Skip to main content

US Air Force GAU-5A Rifle with Detachable Barrel

Why does the USAF GAU-5A rifle feature a quick detachable barrel system? It's all about available space in fighter aircraft.

US Air Force GAU-5A Rifle with Detachable Barrel
Did you know the US Air Force’s GAU-5A Survival Rifle features a quick detachable barrel system? Tim Harmsen explains why it’s a needed feature.

Since posting my recent video on the new Air Force GAU-5A rifle, I've had a number of questions by viewers asking me, "Why use a detachable barrel when you can unpin the upper from the lower and stow it that way?" If you are unfamiliar with newest US Air Force Survival Rifle you can read about it here in my friend’s, David Fortier, article.

People have been asking about the utility and practicality of a QD barrel assembly for AR15 since their adventgun Given detachable barreled rifles and pistols have been around for years, I have assumed this question would have slowly dissipated over time, but it hasn't. QD barrels on AR15s significantly reduce the overall length of the stored rifle/pistol when compared to rifles stored with the uppers unpinned from their lowers. Let's take a look at the GAU-5A a bit closer and take some measurements.

gau-5a
The assembled pistol above is about 28.5 inches in overall length. That's pretty short by conventional rifle standards (again, this is a pistol with a brace vs. a stock).

The Air Force, however, needed to fit a carbine into a very small pouch as part of the currently issued ACES II survival kit that stores under the ejection seat of fighter aircraft. In its configuration above, this clearly isn't going to work.

gau-5a
Here's a picture of the new GAU-5A in the ACESII pouch it's required to fit into if it's going to fit under the ejection seat.

Yup, 28.5 inches isn't going to cut it. That's why the Air Force had to get creative. But wait, what about the idea of simply unpinning the upper from the lower and storing it that way? Let's take a look at the overall length of the same gun with the uppers and lowers separated.


gau-5a
Simply removing the entire upper receiver from the lower does not shorten our pistol enough to meet the stringent length requirements of the US Air Force dictated by the available space.
gau-5a
By being able to remove the barrel-handguard assembly, the GAU-5A suddenly becomes drastically shorter allowing it to meet the overall length requirements. If needed, it can be quickly reassembled, without tools, in seconds.

Hopefully, this illustrates why the Air Force wanted a Quick Detach barrel on the new GAU-5A rifle and answers any questions you may have regarding the purpose and/or utility of QD barrel systems.


About the Author

Tim Harmsen is the founder of the popular Military Arms Channel on Youtube and you can follow his writing here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Patrick Sweeney tests and reviews a trio of Gemtech suppressors.

Firearms News Reviews the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact Pistol

Firearms News Reviews the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact Pistol

Firearms News editor Vince DeNiro runs the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm compact pistol through a self-defense drill.

Pioneer Arms PPS-43C Pistol

Pioneer Arms PPS-43C Pistol

The PPS-43 served Poland and the Russians during WWII. It is now available as a pistol for the US market.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Developed to replace the venerable AK-74, the Blow-Back Shifted Pulse AN-94 Nikonov is a fascinating hyper-burst design which faded away after the death of its designer.Russian 5.45x39mm AN-94 Nikonov Review Rifles

Russian 5.45x39mm AN-94 Nikonov Review

David M. Fortier - August 14, 2020

Developed to replace the venerable AK-74, the Blow-Back Shifted Pulse AN-94 Nikonov is a...

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the targets of an unwarranted prosecution by an overzealous Soros-backed St. Louis prosecutor, are slated to speak at next week's Republican National Convention.McCloskey's In the Limelight: Speaking at Next Week's RNC 2nd Amendment

McCloskey's In the Limelight: Speaking at Next Week's RNC

Mark Chesnut - August 21, 2020

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the targets of an unwarranted prosecution by an overzealous...

Virginia Republican Rep. Glenn Davis introduced two pro-2A measures in a special session that are designed to partially roll back some restrictive laws.Fighting Back in Virginia 2nd Amendment

Fighting Back in Virginia

Mark Chesnut - August 24, 2020

Virginia Republican Rep. Glenn Davis introduced two pro-2A measures in a special session that...

Anarchy Outdoors has introduced a series of upgrades for the T/C Compass and Venture rifles.Anarchy Outdoors Introduces Upgrades For T/C Compass and Venture Rifles Rifles

Anarchy Outdoors Introduces Upgrades For T/C Compass and Venture Rifles

Firearms News Staff - August 22, 2020

Anarchy Outdoors has introduced a series of upgrades for the T/C Compass and Venture rifles.

See More Trending Articles

More Rifles

Wilson Combat's .300 HAM'R could be the .30 caliber cartridge you've been waiting for. David Fortier put the cartridge to the test in the Tactical Hunter rifle.Wilson Combat .300 HAM'R Tactical Hunter Rifle Review Rifles

Wilson Combat .300 HAM'R Tactical Hunter Rifle Review

David M. Fortier - October 15, 2020

Wilson Combat's .300 HAM'R could be the .30 caliber cartridge you've been waiting for. David...

Rikk Rambo took the NEMO (New Evolution Military Ordnance) Arms Omen Match 3.0 rifle on a nine-month Alaskan adventure.Firearms News Presents: NEMO Arms Omen 3.0 Match Rifle (VIDEO) Rifles

Firearms News Presents: NEMO Arms Omen 3.0 Match Rifle (VIDEO)

Firearms News Staff - October 21, 2020

Rikk Rambo took the NEMO (New Evolution Military Ordnance) Arms Omen Match 3.0 rifle on a...

Anarchy Outdoors has introduced a series of upgrades for the T/C Compass and Venture rifles.Anarchy Outdoors Introduces Upgrades For T/C Compass and Venture Rifles Rifles

Anarchy Outdoors Introduces Upgrades For T/C Compass and Venture Rifles

Firearms News Staff - August 22, 2020

Anarchy Outdoors has introduced a series of upgrades for the T/C Compass and Venture rifles.

The ATI Milsport 450 Bushmaster rifle is an economical and powerful Information Age hunting firearm.ATI Milsport .450 Bushmaster Rifle Review Rifles

ATI Milsport .450 Bushmaster Rifle Review

Will Dabbs, MD - October 19, 2020

The ATI Milsport 450 Bushmaster rifle is an economical and powerful Information Age hunting...

See More Rifles

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Firearms News App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now