired 3 rounds at the target. Had a first-round hit and proceeded to place the next two rounds right beside the first round. The 3 round group measured 1 ¼” from center to center of impact. This is approximately .33 MOA.

Ballistic advantage barrel test at 350 meters
3 shot group at 350 meters 6.5 Creedmoor (.33 MOA) on a 12″ x 18″ target

550 Meter target

Next on the agenda was at 550 meters, (602 yards). It took two rounds to get on target, taking best guess for an elevation hold and the wind had started to pick up a little. Once on target, I was able to fire a decent three-shot group. The spread on these shots measured approximately 3″ from center to center or .5 MOA.

550 Meter 3 shot group from a 6.5 Creedmoor round
3 shot group at 550 meters, 3″ spread or .5 MOA , 12″ x 18″ Target Size

760 Meter target 6.5 Creedmoor

My last target of the day was at 760 Meters, (831 yards). I had a few misses at this range at first. Having no data on elevation and wind holds for this cartridge meant taking the best guess then pushing a bullet down the barrel. At this range, the target location made it a little harder to get on target because the backdrop was a juniper tree stand. Because of the tree and vegetation on the ground, a missed shot was hard to tell where it landed due to little or no bullet splash.once I was able to get on target, I was able to put five good hits. The group of three rounds at the top left have a spread of 4″, .5 MOA, and were consecutive shots. The other two rounds that spread out a little I would put on me finding a wind hold and elevation hold.

Steel target at 760 meters
760 Meter Target one 3 shot group at 4″ spread, .5 MOA, 12″ x 18″ target size

Final evaluation and opinion of the Ballistic Advantage 20” 6.5 Creedmoor Barrel

All in all, I have been very happy so far. The barrel certainly lived up to as advertised being sub-MOA, (at least when I did not screw it up). For the break-in and the accuracy-test, I used Hornady “American Gunner” factory ammunition. This is an all-round cartridge from Hornady designed for target and hunting applications. This is not their match grade ammunition, all though it worked just fine for me.

Prices correct at the time of publishing

The targets I was shooting at are 12″ x 18″ steel targets, and all my long-range shooting happens at above 7000 ft. looking at the data that Hornady provides for the ammunition the barrel was able to match their recommend elevation and wind holds. (probably should have looked at those first before heading out…😊)

For now, I would have to say that I am very happy with the barrel’s performance. Its price range is very affordable coming in at $355.00 for the barrel. The fit and finish are good, and I would highly recommend it for someone looking to pick up a quality barrel for a reasonable price.

Stay safe and shoot often

4 thoughts on “Testing a new barrel from Ballistic Advantage”

  1. Excellent site you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find
    quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly
    appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  2. Nice Pic on opening looking back down the barrel! What if you included a picture in the picture with the smaller picture being the picture looking back toward the firing position? because you would be looking back and comparing it would give a novice some perception of difference. Just a thought. A great article jumps right to the barrel.

  3. Thank you so much for all the information on choosing a different barrel for your AR 10. I have been looking for a long time now for my own AR 10 but have been unable to make a decision. I like that you were able to get good results from the Ballistic Advantage barrel without spending a ton of money. I think I will try one and see how it works out for me.

    1. Kurt (AKA Shooter 1)

      Will, thank you for your comment, Yes I have been very happy with my choice of the barrel so far and I expect it to last me a long time. please let me know how your experience turns out.

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