The 10 Best AR Pistols
An AR pistol lets you have most of the features of an SBR without all the extra paperwork and tax stamps. Here are some of the best on the market.
Look, over on that shooting lane! It’s a rifle! It’s a carbine! It’s a … pistol?
Thanks to Uncle Sam and the infinite wisdom of those in charge of the ATF, an AR pistol is one of the most misunderstood firearms on the market today. While I offer no legal advice because the government’s rulings have changed in the past, this is what an AR pistol is today:
- Built on an AR lower that was slated to be a pistol.
- The barrel is less than 16″ in length.
- Can have a vertical foregrip if the barrel is longer than 16″ and the overall length is 26″ or more.
- Cannot have a traditional buttstock, but it may have a stabilizing brace.
Basically, the appeal of an AR pistol is that you can have most of the same features and benefits or an AR-platform short barreled rifle, but without all the added expense and paperwork.
With that cleared up, here are ten really good options to consider if you’re in the market for an AR pistol. Price points range from $499 to $2,250, so there’s bound to be one on here that fits your needs and your wallet.
In no particular order, they are:
Springfield’s SAINT rifle line is very popular, so it only makes sense hat they would adapt it for a pistol. The SAINT pistol is equipped with an SB Tactical brace and has a 7.5″ barrel that is treated with Melonite, making it more durable than chrome. The pistol’s other furniture come from a variety of high quality names such as Magpul and Bravo Company.
Available in 5.56 with a 7.5” barrel or .300 Blackout with a 9” barrel, both pistols feature low-profile gas blocks. The .300 Blackout pistol’s gas block is adjustable, while the 5.56 is not adjustable.
The SAINT has an MSRP of $1,059 and is available in black, desert FDE, tactical gray, and OD green.
SIG states that the MCX VIRTUS is a result of demands from the SpecOps community. That right there ought to grab your attention. It features ambidextrous controls, a Matchlite Duo trigger, a free-floating M-Lok handguard with a top rail, and a folding PCB brace for extra concealability when needed.
The system also offers modular variety with user-interchangeable cold hammer-forged barrels available in multiple calibers and lengths.
For example, .300 Blackout is offered with the 9” barrel and the more traditional 5.56 is offered with the 11.5” barrel. The different varieties are available in stealth grey and FDE.
The SIG MCX VIRTUS pistol has an MSRP of $2,029.
PSA has built a reputation on providing quality parts and complete firearms at an affordable price. They offer their PA-15 pistols in a very wide variety of configurations in both 5.56 and .300 Blackout. You can get chrome-lined barrels in increments from 7″, 7.5″, 8.5″, and 10.5″ in phosphate or nitride finishes. Handguard options abound, too. Choose from traditional military, lightweight M-Lok, or Magpul MOE.
PSA also offers two different type of pistol braces. They offer a fixed configuration known as the Shockwave from KAK Industries and an adjustable version – the SBA3 – from SB Tactical. FDE, OD green, and black.
Regardless which configuration you choose, they’re all affordable and priced around $499.99.
Available in 5.56 or .300 Blackout, the Fightlite SCR is the most visually distinct of all the pistols on this list. Instead of being outfitted with a stabilizing brace, it features a birdshead style grip that resembles that of a sawed-off shotgun.
But make no mistake: this is the grip’s original configuration and it was never made from something larger that was intended to be fired from the shoulder, so that’s how it retains its legal pistol classification.
Barrels in both calibers are 7.25” and are housed in free-floating handguards with railed uppers and your choice of KeyMod or M-Lok attachments. Regardless of caliber, both live up to the Fightlite name, coming in at less than four pounds each.
The SCR has an MSRP of $865.
Pistols in Bravo Company Manufacturing’s lineup of products is top notch. BCM has provided firearms for multiple branches of the military and domestic law enforcement divisions, both state and federal.
Their RECCE pistols are available with 9″, 11″, and 12″ barrels and can be had with or without an SBA3 brace. The best part about these pistols is that they come standard with BCM’s “gunfighter” series of upgrades.
This includes BCM-brand KMR-A10 free-floating handguards, KeyMod QD sling swivel mounts, BCMGUNFIGHTER charging handles, Mod 0 compensators, Mod 3 pistol grips, QD end plates, PNT triggers, and trigger guards. That’s a lot of included upgrades, and it shows in a very good way.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, “RECCE” rhymes with “Becky.”
Available in 5.56 or .300 Blackout, the RECCE pistols have an MSRP of $1,400 to $1,600.
With the AR platform having its origination from Armalite, I’d be remiss not to include one of their pistols on this list. After all, without their rifles in the 1950s, there’d be no pistols in the 2010s.
The Eagle-15 pistols are available in two different barrel lengths. The 15EAP6 and 15EAP11 have 6″ and 11″ barrels, respectively. Unlike other options on this list, these pistols are not available in .300 Blackout; they are 5.56/.223 only.
Regardless of barrel length, the pistols have a full rail on the upper with KeyMod attachments on the sides of the free-floating handguard. Apologies to M-Lok fans, though, as it is not an option on this pistol as it comes from the factory. You can, of course, switch it out on your own if you so desire.
Both barrel length versions are equipped with Sig pistol braces and single stage triggers.
MSRP for the Eagle-15 is $996.
Daniel Defense products are currently in use by a number of US military entities, including USSOCOM. Their MK18 pistol is outfitted with the same railed forend that they supply to USSOCOM, so that says something right out of the gate.
The MK18 pistol has a chrome-lined 10.3” barrel inside of the RIS II aluminum forend mentioned above. The muzzle device, pistol grip, and rail panels are all specific to Daniel Defense.
All MK18 pistols are equipped with an SB Tactical SOB stabilizing brace, but this particular variation is also fitted with the Law Tactical GEN3M folding adapter. This allows the pistol to fold down into an even more compact unit than it already is, making it easier to store and conceal.
Countless hours of training are required to perform like a member of USSOCOM, but with an MSRP of $2,162, you can have a pistol that will help you look the part.
The popularity of Ruger’s AR-556 rifles and carbines made the addition of a pistol to the lineup a no-brainer.
The AR-556 10.5″ pistol barrel is mounted inside of a free-floating handguard with M-LOK attachment points at 3, 6, and 9-o’clock spots and a fully-railed upper for optics of your choice. An SB Tactical SBA3 stabilizing brace is standard, as is seen on plenty of AR pistols on the market. Attach your favorite optic and/or BUIS and this pistol is range ready.
It’s not fancy or loaded with extra options, but if you’re looking for a quality AR pistol that won’t break the bank, the Ruger AR-556 pistol is a solid choice with an MSRP of $899.
Wilson Combat is known for attention to detail, and their ARP Tactical pistol is no exception. The ARP Tactical pistol features billet upper and lower receivers, BCM pistol grips, Shockwave arm braces, and Wilson Combat-brand T.R.I.M. handguards, trigger guards, single-stage 4# triggers, and 8″ or 11.3″ match grade barrels.
This pistol is also the most ballistically diverse offering on the list. It is available in 5.56, .300 Blackout, .300 HAM’R, 6.8 SPC, and 7.62×40 WT.
Because of the name recognition and reputation for high quality firearms, the ARP Tactical pistol isn’t cheap. It has an MSRP of $2,250 for the base model. As with all things Wilson Tactical, there are plenty of upgrades you can choose from, which will drive the price higher.
Aero Precision’s M4E1 pistols can be purchased in a variety of configurations to suit your style, and I don’t just mean choosing the barrel length (from 7.5″ to 16″) and furniture. You can buy a completed upper and lower and put them together.
You can buy all the parts from them individually and put it together yourself, or you can buy a completed pistol with no furniture and make the final appearance as custom as you want.
If that last option appeals to you most, you can snag a complete, furniture-less pistol with a 10.5” barrel from Brownells for $629.99. It has a chrome-lined barrel, low profile gas block, and a forged aluminum lower.