What Length Gas Tube For 16″ Barrel: A Comprehensive Guide

MidLength Gas Tube Steel Fox Firearms
MidLength Gas Tube Steel Fox Firearms from www.steelfoxfirearms.com


When it comes to building or upgrading your AR-15, one of the crucial factors to consider is the length of the gas tube. The gas tube plays a significant role in the functioning of your rifle, ensuring proper cycling and reliable operation. In this article, we will discuss the ideal length of the gas tube for a 16″ barrel and provide you with valuable insights to make an informed decision.

The Basics of Gas Tubes

Gas tubes are responsible for transferring gas from the barrel to the bolt carrier group, which cycles the action and facilitates the ejection of spent cartridges. Different barrel lengths require specific gas tube lengths to ensure optimal performance.

Carbine-Length Gas Tube

A carbine-length gas tube is typically used for barrels that measure 14.5″ to 16″ in length. This gas tube measures approximately 9.75″ from the gas port to the receiver. It offers a reliable and smooth cycling experience, making it the most common choice for AR-15 owners with 16″ barrels.

Mid-Length Gas Tube

For those who prefer a slightly longer handguard or seek a softer recoil impulse, a mid-length gas tube is worth considering. This gas tube measures around 11.75″ from the gas port to the receiver. While it is not as common as the carbine-length gas tube for 16″ barrels, it can provide a more comfortable shooting experience.

Rifle-Length Gas Tube

The rifle-length gas tube is generally used for barrels longer than 20″. It measures approximately 15.125″ from the gas port to the receiver. Although not recommended for 16″ barrels, it is essential to know about this option if you plan on building a rifle with a longer barrel in the future.

Factors to Consider

When determining the ideal gas tube length for your 16″ barrel, it is crucial to consider various factors:

Gas Port Location

The location of the gas port on your barrel is critical. Most 16″ barrels have a carbine-length gas system, so it is advisable to use a carbine-length gas tube for optimal performance. However, some barrels may have a longer gas system, requiring a different gas tube length.

Barrel Manufacturer Recommendations

Always refer to the barrel manufacturer’s recommendations when selecting a gas tube length. They have tested their barrels extensively and can provide valuable insights into the appropriate gas system for your specific barrel.

Intended Use

Your intended use for the rifle should also influence your gas tube length selection. If you plan on using your AR-15 for close-quarters engagements, a carbine-length gas tube is ideal. However, if long-range accuracy is your priority, a mid-length gas tube may be a better choice.


Choosing the right gas tube length for your 16″ barrel is crucial for reliable and efficient operation of your AR-15. While the carbine-length gas tube is the most common choice, considering factors such as gas port location, barrel manufacturer recommendations, and intended use can help you make an informed decision. Take the time to research and consult experts if needed, ensuring your rifle performs optimally for years to come.