At Charlie's we pride ourselves on getting historical military rifles and parts correct. We have taken broad liberties on this offering, to bring you a 12-1/2" barrel, with an AEM collar made exclusively for Charlie's by Allen Engineering to correctly fit an AEM-5 suppressor.
At some point, we want to tackle the BHD Gordon gun and other Operation Gothic Serpent guns in more correct manner. The truth is that this is hard. The heroes who fought in Mogadishu in 1993 were using many one of a kind weapons. We are accelerating the process for those customers who want something close, and will correctly fit the Allen Engineering AEM-5 / Ops Inc suppressor. This is for you. We have engineered this barrel, collar and brake to correctly fit your AEM5 suppressor. End of story. You can build the CAR-15 rifle in a 727 or 733 variant and put this barrel and it will work.
We have taken a mil spec 12.5" barrel with an FSB, and have milled back the bayonet lug a little, and installed our custom made Allen Engineering collar with the standard Allen Engineering brake to bring you this barrel set.
If we take a step back in history, the actual barrel used in Operation Gothic Serpent was 14.5" Government profile barrel, with an Ops Inc suppressor that was custom made for the US Military in a very small number. The actual design went much further back over the barrel than the Ops Inc #12, now the AEM-5, but it looked very much like the AEM-5, so most clone builders today are taking the short-cut and using the AEM5 on a 12.5" barrel, as it gives you pretty much the look. The collar used in 1993 was a bit of a make-shift, and some may have seen the donut style collar that are being custom made today.
Our goal is to give you something close enough, and will fit the Allen Engineering AEM5 suppressor without you needing to do custom work. It is also important, and many do not give the attention to the alignment of the AEM5 on the proper collar and brake, and the proper number of turns to make sure the suppressor is properly mounted. We have done all that homework for you. Is is perfect? Not at all. But until we get the proper suppressor built, this is pretty darn close.
Included is a turn-key barrel with all the attachments you would expect of a replacement barrel, and the AEM brake and thread protector. Ready for you to install into a military grade upper receiver and military grade plastic handguards. You need to be using a quality mil-spec receiver and handguards. Colt, LMT, FN, Daniel Defense, BCM, CMMG, Rock River, Precision Reflex all should work fine, as well as many others. Billet uppers and inexpensive forgings, Aero Precision, not so much. Those might be great with another gun and barrel. Same with the handguards. Colt, FN, LMT and Double Star are all good candidates.
We started this project with Daniel Defense barrels, but that manufacture stopped selling barrels in early 2021, so they could use what they have for their own rifles. We went back to the drawing board and look for alternate sources, while maintaining the same profile and exterior phosphate finish. Maintaining the right profile is critical so that the finely engineered Allen AEM-5 custom collars will correct fit. All barrels have the same government profile, same CMV steel construction and the same mil spec phosphated exterior finish. Some will be chrome-lined, and some will not. Chrome lining means better durability and less maintenance. But, standard chrome-moly 4140 and 4150 steel has been used in barrels for decades without issue, as long as you clean and oil your bore. The original DD barrels have a 1:7 twist as do the FN chrome-lined barrels and as do the Criterion non-chrome lined. Other barrels will have 1:8 and 1:9. We think of a 1:7 twist as standard today, but it is only needed with very heavy bullets like the 77 grain Mk262, which is clearly not needed in a 12.5" barrel. Back in the 1960s, a 1:12 was common, and by the time of the Mogadishu conflict, 1:9 was much more common, and works great with 55 grain M193 ammo. Any barrel selected will work just fine.
Note: The barrels are not so much about choices, but about availability. We anticipate certain barrels becoming available in certain months, so some will be pre-orders and some will not be available and some will be available to ship.
FN barrels - generally available most of the time, but come in batches, so you might catch us between batches. FN barrels are high quality military grade barrels, and are chrome lined. FN provides the US military with most barrels in use today for combat general issue rifles.
DD barrels - extremely limited availability. The DD barrels are in high demand, and are chrome-lined and cold hammer forged. Daniel Defense barrels are very high quality, but are very comperable to FN or Green Mountain. Normally, this is out of stock. When we get small numbers in, they sell out very quickly. We not expecting better availability until late 2023.
Bergara barrels - Bergara has the advantage of having a more period correct 1:9 twist rate. Bergara barrels are made for accuracy, and thus are not chrome-lined. Bergara makes great barrels, but has not made barrels for the US military. If you choose Bergara, you will be very happy. We are not expecting our Bergara barrels to be available until early Summer, 2023.
Greeen Mountain barrels - Green Mountain makes barrel blanks for Colt, and this particular batch we got was a 2015 vintage of barrels bound for Colt, but druing financial problems at Colt, were sold. Most of the Green Mountain barrels are chrome-lined, although a small number are not. We started to get Green Mountain barrels into our shop in Spring, 2023, and we should have a number of batches coming available, as they make their way out of our barrel shops.
Criterion barrels - this is a work in progress. Criterion is backed-up with production. This is a goal, with no solid ETA, but more than likely Fall or Winter, 2023.
LaRue barrels - a small number of match grade barrels will be available in the Spring or Summer of 2023. LaRue barrels are known to be highly accurate and are stainless steel button broached.
You will have certain abbreviations and nomenclature that not everyone will be familiar with, so let us break it down for you:
For barrel selection, we don't want to make this too complex, but we will be getting different barrels in stock at different times, and each has a different cost profile. The biggest difference you need to worry about is: is the barrel chrome lined. If not, you need to clean it and oil it. Otherwise, any of these barrels will be fine for a Gordon barrel.
Generally speaking, only the barrels which are available and ready for testing and final packaging will be shown as available. While the pricing will seem high - and it is, that is due to the engineering, testing and the barrel smithing lathe work that is done on each barrel, as well as hardware costs. You would be encouraged to buy the barrel that is available. If you have a preference, you can sign up to be notified when that barrel will be available. Most will be available from time to time, with the exception of the Daniel Defense, which we expect the supply to go down to zero and not come back anytime soon.
The DD barrels mostly have factory installed front sight posts, while the other barrels will have the FSB professional installed by the barrel smiths at Compass Lake Engineering, who are one of the two shops that Potomac and Charlie's works with on barrel engineering. You want to get that FSB alignment perfect. We are using "F" height FSBs, which are designed for flat top receivers. We realize that some might want a standard FSB for a 733 / C7 / A1 upper receiver, but supply of the standard height will come later, as supplies are just not there, and some people will want to use a flat top upper receiver. In reality, you can make adjustments in the front and rear sight height to compensate.
All barrels are individually tested for proper fit and alignment of an Allen Engineering AEM-5 suppressor, before they pass go. Alignment is checked with a Surefire bore rod, and fit of the suppresser is checked by mounting the suppressor and making sure we have the right tolerance of "turns" on the suppressor, as we are guided by Ron Allen at Allen Engineering.
Note: Delta Ring assemby is NOT INCLUDED, as the delta ring attaches from the rear of the barrel. You can add a Colt Delta Ring Assembly <- click here
*front sight posts are nothing for an amateur to install. Ours are installed by skilled barrel smiths either at Daniel Defense factory, or we send to Compass Lake Engineering to do a perfect installation.
Note: Barrels are in critical short supply. All of the barrels we offer are great quality. If your first choice is out of stock, don't wait too long, pick another barrel.
Charlie's also sells the actual clone-correct Gordon AEM M4 suppressor and barrel kit with 14.5". For those who wish to extend the use of their AEM5, this barrel kit is a great option. The matched set is a bit more military-correct, and the limited edition. The choice is simple: If you have a Mk12 and Ops Inc #12 style suppressor already, you should get this Kit here. If you are building your own Gordon Carbine clone, and want the real deal, get the Gordon Carbine Allen Engineering and Potomac Armory Suppressor and M4 14.5" Matched Set.
Suppressor is optional and not part of the package, but shown for illustrative purposes: AEM5 Suppressor
for further reading, see Recoil Web's Guns of Black Hawk Down
photos courtesy of Potomac Armory, Recoil Web and Columbia Pictures