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.
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|
|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 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 Island’s directionally tuned and ported muzzle break with a 1/2-28 thread.
|Rock River LAR-15 R3 Competition Rifle AR1705X|
|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.|
|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
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|
|Caliber||5.56 NATO/.223 Remington|
|Overall Length||SOPMOD 33 – 36 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||6.8 lbs|
|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|
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|
|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|
|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|
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|
|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|
|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|
5. DPMS AR-15 TPR
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.
|Caliber||.223 Rem/5.56 NATO|
|Overall Length||37.25 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||7.75 lbs|
|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
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|
|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|
|Upshot||10-round magazine, flat-top upper receiver; A2 front sight; Midwest Industries flip-up rear sight; Samson Star C quad rail|
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.
|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
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.
|M&P15 VTAC II|
|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
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|
|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|
|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.