Best Budget AR-15s
We’ve broken the best basic ARs into two categories, sub $500 guns, and sub $1,000 guns.
Most gun owners can be grouped into two categories: those who own an AR-15 and those who are in the market for one. (Heck, there are plenty who are in both categories!) It is by far the most popular platform in the firearms industry right now, and for good reason.Virtually every company on the market today offers their own version of the AR-15. Some can cost as much as the down payment on a house, and others can be had for less than the average car payment.
Either way, there’s an AR-15 out there in your price range.The definition of “budget” varies from person to person. As such, this list is comprised of 15 different AR-15 options in two different price categories: under $500 and under $1,000.The beauty of the AR platform is that it can be put together like LEGOs. That is, you can pick and choose your parts and swap them out with relative ease. Just because you spend less than $500 on the initial gun, doesn’t mean that you can’t modify it later.
No matter what you spend on the gun initially, it’s sure to make a good host for aftermarket parts, allowing you to build the gun of your dreams on your terms and on your budget.So without further ado, here are 15 of the best budget AR-15s on the market today:
Palmetto State Armory Freedom Rifle – $450
Palmetto sells a lot of individual parts for those who are looking to “build” an AR-15, but they also sell complete firearms. PSA’s entry-level AR-15 is called the Freedom Rifle, and it is basically ready to go right out of the box.
It’s got a standard A2 front sight and a railed upper receiver, so all you need is an inexpensive BUIS or optic and you’re good to go! If you really want one that’s range-ready, they do have models that come with a BUIS, and the price varies only slightly.
The furniture is also available in a variety of different colors to fit your style.
The name is not only a nod to American patriotism, but it’s also a reference to the money left over after buying the gun. Priced at $449.99, you’ll have the freedom to purchase a bunch of ammo to go with it!
Del-Ton DT Sport – Mod 2 – $500
Like PSA, Del-Ton makes a lot of parts for people who want to pick and choose the components for their AR-15, as well as complete guns. The DT Sport – Mod 2 is an evolution of their earlier DT Sport, which was their initial budget offering.
The major improvement over the original DT Sport is that this version has a forward assist, dust cover, and includes a BUIS to accompany the A2 front sight. As such, the DT Sport – Mod 2 is absolutely ready to go right out of the box.
Price varies a little bit by seller, but the gun can be had for $499 or less in many places.
DPMS Oracle – $430
A lot of really nice ARs can be had from DPMS. Some of the models in their GII lineup exceed the $2k price range, but don’t let that dissuade you from looking to them for a budget rifle.
This setup has a railed upper receiver and a railed gas block, so you’re free to mount whatever kind of optic setup you desire on this gun. The chrome-lined barrel is a nice touch, too, since not all of the guns on this list have one.
I’ve seen prices for their Oracle rifle as low as $429 online, so it’s hard to go wrong with this option.
Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II – $465
All of the big name gunmakers have gotten in on the AR market, and Smith & Wesson is no exception. Their M&P15 line of rifles has something to offer for everyone in the market for an affordable AR.
They even offer some variations of the model that allow you to get exactly the kind of base gun you’re looking for. They have versions with an A2 front sight and BUIS, complete flat top rails for the optic of your choice, handguards that use Picatinny or MLOK, and even compliant versions that don’t require any modification to be legal in certain states.
The setup with an A2 front sight and included BUIS can be had for as little as $464 online.
ATI Omni Hybrid – $450
Plastics have made all aspects of life more affordable, including firearms. We’ve seen the rise of polymer magazines, furniture, and other accessories, all while seeing the drop in price. ATI has taken this to the next level with their Omni Hybrid.
Both the upper and the lower are constructed of polymer, making the rifle very affordable to the consumer because it’s more affordable to manufacture. Fear not, though, about the gun’s durability. The upper and lower receivers are not just made of polymer. Instead, ATI makes them out of a fully-patented metal reinforced polymer material. This provides the gun with the necessary strength to endure countless rounds of firing while still allowing for a gun that is significantly lighter than its all-metal competitors.
ATI offers the Omni Hybrid at a very affordable $449.
Anderson AM-15 – $430
Anderson Manufacturing is best known for their stripped lower receivers. Many AR enthusiasts have stocked up on them for future gun projects because they can be had for less than $50 at any given time. During special sales, like Black Friday, they can be as low as $25.
The AM-15 has a flat top receiver with no rear sight, but the low profile gas block does not have any rail on it. Keep this in mind then you’re considering your optic options.
With the low prices you see on their stripped lowers, it’s no surprise that their complete rifles are priced around $429.99. It’s a price that’s hard to beat.
Radical FGS Forged Rifle – $480
The budget rifle from Radical Firearms offers something you won’t find on any of the other guns on this list: a free float handguard and rail system. All of the other guns on this list have handguards that attach at the front and rear portions of the barrel. A free float handguard attaches to the front of the receiver and nowhere else. This allows for increased accuracy because there is no contact with the barrel.
The reason you don’t normally see them on budget guns is because free float systems are generally more expensive than their two-piece counterparts. It’s a nice touch on a gun that has a street price around $479.
Aero Precision AC-15 – $450
Like Anderson, Aero is also well-known for their affordable stripped lower receivers. They cost a bit more than the ones from Anderson, but they can still be had for less than $100.
The AC-15 is Aero‘s option on the budget AR market. It’s a no-frills gun, to be sure, but it is ready right out of the box, equipped with an A2 front sight and a Magpul BUIS. Just ab some boxes of your favorite ammo and go! With street prices around $449, the AC-15 is a great entry-level gun that will leave you money left over for aftermarket parts if you choose to modify it later.
Windham Superlight SRC – $550
Windham Weaponry’s Superlight SRC is everything you need and nothing you don’t when it comes to a bargain rifle. The flat top receiver and gas block allow you to attach the sights of your choice and then you’re good to go.
Windham calls this their “Superlight” model because it weighs approximately one pound less than your average AR. This can make all the difference when you start adding various accessories to the gun. Ounces add up to pounds and pounds add up to fatigue.
The gun can be had for $549, which makes the price “Superlight” as well!
Ruger AR-556 – $550
The AR offered by Ruger is a solid option for a solid firearm. The base model ships with an A2 front sight and a Ruger-branded “Rapid Deploy” BUIS attached to the top rail. There’s plenty of room on the top rail for you to mount an optic that can co-witness with your other sights.
The handguard is a milspec design, but it can be easily swapped out with an aftermarket option that may better suit your needs.
For states with restrictions on the AR platform, Ruger offers compliant versions of the AR-556 that are legal right out of the box. It’s a quality gun from a quality manufacturer, available for $549.
Bushmaster XM-15 Standard – $700
Bushmaster has been making ARs for almost 40 years, so it’s no wonder that theirs is a name that has become synonymous with the AR-15.
Their XM-15 Standard line can be had in a variety of configurations, including patrolman, heavy barrel, and target models with either 16″ or 20″ barrels.
The biggest departure from every other gun on this list is that all of the Bushmaster guns come with carry handle rear sites (some detachable, some not) and the target models have full-length fixed buttstocks.
Those are features you don’t often see today in the modern sporting rifle world, but it’s nice to know that those options are still available, right from the factory.
If you’re shopping for the 16” models, you can pick one up for $699 or less.
Rock River Entry Tactical – $700
Rock River Armory
The Entry Tactical model from Rock River is exactly what it sounds like: an entry-level tactical rifle.
One of the nice features of the Entry Tactical is that it comes with a Hogue rubber pistol grip. The other guns on this list come with the standard hard plastic grip, so this extra bit of comfort right out of the box is a nice touch. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.
You will, however, need to purchase a rear sight, as the Entry Tactical does not come with one.
Rock River offers this model with and without a chrome lined barrel, and in configurations without a bayonet lug or a collapsible stock to make it compliant in more restrictive states. The base model with a collapsible stock and bayonet lug, but without the chrome can be had for $699.95.
Springfield Armory SAINT – $700
The SAINT rifles offer some nice perks at a price point that won’t break the bank. Bravo Company makes the buttstock, pistol grip, and exclusive handguard utilizing the KeyMod attachment system. An A2 front sight is complimented by a flip-up rear sight, making the gun range ready out of the box.
The fit between the upper and lower receiver utilizes Springfield Armory’s “Accu-Tite” system to minimize movement between the two parts of the gun. A heavier tungsten buffer helps slow down and smooth out the cycling of the action, making it more pleasant to shoot.
It’s pleasant on the wallet, too. You can snag one for $699.
Colt 6920 Series – $850
The Colt name will forever be linked to the AR platform. They started selling the AR-15 more than 50 years ago, and it’s been a hit ever since. There are a half-dozen 6920 series guns, but their M4 carbine is a civilian nod to the primary firearm used by the U.S. military, and plenty of other NATO forces around the world.
Physically, it’s basically just like all of the other ARs on this list. The main difference is the name on the receiver.
If it’s the name recognition that you’re looking for, it can still be had for a relative bargain. An added bit of name recognition comes in the form of a Magpul BUIS and a 30-round PMAG, both standard with this gun.
Street price on Colt’s M4 carbine is right around $849.
Even though Colt gets most of the recognition, it’s Armalite that they have to thank for the design. Armalite has been making AR-pattern rifles for more than 60 years, but don’t mistake the guns as being dated. Their rifles have evolved with the times and Armalite is continuing to build off of their reputation for creating high quality, no frills rifles.
Much like the Colt, if you’re looking for a slightly different kind of name recognition, you can snag a true “original” – now called the M-15 – for just $799. This flat top rifle with a railed gas block is perfect for you to put your favorite optic on top of it and head to the range.