Long lasting something is chrome lined. It depends what you are wanting to do. Im not a target shooter, just wanted to hold up over time.
If thats what you want you cant you cant go wrong for the price with a psa. Mill spec and good prices.
Do you have any specifics you are looking for? Is it going to be for home defense, hunting, range? Combo of all 3? What is your budget? Even though a lot of us either sold or lost our AR's in a tragic boating accident, we still have some pretty good knowledge on the platform.
My primary focus is home defense and target shooting....with a chance I would use it for hunting. As far as my budget I was thinking around $600 give or take as long as it is a quality upper and barrel.
Thanks for the info please keep it coming!
These days you take what you can get. But if your lucky or patient enough to get what you want I would look for: flat top upper, chrome lined barrel 1:9 twist( from what you say the purpose of the rifle 1:9 will fit your needs 1:9 will stabalize 55-65 gr bullets 1:7 are for heavier 70gr+ match bullets)make sure your upper and barrel have m4 cuts/ramp. Don't pay rediculous amounts for the big named stuff most place buy from the same place and just put there name on it. There is two kinds of recievers billet and forged. Billets are higher end but all mine are forged and I've never had any problems. 90%+ of big name companies use forged.
I like PSA (Palmetto State Armory) barrels. I used to use their hammer forged chrome lined jobs. Love'em. I prefer the 1:7 twist myself but that's because of my bullet choice. I used to build nothing but billet mega matched uppers and lowers (sets were $475) but now hey are closer to $850-$900 which is insane. Obviously caliber choice is most important which you haven't stated (.223, 5.56, 300 blackout, 6.5 creedmore / 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC,....). Gotta decide hs system length and ensure gas block hole size matches barrel gas port as well as proper length of gas tube and length of hand guards.
You need a clearer definition of what you desire- any barrel that will run and shoot a 2 inch 25 yard groups is more than accurate enough for home defense. Target shooting to some may mean blasting at a fanatic 50 yards to some people while to others it means shooting small targets 1/4 mile away. Chrome tends to resist rust and last longer ( for those who like to romp through swamps !) while for true precision non chrome line tends to be more accurate. I have had good luck with mostly unlined both regular ( chrome-moly) and stainless barrels. Unless you neglect care get the gun really wet and don't cleanor you run full auto not having broke lined is no biggie. Most true match grade barrels are not lined
Good barrels: Lothar Walter LW50 Polygonal, Krieger 5R, Lilja, Hart, Bartlein, Shilen, Rock 5R, Noveske.
Nitrocarburized treatment (melonite) will drastically increase barrel life.
Wilson, ARP and Byson make amazing 6.8 barrels.
Uppers brands do not matter that much as soon as they are well cut, up to spec and specially if they can be matched to the lower. Seekings, SI, noveske, mega, addax, Veltor, etc...
are good ones and some offer matched billets too. Some come from the same mill, seekings and spikes are cut in the same machines (OEM) many
times so branding doesn't matter, what it matters is to know the actual product materials, fit and finish.
BCGs are the heart of the AR. A good BCG is a good investment. Good ones are Young Manufacturing, JP, bravo company, Colt, SI, Fail zero groups are also very nice in nickel-Boron finish. But you have RRA and DTI carrying M16 groups that come from the same mills as colt. They are Carpenter 158 bolts.
You can get cheap kits for $500 that with an average lower will shoot but if you look for top reliability performance estimate around $1K.
Even if you do not do anything too special I would consider these:
(ordered by priority)
1- Quality Carrier group and bolt (The heart of the AR)
2- Floating hand-guard/rails ... don't need to break the bank but get something light yet rigid.
3-Good quality barrel specially if consistent accuracy is wanted.
4-Good trigger group ...less critical but will also make a difference in the accuracy department although a well tuned national match trigger will do
what others costing twice do.
Remember chrome lined barrels are not as accurate as some other options. I like 1:8 as the 1:9 twist will not properly stabilize 70gr solid bullets or long range rounds. If one gets one of those cheap kits at least a nice group or a quality bolt would be a wise addition.
I guess it all depends on the purpose for the investment.