The Best of the Best: AR-15 for Beginners

AR-15 rifles on wall rack

There is a reason why the AR-15 is the best-selling rifle in the United States.

For its versatility, flexibility, modular design and ease of use, everyone from beginners to expert shooters love the AR-15 — the modern sporting rifle.


Created by ArmaLite Chief Engineer Eugene Stoner the semi-automatic AR-15 uses either a direct gas impingement or gas piston system to operate.

Originally chambered for the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO round, now you can find AR platforms in a variety of calibers such as .22 Long Rifle, .300 Blackout, 6.8 SPC and .450 Bushmaster.

Even though Colt owns the rights to the name AR, many manufacturers make modern sporting rifles (MSR), which we commonly call an AR-15.

There is a wide variety from which to choose — from cheap under $500 build-your-own to custom-made competition rifles for thousands of dollars.

Why the AR-15?

The love for the AR derives from how easily it can be customized.

It goes from self-defense to competition to hunting to plinking with a few minor adjustments and accessories.

Accessories and add-ons are widely available.

Rough estimates put the AR as the most commonly owned firearm in America, with around five million rifles in private U.S. households, comprising 60 percent of all rifles sold in the United States.

Further Reading

If you are new to AR gun ownership or seriously considering your first purchase, here is a list of Cheaper Than Dirt!’s, best of the best blog posts for beginners.

Learn all you need to know about which ammo to choose, how to put together a lower receiver, and accessorizing.

Are you new to the black rifle world? Post your questions about your AR in the comment section.

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 (9)

  1. Actually, the most commonly owned firearm in the US is the Marlin Model 60. Over 11 million have been made and sold. It’s often thought the AR is but it’s not even close to the Marlin.

  2. Hello,
    I was wondering if a gas system will function flawlessly in high humidity very low temp (-30) up here in Québec Canada
    As you must have many fans in Alaska or upstate NY
    I was hoping on some insight before buying a 5.56/223 for coyote
    Thanks your French Canadian friend JP

  3. I just bought a s&w ar-sport…unfortunately it has a “california bullet button” for the mag release. How may I remedy this nuisance inexpensively?

  4. Yeah the $500 build I think is long gone. It can be done though for around $700. It takes some time and patience shopping for deals on the cheapest stuff.

    1. The Anderson rifle modle 1….485.00 or if you want to build it your self… 435.00.. Hope this helps…

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