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Old July 05, 2017, 18:15   #1
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Riddbits review of the new Australian L1A1 barrels

Update 7/27/17. These barrels are good. The following is a review that culminated in putting a barrel on a receiver and a trip to the range. For what it is worth, I would give my blessings for these barrels. The catch is that you have to specify what type of receiver you have when you order. Enjoy the read and I hope you are able to get one of these barrels for your builds. -Riddbits-

I will be the first to admit that I am no expert. That being said, I would like to pass my observations on to you, my fellow Files members, about the new L1A1 barrels being offered by Sarge's Military Surplus (hereafter referred to as SMS). I have spent a lot of time talking with some of the people behind the scenes of this project, and knowing who is involved, I have little doubt that these barrels are good. Then, I was given three of them to review, so here you are.

First off, there was only a limited run done of them. I was told 300. As for the physical maker, there is a pretty good NDA on them and I respect that. These barrels were made basically by a subcontractor for SMS to be sold with kits or individually. This is no different than any other company that subcontracts work and, while initial inquiries were not handled well, SMS is putting their names on the barrels (not physically, but taking responsibility). This is their product and if they had just said that it was theirs in the first place, I feel that a great deal of mistrust could have been avoided.

The barrels were made from drawings supplied by Mark Materne. These are the original Lithgow L1A1 barrel drawings and the same ones used by the late Pat Jones for his production of barrels. I spoke with Mark to verify that he had supplied them and he confirmed. And to put any further speculation to rest, these are not the "doctored" set of drawings that Pat had.

You all know what a L1A1 barrel looks like, so I am only including pictures of close ups. I ended up unscrewing two guns to do this review. Both receivers are DSA Australian L1A1 AD series receivers. I plan on using one of these barrels on one of the receivers when I rebuild the rifles. Interestingly enough, SMS is offering these barrels either as the drawings are or modified for DSA receivers. I received samples each and you will have to specify which receiver you have when ordering.

The barrels are chrome lined. There was question about that. SMS is mounting gas blocks and flash hiders to the barrels and then parkerizing them. Their photos are of a barrel that does not have a gas block on it and is not cleaned up after the parkerizing. One of the barrels (#3) looks like the chrome lining does not run out of the chamber area. I cleaned it up a little after I took the photo and the chrome lining is there,
FAL10.JPG

FAL11.JPG

What the chamber end looked like without cleaning it off.
FAL12.JPG

And the muzzle end,
FAL1.JPG

There was some question about the thread cuts. As I was told, they are going to be offering the barrels cut for DSA receivers. Here is a close up of the threaded end of the barrels. The top two are cut for a DSA receiver and the bottom one is to spec.
FAL2.JPG

FAL3.JPG
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Old July 05, 2017, 18:21   #2
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I took a British barrel and an Australian barrel for comparison. This photo shows you the threaded end of each. Australian on the left, SMS in the middle and Brit on the right,
FAL4.JPG

I screwed in an Australian barrel to one of my receivers and the DSA modified one into the other. They both timed at about 1:30 without a timing washer. I tried a second Australian barrel and it timed the same.
FAL8.JPG

I then screwed in one of my Brit barrels and the unmodified barrel and they timed to about 9:00 with no barrel timing washer.
FAL9.JPG.

Interestingly enough, I had three different timing bottom outs on three different Brit barrels on my DSA receivers. One at 9, one at 11 and the third at 1. All are take offs.
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Old July 05, 2017, 18:25   #3
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The muzzle ends are cut for a standard flash hider. As I said, they will be offering the barrels with a flash hider installed, but none of the ones I received had one mounted yet. From what I understand, there is no plan to offer a barrel cut for the F1 flash hider. You will have to make that modification yourself.
Update: I dug out a Brit five slot flash hider and threaded it on. It bottomed out at the 11 o'clock and when turned back two rotations (space for the timing washer) the lock washer groove lined right up.
FAL7.JPG

The area around the gas block, Australian left, SMS center and Brit on the right.
FAL5.JPG

And the sling swivel cuts.
FAL6.JPG

The gas blocks are properly attached with NOS gas block pins and index perfectly. Of the two barrels I received that have them mounted, both are centered and the gas ports are aligned. I will be running a pin gauge into both of them tomorrow when I get some shop time and will update you here.
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Old July 05, 2017, 18:30   #4
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I know that there will be a ton of questions that I cannot answer. I am sorry that I do not have the expertise to satisfy the questions of minutia, but I had access and am trying my best.

Regrettably, questions posted to SMS may not be answered fast. As I said in the discussion post about these barrels, the manager is still learning and doing his best, but sometimes has to ask the questions we, the public, post of someone else. He is learning, give him time please.

I have the barrels for two more days. I intend to purchase one of the and will continue the review with a live rifle as soon as I can. If you would like specifics, post your questions here. I have a set of dial calipers and will measure to your hearts delight, but I have to give them back at lunch on Friday (7-7-17).
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Old July 05, 2017, 19:48   #5
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Looks good - not sure what is meant by "cut for DSA receiver". If you're talking about the lack of a breeching washer shoulder, I don't get it. As long as the step is shorter than the smallest breeching washer, it shouldn't matter what receiver it is on.

Also, since "all the way in" should be bottoming out on the chamber face, I don't think that is very useful for timing. If you don't have one, I can send you a couple breeching washers. Maybe a pic with the same size washer on each - doesn't matter where it times, only the comparison.
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Old July 05, 2017, 20:09   #6
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Thanks for the offer of the washers, I have a few. I will assemble one onto a receiver tomorrow and see how it headspaces.

Mark, I will post up some pictures of these barrels with the same size breaching washer for you. I'm not sure about the DSA cut issue either, but both of the barrels that are called out as such bottom out the same as both of my Australian barrels do.
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Old July 05, 2017, 22:05   #7
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The park reminds me of the Citadel barrel I received for my BM59. Not that that says much, but they were unmarked as well. I'd run it for sure.
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Old July 06, 2017, 00:14   #8
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The park reminds me of the Citadel barrel I received for my BM59. Not that that says much, but they were unmarked as well. I'd run it for sure.
So, I guess you didn't read the part where I said that SMS is parkerizing them after they mount the gas blocks.........

Granted, the parkerizing matches my SAR-4800, my Polytech M14S, my Remington 870 Police Special and it is an EXACT match to my post sample M60E3. Should I worry about bad barrels with those guns too?

Let's try to stay objective here and not dabble into fear mongering please.
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Old July 06, 2017, 05:57   #9
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Riddbits,
Thank you sir for taking the time to do this.
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Old July 06, 2017, 06:20   #10
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So, I guess you didn't read the part where I said that SMS is parkerizing them after they mount the gas blocks.........

Granted, the parkerizing matches my SAR-4800, my Polytech M14S, my Remington 870 Police Special and it is an EXACT match to my post sample M60E3. Should I worry about bad barrels with those guns too?

Let's try to stay objective here and not dabble into fear mongering please.
Must you jump to conclusions? I'm sorry I missed that part. But, I simply made an observation and had you read what I said, my rifle has an unmarked barrel and I shoot it often.

Don't worry, I won't dare interrupt again.
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Old July 06, 2017, 10:08   #11
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Must you jump to conclusions? I'm sorry I missed that part. But, I simply made an observation and had you read what I said, my rifle has an unmarked barrel and I shoot it often.

Don't worry, I won't dare interrupt again.
My apologies for jumping to a conclusion. Yes, I did miss interpret your post, but it was a little vague and given the skepticism expressed by many on the site here, I was pre-disposed to see it a detrimental.

Interrupt away, but perhaps a little more information in your post so we understand your intentions.

OK, off to the shop to screw a barrel on.
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Old July 06, 2017, 10:55   #12
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My apologies for jumping to a conclusion. Yes, I did miss interpret your post, but it was a little vague and given the skepticism expressed by many on the site here, I was pre-disposed to see it a detrimental.

Interrupt away, but perhaps a little more information in your post so we understand your intentions.

OK, off to the shop to screw a barrel on.
Sounds good!
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Old July 06, 2017, 18:20   #13
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Here are two other inch barrels side-by-side. The DSA Barrel in the black and the DEZ Arms in the white:







Would you be able to measure those areas as well?
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Old July 06, 2017, 23:14   #14
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I will do so and post what I find.
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Old July 06, 2017, 23:37   #15
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Ok, I got a little shop time today and twisted one rifle together. Unfortunately, I left my bolt and carrier home and will have to headspace the rifle tomorrow. I did find that the "DSA modified" barrels fit perfectly. The unmodified barrel bottomed out before any timing washers engaged. I have a question into SMS as to what the deal is. More on that when I know.

As for the two "modified" barrels, I put a size 5 timing washer on them and screwed them into the same receiver. Both timed the same.
FAL 10.JPG

FAL 11.JPG

When I screwed the barrel on correctly, I used a size 3 washer and this is the result.
FAL 12.JPG

I mounted an Australian 5 slot flash hider to the barrel and ended up needing a size 7 timing washer for this combo. Toward the top, but every flash hider varies and this is well within the norm. So, now I have a barreled receiver that is assembled and ready for head spacing. I will do so tomorrow and hope that I have the right size pin. If I do, then I will try to get to the range this weekend to do a firing test. If not, I'll have to settle for a function test with a gauge pin until the correct pin arrives.
FAL 13.JPG

More tomorrow........
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Old July 07, 2017, 09:44   #16
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I went to the web site, I could not find the barrels listed. Do you know when these will be offered for sale?
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Old July 07, 2017, 11:10   #17
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They pulled the barrels until they could get a picture of them with the gas block and flash hider mounted. Better to have a proper representation of what you are selling. They will be available for sale again soon.
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Old July 07, 2017, 16:47   #18
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That's the "squishing out in the direction of torque" of a breeching washer where there is no shoulder - makes fitting the handguard support troublesome. I don't really have a solution, other than paying close attention to keeping it centered.
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Old July 07, 2017, 17:32   #19
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That's the "squishing out in the direction of torque" of a breeching washer where there is no shoulder - makes fitting the handguard support troublesome. I don't really have a solution, other than paying close attention to keeping it centered.
Is the handguard ring strong enough to hold it in place? Or a hose clamp?
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Old July 07, 2017, 18:23   #20
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You wouldn't be able to use the flats of the barrel if you are using something to align the timing washer. If you are using a barrel vice, then I'm sure something could be set up. In my case, the "squishing out" was minimal and the handguard ring went right on.

I head spaced the rifle today. It needed a 0.254 pin. As it turned out, that was the same size pin that I took out of one of the rifles, but neglected to mark which one. I intend to barrel the other receiver and we will see what size pin it takes.
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Old July 07, 2017, 18:31   #21
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That's the "squishing out in the direction of torque" of a breeching washer where there is no shoulder - makes fitting the handguard support troublesome. I don't really have a solution, other than paying close attention to keeping it centered.
might not be your flavor but I have used an O ring to help cure that problem
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Old July 08, 2017, 08:07   #22
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That's the "squishing out in the direction of torque" of a breeching washer where there is no shoulder - makes fitting the handguard support troublesome. I don't really have a solution, other than paying close attention to keeping it centered.
Flat hose clamp maybe loosely around the shoulder and breeching washer to maintain relation.

It's always about relations, right? Or is it relationship?
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Old July 09, 2017, 12:07   #23
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might not be your flavor but I have used an O ring to help cure that problem
I will try it.
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Old July 11, 2017, 10:25   #24
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Sorry for being absent for a while. Family first.

4Markk, your pictures are not showing anymore. Could you list the measurement areas you would like me to compare? I have an original Australian barrel, an original Pat Jones barrel (it's an F1) and one of these new barrels to take measurements off of.
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Old July 11, 2017, 16:16   #25
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Ok, have a few more comparisons for everyone. I have an original Australian barrel, the SMS barrel and an original Pat barrel (from Pat himself). I tried to remember the measurements that 4markk asked for and here they are.

The flash hider relief cut: Aus 2.585, SMS 2.625, Pat 2.610
FAL20.JPG

The diameter of the barrel flare behind the gas block: Aus 0.802 (left), SMS 0.804 (center), Pat 0.801 (right)
FAL17.JPG

The diameter of the barrel where the gas block mounts: Aus 0.689, SMS 0.688, Pat 0.689
FAL22.JPG

The diameter of the step in front of the gas block: Aus 0.672 (right), SMS 0.674 (center), Pat No measureable step (left).
FAL18.JPG
FAL21.JPG
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Old July 11, 2017, 16:22   #26
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The diameter of the barrel over the chamber: Aus 1.044 (left), SMS 1.041 (center), Pat 1.046 (right)
FAL19.JPG

FAL23.JPG

The length of the flare behind the gas block: Aus 0.132, SMS 0.188, Pat 0.120
FAL24.JPG

The overall length of the flare behind the gas block: Aus 0.271, SMS 0.326, Pat 0.260
FAL25.JPG
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Old July 11, 2017, 16:25   #27
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As to the request for information regarding what they mean by cut for a DSA receiver, I was told that the barrels are relief cut for DSA threads. I am not sure what that means, but that is the response I got and it is backed up by the two cut ones fitting the DSA receivers I have and the uncut one bottoming out before a timing washer would even engage. I don't have any real way to measure the breach end threads any further.
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Old July 11, 2017, 19:01   #28
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How?
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Old July 12, 2017, 08:09   #29
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Well,

The last measurement Id like to see is a .30 cal muzzle erosion gauge.

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Old July 12, 2017, 10:21   #30
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Will give it a try. Might try to take the measurements off of a head space gauge.

Thorack, I will try to see if I can find someone that has one of those throat erosion gauges for you.
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Old July 12, 2017, 17:34   #31
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How?

use the bottom right diagram

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Old July 12, 2017, 23:07   #32
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Maybe I have had a charmed Commonwealth life, and I have a sliver of the experience fellas like Mr. Graham have with building, but I can say with clear conscience I have barreled an easy 20 to 25 inch patten barrels on Imbel inch cut, DSA Aussie & Brit L1A1, and a few "off brand" receivers, all with Brit, Aussie, and legit Canadian barrels over the years. Not to mention two L2A1 and one C2A1 (oh why have I sold all this stuff as time goes by).... I have never experience the breeching washing "squish out" as pictured. Now, by attention to detail (not to be confused with the two times I perfectly mechanical top dead center barreled a receiver only to then note the hand guard ring sitting on the bench...) I am yet to ever have to deliberately employ measures to ensure the washer doesn't offset sheer. I've always used arsenal breeching washers. Now, this is in conflict with the original pubs that, if I recall, say use them once and discard if needed to rebarrel. But my thoughts on that are for another thread. My point is they've always stayed aligned. So this talk of needing hose clamps or other measures baffles me. What induces this "squish out" (I undersigns the physics of the "direction of torque", but never experienced it). Now, I have on most occasions hand torqued the barrel with the handguard ring seated against the face of the receiver, aligning the breeching washer, and then pulling it clear for torquing. But I didn't have to do this with the L2/C2 builds I did. And I know I have not done it with every build....

The misalignment as pictured above is curious. Is an original breeching washer being used? If noted above and I missed it, apologies.

And why the hell parkerize with the flash hider installed (suggested in the first post, though in conflict with the pics shown)?

If they are installing flash hiders, how are they ensuring proper fit (as in ensuring no excessive gap from muzzle face and back face of the flash hider if they don't have flash hider washers, or are they relieving the face of the back of the flash hider to ensure the proper timing prior to torquing if necessary?

All asked in a spirit of interest.
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Old July 13, 2017, 09:57   #33
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So this talk of needing hose clamps or other measures baffles me. What induces this "squish out" .
These barrels were made without the ledge at the breech (next to the shoulder) that holds the washer in place. Therefore the diameter at the shoulder is much less than the diameter of the hole in the washer.

Look at the pic in post #2. Barrel #1 & 3 have the ledge near the shoulder, barrel #2 does not. That is a defect in these barrels and not the other barrels you mentioned.
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Old July 13, 2017, 10:34   #34
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These barrels were made without the ledge at the breech (next to the shoulder) that holds the washer in place. Therefore the diameter at the shoulder is much less than the diameter of the hole in the washer.

Look at the pic in post #2. Barrel #1 & 3 have the ledge near the shoulder, barrel #2 does not. That is a defect in these barrels and not the other barrels you mentioned.
Interesting how small details can be lost when replicating parts. Good catch.
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Old July 13, 2017, 11:24   #35
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Interesting how small details can be lost when replicating parts. Good catch.
Ironically in this case, it took an extra machining step to remove a necessary feature. The extra step is still somewhat needed in that the ledge must be short enough not in interfere with the receiver threads and tall enough to support the thinnest washer.

Always one of the hazards of reverse engineering. Hopefully peer review can help refine the product.
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Old July 13, 2017, 13:38   #36
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sturmgrenadiere;

Yes, the breaching washer is original and NOS. I think I may have missed including that info.

As for the flash hiders, I am to understand that original timing washers are being used when mounting them. The three samples I received did not have the flash hiders mounted and I do not have any further information regarding if they will be refinished or not. I used an original timing washer and everything twisted together fine.
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Old July 13, 2017, 13:44   #37
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use the bottom right diagram

Thanks. I have a pretty good idea how depths are measured. The problem in this case is that there is no way to ensure that the end of the caliper is seated on the shoulder in the exact same position in each chamber. After all, we are measuring in the thousandths. I have a set of headspace gauges coming and I will basically measure the distance from the chamber face to the back of the gauge to look for consistency within the range of locking shoulder pins. They should all fall within a 0.012" range (0.254 - 0.266 pins).
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Old July 13, 2017, 13:52   #38
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These barrels were made without the ledge at the breech (next to the shoulder) that holds the washer in place. Therefore the diameter at the shoulder is much less than the diameter of the hole in the washer.

Look at the pic in post #2. Barrel #1 & 3 have the ledge near the shoulder, barrel #2 does not. That is a defect in these barrels and not the other barrels you mentioned.
Actually, the Australian barrel in post #2 is identical to the SMS barrel. I am sorry if my pictures did not capture enough detail. There is another picture of the same barrel next to a SMS barrel in post #28, pic 1. It gives a slightly different angle so you can see that the original barrel doesn't have the ledge either. hkshooter is correct, some Australian factory barrels do not have the ledge and I am pretty sure that the drawings for those barrels are the ones used here.
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Old July 15, 2017, 00:37   #39
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Just want to thank you Riddbits!!

I just had time to re-read your assessment of the barrels and truly I appreciate your comments and your dedication to your craft. In time I will come to know more about the technicalities involved with building any gun kit, let alone the FAL, but at this point I feel I need to attempt to express my sincere gratitude for the time and work you've put into this L1A1 barrel evaluation. I will take much of what I've read here tonight and ask too many questions about all the discoveries found in these comments. I also want to thank everyone else who has poured over this subject and posted great points and observations. This is how I'll learn more and hopefully start to make sense of it. Again, Thank you!
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Old July 21, 2017, 10:09   #40
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So, I finally borrowed a set of head space gauges. I used the Go gauge to measure. What I did was to drop the gauge into the chamber and measured from the face of the chamber in the same spot to the top of the gauge. The results:

SMS DSA cut: 0.120
SMS Uncut: 0.124
Australian: 0.123
British F 60: 0.123

I have a rifle twisted together and will be taking it to the range on Monday for a shooting evaluation. Looking forward to it.
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Old July 21, 2017, 11:06   #41
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Interesting stuff. I hope it all works out because I'll be on the market for two for sure, maybe more.
As a guy who likes the Canuck stuff, I really like the lack of markings and stamps.
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Old July 24, 2017, 14:06   #42
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I hope these end up working well, I need an inch barrel.
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Old July 27, 2017, 22:52   #43
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I go the chance to go to the range today and put 80 rounds through the new barrel. I am impressed. This was a DSA Australian cut receiver and I put the DSA relieved barrel on it. My gas system was set at 4 and it cycled right out of the barn.

Buy them before they run out! I have already put a seed in an ear about doing a second run if they sell out fast.

I have bought two of the barrels because of the work I did with them (and that I liked them) and returned the third. My second is going to become an Indian 1A.

Go forth and twist one together!
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Old July 28, 2017, 22:53   #44
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How accurate was it?

Granted, it's not shot-in, but....
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Old July 29, 2017, 09:00   #45
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Didn't have a paper target to work with (or a chair or bench rest), mostly a shoot in and function check. Had two other rifles with me doing the same. It was shooting low at 100 yards (just under the clay discs on the berm), but the last 40 rounds were spent knocking around a 5 gallon bucket on the 300 yard berm, so I'm not far off.

I do intend to go back to the range with it again and truly sight it in, this time with an actual target. The range is in Carson City, NV and you have to get there early these days. We aren't Arizona hot, but triple digit heat sucks no matter where you are.
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Old December 06, 2017, 08:35   #46
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I just got one in. I noticed the chamber is chrome and the chamber chamfer is not. Chamfer cut after chrome. It's now apparent from the original pics, but I thought I was looking at lighting, not a break in the chrome.

Not saying anything about it being good or bad, but a means of identifying provenance. Like I've got 3 of Pat's barrels here and the last 40 coming soon - but they are unmarked. So looking for some defining characteristic, where I can say "this makes it a Jones barrel, and that makes it a Sarge's barrel"
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Old December 06, 2017, 17:03   #47
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GP,

Is the barrel part of a build that will result in a test fire?

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Old December 06, 2017, 17:25   #48
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GP,

Is the barrel part of a build that will result in a test fire?

Thorack
yes, but we're probably a month off.
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Old December 06, 2017, 19:38   #49
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GP,

Thats still good news.

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Old January 31, 2018, 14:02   #50
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I just got my barrel in today, and it looks really good. Oddly enough, I think the flash hider is Canadian though, which will save the smith the trouble of swapping out my old one.
I should be able to get this to the smith very soon so he can install this, and he generously agreed for me to let me be involved so I can take pictures. I may have to order a new locking shoulder, but that remains to be seen. I'll post pics of the barrel, and the process when it starts.

I asked who made the barrel, and was told that they were not allowed to say. Does anyone have a guess as to who made these?
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