Reader’s Choice: Top AR-15s of 2015

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

The top 10 AR-15s of a given year is always a good article and one that is sure to generate a lot of interest. It also brings out the haters in droves! It’s no secret that there are far too many great AR-15s on the market to narrow the list to just 10. Better yet, if you made it a top 100 list, you would still not be able to cover what one reader or another feels is best.

This lead to an idea and April 1 (April Fool’s Day) I published a list of the top 10 AR-15s for 2015, but left the list blank. Instead, I asked the readers to give their list of the top 10. The task was daunting and no one seemed up to the challenge to come up with 10. Given how hardcore many of our readers are, well, that shows how difficult these types of lists can be. Although no one submitted a top 10 list, several people did list one or two favorites. We compiled your submissions to create the Readers Choice: Top 10 AR-15s of 2015.

Smith & Wesson M&P Sport

Black AR-15 rifle by Smith and Wesson, the M&P 15 Sport model with Magpul folding rear and A2 front sight post

The 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower on the M&P 15 Sport are build in-house by Smith & Wesson.

Smith & Wesson’s Military & Police Model 15 Sport features all of the best accessories and features you would want in an AR-15 without charging you for those you don’t. The main difference is the absence of a dust cover or a forward assist. By tailoring the Model 15 Sport to the needs of the average shooter, Smith & Wesson was able to hold down costs without cutting any corners on quality. The M&P 15 features a 1:9 barrel twist with an adjustable A2 style front post. Due to the flattop design of the upper receiver, the rifle is ready for service with the included Magpul MBUS rear sight or the optic of your choice.

 
Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16 inches, 1:9-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 35 inches extended, 32 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 6.54 pounds
Sights Adjustable A2 front sight post, Magpul MBUS folding rear sight
Stock Six-position telescopic stock
Magazine 30 rounds
Receivers 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower receivers
Extras Chromed gas key and bolt carrier
Price $622

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Stag Arms Model 2T

Stag Model 2T Ar-15 black right side profile

Battle proven on the home front as well as the front lines.

Stag Arms AR-15 Model 2T is built for pure performance. Due to the 2T’s durability and to MIL-SPEC construction, it has seen action with some of the most elite SWAT teams and soldiers fighting the war on terror. Crafted using only the best materials in the industry, the Model 2T features an upper made from A3 Forged 7075 T6 aluminum, Samson Star C Quad Rail, Mil-Spec Type III hard coat anodizing and an A2 front, flip up rear sight.

 
Stag Arms Model 2T
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inches, 1:9-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 35.75 inches extended, 32.25 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 7 pounds
Sights A2 front sight, Midwest Industries flip up rear sight
Stock Six-position telescopic stock
Magazine 30 rounds
Receivers Forged 7075-T6 aluminum with Mil-Spec Type III hard coat anodizing
Extras Flattop upper receiver, Samson Star C Quad Rail
Price $1,015

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Colt LE6920

Colt_LE6920MP AR-15 rifle with brown Magpul furniture

Thanks to Colt’s decision to design and build the LE6920MP-B’s barrel with a 1 in 7” twist, your ammo choices will be virtually unlimited.

Colt’s AR-15s have stood the test of combat and time. They are the standard by which other AR-15s are judged. Whether for civilian use, LE or military operations, a Colt AR-15 is a worthy companion when the stakes could mean life and death. Building on the standard LE6920, Colt sis the work for you and added some Magpul MOE furniture. Magpul Original Equipment (MOE) is a line of firearm accessories designed to provide a high quality economical alternative to standard weapon parts—and likely the first upgrade you would have chosen anyway!

 
Colt LE6920
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inches, chrome-lined, 1:7-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 35.5 inches extended, 32 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 6.57 pounds
Sights Standard M4 front sight base, Magpul MBUS rear sight
Stock Four-position telescopic stock
Magazine 30-round PMAG
Receivers Anodized aluminum upper and lower, forged flattop upper
Extras Two-piece Magpul MOE handguard
Price $1,099 to $1,144

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ArmaLite Defender

Black ArmaLite Defender AR-15 rifle

The ArmaLite Defender does not have a rear sight, it does come optics-ready with Picatinny rails and an A2 front sight tower.

The ArmaLite Defender  Defender series of AR-15 semi-auto rifles are chock full of features. Building from a rock solid platform—7075-T6 forged aluminum upper and lower receiver—the Defender 15 rivals the best names in the industry and performance on the range. The Defender 15 features a 16-inch chrome-lined barrel with a 1:7 twist rate and threaded for 1/2×28 compatible accessories. Other notable features include an A2 pistol grip, polymer handguard, and collapsible stock. Just like Henry Ford’s Model A, you can have it in any color you want—as long as it is black.

 
ArmaLite Defender 15 DEF15
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inches, chrome-lined, 1:7-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 35.25 inches extended, 32 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 6.35 pounds
Sights None, gas block with Picatinny rail
Stock Telescopic stock
Magazine 30-round PMAG
Receivers 7075-T6 aluminum, anodized
Extras Ejection port cover, forward assist and brass deflector
Price $649

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Mossberg MMR

Mossberg MMR Tactical AR-15 Rifle

Looking to a name you know you can trust ensures support in the future as well as a better resale value.

Many felt Mossberg was late to the game when it introduced the MMR line, but it is better to be late to the party than rushing something to market that is poorly planned or designed just to be a “me too.” In designing the MMR, Mossberg took its time, surveyed the market and selected some of the most desirable features shooters demand. This allowed Mossberg to incorporate custom features such as an A2 style stock, Stark SE-1 pistol grip, aluminum free-float handguard, optics ready flattop upper, and dual front swivel studs while holding the price to a manageable level.

 
Mossberg MMR Hunter
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 20 inches, 1:9-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 39 inches
Weight Unloaded 7 pounds
Sights Picatinny rail
Stock Fixed A2
Magazine 5 rounds
Receivers Flattop upper
Extras Stark SE-1 pistol grip, dual front swivel studs, camo finish
Price $830

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Bravo Company USA M4 Mod0 Carbine

Bravo Company Mod 0

The Mod 0 is a basic platform that includes double heat shield handguards, and does not include a rear sight. This model is ready for your choice of optic and/or rear sighting system.

Bravo Company Manufacturing builds rifles with a reputation for quality and reliability. Bravo Company’s innovation and attention to detail is immediately recognizable when you pick up any gun in its lineup. The Mod0 is a basic platform from Bravo Company and among the standard AR-15 features includes a double heat shield handguards. Bravo Company’s USA M4 Mod0 Carbine comes ready for your choice of optic and/or rear sighting system.

 
Bravo Company USA M4 Mod0 Carbine
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inches, 1:7-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 34.6 inches extended, 30.4 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 5.95 pounds
Sights Mil-Spec F-Marked forged front sight with taper pinned front sight base
Stock M4 six-position stock
Magazine 30 rounds
Receivers Machined from aluminum forgings 7075-T6
Extras BCMGUNFIGHTER Mod 4 charging handle, Magpul MOE enhanced trigger guard, MIL-Spec staked
Price $1,126

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Ruger SR556

Ruger SR-556 rifle right side black

The SR-556 delivers Ruger’s legendary rugged reliability while redefining the AR platform with piston driven performance. SR-556 rifles come feature-packed and pre-accessorized.

Ruger’s SR-556 standard upper receiver comes from the factory with a plethora of parts that are popular aftermarket add-ons to the traditional AR platform making it an ideal choice for your next custom build. ThSR-556 upper features an adjustable two-stage gas piston system that significantly reduces the amount of fouling introduced to the receiver. To ensure long life and reliability, the piston and gas tube are hard chromed. In fact, chrome seems to be a common thread with the SR-556 upper. The bolt carrier, gas regulator, and barrel—hammer forged in-house from Mil-Spec 41V45—are all chromed. The barrel is available threaded or with a permanent flash hider. The SR-556 also features folding detachable iron sights, and quad rail forearm.

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Primary Weapon Systems Mark 1 MOD 1

PWS MK1 Mod 0 rifle left side

PWS’s design is somewhat unique in that it uses a long stroke system, meaning that the long piston is directly attached to the bolt carrier and extends all the way to the gas block.

The Primary Weapon Systems Mark 1 Mod 1 semiautomatic rifle in .223 Wylde is the perfect choice when selecting a firearm for self-defense, competition and hunting. By designing the Mark 1 Mod 1 with a Wylde chamber, PWS offers its shooters the advantage of shooting Remington .223 ammunition or the higher-pressure military grade 5.56 NATO from the same platform. PWS has earned a near rabid following and is the one manufacturer no top 10 AR-15 should be without.

 
Primary Weapon Systems Mark 1 Mod 1
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16.1 inches, 1:8-inch twist
Caliber .223 Wylde (accepts both 5.56mm NATO and .223 Remington)
Overall Length 33 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.10 pounds
Sights Magpul MBUS Gen 2 front and rear
Stock Magpul MOE telescopic stock
Magazine 30-round PMAG
Receivers PWS forged Mil-Spec uUpper and lower
Extras PWS Isonite treated barrel, PWS bolt carrier group, PWS KeyMod rail, BCMGUNFIGHTER charging handle, Magpul MOE pistol grip and trigger guard
Price $1,899

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LWRC Six8 AR-15

LWRC Six8 rifle right side

LWRC’s Six8 rifles are short-stroke, gas-piston operated platforms chambered in the 6.8x43mm SPC II cartridge. As with the IC family, the Six8 family of offerings are fully ambidextrous and equally suited to right- or left-handed operators.

Ignorance is bliss unless you are talking to a fan of the 6.8 SPC cartridge. The 6.8mm SPC cartridge was originally developed for the U.S. Special Operations soldiers to address the deficiencies with the 5.56mm cartridge. The goal was to create a cartridge that would fit the standard pattern AR-15 but provide better ballistics across all effective ranges. The idea was solid, but certain innovations were lacking to bring the 6.8 to the mainstream. The primary criticism was finding reliable magazines. All of that was addressed long ago and corrected when LWRC teamed up with Magpul to create a new polymer magazine specific to this platform and the 6.8 SPC. Thanks to LWRC, Six8 rifles with a short stroke gas piston are ready to give you the advantage in the home, on the battlefield or during a competition.

 
LWRC Six8
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inches, 1:10-inch twist
Caliber 6.8 SPC
Overall Length 34 inches extended, 31.25 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 7.3 pounds
Sights LWRCI Skirmish Back-Up Iron Sights
Stock LWRCI compact stock
Magazine 30 round 6.8 proprietary Magpul magazine
Receivers Proprietary upper and lower
Extras LWRC quad rail and high-efficiency flash hider, Magpul MIAD pistol grip
Price $2,114 to $2,490

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Daniel Defense MK12

Daniel Defense MK12

Daniel Defense MK12

The Daniel Defense MK12 was born in the Army’s Marksmanship Unit which is a pedigree unmatched by the competition. As a result, the MK12 went from a standard AR-15 and evolved to a Special Purpose Rifle (SPR). Built for performance with an 18-inch barrel that has been salt bath nitride finished, the entire rifle was engineered to enhance accuracy without sacrificing reliability. As an example of design features that enhance accuracy while increasing usability, the DDMK12 uses a free-floating quad rail to allow the barrel to harmonically vibrate without disruption. The DDMK12 is all show and all go!

 
Daniel Defense MK12
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 18 inches, 1:7-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 37.875 inches extended, 34.75 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 7.41 pounds
Stock Six-position telescopic stock
Magazine 30 rounds
Receivers Forged 7075-T6 aluminum
Extras Daniel Defense flash suppressor, stock and grip, M16 chrome-lined bolt carrier group, Geissele SSA two-stage trigger
Price $1,899 (black) $2,023 (tornado)

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Daniel Defense V11

Picture shows an AR-15 made by Daniel Defense with KeyMod rail system.

Daniel Defense built the new DDM4v11 around its SLiM Rail KeyMod handguard system.

Daniel Defense’s DDM4V11 rifle is based on the Daniel Defense V9 series, but has the Keymod system as a part of the SLIM Rail 15.0 handguard. The long rail allows the operator’s support hand to be closer to the muzzle in order to drive the gun precisely and more rapidly between targets. The DDM4V11 has a mid-length gas system allowing quick, yet precise rapid fire and is an excellent choice for all tactical applications, home defense or competition.

 
Daniel Defense V11
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inches, 1:7-inch twist
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 35.875 inches extended, 32.25 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 6.28 pounds
Stock Daniel Defense buttstock and pistol grip
Magazine 30 rounds
Receivers CNC machined 7075-T6 aluminum, Type III hard-coat anodized
Extras Daniel Defense SLIM Rail 15.0 with Keymod support
Price $1,446 to $1,643

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What’s missing? Share you favorite AR-15 in the comment section.

SLRule

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

View all articles by Dave Dolbee

Product pricing and availability are as of time of publication and subject to change without notice at any time.

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Comments (92)

  • Scotty

    |

    Although the Ruger SSR was mentioned, the AR556 was skipped over. Yes, the SSR series offers some excellent options and performance, but the gas driven AR offers excellent performance as well as an unbeatable price tag. It features all the extras such as a dust cover and forward assist and also includes sights. It’s not an upper end weapon, but for the budget minded shooter, the AR556 lacks nothing and is every bit as modular as the other options on the list.

    Reply

    • Jeffrey

      |

      I agree with Scotty about Ruger’s exceptional entry-level priced, but high end capability AR556. No, it’s not a one-off custom piece of equipment, but at its price point, entry level shooters have a great option here. Designed and built in house entirely in the new North Carolina factory, Ruger brought a very capable gun to the table. 1:8 twist in the barrel leaves the ammo selection wide open, the fit of the upper with the lower in the models I’ve seen are superb, and the internals are top-notch! And that new delta ring is a hell of a lot better than any other on the market! Not to mention, the reduced weight of a gas system versus a piston system here makes up for the slight increase in fouling, though after almost 2000 rounds, mine hardly looks a day out of the box. Sure, a better trigger or maybe a different handguard might add more potential, but at under $700, I don’t know of a more capable AR.

      Reply

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