The Ultimate AR-15 Buyers Guide

Every year the firearm industry enjoys watching a wave of new rifles hit the market.  The venerable AR-15 and its variants are still the most popular rifle in the country and have shown no indication of slowing down.  With that let’s take a look at some of the most interesting AR-15’s of the year!

Ruger AR-556 Optics Carbine

This year Ruger adds to their AR-556 line with the Optics Carbine. The rifle uses a milled gas block with an integral Picatinny rail in place of the more traditional front sight.  It has all of the same great features at their previous rifles and has a flat top Picatinny upper and a same-plane railed gas block that allows shooters to easily attach accessories of their choice. The gas block is at the carbine-length position on the 16.10-inch, 1:8-inch RH-twist, 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel. It is a great rifle that allows shooters to add what they really want.

Ruger AR-556

CMMG Banshee 5.7×28

There has been a new rush to build AR’s outside the traditional 5.56 chambering.  While most companies are heading down the 9mm PCC route, the folks over at CMMG have a new take on this idea. For 2019 they have released their Banshee in  5.7x28mm. Yes, the same cartridge developed by FN Herstal for its P90 and Five seveN. There aren’t many guns chamber for this unique cartridge, so the guns from CMMG will be a welcomed by many 5.7 fans.

CMGG Banshee 5.7x28
CMGG Banshee 5.7×28

Maxim Defense PDX SBR

Born from the SOCOM PDW solicitation, the new Maxim Defense PDX is designed to handle the fierce demands of the Tier 1 community. At just 18.75” in overall length, the PDX  delivers serious power and performance in a sub-compact platform. At the heart of the PDX  is their newly developed Maxim SCW stock system. This patent-pending system cuts down the length of the stock to 4 inches. The integrated BCG with interchangeable buffer weights gives you maximum performance and versatility without sacrificing form and functionality. The PDX is also equipped with newly invented Maxim HATEBRAKE muzzle booster. This patent-pending device significantly reduces recoil, decreases the flash signature, pushes gasses and concussion wave downrange away from the operator and improves overall performance in short barrel pistols and rifles.

Maximum Defense PDX 300 Blackout SBR
Maximum Defense PDX 300 Blackout SBR

Savage MSR10 Precision

Complete and ready to compete. The Savage MSR 10 Precision delivers match-winning accuracy with its stainless steel heavy barrel and 5R button rifling. Savage also made it competition-worthy right out of the box with upgrades like an 18-inch Arca handguard, Magpul PRS stock and Tango Down Battlegrip Flip Grip, which quickly rotates from 24 degrees of rake to vertical. Its semi-automatic action is fed by a +two gas system that can be adjusted for optimal cycling of your specific ammunition.

Wilson Combat Protector Series

Wilson Combat began building AR-style rifles years ago. For 2019, the company is expanding its offerings with a more affordable AR line called the Protector Series. The new guns will offer many premium features while keeping the price under $2k. Among the features are: Wilson Combat match grade stainless steel barrel with Q-Comp muzzle device

Wilson Combat 2-stage Tactical Trigger Unit, free floating Wilson Combat, slim handguard with M-LOK attachment points, Armor-Tuff finish on receiver and barrel, BCM pistol grip and Rogers Super-Stock. They are everything you expect from Wilson Combat!

Wilson Combat Protector Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO
Wilson Combat Protector Carbine 5.56x45mm NATO

Sig Tread

Sig Sauer M400 Tread 5.56
Sig Sauer M400 Tread 5.56

New this year from SIG is the M400 TREAD. It is an optics ready aluminum frame rifle that has a ton of features without breaking the bank. It includes a 16 inch stainless steel barrel with a free-floating M-LOK handguard, a single-stage polished/hard-coat trigger, ambidextrous controls, a Magpul SL-K 6 position telescoping stock, a mid-length gas system, and is available in 5.56. The handguard has lightening cuts to reduce weight and the barrel is topped off with a three chamber compensator.  This gun is absolutely more than just the sum of its parts.

Springfield Saint Victor

Springfield has released the newest addition to its Saint line. The Saint Victor is designed to be an out of the box performer. The Victor sticks to the successful design of previous Saints and includes Bravo Company furniture including the trigger guard, pistol grip, and buttstock. This is where similarities stop though as the Victor offers some nice upgrades including Springfield Armory’s proprietary muzzle brake, an enhanced M16, magnetic-particle tested, 9310 steel bolt-carrier group with Melonite finish and an enhanced nickel-boron coated single-stage flat trigger. What is most eye catching is that we get all of these new features for only $24 more than the original Saint.  This is sure to be a winner in their line up!

Springfield Armory Saint AR-15 5.56mm NATO Semi Auto Rifle

Rock River Arms New LAR 9mm variants

A quick visit to Rock River Arms at SHOT had me looking at their new expanded line of 9mm AR-style pistols to include two new models with SB Tactical stabilizing braces and upgraded M-LOK handguards. These guns are available with either a seven inch- or 10.5-inch barrel. Each LAR-9 uses a dedicated 9mm lower receiver to reliably feed from Colt-style magazines. These blowback-operated pistols also sport 9mm-specific trigger groups, ejectors, dust covers and case deflectors. Like everything Rock River does, these new guns are winners!

Rock River Arms LAR-15  5.56mm NATO (.223 Rem.)  Semi Auto Rifle UPC 151550004618
Rock River Arms LAR-15 5.56mm NATO (.223 Rem.) Semi Auto Rifle

Mossberg 224 Valkyrie MMR PRO

Mossberg has entered the 224 Valkyrie realm in a big way. In collaboration with world renowned 3 Gun Champion Jerry Miculek, Mossberg has brought the MMR Pro to market! Featuring an 18″ stainless steel free-float barrel, a SilencerCo suppressor ready ASR muzzle break, and the JM Pro adjustable trigger, this rifle is built to compete! It sports a 15 inch slim profile M-LOK compatible handguard for all your accessories. Accurate, reliable and dependable, the MMR Pro is built to excel making it an excellent choice for duty, defense or hunting!

Mossberg MMR PRO 224VLK
Mossberg MMR PRO 224VLK

Rise Armament Watchman

Rise Armament expanded their line with the release of new compact versions of their popular RISE Watchman LE Rifle. The gun is now available in SBR and pistol versions.

The two new offerings are a pistol and an SBR. Both versions feature an 11.5-inch match-grade 416R stainless steel barrel with a carbine-length gas system. The barrel is chambered in .223 Wylde for accuracy with .223 and 5.56 ammo. It features proprietary fluting for weight reduction and is sub-MOA accurate with factory ammo. The rifles also have a 10-inch RISE aluminum handguard that is M-LOK compatible with a 12 o’clock Picatinny upper rail system. The pistol has an SB Tactical SBA3 pistol brace, and the SBR has a Magpul CTR stock. The company developed the Watchman rifle with input from SWAT/SOT/SRT officers, patrol officers, military snipers, competitive shooters, and firearms instructors to ensure it combines the best in functionality, accuracy, dependability, and affordability. From a squad car to an entry team, it’s duty ready.

FN USA MD Heavy Barrel

FN has continued to make rifles that meet specific state compliance demands. Most recently they announced the release of two new state-compliant FN 15 models for Maryland residents. The FN 15 MD Heavy Barrel Carbine and FN 15 MD Heavy Barrel Rifle.  Both meet the state of Maryland’s requirements for sale with the heavy barrel profile, limited 10-round magazine capacity, and other features. Combining rock-solid reliability with pinpoint accuracy and battle-proven durability, the FN 15 MD Heavy Barrel Carbine and Rifle are ready for the firing line. The 10-round carbine features a free-floated, 16-inch cold hammer-forged and chrome-lined heavy-profile barrel with a 12-inch M-LOK rail, low-profile gas block and PWS muzzle break. The rifle, also with 10-round capacity, features a free-floated, 20-inch hammer-forged heavy profile barrel with chrome lining, 15-inch Samson Evolution rail, low profile gas block and threaded muzzle with thread protector.

POF Revolution .308 DI

POF broke barriers and won awards when they released the piston driven .308 Revolution. For 2019 they have introduced the Revolution DI (Direct Impingement). By popular demand, you get the same technology, same durability, same features, and same AR-15 size, but in a smaller direct impingement system featuring their 9-position adjustable Dictator gas block and Renegade rail. There is virtually nothing left to upgrade.

The original Revolution weighed in at a paltry 7.35 pounds, turning heads for its incredible light weight and small stature for a .308. The Revolution DI weighs even less at 6.81 pounds with a 16” barrel, making it ideal for just about any situation you put it in.

ZEV 16 Core Elite Rifle

New from Zev this year in the full size rifle world is the ZEV 16 Elite rifle. These guns feature the high quality and aesthetics of ZEV products with a combination of traditional Mil-spec controls and functional upgrades that deliver excellent performance in the field or on the range. This rifle includes performance centered features such as a match grade barrel, precision machined upper and lower receivers, ZEV Wedge Lock hand guard with integrated anti-rotation pins and low profile fixed gas blocks. They additionally have H3 carbine buffers to increase dwell time and reduce port pressure, Mil-spec chrome lined BCG with a manganese phosphate finish for improved lubricity and corrosion resistance as well as a Mil-spec trigger group and operating controls. The 16 Core Elite is an exceptional rifle to fit the needs of just about any shooter.

MG Arms Taranis X

New from MG Arms is the lightweight Taranis X. This six pound AR chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, or .338 Federal, is a lightweight performer. With the goal of dropping weight everything possible on the rifle has been skeletonized. It comes out of the box with a three pound match grade trigger, Picatinny top rail, carbon-fiber handguard, and a nice Cerakote finish. It would make long days on the range or on the hunt much easier!

Battle Arms Tanker 9 Personal defense Weapon

During my time at SHOT I saw some really nice rifles with interesting finishes.  However I did a double take when I came across the Tanker 9 Personal Defense Weapon from Battle Arms. It is a modern gun with a retro feel. Paying homage to the old-school WWII era weapons, the “Tanker” is furnished with custom grade A French walnut handguard and pistol grip. To cap it off, it is paired with wood finished SS cheek rest for strength and durability. The complete rifle is finished with H-Series Cerekote with custom blended “Parkerized Green Steel & Cosmoline” theme finish matching that of the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine and other WWII guns. It is a good looking gun built out as an SBR chambers in 5.56 or 300BLK.

Caracal CAR814 7.5″A2 Pistol .300Blk 

New from the team at Caracal is the CAR814 7.5” A2 pistol chambered in 300BLK.  The gun was designed with military and law enforcement users in mind. Using high quality components, advanced engineering and state of the art manufacturing processes, the CAR814 A2 is built to exacting tolerances to provide the end user with a safe, durable, reliable and accurate firearm. Caracal will be offering the gun in black, FDE, and grey.

Primary Weapon Systems Mk1 Pro

Primary Weapon Systems (PWS) announced a new line of AR-style rifles called the MK1 Pro. The new guns use the company’s long-stroke piston system but will be sold at a price that is more affordable to many shooters. These rifles will be available in .223 Wylde which is designed to shoot both 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem. The piston system has three settings that the shooter can adjust to tailor the system to the chosen ammunition. A 16″ 416 stainless steel barrel with a 1:8″ twist is standard as is the company’s own free floating 15″ handguard with M-LOK attachment points. Additional features include a Bravo Company pistol grip, Radian Raptor ambidextrous charging handle, A2-type flash hider and mil-spec enhanced trigger that is PTFE coated. The entire package weighs just under seven pounds unloaded and without an optic.

Dark Storm Industries DS15 Typhoon pistol

Dark Storm Industries has built a new 5.56 pistol that has much in common with its full size guns. They are feature rich and include an M-LOK forearm, billet lower, ambidextrous controls, and a Hogue Over molded Grip. It also has several features unique to the Typhoon pistol such as a CQB compensator, SB Tactical Pistol Brace and a mil-spec trigger. This well-made AR pistol is sure to be a successful addition to their line.

DoubleStar ARP7 Pistol

Many people are on the hunt for the perfect truck or car gun.  Small yet powerful and easy to run.  Doublestar has heard your cry and released the ARP7 AR pistol. Chambered in 5.56 with a 7.5 inch barrel this small blaster has a Cloak MLOK handguard that allows for accessories to be mounted and profiled fitting the shooter’s hand well.  The gun is finished out with and Ergo grip and Doublestar’s Enhanced Extraction System. Helping manage recoil is the Big Timber brake which adds a pretty cool look to this small package!

Fightlite MXR

The new patent-pending FightLite MXR is a multi-caliber, pistol cartridge platform that is primarily chambered for 9mm and is caliber convertible at the user level without tools to include .22LR, 9mm, .357 Sig, .40 S&W, 10mm, 45ACP and FN 5.7 x 28mm. The compact MXR is suppressor capable via a threaded barrel and will also accept a variety of common pistol magazine types including those from Glock, Sig, Beretta, CZ, S&W, and many others. Available in pistol, carbine and select-fire submachine gun models that are suitable for civilian, law enforcement and military use.

JP Enterprises  JT-19 Precision Rifle

 JP Enterprises is a common name in the precision rifles and parts world. It was because of this reputation that I visited them. New for 2019 is their JT-19 precision rifle.  This well-made AR rifle is chambered for the 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem and .308 Win. It has superb features such as a JP Supermatch 416R cryogenically treated barrel with a black Teflon finish, adjustable gas system, JP Fire Control Package and your choice of stocks such as the Magpul CTR and LUTH-AR MBA-2.

Brenton Ranger Carbon Hunter

New to the AR world, Brenton presented their flagship offering.  An AR rifle purely dedicated to hunting. It features a NiB coated bolt carrier assembly for reliability under harsh hunting conditions, Brenton’s own 3.0-6.5 lbs. Match Grade Trigger (Adjustable) assembly for custom tunability, HunterSize controls for use with gloved hands and MarbleKote camouflage for concealment. It has a free-floating match grade steel barrel threaded for suppressor use, Magpul MOE fixed stock, carbon fiber reinforced RealFeel handguard for use on bi-pods and tripods. This rifle is truly built for hunters and Brenton has done a solid job of making a rifle to fill this niche.