Best AR-15s for the Money

But more than that, we want to answer some questions we always see here at SGPT that we get all the time:

What is the best AR-pattern rifle for the price? Bushmaster vs Colt?

Who makes the best AR 15 rifles under $600? How is Daniel Defense vs PSA?

What is the most reliable?

Please vote in the poll at the bottom of page and help us decide the best AR-15 rifles.

If you click on any link we may get a commission from which helps keep gas in the truck and the lights turned on. So if you want to help a disabled veteran – click the link and buy your toilet paper in bulk.

What follows are the best values for the money.

#10 Palmetto State Armory 10.5″ Pistol

Palmetto State Armory is one of the biggest manufacturers of AR’s in the US, and they offer an outstanding value for the money. Note we didn’t say cheap, we said value. Are they reliable? Absolutely. Are they accurate? Yup, enough for most applications. Frankly, if you can hit sub MOA groups at 100-300 yards, you probably need to start competing and upgrade to an accurized gun anyway. You will see a couple of PSA’s on this thread, as they are one of the best values for the money with a lifetime warranty.

This one is a 10.5″ carbine length gas system “pistol.” Don’t let the brace fool you, this is registered as a pistol, however, at the time of writing this, you can shoulder the brace. A standard 5.56 AR-15, this is capable of firing mil-spec 5.56mm or civilian .223 ammunition, and feeds reliably with M4 feed ramps.

With a slim rail, you can get a solid purchase, especially in tight spaces. And like all AR’s, this is highly modular – allowing you to add optics, angled foregrips, the works. It also comes with a flash-cone, which helps push gas to the front unlike a birdcage A2 flash hider that pushes gas 180 degrees up and forward. It’s loud, it spits fire, and it looks badass.

Rifle Ammo in Stock

You can buy this as a complete rifle or as a parts kit. I bought this as an AR-15 project kit (started with a lower receiver) and quickly saved extra cash I could put into other parts.

Question: What is the best value weapon today?

Answer: Most voters picked the Colt or Bushmaster as the best value for the money.

Question: Do you have a good low price recoil cover that you like?

Answer: Yes; a good priced recoil cover is the non-slip Recoil Rubber Buttpad as it is only $8.95 at Amazon.

Image result for magpul mbus sights

Check out Magpul Industries MBUS Generation II Sight Set @

#9 Aero Precision AC-15

Another solid choice that won’t take any shots at your bank account is the Aero AC-15. This is a base level 16″ carbine, with the archetypal plastic M4 style handguards, A2 grip, and classic telescoping stock for the AR purist who doesn’t want to be all tacti-cool. They just want a weapon that functions and rings steel. With this rig, we recommend adding an MBUS backup sight to the rear.

With a 1:9 twist, 16″ barrel, and QPQ finish this rifle is ready to go out of the box – just grab an optic, Magpul PMAG, and you’re off to the races

Question: What is a good rear sight for my AR-15?

Answer: I picked up a Magpul Gen 2 MBUS Rear Flip Sight from Amazon. That led me to the Magpul MBUS. I read lots of AR 15 reviews, ended up on this product and glad I bought it.

#8 PSA Gen 4 9mm AR

With the prevalence of 9mm, the economical cost of shooting, and the acceptance of Glock style magazine, why wouldn’t you want an AR in 9mm? This platform is fantastic for shooting in competition, or working on accuracy for half the cost of 5.56 ammo. There are some slight differences here versus shooting a rifle caliber AR – mainly the lack of a forward assist (this is blowback operated, not gas impingement operated) and the lack of a last round bolt hold open. However, that being said, the manual of arms is still very similar, and allows you to shoot more often and faster.

And also, there is a whole new division in the shooting sports that afford you the opportunity to run and gun with pistol caliber carbines (PCC) like this. Decked out with MOE furniture and a sleek hand rail, the Gen 4 9mm comes with a 8620 steel bolt, enhanced firing pin and 5.56 steel extractor for added reliability. Moreover, the bolt is compatible with a ton of aftermarket triggers, like the CMC 1.5 lb I have in one of mine.

Question: What are the the top 5 high-end black rifles on the market?

Answer: Daniel Defense, Lewis Machine, Windham Weaponry and Rock River Arms are considered by many to be the top of the heap.

Question: Who makes the best custom weapons?

Answer: That is a hard question as there are many custom shops out there doing great work. Some say that Black Rain Ordnance makes a great exotic black rifle.

#7 Ruger AR-556

Image result for Ruger AR-556

Another great platform that’s similar to the Aero is the Ruger-556. This one has a 16″ matte, cold-hammer-forged barrel, with the standard telescoping stock and carbine length handguard. With the A2 style front sight post/gas block, and flip up rear sight, and included PMAG, you can get right to the range from the gun shop with this rig.

You also have the ability to adjust the front and rear sights to get zeroed in, and have amply sling mounting options. This particular model is direct impingement, but Ruger also offer the SR-556, which is a piston driven model.

Question: How do you rate the Stag Arms vs Colt Ar-15?

Answer: For a $400 difference, I’d get the Stag. I know Colts are very good guns, but IMO, you also pay for the name. I have a Stag Model 1 I got about 1.5 years ago and added all kinds of stuff to it. I have never had a single problem and Ive put around 3000 rounds through it so far. It’s plenty accurate too. The fit and finish were also very nice.

#6 Bushmaster QRC

The Bushmaster QRC in an outstanding off the shelf option for a budget rifle that comes in at around $500. This flattop is ready for action with nothing to impede your vision. Just slap a scope or red dot on top and you’re ready to rock. It comes with all the standard issue AR15 trimmings – collapsible stock, pistol grip, and is highly modifiable.

It comes with sling points, so you can attache the Yahill Multi-Use 2 Point Rifle Sling. You can also use this on a tactical shotgun as it is very versatile.

#5 PSA PA-15 

An even better value for the money is the PSA PA-15. With this platform, you get all the trappings of the others, but with Magpul MOE furniture already mounted. In addition, it comes with a MBUS backup sight and M4 profile barrel. This rifle comes with a 1:7 twist, which means it will like heavier bullets a bit more, but we’ve run PSAs with everything from 55gr to 75gr with no issues with accurate for combat distances.

Magpul furniture, as a rule, is much more user friendly than the common A2 style furniture, and the stocks come with a buttpad insert already!

#4 DPMS Oracle A3 

The Oracle A3 is interesting for a lot of reasons. It would be of special interest to your bank account for only $500 or so, but also the furniture and stock make it of more interest. At first glance, it looks like a standard mil-spec stock, but its a bit more unique with an undersweep by the armpit when you shoulder it.

Moreover, the short handguard is made by Glacier Guard, and has a picatinny rail on the gas block to mount backup sights on it. DPMS has been around for a while, and all of their rifles get good reviews. It sports a 16″ 1:9 twist barrel, making it more stable with more ammunition.

#3 PSA 224 Valkyrie 

AR’s come in more than just 5.56 and .223, which is awesome. There have been .308 and 9mm ARs for quite a while, but of late we’re seeing new franken-cartridges that have exceptional ballistics like this PSA in .224 Valkyrie. With a 20″ 416R barrel, Magpul CTR stock that doesn’t wobble like other AR pattern stocks, and Magpul pistol grip, this rifles lends itself to accuracy. Stainless barrels reach out a bit better than standard 4150 CM barrels, and the improved drag coefficient on a .224 Valkyrie makes it stable in flight. This also comes with a nickel boron 2 stage trigger, bringing even more value to you right out of the box.

If you’re looking for a rifle that’s a bit cooler than a standard 5.56 and allows you to reach out and ring some steel, look no further.

Check out AR Parts @

#2 PSA PA10

Now, if you want something a little more hard hitting with a bigger round than the 224 Valkyrie without breaking the bank, the PA10 is the perfect option. But be advised, this is not for the faint of heart or the delicate of shoulder; this puppy kicks. Hard. But it also hits harder. I have a modified version of this one – which we reviewed here.

Again, this is a fantastic rifle for the money, at or around $600 on sale, all American made, and pushes out a 7.62×51 projectile at screaming velocity from an 18″ stainless 416R barrel.  Adorned with standard mil-spec furniture, you can get plenty of aftermarket components to deck it out as well as some sweet aftermarket triggers to make this a battle rifle or long range platform. With a midlength gas system, it cycles reliably with almost everything we’ve fed it, and it even more accurate at distance than my 5.56 rifles for double the price, given the weight of the projectile and the extra barrel length.

Question: What is the best AR-10?

Answer: You can expect the usual suspects names to pop up for the best AR10 – Daniel Defense, Colt, Noveske, and the like, but unless you’re going to war, less expensive options like Palmetto State are great.

Question: What is the best AR for the money 2019?

That’s a loaded question. You have to ask yourself what you’re going to be using the rifle for.

For example, if it’s a duty rifle, go with a proven battle rifle brand like Colt or Bravo Company. LEOs and military abroad carry both makes, so you can rest assured if it’s good enough for the US military, it’s good enough for your duty rifle. If you’re looking for something for plinking, Smith & Wessons MP series are well made rifles, as are Palmetto State Armory’s. In fact, you can build a PSA rifle extremely cheap that will do just fine as a range toy.

#1 S&W M&P-15 II Sport

Smith & Wesson is one of the oldest and most trusted names in firearms, and for good cause. They make all types of platforms, and the S&W MP15 Sport II lives up to the reputation. I had the first iteration of this rifle, but ended up selling it due to the fact that it lacked a forward assist.

With their second generation, it seems S&W heard shooters out there asking for a more mil-spec rifle. This one, out of the box, comes with Magpul handguard, which we’ve already outlined how much we love, and a flip up rear sight. Slap on an Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic, and Magpul stock and handguard and she’s ready to run whatever you can throw at it.

Question: I am thinking about trading out a LWRC m6a2 for a DDm4v5. What do you guys think about that swap – would that be an upgrade or downgrade?

Answer: Some say that is a lateral move where as some say a slight upgrade.

Question: My buddies and I are looking to get a set of night vision goggles or binoculars for our hog hunting camp. Do you have any good deals?

Answer: Check out the ATN Night Vision gear at

Question: Are there any Navy SEALs out there using the Bushmaster rifle?

Answer: Yes; I have one myself and use it often.

Question: What are the best value bushmaster AR-15 rifles?

Answer: Check out this article on Bushmasters.

Question: What is the best plinker for the money 2014?

Answer: Bushmaster or S&W MP15 Sport are good values for the money.

Question: Out of these top rated .223 AR’s: DPMS vs. Windham vs. Colt, which one would you pick?

Answer: All things being equal, I’d go with the Colt.

Answer: What can I do to help keep my rights to own a rifle and pistol in America? Every time I turn around I hear some liberal looking to take my guns.

Question: Check out

Question: How do you rate the Stag Arms vs Colt Ar-15?

Answer: For a $400 difference, I’d get the Stag. I know Colts are very good guns, but IMO, you also pay for the name. I have a Stag Model 1 I got about 1.5 years ago and added all kinds of stuff to it. I have never had a single problem and Ive put around 3000 rounds through it so far. It’s plenty accurate too. The fit and finish were also very nice.

Question: How do you rate the Stag Arms vs Colt Ar-15?

Answer: For a $400 difference, I’d get the Stag. I know Colts are very good guns, but IMO, you also pay for the name. I have a Stag Model 1 I got about 1.5 years ago and added all kinds of stuff to it. I have never had a single problem and I’ve put around 3000 rounds through it so far. It’s plenty accurate too. The fit and finish were also very nice.


Alex Castiglione lives in Atlanta, and is an avid outdoorsman and competitive shooter.

His where-abouts include getting after it in his garage gym, practicing martial arts, hitting the trails, or running CrossFit and Strongman competitions for his non-profit, Barbells for Bullies, which holds fundraiser fitness competitions dedicated to aiding Bully breed rescues, dog rescues, or other non-profits with similar missions.


Gear Review: APOC Armory Patriot Upper

Top 5 Rails for DPMS Oracle AR 15

Gear Review: Shadow Systems Gen 4 Glock 19 Optics Ready Top End

Seal Fit Stack

SGPT Upcoming Events

Personal Online Coaching

Work 1-on-1
with SEAL Grinder's Brad McLeod
To Achieve Your Goals

pic of brad

Personal fitness training from Brad McLeod, Navy Seal and CrossFit Level 1 instructor. Delivered online, directly to you.

"I recommend Brad to anyone that seriously wants to go to BUDs or anything else in life... try these workouts. Hooyah!" - Chris H.

learn more button