When it comes to popular firearms among U.S. citizens, few (if any) can hold a candle to the AR-15. The AR-15 hashtag has over 1.7 million posts on Instagram, and there are hundreds of thousands of these guns owned by people throughout the nation.
Are you looking to add an AR-15 to your gun collection? Are you unsure of which one you want to buy? If so, read on to learn about the 10 best AR-15 models and manufacturers you might want to check out today.
1. Bravo Company Manufacturing
Bravo Company Manufacturing (or BCM for short) is a veteran-owned manufacturer that started back in 2005. BCM builds Mil-SPec rifles and is dedicated to creating high-quality, long-lasting equipment.
The barrels for BCM rifles are either Ss310 stainless steel or Mil-Spec 11595E barrel steel. They’re chrome-lined, M197 high-pressure tested, and Magnetic Particle inspected.
BCM rifle prices start at $1,200 for a standard carbine length. Mid-length carbines add to the price but are still relatively inexpensive.
2. Noveske Rifleworks
Noveske Rifleworks was founded in 2001 by the late John Noveske, a U.S. Army veteran. Noveske learned barrel making at PAC-NOR and started the company in his father’s garage.
Noveske is best known for paving the way for stainless steel AR barrels. The manufacturing company uses an extra thick chrome-lined layer, which makes the barrels much more durable than those from other manufacturers.
Each Noveske rifle is hand-fit by one person. The company takes pride in paying attention to the details and ensuring each rifle it creates is of the highest quality.
Noveske rifles start at $1,700 for the Gen 1 RECCE Basic rifle. This is a great, albeit pricey, option for beginners.
3. Knight’s Armament
Knight’s Armament (also known as KAC) began more than 30 years ago. It’s since grown to become one of the nation’s biggest small arms manufacturers. Eugene Stoner even worked at KAC until his passing.
KAC is known for innovating and improving upon the original AR-15 design created by Stoner. All the barrels are chrome-lined and hammer-forged. The company’s railed forend is also the same one that the U.S. military uses on its M4 and M16s.
KAC rifles are more expensive than some others on the market. They start at $2,500.
4. Lewis Machine & Tool
Since 1980, Lewis Machine and Tool has been a popular AR-15 manufacturer. The company is best known for its president, Karl Lewis, and his Monolithic Rail Platform.
This is a one-piece Mil-Spec upper receiver that features an integral forend. It allows for quick caliber and barrel swaps that don’t take away from a shooter’s impact or point of aim. It also saves them from having to buy new uppers when you want to change calibers.
Lewis Machine & Tool’s most affordable AR-15 starts at a little under $1,400. All of their weapons are chrome-lined and feature cryogenically treated barrels. All their rifles are made in the U.S.A., too.
5. Daniel Defense
Daniel Defense was founded by Marty Daniel. Daniel created the company when he decided to make his own M16 parts after noticing a lack of quality parts on the market.
Daniel Defense is one of only five companies in the world that makes cold hammer-forged barrels. All the company’s barrels are also chrome-lined and Magnetic Particle Inspected. They have a Type III hard-coat anodized finish, properly staked gas keys, and M4 feed ramps, too.
The start price for a Daniel Defense rifle is $1,500. This is for the M4V11, to be specific.
6. LWRC International
Pat Bryan, a U.S. Army vet, bought out LWRC back in 2006. Since then, the company has become dedicated to the development of short-stroke gas piston systems for AR-15 rifles. This system is even patented.
All LWRC International rifles are designed to meet the U.S. Army Individual Carbine program requirements. The company also makes its own barrels using 41V5 steel alloy. They’re NiCorr-treated, too, so chrome lining isn’t necessary.
Prices for LWRC International rifles are fairly mid-range. They start at just over $1,600.
When it comes to firearms manufacturers, everyone knows about Colt. Colt makes a wide range of high-quality firearms, including the Colt LE6920. This is the closest commercial AR-15 you can find to a military M4.
All Colt barrels are chrome-lined. They’re also MP inspected and HP-tested, with a Magnetic Particle Inspected bolt.
As if all of this weren’t enough to sell you on a Colt AR-15, we also can’t forget the fact that they’re very affordable. Their prices start at less than $1,000.
8. Rock River Arms Lar-15 Entry Tactical
Rock River Arms started in 1993. The company has steadily gained a reputation for being a great AR-15 produced since then. The LAR-15 is an especially popular model.
This rifle features A2 hider flash and Hogue grip, both of which make it easy to use. It also features an RRA two-stage trigger, plus a star safety selector. The features of the LAR-15 make it a great option, and it’s one of the more affordable options on this list, starting at a little over $1,000.
Tips for Choosing an AR-15
It’s important to be aware of the top manufacturers when shopping for an AR-15 (or any weapon, for that matter). There’s more to take into account than the manufacturer, though. The following are some other factors to consider that will help you choose the right AR-15 for you:
It’s best to choose a rifle chambered for 5.56mm cartridges instead of .223 Remington cartridges. 5.56mm cartridges are loaded with higher pressure and velocity. They have slightly different dimensions, too.
You can safely fire .223 Remington rounds in a 5.56mm rifle, but the opposite is not true and can be unsafe. This is why most experts recommend the 5.56mm chamber because it’s more versatile.
Twist Rates and Barrels
Pay attention to the twist rate and barrels of each AR-15 you consider, too. The twist rate is especially important, as it helps you to determine which bullets will perform the best in your rifle.
For those who want to shoot heavier or longer bullets, a fast twist rate (around 1:7) is best. For those who want to shoot lighter or shorter bullets, a slower twist rate is preferable. Rifles with a 1:8 or 1:9 twist rate are more versatile and can work for lots of different bullets.
As for barrels, your decision will likely come down to your intended use for your AR-15. For example, if you’re going to use it for long-range and match shooting, a long and heavy barrel is a good option. If you’re planning on using the rifle for self-defense, a light and short barrel is a better fit.
Flat Top vs Carry Handle
Some AR-15 users prefer a flat-top rifle, as this makes it easy for them to mount a scope or red dot optic. Rifles with a carry handle might be a bit easier to transport, but it’s very hard to mount anything on them.
A good compromise is to look for a rifle that has a removable carry handle. This allows you to mount an optic or scope with ease, but you still get to enjoy the convenience the handle offers.
Red Dot Optics
Speaking of optics, a red dot optic is generally preferable to a rifle with an open sight. Red dot optics have a long battery life (over two years) and they allow you to shoot much faster.
For most shooters, the factory trigger works just fine. However, some people find that they want to decrease the trigger pull weight. Try out a few different models to see how you like the trigger and remember that you can lower the weight if you prefer.
In general, it’s best to avoid competition triggers with screw adjustments. The screws can get in your way in some situations, which can be irritating and may slow you down.
Finally, as the folks at Killer Innovations know, you can’t forget about accessories. Some good accessories to invest in include attachments for lights, slings, and optics.
You also ought to look into collapsible stock. This makes it easy for different-sized shooters to all comfortably shoot the same rifle.
There are definitely accessories you ought to purchase alongside your AR-15. Try not to get too weighed down with extra equipment, though.
If you purchase too many accessories, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed. You’ll also spend way more money than is needed.
Check Out the Best AR-15 Models and Manufacturers Today
Shopping for an AR-15 can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never purchased one before. Hopefully, though, you have some more insights after reading this article to help you with your purchase.
Now that you know more about the best AR-15 models and manufacturers, are you ready to add an AR-15 to your collection? Keep this list in mind and you’ll have no trouble finding a great weapon that meets your needs and preferences.
Do you want to learn more about AR-15s or other firearms? If so, we have plenty of gun-related articles on our site for you to peruse. Check them out today!