Criterion is one of the first companies to send me a barrel for T&E. Back when their quality was based on word of mouth… shooters described *impressive* performance out of this new barrel maker. Chrome lined, match grade accuracy was a big selling point.. after all who doesn’t want a barrel which is both tough as nails and accurate to boot?
In 2020, Criterion is a known quantity in the high performance barrel arena. Today Criterion launched the next evolution of their barrel line known as the “Core” series. In their media release, they note that the profile of the barrel is optimized by what they have learned from the bolt gun arena. Indeed, it looks like a popular bolt action barrel profile. Note the lack of heavy steps in the barrel. Gone are the heavy shoulder where the barrel diameter steps down to .750… it’s now a thin shoulder with just enough lip to ensure your gas block has a factory reference stopping point. Criterion describes the barrel below:
The CORE Series feature a modern, continuous taper profile that eliminates steps and harsh variations in diameter. The steel is redistributed where it is needed most: surrounding the chamber. Added weight over the chamber absorbs heat evenly during hard use and moves the balance of the rifle closer to the body for increased control. This is optimal for maintaining balance when used with modern accessories like Low Power Variable Optics (LPVO’s), weapon-mounted lights, suppressors, clip-on night vision devices, and IR lasers; these components boost the capabilities of the rifle, but can hinder the shooter’s performance by increasing front-end weight. The front end of the CORE Series remains light and fast for better handling, balance, and speed. – Criterion Barrels
From a shooter perspective a lighter front end will certainly help with the weight distribution of today’s modern front end equipment heavy guns. Here’s hoping that the product refines and exceeds the expectations set by the Hybrid line of AR15 barrels.
The Criterion CORE barrels come in a variety of lengths and gas system lengths and cover the bases of many popular builds. Check it out at Criterion here.
Are the CORE series barrels hand lapped like the hybrid profile barrels?
Yes, they are hand-lapped and held to the same quality standards as our Hybrid barrels.
Criterion’s new 16″ midlength listed at 1.7 lbs, that’s 27.2 ounces ($290).
Versus ballistic advantage’s 16″ midlength spr at 35 oz ($190) and fluted at 27.4 ($230).
BA’s hanson .750 5.56 NATO chrome-moly steel series comes in at 27oz (pretty sure that’s w/ pinned gas block).
Point being weight is certainly right on Criterion if accurate, but it LOOKS to be heavier than BA barrels. Sort of reminds me of a LaRue predator (or whatever their lightweight accurized barrel is called).
FWIW, I own BA’s 16″ SPR and 16″ 5.56 NATO Hansons in both .750 and .625, all midlengths. SPR is front heavy, and I plan to upgrade to the fluted — even though mostly shooting off a bipod.
Also, Faxon’s flame-fluted 16″ midlength is at 1.78lbs/28.5 oz, and is a barrel I’ve been eyeing before BA started doing their recent run of nitrided stainless barrels. But it runs $305, and is heavier than Criterion.
Certainly agree w/ the balance assertions of lightened front-end barrels.
And finally — these Criterion barrels look to most closely compete w/ BCM’s enhanced light/medium weight that run $325 in the 16″ lengths — CMV and chrome lined, but haven’t hear too much that’s great on the accuracy front. Light weight 16″ @ 22 oz. Thought they had the medium-weight in 16″ but only seeing it in 14.5 and it runs 26 oz. And these are cold-hammer forged however.