The Best AR Pistols to Own in 2023
When it comes to selecting the best AR pistol that meets your shooting needs, you want a weapon that not only delivers unrivaled performance but also a remarkable shooting experience.
The world of AR pistols is vast and varies, giving you lots of choices and leaving you overwhelmed.
With that in mind, we compiled a list that will help you choose the best AR pistol for yourself.
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Understanding AR Pistols
But, before diving deep into reviewing the best pistols, let’s see what’s the difference between an AR pistol and an AR-15 rifle.
As per the name, you can assume these two are very similar. Both of them have the AR15 pattern as you can expect.
However, AR pistols don’t have a stock compared to AR15 which is a rifle.
Also, AR pistols weigh less and have shorter barrels making them a little easier to handle compared to standard AR15 rifles.
There is still a possibility to add a pistol brace to the AR pistol to make up for the lack of stock. However, we would advise you to pay attention to your country's laws and limitations.
To understand the AR pistols even further, let’s break down key parts of this firearm.
At the core, there is a lower receiver, housing the trigger mechanism and controls.
Then, there is an upper receiver attached to the lower receiver and it has a barrel, bolt carrier group, and handguard.
As you can notice, the pattern is the same for both AR pistols and AR15 rifles.
Despite some differences between these two firearms, both of them have benefits in different situations.
For example, compared to an AR15 rifle, an AR pistol is better in close-quarters shooting and home defense situations.
Benefits of AR Pistols
If you’re in doubt about whether to own an AR pistol or an AR rifle, you should know that everything depends on your personal preferences.
Here are some benefits of an AR pistol:
- Compact size - AR pistols are typically shorter than AR rifles. A great option if you’re planning on using it in close-quarters scenarios.
- Versatility - AR pistols can be also equipped with various accessories like AR rifles. You can customize an AR pistol in various ways to make it match your individual needs.
- Legality - In some jurisdictions, AR pistols may have certain advantages over AR rifles.
- Reduced recoil - Design and shorter barrels often have less recoil than rifles.
- Personal Defense - Their smaller design makes them a better option for home defense.
These are some of the benefits of an AR pistol over an AR rifle, however, you should go with the option that suits your needs the most as an AR rifle may be a better option for some scenarios.
Choosing the Right AR Pistol
As there are plenty of different options available on the market, choosing the right AR pistol may be a time-consuming and overly overwhelming process.
In order to choose the right AR pistol, the best approach is to define what’s the purpose of buying a gun, how much money are you willing to spend, and many more factors.
Now we’re going to explore those factors you can put on paper and define what’s the best option for you.
The right choice of caliber can directly affect the performance of your rifle. One caliber may be better for long-range shooting, but others may not.
As for the AR pistol caliber, it includes the widely popular AR pistol 5.56 (.223 Remington/5.56 NATO).
Others you may consider are .300 Blackout and .308 Winchester calibers.
The 5.56 caliber AR pistol is known for its accuracy and wide availability compared to other types of ammo. This is a great choice for home defense and target shooting.
On the other hand, we have .300 Blackout caliber which excels in short-barrel setups. It’s great if you’re looking for a quiet and hard-hitting round.
If however, you’re going to use your AR pistol for hunting, the best choice would be a .308 Winchester with even more power than .300 Blackout ammo. It’s a great choice for long-range shooting too.
All in all, determining the best caliber for an AR pistol highly depends on where and how you’re going to use it.
Barrel length and twist rate
These two parameters have a high impact on rifles' performance and when it comes to barrel length and twist rate, there are a lot of different builds made for specific situations.
Most of the time, the barrel length for an AR pistol goes from 7.5 to 12.5 inches while the most common twist rates are 1:7 or 1:8.
If you’re looking for something maneuverable you may find shorter barrels as a better option. However, for long-range targets and hunting, a longer barrel will deliver better results.
As for the twist rate, it’s important to match the proper ammo with the twist rate to get the most out of it.
Gas system type
There are two primary types of gas systems: direct impingement (DI) (traditional one) and specially made pistol-length gas systems made for AR pistols.
The DI system is a popular choice among AR rifles too, not only for AR pistols. It uses a portion of gases to cycle the firearm.
On the other hand, pistol-length gas systems are specially made for AR pistols. Because of that, they have better recoil, muzzle rise, and reliability.
Size and weight
Handling of the weapon largely depends on its weight and size.
AR pistols are made to be lightweight and easy to handle compared to AR15 (or AR10) rifles.
When talking about the weight of an AR pistol, you should pay attention to additional accessories you add like optics, handguards, foregrips, or any other types of accessories.
Ergonomics and accessories
To get a better shooting experience it’s important that a weapon (in this case AR pistol) is made to provide a comfortable feeling.
If you pick a well-designed AR pistol, you will get a comfortable grip, intuitive controls, and a natural point of aim.
Besides that, consider the availability of accessories for the AR pistol platform. Angled foregrips, handguards, optics - all can improve the functionality of your firearm.
How much money are you willing to spend is also a factor to consider when purchasing an AR pistol.
For example, you can look for Sig Sauer AR pistols, but in that case, you must be willing to break the bank.
While it can be tempting to go for high-end AR pistols with all the features coming with them, it’s still important to consider the best AR pistol for the money.
If however going for high-end AR pistols is not your case, then you should evaluate all options and look for those providing a good balance between price and performance.
Best AR Pistols
Now after covering some basics regarding AR pistols, take a look at our list of some of the best options.
- Battle Arms Development Workhorse AR Pistol
- Sig Sauer MCX Spear-LT
- Battle Arms Development Workhorse Defense .223 WYLDE AR-15 Pistol - 10.5"
- Sig Sauer MCX Spear-LT .300BLK
- F-1 Firearms FDR-15
1. Battle Arms Development Workhorse (5.56 NATO)
Battle Arms is a great semi-auto AR pistol designed for reliability and performance and has lots of features worth mentioning.
The Workhorse has a 10.5” barrel with a 1:7 twist rate making a good balance between compactness and accuracy.
The barrel has a black nitride finish making it resistant to corrosion and heat dissipation which will ensure your barrel last longer.
As for dimensions, the Workhorse length is 29 inches (26.25 inches collapsed) with a weight of 5.65 lbs making it lightweight and easy to handle whenever you want to use it.
The Workhorse pistol also has a rugged forged receiver making it incredibly strong and durable.
As for other features, we would highlight the 5.56 NATO caliber and muzzle thread attached at the end of the barrel so you can easily attach muzzle devices to your AR pistol.
2. Sig Sauer MCX Spear-LT
Sig Sauer MCX Spear LT is an AR pistol that combines proven reliability with modern features and customization options.
At its core, MCX Spear LT has a multi-lug rotating bolt and a short-stroke gas-piston system.
Another standout feature is the enhanced mounting system which includes a top rail on the receiver and on a handguard with its design to minimize deflection.
These rails allow you to mount different optics and accessories to level up your shooting experience.
Adaptability is another great feature of this pistol as you can easily swap out parts like a pistol grip, stock, and even the barrel. At the end of the barrel is also muzzle thread allowing you to attach muzzle devices or even suppressors as they are rising in popularity.
The design of the pistol is ambidextrous meaning both left or right-handed shooters can use it.
Overall, the Sig Sauer MCX Spear LT is a great AR pistol made to last. It has a great combination of design elements, modern features, and customization options which meets demands whether you’re a civilian or law enforcement officer.
If you’re not sure which AR pistol to use, with Sig Sauer MCX Spear LT you won’t be mistaken and can be sure you have a reliable and adaptable firearm with a great performance.
However, if you’re not ready to spend more money on your AR pistol, we would like to suggest you consider other pistols from this list.
3. Battle Arms Development Workhorse (.223 WYLDE)
Another BAD (Battle Arms Development) AR pistol is like the first one on the list.
However, this Workhorse is chambered in .223 WYLDE meaning you can shoot both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO ammo interchangeably.
As for everything else, Workhorse .223 is almost the same as its abovementioned twin brother. So if you’re going to shoot both .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO ammo, then go with this one.
Of course, this one is a bit more expensive because of added ammo compatibility, but if you’re not going to spend more money then go with 5.56mm NATO morel.
4. Sig Sauer MCX Spear-LT (.300 Blackout)
This is also a twin brother of the upper-mentioned Sig Sauer MCX Spear LT pistol.
The only difference between them is the caliber, as this one uses .300 blackout rounds.
If you would like to learn more about the differences between these calibers, check our recent article about AR15 ammo.
As his twin brother, MCX Spear LT in .300 Blackout caliber keeps the reliability that stands behind the Sig Sauer brand.
However, MCX is a little bit costly, but it’s worth the money spent.
5. F-1 Firearms FDR-15
The F-1 Firearms FDR-15 is another great choice of semi-automatic AR pistols.
It’s chambered in .223 Wylde meaning you can fire both .223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO ammo with this rifle without worrying about the pistol's performance.
The F-1 angled-face compensator deserves special mention for its recoil-reducing abilities and muzzle lift control.
It will redirect propellant gasses and allow you faster follow-up shots and better shooting control.
The receiver is built of 7075-T6511 aluminum. This will ensure your AR pistol withstands intensive use and harsh conditions.
Modularity is another great feature as it has the M-LOK handguard allowing you to add various accessories to suit your individual needs.
Overall, the FDR-15 is a good choice for getting good accuracy, handling, and reliability, especially if you’re not willing to break the bank.
All in all, the AR pistol is a great option if you’re looking for something more compact than traditional rifles.
In this review, we mentioned a few best options for AR pistols - some of them are pricey and high-end but you can find some of the more affordable but still quality options.
Also, take a look at our selection of AR pistols here.