Top 10 AR-15 Rifles of 2019

Windham Weaponry CDI AR-15 rifles black left side profile

Anyone in the market for new AR-15 rifles should start with a Top 10 list and then narrow it down by sorting the wheat from the chaff. Like any good Top 10 AR-15 rifles list, there is plenty of room for debate.

There are models that should have been included and those that should have been left on the cutting room floor.

So here are my top picks in no particular order. Your mission, should you be willing to accept it, is to put my list in proper order while feeling free to build your own list.

However, if you want to swap out a different rifle for one of these, be sure to provide your reasons why.

Here’s an infographic that summarizes all of them (click the image to view a larger version). Or, simply scroll down.

 top ar-15 rifles

10. Ruger SR-556 Carbine

Ruger SR-556 AR-15 right profile
You will be hard-pressed to find a better Dual Piston AR-15 than the Ruger SR-556.

The Ruger SR-556 Carbine is an excellent choice for duty, defense, recreational, and competitive shooting applications.

This fantastic dual-piston AR-15 incorporates a 16.12-inch hammer-forged chrome-lined mil-spec 41V45 barrel, lightweight adaptable handguard with 2×3-inch rail sections, Hogue Monogrip, chrome-plated bolt and one-piece carrier and extractor.

The Ruger SR-556 has a solid reputation for being an ultra-reliable, dependable semi-auto rifle that is accurate and a joy to shoot. The Ruger SR-556 is among the best AR-15 rifles you’ll find.

Ruger SR-556 Carbine Semi-Automatic Rifle
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16.12-inch hammer-forged chrome-lined Mil-Spec 41V45 barrel
Caliber 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
Twist 1:9 right hand
Overall Length 31—34.25 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.17 lbs
Stock Black synthetic, collapsible
Upshot Matte black and Manganese Phosphate/hard coat anodized finish; two-stage piston system with an adjustable regulator; lightweight adaptable handguard with 2×3-inch rail sections; Hogue Monogrip; chrome-plated bolt, one-piece carrier and extractor; rail covers and soft case included


9. Rock River LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle

Rock river lar-15 r3 competition rifle left side
The FBI and DEA have both opted for RRA rifles. What do they know that you don’t?

Rock River Arms makes some of the best AR-15 rifles in the world. After exhaustive testing, both the FBI and DEA turned to Rock River Arms for their patrol rifle contracts.

The LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle features an Operator A2 buttstock, flattop optic-ready upper and Hogue rubber pistol grip.

It features a Top Rail Octagonal Free Float Handguard with an extended length of 15 inches and a low profile gas block.

It has Rock River’s excellent two-stage trigger and an oversized winter trigger guard for gloved hands. The R3 Competition Rifle is chambered in .223 Wylde for exceptional accuracy and accepts .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO.

This rifle is built for precision with an 18-inch cryogenically treated stainless steel fluted barrel featuring a 1:8 twist. It also has Rock River’s directionally tuned and ported muzzle break with a 1/2-28 thread.

Rock River LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle AR1705X
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 18-inch stainless steel fluted barrel
Caliber .223 Wylde accepts .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO
Overall Length 38 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.6 lbs.
Twist 1:8
Stock RRA Operator A2 Buttstock
Upshot Mid-length gas system; forged RRA LAR-15 aluminum lower receiver; forged A4 aluminum upper receiver; cryogenically-treated barrel; low-profile gas block; RRA directionally tuned and ported muzzle break; 1/2-28 threaded muzzle; RRA two-stage trigger; RRA winter trigger guard; star safety; RRA top rail; octagonal tro-xl free-float handguard; XL 15-inch extended length handguard; Hogue rubber pistol grip; black furniture and finish


8. LMT CQB MRP Defender Model 16 5.56


LMT CQB MRP Defender Model 16
Chock full of extras, the LMT CQB is battle-ready.

The CQB MRP Defender Model 16 features a CQB MRP upper receiver with 16-inch chrome-lined 1:7 twist 5.56 barrel, standard semi-auto bolt carrier group, tactical charging handle assembly, Defender lower with SOPMOD buttstock and standard trigger group.

The CQB MRP comes standard with a sling, tactical adjustable rear sight, tactical front sight, one 30-round magazine, two heavy-duty push-button swivels, torque wrench/driver and three rail panels.

LMT CQB MRP Defender Model 16
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16-inches, chrome-lined
Caliber 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington
Overall Length SOPMOD 33 – 36 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.8 lbs
Twist 1:7
Upshot Direct gas impingement; A2 birdcage compensator; 1/2 x 28 thread pitch; low profile gas black; a cryogenically treated barrel to increase accuracy; barrel life and easier cleaning; 5 QD sling swivel attachment points; electronically tested and recorded trigger pull


7. Daniel Defense DDM4V9

Daniel Defense DDM4v9 ar-15 rifle left side
Daniel Defense’s DDM4 line has reached legendary status within the AR community. No collection could be complete without at least one.

Unable to find commercially available parts for his M16, Marty Daniel turned his lifelong enthusiasm for firearms into an internationally recognized company.

From humble beginnings and a few small ideas, Daniel Defense has grown exponentially to become a mainstay in the firearms industry.

The company’s flagship product, the DDM4 Carbine embodies the quintessential design for the modern sporting rifle.

Built around a 16-inch cold hammer-forged barrel, the DDM4V9LW features a newly designed buttstock and pistol grip, as well as Daniel Defense’s Tornado Cerakote finish, making this one of the best AR-15 rifles.

Daniel Defense DDM4V9LW
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16 inches, cold hammer-forged steel barrel
Caliber 5.56 NATO (accepts .223 Rem.)
Overall Length 35.87 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.34 lbs
Twist 1:7
Stock Daniel Defense buttstock, polymer with Soft Touch overmolding
Upshot CNC machined 7075-T6 aluminum upper and lower receiver; M4 feed ramps; chrome-lined lightweight profile; MP-tested, mil-spec heavy phosphate coating; mid-length gas system; Daniel Defense flash suppressor; M16 mil-spec MP tested, chrome-lined bolt carrier; heavy buffer, 15-inch DDM4 rail; Daniel Defense pistol grip; polymer with soft-touch overmolding; Tornado Cerakote finish


6. Windham Weaponry CDI

Windham Weaponry CDI AR-15 rifle black left side profile
Twice the feature and performance at half the price of competing premium AR-15 rifles. Who could argue with that logic?

Windham Weaponry is pleased to offer you the Windham Weaponry CDI AR-15 variant.

This particular build includes all the features you would expect to see in all other AR-15 rifles built by Windham; however, this particular build includes a gorgeous Diamondhead free-float forend with a Magpul angled foregrip and a Vortex flash suppressor.

Also sitting atop the rifle is the Diamondhead dual-aperture rear sight and Diamondhead front flip-up sight.

Windham Weaponry CDI
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16 inches, M4 profile chrome-lined with Vortex flash suppressor
Caliber .5.56mm NATO Caliber Rifle (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 36.125 inches, 32.375 inches collapsed
Weight Unloaded 7.025 lbs
Twist 1:9
Stock Magpul MOE
Upshot Semiautomatic direct gas impingement system; forged 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum with trigger guard; hard-coat black anodized finish; M4A4-type flat-top upper receiver; 4150 Chromoly Vanadium 11595E steel with M4 feed ramps; Diamondhead free-float forend; Magpul AFG; Magpul MOE black pistol grip; Diamondhead dual-aperture flip-up sight; Diamondhead front flip-up sight



DPMS TPR Ar-15 rifle right side black
Made by Americans for Americans… Do we really need to say more?

Few companies can claim and back up the statement, “Every component of every rifle is American made and designed” like DPMS.

DPMS is a premier manufacturer and designer of excellent firearms built from the ground up for Americans by Americans.

With a hands-on philosophy, its designs are crafted to stand up to rough use and abuse and still function and fire accurately. DPMS is definitely worthy of your hard-earned money.

The name ‘Tactical Precision Rifle’ says it all. A 20-inch stainless bead-blasted barrel, matched with DPMS’ M111 modular handguard, Magpul MOE grip and B5 Systems Sopmod stock allows for comfortable handling and full-size rifle velocity.

AR-15 rifles don’t get much better than this.


Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 20-inch HBAR
Caliber .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
Overall Length 37.25 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.75 lbs
Twist 1:9 inch
Stock B5 System SopMod
Upshot Forged 7075 T6 A3 flat-top receiver; forged 7075-T6 receiver; DPMS 2-stage trigger; M111 modular free-float handguard; Magpul MOE pistol grip; bead-blasted finish; AAC Blackout flash hider


4. 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.

Built for durability and to Mil-Spec requirements, the Stag Arms AR-15 Model 2 rifle is used by SWAT teams around the world, as well as by soldiers in the war on terror.

The Model 2 is made from top-quality materials and has an upper made from A3-forged 7075 T6 aluminum. This Stag Arms rifle also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Model 2T10 STAG-15
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16 inches, chrome-lined, 4140 government profile
Caliber .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
Overall Length 32.25 – 35.75 inches
Weight Unloaded 7 pounds
Twist 1:9
Stock 6-position collapsible
Upshot 10-round magazine, flat-top upper receiver; A2 front sight; Midwest Industries flip-up rear sight; Samson Star C quad rail


3. Bushmaster Modular AR-15 Rifles

Bushmaster Modular Carbine right profile
Bushmaster’s 16” Bbl. Modular Carbines combine many of the most popular items from the Bushmaster Modular Accessories System (B.M.A.S.) into a completely unique firearm.

Bushmaster’s 16-inch barrel Modular Carbine combines many of the most popular items from the Bushmaster Modular Accessories System (B.M.A.S.) into a unique firearm.

Designed around an A3 type flattop upper, the modular carbine has a 16-inch chrome-lined, fluted barrel with a milled gas block.

A B.M.A.S. four rail free-floater forend, combined with the A3-type flat-top upper receiver provides all the Picatinny rails necessary for sights, scopes or accessories.

Molded rubber sure grips snap over the rail sections to add comfort and rail protection. The dual aperture B.M.A.S. rear flip-up sight is a detachable unit with a windage knob calibrated to 1/2 Minute of Adjustment.

The B.M.A.S. front flip-up sight clamps around the milled gas block, and an ergonomically contoured pistol grip completes this special carbine. It’s one of the best AR-15 rifles, for sure.

Bushmaster Modular
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16 inches, fluted, heavy-profile chrome-lined barrel
Caliber .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO
Overall Length 34.5 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.3 lbs
Twist 1:9 with 6 grooves and lands
Stock Black M4 collapsible
Upshot A3 upper receiver with removable flip-up rear sight; 7075 T6 aircraft-grade aluminum upper and lower receiver;  Manganese phosphate-coated, Hard-anodized mil-spec finish; B.M.A.S. quad rail forend; accepts all M16 and AR-15 magazines, 30-round magazine


2. S&W M&P 15 VTAC II

M&P15 VTAC II rifle right side profile ar-15
Hunting, competition, defense – the M&P15 VTAC II does it all and comes fully equipped.

The S&W M&P15 is an excellent choice for hunting, competition and defense. If this is what you are looking for, look no further than the Smith and Wesson M&P 15 VTAC II semiautomatic rifle.

Using the famous VLTOR aftermarket upgrades gives you a precise rifle with nothing left to buy. Throw on your favorite optic or red dot and head out the door. Get more out of your shooting sports with this outstanding rifle.

Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16 inches
Caliber 5.56mm NATO (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 36.75 inches
Weight Unloaded 6.28 lbs.
Twist 1:8 5R Rifling
Stock VLTOR IMod stock 6-position collapsible
Upshot Durable, corrosion-resistant barrel finish; 7075 T6 aluminum, hard-coat black anodized; mid-length system; VTAC/Troy 13-inch Extreme TRX handguard, VTAC wide; padded 2-point tactical sling; VTAC LPSM low profile sling mount; VTAC light mount; Smith & Wesson enhanced flash hider; Geissele Super V trigger


1. Colt LE6920 SOCOM II

Colt LE6920 Socom ar-15 rifle black left side profile view
If you want a rifle that is as close to what is currently being used by special operators around the world, then the Colt LE6920SOCOMII is the rifle for you.

If you want a rifle that is as close to what is currently being used by special operators around the world, then the Colt LE6920SOCOMII is the rifle for you. Built in Connecticut at the Colt factory, this gun starts out as a typical LE6920.

Designed to meet and exceed Colt’s stringent testing and tolerances, it next gets a Daniel Defense RIS II rail interface system, designed specifically for U.S. Special Operations Command in order to meet the requirement of a free-floating barrel while providing the ability to attach an M203—probably not something you or I will ever need, but…

Colt LE6920 SOCOMII AR-15 Semi-Auto Rifle LE6920SOCOMII
Action Semi-automatic
Barrel 16.1 inches, M4 profile, chrome-lined
Caliber 5.56mm NATO caliber (accepts .223 Remington)
Overall Length 32 – 35.5 inches
Weight Unloaded 7.5 lbs
Twist 1:7
Stock Collapsible M4
Upshot Barrel threaded 1/2 x 28 TPI; birdcage A2 style flash hider; forged 7075 T6 aluminum receivers; M4 feed ramps; M4A1 roll mark reversible selector switch; Daniel Defense RIS II (Rail Interface System) free float quad rail; fixed A2 style front sight tower; match flip-up rear sight; H2 heavy buffer, black; made in the USA!

So there are my Top 10 AR-15 rifles. Share yours in the comment section. And don’t worry, I intentionally left a major contender for the top spot off the list, so you should have plenty to work with.

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 (192)

  1. I’ve shot the Ruger, Colt, Daniel Defense, Rock River and Stag. Liked them all, especially the DD, but the Stag? What can I say about a company from whom I purchased (4) AR platform rifles (agency purchase) and (3), yes, (3), were defective. That was about (7) years ago, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they’ve squared themselves away, both in quality and dishonest business practices. They were terrible for service, too. We ended up eating (1) of them, because we “waited too long to report the problem”. That was the response after (3) failed attempts to even reach anybody for service. Will never purchase another.

  2. SIg doesn’t even make the cut huh???

    I am quite sure there are many Sig Sauer owners that would disagree (including myself).

    1. I’m scratching my head regarding the absence of the Patriot Ordinance Factory AR. Personally, I’m confident it would make the top three in any thorough comparison challenge.

    2. @ Mark.

      If I had too venture a guess, is because it was founded in 2002. And NOT MANY People have Heard of it YET…

    3. Personally, I didn’t realize Patriot Ordnance Factory was such a young company. To add to the info share of this thread though…they were originally in partnership with Hogan Arms. Much like the Glock story, their founder grew up in the metal business (aviation focused) and decided to try his hand in the firearms business. Well, he nailed it and simplified to things and enhanced other areas the industry hadn’t really focused on.

      Again, in my humble opinion, the POF AR line is excellent. I’ve had mine for roughly 5-years, poured a ton of ammo through it and with proper maintenance it has yet to fail me. I’m now saving my “egg money” for something in the .308 line.

      Happy shooting!

    4. @ Mark.

      I’m NOT Faulting the Product Line, Sir. But UNTIL you Mentioned their Name, I’ve NEVER Heard of them BEFORE. Maybe the Company NEEDS to Advertise More. “Word-of-Mouth Advertising” only goes So Far and “To A Select Few Group of People”…

  3. So, nobody decided to proof-read this and fact check it? Opinions are going to vary and any “top 10 ” style list will always have room for some debate, bu you’ve got a few minor, but embarrassing factual errors in some of the specs and descriptions. It doesn’t make you an idiot, but it does make you look like one. I am willing to bet that you can do better than this.

    1. @ PT

      I’m going to make the Assumption that the Rifles Listed are all Domestically Produced by US Manufacturer. While Sig is domestically produced, there Owned by a German Company.

  4. I would agree that a lot of these are really nice AR-15’s. Would have loved to see criteria used along with pricing of each rifle. I have an Adams Arms gas piston carbine AR-15 and I personally believe it is one of the best AR rifles available and better than a lot of rifles that cost twice as much. It is extremely underrated which is sad because you can’t find a gas piston AR-15 for less than double the price I paid for mine. I chose to go with the base model so that I could customize it exactly the way I wanted it. Why pay extra for a model that comes with a bunch of extras if I don’t know if those extras are anything I want or if they will be changed out by me. So when I look for AR-15’s I look at the bare bones of the rifle and don’t get caught up in all the flashy stuff. I suggest you do a lot of research before buying your AR-15 and see what you like and don’t like. And also purchase your AR based on what you plan on using it for. I wouldn’t buy a carbine length if I planned on using it for long range target shooting. And I wouldn’t buy a rifle length for home defense or tactical use. Research is your friend and don’t be afraid to go to different gun stores around where you live to check them out in person and ask as many questions as possible, the owners and employees at the gun stores are there because they have a passion for firearms. So they will talk to you and answer all the questions you can think of and do it with pleasure because it’s something they’re passionate about . I do that before any of my firearm purchases so I can actually feel them in my hand. And then I purchase online where pricing is better by a lot. And just a tip….the least expensive AR-15 is not the worst and the most expensive is not the best. Good luck.

    1. I also have a Adams Arms It is a great rifle for the price which I paid for it $652.00 plus FFL dealer which cost $75,00 transfer . My Adams Arms shoot really Great I could of bought the other rifles but I choose the best one Adams Arms which they have great stuff to modify it the way each others want it. So I agree with you why pay for a S&W or a Bushmaster/ Or a River Rock Adams Arms are Built Great I have shot it a bounce of times I love it.

  5. Ok, so I was wrong – CTD does sell these superior brands. I’m willing to admit my error. Is CTD willing to admit that they are without excuse for omitting these superior firearms from their list of “Top” AR-15’s? There have been quite a number of comments left here since that list was published that contest the list. So, what criteria WAS used? Perhaps it is made up of the firearms that CTD sold the most of? That doesn’t make them a better rifle.

    1. This wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. As the author stated in the article, “There are models that should have been included and those that should have been left on the cutting room floor. And don’t worry, I intentionally left a major contender for the top spot off the list…” Dave Dolbee’s intent was to spark lively commentary—which he did successfully! I doubt anyone is going to argue that the SIG 556 isn’t a top-notch rifle!
      Thank you for giving us your input.

  6. Great comment! I haven’t verified it, but I’, sure the list created by CTD consists only of the brands they sell. So SIG, Armalite, and other quality and reliable firearms are not on the list for that reason. As for me, SIG is the way to go.

    1. @ Desert Dwelling American

      CTD, does sell ArmaLite “AR” Rifles. Sig Sauer, I not certain of…

  7. Ridiculous nonsense. You couldn’t pay me to use an M&P or Stag AR. As far as a weapon being used in the “war on terror”…lol. Folks serving will buy an upper and replace their standard issue for several reasons but some medic or cook replacing a worn out colt or fn barrel or upper with a shiny new stag is not fighting the war on terror…LOL. Not to mention most of these kids don’t know jack about what constitutes reliability. Most were technically just “in country”, coming home telling war stories wearing operators caps. Don’t see Knights Armament, Larue Tactical, or FNH. I would expect to have seen POF and Armalite and SIG. Wiith the exception of Colt, Daniel Defense, Noveske, I see generic wannabe junk. Might as well be paintball guns. Heavily promoted/advertised and ridiculously cheap doesn’t mean quality. You’ve made all the fat YouTube dorks wearing surplus multicam pretending to be operators who praise wolf ammo for its accuracy and wounding capability hitting milk jugs filled with tannerite and during beer…LOL. Merica PMSL.

  8. I heard that the Indian Nations of America, are planing a Buy-Out of Colt Defense and Colt’s Manufacturing. To keep them from going out of business.

  9. How much do they cost? Not a minor detail.

    After Chapter 11, are we still going to have Colt brand rifles?

    Also, is 1 the best or 10 the best? I assume 1 is but want to make sure.

    1. Best is a very relative term and one that we would never get agreement on, but I would love to see how you would rank them! Colt is still in business and should remain after Chapter 11. ~Dave Dolbee

  10. I see 2 mfg. that offer left hand ar15’s Stag and Rock River. Any + or – comments on these rifles? thanks

  11. So I am confused as to why the H&K MR556 was left off the list. Im just curious as to how Rock River was left from the list. Even without companies, this list doesn’t pertain to tac vs hunting.

    1. There are only 10 spots. Yes, H&K and Rock River are both great companies that deserve to be on the list, that is why we typically do more than list a year, often based on sales and customer feedback. ~Dave Dolbee

  12. Silly to mention the LMT CQB MRP and leave out the main feature of this platform. The ability to quick change barrels in under a minute.

    Some of the rifles on the list I wouldn’t take if they were given to me. They are junk and will continue to be junk. I don’t care who has a contract with them.

  13. ..still trying to figure out how you listed Stag, DPMS and S&W over a Daniels Defense!

    Performance wise the DD carbine is in league if not better than the Colt 6920. Seen to many DPMS take nose dives in carbine classes and quite a few LE agencies don’t touch them; ditto the Rock River- the DEA contract was a lowest bidder situation.

    DEA tac teams run Colt and LWRC

    1. The list was generated from reader comments and not in any particular order. ~Dave Dolbee

  14. Just a question for all you experts. My gun club was shooting long range on Saturday. Max was only 450 yards, but I noticed a few of the guys had AR’s. Is it normal to be able to shoot .223/.556 out that far or were those guns exceptionally accurate?
    If I wanted to go with a very accurate AR out of the box, what would you all recommend for MOA?

    1. Hary,

      ARs are certainly capable of shooting out to 450 yards accurately. Being mindful that there are two different .223 rounds you may be speaking of. The .223 Rem. is loaded to slightly lower pressures, which affects performance. The military and ARs with a Wylde chamber can shoot the .223 Rem and the higher pressure 5.56x45mm cartridge. Off the top of my head, the 5.56×45 was developed with the specification to penetrate 3mm steel at 600 meters with M855 ammunition.

      Generally, the effective range is going to be between 400-600 meters (450-650 yards) depending on the specific powder and charge, bullet design and weight and barrel length.

      The standard for MOA would likely be 1 MOA – i.e. a one-inch group at 100 yards. That would be a good start. However, you mentioned “very accurate” which is a relative term. For serious competition, you’ll need a rifle capable of much better than 1 MOA. Many competition rifles and varmint rifles are a good place to start looking for the out-of-the-box accuracy you mentioned. You’ll also get what you pay for to a large degree so your accuracy potential may be tied to the amount you are willing to spend. ~Dave Dolbee

      Here are a few article to start your research:

  15. My good friend own’s a reloading shop here in Reno, NV.
    Anyway he sells Bushmasters AR-15’s and will give me $300 +\- off an one I like and give me a great deal on ammo reloads.
    My question is should I go ahead and buy the Bushmaster AR-15 and accessorize it. Or like my boy’s do I buy a Smith & Wesson @ Approx $1300 +.
    I just never know absolutely what to get when I purchase firearms. A while ago years now I bought a CZ75b and everyone was asking why I bought that kind of pistol (9mm) , but it’s came to be my favorite gun out of all the hand guns I own. And the most Accurate. So I just need a pro’s advice this time Thanks
    Charlie Robertson.

    1. There are many things to look at while looking for the weapon that you may want to purchase.
      Go to this site and then you can begin your process of elimination. But in the end you will have to be the one shooting the weapon and if you are not happy with it, that wont be fun.

  16. I just ordered ther ruger sr15
    I do have a question do all 5.56 accept.223 ammo. I thought they did but reading this review i noticed it said the s&w does but did not notice it saying any other models did ?

    1. .223 Wylde shoots both 5.56 and .223… 5.56 will shot 5.56 and .223… .223 will shot .223 only… In a nut shell

    2. Only ar’s that are capable of excepting 5.56 are able to except.223
      If you get an AR-15 that excepts .223 may not except 5.56. Is what I’ve been taught.hope this helps.

  17. Very good and useful information explained with complete detailed specifications. The best entry level AR-15 is honestly the cheapest you can find. If you can build it cheaper than factory, then go that route,

  18. Vermont is also a good state;no pistol pemits or carry pemits;
    law abiding people only need to wait 5 minutes for back ground check.

    no ammo restriction,texas in good but a long haul from nj.

    good luck!!

    1. @ JohnEbeGood49

      Which Model, do you know? Older models had Mounting Screws, New ones Mounting Pins!

    1. My first suggestion would be move out of NJ! Not much you are going to be able to buy that will not get you in a lot of trouble in that state. And the rules just keep getting stricter, against the constitution. Good luck my friend.

    2. Your first suggestion was the best. Move out of New Jersey away from the regulatory gun haters and to another state such as Texas, where God, guns and guts mattered when The Republic of Texas was born and still do today when standing up against tyranny and attempts at illegal legislation. You know what I mean? Texas has politicians with “stones” instead of no back bones like a Democratic jellyfish. No offense to the populace of the state of New jersey. Not too keen on puppeteers who are trying to control the masses behind closed door deals. Good luck in your quest for freedom and in finding a compliant firearm.

    3. RPK- I wouldnt brag about ” freedom and Texas” – Texas has a bloody reactionary history and backwards mindset set- unemployment iscstubbornly high, and during your former governor Perrys braggin of state growth, many of the new jobs were LOW WAGED jobs people who havevthem also qualify for WELFARE!!!

      Its the state where bigottted ” right to work” supporter Vaughn Muse lived, has some of the nations worst work place safety conditions, a high rate of police officers murdered and killed, water pollution issues, and lax laws that do not properly protect air safety either.

      Texas is becoming overrun with drug issues, mexican border violence, and the ghettos are growing in the larger cities and your prison populace is growing as bad as lefty liberal California!

      There is more to running around and shouting freedom than bragging about having guns….

    4. …blah, blah, blah…so I guess where you live, mentally ill people can go in and buy guns? The Constitution says nothing about this. Neither does it say this of people on parole and probation, yet thwir 2nd Amendment rights are taken( unless you feel comfortable with former convicted RAPISTS, WIFE BEATERS, CHILD MOLESTERS, DRUG DEALERS, AND PEOPLE WHO DID TIME FOR VIOLENT ASSAULT AND ROBBERY CRIMES having guns when they get out of prison( DOUBT you do)

      Its ironic that many of you who have the opinion that the federal government is taking peoples rights also support ” states rights” – well its the states more than the federal government that have different restrictions on gun possession!!!

      NewJersey hasnt taken away anyones rights ny banning or regulating a certain type of gun!

      BET in your so called ” free states” you cannot own a 20mm anti acft gun! Bet you cannot put a m60 mg on your roof, or possess a 75mm pack cannon in your backyard! Isn’t that a ” shall not ne infringed” issue???

      Stop this sillt rightwing radio ranting- the weapons we have today don’t even come close to the interpretation of firearms the constitutional framers could even imagine.

      Their idea was that the government couldnt disarm a gun owner without due process.

      The ” right to bear arms” neither denies or SUPPORTS having military grade assault weapons or machine guns- its VAGUE FOR the very purpose of future intrepretation. You can reload 10 round mags in N.J or CA as fast as you can reload a 20 or 30; FBI stats show even police officers , who face ARMED felons more often than the avg citizen, rarely fire more than 7 rds in a confrontation, even home owners that confront felons don’t either…

      By the way, the NJ poster lives in a state with a “popular” Republican Governor( Christie) didn’t do JACk about State Bill A2006; apparently voting for unrestricted hi- cap weapons in a HIGH crime state where the heavily armed thugs often outgun cops, isn’t appealing to ” supposedly pro gun” loud mouths like fat Christie.

      If I ever live in a place where I need to mag dump to survive, I am in a desperate situation with slim chances of winning, have forgotten my basic firearms training, or I need to serious LEAVE where I am and not come back!! I have 20 rd mags grandfathered in, and 10 ten round mags that can do the job.

      I’ll leave you paranoid ” empty the clip” folks to your Alamo mindset

      Now back to the subject; NJ prohibits bayonet lugs, flash suppressor, no folding stock, semi auto( almost ALL the states prohibit full auto without BATFE licensing)16 ” bbl and 10 rd mags- Stag , Spikes Tactical, Windham Weaponry,Del Ton, Bushmaster , Remington, Rock River Armsand EVEN Colt all make NJ legal AR-15s- compare prices and LOOK for Rob Sloyers old ” AR 15 specs” chart stil floating about on the net for what you want in an AR

  19. Cant forget about Bushmaster, which I dont think is near the top, but i think you get good bang for the buck.

  20. How about Daniel Defense??? Great high quality rifles at a reasonable price. Not cheap and not over priced, just a fair price for what you are buying. I also continuously hear good things about Spikes Tactical and BCM. I have no experience with either of those companies except for a light weight 5.56 barrel from Spikes, which has been a great barrel for me so far, and at a fair price.

  21. sigs 516 patrol is so accurate and smooth. should be on the top of the list.. Lots of ar,s go bang but , few shoot as accurate.they are priced high.

  22. #5 DPMS looks like the TAC 2 not the TPR. Is that correct? If so, I would lean towards the writeup on the TPR and not the photo. Good writeup though…

  23. I see people whining about price. I will just say this, the sweetness of a cheap price will leave a bitter taste in your mouth & possibly a bullet in your ass, when your weapon does not function in a life or death situation.
    My personal preference is the Colt LE 6920 socom11. I’m saving my nickels & dimes so that I can afford a good rifle not a cheap rifle!!!!!!

  24. ok,sorry for ignorance;sig 556 works for my pu rpose.
    Have not had the pleasure to shoot or own the 516.
    sure the 516 is a great rifle. thanks..

  25. this is all well and good BUT WHERE ARE THE PRICES…aside from the specs, which are not as important to many people…. are never as important as priceing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. oh too bad;i live in Vermont,m400’s are allowed.
    Hornady also makes 69 grain in 223,which is almost as
    equally devastating on deer.Of coarse a 1-7 twist rate
    makes all the diff too.I can hit a dime at 200 yds.!free handed!
    My 30-06 alittle more difficult. Thanks,happy shooting!

  27. For me Alexander Arms for their calibers and Wilson Combat (albeit probably the most expensive) for their bad ass fluted barrels.

    1. Wilson Combat isn’t even close to being at the top of the AR pricing… LWRC, POF, LaRue, Noveske, JP Enterprise… These are just a few of the top tier AR’s in both price and quality…

    1. Yes, I have a sig 556;made in new Hampshire great rife;added comp
      trigger by timney & a 1-4 hog-plex by leuopold.
      awesome hunt combo!! just my opinion.Thanks

    2. The 516 & 556 are two completely different rifles. The 516 Gen 2 is the superior of the two IMO.

  28. Secundius, I agree about wanting the best but I still do not think that whether a weapon is the best one for the military makes it the best one for you. There are a lot of great weapons out there that the military has no use for. Oftentimes, their standards and needs are completely different from those of a civilian. And after 41 years as an active and reserve Marine, I can also tell you without question, that the military does not always have the best of anything. All I am saying is that you should select the weapon that meets your needs and pocketbook, and do not feel like you have to buy whatever the military chooses.

  29. 10. Bushmaster
    9. DPMS
    8. Colt
    7. Windham Weaponry
    6. Smith & Wesson
    5. Ruger
    4. Noveske
    3. Heckler & Koch
    2. Armalite
    1. Black Rain Ordinance

  30. My biggest disappointment is that the 5.56/223 fodder is all that is represented here. As for passing tests or muster I know for a fact that Daniel Defence, Dpms, Bushmaster, Rock River, and Stag all build guns for our government. As for the best that has always been strictly an opinion. All makers have tradeoffs, some are more suitable to one person than another, and the ergonomics vary from pereson to person, as well as the cost of purchase. for myself I have little use for 5.56 or 223 as if I need to shoot a 22 then 22 WMR or 22 LR will do fine. In combat the 5.56/223 did terrible when I was fighting in Angola Africa in the 70s. the 45 Cal. Thompson did much better even though it lacked range. SO I am surprised that there isn’t even one 6.5 Grenel or 300 AAC in the list or even a 458 SOCOM which has turned out to be the premier hog hunting gun of the year.

    1. Tom
      The title of the article says it is all about the AR platform not the best rifles but their opinion of the best in the AR platform. I don’t want to get into discussion of whether or not there are better calibers for rifles but this particular article is strictly about the AR platform and typically the basis of the platform is the 556 and in the civilian version the 223. And no they are not necessarily interchangeable unless the manufacturer says they are (or states specifically .556 which also allows for 223)

  31. I think it is humorous that many writers are attacking the list of the author because some of the rifles mentioned did not pass a test for consideration by the military. This is NOT a military rifle, unlike what many of the gun banners would like everyone to believe. The military competition requires many things that a civilian rifle does not need so some of you are trying to compare apples with oranges. Just accept that this is the author’s list and he even noted that many people will have a different one.

    1. @ Miles.

      If I buy an AR-style rifle in which my life hangs in the balance of. I’m not going to buy one that just cut the “mustard”. I’m going the get “the best bang for the buck” I can find. Something that will survive all the worst that nature has to throw at you, not something that might get me through to the next hurdle I encounter. I want a “quality rifle”, NOT a “so-so rifle”. Something I can hunt with, instead of something that might protect me and my family from being hunted. If I wanted something like that, I’d buy a AK instead…

  32. I surprised that nobody has pick-up’d that, six of the rifles are Military Grade 5.56x45mm/Nato and four are Civilian Grade .223Remington…

    Military Grade:
    1) Colt Defense
    2) Daniel Defense
    3) LMT
    4) Ruger
    5) S&W
    6) Windham Weaponry

    Civilian Grade:
    1) Bushmaster
    2) DPMS
    3) Rock River
    4) Stag

    1. The Bushmaster states “.223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO”, the RRA states “.223 Wylde accepts .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO”, DPMS states “.223 Rem/5.56 NATO” and Stag states “.223 Rem/5.56 NATO”… All 10 are mulitcaliber, they just word it differently in each description.

    2. @ Don.

      While technically the same round, in actuality their two different “beasts” the .223Remington (.224-caliber/5.7x45mm) 57mm overall length and a CIP of 55,000psi. While the 5.56x45Nato (.224-caliber/5.7×44.7mm) 57.4mm overall length and a CIP of 55,114psi. Remember the 5.56 has a Mil-Spec. propellant charge to make up the difference in cartridge size.

    1. Ruger – $1,527.90
      RRA – $1,310.00
      LMT – $2,100.15
      DD – $1,819.00
      WW – $1,369.56
      DPMS – $1,208.58
      Stag – $1,041.70
      BM – $958.80
      S&W – $1,600.50
      Colt – $1,679.99

  33. Well just to get you started look into the colt bolt carrier group design and that was number one on this list. That should tell you about the rest of it

  34. I think this was a waste of time and maybe he is paid by some because the last 2 are no good and that’s for sure or the number 1 and 2 slots are rigged there my least favorite just do you’re own research and you will know what your getting in to I could write for days on ar’ s but I will not just figure out the basics and fix it from there. Good luck.

  35. When considering purchasing my next AR
    Your list is missing a big factor, the cost
    I understand pricing can fluctuate, but you should have included the manufacturers retail price

    1. I am assuming that pricing was not a factor in his selecting of his favorites. If you click on the “shop now” icon at the end of each set of specs it will take you right to the page for each AR that contains the pricing.

    2. @ Don.

      All these “AR’s” have one thing in common, their all American Manufactured. Notice Beretta-USA, FNH-USA, Heckler & Koch-USA, and Sig Sauer-USA are not included in the list. Probably because the “parent” companies are of “foreign” manufacture…

    3. @ Don.

      YES! The article say “Top 10 AR-15 Rifles 2014”, no US. manufactured “AR” style rifle has passed the Military Shoot-Off Competition since 2007. So how do these “AR’s” dare to wear the honor of “Top 10 of 2014”, in fact NO US. produced “AR” style rifle even qualified in the competition. Colt’t barely got through the first phase of the competition. None of the other US manufactured even got that far. “Top 10”, is a bad “punch-line” to a “bad joke”…

    4. So are you saying that a rifle sucks unless it passes a military test? And, has every US AR manufacturer submitted one of their units to be tested? Why don’t you clarify your statement with the words “No US Manufacturer That Mass Produces AR’s” has ever won since not everyone has submitted theirs for testing.

      And then like we discussed before, this is the authors “Top 10” list, not the military’s. Maybe the author has bad taste or as mentioned elsewhere, maybe he likes them because his company makes money off of them?

    5. @ Don.

      The the author should phrase it as “Top 10 Personal AR-15 Pick’s of 2014” instead of “Top 10 AR-15 Pick’s of 2014” All the the Foreign manufactured made it through the competition, only Colt’s Manufacturing got to the first phase of the competition. None of the others even got that far. Maybe it should be phrased “Top 10 AR-15 Picks, of the Worst of 2014″…

    6. The author specifically states in the FIRST paragraph:

      “So here are my top picks in no particular order.”

    7. Take a chill pill pal. Just because your gun wasn’t mentioned doesn’t mean you have to come unglued. Those were just the authors top ten. He didn’t say everything else sucked. Holy crap!

    8. For most everyone else, price probably is a very large factor and while it is admittedly great to be able to make a list without taking that into consideration, it would be nice if they had been included.

      I like his choice, mostly because Colt started the whole thing and because I used one in the Marine Corps and think Kevin is way off base. He would have been better served if he had backed up his statement with some basis for if.

    9. Just an add-on. Colt did not start the whole thing. The designation Ar-15 was originally given by Armalite the original manufacturer who then sold everything to Colt.

  36. #10- DPMS
    #09- STAG
    #08- S & W
    #07- DEL-TON
    #06- Windham Weaponry
    #05- Colt
    #04- Sig Sauer
    #03- Armalite
    #02- 2 Vets
    #01- BCM
    This is my list of AR15’S due to owning most of them or shooting them, These are lower and midstream in price point.
    My personal favorite is BCM and DEL-TON
    Due to quality of the firearms. Maybe I received a good one of the brands listed above.Mine all run good accept the Stag , dunno what happened there.
    There are way high end rifles out that are not on my list but you almost have to save money for 2 years to be able to afford them.

  37. Don’t agree w/ this at all!! That’s why opinions are like a*+#%^, everybody has one lol!
    Where is LWRCI on this list? While I own an RRA and several LWRCI M6 A2’s. The RRA is a great rifle don’t get me wrong, but it’s like comparing a Volkswagen to a Ferrari!! There’s a reason most spec ops, Isreali Defense teams utilize LWRCI

  38. @ Dave Dolbee, c/o Fairearms.

    You should be more specific, The COLT LE6920 Socom II is made by Colt Defense not Colt’s Firearms Manufacturing. It’ll cut down on the confusion…

  39. There’s a reason Colt has a government contract and why they are preferred by the military. Colt has a long and good reputation…one that is envied by other companies. Don’t get pissy because you bought a pinto and wish you would have spent $400 more for a caddy.

    1. @ Dave: The thing is Coft Defense does have contracts with the US. government, Colt’s Firearms Manufacturing doesn’t. Because they’ve lost every Military Shooting Competition since 2007, and goes with ever other US. Firearms manufacturer as well.

  40. Repiblic Firearms. Check out their web page or Century firearms has them also. Great AR and you can’t beat the price for a hand assembled rifle.

    1. @ kW.

      After all the parts are on the table if front the “assembler”, their ALL hand assembled in someway. I can’t think of any manufacturer that use “robots” to assemble their rifles.

  41. The picture of the Colt SOCOMII is not a SOCOMII, but a SOCOM. I have a SOCOMII, and the RISII is much longer, going past the front site.

  42. Heck, I’m still poutin’ over my $499 Mossberg MMR Tactical not showing up on the list. Shoots dang near MOA with its free-floating foregrip and decent ammo, and is proving very reliable and durable with 500+ rounds fired so far. It deserves a good review, as I consider it a “sleeper” that stacks up well against much more expensive mid-level entries being touted. Jus’ sayin’.

  43. After having handled and shot many of these rifles, your picks seam to be very good. Ruger just needs a better trigger, and a shrouded firing pin to be the best on the market (price, availability, features). It was the first piston gun, and not the last I’ve had the opportunity to shoot. Smith and Wesson are making what amounts to the best gas gun I have had the pleasure to shoot. As far as buying a firearm because it has an established name, consider this; Your Cadillac is not like the one you bought in the 80’s or the 60’s, neither is your Volkswagon. Try a few, shoot a few, handle a few… your money, your choice, your life. What is your life worth, not how much is your life worth.

  44. Over priced and just to rely on government contracts to make a profit ,sure makes management short sided . Hey colt their more consumers than governments. Give me a BCM OR DDM4 just as good and less money

  45. @ Don.

    I don’t know why either, why he choose these models. You even mentioned that HK is a better quality AR platform. I’m not big AR fan, preferring the 98k Mauser and the M1 Grande over the AR, any day of week. But if I had to choose an AR platform, it would be the HK 416 over all the models Dave chose. My on conclusion, for the models he chose. Was, because they are all American Brands and American Made.

  46. The AR-15 is the most popular semi-auto rifle on the market for all the wrong reasons IMHO. Why do most State Wildlife Dept. not allow these guns to be used for deer hunting? Well the lessons of Vietnam tell us that these little bullets that weigh less than half that of the AK-47 round, do not have the stopping power. Your comment that the AR-15 will keep shooting while dirty as long as you keep the bolt wet with lubricant, is fine for the range shooters.

    1. Why do you say that??? I think your reasoning is a little off Thomas.

      I don’t think most people are worried about or even thinking about knock down power when they purchase an AR. Like the American flag and the eagle, the AR is seen as a symbol of freedom and defiance against tyranny. It is an American designed and American built firearm that is carried by American soldiers to fight against anything that dares to take away our liberties. Why do you think the AR sales skyrocketed once our government was trying to ban them all? A good majority of the AR buyers are buying them because someone is telling them that they have no right to own them. Sure you have that select few who buy them because they believe the zombies are coming and then you have the group that buys them to shoot ARs competitively followed by the AR buyers who buy them for plinking, but majority of the AR’s that were being bought are sitting on a shelf in a closet or in a gun safe somewhere collecting dust. The ranges are proof of that, they haven’t gotten any more crowded out here.

    2. I purchased a Colt CAR-15 back in the 1980’s for around 450 dollars at a gun store in LA. Like a lot of people I though it was cool to have the same weapon as the military (but in semi-auto). Later I learned more about the weapon’s sordid past and limited capabilities. I now think the gun is ugly, overly complex, and over priced for what is little more than a varmint gun. I would hope that the majority of gun buyers would like the best weapon available to protect their home and country from threats both foreign and domestic. I think a larger caliber weapon will be better.

    3. I see where you are coming from but you have to remember, you dealt with the AR platform back in the 80’s. There were only a few select companies manufacturing them back then and yes they did have their problems. But now there are a lot more companies making them and they are making them better to tighter tolerances using better manufacturing techniques. And the platform is available in a multitude of calibers… .223/5.56, .308/7.62, .30-06, .300 BO, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel, .338 Lapua, .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, etc… Today’s AR is heads above the AR you experienced back in the 80’s. It is probably the most versatile rifle platform out there at the moment.

      And to your point… You take your .223 plinker to the range and when you get home you take :30 seconds to switch out your .223 upper for your .300 Blackout home protection upper. So you have your fun plinker and your knockdown thumper all in one rifle 🙂 🙂

    4. That and people love them because they can customize them in a million different ways 🙂 🙂 🙂

    5. depends on the rifle and ammo,5.56 75 grain hornady match hp
      I dropped a110 pound deer ,100 yards.Dislocated left shoulder ,spit heat in half,blew bone frags from right shoulder,1.5 inch exit wound.
      home work done! m-400 will drop any deer anywhere!

    6. It’s the rifle not the round that’s not allowed. You can get .223 in bolt action rifles that are legal to hunt deer with. I missed this point in our earlier discussion.

    1. @ chctaw.

      You forgetting the topic of this forum, AMERICAN Gunmakers and Manufacturers, No. foreign competition…

      But, I’m in total AGREEMENT WITH YOU…

    2. Where does it state “American” manufacturers? It just states “Top 10 AR-15 Rifles 2014”. And then the author asks you what your top 10 list would be, not what your top 10 “American” AR-15 list would be.

    3. @ Don.

      1. Colt’s Manufacturing Company, founded 1855 in Hartford, CT. Please note, one possible demise for Colt’s misfortune’s is, it’s defense contract with Colt Defense ends in 2014.

      2. Smith & Wesson Arms Manufacturers Company, founded 1852 in Springfield, MA.

      3. Bushmaster Firearms International Company, founded 1973 in Madison, NC.

      4. Stag Arms, founded 2003 in New Britain, CT.

      5. DPMS (Defense Procurement Manufacturing Services) Panther Arms in St. Cloud, MN. Is NOW owned by Remington Arms Company, LLC.

      6. Windham Weaponry, Inc., founded 2011 in Windham, ME.

      7. Daniel Defense, Inc., founded 2002 in Savannah, GA.

      8. LMT (Lewis Machine & Tool Company, founded 1980 in Milan IL.

      9. Rock River Arms, founded 1996 in Colona, IL.

      10. Strum, Ruger & Company, Inc., founded 1949 in Southport, CT.

      If you notice Don, the “Common Denominator” is ALL these companies are American owned and operated, and manufactured in the USA…

      Why don’t you ask the Author, Dave Dolbee and/or CTD, why there aren’t any Foreign Manufacturers in the Line Up…

      I’ve done the “grunt work” for you. You can do the REST…

    4. Again… Read the article, show me where it states “US manufacturers only”? There is no need for any further research.

      The author works for Cheaper Than Dirt and Cheaper Than Dirt sells products made by foreign company’s period. So you are IMPLYING that the author is pro American who refuses to acknowledge quality products that are made outside the US but yet he is fine working for a company that makes money hand over fist selling these same foreign made products? This same company that pays him with founds from selling these same foreign products? Is that what you are IMPLYING the author is saying between the lines??? Because again, nowhere did his article mention anything about “Made in America Only”…

    5. @ Don.

      Dave Dolbee wrote the article, if he intended Foreign Models to be the article. Don’t you think he would have mentioned them. The HK is a far better AR platform, then the Colt. So is Sig Sauer, but he doesn’t mention either one of them. It does take a genius, to see he was referring to American AR platforms only.

    6. Well being that I don’t ASSume or IMPLY what someone else means in an article, I take it at face value just as most of the posters have done. The author states “feeling free to build your own list”, not “feeling free to build your own list as long as it is American made/manufactured”. So again, where does it state “Made in America Only”???

      Are you trying to infer that the author was IMPLYING “American Made Only” but was too scared to come out and say it because he fears he would dis a large portion of Cheaper Than Dirt’s customer base, hence hurting his own pocketbook? (This reasoning based on your assumption theory)

    7. I don’t know why he did or didn’t choose any particular manufacturer or model of AR, I’m not the one claiming to be in his head. All we have to go on is his comment “here is my top 10 list”… He never states if he likes or dislikes any other manufacturer or model, he just states that the list is his top 10.

    8. Your last response didn’t show up on here but it came to my email…

      “@ Don.
      I don’t know why either, why he choose these models. You even mentioned that HK is a better quality AR platform. I’m not big AR fan, preferring the 98k Mauser and the M1 Grande over the AR, any day of week. But if I had to choose an AR platform, it would be the HK 416 over all the models Dave chose. My on conclusion, for the models he chose. Was, because they are all American Brands and American Made.”

      I don’t have any experience with either the Mauser or the Grande so I can’t comment for or against them but, I do like the fact that they both are larger calibers than the .223.

      I am a fan of the AR because of the platforms versatility. You can switch between calibers, barrel lengths or optics so easily. (The same reason that I am a fan of Strayer-Voigt and STI 1911s) And for those that hate the AR because of it being a gas impingement system you have the ability to swap that out for a gas piston system, the best of both worlds. And you have the choice of buying a pre-built AR or you can build one to your liking as I have done with both of mine.

    9. @ Don.

      I don’t know how my comments went to E-Mail address instead. I don’t even know you E-Mail address, is.

      But, there’s a Bullpup .30-06 Browning BAR II Rifle with 22-inch barrel coming out that you might be interested in made by Waffen (Arms)-Greger a German company, MSRP hasn’t been set yet. Just thought you might like to know…

  47. With the plethora of high quality parts and options available for putting an AR together currently, paying someone else to do it doesn’t make a lot of sense IMO when a person can easily tailor a weapon to his or her precise specifications, budget and uses. As far as leaving one dirty and only lubing it occasionally, with all due respect; that is a sure fire recipe for having a catastrophic failure to function at the worst possible time when the platform really needs to work. That kind of approach to doing business has made me a lot of easy money when people bring in guns frozen from from carbon fouling and lube accumulation in the rear of the carrier/bolt group, piston guns not withstanding. I don’t recommend running any rifle you’re going to bet the farm on in a poorly maintained state; bad idea.

  48. I see that no one is commenting on the Ruger due to lack of experience, well I own one in a 6.8 caliber that has been very reliable. The only malfunctions were user error caused by yours truly. Have I pushed it hard with lots of rounds through, no price of ammo is too high. I love the gun and caliber but if I had to do it over, I would have bought the 556 first and then the 6.8 upper. Only other downsides would be they are heavy and that Ruger does not want owners to try to remove the quad rail and access the piston, so swapping out the barrel is not something the average owner is going to be able to do.

  49. Anyone wish to comment on the palmetto state armory patrol rifle? Let us remember that before rock river arms was endorsed by DHS, they were a nobody, small end arms dealer… No one knew who they were. Now they’re at the top of the list of every AR enthusiast. And I’ve seen RRA AR-15’s malfunction… Repeatedly. Listen, the guns are reliable… For the most part. Keep them clean, keep them VERY oiled, use good ammo and good mags and your AR probably won’t fail… But if it does, then what? Spend more money on a higher end gun? Get an AR, take it to the range and hammer it. All the time. Let it earn your trust, and stop worrying about the stamp on your gun.

  50. Come on now, do you honestly believe your own list?

    My top 10 AR’s.. (Any AR Rifle By These Manufactures)

    #1 By Far – JP Enterprises
    #2 – LaRue Tactical
    #3 – Patriot Ordinance Factory
    #4 – LWRC
    #5 – Seekins Precision
    #6 – Barnes Precision Machine
    #7 – Spikes Tactical
    #8 – Rainier Arms
    #9 – Noveske
    #10 – American Spirit Arms

    But of course if you invest additional coin into any AR you can get a great weapon.

  51. “The FBI and DEA have both opted for RRA rifles. What do they know that you don’t?”

    I’m afraid a better question is, “What do I know that the FBI and the DEA don’t?”

    Of all the ARs on this list, there are only three to which I would trust my life or count on to hold up under hard use: Colt, LMT, and Daniel Defense. I’m not familiar with the Ruger. The manufacturers of the others on this list are known to cut corners in materials, quality control, or both, so their guns should be considered “hobby-grade.”

    Hobby-grade guns might be very accurate and might hold up fine for thousands of rounds of slow-fire, casual shooting. But when pushed hard with lots of rapid fire strings, they are more likely to malfunction or break parts than guns built to the military standard (or better). Ask anyone who runs a major combat shooting school, like Pat Rogers or Larry Vickers, which brands they’d trust in combat. They’ve seen countless rifles shoot countless rounds in their classes. They know which brands are most likely to choke or break when they get overheated and which keep on shooting.

    It’s possible that the guns companies like RRA make for the jackboots are built to a higher standard than those they sell to the commercial market, but that’s neither certain nor relevant for the commercial buyer. Colt and the other top-notch companies make all rifles to the same standards, and it shows under hard use.

    In alphabetical order, here are some AR makers that I’m familiar with and have a superb reputation:

    Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM)
    Daniel Defense
    JP Rifles
    Knight’s Armament Company (KAC)
    Larue Tactical
    Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT)

    1. And how many average AR buyers are going to push their rifles hard with lots of rapid fire strings? And how many of your military grade guns will shoot sub-MOA accuracy while pushing their rifles that hard? It comes down to the fact that most buyers buy the most accurate and most reliable rifle that fits into their price point.

      As for your point about higher end rifles not lasting… Many of the higher end buyers use their AR’s for competitions in which they push thousands of rounds through their rifles each year with no issues.

    2. If people don’t want to push their rifles hard and just want something that looks “tacticool,” then of course that’s their choice. But some want an AR for the purpose for which it was designed: fighting. In the civilian world that includes anyone who cares about the Second Amendment and wants to be part of the armed public that acts as a final check on tyranny in government. Or it can be the guy who just wants a good, solid rifle with which to defend his family on their rural property in the middle of nowhere.

      Whatever the case, I think we agree that everyone who buys a rifle should be aware of what he’s getting, no? Especially since there are superb rifles (like Colt and BCM) that cost little if any more than the range toys — a cost difference that will be dwarfed very quickly by the price of the practice ammo needed to become proficient. Unless someone wants to buy an AR and never buy any ammo to feed it, there is simply no good reason to buy a second- or third-rate gun.

      A lot of people, myself included, were led astray by false advertising when we bought our first AR. When a gun is advertised as “mil-spec,” people should expect to receive a gun that is built to the quality standards described in the Technical Data Package and capable of holding up under hard use. (We can forget about the common nitpicks regarding the absense of the useless “fun switch” and the inconsequential 16″ versus 14.5″ barrel. “Mil-spec AR” is commonly used to refer to a rifle made from the proper materials, manufacturing methods, dimensional tolerances, QC procedures, and so on.) Once I learned of my mistake, I admitted it and moved on rather than trying to convince myself that my rifle was just as good as a real AR.

      If you want reliability AND sub-MOA accuracy, companies like Larue and Noveske provide exactly that, but you’ll have to pay more. I hear a lot of reports that the Colt LE6940 can shoot under one MOA with match ammo, and Colts are as reliable as they come.

      By the way, I didn’t say (or mean to imply) that higher-end rifles wouldn’t last. I was saying just the opposite. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a gun designed and used primarily for competition to be as reliable as a fighting gun, but there certainly are weapons that can do both very well. For example, the Larue Stealth has held up just fine in demanding carbine classes, and it comes from the manufacturer with a sub-MOA guarantee.

    3. We are pretty much on the same page. The sad part is that most people who buy an AR seem to rely on the opinion of their friends whom all seem to be experts. They don’t dive in and really do research on their own to find out what will suit their needs best. The mad rush that Obama created didn’t help either.

      The whole mil-spec issue has just as many people arguing as the piston vs. direct impingement issue does 🙂 🙂 Mil-spec has just become a generic term like so many other terms have become, meaning more of a size than anything else when trying to buy parts that fit your AR.

    4. I own a Legion Firearms LF- 14D out of Temple, Tx and would put it up against any on this list. Though in the Cadillac price range I feel you get what you pay for so therefore weigh your pocket book against your expectations and use CAREFULLY!

  52. Great list of guns for varmint and small game hunting. But the Military selected this gun for Vietnam because it was cheap and easy to control in full automatic. The bullet is too small and too light for larger targets. The direct gas system is dirty and leads to fouling under heavy usage. The folks at Ruger looked at the AK-47 and the M-16 and took the best of each and came up with the gas/piston action in 308. This looks like a step in the right direction.

    1. Thomas Kling,

      I can’t comment on this Ruger per se because I have no experience with it. But with respect, you’ve repeated some common misconceptions about the AR-15/M16 family:

      1. The M16 has low recoil but still sprays ammo inaccurately when fired on full-auto, at least beyond rock-throwing range. That’s why the military rarely uses rifles that way anymore. They train troops to use semi-auto almost exclusively with rifles, leaving the bursts to the belt-fed weapons.

      2. The lethality of 5.56 mm bullets depends a lot on bullet construction. Rounds like the 64-grain Speer Gold Dot and the Barnes TSX are extremely deadly, even on animals like feral hogs and large deer (much tougher than people). Even the FMJ rounds the military uses can be very deadly on people within 100-200 yards or so, depending on barrel length. But those FMJ rounds are somewhat inconsistent about that.

      3. You’re right that the AR’s direct gas system is dirty, but ARs work just fine when dirty as long as they’re kept lubed. Experiments have shown that a good AR can well over 10,000 rounds without cleaning as long as they’re kept wet with lube, especially the bolt/carrier. I suggest a search for “Filthy 14,” a rifle used by Pat Rogers for his training classes.

  53. I own two rock river arms ar15s, model 1020, and the delta carbine length model. I love them, they’re really accurate. I had a broken hammer spring on the 1020; rock river arms replaced it, no problem. The single stage trigger on the 1020 is outstanding, crisp and smooth, and the two stage trigger on the delta is even better. As much as I love my rock river arms, my favorite ar15 is my spikes tactical st15. I replaced the factory trigger (though its a good factory trigger) with a rock river arms two stage trigger and KNS anti rotate pins. I’m gonna do the same thing with my palmetto state armory ar15. Love the quality mil spec components and inexpensive price points of palmetto and spikes tactical. God bless America and the 2nd Amendment!

  54. So much hype on such minute differences between one vendor’s and the other’s, when the rounds hit the targets, truth is one civilian AR is the same as another, simple as that…

    1. I beg to differ, all ARs are NOT the same.
      Is it chambered in 5.56?
      ALOT of ARs are chambered .223, so do not shoot 5.56 out of it!
      I may be mistaken, but Ruger is THE ONLY company to have ALL parts, for all of it’s firearms, INCLUDING the box it comes in are MADE IN THE USA.
      The only other not listed above that I’m not sure but think Henry also is 100% all parts made in the US.
      My caveat is ALL parts including screws, pins etc AND assembled In the USA

    2. @ sharrelldawg.

      While everything PHANTOM say’s is true, there’s only a 0.3mm difference between the .223Rem. (.224-caliber/5.7x45mm) @ 55,000psi Barrel Bore Pressure and the 5.56Nato (.224-caliber/5.7×44.7mm) @ 55,114psi Barrel Bore Pressure. Keep in mind Barrel Bore Pressures are tested usually a 125% of maximum bursting charge to test the barrels. There’s a ~0.002073% difference between the Civilian .223Rem. and the Military 5.56Nato rounds.

      I don’t think that kind of percentages is going to do too much, too offset the performance of the Mil-Spec ammunition. But, the REAL choice is really going to be up to you. We can make suggestions and advice you, but in the end the choice yours to make.

  55. I’m not sure if this list is your real opinion or if certain sponsors paid you to write this. There are many really good AR’s you left out. For example, there is no way bushmaster beats out Core 15. You left out so many better brands that I’m just not sure how serious this list is…..

  56. I’m really shocked at this so called top 10 Ar list! What about the true greats like pws,Daniel defense, bravo company? Wow I see some pockets being lined by lesser company’s to you!!

  57. It is funny, I searched for the right rifle for me. I had a lot of wants on my list. There were four that made it on to my short list. 3 of those four are on this list. I ended up buying the VTAC II and love it! Not cheap, but worth every penny!

  58. All on the list are good choices for ‘Store Bought’ AR’s. I, however like to
    tinker, so I purchased quality parts and assembled my own AR. REALLY a fun project that I’m proud of. Might build another one of these days.

    1. That’s truly great Lee. I’ve anted to do the same thing, but don’t feel I have enough knowledge to select the best components. I know some choices could be based on personal preference, but would you mind sharing a bit here about your build? I’d appreciate any info you could share from your experience.

    2. Drew… When building your own AR the first thing you have to do is figure out what you will use the rifle for, once you do this then you can start planning your build. Do you want to set it up as a long distance shooter, a 3 gun match shooter, a plinker, a zombie killer, etc… I have two I have built and I am working on my 3rd. My first one I set up as a long distant shooter and the second I set up as a 3 gun shooter… Then you have to set up a budget for your build. As we all know building these are addicting and they can become a money pit 🙂

      My first one I built back in 1999 when there wasn’t as much of a selection of parts as there are today. It has had several upgrades/updates throughout the years though…

      • Upper / Lower: ASA Matched Set
      • Barrel Brand / Length And Contour: Noveske / 24″ Heavy Bull w/ Noveske BCG
      • Material: 416R Stainless Steel
      • Chamber: .556
      • Twist Rate: 1 in 8″
      • Finish: Bright Stainless
      • M4 Feed Ramps: Yes
      • Gas Port Location / Type / Brand: Rifle / Adjustable .936 / Syrac Ordnance
      • Handguard: 12″ JP Modular
      • Safety Brand / Type: Battle Arms Development / Ambi
      • Trigger: HiperFire – HiperTouch 24C
      • Charging Handle: BCM Gunfighter Mod 3
      • Grip: Ergo
      • Butt Stock: Magpul PRS
      • Optics / Sights: Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50 Scope

      My second build is a 3 gun setup…

      • Upper / Lower: Seekins Precision iRMT-R Upper / SBA15 Ambi Lower (I love their lowers since they use threaded pins for the bolt release and such. That and it has and upper tensioning screw to tighten the upper to the lower.)
      • Barrel Brand / Length And Contour: Noveske / 16″ Medium Bull w/ Noveske BCG
      • Material: 416R Stainless Steel
      • Chamber: .223 Wylde
      • Twist Rate: 1 in 8″
      • Finish: Bead Blasted
      • M4 Feed Ramps: Yes
      • Gas Port Location / Type / Brand: Rifle / Adjustable .750 / Seekins Precision
      • Handguard: Seekins Precision 15″ MCSR V2 KeyMod Rail
      • Safety Brand / Type: Battle Arms Development / Ambi
      • Trigger: HiperFire – HiperTouch 24C
      • Mag Release: Troy Ambi Mag Release
      • Charging Handle: BCM Gunfighter Mod 3
      • Grip: Ergo
      • Butt Stock: B5 Enhanced Sopmod
      • Optics / Sights: Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 Scope / Troy Tritium Dioptic Folding Sights

      Each person’s build will definitely be different. You can make these as heavy or as light as you’d like. You can make it as fancy as you want or as close to a military issued one as you’d like… Good luck with your build.

    3. Don, thanks for that – it’s great information for me. I have some study to do, but I would like a long-distance AR for my first build. I appreciate your reply very much.

    4. I’ve done as Lee says, build my own. With all the great after-market parts available at CTD, Brownells or Midway, the sky is the limit. For one, there are lots of better triggers than the usual standard one most factory rifles are sold with. Geissele, for one.

  59. I’m sure everyone has there favorite rifle as well as an opinion of what is the best rifle on the market today. Most of our military vets of course will favor what they are accustomed to shooting from their personal experience.

    I’ve owned many Ruger firearms over the years. While not noted to be the most accurate in the world of firearms, they are arguably a solid weapon, and reliable. Other than the high end competition shooting sports you can’t go wrong for the money. I’ve heard the Ruger SSR is a darn good rifle. I have a Ruger Mini 14 and love it’s simplicity of design and function as well as reliablitly.

    If I ever decide to add an AR15 platform to my arsenal I’ll be giving serious consideration to the SSR.

    1. What do you mean Rugers are not noted for accuracy? I have a Ruger Old Model Super Blackhawk in .44 mag and a Ruger P89 that I used for IPSC, both are highly accurate. I have a bunch of friends with Rugers and nobody has ever had any issue with accuracy. Are you sure its just not your shooting style? I have never read anywhere that Rugers have accuracy issues, well that is until your comment.

  60. I know there are quite a few haters out there but I bought one of the new Olympic Arms flat top carbines and I love it, have not had a single hiccup with it yet and they are one of the few companies that makes their own parts in house IN the USA! Not many people know this but they were actually making lowers for three well known companies 2 of which are on this list. Rock River being one of them.

  61. I own all 3 of the Colt LE6920 variants, as well as the Colt AR15A4 and a Bushmaster XM-15. ALL are superior firearms and super reliable platforms for your personal protection needs. Colt IS the standard by which all other AR’s are measured. The Alpha and Omega. As for Bushmater, when you need a proven bullet pusher, made infamous by the psychotic low life murderers of the past several years, look no further. Every AR-15 mentioned in this article is noteworthy or they would not have been included.

  62. So why has no one mention the Double Star Corp. I bought one of their Star- 15 models a few years back and have never had a problem. Even after I found out about bump shooting and went sort of “crazy” with a few thousand rounds, it didn’t misfire, didn’t over heat, it performed ( and I use this word cautiously ) perfect.

  63. I’m a Rock River guy. Elite Operator II. It loves anything I feed it from 52 to 75 gr – .223 or 5.56. It works great with a .22lr conversion bolt. Best of all is my RRA .458 SOCOM upper – mounted on the standard Operator lower, it pushes 150 to 500 gr “bone crushers” on target as fast as I can pull the trigger (sometimes resulting in a sore shoulder). It takes less than 30 seconds to switch from one mode to the other. The “whole enchilada” ain’t cheap, but it’s more fun than my benevolent government thinks I should have 😉

    1. That’s why I stated that I had intentionally left out one major manufacturer that deserves to be in the top 10. Give us your list! ~Dave Dolbee

    2. I actually have a couple of these weapons mentioned. I recently purchased two of the Mossbergs MMR’s and I have to say right out of the box we took them both and put right around 500 rounds through them in one day and they performed flawlessly. They were right on the money for accuracy. We were shooting them in 107 degree heat and they did get a little warm, I have to say no malfunctions of any kind. These are not expensive weapons either, this is why I purchased them. My sons can take them out and if something were to happen to the weapons: well I wouldn’t be out twenty five hundred dollars either. If anyone is looking for a good decent priced AR check out the Mossberg MMR tactical.

    3. Agreed…Sig 516 Patrol Gen 2 is my favorite of all the ARs I’ve owned and is one I won’t part with.

  64. What about Barnes Percision Machining? All made in house and boasts a 1/2 MOA accuracy. Now the cheapest bang for buck but still less than Rock River.

  65. I’m not sure how the above made any top 10… But here’s mine:
    10) Palmetto State Armory
    9) Aero Precision
    8) Knight’s Armament
    7) Ranger Proof
    6) Bravo Company
    5) Smith & Wesson
    4) Colt
    3) Warsport
    2) Noveske
    1) Daniel Defense (best value for money).

  66. I currently have a DPMS with 20in barrel in 5.56 and standard rifle stock.
    with 1 in 9 twist rifle version. I load and fire a 70 grain bullet. I also have a Bushmaster in 556 with 1 in 9 twist and 16in barrel, carbine, model. Both weapons are flat tops with green lasers and scope, iron flip front and rear sights. I build AR,s for family and friends using Bushmaster lowers and DPMS complete uppers.After my brother inlaw saw what a 70 grain bullet can do on hogs and coyote they went from bolt action 30/06 to the cheaper 556 cutting out weight,recoil and a 5 shot limit,and a rifle that will not break the bank to shoot.
    I carried the full auto version stoner in Nam before the Colts came along with a Colt 1911 as my up close and personal. Any of the guns listed great weapons with replacement parts inter changeable and parts available at most all gunshops.

  67. How about CORE-15 out of Florida? Above MIL-SPEC and Chrome lined Barrell. Built like a tank. Lifetime warranty. Check them out.

  68. I own the Colt SOCOM and of course I agree with you. I waited, and spent the money when I had enough. I carried a Colt for 21 years in the Army and was happy with it. The SOCOM is far more than what I carried. Money well spent.

  69. Sig Sauer 556 Classic. Like the Ruger SR-556, it is a gas piston design, which translates to “cleaner shooting, less jamming”. BTW, mine has never jammed.

  70. Good choices all-but every one of these high-falutin’ dingers are probably well over a grand apiece. I really like my Mossberg MMR and I got it on sale at CTD for $499. Sure, it’d be nice to have an Escalade, but not with my Yugo budget.

    1. The Windham AR-15 is most likely the least expensive AR on this list & is a great value option rifle. I’ve seen Windhams for around $500 & that’s about what it cost a couple of my friends to build their own.

    2. @ Larry.

      I’ll trade my Zaporozhets ZAZ-968M budget for your Yugo budget, how that.
      My preference is the Heckler & Koch G36 (HK416) 5.56x45Nato. Just because its a better carbine than the Colt. Since 2007, HK has beaten Colt in EVERY International Military Competitions. But, because were talking about only US. manufactured Carbines/Rifles, I guess that leaves HK out of the running, including Sig Sauer.

    3. Are you inferring the HK416 and the G36 are the same rifle. Sorry, not even the same platform. I’ve used both. Granted they both use the short stroke gas piston system, but one is a completely separate design, while the other is essentially an upgrade to an existing platform. I will admit that I like the G36, but the 416 was a seamless transition. The G36 has a lot of pros, but the proprietary magazines were a big drawback and most of us hated the built-in optics. The optics issue was resolved by removing them in favor of a flat top rail and an Eotech or ACOG. Lots of other issues for us as well, such as proprietary magazines etc. – huge investment – as opposed to pmags that we can get for 1/3 the price. No brainer.

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.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading