Firearm enthusiasts’ holiday wish lists can run up a bill pretty quickly because the guns they adore tend to have a hefty price tag attached to them. So we came up with a list of AR rifles that shoot like champions without breaking the bank.
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Scroll through our gallery of AR rifles for under $1,000 and pick one out for your wish list this holiday season.
Armalite M-15 Law Enforcement Carbine
AR rifles were born with Armalite. With the respected name, the M-15 Law Enforcement Carbine has instant credibility with home defenders and law enforcement alike. The rifle has a chrome-lined barrel and a two-stage trigger. A six-position, collapsible buttstock allows the gun to fit shooters of different statures and rapidly adjusts if they don external body armor. Its MSRP is $989. (armalite.com; 800-336-0184)
Colt Expanse M4
The Expanse M4 puts a Colt quality AR-15 within easy reach of the modern sportsman looking to enhance his or her AR collection, or the first-time buyer looking for a starting point on which to build their dream modern sporting rifle. Either way, the Expanse M4 in 5.56 x 45 NATO (.223 Rem.) is a great way to add another Colt to the stable. The Expanse M4 retails for $699. (colt.com; 800-962-2658)
Del-Ton DT Sport – Optic Ready
It’s tough to beat the value of the DT Sport in its Optic Ready trim. As it ships, the gun has a 16-inch barrel with a 1-in-9-inch twist, and it is fitted with a birdcage-style flash suppressor. Del-Ton equips this rifle with an M4-type buttstock and round handguards with a heat shield. A commercial-sized buffer tube is also used.
As the name suggests, the Optic Ready rifle has a low-profile gas block so there is no front sight tower to obstruct the view through a scope or red-dot sight. The upper receiver has a Picatinny rail that allows a shooter to quickly add glass for precision shooting. Both the upper and lower receiver are forged from 7075-T6 aluminum that have been hardcoat black anodized for long-term durability. The MSRP is $698. (del-ton.com; 910-645-2172)
A relative newcomer to the duty/home-defense rifle market, Diamondback manufactures solid AR-15 carbines at a very affordable price. Both the upper and lower receivers are forged from 7075-T6 aluminum, with the upper being an A3-style flattop unit.Diamondback has fitted the DB15SB with an adjustable stock and the rifle’s 16-inch, chrome-moly barrel is topped with an A2-style flash suppressor. The MSRP is $756. (diamondbackfirearms.com; 877-997-6774)
DPMS AP4 Carbine
As the bestselling rifle in the DPMS catalog, the AP4 Carbine has been tested and proven in the hands of shooters and law enforcement officers across the nation. The rifle comes ready for duty with an adjustable stock, a chrome-lined barrel and a Glacier Guard handguard. The carry handle is removable should a shooter elect to add an optic. The MSRP is $959. (dpmsinc.com; 800-578-3767)
DS Arms ZM4
For a traditional AR-15 chambered in 300 Blackout, consider the DS Arms ZM4. With MSRP starting at $820, this rifle is aggressively priced yet maintains the equipment desired by many, including an adjustable stock, a Hogue pistol grip, a flattop upper receiver and 16-inch, 416R stainless steel barrel. The gun has M4-style handguards with heat shields and a three-prong flash suppressor. (dsarms.com; 847-277-7258)
Olympic Arms K16
For the sportsman, my pick from the Olympic lineup would be the K16 in either 7.62×39 or 6.8 Remington (a .270 lite). With a stripped-down, no-nonsense upper and lower designed for use with a scope, the K16 weighs in at about seven pounds. MSRP is $829, and the 16-inch rifled barrel will deliver near-match-grade accuracy. (olyarms.com; 800-228-3471)
Few companies enjoy the reputation for ruggedness that Ruger has earned. This quality construction carried over to its AR rifles, like the AR-556 —the company’s surprisingly affordable AR-15. The American-made rifle uses a standard direct gas impingement operating system. The 16.1-inch, threaded barrel is cold-hammer-forged and has a medium contour. Ruger includes a folding rear sight, an improved pistol grip and an enlarged triggerguard. The MSRP is $749. (ruger.com; 336-949-5200)
Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
Many concealed carriers already carry a Smith & Wesson M&P handgun in their holster, so adding an M&P15 rifle for home defense can make a lot of sense. These direct-impingement guns have A2-style front sights and Magpul MBUS folding rear sights. A Picatinny rail allows shooters to add glass as well. Magpul also provides the 30-round magazine that ships with the rifle. The MSRP is $739. (smith-wesson.com; 800-331-0852)