The Ultimate AR-15 Buyers Guide – 2023 - The Ultimate AR-15 Buyers Guide

This article has been updated in August 2023 from its original publishing date.

The AR-15 is America’s most popular rifle! With today’s technology and all of the variants available, there’s a lot to choose from. This Buyer’s Guide covers some of the top models out there from the last few years. Check out this rundown on some of the newer models that are kitted out with some awesome out-of-the-box features!

Ruger AR-556 Optics Carbine

Ruger’s line includes its AR-556 line with 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 as their previous rifles, a flat-top Picatinny upper, and a same-plane railed gas block that allows shooters to attach accessories of their choice easily. 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 Optics Carbine - Find it on
Ruger AR-556 Optics Carbine – Find it on

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 Arms also made it competition-worthy 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.

Savage MSR10 Precision rifle
Savage MSR10 Precision rifle

Wilson Combat Protector Series

Wilson Combat began building AR-style rifles years ago. In 2019, the company expanded its offerings with a more affordable AR line called the Protector Series. The guns 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 FDE Protector with a Burris RT-6 Rifle Scope.
Wilson Combat FDE Protector with a Burris RT-6 Rifle Scope

Sig Tread M400 Optics-Ready Rifle

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 NATO. The handguard has lightening cuts to reduce weight and the barrel is topped off with a three-chamber compensator.  This optics-ready rifle is more than just the sum of its parts.

Sig Sauer M400 Tread 5.56 NATO 16′ Barrel in Distressed OD Green

Springfield Saint Victor

Springfield Armory includes the Victor in its Saint line. The Saint Victor is designed to be an out-of-the-box performer. The Saint 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.

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

Mossberg MMR PRO 224 Valkyrie

Mossberg has entered the 224 Valkyrie realm in a big way. In collaboration with world-renowned 3-Gun Champion Jerry Miculek, Mossberg brought the MMR Pro to market! Featuring an 18″ stainless steel free-float barrel, a SilencerCo suppressor-ready ASR muzzle brake, and the JM Pro adjustable trigger, this rifle is built to compete! It sports a 15” 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 Rifle

FN USA MD Heavy Barrel

FN has continued to make rifles that meet specific state compliance demands. They offer two 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 a 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 a threaded muzzle with thread protector.

POF Revolution .308 DI

POF USA broke barriers and won awards when they released the piston-driven .308 Revolution and 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 incredibly lightweight 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

Check out the full-size ZEV 16 Core 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

MG Arms has 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 rail, carbon-fiber handguard, and a nice Cerakote finish. It makes long days on the range or on the hunt much easier!

Primary Weapon Systems MK1 Pro

Primary Weapon Systems (PWS) has a line of AR-style rifles called the MK1 Pro. These guns use the company’s long-stroke piston system but are sold at a price that is more affordable to many shooters. They’re 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.

JP Enterprises  JT-19 Precision Rifle

JP Enterprises is a common name in the precision rifles and parts world. Their JT-19 precision rifle is a well-made AR rifle that 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

Newer to the AR world, Brenton presented their flagship offering as an AR rifle purely dedicated to hunting. It features an 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.

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