What is a Bull Barrel? All You Need to Know about Bull Barrels and How They Work

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Guns are a combination of many parts working together to achieve a common goal. All the pieces are essential, and that includes the barrel. 

You can customize any part of your gun to your liking depending on what you want it to achieve. One part that people often customize is the barrel, as it epitomizes accuracy. 

However, it’s a tad intimidating to meander into the world of customizing your gun barrel. Novices don’t fully understand whether they should add a bull barrel to their gun or not. 

Adding a bull barrel to your gun can lead to its change in performance. While there are advantages to getting a bull barrel, there are some limitations as well. However, you can never go wrong with adding a bull barrel to your list of customizations. Read on to know more about bull barrels and what they can bring to your rifle. 

What is a Bull Barrel, and How Does it Work?

Bull barrels are designed to improve the accuracy of your gun, among other benefits. The primary difference between a standard barrel and a bull barrel is that the latter is thicker than the former. 

Bull barrels also weigh more than standard barrels, ideally because of the extra thickness. However, you should note that there are no standard dimensions. The bull barrel can be as thick as you want if you don’t mind the extra weight. 

Also, there are no limitations on the guns that can use a bull barrel. And this applies to all rifles, pistols/handguns, or air guns. However, what might be a bull barrel on one firearm may be standard on another. 

For example, using the same bull barrel on an AR15 might not be the same as using it on a shotgun. Depending on the size of the bull barrel, it might perform better on the AR15 than on the shotgun. 

How Does a Bull Barrel Work?

A gun barrel is a tube-shaped metal piece that allows the bullet to exit once you squeeze the trigger. When you fire a spring gun, a lot of the punishment is felt at the barrel more than any part of the firearm. 

Firing several rounds continuously heats the barrel and causes stress as the rounds pass through. Therefore, a barrel will enlarge, and the accuracy will diminish if you keep taking shots without letting the barrel cool. 

A quality gun barrel has balance, control and is easily manageable to ensure minimum recoil and vibrations after every shot. The excellence of a gun barrel is exceptional when you can control handgrip, expansion after heating up, and support stand. 

If you can’t control these factors that influence gun barrel performance, your accuracy gets diminished extensively. 

A bull barrel remedies the chances of your gun barrel failing you and takes your accuracy to higher levels. 

This is how. 

 A bull barrel doesn’t taper outward, and therefore, it’s fully cylindrical. Because of this factor, it’s stiffer and will result in reduced vibration amplitudes that occur when the air pressure in the chamber increases from firing shots. 

Typically, the point of having a bull barrel on any gun is reducing all the adverse effects these vibrations have on your aim every time you fire. 

Is There a Difference Between a Heavy Barrel and a Bull Barrel?

The two names represent the same thing and can be used interchangeably because bull barrels are also heavy barrels. 

However, the origin of the name bull barrel might have come from the gun machinist and enthusiast Bull R. Freeman. In the 1800s, Bull Freeman experimented on barrel thickness while working for Springfield Armory. He became a sharpshooter from learning the benefits of using a heavier barrel compared to standard gun barrels. 

But there is also another explanation for the name “Bull Barrel.” Perhaps it’s because it’s as stout as a bull, which might be the name’s reasoning. 

Types of Bull Barrels 


Airguns also use bull barrels that serve the same vibration damping effect as seen on rifles and handguns. However, bull barrels on airguns don’t prevent heat dissipation because there is no heat in the first place. 

Airguns, unlike spring guns, use air to dislodge ammo. In 1950-1970, spring guns had an option of a heavy barrel that you could slide to over a regular barrel. Of course, the results were to improve accuracy, control, and maintain the barrel temperature. 

Bull Barrel with Flutes

Bull barrels that come with flutes are ways to try and keep the weight down. For example, using a bull barrel on a shotgun is heavier than using the same bull barrel on an AR15. 

While the bull barrel’s primary advantage is the stiffness, the flutes are grooves to remove some metal from the barrel. However, the barrel remains stronger and thicker regardless of the grooves. 

Additionally, not all bull barrels must have grooves, and it becomes a matter of aesthetic appeal over function. 

Plastic Bull Barrels

There are bull barrels that are made of plastic material. Typically, they don’t serve the same purpose as metal bull barrels, and they are just for aesthetic appeal. 

They are still lightweight because they are plastic bull barrels, even if they are as thick as metal bull barrels. But some manufacturers cover their standard barrels with thick plastic bull barrels. One might wonder what the purpose is. 

However, compared to shooting a gun without any barrel cover, plastic bull barrels will remove some of the vibration and recoil stings. The only good bull barrels are metal, and while plastic barrels lessen vibrations, they aren’t actual bull barrels. 

When Should I Use a Bull Barrel?

Bull barrels are a matter of perception and the comfort that you are looking for in a firearm. It means that there is no right time, and equally, there isn’t a wrong time either. 

People that want accuracy might sacrifice the weight and comfort of wielding their guns. In the same way, if you plan to carry your gun longer while in hunts, a standard barrel will suffice. 

The Benefits of Using a Bull Barrel on Your Gun?


As you fire your gun, the barrel heats up and eventually expands. It explains why the first shot may be dead center on your target, yet the following groups are apart. 

A bull barrel is thicker than a standard gun barrel and therefore absorbs heat much better. It takes a few shots to heat a standard gun barrel compared to a bull barrel that can maintain cool temperatures for longer. 

When the barrel expands, your rounds’ trajectory gets affected and leads to inconsistent shot patterns and dimensions of the bullets. 

The purpose of the bull barrel on a rifle is to restrict the inaccuracy caused by the expansion of a heated barrel through constant firing. 

Less Vibrant

There is a vibration that takes place every time you fire a gun. The vibration is dampened when using a heavy barrel than when using a standard barrel. 

The more weight the bull barrel has, the less your gun will vibrate. Because a bull barrel has extra metal depth, it’s stiffer and therefore more control when firing multiple shots. 

A bull barrel makes your firearm manageable because the bullets never change the dimension emanating from vibrations. Experts know that consistent rifle performance adds to improved accuracy. 

Also, bull barrels are stiff and won’t dent or warp compared to standard barrels that need extra maintenance to avoid damage. 

Improved Accuracy

To hit the same target each time using the same gun means that each bullet should exit the barrel consistently. And you can achieve this if your gun barrel doesn’t expand because of heat or wildly vibrates after taking a shot. 

The bull barrel assures accuracy because it significantly eliminates vibration and expansion of the barrel from excessive heat dissipation.  

But the bull barrel can only achieve this state of control and balance if it is well rifled and crafted. 

Offhand Shooting and Support

Shooting support also touches on barrel weight. If your barrel is heavy, the balance point tips towards the muzzle, making offhand shooters maintain accuracy as the rifle remains still. 

Because of its heaviness, a bull barrel is suitable for shooters that prefer the offhand position. The hand muscles are relaxed, and the rifle will not wobble, making it easy to balance bullet trajectory. 

The stiffer the bull barrel is, the less deviation the bullets will gain during a launch from any position. Whether you are shooting offhand or rifle in hand, you can be sure of immense accuracy. 

Barrel whip is unseen as it results from rifle harmonics. Regardless of how tiny the whips might be, they contribute to controlling the bullet trajectory. 

Offhand shooters rarely feel the extra weight from the bull barrel. However, they need to balance their rifle to find a consistent trajectory with each shot they take. 


Recoil takes its toll on the shooter, especially if you are firing magnum rifles and cartridges. A bull barrel significantly lowers the recoil you feel because it keeps the barrel down regardless of the force that pushes it up. 

A bull barrel encourages continuous shooting because the recoil is less, making the action swift. Experts that want faster shots with more control of bullet trajectory should opt for a bull barrel. 

Aesthetic Appeal

A bull barrel gets its name from the animal. It signifies strength and size, and this is what you should expect when you buy one. However, other perks are that it will make your gun look monstrous and appealing to the eye. 

On pistols/handguns, bull barrels carry a sense of novelty. 

Disadvantages of Using a Bull barrel


While bull barrels solve many problems, especially on rifles, it also offers a few stipulations. Because of the extra weight that bull barrels add to a gun, they can be difficult to wield and cumbersome if you are looking for mobility. 

A bull barrel can weigh triple the mass of a standard gun barrel. It’s common to see bull barrels come with rectangular holes. These are also called flutes, and they help to reduce weight. 

However, even flutes can’t reduce the extra weight that makes the bull barrel perform as it should. While gaining improved performance, the sacrifice becomes overall rifle weight. 


Dampening vibrations on a pistol using a bull barrel doesn’t affect as much change as in rifles. The reason is that handguns have shorter muzzles; hence the bullet doesn’t travel longer inside the barrel. 

Therefore, vibrations are less on pistols than on rifles. However, if you mount your handgun to a bench rest or the ground, vibrations make the bullet trajectory go wayward from the constant high amplitude. 


Guns are customizable to perform the way you like. Bull barrels help you to eliminate recoil, improve accuracy and serve better in offhand shootings. All these are significant factors on any gun, but the bull barrels become a nuisance if you care about rifle weight. 

However, the best thing about bull barrels is that you can use them on any firearm. Also, there are no standard specifications for a bull barrel. 

Bull barrels affect your shooting, and this article can help you determine if you would like one or not. 

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