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In the past, affordable AR-15 rifles were a mixed bag. All too often, an inexpensive price meant cheap parts and poor quality assembly.

In recent years, however, this has substantially changed. Good quality rifles with budget-minded prices have become much more common. A perfect example of this is the new Ruger AR-556.

Take a look at our list of affordable AR-15 rifles in the gallery above!

Ruger AR-556

With a suggested retail price of only $749, this Ruger rifle takes aim at the budget end of the AR-15 market. The rifle is not stripped down, and out of the box it will serve most shooters very well.

When my test AR-556 arrived, I was impressed by the overall feel and finish of the gun. The upper and lower receivers were tightly mated with very little play between them. Ruger states the pistol grip was designed to improve trigger reach, and I really liked the feel of it. To me, it felt similar to a Mag-pul MOE grip. The triggerguard is oversized to allow for shooting with gloves. Ruger ships the AR-556 with a 30-round PMAG and a six-position buttstock.

The front sight assembly is a milled A2-style unit that has a very clean, precise look. The assembly has a bayonet lug and QD attachment point milled into it. The upper receiver has a Picatinny rail for the addition of an optic or rear iron sight. Ruger ships the rifle with a quick-deploy folding rear sight that can be used as a primary or backup to glass.

The cold-hammer-forged, 16.1-inch barrel has a 5.56mm NATO chamber and a 1-in-8-inch twist rate. It is also threaded for adding muzzle devices.

I took my AR-556 to the range and ran about 120 rounds through it, and the gun ran flawlessly. At 100 yards, with a light to moderate breeze, the rifle consistently turned in five-shot groups of less than 3 inches. With HPR’s 60-grain V-MAX load, I was able to manage a best group of 1.88 inches.

Overall, the Ruger AR-556 rifle performed exceptionally well. When you factor in a sub-$700 street price, it seems to be a given that this rifle will find its way into the hands of many American shooters in the coming years. (ruger.com)

Alex Pro Firearms Econo Carbine

Even though the name Econo Carbine suggests a bare-bones model, Alex Pro Firearms gave this gun some nice upgrades, including a .223 Wylde chamber and a Magpul MOE handguard. Unlike most optics-ready rifles, this gun actually ships with one: the Vortex StrikeFire II red dot sight. The MSRP is $800. (apfarmory.com; 320-852-3040)

American Tactical Omni Hybrid MAXX

Chambered in 5.56mm NATO, the Omni Hybrid MAXX  uses metal-reinforced polymer upper and lower receivers to help keep the weight—and price—down. The rifle has a low-profile gas block, a 16-inch barrel and an adjustable buttstock. Unlike many of the other rifles in this roundup, the rifle is equipped with a 7-inch quad-rail handguard. Its total weight is only 6. 5 pounds, and the MSRP is $675. (americantactical.us; 800-290-0065)

Armalite Defensive Sporting Rifle 15

It may be inexpensive, but the Defensive Sporting Rifle (DSR) 15 from Armalite is not cheap. The rifle has a chrome-lined, 16-inch, 1-in-7-inch-twist barrel that is threaded and topped with an A2-style flash suppressor. It is ready for the sighting system of your choice and is fitted with an adjustable stock. The rifle weighs less than 6.5 pounds and ships with a 30-round Magpul PMAG. The MSRP is $700. (armalite.com; 800-336-0184)

Dark Storm Industries Sport

This optics-ready AR-15 has a low-profile gas block with a carbine-length gas system. The Sport has a 7-inch quad-rail for lights, lasers and other accessories you might want to add to the gun. The gun has a billet lower, a 16-inch barrel with a 1-in-9-inch twist rate and a six-position stock. The MSRP is $795. (dark-storm.com; 800-963-7700)

Del-Ton Alpha 220H

Equipped with a heavy 20-inch barrel as well as an A2 upper and buttstock, the Alpha 220H has a classic AR-15 look. The longer barrel maximizes the potential velocity of the ammo, while the iron sights allows you to get it on the range immediately. These rifles have an MSRP of $793. (del-ton.com; 910-645-2172)

Del-Ton DT Sport OR

If you are looking for a solid, optics-ready AR-15, the Del-Ton DT Sport OR (Optic Ready) deserves your consideration. It has a low-profile gas block to allow an unobstructed view through a scope. A 16-inch barrel with a 1-in-9-inch twist rate is standard, as is the A2-type muzzle device and six-position-adjustable stock. The MSRP for the DT Sport OR is $707. (del-ton.com; 910-645-2172)

Diamondback DB15SB

The DB15SB uses forged 7075-T6 upper and lower receivers with a 4140 chrome-moly barrel. The barrel is 16 inches long, has a 1-in-9-inch twist and is topped with a birdcage-type muzzle device. The buttstock is an adjustable ATI Strikeforce model on a commercial buffer tube. A rear sight does not ship with the gun. The suggested retail price is $756. (diamondbackfirearms.com; 877-997-6774)

DPMS A1 Lite 16

One of the lightest rifles in this lineup, the DPMS A1 Lite 16 weighs only 6 pounds. The upper and lower receivers are forged from 7075-T6 aluminum with an A1-style upper. The 16-inch barrel has a 1-in-9-inch twist rate and an A2-style birdcage flash suppressor. The stock is a Pardus adjustable unit on a commercial buffer tube. The MSRP is $769. (dpmsinc.com; 800-578-3767)

DS Arms ZM4

Fitted with a Hogue pistol grip, a six-position buttstock and a flat top, the ZM4 ticks many of the boxes on an AR-15 shopper’s list. The good news is the rifle doesn’t cut back in other areas that matter even more. It uses 7075-T6 upper and lower receivers. The 16-inch barrel is made of 4140 chrome-moly steel and has a 1-in-9-inch twist rate. The MSRP is $788. (dsarms.com; 847-277-7258)

Fulton Armory FAR-15 Stowaway

For proof that a quality rifle can be very affordable, take a look at the FAR-15 Stowaway rifle from Fulton Armory. This gun comes with a 1.5-MOA accuracy guarantee and weighs only 5.75 pounds. Standard features include a 16-inch, match barrel, an M16 bolt carrier and a fixed, “shorty” stock. The rifle even ships with a sling, a magazine, an owner’s guide, a 30-day money-back guarantee and limited lifetime warranty. (fulton-armory.com; 301-490-9485)

Hardened Arms M4

Using a strong forged lower as the base, the 5.56mm M4 rifle from Hardened Arms has a 16-inch, chrome-moly barrel with a 1-in-9-inch twist rate. The gun has a carbine-length gas system, a low-profile gas block, a six-position stock and a Melonite finish. It also comes standard with a free-floating quad-rail handguard. The MSRP is $749. (hardenedarms.com; 425-530-0837)

Olympic Arms Plinker Plus Flat Top

Equipped with a low-profile gas block, this AR-15 allows the shooter to add front and rear sights of his or her choice. This makes it easy to add a scope without having a traditional A2-type post obstructing the view. The gun comes with a 1-in-9-inch-twist barrel. All Olympic Arms rifles come with a lifetime warranty. The MSRP is $714. (olyarms.com; 800-228-3471)

Rebel Arms Renegade

The Renegade ships with Mission First Tactical (MFT) furniture, including the lightweight Minimalist stock and the MFT two-rail handguard with covered rails at the 6 and 12 o’clock positions. The 16-inch nitride-treated barrel has a 1-in-7-inch twist rate, and the bolt carrier group has a QPQ nitride treatment for lower friction and heat. The MSRP for this rifle is $910. (rebelarms.com; 855-732-3527)

Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport

The M&P15 Sport is one of the hottest AR rifles on the market today. The gun uses 7075-T6 aluminum receivers and has a 16-inch barrel with a 1-in-9-inch twist rate. Both the gas key and bolt carrier are chromed. Sighting is handled with an A2-type front post and Magpul MBUS rear. A six-position-adjustable buttstock is standard. The MSRP of the rifle is $739. (smith-wesson.com; 800-331-0852)

Tactical Weapons Solutions TWS01-EL

Running a proven direct gas impingement system, the TWS01 is a flattop AR-15. The 16-inch barrel has a 1-in-9-inch twist rate and is outfitted with an A2-type flash suppressor. The upper and lower receivers are forged from 7075-T6 aluminum. The rifle also has a six-position-adjustable stock. The MSRP is $800. (twsarms.com; 844-783-8210)

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