AR-15s

Anderson AM-15: Value-Priced, Not Cheap

Bob Campbell shooting the Anderson AM-15 in rapid fire

My experience with Anderson Manufacturing has been good, but limited to building my own rifles from Anderson parts. Recently, I obtained an Anderson AM-15 rifle and gave it a good workout. I felt that I needed another AR-15 for general use as a truck gun and pest popper. There was a budget, however.

There are always shortages, sometimes due to real situations and more often panic driven. I thought it wise to add another AR-15 to my modest battery. The upper and lower receivers from Anderson have been well suited to economy builds. I looked at what it had to offer in a complete rifle.

Anderson AM-15 .223/5.56 Ar-15 rifle, right profile
This is the rifle tested as issued.

As is often the case with aftermarket parts and builds, I sometimes had difficulty meshing parts together but nothing on the order of building a 1911 handgun. The Anderson parts simply worked well, and I ended up with a good rifle. Accuracy often depended on the barrel and trigger I used, more so than the receivers.

Anderson has introduced several desirable rifles and carbines in the past few years, including some in .308, a Precision rifle, and 9mm carbine. They are interesting and affordable. The market for AR-15 rifles is huge and a rifle with good features and an attractive price point will prosper.

The rifle must be useful, however, not simply cheap. The rifle illustrated sells for less than $700 but features an M-Lok forend, a nice addition. I added the Magpul stock based on prior preference and the fact that I had an extra on hand. I also added a Black Rain Ordnance bolt carrier.

I like the fit and finish. For a ‘keeper’ rifle, it was a good choice. Yes, the Anderson ended up fitting the bill nicely. Magazines used during the test and evaluation were Magpul. These are the premier AR-15 magazines available, and they are affordable as well. So, I have a good stock of these.

Anderson AM-15 Specifications and Features

  • Operating system: Direct gas impingement semi-auto rifle
  • Caliber: .223 Wylde (accepts 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington)
  • Barrel length: 16 inches
  • Twist rate: 1:8 inches
  • Overall weight: 7 pounds
  • Overall length: 32.5 inches (collapsed) and 36.125 inches (extended)
  • Finish: Matte black
  • A2 flash hider
  • Forged 7075-T6 aluminum upper/lower receivers
  • Flat-top, optics-ready
  • Low-profile gas block
  • M-Lok free-float, aluminum handguard
  • A2 pistol grip
  • 6-position M4 collapsible carbine stock

The trigger of an AR-15 rifle is very important. In a rifle for home and area defense not so much. In a precision rifle, the trigger is very important. I would never add an aftermarket trigger to a rifle I have not thoroughly tested. The trigger just may be fine as issued. Then again, it may not.

Black Rain Ordnance bolt carrier
The Black Rain Ordnance bolt carrier is a well finished carrier.

The trigger action in the Anderson is a stainless-steel trigger that seems well made and durable. Trigger compression was 7.1 pounds. That isn’t a light trigger, but it breaks clean and is controllable in rapid fire. Reset is good.

I did not expect great accuracy from a 16-inch barrel carbine with a seven pound trigger. Just the same, accuracy was decent to good. Fit and finish are good, and the internal parts seem to mesh well.

I looked in the ammunition larder, near the .223/5.56mm stockpile, and looked over several red dot sights. Some are inexpensive, some pricey. A good buy, and the only RDS I own two of, is the SIG Romeo5. This sight isn’t expensive.

SIG ROMEO5 Specifications

  • Weight: 5.1 ounces
  • Battery life: 40,000 Hours (4.5 Years)
  • Illumination settings: 8 daytime & 2 night vision
  • Dot size: 2 MOA
  • Objective lens: 20mm
  • Waterproof: IPX 7
  • Footprint: Aimpoint T2
  • Battery: CR2032
  • Price: $120

If you wish to deploy it on a quick on and off mount or more advanced adjustments this won’t do. However, for most shooting, most of the time, the SIG works out well. I purchased the first one about four years ago. It has ridden on several rifles. I like the easy on and off setting, outstanding battery life, and the very visible adjustable red dot. It wasn’t any trouble to sight the Romeo5 in with a minimum of ammunition expended.

SIG ROMEO5 red dot sight mounted on a Anderson Arms AM-15 rifle
Mounting optics is simple with the Anderson rail.

Range Testing

After lubricating the bolt carrier, I loaded the magazines with affordable Federal American Eagle FMJ ammunition. I used 55-grain loads during the initial evaluation. The rifle is fast in handling. I appreciate the M-Lok forend, as the 15-inch aluminum handguard allows good leverage and fast handling.

The rifle turned in good results (as expected) in fast-paced defense drills. I fired at 25 and 50 yards. The rifle exhibited excellent combat accuracy. I fired a solid 80 rounds, two 30-round and one 20-round magazine, with good results. A few of these cartridges were expended in firing at debris on the 100-yard berm.

Firing for accuracy is essential. In this case, the rifle was fitted with a decent quality — but not highly developed — red dot sight, without a rifle scope, so 100-yard testing was a stretch. I set the red dot the smallest dot. It took a few rounds to establish hold under.

My 25-yard combat/home defense zero had the rifle firing about six inches high at 100 yards. I will establish a ‘compromise’ zero later. I took my time and controlled the trigger off the bench. A heavy trigger is more noticeable in benchrest fire, but it didn’t have any grit in the trigger action that I could detect. I fired five loads for accuracy at 100 yards, firing three-shot groups, and these were the results.

LoadGroup Size (inches)
Federal American Eagle 55-grain2.15
Federal Green Tip 62-grain1.9
Federal 55-grain JSP2.4
Tula Steel Case 55-grain4.0
Fiocchi 40-grain VMAX2.35

That is a narrow spread in accuracy and probably a reflection more on the trigger and optics than the rifle. The Anderson AM-15 is reliable and performs well for its modest price. Like all AR-15 rifles it is easily upgraded. The stock, handguard, and internals are fine. The AM-15 is a step above most rifles in the price range.

Postscript

I liked the rifle more on the second outing. With the red dot already zeroed, I did not cram so much into a single range session. The rifle is pure AR with rapid magazine changes and easy hits. I realized, considering the optics fitted, the 100-yard results obtained earlier were actually very good. This is a keeper rifle for me.

What features would you look for in a mid-level AR-15? How do you rate SIG’s Romeo5? Share your answers in the Comment section.

  • 10 shots in the x-ring of a silhouette target
  • five shots, offhand, at 100 yards in the head of a silhouette target
  • Silhouette target shot from 25 yards using a red dot sight
  • Anderson AM-15 .223/5.56 Ar-15 rifle, right profile
  • SIG ROMEO5 red dot sight mounted on a Anderson Arms AM-15 rifle
  • Black Rain Ordnance bolt carrier with the upper and lower receivers
  • Black Rain Ordnance bolt carrier
  • Federal American Eagle .223 55-grain ammunition
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Anderson AM-15 in rapid fire
  • muzzle brake on an AR-15 rifle barrel
  • Magpul 6-position rifle stock
  • fit of the upper and lower receiver of an AR-15 rifle
  • Anderson Arms AM-15 AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, right profile
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Anderson Arms AM-15 rifle offhand.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (7)

  1. Be weary of even the newest Anderson builds. I’ve used the lowers in builds and aftermarket parts but high quality like CMMG guts (springs etc.) were difficult to match up perfectly.
    The lowers and uppers seem to be slightly off from mating as well.
    But, match a solid aluminum upper, but quality parts, a thicker barrel, quality bolt and drop in trigger and it’ll be a better experience.
    My advice is if your must go cheap then there are much better budget friendly AR platforms on the market.
    The Del-ton echo series has pretty high quality control standards in house but again polymer uppers or lowers or both make for a short lifespan of a gun.
    Gas systems / Blocks are key as well. I prefer mid length gas systems but an 18” barrel instead of the 16” pinned and welded brake. Many AR’s come with much shorter barrels spite stating 16” inches.
    The muzzle break pinned and welded give you the correct length to stick to NFA guidelines. But, no suppressors can be added for most folks.
    Make sure the barrel without any break is 16 inches and threaded.
    Anderson AR’s I’ve seen personally from new, last roughly 5-8 years of moderate use. That’s with a robust am barrel and good bcg.
    That said I’d advise an SW Sport 3, Ruger MPR, IWI AR, Sig M400 tread.
    All for under $1000 bucks.

  2. Years ago Anderson offered a coating they claimed the rifle could be cleaned with just dishwashing soap and water, and not still not rust. They had a video of a very beautiful young lady firing her Anderson AR. Then she stopped, and she said something like: “I just love my new Anderson AR, and when I am done, I can clean it with just soap and water. In fact, I just put mine in the dishwasher.” LOL. True video, and may still be on U-tube. I have often wondered how many women, looking for an AR, watched that video, and bought the Anderson? Or men for that matter.

    Hey Bob, you want to have some fun, try putting that Romeo5 way out there closer to the front sight, and see if your groups don’t tighten up a lot. At 50 yards, and 50-100 rounds, aiming at the very same point, its not surprising to be able to cover the single hole with a quarter. Zero it like that at 50 yards, and it will be good all the way out to 200 yards.

    FYI: Mount that Romeo5 to a quick release A.R.M.S. brand mount, and once zeroed, take it off, put it back on, in the same location on the pic-rail, pushing down and forward when locking in, as many times as you like, and it WILL maintain zero. Not cheap, but for any serious rifle, definitely worth the extra money.

    I have to go empty the dishwasher now before the wife gets home. 🙂

  3. You talked about the red dot at 100 yds. In the military we had to qualify at 100yds with iron sights. Wish we could’ve used red dots. They weren’t a thing back in the 80’s. In fact we had the old M-16’s they weren’t that accurate either. But a lot of us still qualified expert anyway. I now have a bunch of AR’s now, I’ve “built” them (changed parts around) but they are so much more accurate than the old M-16’s were, and a lot less stress to qualify!

  4. I’ve built a couple of dozen Anderson based ARs and not had any issues. I don’t understand the hate and Poverty Pony comments I’ve seen some posters make.

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