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 under 1000 , you need to have some idea exactly what you're looking for before you spend your hard earned money.
In this review, I will explore the best AR 15 under $1000. 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.
Why own an AR 15?
Why would one want to own an AR 15? Especially when its compared to other semi-automatic, box fed, intermediate caliber rifles on the market? That is a good question, but it doesn't have a simple answer. In fact, it has several answers.
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Ergonomics play a large role in how well you can shoot the gun. This includes long range shooting, multiple position shooting, as well as shooting under stress. The better the ergonomics the easier it is to handle the gun.
The AR 15's design reeks of awesome ergonomics. Eugene Stoner, the AR 15s designer, knew what he was doing when he assembled his first rifle. Every piece that needs to be activated by the shooter is close and at hand. From the gun's safety to the charging handle to the muzzle brake.
The manual of arms of an AR 15 is simple. Simple enough that the US Army and US Marine Corps takes thousands of 18-year old recruits who have never fired a gun and has them qualified by the end of boot camp.
If the rifle isn't ergonomic enough as is, it just so happens to be the most modular rifle platform in existence.
Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II
ArmaLite M15A4 Carbine
Springfield Armory AR-15 Saint .556
Colt M-4 Carbine
Bushmaster XM-15 A2
Palmetto Armory .224 Valkyrie
SIG SAUER - M400
SAVAGE ARMS - MSR15
This is the perfect time to mention the modularity of the AR 15 design. Due to its popularity among the military, police, and civilians the ar 15 parts in aftermarket is massive. You can take an AR 15 and transform it in any way you want.
There are massive amounts of stocks, handguards, optics, BCGS, barrel, magazines and more that allow you to customize your gun in almost any direction you want. Every component on an AR15 rifle can be swapped for something different.
The AR 15 rifle is the Barbie doll of the gun world. The number of accessories designed for it boggles the mind. This is a good thing because you can build a rifle that's truly yours.
AR 15s are produced by almost everyone. From corporate giants like S&W to small mom and pop custom shops. With this massive market presence, you can find AR 15s for as little as $400 dollars new in box to $4,000 dollar rifles made for Tier 1 operators.
You can spend as much, or as little as you want on an AR 15. The rifles themselves are affordable, and so is the aftermarket. AR Trigger, Ammo, magazines, iron sights, ar 15 scope and more are easy to find and come in at all price levels.
On ammo certain calibers will obviously be much more expensive than others, but the standard 223/5.56 ammo the AR 15 is traditionally chambered in incredibly affordable.
The AR 15 is an exceptionally accurate rifle, especially at the price point, they are available at. Even a cheap AR 15 Trigger can make accurate shots on a man-sized target out to 500 yards. The AR 15 is not only inherently mechanically accurate but due to the modularity, it's easy to shoot.
The AR 15 style rifle gets a bad rap for reliability due to the early performance of the M16 in Vietnam. This was not due to the guns design, but due to the use of wrong gun powder, a lack of cleaning kits, and the bore was not chrome lined as it should have been.
The AR 15 rifle is a very reliable weapon that functions without issue as long as you clean occasionally. It's a professional's weapon and it functions as such. From personal experience, I will tell you the guns run and run well.
I've put tens of thousands of rounds downrange as both a Marine and civilian and rarely have I run into any malfunctions. In fact, none come to mind beyond bad magazines.
What Kind of AR 15 Do You Want? A Rifle, Pistol, or SBR?
When you are looking for an AR 15 you have to consider what kind you want. Due to American gun laws, there are three different categories of the AR 15. Each type falls into a different legal definition.
The basic AR 15 is a rifle with a barrel of at least 16 inches with a stock. This is the most common AR 15 on the market and it's an effective tool. It's well suited for most ranges and is accurate out to 500 yards.
SBR, or Short barreled rifle, is a classification of rifle that results from having a barrel less than 16 inches. This classification is regulated heavily under federal law and requires an extensive application process, a 200-dollar tax, and months of waiting for an approval.
An SBR is great for home defense due to its short size, but the shorter barrel may affect ballistic performance.
Yes, the AR 15 can be made into a pistol. This is due to American gun laws. An AR 15 pistol can still fire rifle rounds but is considered a pistol because the barrel is shorter than 16 inches and it lacks a stock.
AR 15 pistols can be a bit unwieldy and are best suited as range toys. These little guns are fun, but they aren't for everyone.
For Beginners Blurb - Your first AR 15 should be a traditional rifle. They are the easiest to shoot, easiest to find, and often the most useful and versatile.
All About Barrels
You'd think in the world of guns barrels would be something simple. However, in the world of AR 15s, you have dozens of options for different barrels. These options have advantages, disadvantages, and most serve some unique purpose or another.
We are going to dive into barrels and point out as many differences as possible.
Length is a big deal when it comes to barrels. You can basically build an AR with a barrel length of anywhere from 24 inches to 4 inches. There are a few things to understand about barrel length and why it affects your gun.
In the United States, a rifle's barrel must be 16 inches or you must register the rifle as a short-barreled rifle, pay a tax stamp, and wait for 4 to 6 months for approval. You can, however, have a barrel less than 16 inches on an AR pistol.
What's really important to keep in mind is 14.5-inch barrels. These are common barrels on the market and with the right muzzle device, they will be over 16 inches. That sounds great, right?
Well, the problem is unless that muzzle device is permanently attached that is still a short-barreled rifle.
Barrel length will also affect ballistic performance. The right barrel length for getting every little bit of ballistic potential is going to be dependent on your caliber. Different rounds have different ballistic performance and will require different barrel lengths.
For example, the 5.56/223 is designed for a 20-inch barrel and reaches its peak velocity in a 20 inch barrel. Although, the round is still quite capable out of 16-inch barrels.
The 300 Blackout, on the other hand, reaches peak ballistic performance out of a 9-inch barrel. As you can see the differences between the two are massive and important to recognize.
Because there are so many calibers out there I can't list every potential caliber and the right barrel for ballistic performance. That will be on you to research and learn about. The info is out there, you just need to look for it.
The other length consideration goes to the purpose of the rifle. A rifle designed for hunting or long-range shooting can greatly benefit from a longer barrel. A rifle designed for home defense and duty use would work best with a shorter barrel for enhanced maneuverability.
Your barrel profile is essentially its degree of thickness. This is another consideration you'll need to make based on how you plan to use your rifle. Different thickness level delivers different performance levels.
There are 3 main barrel profiles used in the industry. Due to the number of people making AR 15s and barrel, there are also tons of different non-standardized profiles. These non-standardized profiles are usually designed due to material differences or for specialized rifle roles.
The 3 main types are as follows:
Light Profile - These thin, lightweight, and often short barrels are perfect for a build focused on light weight. They are occasionally known as pencil barrels and the lightweight nature makes them easy to hold in a firing position for extended amounts of time.
Light profile barrels do tend to heat up much faster than standard barrels. This causes them to be slightly less precise. Light profile barrels are most commonly .625 inches thick.
Government/M4 Profile - Government or M4 profile barrels are basically a medium thickness barrel. The barrel itself has a cutout near the rear to accommodate an M203. Everything forward of the front sight base is a medium thickness barrel
This is a solid compromise of both weight and barrel integrity. They will heat up slower than light barrel but provide still maintain a comfortable amount of weight. These barrels are typically .750 inches thick.
Heavy Profile - Heavy barrels are made for long range and high-volume shooting. Their thickness level makes them rigid and less susceptible to barrel flex. They also take longer to heat up, therefore your groups won't open up as fast.
The downside is in the name. These barrels are heavy. They are really made for rifles that will be rested on bipods or sandbags prior to taking a shot. They are most commonly .936 inches in diameter.
Twist rate is the measurement of rifling inside a barrel. This is the distance in inches it takes for a bullet to achieve one full rotation inside the barrel. Twist rate is most commonly denoted by something like 1:9.
This means the bullet rotates completely 1 time every 9 inches. Twist rates vary greatly between rifles and calibers. Some are faster than others. For example, a 1:7 twist rate is faster than a 1:9.
It's important to match ammo weight to twist rates. The faster the twist rate the better it stabilizes heavy rounds. Different calibers mean different weights and therefore different twist rates.
It's best to independently research your caliber, as well as the weight of the projectile you plan to fire most often. Firing a projectile through a barrel with a faster or slower twist rate won't damage the gun, but it may decrease your accuracy and effective range.
What's the Barrel Made From?
AR rifle barrels are made from a variety of different metals. These different metals can change the accuracy as well as the durability of a barrel. Here are the most common barrel materials.
Choosing a barrel will be based on how you are using your rifle. Your average carbine will be well served by a 4140 or 4150 barrel. They aren't fancy, but they'll last forever.
The 4150 CMV isn't necessarily needed unless you are shooting full auto, or an absolute ton of rounds in a short period of time.
Stainless steel and carbon fiber barrels are best suited for precision shooting, as well as long range shooting.
What's on The Inside (of barrels) Is What Matters
The inside of the AR15 barrel, known as the bore, will often have a lining material. These materials can do a few different things for you.
No Lining - Cheaper for sure, but zero corrosion protection.
Chrome Lined - These are the most common out there and it's the military standard. The chrome lining will protect the bore from corrosion and rust. Some say there is a decrease in accuracy, but it's so little that you'd have to measure it with a micrometer.
Ferritic Nitrocarburizing - Gives the bore both corrosion resistance and supposedly aids in accuracy. Can be quite expensive. Also known as Tennifer, Melonite, and Nitride.
For Beginner's Blurb - A 16 Inch 4140/4150/4150 CMV barrel, with a chrome lining, with a 1 in 9 twist. A 1:7 twist allows you to shoot most 5.56 loads accurately. 16 inches is industry standard and any of the listed steels will last forever.
Choose your Operating System - Gas Piston, Direct Impingement, and Blowback
It's easy to compare the AR 15 to a computer. You have tons of options when it comes to building or buying. Options that improve performance, looks, and everything in between.
You can also choose different operating systems. The three main AR 15 operating systems are the gas piston, direct impingement, and blowback.
Direct impingement, or DI, is the standard AR 15 operating system. With this system gas from the last round fired is pushed into the AR15 upper receiver and causes the BCG to be thrown backward. This ejects the round, hits the buffer, and then reloads the rifle's chamber.
DI was what the gun was designed to work with. It's reliable, affordable, well proven, and more importantly it's accurate.
Gas Piston guns place a piston where the gas tube would be. The last round fired propels the piston rearwards where it makes contact with the BCG and sends it backwards. This then ejects the round before meeting the buffer and reloading the rifle's chamber.
Gas piston guns are costly but run cleaner and cooler at the sake of accuracy.
Blowback is what's used for pistol caliber and rimfire guns. This is a simple system that simply uses the energy from a fired cartridge to send the bolt rearward. This simple system cannot be used with more powerful rounds without a locked breech.
For Beginner's Blurb - DI guns are much better suited for the first time AR owner.
We just talked about operating systems, and now we are going to talk gas systems. First and foremost, this has nothing to do with gas piston guns or blowback guns. This is all about direct impingement guns.
Gas systems are composed of a gas block and gas tube. The differences in gas systems is based on both barrel length and caliber. Certain calibers, like 300 Blackout, will use a set gas system regardless of the barrel length.
With most common calibers your gas systems will depend on your barrel length to a large degree. The most common AR 15 gas systems are:
Pistol Length - Designed for AR pistols and SBRs this gas system is for barrels less than 10 inches.
Carbine - Carbines can be run in larger pistols and SBRs, and rifles with barrels as long as 16 inches. This gas system is designed for barrels longer than 10 inches and up to 18 inches.
Mid Length - Mid-length gas systems as designed for rifle barrels between 14 to 20 inches.
Rifle Length - Rifle length gas systems are designed for barrels 16 inches and beyond. Traditionally these systems are designed for rifles with 20-inch barrels. However, rifles known as dissipators exist. These are 16-inch barreled uppers with a rifle length gas system.
Choosing a Gas System
Generally, you want to use the longest gas system possible. This results in a smoother shooting rifle with less overall recoil. For example, if my rifle has a 16-inch barrel I can use a carbine or mid length gas system.
I'd go with a mid length system in this situation.
For Beginner's Blurb - A Mid Length Gas system is perfect for a 16-inch barrel and will ensure your gun is getting plenty of gas, but also helps mitigate over gassing.
The Heart and Souls of the Rifle - The BCG
The BCG, or bolt carrier group, is the heart of your rifle. As an assembly it loads the chamber, fires the round, and then ejects. It repeats the process over and over again.
A solid BCG is a must have for your rifle. Like every other part we've talked about here there are multiple options for your AR 15.
Let's get this out of the way now, a full auto bolt carrier does not make your gun fully automatic. It's simply rated for full auto fire. These FA BCGs are tough, affordable, and the most common BCG on the market.
Semi auto, of SA, BCGs are slightly shorter and therefore lighter than the standard FA BCG. Semi-auto BCGs were somewhat popular in the 90s and were created to satisfy some anti-gun politicians. They are dependable, reliable, but nowhere near as common as FA BCGs.
Lightweight BCGs are designed to do two things. First, they trim weight from your entire build. A lot of AR owners are building super lightweight rifles and a lightweight carrier trims precious ounces off your lightweight build.
The second reason people like lightweight bolt carrier groups is the fact they can help reduce recoil. In an AR 15 the bolt carrier group is shot backwards, so the weight of the BCG affects how the weapon feels as it recoils.
A lighter BCG means less mass moving rearward, which results in lower recoil.
The downsides are that a lightweight BCG is the fact you need an adjustable gas block to really squeeze the most of a lightweight BCG. They also tend to be less durable due to the reduced mass, and a lot more expensive.
Aluminum BCGs for example are very light BCGs, but they have a considerably reduced service life. A strong alternative to aluminum for a lightweight BCG is titanium. Titanium BCGs are much stronger, but also remain lightweight.
The issue there is titanium BCGs can cost hundreds of dollars.
Like the insides of nitrided barrels, BCGs are coated for a variety of reasons. This includes durability and corrosion resistance. The most common coating are bolt carrier groups is phosphate, nickel boron, ion bonded, and titanium nitride.
Phosphate is the industry standard and the mil-spec option. Phosphate is extremely strong and very resistant to heat and corrosion. Phosphate is also going to be on the more affordable BCGs.
Nickel Boron is a material applied via auto catalytic reaction and results in a bright and shining gold or silver finish. Nickel boron is extremely corrosion resistant and extremely smooth. This reduces friction and helps the gun run longer between cleanings.
The downside is that nickel boron can chip and breakdown after a few years of heavy use.
Ion Bonded finishes combine the positive qualities of both phosphate and nickel boron to produce a friction reduced, extremely durable coating. Ion bonding will last nearly forever and is resistant to heat and corrosion.
Ion bonded BCGs are quite pricey, and not as slick as nickel boron, but they come in pretty close.
If you have the money to spend a titanium nitride coated BCG. This is truly the best of all worlds. It's just as slick as nickel boron and just as tough as phosphate. It's incredibly durable and will last forever.
It even results in a slick gold like appearance which admittedly looks great. The downside is of course cost. This coating makes a BCG quite pricey.
For Beginner's Blurb - A simple full auto phosphate coated BCG will serve you well. Go with a mil spec model and you'll be good to go.
Furniture refers to the stock, the handguard, and the pistol grip. The furniture market is likely the largest AR market, and some of the easiest ar 15 upgrades to make to your rifle. Let's break down each category and describe what's available for you.
Adjustable stocks are by far the most common AR 15 rifle stock. These things are everywhere and made by everyone. Adjustable stocks on an AR 15 means the stock has the ability to change its overall length.
It can extend or collapse on demand. An adjustable stock allows you to customize the length of pull for your size. This is also an important feature to have when wearing tactical gear like body armor. The collapsing nature allows you to compensate for the thickness of body armor.
Handguards have grown diverse in the last few years. Modern handguards are used for accessory attachment. A modern handguard allows the end user to mount foregrips, flashlights, vertical grips and more.
Standard Handguard - The old school standard handguard is often a basic polym0er design that's affordable and robust. They don't offer any customization options, but they are functional for the budget shooter.
Quad Rails - Quad rails are a metal rail system that acts as a handguard. These quad rails are picatinny rail systems that allow you to attach a wide variety of accessories. These rails can be slightly heavy but are extremely strong and durable.
Modular Handguard - Modular handguard systems come in two varieties, Keymod and M-Lok. These systems allow you to attach individual rail sections only where you need them. You can also attach some accessories directly to the rail system without the need for rails.
These are becoming the new industry standard in rail systems. They are much lighter than quad rails, and still extremely strong. Most Special Operations are moving towards modular handguards.
While you have a wide variety of different pistol grips to choose from there is very little difference between different grips. Some use different grip angles, others are wider, some are slimmer, etc. It's best to simply, find one that fits your hand best.
For Beginner's Blurb - Magpul makes a complete set of AR furniture that's not only high quality, but affordable. It's complete with a collapsing stock, a modular -Lok handguard and Magpul pistol grip. It's hard to beat in firearm competition.
Best AR 15 Under 1000 Dollars [From Best AR 15 Manufacturer]
1. Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II - Best AR 15 For Under $1000
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) as it was a modern sporting rifle. Smith & Wesson was about to get this complete 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.
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 rise 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 ar15 hunting 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
If you want a scope for your M&P 15-22 rifle. Check out our complete guide.
2. ArmaLite M15A4 Carbine - Best AR 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).
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.
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.
3. Springfield Armory AR-15 Saint .556
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.
The weapon retains an optic ready receiver and comes with a best 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.
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 ar trigger that is of a combat weight. However, you will not notice that because the system functions very smoothly.
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.
4. Colt M-4 Carbine - Best Semi Automatic Rifle Under 1000
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 AR 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.
This AR-15 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 ar 15 rifle is road ready out of the box.
The forend and "tower" sight gets it in trouble on my end of the deal.
5. Ruger AR-556
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 ar 15 platform.
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.
This rifle is built with an in-house synthetic M-4 style stock ar15 parts. 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.
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.
Want to know about best scopes for ruger AR-556? Check out our guide.
6. Bushmaster XM-15 A2
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.
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.
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.
7. Palmetto Armory .224 Valkyrie
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are looking for a best scope for .224 valkyrie rifle, then must check out our guide.
8. ArmaLite Eagle-15
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.
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.
Its overall length is 32.25" with a collapsed stock. Its weight 6.5 lbs and includes one 30 round mag.
9. 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 or red dot 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.
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.
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.
10. 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.
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 brake 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.
Furniture on this AR-15 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 AR-15 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.
The sight flip rear is a Black Hawk BUIS. The front sight is an adjustable post style and you can red dot sight or an ar15 scope on it. 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.