Top 10 AR-15 Rifles 2014

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

Anyone in the market for a new AR should start with a Top 10 list and then narrow it down by sorting the wheat from the chaff. Like any good Top 10 list there is plenty of room for debate. There are models that should have been included and those that should have been left on the cutting room floor. So here are my top picks in no particular order. Your mission, should you be willing to accept it, is to put my list in proper order while feeling free to build your own list. However, if you want to swap out a different rifle for one of these, be sure to provide your reasons why.

10. Ruger SR-556 Carbine

Ruger SR-556 AR-15 right profile

You will be hard pressed to find a better dual piston AR-15 than the Ruger SR-556.

The Ruger SR-556 Carbine is an excellent choice for duty, defense, recreational, and competitive shooting applications. This fantastic dual-piston AR-15 incorporates a 16.12-inch hammer-forged chrome-lined mil-spec 41V45 barrel, lightweight adaptable handguard with 2×3-inch rail sections, Hogue Monogrip, chrome-plated bolt and one-piece carrier and extractor. The Ruger SR-556 has a solid reputation for being an ultra reliable, dependable semiauto rifle that is accurate and a joy to shoot. You will be hard pressed to find a better dual piston AR-15 than the Ruger SR-556.

 
Ruger SR-556 Carbine Semi Automatic Rifle
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16.12-inch hammer-forged chrome-lined Mil-Spec 41V45 barrel
Caliber 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
Twist 1:9 right hand
Overall Length 31—34.25 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.17 lbs
Stock Black synthetic, collapsible
Upshot Matte black and Manganese Phosphate/hard coat anodized finish; two-stage piston system with adjustable regulator; lightweight adaptable handguard with 2×3-inch rail sections; Hogue Monogrip; chrome-plated bolt, one-piece carrier and extractor; rail covers and soft case included

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9. Rock River LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle

Rock river lar-15 r3 competition rifle left side

The FBI and DEA have both opted for RRA rifles. What do they know that you don’t?

Rock River Arms makes some of the best AR-15 rifles in the world. After exhaustive testing, both the FBI and DEA turned to Rock River Arms for their patrol rifle contracts. The LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle features an Operator A2 buttstock, flattop optic-ready upper and Hogue rubber pistol grip. It features a Top Rail Octagonal Free Float Handguard with an extended length of 15 inches and a low profile gas block. It has Rock River’s excellent two-stage trigger and an oversized winter trigger guard for gloved hands. The R3 Competition Rifle is chambered in .223 Wylde for exceptional accuracy and accepts .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO. This rifle is built for precision with an 18-inch cryogenically treated stainless steel fluted barrel featuring a 1:8 twist. It also has Rock Island’s directionally tuned and ported muzzle break with a 1/2-28 thread.

 
Rock River LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle AR1705X
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 18-inch stainless steel fluted barrel
Caliber .223 Wylde accepts .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO
Overall Length 38 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.6 lbs.
Twist 1:8
Stock RRA Operator A2 Buttstock
Upshot Mid-length gas system; forged RRA LAR-15 aluminum lower receiver; forged A4 aluminum upper receiver; cryogenically-treated barrel; low-profile gas block; RRA directionally tuned and ported muzzle break; 1/2-28 threaded muzzle; RRA two-stage trigger; RRA winter trigger guard; star safety; RRA top rail; octagonal tro-xl free-float handgaurd; XL 15-inch extended length handgaurd; Hogue rubber pistol grip; black furniture and finish

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8. LMT CQB MRP Defender Model 16 5.56

LMT CQB MRP Defender Model 16

Chock full of extras, the LMT CQB is battle ready.

The CQB MRP Defender Model 16 features a CQB MRP upper receiver with 16-inch chrome-lined 1:7 twist 5.56 barrel, standard semiauto bolt carrier group, tactical charging handle assembly, Defender lower with SOPMOD buttstock and standard trigger group. The CQB MRP comes standard with a sling, tactical adjustable rear sight, tactical front sight, one 30-round magazine, two heavy-duty push button swivels, torque wrench / driver and three rail panels.

 
LMT CQB MRP Defender Model 16
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16-inches, chrome lined
Caliber 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
Overall Length SOPMOD 33 – 36 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.8 lbs
Twist 1:7
Stock SOPMOD
Upshot Direct gas impingement; A2 birdcage compensator; 1/2 x 28 thread pitch; low profile gas black; cryogenically treated barrel to increase accuracy; barrel life and easier cleaning; 5 QD sling swivel attachment points; electronically tested and recorded trigger pull

 

 

7. Daniel Defense DDM4V9

Daniel Defense DDM4v9 ar-15 rifle left side

Daniel Defense’s DDM4 line has reached legendary status within the AR community. No collection could be complete without at least one…

Unable to find commercially available parts for his M16, Marty Daniel turned his lifelong enthusiasm for firearms into an internationally recognized company. From humble beginnings and a few small ideas, Daniel Defense has grown exponentially to become a mainstay in the firearms industry. The company’s flagship product, the DDM4 Carbine embodies the quintessential design for the modern sporting rifle. Built around a 16-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, the DDM4V9LW features a newly designed buttstock and pistol grip as well as Daniel Defense’s Tornado Cerakote finish.

 
Daniel Defense DDM4V9LW
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16 inches, cold hammer forged steel barrel
Caliber 5.56 NATO (accepts .223 Rem.)
Overall Length 35.87 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.34 lbs
Twist 1:7
Stock Daniel Defense buttstock, polymer with Soft Touch overmolding
Upshot CNC machined 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower receiver; M4 feed ramps; chrome-lined lightweight profile; MP-tested, mil-spec heavy phosphate coating; mid-length gas system; Daniel Defense flash suppressor; M16 mil-spec MP tested, chrome-lined bolt carrier; heavy buffer, 15-inch DDM4 rail; Daniel Defense pistol grip; polymer with soft touch overmolding; Tornado Cerakote finish

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6. Windham Weaponry CDI

Windham Weaponry CDI AR-15 rifle black left side profile

Twice the features and performance at half-the price of competing premium AR-15s. Who could argue with that logic?

Windham Weaponry is pleased to offer you the Windham Weaponry CDI AR-15 variant. This particular build includes all the features you would expect to see in any other AR-15 built by Windham; however, this particular build includes a gorgeous Diamondhead free-float forend with a Magpul angled fore grip and a Vortex flash suppressor. Also sitting atop the rifle is the Diamondhead dual-aperture rear sight and Diamondhead front flip-up sight.

 
Windham Weaponry CDI
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16 inches, M4 profile chrome-lined with Vortex flash suppressor
Caliber .5.56mm NATO Caliber Rifle (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 36.125 inches, 32.375 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 7.025 lbs
Twist 1:9
Stock Magpul MOE
Upshot Semiautomatic direct gas impingement system; forged 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum with trigger guard; hardcoat black anodized finish; M4A4-type flat top upper receiver; 4150 Chromoly Vanadium 11595E steel with M4 feed ramps; Diamondhead free-float forend; Magpul AFG; Magpul MOE black pistol grip; Diamondhead dual-aperture flip-up sight; Diamondhead front flip-up sight

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5. DPMS AR-15 TPR

DPMS TPR Ar-15 rifle right side black

Made by Americans for Americans… Do we really need to say more?

Few companies can claim and back up the statement, “Every component of every rifle is American made and designed” like DPMS. DPMS is a premier manufacturer and designer of excellent firearms built from the ground up for Americans by Americans. With a hands-on philosophy, its designs are crafted to stand up to rough use and abuse and still function and fire accurately. DPMS is definitely worthy of your hard-earned money.

The name ‘Tactical Precision Rifle’ says it all. A 20-inch stainless bead-blasted barrel, matched with DPMS’ M111 modular handguard, Magpul MOE grip and B5 Systems Sopmod stock allows for comfortable handling and full-size rifle velocity.

 

 
DPMS RFA3-TPR
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 20-imnch HBAR
Caliber .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
Overall Length 37.25 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.75 lbs
Twist 1:9 inch
Stock B5 System SopMod
Upshot Forged 7075 T6 A3 flat-top receiver; forged 7075-T6 receiver; DPMS 2-stage trigger; M111 modular free-float handguard; Magpul MOE pistol grip; bead-blasted finish; AAC Blackout flash hider

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4. 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.

Built for durability and to Mil-Spec requirements, the Stag Arms AR-15 Model 2 rifle is used by SWAT teams around the world as well as by soldiers in the war on terror. The Model 2 is made from top quality materials and has an upper made from A3 forged 7075 T6 aluminum. This Stag Arms rifle also comes with a lifetime warranty.

 
Model 2T10 STAG-15
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16 inches, chrome lined, 4140 government profile
Caliber .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
Overall Length 32.25 – 35.75 inches
Weight Unloaded 7 pounds
Twist 1:9
Stock 6-position collapsible
Upshot 10-round magazine, flat-top upper receiver; A2 front sight; Midwest Industries flip-up rear sight; Samson Star C quad rail

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3. Bushmaster Modular

Bushmaster Modular Carbine right profile

Bushmaster’s 16-inch barrel Modular Carbine combines many of the most popular items from the Bushmaster Modular Accessories System (B.M.A.S.) into a completely unique firearm.

Bushmaster’s 16-inch barrel Modular Carbines combines many of the most popular items from the Bushmaster Modular Accessories System (B.M.A.S.) into a unique firearm. Designed around an A3 type flattop upper, the modular carbine has a 16-inch chrome-lined, fluted barrel with milled gas block. A B.M.A.S. four rail free-floater forend, combined with the A3 type flattop upper receiver provides all the Picatinny rails necessary for sights, scopes or accessories. Molded rubber sure grips snap over the rail sections to add comfort and rail protection. The dual aperture B.M.A.S. rear flip-up sight is a detachable unit with a windage knob calibrated to 1/2 Minute of Adjustment. The B.M.A.S. front flip-up sight clamps around the milled gas block, and an ergonomically contoured pistol grip completes this special carbine.

 
Bushmaster Modular
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16 inches, fluted, heavy-profile chrome-lined barrel
Caliber .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO
Overall Length 34.5 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.3 lbs
Twist 1:9 with 6 grooves and lands
Stock Black M4 collapsible
Upshot A3 upper receiver with removable flip-up rear sight; 7075 T6 aircraft-grade aluminum upper and lower receiver;  Manganese phosphate-coated, Hard-anodized mil-spec finish; B.M.A.S. quad rail forend; accepts all M16 and AR-15 magazines, 30-round magazine

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2. S&W M&P 15 VTAC II

M&P15 VTAC II rifle right side profile ar-15

Hunting, competition, defense—the M&P15 VTAC II does it all and comes fully equipped.

The S&W M&P15 is an excellent choice for hunting, competition, and defense. If this is what you are looking for, look no father than the Smith and Wesson M&P 15 VTAC II semiautomatic rifle. Using the famous VLTOR aftermarket upgrades gives you a precise rifle with nothing left to buy. Throw on your favorite optic or red dot and head out the door. Get more out of your shooting sports with this outstanding rifle.

 
M&P15 VTAC II
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16 inches
Caliber 5.56mm NATO (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 36.75 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.28 lbs.
Twist 1:8 5R Rifling
Stock VLTOR IMod stock 6-position collapsible
Upshot Durable, corrosion resistant barrel finish; 7075 T6 aluminum, hard-coat black anodized; mid-length system; VTAC/Troy 13-inch Extreme TRX handguard, VTAC wide; padded 2-point tactical sling; VTAC LPSM low profile sling mount; VTAC light mount; Smith & Wesson enhanced flash hider; Geissele Super V trigger

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1. Colt LE6920 SOCOM II

Colt LE6920 Socom ar-15 rifle black left side profile view

If you want a rifle that is as close to what is currently being used by special operators around the world, then the Colt LE6920SOCOMII is the rifle for you.

If you want a rifle that is as close to what is currently being used by special operators around the world, then the Colt LE6920SOCOMII is the rifle for you. Built in Connecticut at the Colt factory, this gun starts out as a typical LE6920. Designed to meet and exceed Colt’s stringent testing and tolerances, it next gets a Daniel Defense RIS II rail interface system, designed specifically for U.S. Special Operations Command in order to meet the requirement of a free-floating barrel while providing the ability to attach an M203—probably not something you or I will ever need, but….

 
Colt LE6920 SOCOMII AR-15 Semi Auto Rifle LE6920SOCOMII
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel 16.1 inches, M4 profile, chrome lined
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 32 – 35.5 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.5 lbs
Twist 1:7
Stock Collapsible M4
Upshot Barrel threaded 1/2 x 28 TPI; birdcage A2 style flash hider; forged 7075 T6 aluminum receivers; M4 feed ramps; M4A1 roll mark reversible selector switch; Daniel Defense RIS II (Rail Interface System) free float quad rail; fixed A2 style front sight tower; match flip-up rear sight;H2 heavy buffer, black; made in the USA!

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So there is my Top 10. Share yours in the comment section. And don’t worry, I intentionally left a major contender for the top spot off the list, so you should have plenty to work with.

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!

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (188)

  • Subsix

    |

    Obviously, you have no experience with Noveske…

    Reply

  • Rem870

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    Superb selection of the AR-15 rifles! Daniel Defense DDM4V9 and DPMS AR-15 TPR are my favourite ones!

    Reply

  • JJ

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    Here’s the best field stripping video available on an ADCOR AR-15:

    Reply

    • bill

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      Where’s POF, PWS and LWRC?

      Reply

  • DMy

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    SIg doesn’t even make the cut huh???

    I am quite sure there are many Sig Sauer owners that would disagree (including myself).

    Reply

    • Secundius

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      @ DMy.

      Sig Sauer Firearm Company is not American Owned, That’s the Difference…

      Reply

    • Mark

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      I’m scratching my head regarding the absence of the Patriot Ordinance Factory AR. Personally, I’m confident it would make the top three in any thorough comparison challenge.

      Reply

    • Secundius

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      @ Mark.

      If I had too venture a guess, is because it was founded in 2002. And NOT MANY People have Heard of it YET…

      Reply

    • Mark

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      Personally, I didn’t realize Patriot Ordnance Factory was such a young company. To add to the info share of this thread though…they were originally in partnership with Hogan Arms. Much like the Glock story, their founder grew up in the metal business (aviation focused) and decided to try his hand in the firearms business. Well, he nailed it and simplified to things and enhanced other areas the industry hadn’t really focused on.

      Again, in my humble opinion, the POF AR line is excellent. I’ve had mine for roughly 5-years, poured a ton of ammo through it and with proper maintenance it has yet to fail me. I’m now saving my “egg money” for something in the .308 line.

      Happy shooting!

      Reply

    • Secundius

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      @ Mark.

      I’m NOT Faulting the Product Line, Sir. But UNTIL you Mentioned their Name, I’ve NEVER Heard of them BEFORE. Maybe the Company NEEDS to Advertise More. “Word-of-Mouth Advertising” only goes So Far and “To A Select Few Group of People”…

      Reply

  • Johny Doesn't Fact-Check

    |

    So, nobody decided to proof-read this and fact check it? Opinions are going to vary and any “top 10 ” style list will always have room for some debate, bu you’ve got a few minor, but embarrassing factual errors in some of the specs and descriptions. It doesn’t make you an idiot, but it does make you look like one. I am willing to bet that you can do better than this.

    Reply

  • PT

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    Sigsauer M400 & Sigsauer SR516 didn’t make the list.. your kidding me right…

    Reply

    • Michael

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      @ PT

      I’m going to make the Assumption that the Rifles Listed are all Domestically Produced by US Manufacturer. While Sig is domestically produced, there Owned by a German Company.

      Reply

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