The velocity difference is small at those lengths. 1" makes a considerable difference between 10.5" and 11.5", but not as much of difference with 14.5" to 16". With 75gr TAP, for example, the distance where it's pretty much guaranteed to fragment at its max is maybe a 30 yard difference. Between 10.5" and 16", it's something like a 130 yard difference or a little more. With TSX, it's really not a concern since we're looking at only a couple yard difference at distances around 350 or 400 yards for max performance.
Now, this is all personal preference at this point as to which we all prefer. For me, a 14.5" set up exactly the same as a 16" will handle slightly better and will be as accurate and in some cases more accurate, all else being equal. There's also difference in the feel of the rifles due to the gas systems and how they relate to barrel length. All else being equal, a 14.5" will be slightly smoother operating.
The difference between the two is small. Small enough that most shooters won't really notice a difference unless side by side, and even then they might not. For a small percentage of shooters, they're at a point where they're looking for every tiny advantage they can get to dial them in even more. If someone who shoots once in a while picks up to different ARs, there will likely be no difference in their performance. if a truly tuned in shooter picks up two different ARs (like the 14.5" and 16"), there's a good chance they'll notice a difference and one of the two rifles will perform better for them.
It gets to a point where there are no more big differences and we start looking at a 5% difference instead of a 20% difference. For me personally, that 5% advantage is a 14.5" for a general use rifle. For others, it may be the 16". It's not a huge difference, but it's there and I perform slightly better due to that differences.
All that being said, you could hand me the finest golf clubs ever made or a couple 2x4's and there wouldn't any noticeable difference in my performance!
I don't understand why the forum keeps merging my paragraphs??
Edit - it looks like I got them separated..
Edit 2 - Someone once came up with the differences in terms of the force needed to raise the weapon from a low ready and how that applies to transitioning to multiple targets. It was very interesting and I should probably look for it.
Again, it's a small difference, but it's just one more little thing that eventually adds up.
OK... let me chew on that for a while.
But I like the idea of doing a 11.5"... I'm diggin the BCM lightweight 11.5 upper.
Anyway, the 11.5" is a nice length. They're reliable and add almost an additional 40% to the distance that TAP still fragments at its maximum. Since I have a 10.5", my next SBR is a 12.5". A couple guys I know from classes and m4carbine run 11.5" guns with the KAC URX II rails. That's probably my favorite 11.5" set up as it's light and feels great in hand.
I'd love an SBR, just can't justify the money spent on one right now. Maybe someday if I ever have the money to play with.
Well, it's been shot- not much to report other than everything functioned fine. I used all kinds of 223 and 5.56 I had laying around. Now to sight in and see what it can do...
Besides, I have never shot an AR so I didn't know what I wanted other than reliable, long LOP, and 1 MOA capable. I had the easy route. Find the guys that have the experience, suck their brains for the knowledge, make a shopping list, and hemorrhage my checking account (Anybody have some Quick Clot or Celox?)
I seem to have misplaced my ban button