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Guide to Identifying M60 Barrel Types

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  There is a lot of subtle differences between the various types of M60 barrels that were made over the last 66 years... Those small differences means the difference in having a M60e3 or M60e4 barrel for example.... I wanted to post some photos and information on here for those of you who are M60 nuts like me....

** There is also M60 COAX tanker barrels and e4 heavy long barrels, which I do not have either so it inst pictured.

Aaron - Mohnton, Pa



- Standard M60 and T161... The T161 Barrel will have a stamped bipod yoke. True T161s will also have different shaped flash hiders (less pointy). The Gas cylinder on the T161 is also machined slightly differently.


- M60e3 and M60e4.... The M60e4 Barrels will have a carry handle that s angled slightly upward. Some will have the "Fat" gas system as shown below, but, it is important to note that they did away with this system due to cracking and went back to the e3 gas system. Early e4 barrels will have duckbill flash hiders as well.


- M60C Barrel.... These barrels are very rare. A TRUE C barrel will have no stake marks where a front sight was. Which means it was issued from Saco as a aircraft barrel and never had a front sight installed.


- M60e6 and Danish Military Issue M60e6... True Danish M60e6 barrels do not have a front sight. They have a pic rail in its place. They also have a tri lug flash hider for mounting suppressors. These two things were requirements of the Danish Military.


- M60e4 Heavy Fluted and M60e6 Heavy Fluted... One easy way to tell if a barrel is M60e6 is the gas cylinder. They all have the locking ring for the gas plug machined into the barrel. When it comes to the e4 and e6, the profile of the barrel is also different. If you look at the two barrels below you can see a step in the e6 barrel (top).. whereas the e4 does not have a step and is a different shape.



- Modified Standard Barrels .... There is a lot of standard M60 barrels that have been modified..such as the ones below..An easy way to tell if it is a standard barrel is by the Gas System. These almost always have a standard gas system... As far back as the Vietnam War guys were cutting down standard barrels to reduce weight and size. The Navy Seals did this to almost all of their M60s in Vietnam.


Edited by Aaron in Mohnton Pa
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  • 3 months later...

  Some barrels I just got in that I didn’t have when I made this post …. The gentleman I got these from purchased all 3 directly from Saco Defense decades ago… exactly how you see them is how he got them….

   All three are heavy sustained fire barrels. Saco made these in small numbers from best I can find. The short commando barrel is dated 1988. 



photo next to a regular commando barrel for reference 




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The T161 Barrels will also have some slight cosmetic differences on the gas cylinder. In the area of the ribs where the lock washers grab onto.... The dates on the barrels should also match the time period of the bipod yoke... In other words, you have to make sure it is really an early barrel and not just a barrel that somebody put a stamped bipod yoke on (which happens alot)... For me as a collector of the M60 stuff, I feel that true old original early barrels are worth more because they are rarer and harder to come by.... For most guys who just want a barrel to shoot it likely doesn't make a difference being they just want spare barrels. 


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  • 9 months later...

Aaron, just to be clear….this is a current production E1 barrel group, with all the attributes of the original E1 barrel? No upgrade to gas system or other changes? (Original asymmetric gas piston/tappet, etc.) Would you please add a picture of the gas system?  Thank you, Ted

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@MGTedFL , yes it’s an original type standard barrel but recently manufactured…. The machining on the gas cylinder is noticeably different from all the Saco barrels … but the barrel is the same as original other than subtle differences like that. 




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