Last year I tested out a KeyMod hand guard from ODIN Works that I really enjoyed. While perusing their website, I noticed that ODIN sells barrels of their own creation as well. I filed that away in the memory bank until I was sitting around discussing barrels with some fellow writers at an event. One of the them raved about how good his ODIN barrel was. That stepped up my interest to “intrigued”. . .
AR 15 barrels come in a variety of profiles, twists, lengths, and chamberings. At some point, analysis paralysis sets in and you just hit the “buy now” button and hope for the best. Or at least that is how this barrel ended up at my front door. This particular barrel is a 16.1″ length sporting 1:8 button rifling. The chamber is cut for .223 Wylde and the gas system is an intermediate length. The intermediate gas length is a bit longer than a mid length, but shorter than a rifle length system. The ODIN barrel is made from 416R Stainless and is hand lapped before leaving the factory.
I like a sixteen inch barreled AR 15. I think its a fine blend between paperwork and performance. The little .223 pills need velocity to do their job, and while I certainly wouldn’t stand downrange of a SBR firing 5.56/.223 at me, I prefer to get what “zip” I can. The NFA makes that decision a bit easier as well. I also find myself wanting a gun that is mechanically accurate and reliable. First, I test a lot of gear as a writer for TTAG, and I want to eliminate the gun as a variable in that testing. Second, I’m not a pro shooter, so I’ll take what advantages I can get.
As more of a shootability “want”, I like a soft shooting gun. There’s a lot that can be done with muzzle devices, but softening the impulse created when the bolt travels rearward can do wonders as well. I’ve never put Jeremy’s recoil sled to the task, but I generally feel like carbine length gas systems beat me up a bit more than mid length systems. Rifle length systems have always felt the softest to me. While I didn’t actively seek out ODIN’s intermediate length gas system, I’m not displeased by it being there.
The last thing that I really care about is a barrel profile that is heavy enough to keep flex, heat related or not, to a minimum. To a certain point, more material means more strength. I like the profile of ODIN’s barrel quite a bit for those reasons. I don’t really like carrying more weight around than I have to, but I put that rule aside for barrel weight if it drives accuracy or otherwise.
With all that in mind, the ODIN barrel seemed like a pretty natural fit. They could have taken the contour of the barrel down a bit after the gas block, but I assume that would have only saved a couple ounces. Out of the box, it is apparent that ODIN cares quite a bit. There are rubber plugs on either end of the barrel, it comes back in a sturdy plastic tube, and was wrapped in a great deal of bubble wrap.
Closer inspection revealed a finely finished barrel with clean cuts on the muzzle threads, and the same on the gas port. I was pleasantly surprised to find an index mark on the barrel that showed the exact position of the gas port. That made lining up the gas block a cinch. Peering down the bore, sunlight reflected brilliantly off highly polished lands lending credence to the claim that these barrels are hand lapped before leaving the factory.
Normally, I would include a section about installation, but with a barrel, its all sort of the same. Without much fanfare, the ODIN barrel found itself attached to my Palmetto State upper, and riding under a BCM KMR. The only thing I will note is that I opted to throw the low profile gas block that ships with the barrel in the parts bin in favor of an adjustable unit from ODIN. Enough about that, let’s talk about the important stuff, accuracy.
ODIN makes a 1 MOA guarantee on this gun. Let me pause. ODIN makes a 1″ MOA guarantee for this barrel. Somewhere, Nick is groaning loudly. That’s a bold (and confusing to the nerdy) guarantee from a manufacturer, but it comes with a big “out” in that they didn’t list a testing protocol for that number. So I loaded up my sandbags and my graph paper and an assortment of 5.56 and .223 REM ammo in various weights and headed for my local indoor range. Lucky for me, I was the only shooter that day so I wasn’t flinging fliers like I normally do.
For the test, I mounted up the ever excellent Bushnell DMR, fitted my newly assembled upper to a Palmetto lower with a Timney Trigger, and got to work setting up my front and rear rests. Once in place, I worked through a box of PMC bronze getting the gas system dialed in, and properly fouling up the barrel. With the optic zeroed, and the gas system running like a top, I started shooting for five shot groups. In order of worst to best, I give you scans of my targets after being run through OnTarget.
A sidenote to some of our more critical readers. I full recognize that it looks like 4 shots in the lower 69 gr. target and 3 shots on the upper 77 gr. target. Those are both five shot groups. I was equally puzzled when I pulled those targets back. I was slightly disappointed to see that the 55 gr. stuff didn’t stabilize nearly as well as the 69 gr. and 77 gr. ammo did. I might search around for a different 55 gr. it likes better. Or I might just shoot up the rest of this PMC Bronze to see if it “settles” in with shooting and cleaning. One thing is for sure, fed the right ammo, this this is a tackdriver, assuming that tack is roughly one inch in diameter, and you’re only 100 yards away.
Specifications: ODIN Works 16.1 inch Intermediate Barrel
- Profile: Medium
- Length: 16.1″
- Gas placement: Intermediate
- Rifling: Button 1:8 twist
- Advertised Weight: 1.95 lbs
- Measured Weight: 30.95 oz – 1.93 lbs
- Material: 416R Stainless Steel
- M4 Feed ramps
- 1/2-28 Threading
- Included Parts: Low Profile Gas Block, Gas Block Hardware, Intermediate Length Gas Tube
- MSRP: $290
- Street Price: ~$275
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * * *
The ODIN barrel is packaged well and delivers a level of quality that the price tag commands. There are no machining marks, burrs, or blemishes. It fit my upper perfectly, and lined up with the gas system properly. The bore was polished to a mirror finish.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Fitted to a milspec upper and lower, with a BCM KMR handguard, Magpul BUIS, and a Magpul MOE Carbine Stock, the rifle has a balance point every so slightly forward of the front takedown pin with the stock collapsed, and slightly rear of that point with the stock expanded. For what a lot of users would consider to a be a heavier barrel, I found this to be a pleasing outcome as I like a bit of rearward balance
Accuracy * * * *
Ideal accuracy would something that would stack shot after shot, but this barrel certainly has a pet load. I came into this review hell bent on proving ODIN wrong on their 1 MOA guarantee but I found that with heavier weight, premium ammunition, I was able to put five shots under 1 MOA at 100 yards. For those times when costs wins out over ultimate accuracy, I can tolerate <2 MOA performance from cheap plinking ammo. If I were a cheating man, I could take the three closest shots of any of these groups and claim that the barrel does sub MOA performance with ease. But that wouldn’t be fair.
Overall * * * *
This barrel sits on the slightly higher end of average as far as barrels go. Keep in mind that a similar Noveske barrel with gas block and gas tube is currently selling on Midway for $450. Budget barrels are still ~$150 and don’t include the gas block or tube. Yes it is more expensive than the cheapest option possible, but it also delivers great build quality, thoughtful design considerations, and completely acceptable accuracy. There’s more testing to be done relative to long term performance, but at the moment, I’m in the camp of the aforementioned journalist fanboy. This is a great barrel.