Reader’s Choice: Top AR-15s of 2015

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

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

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

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. This is great news for a leisurely afternoon of plinking at the range or in a SHTF scenario where ammo choices may be limited to whatever can be scrounged.

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

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

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

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

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. The SR-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.

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

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.

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

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)

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

What’s missing? Share your favorite AR-15 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 (92)

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. My new favorite is the Windham Weapon in .223/5.56. They also have a new .300 Blackout. I can’t wait to get one of these!!!

  3. Only room for ten, but no mention of Sig, or H&K? The 516 carbon ts deserves at least an honorable mention…

  4. Any AR-M4 with the proper maintenance and sport upgrades is good with me, as long as it has a bayonet lug, 4-position stock and 30rnd mag, any upgrade that doesnt mean alot but upsets the liberals is a plus

  5. There no mention of a H&K AR’s neither but there a lot of AR’s out there and all can’t fit in the top 10 for 2015

  6. No mention of the Adcor BEAR? With all it’s patents, accuracy and more reliable design?

    Or Adam’s Arms GP guns?

  7. First off RPK… The two rifles that you mentioned / own aren’t even close to the same rifles that the military use. They are missing a few key parts that are included in an M16. Secondly, the two you mentioned do not have the slop built into them like the M16 has. It was intentionally made loose so that it could keep operating under the severest of conditions.

    As for your comment “if it’s good enough for the armed forces…” Sure, if you’re happy with a mediocre rifle that was originally made to just throw a lot of rounds down range without worrying about consistent sub MOA groups, then by all means the M16 will work for you. But for a large majority of people, they are looking for an AR that can do more. They want an AR that is both reliable and consistently accurate.

    Your two little girlfriends that you are doting about are about as close to a military rifle as any of the other AR’s mentioned in the article above. So quit comparing apples to oranges.

  8. FNH FN-15? If it is good enough for the United States Marine Corps, then it is certainly good enough for John Q. Civilian!

    Colt AR15A4? Same contention. If it is good enough for the armed forces of these United States, it should be good enough for Mister or Misses Range Shooter.

    I am retired military with a 20+ year career in a combat field.
    I own them both and have absolutely no complaints.

  9. as a retired gunsmith i cant even begin to remember how many ar style rifles i have built or repaired.. for the guy ragging on the olympic arms rifles he doesnt know what he is talking about. the olympic uppers and lowers were my go to for building custom ars and are as good as anything on the market.they produced receivers for many of the other ar makers out there over the years. as for mil spec that is just a designation for the poorest quality junk a manufacturer could bribe a government official to accept. if you are willing to accept milspec as your quality level you will be very easy to please. i actually built a m4 clone for a guy that bought his upper and lower 5 years apart from the same company and you couldnt fit the upper and lower together., so much for mil spec!

  10. Another vote for Windham Weaponry here. Mine has demonstrated great reliability and accuracy, and it’s built like a brick outhouse. By the way, Windham is owned and operated by the folks that originally started Bushmaster. They were laid off when Bushmaster was sold to a large company and started mass production. Bushmaster’s quality suffered as a result.

  11. I wish CORE 15 ‘s piston M4 MOE had made the list, since it’s one of the best rifles (looks, accuracy and price) that I’ve ever fired.
    On the other hand, the NSA, White House and BATFE are all probably using this list to start their search warrant requests, so maybe it’s not a bad thing to have a CORE rifle after all…staying under the radar!
    Thanks for the list! I agree with just about each of the rifles included.

  12. None of these are “the top” of anything?
    The top AR’s use billet, not forged receivers, and polygonal rifling, not button rifling, so it’s easy to see this poll is not about quality, but only popularity. title is misleading
    the dpms guys will vote for dpms, the Palmetto state guys will say Theirs should have made the list etc. etc.
    Continuing to prove these are nothing more than popularity contests, Many only popular because they are CHEAP!
    these are not the best. these are not the most popular. these are not leading in any category? merely a sample of who was online at the time and able to vote for their brand. I cannot think of any list that a M&P would be at the top of? not quality, not accuracy, not value, cheap but not the cheapest.

    1. Who makes an AR with billiet receivers and polygonal rifling besides a custom built. This is Reader’s Choice: Top AR-15s of 2015. Not custom built

  13. Here comes a hater… NO AR-15/M4 with more than a 1:7 twist should be on ANY best-of list. Some less-then-expert reader may purchase a 1:9 (or worse) based on this list, practice with light, crap ammo, put some heavy, match-grade bullets in it, think they are prepped for the @#$% and (surprise!) miss their target at the worst possible time, or (better case) are disappointed with their purchase when they head to the range to do some bulls-eye shooting with match-grade ammo and find that they can’t get rounds onto the paper. Too many gun stores do not have enough expertise to warn newbie buyers that heavy bullets are not properly stabilized until you get to 1:7.
    BTW: LWRC ROCKS. I own 3.

    1. A 1:9, and 1:8 will stabilize a 75 grain round with no difficulties while I’ve seen a 1:7 sherd the copper jacket off of 55 grain (Federal) rounds.
      As Col Cooper stated “zero and practice with what you intend to use.” The trajectory will differ on different weights of rounds. The laws of physics have yet to be repealed.
      The 1:7 has its value if you are shooting above 75 grains for special applications but it is no more functionally accurate than anything else.
      I do think the audience of this forum deserves some credit for common sense.

  14. I may date myself here, but Bushmaster wrote the book on “made for the common man” customized AR-15’s when they introduced the Varminiter in the 90’s. Much as Kimber did for the 1911A1.
    Second I would have to say the Colt Accurized A3 and for CQB the the Sig 516. I have and plan on keeping all three.
    The article, while good, was aimed at mostly M-4 clones and the uses of the AR-15 are quite diverse. At the same time there is a point where dollars spent and sense made will not add up.
    If I were to pursue a new AR-15 it would be the Nosler Varmageddon Signature Series AR varmint rifle, but this is where the dollars and sense come into play so count me out on this rifle.

  15. Unfortunately this seems skewed. We have performed similair testing on a wide variety of AR’s and have found that some listed,while being great AR’s, shouldn’t grace this list. Ruger, LWRC, Armalite, and one of the Daniel Defense (v11) are worthy of high regards but it seems that Anderson, Sig Sauer, Double D Armory Ltd, are far better than the other listed not only in performance but durability. Lightweight is great but we found some of the other factors more important, function, wear, and testing past 5,000 rounds. Anderson was the only one that even made it that far due to their RF85 Treated models. Why they got past up? Good Question, the FBI and NSA have been astounded by the performance in harsh environments. The DEA is in Trial with these and currently think the AM15M4 will possibly replace the LWRC models already in play.

  16. DPMS 3G2 should be on the list. Great gun to compete with as well as being a great home defense weapom.

  17. I’m not sure if they changed the m&P sport but the one I own is a 1 in 8 5r rifling Not that I am call BS but I just looked at mine to confirm and it is definitely 1 in 8 5r,

  18. I suppose the SIG 516 is either too new or its sticker price deters the average AR enthusiast to be considered to make the list…but I will tell you SIGs quality is far superior to anything I’ve ever been issued from any arms room like some of these comments infer are quality go-to-war pieces…Ha!…that said, I bought the pair, 516 and 716 and my list is the only one that matters.

    1. Waiting on delivery of a SIG516 Patrol as we speak. My conclusion as well on the quality. Let’s face it – most of these rifles will out shoot their owners anyway. And the mission parameters have an awful lot to do with what you get and how it’s configured. Just the argument between DI and mid-gas or other systems is a worthy subject – but it still comes back to what you are going to be using this for. I choose the SIG because I didn’t want to be replacing 60% of a rifle to get it to where I wanted it to be. In the end they talk about the expense – replacing the parts and adding on makes them equal or more expensive than the SIG for example – and they don’t get the quality either. It’s my opinion, and just like tail-pipes – everyone has one.

  19. Windham Weaponry should definately be on the list. I have a MPC, and its accuracy is unrivaled for me. The only thing thats com spec is the buffer tube and stock, which was done to cut final cost of rifle. Easily.replaced, and after having this rifle over a year now, this is the best, straight-up tough, accurate rifle ive had in a while. Ill be getting another one for the wife soon so she’ll quit hijacking mine at the range, haha.

  20. Windham Weaponary should be on this list. Own SRC 5.56 which quality and performance is excellent plus the Customer Service by Windham is second to none. Never had an issue with my weapon but had questions about customizing my weapon and they were beyond helpful and cost wise high quality weapon without breaking the bank.

  21. I recently visited the CORE Rifle Systems factory in Ocala, Fl. The quality of their products is amazing. They also have a lifetime, no questions asked warranty. I’ve started saving for their CORE15 HARDCORE System X3 Rifle. It has to be seen to be appreciated.

  22. This was a good artical and I agree with all these top 10 picks and I would have put them in allmost the same order. Good Job!

  23. Windham Weaponry should definitely be on this list. Very well built AR platform rifles with unparalleled customer service.

  24. I have been drooling over their AR10, as well as several others for a couple of years. I do like how Windom treats all customers like we are a part of their ever expanding family, so I would likely purchase one of their rifles again. Keep your powder dry friend.

  25. I think the llst should include models other than those chambered in .223 / 5.56. I personally like the Bushmaster 450 version. Mine has the Bushmaster factory upper and a custom lower that I build to my preferences. Although it doesn’t have the range or velocity of the .223 / 5.56, out to 300 yards with its .452 caliber 250 gr Hornady FTX round, it is deadly on most North American game. It is a great pig gun, but also an outstanding deer rifle.

    1. I hear what you’re saying, Jim, but the article is about a “Reader’s Choice” poll for ARs that they thought were the best of 2015. A home built gun isn’t likely to get more than one vote . . from the person who built it.

  26. Love the comments about reliability. That’s why I got an AK47. A cheap AK is more reliable than an expensive AR.

    Putting on my asbestos suit now. 🙂

    1. Probably true. My personal experience in shooting both is that any rifle poorly maintained will surely fail. I’ve seen AK’s jam, fail to feed or eject after shooting for days in the desert with wind and dirt, while my 5.56 ran flawlessly. Probably an indictment of the operator more than the tool.

    2. Love my M1A better than my AK or all my AR’s
      But this discussion is about the best AR’s not AK’s or mini 14 or any other guns

    3. Goof call on the M1A….Carried a M14A1E2 in Nam for awhile. Loved it a lot more than any of the M16s I had.
      Just purchased my 1st AR15 from Adams Arms, only because it has a Short Stroke Free Floating Piston.

  27. I’ve seen several comments regarding larue ar’s. I must say that while they are beautiful machines, I encountered one in my shop this week that was straight out of their factory. The owner couldn’t separate the upper from the lower. Once I pried it apart for him, we discovered it could not be put back together where the bcg could cycle without being in a bind. As a matter of fact, the upper/lower mating was so tight, there was considerable rubbing just hinging them shut. Something should be said about a weapon that has to be shot into spec. I own an lwrc ic and can attest to their solid construction and utter reliability. They are not as light as a pws, but are made from tougher materials (ie chf stainless bbls (take that dd “mk12”) and nickel boron bcgs, fcgs, and interior walls of their bbls). Colt competition rifles are also awesome weapons. All sub moa. I have models with geissele triggers and bold idea muzzle brakes.

  28. I’m partial to the Windom Weapons CDI. I have fired many, but for my money, the Windom is my rifle.

    1. Right there with ya Nils. Windham Weaponry is one of the nicest companies to deal with. The staff treats you like one of their own and their weapons are top shelf. I bought two MPCs prior to the NY Safe Act and gave one to my son as a gift. Very accurate and both function flawlessly. Just as soon as we can get rid of this ridiculous law or I move out of NY I’ll be looking to add one of their AR10s to the collection.

  29. I prefer my Mini 14 with Tapco stock, Eotech 517, and Magpul front grip. Rugged, dependable, and accurate. Never an FTF or jam, even with steel cased ammo.

  30. I purchased my first AR-15 a few months ago – the S&W M&P Sport. Price was $539 with free shipping. Love it.

  31. I have to agree with the Colt comments. I carried one for 2 years in Iraq without a hiccup. They may be pricy, but they work.

  32. I would not trade my Rock River for any of these, plus it comes in a left hand version, which most of these choices do not.

  33. Any AR that functions most of the time is fine if all you want is a range toy. But if I had to take a rifle into combat or use one for defense/survival, I would only trust one specifically built for such purposes, with no corners cut on materials or quality control. That narrows this list down to Colt, Bravo Company, and Daniel Defense. (I don’t know enough about PWS or LWRC to have an opinion on them.) These are among the few companies whose products are known to hold up in demanding, high-round-count use where the rifle gets really hot and parts get stressed. Most rifles will work fine during slow fire at the range, but many will start malfunctioning or breaking parts when pushed hard.

  34. No surprise that DPMS didn’t make the list. I’ve had two and they were both complete junk. I managed to get them both functional by installing improved non-DPMS manufacture extractor parts on one, and a whole new upper on the other.

    But, the S&W M&P is no surprise either, This is a flawless functioning firearm and I love mine. Had it for several ears now with no issues.

    1. @Mikial:

      It’s very coincidental that you posted this, because yesterday I had to stop using my DPMS AR-10 because shells were not being extracted, creating 4 double feed jams in a row.

      I’m cleaning it this morning (it had gone for a long time without cleaning), but in case that doesn’t work, can you give me more information and where to buy the very best extractor parts? I’m not knowledgeable in this area.

      Anyone else who wants to answer my question is welcome and appreciated.

    2. ss1, I’ve had problems with the only two DPMS I’ve owned, and i will not buy another. But complaining aside . . . .

      One, I finally replaced the entire upper, but the other one had extraction issues that I was able to correct using a Buffer Technologies Extractor Upgrade Kit. It’s cheap and easy to install.

      Hope that helps, Brother.

    3. It is a surprise that DPMS isn’t at the top, I have six , .223 and .308’s that will shoot just as good if not better than ya’lls junk,,,,stock from tha box…..don’t blame tha gun because you can’t shoot….

    4. Wild Bill, none of the problems listed had anything to do with the shooter.

    5. @Mikial:

      Thanks for your excellent tip. I viewed the assembly video tonight. I have never taken apart an AR bolt, and the assembly video shows that it’s pretty involved with that tiny spring and O ring.

      I’ll know maybe this weekend if my cleaning helped, which included wire brushing the chamber and spraying deep inside the bolt with Hornady One Shot, then normal cleaning and oiling. But after seeing that video tonight, if my cleaning doesn’t work I think I may try to take off a couple pins in the bolt so I can spray the extractor area better. If that STILL doesn’t work, I’ll buy your kit and take it to one of my gunsmiths.

      FYI: Just for the record, I have always used brass ammo in my DPMS. My research tonight lead me to believe that many extraction problems requiring the upgrade are due to usage of steel cased ammo.

    6. @Mikial:

      Hello Mikial, I wanted to get back to you on the DPMS extractor advice you gave me.

      I never took my AR-10 back to the range since my 6/9/15 posting. Instead I called DPMS customer service and discovered they have a new, springless GEN2 extractor upgrade that fits my GEN1. Today I installed it myself, and enjoyed taking apart and cleaning an AR bolt for the first time. I manually extracted 1 cartridge at home, and I can’t wait to take it to the range.

    7. @Mikial:

      Well I had a link in my first message that got edited out by CTD.

      Just Google “dpms LR-308 extractor upgrade kit” and where I bought it will come to the top, with a clear photo of what it looks like.

      What do you think about this upgrade kit?

  35. Interesting Top 11 and all the comments. However, I see no mention of a Windham Weapon. Their new 300 Blackout is a 30 Cal. to recon with!!!

  36. I don’t know why people continue to think that you can just buy a MK12. They were specially built rifles, not just off the shelves weapons. Just call it an AR because it isn’t a MK12 unless it’s the same specs as the Mod 0 or Mod 1.

  37. Del-Ton – Spikes – Stag are just as good as Colt in fact are made by the same people — People just like to say if something costs more like Daniel Defense it makes them better — which is utter nonsense — The quad rails you can add later why spend $3000 bucks for something with a fancy name that can only shoot as good as a $600 gun?

    Same thing in everyday life people are anamored by names and shiny things never take into account the facts of what the guns actually good for — Ruger SR-556 is a rare exception but besides the piston the guns only worth $700 —

  38. Colt M4A1… the best of the best… yes, I know, it is not a plunger gas system and is direct impingement… but there is something to day for that… the DI models are lighter and with the ammunition of today.. I have shot over 500 rounds and it wasn’t to dirty at all..

  39. I’m surprised Bushmaster C-15 .223 wasn’t on the list..I have one with a sniper scope…Love it..!

  40. My choice for best AR would be any of the 3 that I built for under $500. There is absolutely no reason to buy an assembled AR when you can build one in under 75 minutes with basic hand tools. Check various websites for parts, buy an Anderson lower for $50 or less, and you can get literally every small part you need on EBay for next to nothing. The money you save can be spent at Freedom Munitions dot com for ammo.

    1. There’s a big caveat here: the final quality of such a rifle will depend on the skill of the assembler and on the quality of the parts. Even assuming an experiences assembler who does a flawless job, everyone should be aware that just because a part has the correct dimensions to be used in an AR build does not mean that part is made of the correct materials, has been heat-treated properly, or is otherwise suitable. Many companies make sub-standard parts that would never be accepted in a military rifle.

      Take a Colt LE6920 and a weapon made from DPMS, Olympic Arms, or other sub-standard parts. Put both through a high-round-count carbine training course. The Colt is FAR less likely to malfunction or break a part. This has been observed by many instructors (e.g., Pat Rogers) who have seen thousands of rifles go through their classes.

    2. While part of what you say is somewhat true, the majority of your comment is nonsense. In the grand scheme of things the only parts that really require to be high quality are the trigger assembly, barrel and the bolt. The rest of the parts are basically all the same and when you buy a Colt, Rock River, DPMS, etc. or any other of the big name manufacturers all you are paying for is a name, that`s it. I attended the NRA convention in Indy in 2014. There was something like 150+ AR manufacturers there. This year in Nashville it was said that around 90 of those same manufacturers went out of business. You know why? Because there are only so many ways you can build one of these rifles and anyone with half a brain can do it on their kitchen table and save a ton of money.. Check out the videos on Youtube, it`s child`s play for God`s sake.

    3. Come on Al, wake up and quit drinking the kool aid. Yawwwwn… Can you wake us all up when you finally make it to the 21st Century. Your vaunted sweet heart is as close to a military issue M16 as any of the others mentioned above… A true mil-spec rifle is made loose so that it will not fail under the severest of combat conditions.

      I love it when people start knocking other manufacturers by throwing out innuendo without backing it up with facts. Please, educate us. I’m sure we can find others with the same kind of background as Pat Rogers who will say Colt’s are POS’s… Show us the testing data that backs up your “Sub-standard” comments. Show us the scientific facts that prove these “Sub-standard” rifles are more likely to mal-function or break…

  41. I’m not a hater of your ratings list, but the LaRue Tactical OBR rules. 5.56 16 in. barrel.

  42. I’d have to say this is a great list but another AR 15 I would highly recommend is the DPMS Panther Arms AR15. Great gun and you can’t beat the cost!

    1. DPMS is okay for a slow-fire range toy, but you couldn’t pay me ten million dollars to trust my life to one. They are known to break parts under hard use.

    1. I just went off the comments from the readerS. If they get enough votes, I can out RR in next time. ~Dave Dolbee

    2. You will not find a better trigger from the factory than a Rock River two stage. RR should have been included.

    3. I totally agree with you all my ARs have Rock River lowers with two stage trigger

    4. I hear a lot of reports that the RR two-stage trigger is prone to breakage. Go with Geissele if you want quality and reliability.

    5. Yeah i heard some reports too a few years. None now and there a big price different from 120 list price for a rock river 2 stage and 240 to 280 for a Geissele. To me the Rock River is a lot more crisper and after 5000 rounds still runnng strong

    1. PSA got them all beat. be side its all what you like. i like my own that i put together

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.