3 Top “Stow-and-Go” AR-15s

Disassembled DRD AR-15 rifle

A takedown AR makes good sense for your Go Bag, since you don’t necessarily want to reveal what you are carrying in a knapsack or bag. Three takedown ARs I have intimate knowledge of include the Windham Weaponry Model RMCS-4, DRD CDR-15, and Ruger SR-556 Takedown.

Disassembled DRD AR-15 rifle
The DRD breaks down into 4 components.

The bottom line is this, the Windham Weaponry Model RMCS-4 has the smallest footprint when disassembled, the DRD CDR-15 offers ease of use, and the Ruger SR-556 Takedown is pure rugged simplicity. Expect good accuracy from all of these AR-15s and no zero shift to note.

When I first started to dig into takedown ARs, I had an obvious question. Isn’t an AR already considered a takedown rifle? Can’t you just disassemble the lower receiver from the upper receiver and tote the two pieces in a duffle bag? The answer is yes and no.

Sure the AR design is modular, and the receivers can be toted unassembled. However, a takedown AR significantly decreases the footprint of the rifle. That means components can be carried around in knapsacks and duffle bags that don’t look like a gun case.

Disassembled Ruger takedown AR-15
The Ruger retains the upper receiver when torn down to 4 components.

Some takedown methods are faster and simpler than others. If assembly time was a factor, the DRD at 10 seconds, and the Ruger at slightly more, are fast. The Windham was longer, but rest assured, you can tear these rifles down and build them back in less time than it takes to load a 30-round AR-15 magazine by hand.

Another advantage to takedown ARs is the ability to swap calibers. At worst a different BCG, compatible magazine well, and barrel is all it takes. The Windham rifles shines in this aspect since it can shoot four different calibers—5.56 NATO, .300 BLK, 7.62x39mm, and 9mm.

Here’s a look at how these rifles come together. To assemble the DRD, lock the bolt carrier group (BCG) rearward, and then remove the end cap from the barrel assembly. Next, insert the barrel and gas tube into their respective holes in the lower/upper receiver component. Finger-tight suffices for the amount of rounds you will most likely be carrying in case with the rifle.

Windham takedown AR-15 disassembled
The Windham breaks down into 4 compact components.

The barrel nut has the same cut-outs as buffer tubes so you can also use a castle wrench if you were going to run a high round count through the rifle. Next, pull the retaining pin and unlock the cam lock on the rail. Slide the handguard over the barrel. Align the notches, push the retaining pin back, and lock down the cam. Insert a magazine and you are ready to fire.

The Ruger breaks down into three key components: lower receiver assembly, upper receiver/handguard assembly, and barrel/piston system assembly. To takedown the Ruger the first step is to pull out the pivot and takedown pins and remove the BCG. Next, move the slider bar on the underside of the handguard toward the rear of the rifle. Then, twist or rotate the barrel assembly clockwise with the muzzle facing away from you, and pull the barrel free from the handguard. The rear of the barrel has lugs that mate with grooves in the upper receiver. This is very repeatable and secure. The upper and lower are then disassembled like a standard AR-15. What I liked about the Ruger was the fact that you do not have to align a gas tube. The Ruger barrel/piston system assembly is sturdy.

To takedown the Windham, a bail on the underside of the handguard is flipped allowing the retaining block to slide toward the muzzle revealing two barrel retaining arms. The barrel retaining arms are easily rotated 90 degrees outward to disengage from the barrel. The barrel/gas tube assembly is then pulled from the handguard. Like with the DRD, the gas tube of the Windham needed to be aligned. However, unlike the DRD, the Windham’s handguard is attached to the upper receiver so you need to look through the handguard to ensure the gas tube clings with its hole.

These are three stow and go ARs that offer ease of use and compact portability.

Takedown Component Dimensions DRD Tactical DR-15 Ruger SR-556 Takedown Windham Weaponry Model RMCS-4
Rail or Upper/Rail Length 13 in. 18.5 in. 15 in.
Lower Length 16 in. 15.75 in. 15 in.
Barrel Length 19 in. (w/ end cap) 17.87 in. 18.75 in.

Note: Typical AR-15s with 16-in. barrels have an upper receiver that is 24.5 in.—depending on muzzle device—and a lower receiver that is 15.75 in.—depending on the type of stock.

Do you have a stow-and-go AR-15? Which model and for what purpose would you own a takedown AR-15? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (19)

  1. Thats a good question and the why I started out… Before getting my Ruger Sr556 300BO barrel, I had to carried a complete 300BO 8.5″ pistol upper, which accomplished what we both thought would work but several issues surfaced. First was weight and the size, it was twice heavy as the Ruger 300BO barrel and because of size couldn’t be stored at all in the carry bag barrel pouch let alone with the 556 barrel. It ended up in the fold between the lower and barrel compartments. Assembly time was about the same, give or take a couple of seconds, unless I was shooting both 556 and 300, then switching out the Ruger barrels is 2-seconds. For me, as a SR556 Fanboy, I really appreciate the engineering that went into designing the Ruger and most of all, I have yet to find a 300BO upper that shoots as smoothly or accurately…

  2. Makes good sense?

    Actually, it makes no sense. Why spend hundreds more for something like this, when a simple AR pistol with a brace does the same job?

  3. I would rather have the 10.3″ barreled pistol with a Law Tactical folding buttstock adapter that I built for half to less tha 3/4 of what these costs. Fits in a backpack that I routinely carry in public.

  4. For that, you can get a sub 2k or a micro roni. Granted the 2k is a carbine but it just flips open and its less than 17″ folded.

    For 9mm you cant go wrong either way except that in many states you cant legally conceal a carbine.

    The breakdown ar’s will never be in my safe unless one is given to me free.

  5. I own the Ruger SR 556 with the 300 Blackout barrel and absolutely love it! The one big drawback is the cost: Without the 300BO barrel, Ruger wants over $2K, online resellers around $1500 to +/-$1300. Takedown or re-assembly is really 10 seconds or less… You can flip out the 556 barrel for the 300BO in less than 3-seconds. I like the 300BO 200 grain subsonic best for suppressed and mostly keep it that way, leaving the 556 at home unless I’m out plinking. It is a piston gun, which when supressed keeps nearly all the gasses at the end of the barrel and away from blowing back in your face like impinged systems, which the other two are… Also has an adjustable gas-block that lets you dial in your favorite ammo or barrel configuration (suppressed or not). Versatility in ammo with minimal reconfiguration, easy and simplicity of takedown-reassemble-recongiguration, takedown compacness and last but not least portability. For me it was well worth the money!

  6. The negligible (in my opinion) difference in length compared to a regular disassembled 16in barrel ar isn’t worth it. If you want to go even smaller a ar pistol assembled or not would still be faster possibly smaller and more affordable.

  7. My concern is the Head space, will it change and have to be reset every time you breakdown? I would prefer a weapon such as an AR-15 pistol with a 7 or 8 inch barrel without the flash suppressor but threaded to receive another longer barrel extension for hunting and even defense, but still have the ability to shoot as a pistol when needed. I think you could make a coupler that would join the two barrels together without any space between them. One of the critical items would be the rifling lining up. My thought are to take a M4 or longer barrel cut it down and thread both the shorter 7 inch and then thread the other half so a coupler could attach them back together.

  8. So, I like the Ruger mechanism. It is tried and true. Having said that, I have to agree with a couple other comments. Pistol upper and lower, and a good sling. The AR pistol is a niche weapon in itself. A SBR however, is not, and there ain’t much difference between the two. Of course, with a a few seconds to aim, and the right ammo, I can hit an 8″ target at 100yds with my M9. To each his own, I suppose.

  9. I think it’s a dud in the gun sales market,,, An AR15 already separates into 2 pieces, and the removable barrel is not a convenience.,,
    A pistol that takes hi-cap 30 round mags like a Glock-19 or a Beretta-92 would make much more sense for a back pack.

  10. Interesting article. I checked the price of the Ruger SR 556 takedown on online and it seems they run about $1500. That’s a little pricey for me. I put together an ar15 pistol that is 28 inches overall, but pull 2 YHM enchanced pins and the upper with an 8.5 inch barrel is 17 inches while the lower is 18 inches. That’s pretty compact and only requires 2 pins. I used a Shockwave brace, mantacore compensator, flip up sights, red dot and lazer and a Geseille maritime bolt hold open catch. Price, around $450. Compact, lethal and about $1000 cheaper. I’m good with that.

  11. Takedown rifles are for ease of combat depoloyment, not “go bags”. That said, they are useless for combat deployment.

    ANY weapon you are concealing, whether for a “go bag” or shtf situatuon, isnt going to need to be a full length bbl. Youre not going into a full armored combat situation, so you need small and ready. The difference between dropping a pistol upper on a pistol lower when it comes to ftlbs on target vs a rifle is acceptable especially with proper ammo choice. 9mm fmj WILL incapacitate at 200 yds so 5.56 fmj will do just fine as a high powered ice pick if its all you have.

    Niche weapons have always been around to part the fool and his money.

  12. You seemed to forget a.major player that will outshoot the pieces of garbage you wrote.about. You left out the Larue Predatobr ,it comes in 556 and 308 pattern rifles. The larue Predatobr can be packed in a 20″ toolbox. They have a kit you can buy. I love my Predatobr in 260 rem. It shoots groups you wouldn’t believe unless I took you to the range and you witnessed it

  13. Since I do not have a “cost is no object” budget, it would be more than a little useful to list average sale price (NOT Mfgt Suggest price) for these 3 firearms. An incomplete article is little more useful than no article! Thx


  15. I hate to ask, but why create a dependency on specialized low production parts when “full uppers” do the same job while allowing access to a wider range of parts and supplies.

    Remove magazine, make sure the chamber is empty, push the front and rear takedown pins out, put on a new upper, snap the pins into place, load with appropriate magazine and ammunition.

    Making it a little bit smaller and supposedly easier to hide comes in way, way, way behind works right all the time and uses standard and available components.

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