The AR is so named not because it is “America’s Rifle” or because it was designed to be an “Automatic Rifle.” It is named after the company that first introduced it, Armalite, and it was designed to meet a military request for a lightweight rifle that would ease the burden on troops and allow them to carry more ammunition.
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But over the past 10 to 20 years, the platform has experienced “feature creep” with more and more weight being added to each rifle. It is refreshing to see that light is right once again, and more manufacturers are jumping into the high-quality-but-low-weight AR market.
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Here are some interesting options available on the market today.
2A Armament BLR-16
The BLR-16 from 2A Armament is a lightweight rifle packed with features. The upper and lower BALIOS-lite receivers feature lightening cuts and an integral, extended triggerguard. The internal components still retain their full mass for operational reliability. The 16-inch, stainless steel, pencil barrel comes with a T3 compensator and floats freely within a 15-inch handguard that comes with either M-LOK or KeyMod slots. The BLR-16 also features a Magpul MIAD pistol grip, a Mission First Tactical (MFT) Battlelink Minimalist stock and an ALG Defense ACT trigger group. Each rifle is hand assembled for optimal quality and still weighs only 5 pounds. (2a-arms.com; 208-344-5465)
Armalite M-15 Light Tactical Carbine
The M-15 Light Tactical Carbine (LTC) from Armalite offers gun owners lots of high-quality and desirable features while still being very affordable. The 16-inch barrel features an M4 profile and remains free-floating thanks to the 10-inch, aluminum, KeyMod handguard. More features include a low-profile gas block, mil-spec forged upper and lower receivers, a six- position buttstock and a long Picatinny top rail for mounting various optics and accessories. And it all weighs just 6 pounds unloaded. (armalite.com; 800-336-0184)
BCM RECCE-16 KMR-LW
The RECCE-16 KMR-LW Carbine from Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) features the company’s excellent AR upgrades while keeping the overall weight down to less than 6 pounds unloaded. BCM’s upgrades include the KMR-15 free-floating handguard, KeyMod QD sling swivel mount, Mod 4 charging handle, Mod 0 muzzle brake/compensator, Mod 3 pistol grip, QD end plate, PNT trigger and BCM triggerguard. The 16-inch Enhanced Lightweight (ELW) barrel is chrome lined and runs off a mid-length gas system. The BCM Gunfighter stock is extremely lightweight and tough, offering six length-of-pull positions and a low- profile, snag-free design. (bravocompanyusa.com; 877-272-8626)
Daniel Defense DDM4V5 LW
The DDM4V5 LW is designed to be lightweight while maintaining the outstanding standards and reputation Daniel Defense has earned among AR aficionados. The lightweight-profile, 16-inch, chrome-moly-vanadium, cold-hammer-forged barrel is topped off with a stainless steel flash suppressor. Surrounding the barrel and mid-length gas system is a free-floating, 12-inch, quad-rail handguard for accessories. The Daniel Defense adjustable buttstock and pistol grip both feature “Soft Touch” rubber overmolding, bringing the rifle’s overall weight to only 6.15 pounds. (danieldefense.com; 866-554-4867)
DPMS GII MOE
“Big bore” doesn’t have to mean “heavyweight,” and the new GII MOE from DPMS in 7.62mm NATO/.308 Winchester proves just that. This AR-platform rifle weighs just 7.25 pounds unloaded while sporting Magpul MOE furniture, Teflon-coated upper and lower receivers and more features, including an integral, extended triggerguard. The 16-inch barrel is topped off with an effective muzzle brake, and the rifle also includes an A2-style front sight post and a folding Magpul MBUS rear sight, both of which are fully adjustable for precision. (dpmsinc.com; 844-700-0870)
JP-15 Ultralight Ready Rifle
The JP-15 Ultralight Ready Rifle from JP Enterprises is a competition-ready powerhouse that is easy to carry and shoot all day. Starting with forged 7075-T6 upper and lower receivers, JPE pulls out all the stops in getting this JP-15 up to speed. The Supermatch stainless steel barrel is only 14.5 inches long but features a pinned and welded Titanium GoGun Supercomp XL muzzle brake to bring it to an NFA-legal 16 inches. The MK III Rapid Configuration Handguard allows the barrel to remain free-floating and features a JPHG-SM QD sling mount. The Ultra Low Mass Operating System features an aluminum bolt carrier and an enhanced bolt. Lastly, JPE adds an ergonomic Hogue pistol grip and the very lightweight MFT Battlelink Minimalist six-position stock. The final weight is only 5.6 pounds. (jprifles.com; 651-426-9196)
Rock River Arms LAR-15 Lightweight Mountain Rifle
Rock River Arms’ LAR-15 Lightweight Mountain Rifle features an aggressive lightweight design with a handguard that is reminiscent of an air-cooled Browning M1919 machine gun with round holes and a circular profile. This handguard allows the 16-inch barrel to remain free-floating while offering a monolithic top rail. Furniture upgrades include an extended triggerguard for gloved use as well as an ergonomic Hogue pistol grip and a six-position stock. At just over 6 pounds, this rifle promises to deliver 1-MOA accuracy at 100 yards. (rockriverarms.com; 866-980-7625)
Wilson Combat Tactical Lightweight
The Wilson Combat Tactical Lightweight carbine exudes the same high level of quality as the company’s famed 1911 pistols—and it’s the lightest AR Wilson Combat makes. The rifle is available in 5.56mm, 6.8 SPC, 300 BLK, 7.62×40 WT and .458 SOCOM with a 16-inch, match-grade, lightweight-profile, free-floating barrel, an Accu-Tac flash suppressor and a mid-length gas system. The TRIM aluminum handguard features a full-length Picatinny top rail, and smaller rails can be added where needed. Another noteworthy addition is the collapsible Wilson/Rogers Super-Stoc. This feature-laden rifle may be one of the heaviest of the bunch, but it’s still one of the lightest ARs available with these proven components. (wilsoncombat.com; 800-955-4856)
Windham Weaponry Carbon Fiber SRC
One way to reduce an AR’s weight is to use lighter materials like carbon fiber. The Carbon Fiber SRC (Sight-Ready Carbine) from Windham Weaponry uses carbon-fiber upper and lower receivers that, until you get close, look like billet aluminum. Features include a flattop Picatinny rail, metal controls and an integral, extended triggerguard. The M4-profile barrel features a railed gas block, allowing the operator to install backup sights. The carbine also features GI-style furniture, including the polymer handguard, pistol grip and six-position buttstock. You even get a classic GI sling swivel and bayonet lug while the rifle weighs only 5.85 pounds unloaded. (windhamweaponry.com; 855-808-1888)