I spoke to ARES on the phone when I was told to call them about my upper, and if I remember correctly what I was told, there is 1.5" between the plug and muzzle on the 12.5" barrel. So that question is answered.
I also learned that the Shrike barrels tapers from the gas block to the muzzle, so if you are planning to mount a reflex type suppressor you might want to find out the thickness of the barrel at the muzzle.
So for now I will be using my Gemtech with bi-lock instead of my SPR M4 with this upper on the standard 16" barrel.
And now that I look at those barrel pictures more closely I can see there is a taper towards the barrel, and then a step up right before the hider. Hopefully at some point in the future ARES will offer a standard profile barrel from the gas block to the muzzle.