Ten Top-Rated AR-15 Manufacturers

Black Noveske-built Gen III AR-15 rifle with many upgrades

Which Tier 1 AR-15 manufacturers are your favorites? A poll around the Cheaper Than Dirt! office resulted in this list in no particular order:

I repeat, in no particular order. (C’mon guys, you know that would be impossible.)

  1. BCM
  2. Noveske
  3. Knight’s Armament
  4. Lewis Machine & Tool
  5. Daniel Defense
  6. LWRC
  7. Colt
  8. H&K
  9. Midwest Industries
  10. Barrett

One thing all these manufacturers have in common? They all make parts or complete rifles favored by military and law enforcement personnel. For many looking for a Mil-Spec AR, this is no slight detail.

Okay, so admittedly, I am a little gun shy about writing this list. The last time I made a list it almost blew up (har har) in my face. (I made a comparison list of small, pocket handguns and plenty of you were in disagreement…as I am sure you will be with this list.) However, lists are fun to make and people like reading them and then apparently, arguing about said list.

There are hundreds of AR-15 manufacturers, from giants such as Freedom Group—which owns Remington, Bushmaster and DPMS—to small mom and pop boutique shops that meticulously machine and hand-fit almost every single part. Prices range from $500 to thousands. It is also extremely popular, fun and affordable to build your own. When you piece-meal your rifle together—you get exactly what you want.

Those who are budget conscience can buy pieces slowly so no one you live with gets mad or goes hungry. That’s what I did for my first AR-15. For about $500, I have a reliable and accurate AR with a red dot and Magpul furniture. She isn’t built from the most expensive parts and she doesn’t like to run dry—what AR does?—and I’m fine with that.

I have heard many say that the best AR is the one you build yourself from the exact parts you want. However, there are plenty of respectable AR-15 brands out there using top-notch parts, high-quality machining, and that pay close attention to details. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a factory AR-15. I know plenty of carbine experts who buy and run stock rifles.

So what makes a good AR-15 anyway? Certainly reliability and accuracy. Will it go bang! every time? Does it feed, function and eject without issues? Another huge part to a good AR is the quality the company puts into the parts, if they pay attention to detail and offer excellent customer service. All the Tier 1 AR manufacturers ensure the completed rifle is fired and function-tested before leaving its doors, fit and finish is impeccable and the warranty that goes with the rifle is second to none.

Some will say a Tier 1 AR manufacturer makes its rifles to MIL-SPEC; however, MIL-SPEC is arguably just a marketing catchphrase. No semi-automatic, commercial AR-15 will truly be Mil-Spec. Most aficionados will tell you, the best ARs will follow Colt’s Technical Data Package, though a bit outdated now due to modern, innovative technologies, the best-rated AR-15 manufacturers’ rifles will have:

  • A properly staked gas key
  • A high pressure tested/MPI and shot-peened bolt
  • 4150 steel, chrome-lined or stainless steel MPI and cold-hammer forged barrels
  • Chambered in 5.56mm NATO (All AR-15s listed below are chambered in 5.56mm)
  • A chrome-lined bore and chamber
  • M4 feed ramps
  • Mil-Spec-diameter receiver extension (buffer tube) with staked castle nut
  • Type III hard coat anodizing

For a detailed explanation of what all that means—especially for a beginner or first-time AR buyer/owner—I refer you to the best explanation I have read, “Explanation of Desirable Features in Commercial M4 Pattern Carbines.”

This can’t be a definitive list—that would be a near impossible task to list every top AR-15 brand in the world. I am pretty sure many of you will recognize which manufacturers are missing and please tell me.

(Note: I have also left off “boutique” manufacturers like Hodge, Sionics and WarSport.)

Without a doubt, this list of 10 best-rated AR-15s includes some of the best in the business.

Bravo Company Manufacturing  (BCM)

Though the Bravo Company RECCE 16 Mod0 Carbine has no sights, its specifications and features read like a what’s what of ARs.

BCM is a veteran-owned black rifle company that started in 2005. They build Mil-Spec rifles for people who are going to run them. The entire company is dedicated to creating equipment that will not fail those who depend on it. BCM barrels are either Mil-Spec 11595E barrel steel (CMV) or SS310 stainless steel, chrome-lined and are both M197 high-pressure tested and Magnetic Particle inspected. The company’s rifles have M4 feed ramps and a chrome-lined bore and chamber. The bolt is shot peened and high-pressure tested. Receivers are anodized per MIL-A-8625F Type III Class 2. The gas key is properly staked, hardened and chrome lined with Grade 8 Mil-Spec fasteners. When running down the “what makes a good AR-15” checklist, Bravo Company gets all of it right. BCM rifles start at $1,200 for the standard carbine length, while mid-length isn’t much more.


Noveske AR-15
The Gen III Recon has a 18-inch barrel with 1:7-inch twist and shoots both .223 and 5.56.

The late John Noveske founded Noveske Rifleworks in 2001 after returning home from serving in the U.S. Army and learning barrel making at PAC-NOR. He started Noveske in his dad’s garage with a lathe making barrels. He soon moved to a shop with the lathe and a new mill to start building a precision AR-15 rifle. The renowned AR maker paved the way for stainless AR barrels. Noveske applies an extra thick chrome-lined layer, making a Noveske barrel much more durable than most others are. These Noveske AR hand-chambered barrels exceed Mil-Spec standards with a 416 stainless steel hardness of 32 RC. Noveske takes great care in the detail of the process of creating one rifle. Each rifle is hand-fit by just one person. It’s Gen 1 RECCE Basic rifle, starting at around $1700 has a shot-peened and MP-tested bolt and a staked carrier key, a Noveske Signature rear back up iron sight made by Troy Industries and Magpul furniture.

Knight’s Armament

Knights Armament Lower
Knights Armament Company has been a premier weapons development and manufacturing company for over 30 years. Their advanced weapons systems are designed to meet the needs and demands of US Special Forces, military and law enforcement all over the world.

Knight’s Armament (KAC) has grown to be one of the biggest manufacturers of small arms in the United States since it started over 30 years ago. KAC employed Eugene Stoner, who was at Knight’s Armament until he passed away. The company is best known for its innovation and improvements to Stoner’s original AR-15 design. Many of Knight’s Armament newest ARs have the tough E3 Enhanced proprietary bolt carrier group. KAC’s railed forend is also the one that the U.S. military use on their M4 and M16s. Barrels are hammer-forged and chrome-lined. KAC rifles start at around $2,500.

Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT)

Lewis Machine and Tool has been in business since 1980 and is most known for President Karl Lewis’ Monolithic Rail Platform, which is a one-piece Mil-Spec upper receiver that has an integral forend. This system was one of the first to allow for quick barrel and caliber swaps. The innovative design allows users to switch barrels without losing the point of impact and point of aim. Neither are you forced to buy a completely new upper when changing calibers. Switching calibers from 5.56mm NATO to .204 Ruger, .300 AAC Blackout or 6.8 SPC is as easy as simply removing the upper using just one tool. Starting at almost $1400, LMT’s lowest price AR-15 has a chrome-lined and cryogenically treated barrel. The company also makes stainless barrels. All of LMT’s rifles are 100 percent made in the U.S.A.

Daniel Defense

Daniel Defense AR-15
Daniel Defense’s DDM4 line has reached legendary status within the AR community. No collection could be complete without at least one…

Marty Daniel, the founder of Daniel Defense, started the company when he found a lack of high quality improved parts for his M16, so he decided to make his own. It is only one of five companies worldwide that make cold hammer-forged barrels. Daniel Defense barrels are chrome-lined and MPI. Daniel Defense produces rifles in pistol, carbine, mid and rifle-length gas systems—all have Type III hard-coat anodized finish, M4 feed ramps and a properly staked gas key. The bolt carrier group is shot-peened and both Mil-Spec MPI and HPI-tested and the gas system has a salt bath nitride finish. Unlike some of its competitors, Daniel Defense machines much of its own parts in house, including sights, stocks, rails, and flash suppressors. For $1,500, you can get Daniel Defense’s M4V11 rifle.

LWRC International

The Tricon MK6 has the best trigger you can find on an AR-15—the Super Tricon 2-stage trigger.

After U.S. Army vet, Pat Bryan bought out the pre-existing company in 2006, LWRC became dedicated to developing a short-stroke gas piston system for the AR-15. LWRC’s short-stroke piston system is patented. LWRCI rifles are made to meet U.S. Army Individual Carbine program requirements. The company makes its own barrels out of 41V5 steel alloy, which are NiCorr-treated, eliminating the need for chrome lining. The bolt carrier group—another innovation of the company—is Nickel Boron coated which provides permanent lubrication to the rifle. LWRC ARs have a Mil-Spec-sized buffer tube, H2 buffer and are Type III hard-coat anodized. Prices for an LWRC at Cheaper Than Dirt! start a little over $1600.


Colt AR-15
If you want a rifle that is as close to what is currently being used by U.S. military troops around the world, then the Colt XM177E2 Commando Retro Carbine is the rifle for you.

A company that needs no introduction—the Colt’s LE6920 is the closest commercial AR-15 you will find to the military M4. All its missing is the pewpewpew button. So when Colt says its AR-15 is Mil-Spec, they really mean it. “Parts is parts” isn’t a thing with Colt. The same parts that go into the Colt M4 go into the Colt’s commercial/civilian ARs. Barrels are chrome-lined and HP-tested and MP inspected. The bolt is also Magnetic Particle Inspected. And not to mention, Colt was the first and for a long time, the only ones to have exclusive rights to the military’s specifications and requirements for M4/M16 rifles. Colt rifles are only of two on this list that sell for less than $1,000.


H&K AR-15
The rifle’s operating system incorporates a solid operating pushrod that replaces the gas tube found on all other AR-15 rifles—an operating system proprietary to H&K.

H&K as a weapons manufacturer began as developing and supplying firearms to the German military in 1956. Since then, it has produced some of the most famous and reliable battle rifles in the world—most notably the MP5 and the HK416 (the rifle used to kill Osama Bin Laden). H&K pioneered the polygonal rifling that is standard today. An H&K AR is set apart from others due to its proprietary gas system. The H&K MR556A1 uses the same gas system found on the HK416 rifle. Instead of a gas tube, the MR556A1 AR-15 uses a pusher rod. This system proves to be truly cleaner than others are. Also different is H&K’s choice to not chrome line its barrels. H&K barrels are made by H&K in Germany out of cannon-grade steel and are cold hammer forged. The 5.56mm NATO chamber meets the Commission Internationale Permanente dimensions requirements (C.I.P.). Many of the same exact parts used to build the HK416 also go on the MR556A1 like the free float rail system. The H&K MR556A1 retails for a little more than $2,500.

Midwest Industries

Midwest Industries have been making quality AR parts for years now, but are relatively new to building complete rifles. Its first complete rifle was introduced in 2014. Built on the company’s forged hard coat anodized billet receivers, the Midwest Industries AR-15s have FN hammer-forged and chrome-lined barrels, a MPI bolt, M4 feed ramps and a staked castle nut. You will find the same type of safety selector on the Midwest Industries riles as you do on an FN SCAR—a feature unique to Midwest’s complete AR-15s. Midwest Industries’ most affordable AR has an MSRP of less than $900.


Barret AR-15
The Barrett REC7 depends on the same reliable gas system as the AK-47—a piston operating system. This keeps the chamber and bore cleaner than direct gas impingement rifles.

Barrett is known for firsts. Ronnie Barrett founded it in 1982 when he developed the first ever shoulder-fired .50 BMG rifle—which is what Barrett is mostly known for. When Barrett introduced its REC7 rifle in 2007, it was one of the very first piston-driven AR-15 style platform rifles chambered for 6.8 SPC. The Barrett’s ARs have an MPI bolt, hard-anodized receivers, chrome-lined barrels, M4 feed ramps and utilize some of the industry’s most respected accessories from Magpul, Daniel Defense and BCM. The anti-tilt bolt carrier has no gas key, is machined from one piece of 8620 steel, and is Nickel Teflon-coated. The standard REC7 model has an MSRP of nearly $3,000.

So, let’s start the debate. What AR-15 rifles make your top Tier-1 list? Tell us 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 (226)

  1. I currently own several AR’s on the top ten list. All on the list are great examples of reliable, accurate, well built guns. One of my favorite AR style rifles not on your list is my S&W M&P15 in NATO 5.56. It was highly accurate right out of the box and through around 1000 rounds has had no jams or mechanical issues. It is my go to AR when I take people to the range who want to experience shooting one. Sure there are better AR’s but for the price and S&W warranty you could do a lot worse.

  2. After serving six years 2/508 Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne the first Ar I purchased was a Windham not because I thought it was the top ten list contender but it was the closest model I found that looked, felt and shot like the m16a1 I was issued in the day. Like most I have modified it to the point it no longer looks likea Windham. But I am still running the original upper/lower, and barrel. Not saying it’s a top 10 candidate but it’s a beast considering the cost point. The only other AR that I own that is not my build is a Geissele Super Duty SD-.556. It’s one thing not to make the top ten list but to not even see it mentioned anywhere in the entire forum makes me wonder what a “ top 10 list “ is really motivated by. But I saw allot of people that are allot more upset about their choices not making the list than I am. I guess when the SHTF it will come down to skill behind the weapon, top ten or homemade. For an out of the box weapon my Geissele is # 1. But that’s just me.

  3. I have to agree with those who commented about their disappointment in your evaluation for leaving out Palmetto State Armory’s products as quite good, reliable quality, yet inexpensive enough for most any American to own. I am guessing PSA was not included because you do not sell them?

  4. My first ar build was a lower by Anderson Mfg. The rest of it was Stag arms I put about 2k in it when prices was thru the roof. Like Johnny Cash 1 piece at a time. My 2nd build was cheap off the shelf and pawn shops. Spend less then 400 total. I could tell a big difference in the way it shot and held group. My next build is still Anderson lowers. They are rather cheap and made with mil spec standard accept the cut out to go full auto yeye. Any ways looking to make a shorty with a mid length gas system. Special purpose rifle to defend my home. And looking to build a retro m16 21 inch length for more accuracy to put meat on the table. Trust me the 5.56 will take down deer. 62 gram green tips all day the drop ppl just fine all day in the military

  5. @zaboric…

    Wake up and smell the lies that you are being told by the corporate controlled mainstream media. More people are killed by handguns, NOT AR-15s. Most gun deaths are from suicide too. You are more than welcome to look up the statistics on that too. Yet, they seem to be going after the AR-15 despite these facts. Not handguns, knives, clubs/bats, or any other weapon that have caused more injuries/deaths than an AR-15. Why do you think this is? Could it be that the AR-15 is what our corporate-controlled government sees as its biggest obstacle/threat to taking total control of the public? Or do you really think that the government really cares about your safety and well-being, and that they’re doing everything with your best interests in mind?

  6. First I would like to give thanks to all those who serve or have served in the U S Military!
    As a son,brother and nephew of U S Marines I have respect for the sacrifices endured to allow all in the United States to be free! Nearly 700,000 lives have been lost to ensure not only our freedom but our separation from a tyrannical government no longer has a say if we have the right to self preservation and Religious freedom! The Revolution was fought by farmers and other normal folks that just wanted to be free! So there is a right for all Americans to own what they believe they need for self preservation including the modern sporting rifle also known as the AR15! We all need to understand that a shoe a car a brick or even the AR15 are just objects! Which unfortunately many of those objects take the blame for many atrocities and those with the levers of control in their hands want nothing more than to remove many of those objects from free Americans! If we are going to talk about people loosing their lives as an excuse to take objects then lets talk about the thousands of lives lost daily at murder clinics no one is shutting down those objects!!! I own many modern sporting rifles and you may not but I would like for you to own one too and indulge in the enjoyment of going out and shooting targets practicing safe and clean fun and it is part of the American way of life!!! The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting!!! Sorry not Sorry and we all have the right to have exactly what our military has in their arsenal it the constitution was written specifically to ensure that if sometime in the future we as a Democratically ran Republic could be able to ensure our freedom from a tyrannical government!!!! To answer the question why does anyone need an AR15 all I can say to that is because I can!!!! P S I love all my 2 A objects I wish the same for you all!!!!!

  7. All you AR 15 gun owners. Wake up and smell the coffee. There is NO PLACE for this weapon in modern society. It belongs in the hands of military and police ONLY.

    Too many innocent human lives perish at the expense of this weapon. For the greater good of society (not just your ego) melt them down before they are melted down for you. Or, join the police or, military, if you must.

    Fishing rods, golf clubs and skis are not used to mame and kill innocent children. Your hobbies shouldn’t either. Think of others, and others will think of you.

  8. Don’t laugh. I’m very happy with my Ruger. Good price. So far good quality. This is my first AR. Hopefully not my last. I want to build my own.

  9. Looks like the article could use an update to 2021-2022.

    Rankings have changed and many have come and gone. You have Windham, POF, FN, Yankee Hill Machine is a favorite of mine. I’d add Aero Precision but that it controversial. Colt. Not so much now.

    The point is the roadmap has changed significantly over the years.

    It would be nice to see the updated list. Even if our old school favorite are knocked down a peg or two.

    Horror of horrors we may end up with PSA on the list. But hey I have a few fun range toys from PSA that are fun as hell, more accurate than most and I abuse them to hell and they keep of going. But definitely prouder of the YHM, Aero, POF, and other rifles.

  10. Not a bad list, to be sure. How FN could be left off the list is a real head-scratcher, considering their guns are far better than Colts. Sig is on their way to producing some fine rifles but I’d say they are mid-tier at this point. POF–as some have mentioned–simply stomp some of the others on this list, Springfield really hit the ground running with their Saint series. I have bought, test, and sold probably two dozen or so AR’s, until I narrowed it down to what I considered the best four–at least for me. POF, Springfield, Daniel Defense, Bravo Company.

  11. Wait wait wait….have you shot a Radian?!? I’ve shot most on this list and to not have Radian on here is CRAZY!

  12. Colt made the list? That a joke? Today, Colt is 100% GARBAGE! If your Colt was made prior to their collapse that included another bankruptcy and loss of us military small arm’s contract, you’re in the clear. But for the past 3 or so years, Colt rifles are not even made by colt or with Colt part’s. Colt now subcontracts and farm their stamped lower receiver’s to other manufacturer’s, for them to finish the rest of the rifle with their generic parts and turn around and sell it on the shelf as a “Colt”. In which Colt then receives royalties per each unit sold. You’re brand new LE6920 is trash and nor the barrel, bolt/carrier group, trigger assembly etc. Is Colt. You been had. Stay the hell away from Colt!

  13. Ok, well Ive shot 75 percent on this list and own 50 percent of these companies. At the end of a day an ar is mostly likely an ar. Ive shot bush masters xm15 that chambered better than my friends colt and vise versa. Getting caught up in names and companies is retarded. Most people change out parts anyways and then end up with a totally different gun. Most ar’s on the market today are all fine and will do its job from 500 to 3000. You do get better parts on more costly models, but at the end of the day an ar is an ar. Peace

    1. If your Bushmaster is xm15 milspec 5.56 produced about 2004/5 it can be a good rifle. Except for the difference in machining for semi-auto my barrel ,bolt and exstention tube/buffer are the same part numbers they had supplied in limited quantity to the military (for those not aware, the military had about 10 brands on the field at the time unlike today)
      I shoot 62 grn nato 5.56 ammo mostly but have shot cheap crap along with various .223 name brand and only had one fail to eject due to trying a cheap Russian brand..I’ve never had a misfire and I am abusive to my rifle. Targeting is too easy and I can hit tight groups repeatedly even after rapid firing 60 or 90 rounds through her!
      I do not like newer Bushmaster compared to mine.

    2. @ Shaggy Illinois.

      The LAST US Military Combat Rifle Competition WON by a US Manufacturer was in 2007 (i.e. Colt’s Manufacturing). After 2008, Virtually ALL “AR” Style Rifles went from Mil-Std. to Mil-Spec. Because of the Looser Restrictions and Manufacturing Costs…

  14. Ummm how about Core Rifle Systems?! Less expensive and outperforms most of these puppies. And a lifetime no BS warranty. And cerakote!!!

    1. Lmao! To say “core rifle systems” out-perform most of the AR15 models listed above is a bold and highly exaggerated comment. Everyone wants to believe their AR15 is the beat to fetch relief in knowing they own an AR15 that’s below mediocre.

  15. Not one person mentioned FNH. Considering colt lost the military contract for manufacturing their small to FN. That and you can’t get any more mil-spec than the fn military collector edition AR’s. They are actual clones of the M4 and M16’s they produce for the military. No auto sear but that’s no surprise.

  16. How about StagArms ? They make an excellent 5.56/.233 with plenty of good options! They have a lifetime warranty, and have been able to deliver good service in spite of some business malfunctions! They have good customer service, and have knowledgeable people serving the public! The gun shoots well straight from the box! Mine came with a 5&1/2 lb trigger, that is ultra smooth! No need to replace this! Everything is well machined and smooth operating! It’s a great rifle, & should have made the list! They now have a new AR-10 in .308 . The AR-15’s come in several calibers! They are the first ones to make everything in left hand too! So, what about “StagArms”?

  17. for several top ten AR15 reviews there is always a blank for Winham Weaponry AR15 and AR10 … these weapons are well constructed and accurate … I believe they are as good as or superior to those listed. It may be worth checking them out… R/ submitted

  18. Looking for a reasonable ar15. Is a bushmaster any good? I’m looking for one at a reasonable price.if anyone has one email me. Thanks

    1. Asking if anyone has one will get you varied answers. They used to be very good quality, but the bushmaster name was bought by the same company that owns Remington and dpms, which make what you might call a “budget rifle” when it comes to ARs.The high quality bushmaster era was made by a company that has been renamed Windham Weaponry. If you have the money to spend a couple hundred more than a new bushmaster, you can get a pretty decent quality weapon from a more reputable company. If not, and you don’t want to wait and save more money and get a higher quality firearm, I would suggest getting one in your price range and put money back to get higher quality core components, I.E. bolt, bolt carrier, barrel, gas block, possibly an upgraded trigger assembly and hammer/springs. It’s your money, but those would be the 2 options I would consider in your shoes.

    2. Being from Maine… I know all about Windham Weaponry…. -after Bushmaster was sold to Remington, the owner said, “hey, we still have all the equipment to make high quality ar’s…so let’s make an even better one than before!” -and now they do! -all their ar’s are unconditionally lifetime warrantied… &their prices are some of the most competitive &affordable across the whole ar marketplace. -Buy Windham!!

  19. Barrett has the gen2 rec7 out now with the spc 2 chambers far more accurate and far lighter I own one in 6.8 my cousin my buddy and I went out with their AK 47 and sks dumped 1000 rounds through each both of their guns jammed one round blew up in the AK when the dust cover was off while the Barrett ran cool efficiently and accurately even shot down a medium sized tree

  20. Just came across this while web-surfing. Interesting list; how LaRue could have been omitted is puzzling. Their .5.56 and 7.62 OBRs are a first choice of Special Forces (I live north of Bragg) and have won at least one International Sniper Comp at Ft. Benning (I should know; I lent my 7.62 OBR as a backup rifle to one of the teams from Ft. Bragg that won in 2011. Turns out my rifle was used for the entire comp when the primary gun went down).

  21. I agree with Mr. Logan, Windham Weaponry is a great company, I have the AR10 and it operates perfectly, and with accuracy. It appears to be a known but unknown weapon…sounds funny, but I hardly see it in any of the shooting magazines like the Rifleman, Shooting Illustrated or Guns and Ammo. In reviewing the AR15 or AR10 it gets high praise and good marks. It really should be in the top 10.

  22. Windham Weaponry is the best unknown AR manufacturer in the country.
    I have two Windhams, a rifle in 5.56 NATO and a pistol in .300 Blackout. They both operate great, with no failures.
    Everyone should try them and see for yourselves how good Windham Weaponry really is!!!

    1. @ Roy Nash

      LaRue Tactical announced in 2/03/2013, that they were selling to Law Enforcement, Federal and Military Only.

    2. They never said that. They said they will only sell to law enforcement what civilians can buy. The article is on the bottom on their website footer.

  23. Another vote here for Windham. They took what they were making under the Bushmaster name and stepped it up a notch when they were reborn as Windham. A great American firearms manufacturer story. Wonderful weapons.

  24. Folks, I am wondering about Windham Weaponry AR15’s and the AR10 .308 that they manufacture in Maine. I understand that many of the employees are from Bushmaster when they moved out of Maine. From what I have read and observed their weapons seem to be of extremely high quality. Your thoughts on this … Respectfully JAF

    1. I stand by my previous statements about Windham… These folks stand by and take pride in their products, they can get pricey but if you stick to the basics you can still get a fairly decent deal my 7.62×39 was about $800.00 kind of middle low end pricing and I have had the opportunity to compare to high end pieces and I am not disappointed with my gun and have been complimented by owners of those expensive firearms who thought I had paid a lot more for mine…. Try it you will like it

  25. Windham Weaponry formerly Bushmaster… I bought mine in 7.62×39 and later added 5.56 and .22lr uppers. .22lr to teach my 10 year old nephew the basic fundamentals, 5.56 for targets and small game and 7.62 because many states will not allow hunting anything larger than a groundhog with 5.56 and if I should ever have the need to point it at another human being in self defence I want to be confident that one shot will settle the issue. My AR has all of the things you’ve listed, I can change from one upper to the other in a matter of seconds and the gun has never failed me. I don’t know about the military but the Windham AR is used by police departments and you can’t overlook the fact that Bushmaster was one of the first (it was for me) quality “affordable” mil spec AR’s for sale to private citizens… The list is wonderful for all “high end” users, but I have to look at quality vs cost and though the Windham is not the cheapest nor the most expensive it does represent quality and my lower has accepted uppers from several other mfgs without complaint or failure. Perhaps you should rename the article the “top 10 most popular” or something like that.. Hell, who has not owned a Bushmaster at least prior to the sale of the brand…

    1. @ Robert.

      Stag Arms, Went Out of Business in December 2015 and LOST their Manufacturers License to Operate. White Wolf Capital bought the Holdings of Stag Arms in February 2016, But Not the Operating License. Stag Arms CEO Mark Malkowski, Surrendered His Operating Licence in a Plea Agreement with the Federal Courts…

  26. No “debate” here, as this looks to be a pretty good list of top tier, true “mil-spec” AR-15 manufacturers. (I’d like to see Ares Defense in there though)

  27. A Cheaper Than Dirt office poll list? You guys need to get out from behind your desks. Aside from my Sigs (516 and 716), another one of my favorites, Ruger’s 556 Takedown plus their 300 AAC Blackout conversion kit. Accuracy and quick interchangeability as a paired system should give you cause to rethink your criteria and what makes your list.

  28. What about FNH? They have the majority of military contracts and surpassed the Colt’s by a long shot. Or even LaRue or Wilson Combat?

  29. Most of these companies didn’t exist when I got my Stag back in ’10.
    Seems that most of my military AR’s were H&R’s….

  30. If you need some info on a great AR that’s left hand compatible and Mass. legal, friend me on Facebook and send me a private message. My name is Kevin Wells.

  31. I can’t do long guns because of shoulder. I still love the AR, to me the
    Kel-Tec PLR-16 5.56 I have Is the best. Reliable, flawless, very quick
    and easy. Still an AR, take any magazine an AR takes. Even though
    it’s a pistol. With the TR-225 on it, I can put one as dead center of the
    bulls eye at 100 yards with good ammo. Probably better than most AR
    rifles out there.

  32. I own a number of the AR15s showcased here–but the least expensive AR is paradoxically the best: Core15. With the exception of some rails, they make every part in house. Mil spec is just a starting point, with most parts built to a higher standard.

    Their warranty is unique in that it is a true “forever” warranty and it doesn’t matter if the owner is the 10th owner or if the rifle has shot a half million rounds. I own four Core15 rifles, with the least expensive one costing me less than $600! In addition to 5.56mm, they offer .308 and .300 Blackout.

    Anyway, they deserve at least an honorable mention.

  33. some times it requies a closer look inside the barrel to tell what your really working with a lot of the under 1000 are made and rebranded to meet what ever standard the brand wants. Cmmg barrels are common on almost all under 1000 ar’s nothing wrong with that its just you dont get a single manufacture of the whole product any more.

  34. After reading your criteria on what makes a great AR, I have to agree to disagree with this list. You knew this was coming. Granted each and everyone of these rifles is a fine example of a great AR, and probably better than my USMC issued Colt M16A1 in the late 70’s. That being said, There are a number of high quality AR15s that have all of the requirements that are on your list that were left off. Better title would have been the Top Ten Ar15s over $1000.00. Then we know what we are looking at.

  35. Palmetto State Armory has quality products at great prices. I have one of
    Their 7.63-39 full uppers. Works great with my LRB Arms lower. Shot over 100 rounds (1st time) of Wolf steel ammo without any problem.

  36. both colt and dpms are the best hand down !!! I,m old school I,m not into all pretty colours,rail systems to hang ornaments on like a Christmas tree,fancy stocks,and muzzle brakes no no and no.I demand long service life-dependability-accuracy.TRIED-TRUE AND TESTED.The AR=Armalite Rifle is been the longest served battle rifle ever !!! And for all those who don’t know what S.P.O.R.T.S mean ,quit while your ahead ?

  37. Colt LE6920; I’ve owned for a little over a year and have yet to find or experience any problems. It easily accepts near any replace/addition of custom parts that I have selected. Even with reloads it has yet to drop a stitch at the range, and once dialed in, it punches the red center with little effort out to 200 m. Can’t see too much farther. I like it. I am a nostalgic 60’s RVN vet that loved his M-16 of yesteryear.

    1. You are right. I know Barrett stuff may be quality, but their AR isn’t combat tested. I would think FN would have to be on it, simply because they build Colts rifle for the Army. Now they have their own line, backed by years of experience.

    1. Me too! Love my Stag 2L can’t shoot it enough I’ve shot right handed guns all my life and was hesitate about buying my left handed AR but ended up loving it. Only replaced my charging handle to a ambi and the safety lever to a ambi. Can’t be more happy with it!

  38. I agree with the others that Stag & FNH should be on the list. Didn’t Stag make parts for other company’s?

  39. I am surprised none of the Larue Tactical AR’s made the list. All of their rifles guarantee sub MOA accuracy, even on their breakdown models. I run a 16” PredatOBR 5.56 in 3 Gun and tactical carbine classes. I shoot about 2000-3500rds a month with it and it continually punch a single ragged hole at 100yds when on the bench….and this rifle gets broken down into its 3 main sub-assemblies after every shooting session.

    Another is the POF 415. I dumped my LWRC for the POF and never looked back.

  40. I realize no list could ever be complete, but I’m curious if you considered, and if you did, what short-comings the FN AR15 had. FNH makes more M4 M16’s for various military’s than any other single manufacturer (I believe…). Was their recent foray into AR15’s up to par with their actual Military issue product?

  41. Thanks for the ratings list as well as the opportunity too respond.

    I own one of the ORIGINAL Steyr AUGs (serial # in the 900s, imported by Interarms) and still feel it is in most ways superior to the AR pattern rifles.

    That said my vote goes to the LWRC Tricon MK 6. Not that I’m in the market for one but I have over the years extensively researched all the “aftermarket” ARs available and handled most of them. The Tricon MK6 is, to me at least, the best version of the AR pattern ever produced.

  42. Since I am a south-paw in law enforcement. My choice was pretty easy. I had to go with a left hand specific model from Stag Arms. A year or so later and I am still very pleased with my selection.

  43. What about the sig? Altho mine won’t shoot steel cased, it shoots straight, shoot quiet and shoots with the recoil of a 22

  44. I have an Olympic AR, with red dot sight. I have had no issues with it, and it fires everything I have loaded it with.

  45. I build on DPMS uppers and lowers
    I especially like their Flat Top Target upper
    and CMMG as my other choice

  46. WOW, Midwest Industries but no LARUE?? Who made this list? I’d put Wilson Combat in front of them as well…

  47. Precision Weapon Systems (PWS) piston AR-15 is the finest machine for the lowest cost I have seen… as in highest value for cost ratio. They come in different barrel lengths, superb manufacturing, shoot true with tight groups, require minimal maintenance. And they just fit and feel right in my hands like no other one ever has.

  48. Well, someone did a LOUSY job of communicating, if that was the intent. I’m not rich enough to have a “top ten” list and I’m sure most of us here aren’t either.

    1. Speak for yourself. Most people who build their own save up for the parts they want versus buying a complete late platform that you’re going to change all the parts anyway. Crying poor mouth just makes you sound like you have sour grapes. We’re talking ar-15s not lamborginis. Just sayin

  49. It’s fun to read all the comments, but the intent was to post which rifle made YOUR top ten, not to whine about why your particular favorite wasn’t on the list. We seemed to have strayed from the original intent. All the rifles mentioned have considerable merit but don’t get butt-hurt if someone doesn’t share your opinion.

  50. I have always gone by what guys use at perry. also the vendors that show up on commercial row. Geissele rock river,bushmaster,armalite to name a few

  51. My list contains manufacturers of the top 10 ARs that I currently own and and put the most rounds through. I might get typing happy and list all 23. 1)Christensen arms .308. 2)2 Vets Arms 5.56. 3)Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel. 4)Aero Precision 5.56. 5)Black Rain. 6)KE Arms KE-.308. 7)Yankee Hill Model-57. 8)LWRCI SIX8. 9)Seekins. 10)POF. 11)S.I. Defense.
    After serving in the Marine Corps calibers became my issue and if it says Mil-Spec, I don’t want it. I like the 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, .450 BM, and the .458 SOCOM. My next purchase will be the most expensive to date but ever since the NEMO OMEN came out I’ve been waiting for my wife to say I could, I just had to let her buy a Tavor and a new HK VP9. I think the blackmail was worth it cause they are both great shooting weapons. Keep on shooting. SEMPER FI!

  52. I have the Colt LE6920MP, in black, but not the “SOCOM” one you list. It appears to be the same except for the heat-sinking(?) forend, is that the only difference? I bought Colt (slightly above $1000) for the name and for reputed reliability, and found it to be better than adequate, shoots straight, no feed or ejection problems, and has a great ‘feel’ in the hands. Weight and balance are second to no others except the S&W, which I was advised I could have gotten for hundreds less. I guess I’m big on names.

  53. Neither of my two ARs has made it on this top ten list. I have a Black Rain Ordnance chambered in .223 Wylde and a piston Sig Sauer chambered in 7.62 NATO. Both are quality weapons and have been absolutely flawless.

  54. Seriously? Where is Rainier Arms? Were is Wilson Combat? VLTOR? How about Olympic Arms, probably one of the oldest that has been around since the 80’s? How about Armalite’s Eagle Arms? How about Anderson Manufacturing, you know…the company that actually manufactures most of the companies listed receivers? And puts their names on them?
    Just because someone did a bang up marketing job doesn’t mean they have the “best”. I’ve got an Eagle Arms receiver that has been around me since the late 80’s and it is just as good as the day I bought it. I also have Olympic, PWA and Palmetto State Armory. Inexpensive parts don’t always mean they are “cheap”.

    1. Anderson Arms does NOT make the receiver for other manufactures. Nonetheless, make the receiver for themselves. First of all the receivers that are Forged, are made from Anchor Harvey with a proof mark of a big A, then Cerro who has a Keyhole forging mark. And last, is Brass and Aluminum Forge, and their proof mark is a Square. Most of the forged receiver and then shipped to Lewis Machine & Tool or Cross Machine & Tool, who machines the forging out. Anodizing is done by the machining companies or the manufacture of said AR.

  55. I know that you pay for quality, but these rifles are not for the common folk. I might see paying a grand or better for a competition rifle, a precision hunter, or a rifle to carry into harms way.
    I’d be afraid to chunk a $1200 – 2500 dollar rifle around in my pickup.
    These aren’t daily use rifles, these are investments that stay in the safe.
    Get out of the elite clouds and give us some hard use tests on common folk (sub $1000) rifles like Bushmaster, Delton, DPMS, Remington, S&W, etc.

    1. Mark, in this case, most of these rifles aren’t listed because of “quality” they are listed because they did a great marketing job. They are no better than the common Bushmaster which is 1/3 the price of most of them.

  56. Echoing my thoughts below…CORE products are top-notch and the company is first-rate.

    I guess no one at the office has one, so it isn’t “top rated”!

  57. I just bought a rockriver arms AR lower and then a nsp car A4 upper from them. How does it measure up to your list. No chrome lined anything

  58. Good list. There are other manufacturers who could also be on there, but BCM, Colt, LMT, etc., are known to hold up well under hard use. Those who say that “an AR is an AR” are WRONG. They may all look alike, but many companies cut corners on quality of materials, leading to greater risk of malfunctions when the rifle heats up and gets dirty under rapid fire, as well as premature parts breakage.

    I will never own an AR that isn’t mil-spec. Never mind the quibble about the lack of the useless burst-fire or auto switch (if I wanted to spray ‘n’ pray, I’d just buy a Slide-Fire stock) — I’m talking about the mil-spec materials, heat treatment methods, dimensional tolerances, assembly practices, QA inspections, and so forth. Those are the ingredients that make a quality rifle.

  59. I just noticed the two comments prior to my comment a moment ago. FN makes all of Palmetto State Armory CHF barrels, plus all of their other chrome lined barrels. Wilson makes all or most of their SS barrels. PSAs lowers are also phenomenal. They should be on this list.

  60. Why wasn’t Palmetto State Armory on the list? I’m guessing it’s because you don’t sell their rifles.

  61. Just finished my 1st build. Already own a S&W m&p15 in 5.56. Built this one in 6.8 spc. Palmetto state lower. Spike tactical upper. Found a barrel company in eastern Tn I think anyone doing a build should at least give serious consideration. AR 15 Performance. They have their head (and heart) in the right place!!

  62. I own an LAR-15 Rock River Arms Elite Operator 2. It is, in my opinion, an exceptional rifle. It is extremely durable, accurate and a tack driver. RRA is used by the DEA. It shoots 1 MOA at 100 yds at cost me about $1k back in 2011.

    1. I agree with your statement except for the customer service. My Stag was well built and had no issues with the rifle, until the chrome lining started peeling out of the barrel. Contacted Stag and they blew me off and said it wouldn’t hurt the bore to keep shooting it. In addition they indicated they were too busy to address the issue as they had their secretary and office people in the back room boxing up rifles for shipment. From that point on, they would not respond to phone messages or any of my emails….. I sold the rifle…

  63. Hi all, Lists are lists. Everyone has one, it makes them feel like they know something that the rest of us do not!!!
    If we could fill our basket with AR goodies, then we could truly find the real dope on this challenge???
    Myself, I’ve built three ARs to date and my favorite is my latest. I agree that that we sometimes skimp on our guns because we don’t have the money that the big boys do. Also, with all the different ammo out there, why do we limit ourselves to the tried and true 5.56/.223???
    OK, I digressed, My lower came from a small firm from South Carolina. Palmetto State makes a really fine AR on their own, it’s but I really like their lowers. As far as the upper is concern I purchased one from Windham Weapons. They currently make one in my new favorite .30 caliber round, the .300 AAC Blackout. Why this one ??? The .300 comes in two speeds, fast and slow. you can get fast by buying the super sonic for long range shots or the slow round in sub-sonic which allows one the beauty of using the suppressor for CQB.
    So there, beat me up if you must but on judgment day, who will be still standing when Jesus comes looking for soldiers!!!

  64. Core Rifle Systems. Better or same specs made in house and hundreds less. My TAC III in Sniper Grey looks hot too.

  65. Think H&K and others using push rod not real fair to call an AR. Also If I remember right the commercial version has take down pins in different position. Would add YHM (Yankee Hill Machine Co., Inc.). Love the Black Diamond Carbine.

  66. I have to say I like the list. Do I agree with all of it? No, but most of it I do.

    I have two builds, one in .223/5.56 and another in 308/7.62.
    One is a Daniel Defense upper including with BCM BCG and charging handle with Spikes tactical lower. Here is a video on this build.

    My other is a 308 build from a small company Fulton Armory. I highly suggest the writer of this article takes time to check them out. They are growing in popularity and their reputation is quite good. Here is a video on this rifle.

    Both have performed flawlessly.

  67. Patriot Ordnance Factory should be in the top 3. I have ran ARS from most of your top 10 list and my “go to” rifle is my POF. They have been making piston driven ARS longer than anyone. They have it down to a proven science.

  68. Okay… Don’t be too hard on me, but I have had extremely good product and service experience with CORE15. Obviously it didn’t make the top 10 list. And I’m curious about that. I have went out and fired side by side with a KAC and couldn’t tell any difference. Over a thousand rounds and not 1 jam or misfire. Before purchasing, I did my research. CORE15 employees are Veterans that that specialized in Arms during their Military Career. So, they know what they’re doing. My AR-15 seems to be of very good quality. It looks today as good as the day I bought it! Your thoughts about CORE15?

  69. Colt is King! While I do like and would own a AR15 from any mfg on this list, they are as good, but not better than Colt!
    Most are higher priced and do a good job of marketing, but none are better. Ask any dairy farmer and they will tell you the cream always rises to the top, and Colt is at the top.

    1. I have to agree with Alan, my Colt LE6920 M4 was highly accurate out of the box, and is a pleasure to shoot with no misfires ever. With a 1/7 twist, it can handle any ammunition built in 556/223 with very little recoil. Build quality is excellent, and sturdy. And at $933, it was an outstanding deal. All mil-spec, with high grade materials, all tested and verified with appropriate stamps.

  70. Where is fn manufacturing? Palmetto state armory? All those and many more are up there with the rest. The only difference is all the ones you posted cost an arm and a leg. I am not bashing you but there are plenty more reputable companies that provide quality ar15’s among the ones on the list. I’ve been running a PSA built at for four years and even competed with it. It has yet to fail or disappoint me.

  71. FN Herstal has had a stellar reputation in the firearms industry for well over 100 years. They have been supplying the U.S. military with M16s for quite some time, since the late 1980s I believe. They are the people who make the custom Browning Superposed shotgun, they own Browning and Winchester. I think it is pretty hard to keep them off the list.

    1. I agree on the FN manufacturing company. They are top notch when it comes to firearms. I wont buy any ar15 upper unless its an fn barrel. Sure there is other great manufacturers as well but that my choice of company. I just recently purchased two fns compact pistols,one in 9mm and the other in 40 cal. I couldn’t be more satisfied with them. I also have a strong liking for palmetto state armory too. Some people think they are just a budget company but everything I have gotten from them has been exceptional quality and reliability. There definitely should be more names on the list including those two. Also what about the sig 556. Another great quality company.

  72. One of the most accurate guns right out of the box is Rock River. Never seen one that wasn’t a good shooter.

  73. I have been really impressed by the rifles made by Anderson Manufacturing, Doublestar and Accurate Armory. All three are
    made in right here in Kentucky too.

  74. The obvious misses from this list would be POF and LaRue. I haven’t been able to find a better constructed more innovative rifle than POF’s gen4 rifles. LaRue makes outstanding rifles as well. Colt makes excellent entry and mid range weapons but doesn’t begin to compete with either POF or LaRue.

  75. Please don’t forget StagArms if you don’t own one or have not fired one need to check them out grest for the money

  76. Check out Layke Tactical, they are a Aerospace Manufacturing company out of PHX AZ with a 60 year history in the same location (Layke Aerospace) manufacturing defense and commercial aircraft components. They started a Tactical division machining and building AR15 & LAR10 style rifles about 3 years ago. These guns are accurate and tough, check out torture test video . The only thing better than their firearms is their customer service.

  77. Great list! I know several people are upset their baby isn’t on it, but the author laid distinct criteria for requirements. I’m a Stag guy myself, but I know why they didn’t make the list: the barrel is 4140 and it came with a non-HPT/MPI bolt carried by an enhanced AR-15 (not M16) bolt carrier with an improperly staked key. That never stopped it from running like a champ though.

    The good news: even if you buy a rifle lacking in some of these areas, upgrading certain parts isn’t difficult if you would like to. I bought some upgraded parts, even though I really didn’t need them: a HTP/MPI bolt, an M16 carrier, and a tool to properly stake the gas key. What I realized though is that after I was done upgrading I had spent more on the Stag than I did on my complete BCM upper. I still don’t regret buying the Stag though, because as a lefty it’s just nice having a gun that doesn’t throw brass at my support arm.

    My point: there are several guns that are rockstars with a reputation solid as any. People just need to understand why a Stag, DPMS, Bushmaster, S&W, etc. fall short of being branded “top tier.” So great list, I enjoyed reading it!

  78. Kind of a mixed bag here. They are all good rifles. I do not see POF which according to the information provided makes the most durable rifle I have ever seen. Then you rank Colt over H&K which is generations apart in function. Anything with direct impingement is practically our Granddad’s rifle. New coatings, design, function and materials make a better rifle but some of these choices are lacking in that area making them obsolete in some respect.

  79. POF USA should be on this list hands down. Why pay more $800 for a gas gun… Gas gun sucks. Once you shoot a POF piston you won’t go back. My POF is nicer than my LWRC and runs a lot cooler with the patent heat sink keeping it cool.

  80. For me, Primary Weapons Systems (PWS) without a doubt.

    First – No matter what brand you chose – practice, practice, practice. This will make it the best for you or will guide you to what is best for you.

    Second – any AR15 with YOUR vote in local state or federal government is the BEST AR-15.

  81. After spending years packing around Colts and Bushmasters, I ended up with a Bushmaster for personal use. I suppose it all depends on what one is used to and what its intended purpose is. I will stick to both brands as a matter of choice. Both were dependable weapons even after many- – many thousands of rounds expended thru both. So- – – I will eventually obtain myself a standard Colt to complement the tricked out Bushmaster. LOL

  82. My husband surprised me with a Daniel Defense AR for my birthday. I do like his LWRC however my DD is a great platform for me.

  83. LaRue nuf said!
    Didn’t figure it would make the list as most have never seen one must less had an opportunity to run one.
    JP is also a rare but first in class AR besides LaRue of course.

  84. This list is great for high dollar-high reliability weapons. I chose a PSA build for something that can get thrown in the dirt, dropped or just otherwise abused without costing an arm and a leg.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, Mike. I build my own and use the money I save for ammo. I leave the rifles on this list sit in the rack at the store for the people that don’t know any better.

    1. How could they leave out our Sig???? My M400 is so much better that the PWS that my department issued me to use in the field….

  85. It seems you havent kept up, a chrome lined barrel is not the best anymore
    meloniting is proving to be better. and tier 1 ar’s should have polygonal rifling since it yields higher velocities and better accuracy. and forged receivers are not as strong. yet many of your “tier1” use forged receivers, which puts them in tier2. my custom AR cost me $1100 to build, to buy one built like it would be $2500, So build your own! it’s easy
    And my Blackhole Weaponry Barrel will out shoot any of your button rifled, chrome lined barrel tier1 rifles and my cnc Upper and Lower is stronger than the forged brands up above. and the side charging upper is pefect, so glad I ignored many who said not to get one!

    1. Totally agree on the nitride, melonite, QPQ, barrel. Does not alter the dimensions of the bore. Chrome plating may have high and low spots which affect accuracy. Chrome is great for those that don’t plan on cleaning their weapons often. Your CNC’d upper and lower are stronger than a forged receiver due to the receivers having more material. If they were cut to the same dimensions as a forged receiver, they would be weaker.

  86. Adams Arms is definitely overlooked. Their complete AR lineups are flawless. I own a 16in and am waiting for the gov’t to approve my Class 3 for the 7in AR. They make the best gas system on the market. Their price tag is extremely low. Got my fully loaded 16in for $1,200. Excellent craftsmanship and value.

  87. Can’t really disagree with any of your selections being “Tier 1” but in my own personal list of top ARs there is no way I could fail to include LaRue Tactical OBRs. And, should my thoughts range to any sort of placement order they’d undoubtedly be at or near the top.

    1. I have operated at least 5 on the list and agree my OBR with the Leupold DAGR system is the finest all around weapon I have ever fired.

  88. You guys really suck with these lists. POF should top the list and I would choose a bushmaster over most of the list

  89. Basically we are comparing hammers,an AR is a tool for projecting a small pointy object into a target. So whatever brand is rolled marked into the lower receiver doesn’t matter as much as your ability to use whichever tool you happen to have. I like my Armalite,I like my LM and T and I like my Stags. They are all good tools,they do their jobs well and all are better then the one I carried for my uncle Sam in the early 70s.

  90. Anyone ever hear of a little company called “WINDHAM”? No? Cool cause I’ve only heard of maybe three or four of those originäl 10. Nobody who ever owned an original Bushmaster would try to argue and I just picked up a new Windham AR in 7.62X39 try to jam that thing…..

  91. I’m real happy with my S&W MP….accurate, dependable, and a lot of fun to shoot. I’m surprised that one didn’t make the list.

  92. I’m a Daniel Defense guy normally but I rented an Adams Arm AR at the range and I was very impressed. Found out there a lot less expensive as well. I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for so not sure how they will hold up over time anyone had an Adams Arms for a while? If so please add your opinions.

  93. I have two S&Ws, a 10 and a 15, for less than 2k total. Flawless and VERY accurate. (Sub MOA at 300 yards for the 10.) I don’t know why you left them off, but I’m happy. BTW, neither is the bottom rung one, I think they call it the Sport.

  94. What about Rock River Arms, Ruger, Smith and Wesson? Just to name a few of the affordable popular rifles of the AR variant.

  95. Still defend my comment about sig.

    The facility may be young, but the engineering and manufacturing processes are not.

    If facility establishment measured by time is a great concern of yours, you should stop eating/drinking/consuming /ingesting anything commercially available.

    1. Edmond, I was echoing your feedback on the SIG, sorry my disbelief didn’t come through…I totally agree with your vote on the 516.

      As far as my ‘tried and true’ position on ARs, I’m an early adopter, but never the first buyer, and (anectdotally) I have not heard the best about Midwest…but my point isn’t “don’t buy it because it’s a new plant”, it is that many other AR manufacturers left off this “TOP” list have been delivering quality products for a much longer time and probably would trip off my tongue earlier…SIG, Stag, Spike, CMMG to name a few that would come before MWA. CORE is relatively new to the industry, but you see I am a fan based on the quality of their product. And I’d rather eat at 5 Guys than McDungheaps any day~!

  96. Wow. No SIG. A manufacturer that has only been making rifles for a year (Midwest). And if you want to go for a quality mom & pop, where’s CORE? Amazing that piston rifles are forgotten, or maybe the office staff didn’t think these qualified as ARs.

    What qualified, exactly, to be named “top-rated”? Did everybody just throw a name out, and tried to be different?

    Look, make this easier on yourself: put a list of guns you want to sell on line and ask the READERS to rank them. At least then we’ll be looking at the honest results…”Top-Rated Rifles that You May Want to Buy From Us.” And leave the receptionists, copy boy and mailroom dude out of the next selection group.

  97. Overall,an excellent list. I am own the Colt rifle plus a brand that I feel should be on your list:the PWS. I own their .300 Blackout as my on duty patrol rifle.
    Seems the Sig Sauer rifle was slighted as well.

  98. Cmmg… they have the best .22 coversion bolt carrier group. And the mk 47 mutant that just came out. Imo this company has done things that no other company has done… all they do is build the same crap and copy others… but spikes is a for sure for good idea on their lowers.

  99. Colt? really? Shows how reliable this info is, they lost their military contract to FN and are bankrupt…. POF, FN, Larue… all these companies make better AR’s than many of the brands you listed. Glad I don’t take my advice from your ‘experts’

  100. 1. VLTOR
    5. SIG SAUER
    Just a few you left out and not necessarily in that order

    1. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure(about 90%), that VLTOR is a sub-brand/product line, of BCM. Most VLTOR parts I’ve purchased and/or looked at, included Bravo Company in the product name or description.

  101. To have left out Yankee Hil Machine off this list shows how young and uneducated you are about which companies actually OEM for the more “famous” brands and .mil contracts – and have done so for many years before some of the “fashionable” brands on this list even existed. Guns are now fashion items for metrosexual fanboys who became interested in them through video games. Hopefully the quality manufacturers who started the industry can profit off of that as much as those that specialize in simply marketing them.

    1. @JeffD
      You saved me from a bit of typing. Thank you! I have been shooting a YHM Black Diamond upper (20″ rifle 1:9) mated on an Armalite M15 Lower that I use to compete in ATC matches at 200, 300, 600y firing lines. Although I could mac out a Rem 700 in .308/7.62×51 and shoot flatter, the capabilities of the YHM/Armalite combo gives me the challenge, excitement and fun of putting a 69gn in the black rings and hopefully an X or two over 600y. I couldn’t be happier and hope this rifle lasts forever! YHM makes great BUIS in the QDS version, as well. I can’t say enough about that sub-MOA fly-swatter that’s a true joy to shoot.

  102. As far as I am concerned the number one AR maker out there is myself. I will not pay the prices these companies demand for a rifle that I can build myself in about an hour for around $450. The last AR I built late last year cost $408 finished and throwing lead down the barrel with 1 inch groups at 100 yards using parts I bought off of Ebay and the Anderson Rifles website. You can pay for the name, but in the end all AR`s are basically the same firearm. At the Indy NRA show in 2014 there were something like 110 AR manufacturers there. In Nashville this year one of the AR maker`s rep told me that something like 60 of those companies were out of business because people are finally figuring out that you are just paying for the name on the gun and there aren`t many differences between them. You can pay the big bucks, I`ll build my own and use the money I save on ammo

  103. I bought an Olympic box kit back in the late 90’s. Other then a barel change (experation of the Brady Ban) I have never had any reason to buy another AR. I love this rifle.

    1. The Bushmaster name was sold several years ago and I believe it is now owned by Winchester (open to correction). The original owners of Bushmaster are now Windham Weaponry, a really good weapon with an extensive pedigree, they do it all now from 223/5.56, 7.62x 39, 7.62 NATO,AR15, AR10 a variety of finishes.. If you owned an older Bushmaster and really liked it, you will Windham firearms. Quality parts, careful assembly great customer relations… (no not an employee but definitely a great fan and proud owner of one receiver and three interchangeable uppers of different calibers.

  104. You left out Compass Lake Engineering. They make competition grade AR-15 service rifles. Though not a primarily a “battle field rifle”, one of these, with all it’s accuracy enhancing modifications, would be absolutely devastating on the battle field. These are rifles you would compete with at Camp Perry, shooting 600 yards with open iron sights.

  105. And the #1 maker Armalite got left out how?? You predicted a problem with making a list…Santa would have checked it twice!!!

  106. My RRA has been a great rifle from day one. I also have a Stag Arms 6.8SPCII upper that I mount on the RRA lower. A super combo for predators. Stag makes nice rifles as well. Their Model 8 piston is my wife’s favorite. I bought it for my own entertainment and haven’t laid a hand on it since mounting the scope. If I had the extra cash I’d own an HK in 7.62. I have quite a few of their pistols and two of their long guns. HK makes excellent weapons and I do like the polygonal barrel. Their guns are virtually indestructable.

  107. My choice of ARs with excellent results has been Rock River Arms, though I only use their uppers and build my own lowers and install my choice of stocks. I have recently switched from their chrome AR 15 BCG to the Sharps Rifle Company Relia bolt BCG Nickel Teflon Robar NP3 plus. full auto profile bolt. I can wipe this clean. The bolt just requires a nitro solvent and a cotton patch to wipe clean.
    Recently, I received a Sharps 25-45 upper with a 20″ HBAR barrel. It has exceeded all expectations. It is the single most accurate rifle cartridge combination I have ever shot. I have a witnessed .25 inch 5 shot group at 100 yards with their factory ammo, 87 grain Speer hot Core bullets at 3015 plus FPS., The best I have done with my swift is in the .300s. I can’t say enough good stuff about the Sharps Rifle Co. Products.

  108. You state that the best made AR-15 manufacturer’s rifles will have eight characteristics, i.e., properly staked gas key….Type III hard coat anodizing, etc. I find it interesting your criteria doesn’t consider a measure of “out-of-the-box” accuracy and durability…therefore we could argue your choice of what it takes to make your list. Regardless, it would have helped significantly if you had included a matrix that easily illustrates which AR-15’s you’ve chosen have all or some of these chararcteristics to support your write-up as opposed to having the reader try to filter through much of the BS that reads like a glorified paid-for-advertisement from and about the manufacturer.

  109. I’m really not into AR or AK Rifles, preferring Bolt-Actions or Garands. But if I had to choose, it would be the HK.417A2 (MR762A1). That way I can use both the 7.62x51NATO and the .308Win. ammunitions…

  110. Rock River Arms has always been a brand that is frequently acclaimed, and well respected. I own three lowers for my NRA High Power Match Rifle, my “Shorty” (M4) .223 (also RRA upper) & .22 LR (CMMG-upper) rifles. RRA sets an industry-standard with their 2-stage trigger, and value/quality for price standards.

    I agree with Mikial on DPMS. I sold everything DPMS years ago. I consider them below second-tier. I would buy nothing from S&W except revolvers or maybe a vintage Model 41. S&W is a wannabe “toy” manufacturer who supplies very little to nothing to the real Military & Police (M&P) forces.

    With the advent of the internet, forums, blogs, etc. A company that makes sub-par parts is short-lived. I have built a few other AR’s with various lowers, uppers & accessories that I would have gladly kept for myself.

    Lastly, HUGE KUDO’s to Wilson Barrels! They build the best barrels for the price they ask. Yes, you can get better, truly “Match” barrels from the Big Guys (Krieger, etc.), but I shoot Master/High Master scores with my Wilson barrel, and it shows absolutely no throat erosion after nearly 4,000 rounds (coated bullets help, too!).

    1. Yeas, DPMS rifles are sh#$. I bought an Oracle for my wife and the trigger mechanism fell apart when she was at the range with me. Thank god I had kept the old one from another gun to switch it out with. Then the selector switch fell out too. Never again will I by DPMS anything or anything with the name even associated with them.

    2. Wilson barrels are notorious for having issues with the size of the hole for the gas blocks. A lot of people find out they have to resize the hole to make their AR operate correctly, google it… One of my shooting buddies had Wilson build him a custom AR. When he received it it kept giving him issues no matter what brand of ammo or what grain he used. The bolt would not pull back far enough to load a new round. After sending it back to Wilson several times with the same results he took it to a local gunsmith who opened up the gas block hole which fixed his issue.

  111. Good list, Suzanne, and kudos for being brave enough to post yet another list on TSL. So, my comments an Black Rifles.

    These are all great names and great guns. I carried a Colt for almost two years in Iraq while a security contractor on DoD contracts, and it never failed me. Not once. The same can’t be said for the Bushmaster I carried on the previous Iraq contract. So, Colt gets a nod from me no matter what anyone else might say.

    I realize these are not what one might consider Tier 1 rifles, but I would like to make a quick comment on a couple of other brands; one good, one not so good. First the not-so-good.

    DPMS. The two I have owned have had some serious issues. If they’re so bad, why do I own two, you might reasonably ask. Well, the first is a Brady Era M4 that it took me a long time to get right. It would not extract. I tried all sorts of ammo with the same result. I even sent it back to the factory, and they sent it back to me with a note saying it worked fine for them. Yeah, right. No improvement. I finally installed a Buffer Tech extractor kit that solved the problem. Figuring this was an early model, and in the frantic buying of guns after Obama got elected, I had limited selection and bought another DPMS thinking they would have made improvements by then. Nope. After more problems I bought a replacement upper from CTD and it works fine now. No more DPMS for me.

    Now for the good . . the S&W M&P. This thing is amazing. For $700 plus some more for sights, lights, forearm grip, and other fun toys, it is an excellent gun. It eats all kinds of ammo from Lake City 5.56 to Remington .223 without a hiccup. Highly recommended.

  112. same here with my Del-ton 316 echo. My buddy has a colt and its very picky with ammo. The del-ton I have fed everything thru and never had an issue, not once. I think this is not the best but, the most expensive Ars that you can buy…. That makes more sense.

  113. I’m surprised Stag Arms didn’t make the cut. I’ve carried a Stag 15 as my patrol rifle for nearly 10 years and put thousands of rounds through it without any issues. I think of it as a wonderful high-end rifle.

    1. @ Mitchell.

      Probably because Stag Arms is Experiencing “MAJOR LEGAL PROBLEMS”. Stag Arms, got caught producing ~3,000 Unregistered Lower Receivers that were Fully-Auto Capable. A violation of the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. CEO, Mark Malkowski is looking at a Minimum of 10-years in a Federal Prison if convicted…

  114. I have fired over 25 different AR15’s, M4’s and I have found one of the best is DPMS and your left them out. That makes me suspect of this list. DPMS is a leading provider of AR15’s to Law Enforement and your left them out? You need new so-called experts!

    1. @patriotshooter
      DPMS is the absolute worst firearm and the market second only to Phoenix arms 22 pistol. They fall apart by just pulling the trigger. God help the person that buys a 308 mad by them. it might actually explode in the users hands. if you have fire 25 different ARs and the DPMS is the best, I would hate to see the other ones. Was the worst performer just and actual pencil sketch of one and then the second and third ones photographs or what. 5th thru 10th held together with flour and water paste the 11th thru 20th they stepped up the assembly super glue and masking tape. Geez man!!! maybe you need to layoff grandpas old cough medicine.

    2. DPMS employee detected….

      I’d say you forgot Spikes Tactical. I agree with the list; though I didnt expect a couple of those brands.

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