11.5 Vs 12.5 Barrel Velocity: Does 1 Inch Matter?

When it comes to size, everyone has their reasoning and point of view on the matter. As long as the size is legal, there will be people out there who always try to go longer or shorter, depending on their preference, of course!

That’s right, I’m talking about rifle barrels. What did you think I was talking about? Jokes aside, short-barrel rifles are quite popular among self-defense enthusiasts. And two specific barrel sizes always tend to spark a fire among avid shooters.

Yes, I’m talking about 11.5 vs 12.5 barrel length. Does 1” really make that big of a difference? Or it’s just all talk and no performance? Let’s find out together.

11.5 Inches Barrel Length

Short-barrel rifles are not a new thing. 11.5 inches 5.56 firing weapons are quite common and widely found all around the world. Due to their smaller size and weight, they are often preferred as an alternative to 20” barrels to many shooters.

12.5 Inches Barrel Length

Like the 11.5-inch barrel, there has been a steady increase in demand for 12.5-inch barrels as well. The main idea of the 12.5-inch barrel is to have an extra bit of wiggle room and a little more grooving at the end of the barrel.

The grooving can change the course of your bullet and add more velocity as well. That’s why a lot of people prefer the 12.5-inch barrel over 11.5-inch.

11.5 Vs 12.5 Barrel Velocity – Key Differences

Is there any difference between the two? Of course, there is. Not much, but there is clearly a difference that you can see and feel while shooting.


There is a common misconception that short-barrel rifles aren’t accurate. If you were to fire 5.56mm from the same rifle one with an 11.5-inch barrel and the other with a 12.5-inch barrel, you would almost see no difference in terms of accuracy.

Due to the extra length of the barrel, the bullet spins a little more than the 11.5-inch barrel. Thanks to that, the accuracy is slightly different. But it’s within the margin of error.

Velocity Difference

This is the part why you are here. I know you want to know whether 1” makes any difference in terms of the muzzle velocity.

For example, if you are using a rifle that fires 5.56 ammo at 75 grain, then you can expect to reach anywhere from 2200 FPS to 2500 FPS. It can have a higher speed depending on the movement of air on the field. But that’s an estimate that you can work with.

And in terms of the muzzle velocity of a 12.5-inch AR rifle that also fires 5.56mm, you can expect anywhere from 2400 to 2600 FPS.

As you can see, there is a significant amount of difference when it comes to the velocity. I know you might be thinking, 100 FPS, it’s whatever. But trust me, it’s not whatever. That 100 FPS can be the deciding factor of you hitting the target at the point you want or missing it by a couple of MOA.

Recoil Management

Due to the extended barrel length of the 12.5-inch variant, you have a better chance of controlling the recoil of your rifle. While 11.5-inch is by no means a high recoil variant, you should keep in mind that shorter barrel weapons can have a nasty muzzle rise.


As you guessed, one of them is 11.5 inches and the other one is 12.5 inches. Due to the increased size, their appearance is quite different as well.


Due to the increased length, 12.5-inch barrels require more material. You guessed it, more material = increased weight!

Which Barrel Is Better?

That depends on you. If you search for both barrels online, you will see that more people vouch for the 12.5-inch barrel due to its availability, after-market support, and widely accepted in most states as well.

On top of that, you will find help from other users when it comes to competitions and hunting as well. While neither of the barrels is suitable for hunting, they are extremely good for competitive shooting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of ammunition is best suited for an 11.5 barrel?

The best type of ammunition for an 11.5 barrel is a light- to medium-weight bullet. This type of bullet will provide a good balance between velocity and accuracy. Generally, lighter bullets will provide higher velocities, while heavier bullets will provide more accuracy. For an 11.5 barrel, a bullet weight between 55-75 grains is ideal.

Are there any advantages to using a 12.5 barrel over an 11.5 barrel?

Yes, there are several advantages to using a 12.5 barrel over an 11.5 barrel. The most notable advantage is the increased velocity of the projectile. With a 12.5 barrel, the projectile will travel faster, resulting in greater accuracy and range. Additionally, the increased barrel length allows for a longer sight radius, which can improve accuracy.

Finally, the increased barrel length can also reduce the amount of recoil felt when firing the weapon.


As you can see, there is a difference between 11.5 vs 12.5 barrel velocity. There is a difference when it comes to the accuracy and the performance as well. If you want a wide range of support and a community backup as well, the 12.5-inch barrel makes more sense.

Hopefully, this guide was able to help you learn the difference between two and figure out the right one for you as well. With that said, that’s all for now. I hope to see you on the next one. Take care and have fun.

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