Best AR 15 Rifles Under $1000

Best AR 15 Under 1000

Without question one of the largest produced firearms in modern history the AR-15 and its variants. This rifle is built by several hundred manufacturers.

When selecting the best AR-15, you need to have some idea exactly what you're looking for before you spend your hard earned money.

Name

​Barrel Length

​Twist Rate

Price

Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II

16 inches

1:9

ArmaLite M15A4 Carbine

16 inches

1:9

Springfield Armory AR-15 Saint .556

16 inches

1:8

Colt M-4 Carbine

14.5 inches

1:7

Ruger AR-556

16.1 inches

1:8

Bushmaster XM-15 A2

20 inches

1:9

Palmetto Armory .224 Valkyrie

20 inches

1:7

ArmaLite Eagle-15

16 inches

 1:8

SIG SAUER - M400

16 inches

 1:8

SAVAGE ARMS - MSR15

16 inches

 1:8

In this review, I will explore the best AR 15 that cost at or under $1.000. Based on this figure, we will take a hard look at what you're getting for your money when moving from one brand to another.

1. Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II

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From the day Smith & Wesson unveiled their M&P AR-15 Sport II model, I had my order in for one of the “T“ models (tactical series). Smith & Wesson was about to get this rifle to me long before it arrived in stores. 

As to the M&P 15 Sport model, it is much like my first generation M&P rifle. The trigger group is the same. The lower receiver is of the same casting except for the M&P-T markings above the mag well.

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The tree position stock is almost of the same configuration. What all this adds up to is that I do indeed have a feel for Smith & Wesson AR-15 weapons from the get-go here.

This rifle is a gas operated system with a blowback design. It goes through the primary gas tube and runs from the gas block (midpoint on the barrel) toward the muzzle and to the bolt system.

These are simple and straight forward. Little or no change is noted from the original Colt variant designed during the Vietnam era. They are not at all as complicated as controlled gas systems on most AR's.

The cartridge type used on this rifle is the 5,56 NATO/.223 Remington. No other variations are indicated as being chambered for the over the counter Smith & Wesson rifle. Magazine capacity is 30+1.

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However, the weapon can accept a variety of cartridge capacities being sold on the market today. I shoot a 5 round mag in my AR-15 platform rifles for hunting both predators and game. I know how to make use of that first round down the pipe because that is the important one.  

The stock on the Smith AR-15 is a 6 position CAR. A change to a Magpul or other current configuration is an easy fix if an upgrade is desired. I have been shooting my CAR stocked rifle for just about 10 years to date with no issues.

Elements even on a basic entry level AR can be changed out with ease. Every weapon can take on a whole different look by way of aftermarket furniture.

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Basic specs on this rifle include a 16-inch 1:9 twist barrel, sights as in the A2 “tower” front sight, and a folding Magpul MBUS  rear sight.

The flat top receiver (Weaver style) allows all types of optical systems as add on features, including risers for additional scope height, night sight options, and more.

Receiver material is aluminum alloy 7075 T6. The weapon's weight is 103.2 ounces with an overall length of 35 inches. The rifle is finished in a black anodized hard coating that holds up well under field stress.

Controls are standard AR-15 with the safety latch on the left side of the receiver as well as the bolt release. The mag release is on the right side. The weapon retains a dust cover on the right side.

On the right and toward the rear of the receiver is a cartridge assist plunger.

best ar15 under 1000

Overall mounting and shooting of the rifle bring an M-4 carbine feel to the weapon. The overall design is very close to a standard military style M-4. 

The rifle uses an A2 flash hider and is threaded for a suppressor adaptor. I run a Gem-Tech quick release suppressor after removing the standard birdcage flash suppressor for my own Smith & Wesson M&P. 

Accuracy is from one MOA to ¾ MOA with good ammunition. (Black Hills, Hornady, and Federal). The rifle will chamber a variety of loads include steel case Russian style.223 Rem fodder (Red Army Standard).

best ar-15 under $1000

The hand guard on this rifle is a plastic polymer type. It is not intended for high fire rates that heat the barrel extensively. This can be switched out quickly for an aftermarket of Smith & Wesson's heat shield system if the rifle is going to see high rates of fire down range.

The small reduction is the use of a tower style front sight and the plastic heat shield forend.

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Available at ​Brownells

The price of  Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II aries, so check the latest price at Brownells.

2. ArmaLite M15A4 Carbine 

BEST AR 15 UNDER 1000

The term “ AR” was not a given to the carbine developed during the Vietnam war. This term was coined even before Colt got the contracts to build the rifle by ArmaLite Arms. Therefore, “AR” means ArmaLite.

Featured here is the ArmaLite M15A4 carbine in 5.56 MATO/.223 Remington. This carbine length rifle is useful for all weapon functions including home defense, law enforcement,  target shooting, hunting, and other related areas of the shooting sports industry.

Be advised that ArmaLite builds a high-quality product. I shoot their rifles in 300 win Mag at ¾ mile targets when testing ammunition for reviews or shooting with groups.

The AR being reviewed here is a class act in hardware as it is built from quality assemblies and shoots with the proper limits of AR-15 group quality (one MOA or more at 100 yards). 

best ar-15 under 1000

The carbine makes us of a 30-round magazine. This can be changed out quickly for any number of aftermarket mags.  Total weapon weight unloaded is 6.7 pounds. The stock is a position adjustable standard AR platform type. 

The ArmaLite makes us of the flat top receiver with an upper Weaver rail. This allows a wide variety of selected sighting options to be used.

The front sight is a “tower” style common to the basic M-4 style rifle. The weapon retains all the standard AR controls left and right side.

This rifle is considered an entry-level weapon by some. However, be advised that with all the aftermarket stuff available to shooters, the AR-15 rifle can be tricked to the max with the aid of money. Don't like something about your rifle? A quick change is right around the corner

The upper on this AR-15 retains a forged flat top receiver with the lower also forged. This rifle retains a 16” heavy barrel at a 1:8 twist with a birdcage flash hider threaded to accept a suppressor adaptor.

Armalite AR 15

The chamber on this rifle makes use of elongated M-4 style feed ramps for a more reliable feed function. 

All the metal surfaces are phosphate coated to mil-spec standards. ArmaLite will install any rear sight you like. However, there will be a secondary charge for this service. Example the BUIS rear sight would run about $75.

The rifle weighs in at about seven and one-half pounds without a magazine. Furniture according to ArmaLite is an olive drab color.

In the control area, the charging handle is about the only thing that is considered ambidextrous on the weapon. The mag release is to the right and directly above the mag well on the lower receiver group. To the left is the safety latch and charging bolt release. Like other M-4's I would like to see a better quality forend heat shield unit installed. 

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​Not Available Right Now

3. Springfield Armory AR-15 Saint .556

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Springfield has been building high-quality firearms for many years, and in my mind, the offering of the M-14 is a classic example of the company's ability to offer up quality versus quantity. It is no wonder that the design of their Springfield Armory AR-15 Saint .556 meets some of those high expectations in quality control.

The Springfield AR retains what is labeled by the company as an Accu-Tite receiver. This means the parts are matched to each other within the receiver group under close supervision and allow no mismatched out of spec metal to come together in the process.

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The weapon retains an optic ready receiver and comes with a flip up rear sight and a fixed A-2 style front sight. The 16-inch barrel is chrome moly vanadium lined and retains a 1:8 twist that will allow the rifle to handle a broad range of bullet weights in the process.

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The operational carry group is M16 all the way and operated by a mid-length gas tube that functions with the gas block midway up the barrel. This rifle retains a tungsten bullet system (heavyweight design). This makes for smooth functioning action.

Better grade rifles have good triggers. In this case, the Springfield offering retains a micro-polished and nickel boron treated trigger that is of a combat weight. However, you will not notice that because the system functions very smoothly.

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Ballistics Research engineer Jerome Besler shooting M-4 with custom triggers and suppressors. The toys never end.

This rifle retains the quality furniture based on the Bravo Company PKMT KeyMod hand guard. This is both functional as a heat shield and also retains key points of add on accessories. Add on a buttstock that is rattle free unlike most others in the six position models, and you're nearing the completion of a well rounded AR-15 platform.

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​Available at ​Brownells

The price of  Springfield Armory AR-15 Saint .556  varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

4. Colt M-4 Carbine

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Based on the Colt M-4 carbine, but offered in a slightly lower priced version that keeps the cost under $1000, the Colt M-4/AR6720 Tactical Carbine features a nice package for the buyer who wants a high-quality AR but is not in need of a lot of junk tacked onto the weapon in the process.

This rifle is the combat/police model and is a clean basic combat style Colt AR-15 that patrol officers carry in their squads. This model is used by tactical units in the field of operation all across the country and foreign countries. 

The rifle retains a light weight with a 16.1-inch pipe and a 1:7 twist rate. A flat top receiver that accepts any number of sighting options from open to scopes. The optic ready rail is installed. 

Colt M4 Carbine

This rifle makes use of a Magpul MBUS Gen 2 and comes complete with one 30-round magazine. 

With sights, six position stock, and the 30-pack magazine, this rifle is road ready out of the box.

The forend and “tower” sight gets it in trouble on my end of the deal.

best ar 15 under 1000

​Available at ​​PSA

The price of  Colt M-4 Carbine  varies, so check the latest price at ​PSA

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5. Ruger AR-556

top 5 ar 15

Like the early Smith & Wesson AR-15's, I have followed the Ruger weapon model very closely from the early days of its development to the present. Ruger builds a rock solid rifle, and in some ways, tends to even overbuild their gunning platforms.

When it comes to options, the Ruger 556 can handle just about anything. However, be advised this gun company builds much of these weapons in-house including stocks and hardware.

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This rifle is built with an in-house synthetic M-4 style stock. It retains an adjustable butt much like Magpul and others.

The lower which is built of very high grade aerospace-grade 7076-T8 aluminum will hold up for many years to come. The upper is built using a very high-grade bolt carrier group that shows when this weapon is operational.

This rifle functions smoothly when charging rounds and controls that are standard for an AR-15 work smoothly. Barrel length on this rifle is 16.10 inches with a glass filled hand guard wrapped around the 1:8 twist rate barrel.

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Rifle weight is 6.5 lbs with an overall length of 32.25 inches when the stock is collapsed. This rifle retains a mil-spec buffer tube. Through writing and living with this AR 556 rifle for 15 or more years, I have come to know and respect Ruger products immensely.

Ruger's AR-15 group and heavy 308 Winchester family of M-10 long action weapons are a class act. These weapons are a hard act to follow. They are the best bang for your buck in many respects. 

Ruger

​Available at ​Brownells

The price of Ruger AR-556  Knife varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

6. Bushmaster XM-15 A2

ar 15 under 1000

The Bushmaster XM-15 A2 Patrolman's Carbine (Standard H bar rifle) is the gold standard when it comes to matching the military's M-4 /M-16 carbine.

From the H bar upper receiver to the M4 feed ramps and the M16 bolt carrier group, this old workhorse is known well among my circle of my old school, experienced gun writers.

This carbine is built using a 16 -inch chrome lined (M4 profile) barrel and flash hider. Like others, this can be removed and the suppressor adaptor added as a replacement muzzle device.

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The rifle makes use of a six position stock like many others and includes a 30-round magazine. Chambering is in 5.56 NATO.

The gas system includes a block installed toward the barrel's forward end and mounts a gas tube returning to the action carrier group. All controls are standard AR-15 as in left side bolt release and safety, right side magazine release, dust cover, brass deflector, and cartridge assist system. 

Bushmaster rifles were among some of the early types released for public sale. Some of these rifles had some issues at the time, but the AR-15 M-4 class weapon has over time been refined into a real workhorse. It is often used by law enforcement, military, or sportsmen.

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I gave the old girl a solid 10 for historical value and for being a leader in terms of advanced development regarding the AR-15 rifle.

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​Available at ​Brownells

The price of Bushmaster XM-15 A2 varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

7. Palmetto Armory .224 Valkyrie

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Authors selection for keeping cost down and quality up

Since the AR-15 has transitioned into a world-class assault rifle, some folks are getting a bit bored with the aging system. While the system is not about to change, the cartridge has.

I would like to introduce you to the .224 Valkyrie. It has been developed and made receiver ready for the AR-15 operation rifle.

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Palmetto Armory .224 Valkyrie. The advanced future of the AR-15 is coming fast.

While the .223 Remington AR-15 retains a working range of about 600 yards give or take a few, the .224 Valkyrie jumps that performance scale another 800 yards and change. Yes, the ¾-mile AR-15 has arrived.

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Range is no limit for the new 21 century variant of the AR-15 in very fast bullets.

I want to familiarize you with the Palmetto State Armory .224 Valkyrie chambered upper, married to your choice in a best AR 15 lower receiver assembly.

In my case, I have used both the Mossberg Tactical lower and the Stag Arms lower coupled with a Bear Arms upper in the same cartridge configuration. These are my choices in the new age AR-15 platform that leaves all the other AR-15 standards in the dust. 

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The Palmetto upper is built around a 21-inch stainless steel barrel using a 1:8 twist. This upper houses a bolt carrier group that is very well fitted to the receiver and functions like a Swiss watch.

My rifle carries the Suppressor adapter and a Mack Brothers 6.5 mm suppressor that works very nicely with the.224 caliber round.

The Mossberg lower carries all the standard controls and makes use of a single stage trigger set at about three pounds. Accuracy regarding this rifle is ¾ MOA on a bad day. It is one rough hole on a dead air good day on an outdoor range. 

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Optics on the modern rifle include the Nikon Prostaff long range open turret elevation knob with a capped windage knob to the right side. Parallax is adjusted by way of the third control on the left side of the turret mount. The Weaver rail mounts a 20 MOA rail as well for added elevation clicks down range

The second rifle is made up of a heavy, stainless steel best AR 15 barrel chambered in .224 Valkyrie. This upper as married to the Stag Arms lower and makes for a well dressed Valkyrie. However, the system has not been test fired.

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So, what is the cost to make up these two-part rifles in this very hot cartridge? Both rifles came in at under $550. I was not using my Federal License but buying on the open market at manufacturer clearance prices posted in same. 

best ar 15 under $1000

​Available at PSA

The price of Palmetto Armory .224 Valkyrie varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

8. ArmaLite Eagle-15

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The ArmaLite Eagle 15-15EAO1 is a current AR listing by the company being offered that is a mirror of the previously reviewed M-4 style carbine.

This rife retains chambering in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington and has a 16-inch HB chrome Moly straight taper barrel. A twist rate of 1:8 RH makes it a good option for heavyweight bullets.

The stock features an M-4 six-position design, mounted on a forged 7075-T6 aluminum lower. The trigger is single staged. The metal finish is hard anodized aluminum. The rifle weight is 6.5 pounds.

best ar-15 under 1000

The rifle has installed flash suppressor and handguard as a 6” standard. The upper receiver is a forged flat top MIL-STD 1913 rail (Weaver) and built of 7075 T6 aluminum.

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The AR-15 is a workhorse in the field.

Its overall length is 32.25" with a collapsed stock. Its weight 6.5 lbs and includes one 30 round mag.

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​Available at ​​Sportsman's Guide

The price of  ArmaLite Eagle-15 varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

9. Sig Sauer M400

sig sauer m400

Based on previous encounters with Sig products, the Sig Sauer M400 Rife (AR-15 Variant) is in a class that says quality all the way. Built with a direct gas impingement system, the gun is dependable and lightweight. It is a real example of a classic M-4 style carbine.

The carrier group retains the classic rotating lockup bolt and all the usual controls found on other examples of the AR-15 platform. This rifle, however, is very clean with well-finished parts and therefore a positive feel regarding function.

This rifle makes use of the extended charging handle that is very helpful when a scope sight hangs over the rear of the receiver. You have room to get your fingers onto the charging handle even when wearing gloves.

The Sig makes use of a built-in tensioning device that installs between the upper and lowers of the rifle. According to the manufacturer, this reduces any element of play between the parts and contributes to accuracy.

sig sauer m400 tread

This rifle retains quick detach points that are not included in many AR designs. The upper and lower are built from 7075-T6 aluminum with a hard case coated metal surface. The firing selector is set up for both right- and left-hand use.

The flared magazine well is designed to accept a magazine on the run with no hangup due to sharp edges or other design factors.

This rifle makes use of a 16” chrome-lined phosphate barrel. The twist rate on this barrel is 1 in 7 for flexible use of varied ammunition. It trends toward almost mil-spec operational levels.

This rifle is sold with a flip rear sight and tower front sight. Both sights are calibrated for correct elevation adjustment when using .223 Rem/5.56 NATO rounds.

sig sauer m400 rifle

The upper receiver on this rifle includes the M-4 style feed ramp, and for the most part, the rifle takes on the look of the classic Colt M-4 in many ways. This class of rifle is what it is. It is not some massive varied design from the original. In effect, I like this rifle a whole lot.

Sig-516-Flat-Dark-Earth-696x229

​Available at ​Brownells

The price of  Sig Sauer M400 varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

10. Savage MSR15

Savage MSR15

Savage has been a leader in offering shooters quality, accurate rifles at a fair market price. The Savage MSR-15 Patrol rifle is no exception to the rule.

Most of the rifles I have reviewed in the price range of under $1000 have been M-4 style rifles but built with various types of add on elements and furniture changes along the way. Savage now offers this rifle with a unique design appeal.

Savage MSR15 rifle

The rifle makes use of a 16-inch 1-8 right-hand twist barrel. This type barrel is somewhat standard on many AR platforms today. It retains 5 groves for its rifling. It features a threaded muzzle that makes it suppressor ready.

The muzzle of this barrel is fully crowned and the birdcage is a standard flash hide variety. The gas block is a custom A-frame design. After test firing about 30 of the variants in Savage AR's, I have never found a leaker in the bunch. The Savage gas system works and works very well from -30 F to 105 F.

Savage MSR15 .224

Furniture on this rifle provided by “BlackHawk,” a parent company of Savage Arms. This forend style has a functional, clean design. I like it a great deal. The M-LOK system has been incorporated into the forend design to allow for add on aftermarket equipment.

The lower receiver on this rifle is made from 7075-T6 aluminum and is a “Blackhawk” design Knoxx Axion AR configuration. The buttstock is a Black Hawk adjustable carbine model that retains a six-position stock with a standard buffer design.

Savage MSR15 AR15

The sight flip rear is a Black Hawk BUIS. The front sight is an adjustable post style. The flat top receiver is weaver installed for all styles of risers, bases, and block. Ring combinations for sighting system may be selected by the owner.

The sight flip rear is a Black Hawk BUIS. The front sight is an adjustable post style. The flat top receiver is weaver installed for all styles of risers, bases, and block. Ring combinations for sighting system may be selected by the owner.

​Available at ​Brownells

The price of  Savage MSR15 varies, so check the latest price at ​Brownells

L.P.Brezny has been writing and reviewing products as well as how to projects for the past 50 years. He has authored four books on shooting with three on long range, and one covering shotgunning.(Amazon) With 26 years in a metro police department as a street officer and the rank of SGT / training L.P. has covered all the bases regarding weapons and street survival.

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