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Best AR 15 Rifles Going into 2024

Best AR 15 Rifles Going into 2024
November 16, 2023 40358 view(s)

Best AR 15 Rifles Going into 2024

Eugene Stoner's masterpiece has increased in popularity since it was first developed in 1963. Its widespread appeal, ease of operation, the proliferation of companies building it, and improvements in technical capabilities and technology… have all contributed to the success of the AR platform.

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This is a good thing because it gives prospective owners an almost endless array of options. However, it's also bad because it gives prospective owners an almost endless array of options. Given all these choices, how does one determine the best ArmaLite Rifle (after all, that’s what AR stands for) for themselves?

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Well, that's actually not as difficult a question to answer as you might think, but it is nuanced. Read on. We'll explain.

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Jump down to the AR 15 list.

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How to Choose the Best AR 15 Rifle

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Before beginning your search, first understand this is subjective. Secondly, understand that everyone is unique, so everyone needs something different. It's hard enough to choose the right AR-15 from among the many quality manufacturers; don't make it harder by making your decision based on other people's standards, especially if you're a first-time buyer!

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The two most important things to identify before starting are purpose and budget

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Below, we'll look more closely at these and other considerations. The goal isn't so much to identify the absolute best AR as it is to determine which is right and correct for you.

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Intended Use (Purpose)

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The first and foremost consideration when purchasing an AR-15 is understanding your intended use. Are you looking for a tool for home defense, sport or recreational shooting, or perhaps something for hunting? Different configurations and accessories are better suited to specific purposes, so defining your needs will guide your decision-making process.

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You’ll likely want a different setup and possibly caliber in certain situations. For example, for long-range shooting (perhaps beyond 300 or 400 yards),  you’ll definitely want a traditional AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle caliber instead of 9mm, the most common PCC (means pistol caliber carbine) caliber.

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Some intended uses may include competition, target shooting, other recreational shooting, home defense, hunting, and tactical/personal defense.

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Budget

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Finally, there is the budget. Everyone has a different lifestyle, and depending on how much money you’re willing to spend on a complete rifle, you may look for different manufacturers. AR-15 rifles come in a wide range of price points, and establishing a budget early on will help narrow your options and prevent overspending. Remember that your budget should encompass the rifle and essential accessories like optics, slings, extra mags, ammo, and cases.

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Of course, unless you’re not in a good situation to opt for the highest quality rifles, you shouldn’t try to save lots of money by buying a low-quality and unreliable carbine (or rifle or for that matter, AR 15 pistol). You need something that will work and serve you in the long run, especially if it is a defensive tool.

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We will give you a list of well-known brands on the market for each price group, including low-priced, mid-priced, and high-priced options.

 

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Best AR Brands By Price Range

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Brands if Budget is a Concern

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It isn't always possible - or necessary - to spend a lot of money on a rifle. In fact, sometimes it's better to be judicious with the initial expense and then make the difference up on training. 

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Black Rain Ordnance: Black Rain Ordnance, Inc. is a precision firearms manufacturer specializing in the modern sporting rifle design. Founded in 2009 with a benchmark to only manufacture weapons we would personally be proud to own and operate.

F-1 Firearms 

Foxtrot Mike: FM takes a unique approach to the AR and doesn’t just follow the industry with traditional design.  Known for their buffer-less operating system, this allows side charging operation, folding stocks and improved experience when shooting suppressed.  

Modern Materiel 

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Workhorse AR15 Brands

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These guys build rifles for hard use. They're equipped well and are available at competitive prices. 

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Bravo Company Manufacturing: BCM offers AR15 rifles and components that cater to law enforcement, military, and serious user firearms enthusiasts.  With incredibly high quality control their rifles are known for their durability and excellent build quality.

Daniel Defense: Daniel Defense is renowned for its attention to detail and high-quality manufacturing.  Having numerous Military and Gov contracts, Daniel Defense is known for rugged, reliable rifles.  

Patriot Ordnance Factory

Primary Weapons Systems PWS is mainly known for their innovative long stroke operating system, this provides a great level of performance and reliability especially when shooting suppressed or with shorter barrels.   Receivers are also machined to a high level of precision and feature ambidextrous controls. 

Radical Defense: Radical Defense (RDUSA) is a manufacturer of AR rifles and innovative, effective rifle suppressors.  Utilizing the latest manufacturing technology, they are producing some of the quietest suppressors in the industry.  

Seekins Precision: Seekins Precision offers premium AR15 rifles known for their high-end components and precision engineering, making them sought after by serious shooters.

Zev Technologies: ZEV was started with a focus on competitive shooters today; it offers its own award-winning lines of pistols and rifles in addition to providing the most comprehensive line of premium upgrade parts for GLOCK Pistols. 

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Premium AR15 Brands

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Premium ARs, these companies are striving to make the highest quality, innovative evolution of the platform, with high precision and quality control.   Many of these brands have a long list of proven performance and contracts to show for their efforts.   

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Rainier Arms: We started with the goal of providing the best products available.  As we built key relationships and saw needs in the market, we began to develop and manufacture our own products and firearms.  Our goal is to provide rifles and components of the highest quality, configured by shooters for shooters, offering a rifle with the parts and features that you need at a value that can’t be matched.  Our rifles are in use by numerous LE/Government clients, champion competitive shooters and enthusiasts alike. 

Battle Arms Development 

Christensen Arms 

JP Enterprises: JP made their reputation in the industry by making the finest competition rifles available, countless world and national champions relied on JP Rifles to perform in the most demanding conditions.  Taking their experience, top tier engineering and design, and quality components, the product line expanded to the LE/Defense user making some of the most reliable rifles available.  Not just a gamer rifle, JP makes some of the finest ARs available and are arguably one of the most innovative as well with their development of the silent captured spring system and many other components.  

Lewis Machine & Tool: LMT is a company that needs no introduction in the hard use community, securing numerous US and foreign military contracts they make firearms that are battle proven, reliable and accurate.   

Noveske Rifleworks: Noveske is recognized for producing high-end, uniquely designed AR15 rifles that are prized for their accuracy, build quality, and attention to detail.

Sons of Liberty Gun Works: SOLGW was founded by avid sportsmen and supporters of the 2nd Amendment. Over the years, the company has evolved into one of the most recognizable brands in the firearms world, manufacturing some of the world’s finest AR15s and accessories, all backed with a lifetime warranty. 

VKTR Industries: Taking countless years of experience in the industry, VKTR evolves the AR with a new pistol operating system and a full ambidextrous lower receiver.  Using the best components and design, the VKTR rifles offer a high level of performance and reliability.   

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That list certainly doesn't list every single quality brand of AR Rifle. There are many excellent AR manufacturers and assemblers out there at every price point: Aero Precision, Battle Arms Development, Cobalt Kinetics, Colt, Faxon, LaRue Tactical, Rock River Arms, Ruger, Seekins Precision, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Stag Arms, and Wilson Combat are just a few examples.

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See what other manufacturers we have in stock; check out our complete AR 15 lineup

(Unless of course you're looking for an AR pistol.)

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Best AR 15 Rifles on the Market

 

Rainier Arms Urban Combat Rifle (PRO)

Sons of Liberty EXO3 carbine

Daniel Defense Mk12 SPR

 

The VKTR Industries VK-1 is an extremely innovative AR 15.

F-1 Firearms AR 15

PWS AR 15

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Keep in mind there are many great rifles that didn’t make it to the list. The Ruger AR 556, Daniel Defense DDM4, the Springfield Armory Saint and Springfield Saint Victor, and a dozen others are worth a look. These just happen to be at the top of our choices at the moment.

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Rainier Arms RUC PRO 5.56 Nato DI Rifle - 16"

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Best AR15? Maybe the Rainier Arms RUC

Hope you don't mind, but we're going to start the list with our very own RUC Pro series 5.56 rifle. Sorry not sorry. 

The RUC PRO comes with a 15” pro series handguard with M-LOK rails, which allows you to attach plenty of different accessories. M-LOK is at the 2, 3, 6, 9, and 10 o’clock positions, while there are 5 and 7 o’clock ventilation holes, which helps in heat dissipation.

The barrel comes chambered in 5.56 NATO caliber, the most popular choice among many AR15 owners. The barrel is from our in-house manufacturing; it’s 16 inches in length with a 1:7 twist rate, which is considered by many to be an ideal twist rate for 5.56 NATO rounds. The barrel has a nitride finish, giving it a shiny look, requires less lubrication, and is easier to maintain. So, if you’re one of the guys who just don’t want to spend too much time or clean firearms too often, you’ll probably find this one model very useful. 

Next, the upper and lower receiver are forged, i.e., made from one piece of metal.  This improves the strength and durability of both parts. When in hands, everything feels and looks strong and in place, while at the same time, the rifle is capable of withstanding rigorous use.

The Ruc Pro comes with an advanced sniper trigger made by Schmid. It features a Nickel Boron finish and a distinct, consistent first and second stage. This provides reliable performance. 

A significant area that separates the RUC Pro from many of the other rifles is the attention to detail and assembly process.  There are a lot of shops that built a great rifle; however, when you look at a RUC Pro side by side, you will start to notice some differences.   The most obvious might be small paint lines; these are called “witness marks” and have a purpose.  The different color signifies the different threadlocker used on the screws, and it is a way to ensure screws have not loosened.  Additionally, all of our gas blocks are secured with a cross pin, gas key and castle nut properly staked for reliability.  These and many other small steps are often overlooked by other shops but are an integral part of a meticulous process that is conducted for every RUC Pro - each of which is built in-house by our gunsmiths.  

Additional features include ambidextrous parts like a charging handle and a 50-degree safety selector, while the barrel comes with a flash hider. You’ll, however, need to get a red dot or any sight separately.

Key specs:

  • 5.56 NATO caliber
  • Rainier Arms RUC Barrel - 16" 1:7 Twist
  • Rainier Arms Pro Series M-LOK Handguard - 15"
  • Vltor Ambi Charging Handle
  • Rainier Arms Forged Upper and Lower Receivers

Price: ~ $1,400
Rainier Urban Combat Rifle

 

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SOLGW AR 15 - 16"

Sons of Liberty M4-EXO3 .223 Wylde Match Rifle - 16"

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Sons of Liberty Gun Works EXO3

The M4 EXO3 is a Sons of Liberty AR 15 chambered in .223 Wylde. They describe it as "engineered with precision in reliability in mind," and if you ever watch their videos on social media, you'll know they're not just blowing smoke. 

The M4-EXO3 features a  4150 CrMoV (Chrome Moly Vanadium) barrel finished in QPQ Nitride inside and out. This, the precision of its design, and the selection of other features and specs make it one of most reliable rifles on the market. Better yet, if you're curious about why they made a particular decision about parts or materials, they'll tell you. 

If you're looking for an SBR, the SOLGW Exo3 is an excellent option, and of course, if you're assembling one, you'd do well to consider the SOLGW 13.7 complete upper

Key specs:

  • .223 Wylde caliber
  • 1:7 twist rate
  • Mid-length gas system
  • EXO3 M-LOK Free FLoat handguard

 

Price: ~ $1,500
More about the Sons of Liberty Gun Works M4 EXO3.

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Daniel Defense MK12 5.56 NATO SPR Rifle - 18" Black

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Daniel Defense Mark 12

Daniel Defense offers an authentic MK12 rifle with some additional features. The rifle follows a familiar military configuration, with an 18-inch stainless steel, cold-hammer-forged barrel featuring a nitride surface treatment for extended life and corrosion resistance.

It comes with a quad-rail free-float tube for various accessories and rubber rail covers. The upper and lower receivers are standard with some company-specific touches.

The MK12 is equipped with a Vltor/BCM Mod 4 charging handle and a Geissele Automatics' Super Semi-Auto (SSA) two-stage, match trigger. The rifle's fire controls, buffer, bolt carrier, and steel bolt all contribute to its reliable and smooth-shooting performance.

The main downside is the lack of sights as you have to buy them separately.

Other things worth mentioning are 1 ⁄ 2 × 28 TPI muzzle thread that allows mounting of various muzzle devices including suppressors which are more and more popular recently.

As for the ergonomics, the rifle weighs 7.41 lbs, slightly heavier than the BCM rifle from above, but keep in mind that this setup has a longer barrel of 2 inches.

Upper and lower receivers are made of 7075-T6 Aluminum making them strong, and durable, but at the same time way lighter than would be the case if they were made of stainless steel.

Key specs:

  • 5.56 NATO caliber
  • Picatinny mounting system
  • 1 ⁄ 2 × 28 TPI muzzle thread
  • 18” barrel
  • 7075-T6 Aluminum, Type III Hard Coat Anodized receivers (upper and lower)

Price: ~ $2,400
Get yours here!

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VKTR VK-1

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VKTR Industries VK-1

The VKTR VK-1 is a superb rifle with a lot of new features. In fact, it took the award for Most Innovative New Long Gun at TRIGGRcon 2023. The only drawback it has, assuming you can call it a drawback at all, is that it's piston-driven. That won't bother some folks. In fact, some folks will prefer it. But the number of people who prefer a DI (Direct Impingement) gun far outnumber those who want a piston. 

It's America. Get whichever one you want. Get one of each. 

The VK-1 is a relatively lightweight AR 15 that uses an extraordinary new (patented) low-profile piston system design; it's a cup-and-spigot design that improves the gas seal and overall efficiency of the gas system. The gas system is a staged system with a removable gas block. The system has two sets of gas ports positioned to reduce the inertia of the (one-piece) operating rod when it nears the end of its stroke.  

You might want to do some more research on all that if it sounds complicated. Trust us, it's worth the effort.

Features:

  • Patented billet ambi controls
  • Heavy duty buffer retainer
  • Bolt carrier group
  • Radian Weapons Raptor charging handle and Talon selector
  • Continuous 12 o'clock Picatinny rail
  • Patented VK-1 piston system
  • A2 flash hider
  • Magpul MOE SL Buttstock and K2 Grip
  • Magpul MOE Enhanced Trigger Guard
  • Fully forged receiver
  • Low profile MLOK handguard
  • Machined cooling flutes

Price: ~ $2,200

Learn more about the VKTR VK-1.

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M16A1: AR15 history

 

Things have come a long way, haven't they? But still fundamentally the same! Maybe you should retrofit your AR with an old-school red dot sight (or weapon laser).

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F-1 Firearms FDR-15 5.56 Rifle - 16"

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F-1 Firearms AR15

After a few high-priced models, it would be okay to mention one model that’s less pricey. Don’t get us wrong, this model we want to write about is not bad quality, on the contrary. However, if you don’t want to spend too much money, you should consider FDR-15 made by F-1 Firearms.

The main feature of this rifle is BCG (Bolt Carrier Group), which is made of high-quality materials like 8620 AQ steel for the carrier and 158 carpenter steel for the bolt.

Now, something about the main part of the rifle (not only FDR-15 but for each rifle out there) - the barrel. The FDR-15 comes with a mid-length 16-inch barrel made of 416R stainless steel meaning it’s very strong and durable. It’s chambered in 5.56 NATO caliber with a 1:8 twist rate.

Around the barrel is a 15-ich free float handguard with M-LOK rails. Handguard is quite light while its design provides great ventilation for heat dissipation generated in the barrel itself. Also, with the M-LOK mount, you can easily add plenty of accessories and attachments as most of them work either with M-Lok or Picatinny rail.

F1 Firearms goes the extra mile by including a Hiperfire trigger with their basic blaster, elevating the rifle's performance with a high-quality trigger option. The F-1 FDR-15 also features a Flat Faced Stainless Steel muzzle brake, which effectively reduces recoil and blast noise without compromising ear protection.

Key specs:

  • 5.56 NATO caliber
  • 16-inch, 1:8 twist rate barrel
  • 15-inch M-LOK free float handguard
  • A2 flash hider
  • Cerakote black finish

Price: ~ $800

F-1 FDR-15

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Primary Weapons Systems .223 Wylde MK114 MOD 2-M Rifle - 14.5"

 

PWS MK114 MOD 2-M RIFLE...

Let’s not forget about Primary Weapon Systems, a brand known for high-quality rifles that just exceed in reliability and durability.

In this case, we would like to recommend the MK114 MOD 2-M rifle that comes with a mid-length 14.5-inch barrel and pinned muzzle brake at the front. The barrel is chambered in .223 Wylde which allows you to fire both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO calibers interchangeably with this rifle without worries. The twist rate of a barrel is 1:8.

One main benefit we would like to note is the long-stroke piston system used by PWS in their rifles. If you’re reading our blog regularly, then you already know the difference between direct impingement and gas piston systems, so we won’t go back to this topic again. We would only like to mention that gas piston systems are more expensive than direct impingement but more reliable. With a long-stroke piston system, the rifle has a smoother recoil impulse.

Also, the long-stroke piston system prevents the carbon from fouling the in the bolt carrier group.

The rifle comes with a PicLok handguard. Now if you never had experience with this rail system, let’s explain in short what’s that. PicLok handguard takes the best of both worlds (M-LOK and Picatinny rail) making it a great option that supports even more accessories and attachments.

MK114 MOD 2-M weighs 6 pounds and 7 ounces, this rifle is well-balanced and it’s easy to handle. As most rifles that come with a piston gas system usually weigh more, this PWS rifle comes with a free float handguard reducing the total weight of the rifle.

Additional features include the ambidextrous mag release and bolt release. And as a bonus t comes with the BCM Gunfighter Stock, BCM Pistol Grip, Radian Raptor Charging Handle, and Radian Talon Ambi-Safety.

However, all these features come with a price which is in this case almost $2.000 but, if you’re willing to spend this amount of money, you surely won’t regret that decision.

Key specs:

  • .223 Wylde chamber
  • 14.5-inch pinned barrel
  • Long-stroke piston gas system
  • PicLok rail system
  • Free float handguard

Price: ~ $1,900
PWS MK114

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VKTR VK-1 piston driven AR 15

An LMT MARS, apparently taking a breather from the range. 

 

 

Hit us up in the comments with questions, concerns, clarifications - anything that will help the entire rifle-owning 2A community (and anyone interested in gun ownership in the future) be better off and more informed.

 

Additional Reading

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