Best AR15 Brands

Feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of AR15 brands as a newcomer? Don't worry! We've sorted them for you, from the best to the worst. Take a look

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The Best of the Best (A+)

These brands make the best AR-15s. They're all great, so we're not ranking them in any particular order:

  • Barrett
  • Daniel Defense
  • Heckler & Koch (HK)
  • Hodge Defense
  • Knights Armament Company (KAC) (Spec Ops / US military)
  • LaRue
  • Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT)
  • LWRC International (LWRCI)
  • Radian
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All of these manufacturers create exceptional AR-15 rifles that stand among the best ever produced. A significant number of these companies have secured significant governmental agreements, serving elite military units both domestically and internationally. Additionally, several of them supply frontline rifles to entire nations, reinforcing their reputation for excellence.

daniel defense m4isr

KAC, LMT, and HK are highly regarded for their durable and innovative designs. Daniel Defense is known for its excellent civilian rifles and specially designed handguards by special forces units (RIS II or RIS III handguard).

Barrett is renowned for its .50 anti-material rifle and impressive AR-15s. Radian, LWRCI, and Hodge offer top-notch ambidextrous rifles and unique designs.

LaRue, although underrated, is favored by US SOCOM members and offers more affordable options compared to other brands in this category.

Still Great, but Not the Best (A Grade)

These brands are also excellent. They're often used by law enforcement and have government contracts:

bcm recce 16

Geissele Automatics has gained worldwide recognition for their exceptional handguards and triggers, widely utilized by Special Forces units globally. Their Super Duty Rifle is also a common choice among SWAT and law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Sig Sauer has recently secured numerous significant government contracts, demonstrating excellence in handguns, LPVO scopes, cartridges, and advanced weapon development. Their AR-10s have also secured substantial contracts abroad. While their AR-15s may be underrated, their Tread rifles are outstanding civilian options, and the MCX line, although not technically AR-15s, is nothing short of amazing.

American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) is primarily renowned for their top-of-the-line optics mounts. Their rifles, although less well-known, are equally impressive. The company takes manufacturing seriously and ensures meticulous craftsmanship in every rifle they produce.

BCM (Bravo Company) occupies an interesting position as they surprisingly have never won a government contract. Apart from their charging handles, unit-level purchases are rarely seen or heard of. However, their rifles are exceptional. What sets them apart is their stringent quality control, which rarely allows any flaws to slip through the cracks.

Wilson Combat's primary focus has always been their renowned 1911s and pistols. However, they have also developed remarkable cartridges and produce exceptionally high-quality AR-15s. Furthermore, their aesthetic appeal is unmatched, making them akin to the Hugo Boss of the AR world.

fn15 tac

Fabrique Nationale (FN) is, well, FN. They won the M16 and M4 contracts from Colt, showcasing their ability to produce outstanding rifles. Their "machine gun steel" has proven to significantly extend barrel life, even doubling or tripling it.

Sons Of Liberty Gun Works (SOLGW) is a relatively new brand that has rapidly gained a massive following due to its impeccable quality control, exceptional rifles, and a perpetual shortage of stock.

Among their rifles, I highly recommend anything designed with the assistance of Sage Dynamics. Sage Dynamics is one of my favorite gun-related YouTube channels, providing a wealth of valuable resources that you will undoubtedly appreciate.

Seekins Precision specializes in manufacturing incredibly accurate rifles. While they excel in other aspects as well, their primary focus is on delivering accuracy and awesomeness.

Colt, to be frank, fluctuated in my decision to include them as an A-tier brand. Over the past two decades, they haven't quite lived up to that status. Colt is akin to a superpower like Russia, acknowledged as such, but with reservations. Getting a original Colt receiver is as exciting as collecting new cars.

Colt has faced significant challenges in the past and continues to have certain issues today. Their rifles may lag behind in terms of innovation and sophistication by modern standards, but they undeniably work. Hopefully, now that CZ owns them, we will witness true innovation from Colt for the first time in 30 years. Otherwise, they may find themselves demoted in the next update.

Palmetto State Armory stands out because they produce AR15s in-house using mil-spec equipment and eliminate unnecessary intermediaries, resulting in affordable prices for customers. They have also partnered with Harrison Richardson to manufacture retro-style rifles.

psa jakl handguard

PSA's objective is to make AR-15s accessible to all interested individuals, and their pricing reflects this vision. They offer an extensive range of rifles, catering to various preferences.

Good for Most Users (B Grade)

These brands are good for most people, especially new AR-15 owners:

The B and C tier brands of AR-15s represent the middle ground, the average performers, and those slightly above average. They can be compared to the "dad bods" of the AR-15 world. When recommending a rifle to a new AR-15 owner, about 95% of the time I would suggest looking into this tier. It's the Goldilocks tier of AR-15 brand rankings.

Personally, most of my rifles belong to this tier.

Faxon Firearms is primarily recognized for their barrels but they have expanded to manufacturing complete rifles. These rifles offer exceptional value for their price. While they initially faced some quality control issues during production, I have heard that those problems have been resolved, and they are now on a smooth trajectory.

Aero Precision is my go-to brand in this tier. They strike the perfect balance of price, quality, and customer service. These guys hit the mark and go above and beyond.

aero precision m4e1 custom ar15 rifle

New Frontier Armory surprises with their impressive rifles, although the price may be slightly higher.

Springfield Armory offers an AR-15 line that often goes unnoticed by many. Their Saint rifles and pistols are outstanding and serve as excellent options for beginners.

Ruger falls on the lower end of this tier due to their compromise on modern design for cost considerations. They offer attractive prices, but many of their rifles still feature delta rings and non-free floated barrels.

Good for the Price (C Grade)

These brands are good if you're trying to save money. They're reliable, but you should test them at the range first:

Smith & Wesson has established a massive reputation in the firearms industry over a considerable period. While their rifles possess entry-level quality, they excel in that category. They offer reliability, durability, and essential features. One of their highly sought-after options is the Sport II Ar15 rifle.

PSA AR15

Spike's Tactical rifles are commendable and of good quality. I have no negative remarks about them personally, although I wouldn't make a purchase myself.

Bushmaster Firearms has faced numerous issues in recent years, including legal troubles and changes in ownership. Their rifles experienced a significant decline in quality during this period, but reports suggest an improvement in their new products.

F1 Firearms gained recognition for their skeletonized receivers and for producing aesthetically unique firearms. However, they may not meet the standards required for duty-grade purposes.

Anderson Manufacturing is best known for their extremely affordable stripped uppers. I mean, really inexpensive. Anderson has received criticism due to their low pricing and occasional quality control issues. But let's be honest, with such low prices, what were your expectations?

Budget Options (F)

These brands have had a lot of quality control issues. It's best to avoid them unless you are using them as spare parts to run experiments:

The primary drawback for a firearm brand lies in its quality control. While perfection is unattainable, any significant shortcomings are deemed unacceptable. Unfortunately, these brands have a well-established track record of consistently falling short, often by significant margins.

Issues such as faulty chambers, excessive wobbling, weakened components, unsafe bolts, loose fittings, and substantial cosmetic flaws are just a few examples of their extensive list of shortcomings.

However, this is not to say those companies will never improve. They can if they put in the work to change.

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