Piston-driven AR rifles remain popular among today’s shooters and operators, especially with those who use sound suppressors on a regular basis, whether for training, fun at the range or tactical operations. Adjustable gas piston operating systems just tend to work better and more reliably with sound suppressors, especially as the barrel lengths shorten or the caliber size increases. As the barriers to sound suppressor use for hunters and shooters slowly fade, many want to add them to their arsenals. Piston-driven AR-platform rifles also tend to run cooler, foul less and work very well in very harsh conditions. They may not be necessary for everyone, but many prefer them and Armalite is introducing some excellent rifles this year.

After spending over a year previously as part of the Primary Weapons Systems (PWS) professional 3-Gun team, principals who now work with Armalite decided to tweak the wheel a bit rather than reinventing it. Given the proven reliability and ruggedness of PWS’ gas piston operating system, Armalite decided to work with PWS to build upper receivers to its specifications, mating them to Armalite lowers. Some key features making for a well-equipped rifle right out of the box were added. The handguard is an Armalite design utilizing the KeyMod accessory mounting system. Armalite also added a Raptor ambidextrous charging handle, a banner flash suppressor/muzzle brake, a Magpul STR stock and an ambidextrous safety lever.

I recently tested one of Armalite’s new 5.56mm, 16-inch-barreled versions. I tested it with and without a sound suppressor as well as the supplied muzzle brake, and the new M-15 proved to be a tack-driving machine.

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Check out this short video to see the piston-driven powerhouse perform reliably in a number of positions and in in various modes, and keep your eyes peeled for a full review in an upcoming issue of SPECIAL WEAPONS FOR MILITARY & POLICE. To subscribe, visit

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Piston-driven AR rifles remain popular among today’s shooters and operators, especially with those who…