Categories: Sports

Best AR-15 Semi-Automatic Rifles – ( Top AR-15 Reviews )

AR-15 Buying Guide 2017

Is this your first time buying a gun? Looking for the best bang for the buck that’ll suit your needs? Well, this guide will surely help you choose the best gun. That is, of course, if you’re looking for an AR-15. A quick history check will surely give you an overview of what you are about to buy.

What’s an AR-15?

The AR-15 has been around for quite some time. It has undergone development for quite a lot. Colt currently possess the rights to both AR-10 and AR-15, which was sold to them by Armalite back in 1959. The AR-15 and M4 may look quite similar but do know that the AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle – meaning that whenever you pull the trigger, you only fire once.

AR-15 RiflesCapacityTotal LengthBarrel Length
Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport (Editor’s Choice)6RD5.5"2.7" Check Price
Palmetto State Armory M4 ORC68.1"5.5" Check Price
DPMS Panther Oracle6 + 15.5"2.7" Check Price
Colt M4 Carbine Magpul MOE FDE6 + 16.42"2.75" Check Price
Ruger AR-5568RD11"3.7" Check Price
Rock River Arms LAR-15 CAR A48 + 111"3.7" Check Price
Palmetto State Armory M4 MIL SPEC6RD2.75" Check Price
Windham Weaponry WW-15 SRC6 + 15.16"2.75" Check Price
Adams Arms AR-15 Mid Length Gas Piston6 + 16.6"3.5" Check Price
Sig Sauer 516 Patrol7 + 16.6"3.5" Check Price

Why Choose an AR-15?

Well, frankly speaking, it’s the most popular hunting rifle out there.

The AR-15 has various impressive features. From its shooting abilities to its versatile modular design, you can surely create an AR-15 that suits your personality. Although, creating an AR-15 will require you to at least know what you are buying. This guide will help you with that.

Now, not everyone likes to build an AR-15 part by part. There are people out there who prefer premade ones offered by various brands like Colt, LWRC, Bravo Company, Daniel Defense, etc. These brands offer different types of AR-15s which, of course, differ in price.

They say that there are always two kinds of people in this world. Well, actually there’s always THAT third person.

If you don’t currently own an AR-15 but constantly read news about guns and buy magazines about guns (or, in other words, an enthusiast without a gun), you might be that third person. The person who wants a custom AR-15 but does not like to spend much time to build one from scratch. We suggest you get a full upper and then create your own lower.

Top 5 Best AR-15s Reviews

Now in this section, we will review from our list of the best manufacturers of AR-15’s.    

Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II Review – (Best AR-15 under $800)

Cartridge: 5.56 NATO

Length: 36”

Barrel: 4140 (1:9 Twist Rate)

Barrel Length: 16”

Finish: Black

Magazine: 30+1 Rounds

SRP: $699.00

Things to consider:

  • Chromed Firing Pin
  • Folding Magpul MBUS Rear Sight
  • Cheap entry price
  • Star Safety accreditation
  • Lightweight may not appease most user

If you are a first-time buyer, getting this product is probably best. Both receivers are made out of 7075-T6, which is great for its price point. For only $699.00 (or less), you are guaranteed to have an AR-15 with good accuracy, good quality, and is weight friendly. You can, however, choose to upgrade the parts as you wish as long as everything is compatible.

If unsure, check out the Basic Parts guide above.

Check for lowest price here

Bravo Company RECCE-16 KMR-A Carbine Review – (Best AR-15 under $1000)

Cartridge: 5.56 NATO

Length: 32.5” Collapsed, 35.5” Extended

Barrel: 4150 (1:7 Twist Rate)

Barrel Length: 16”

Finish: Black

Magazine: 30 Rounds

Things to consider:

  • Good accuracy
  • High Quality
  • Equipped with Bravo Company’s MOD 0 Hybrid Compensator
  • Best for self-defense
  • Lightweight and Comfortable
  • First-time buyers will have a hard time choosing the best accessories because of the overwhelming options the company offers

The RECCE-16 is a good mid-range AR-15 which offers a lot of headroom if you plan to upgrade in the future. It is lightweight and very comfortable to handle. Its accuracy is superb compared to the S&W M&P 15 Sport 2.

Check for lowest price here

Colt LE6920 Review

Cartridge: 5.56 NATO

Length: 32” Collapsed, 35.5” Extended

Barrel: 4150 CMV Steel (1:7 Twist Rate)

Barrel Length: 16.1”

Finish: Black

Magazine: 20 Rounds

Things to consider:

  • Standard A2 FSB
  • Anodized Aluminum receivers
  • Good Accuracy
  • High Quality
  • Same price as the RECCE-16

The LE6920 is a high-quality rifle. It has most of every basic necessity cover in order to get the best experience when using an AR-15. Although the pricing may be the same as the RECCE-16, it all comes down to the buyer’s preference. Both of the reviewed guns are great in their own way.

Check for lowest price here

Bravo Company HSP The Jack Carbine Review – (Best AR-15 Under $2000 )

Cartridge: 5.56 NATO

Length: 32.5” Collapsed, 35.5” Extended

Barrel: 4150 Certified Steel (1:7 Twist Rate)

Barrel Length: 14.5” + permanent comp, 16.1”+

Finish: Grey Cerakote

Magazine: 30 Rounds

Things to consider:

  • Quite expensive
  • Exceptional Build Quality
  • Permanently installed BCMGUNFIGHTER Comp Mod 1

The BC HSP The Jack Carbine is one of the most popular high-end AR-15 in the market. It may be quite expensive but you will never doubt its capabilities. It is equipped with a full BCMGUNFIGHTER gear. The model was a collaboration between Haley Strategic and Bravo Company, two reputable companies who produce top quality equipment.

Check for lowest price here

Daniel Defense DDM4V11 Pro Review

Cartridge: 5.56 NATO

Length: 34.75” Collapsed, 37.875” Extended

Barrel: 4150 Certified Steel (1:7 Twist Rate)

Barrel Length: 18”

Finish: Daniel Defense Tornado Cerakote

Magazine: 30 Rounds DD Magazine

Things to consider:

  • The most expensive from the group but worth every buck
  • Has 2 finishes you can select from
  • Lightweight
  • LP Gas Block equates to a smooth and accurate rate of fire
  • Best for competition use

Daniel Defense is a company known to produce top quality equipment when we talk about the high-end parts and accessories. The DDM4V11 Pro is one good example. It is, by far, the best AR-15 to get out there.

Check for lowest price here

Who Makes The Best AR-15 For The Money?

Choosing the right gun depends on your budget and preference. The DDM4V11 Pro sure looks great on paper, but what matters most is how you will use it. If you have the money, buy it. But if you would want to experience the overwhelming modularity of the AR-15, we suggest you buy the S&W M&P 15 Sport 2 and upgrade your way. Even if you buy a top-quality AR-15, the gun’s quality will still solely depend on how you use it, how often you clean it, and how you maintain it.

Editor’s AR-15 Choice: Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II

…why?

As a first time buyer, we recommend you to get the lowest high-quality AR-15. The same performance can be attained, regardless if you go for the cheapest or the most expensive AR-15. The more you learn about AR-15s, the more you’ll understand that this gun isn’t just a ‘What you see is what you get’ deal. It is meant to be upgraded and changed throughout. Take advantage of the modular design – and remember that the cheapest option will give you the most headroom when it comes to upgrading.

Where to Buy AR-15’s?

Local Gun Stores

Buying from your local gun store might not be the best if you’re after savings. The advantage here though, is that you can actually ‘feel’ what you’re looking at.

Online Stores

Buying online is very convenient and you can easily compare prices. You can always get the lowest priced gun. The only drawback is that sometimes, shipping can be a hell of a nuisance.

Getting your items and knowing that there’s a defect means that you will have to return it. Although, return policies and money-back guarantees are pretty much offered by most online stores. This could give a better assurance that you’ll not spend your money for anything.

Basic Gun Laws for AR-15’s

Since we cannot cover every gun law in every country, we’ll address the gun laws present in the United States’ ‘Federal Assault Weapon Ban’.

The AR-15 is LEGAL as long as the minimum barrel length of your gun is 16”. Going below the said length will result into trouble. If you have other attachments, those should be permanently attached to the barrel in order to meet the minimum barrel length. First-time buyers may want to get a 16” barrel to avoid such trouble. Remember: not having the required documents will result to your gun getting confiscated.

What Are The Parts On An AR-15

An AR-15 has two main parts: the Upper and Lower (if you’re going to build one from a scratch, you’ll end up with a lot more specific parts to consider and know). In this guide, we will be talking about the importance of each.

  1. Upper Parts (Upper Receiver Parts)
  1. Lower Parts (Lower Receiver Parts)
  2. Barrels
  3. Gas Systems (Piston vs. Direct Impingement)
  4. Bolt Carrier Group
  5. Muzzle Devices
  6. Accessories

Now since this guide is focused on readers who have no idea what to buy, we will not cover everything from pins to rolls to springs. Rather, we’ll cover the most important parts of an AR-15 and discuss ways on how to choose carefully.

Upper Parts (Upper Receiver Parts)

Regardless of which company made this part, it still serves the same basic purpose – you’ll only be choosing based on aesthetics. Performance wise, it does not affect the gun’s functionality drastically.

Things are a bit different if you’re left handed. You might want to change the charging handle to appease your dominant hand. Buying from known companies is always a better choice for they manufacture parts that always meet required specifications.

Lower Parts (Lower Receiver Parts)

Choosing the right Lower Parts means choosing the right materials. Lower parts are usually made from 6061-T6 to 7075-T6. These are all aluminum alloy bodies. Always choose the 7075-T6 material since it is better than 6061-T6. Surprisingly, their prices don’t differ that much.

Combining the Upper and Lower means that both should have the same finish. Coatings provide protection against abrasions and corrosion (although gun maintenance should be done often). There are coats like Duracote and Cerakote that offer different colorways other than your regular, good ol’, black finish.

Barrels

Now this is where everything gets a little bit tricky. You should NEVER cheap out on this part. The Barrel affects both longevity and accuracy.

The Barrel is bolted into the upper receiver. It has a barrel extension that should fit in the upper. The barrel is made to support specific cartridges depending on what you get. The regular for an AR-15 is a .223 Remington and a 5.56 NATO. A barrel that is purposed for a .223 Remington can only shoot a .223 Remington, while a barrel with a 5.56 NATO and .223 Wylde indicator can accept and shoot both.

Hosting different rounds will require you to have a different barrel, bolt carrier group, and magazine to safely shoot these rounds.

In choosing barrels, you have to consider the linings, materials, and finishes. It needs to be well-constructed because it is expected to hold a lot of stress and heat. A well-built barrel avoids failure and premature wear. Lining materials such as chrome and melonite are quite popular and are also our recommendation for first-time buyers. Barrel materials consist of both carbon and stainless steel. We recommend the 410 stainless steel.

Barrel lengths should also be considered and chosen wisely. As we discussed in the laws above, your barrel should not be below 16” of length. In getting your first AR-15, we recommend either 16” or 18”. It will solely depend on your practice. You can always customize your barrel if you feel like it.

Above all, it is always better to buy from a respectable manufacturer for they will, most of the time (not always), give you the best quality component.

Gas Systems (Pistons vs Direct Impingement)

A gas system explains how your gun works. An AR-15 works by sending the gas behind the bullet proceeding into the gas tube and either sends it back or moves a piston.

It renders the bolt to unlock, set back, release the used casing, and put in a new bullet inside the chamber. Almost every AR-15 uses DI.

There are lots of gas block profiles but the one we can recommend is the Front Sight Base-style gas block – a combination of both Front Sight and Gas block.

Bolt Carrier Group

The BCG contains the firing pin, bolt carrier, and of course, the bolt. The bolt is the one responsible in taking out used bullets and setting in new ones. The bolt carrier is the one holding the bolt inside and is responsible in docking the gas tube. It also resets the trigger. BCGs are part of the upper receiver.

Muzzle Devices

There are a lot of muzzles available in the market. Let’s discuss the three basic ones.

  • Flash Suppressors, by the name itself, eliminate the risk of you being blinded by the flash from your muzzle when shooting.
  • Muzzle Brakes reduce recoil by redirecting the gas out of your gun. We recommend you use one if you feel uncomfortable with your gun’s recoil.
  • Hybrids are a combination of different muzzle devices. The best example would be an A2 Style Flash Hider.

Most AR-15s are equipped with an A2 Style Flash Hider. You don’t have to worry on what to choose, to be honest. You can change the parts later on.

AR-15 Accessories

There are many options when it comes to accessories. You don’t have to bother much them, but choosing the best accessory often means choosing the best finish and build quality.

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