6 Best Lightweight AR-15s in 2024, Tested and Reviewed
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6 Best Lightweight AR-15s in 2024, Tested and Reviewed
Brian Zerbian Last Updated 15th January,2024

Lightweight AR-15s are characterized by their reduced weight (generally under 7 pounds), making them a preferred choice among soldiers, police officers, and civilians globally due to their ease of handling in various configurations and calibers.

They come in many different calibers and sizes, and regardless of the configuration you choose, their ability to remain lightweight is one of the reasons why they are chosen by so many soldiers, police officers, and civilians worldwide.

Many AR-15s on the market come from the factory reasonably light. For example, the BCM Recce MCMR 14.5” weighs only 6.1 pounds before you add any attachments. I’ve shot plenty of AR-15s over the years and own one myself. Many others and I find the weight-to-versatility ratio fantastic.

If your goal is to have your AR-15 be as light as possible, you’re in luck.

Some even come in under five pounds! Just look at the Faxon ION-X Hyperlite, which weighs only 4.93 pounds. It’s the lightest 16-inch AR-15 on the market.

All that firepower in such a lightweight package makes it a tough option to beat.

Let’s dive into the world of lightweight AR-15s, including which ones we recommend and what you should consider before you buy one.

Best Lightweight AR-15s

FAXON FIREARMS ION-X HYPERLITEBest Overall Lightweight AR-15 – Faxon Firearms ION-X Check Price
 Battle Arms Development Workhorse 10.5”Best Value Lightweight AR-15 – Battle Arms Development Workhorse 10.5Check Price
Q Honey BadgerBest Premium Lightweight AR-15 – Q Honey BadgerCheck Price
KE Arms WWSD M4 16”Best Affordable Lightweight AR-15 – KE Arms WWSD M4 16”Check Price
BCM Recce 14 MCMRBest Hard Use Lightweight AR-15- BCM Recce 14 MCMRCheck Price
Noveske ChainsawRunner-Up Lightweight AR-15 – Noveske ChainsawCheck Price

Best Overall Lightweight AR-15 – Faxon Firearms ION-X 


Upper Material 7075-T6 Forged Aluminum
Lower Material 7075-T6 Forged Aluminum
Weight4.93 Pounds
Barrel Length 16 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Extremely lightweight at just 4.93 pounds
  • Carbon fiber handguard helps to maintain a cool temperature during rapid firing
  • The adjustable gas system offers versatility
  • Ambidextrous controls and upgraded furniture
  • Hiperfire EDTDM single stage trigger
  • Reliable and accurate (tested and validated by us)
  • Carbon fiber handguard may not appeal aesthetically to some users
  • Pencil profile barrels may not be as durable as heavier barrels over extended use
  • The skeletonized design may compromise the strength during serious use
  • Single-stage triggers may not preferred by all shooters

After getting our hands on the Faxon ION-X Hyperlite AR-15, we were blown away by how this featherweight rifle delivered heavyweight performance.

faxon ion-x concrete background

As we completed decking it out with an optic and a suppressor, it tipped the scales at barely seven pounds– redefining our expectations of what’s possible for a battle-ready rifle.

Faxon ION-X rifle equipped with Primary Arms SLX 1-6x24 LPVO and Primary Weapons Systems B.D.E. .556 Suppressor on arrival day

When we took it to the range, the ION-X showed us what it’s made of. Its 16-inch pencil barrel and carbon fiber handguard laughed in the face of rapid-fire, staying cool under pressure. The adjustable gas system performed brilliantly right out of the box, adapting to everything put through it during testing.

faxon ionx fitted with a Burris BT35 V2 Thermal scope for accurate targeting at range

From its expertly designed receiver set to its ergonomic charging handle, it was evident that Faxon paid close attention to all the small details. Above it all, though, the ION-X’s flawless functionality impressed us the most.

We fired over 600 rounds back-to-back, suppressed. The ION-X didn’t even flinch and maintained exceptional accuracy. It quickly became apparent that this wasn’t just another lightweight rifle – the ION-X set the bar.

Check out our video review of the ION-X.

You can read the full ION-X review here.

Best Value Lightweight AR-15 – Battle Arms Development Workhorse 10.5


Upper Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Lower Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Weight5.65 Pounds
Barrel Length 10.5 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Works in a variety of roles, from home defense to the truck
  • It’s so light that my 77-year-old grandmother could maneuver with it easily
  • Durable 7075-T6 aluminum construction
  • M-LOK and rail space for your optics and attachments
  • It may require a tax stamp in some places 
  • It can be hard to find in stock at times

I’ve only had my hands on this Battle Arms Development (BAD) AR-15 a few times, but it’s impressed me every time. The first time I handled it, I couldn’t believe how lightweight it was.

Battle Arms Development Workhorse 10.5”
Battle Arms Development Workhorse 10.5” via battlearmsdevelopment

Best of all, it’s not built from unreliable materials like some other lightweight rifles. 7075-T6 aluminum is what many of your higher-end rifles are machined from. This is a double-positive for those who want a lightweight but durable rifle.

Given its shorter barrel, you won’t have as much space for accessories, but it still has plenty of Picatinny and M-LOK space for a few of your favorites.

Due to the pistol brace, it’s legal to carry it inside your vehicle in most places. This means you can transition it from a home defense gun to a car/truck gun without worry. Again, in most places. Always research your local, state, and federal laws.

So, if you want a durable and lightweight AR-15 that works in various roles, consider taking a longer look at the Battle Arms Development Workhorse.

Best Premium Lightweight AR-15 – Q Honey Badger


Upper Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Lower Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Weight4.8 Pounds
Barrel Length 7 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Two-stage flat trigger
  • Flared Magwell 
  • Suppressor ready from the factory
  • Picatinny and M-LOK space
  • Pricey 
  • It may require a tax stamp in some places

One of my favorite rifles of all time and one I’m very familiar with, the Q Honey Badger, is the best PDW-style (personal defense weapon) AR-15 on the market. It’s pricey, but luckily, I have friends who don’t mind when I shoot their rifles.

Q Honey Badger
Q Honey Badger via unpossible_by_q/IG

They even know to bring it on range days even if they aren’t planning on shooting it.

Since it’s one of your premium options, it’s made from the same durable 7075-T6 Aluminum that many other high-end options are. I have put a few thousand rounds through the Honey Badger, in addition to whatever my friends have, and we’ve never had any issues.

Q Honey Badger SBR and HBSD
Q Honey Badger via unpossible_by_q/IG

The two-stage trigger is a massive upgrade and is incredibly crisp. Every trigger pull is a delight, and if you get it chambered in .300 Blackout, it’s hard to beat.

It lacks mid to long-range shooting due to the shorter barrel, but if you want a compact and easy-to-stow firearm for stuffing in a backpack or car, then Honey Badger may be what you’re looking for.

Best Affordable Lightweight AR-15 – KE Arms WWSD M4 16”

KE Arms WWSD M4 16”


Upper Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Lower Material Polymer
Weight5.95 Lbs
Barrel Length 16 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Upper made to fit on any M16/AR-15 Lower 
  • Upper is constructed from 7075-T6 Aluminum
  • Affordable
  • Tons of Picatinny and M-LOK space
  • Flared magwell
  • Shorter and lighter versions are available
  • Polymer lower isn’t the most durable 
  • Stock isn’t changeable

Thanks to my local FFL having it for rent, I’ve had a lot of range time with the WWSD M4. Everyone was geeking about it one day when I came in for some pistol work, so I decided to rent it and see what it was about.

KE Arms WWSD M4 16” via kearms

I was shocked to find it had a polymer lower receiver. That’s not something you see every day, but the ideology behind this rifle is, “What Would Stoner Do (WWSD) if he recreated the AR-15 today?” I guess KE Arms’ answer is he would have used a polymer lower.

It’s a monolithic lower reminiscent of the original A2 used on the OG M16s used in Vietnam, which means it’s all one piece. This, unfortunately, means you can’t change the stock to one that’s adjustable.

KE Arms WWSD M4 16"
KE Arms WWSD M4 16” via kearms

The 7075-T6 aluminum upper receiver is very durable and fits on plenty of other lower receivers. That way, if you have another lower receiver, you can swap out the polymer one if it cracks or breaks.

I would recommend this rifle for range use, home defense, and light LARPing. It’s not meant to be beaten up or run over by your pickup.

Best of all, it’s cheap. So, if you’re looking for an affordable and lightweight AR-15 with a longer barrel, this is the one.

Best Hard Use Lightweight AR-15- BCM Recce 14 MCMR


Upper Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Lower Material 7075 T-6 Aluminum
Weight6 Pounds
Barrel Length 14.5 Inches (Pinned and Welded)

Pros & Cons

  • Lightweight without sacrificing durability
  • Affordable – won’t break the bank 
  • Features one of the best bolt carrier groups on the market
  • Upgraded furniture 
  • Lots of Picatinny and M-LOK space
  • Frequently out of stock 
  • The handguard can run hot 
  • Too many mil-spec parts

This one is a personal favorite of mine, and not necessarily because I own one and shoot it often, but because it’s lightweight and works well. I’ve put about 7,000 rounds of M855 and 2,000 rounds of M193 5.56×45 through it with no issues.

BCM Recce 14 MCMR
BCM Recce 14 MCMR via grabagun

The bolt carrier group is considered, by many serious shooters, the best on the market, primarily due to the tight tolerances and quality control. It’s machined from Carpenter 158 steel with chrome-lined internals, resulting in a smooth-shooting and hard-running rifle.

The handguard is primarily where the weight is shed. The BCM MCMR handguard is one of the thinnest on the market, which makes it lighter but also causes it to get hotter easily when shooting.

BCM Recce 14 MCMR
BCM Recce 14 MCMR via grabagun

Nothing a little hockey tape wrap can’t fix.

The BCM MCMR 14.5” is a perfect all arounder, which is why it’s my pick for those who run and gun. If you’re looking for a lightweight rifle that doesn’t sacrifice durability, consider the MCMR 14.5”.

Runner-Up Lightweight AR-15 – Noveske Chainsaw


Upper Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Lower Material 7075-T6 Aluminum
Weight6.8 Pounds
Barrel Length 16 Inches

Pros & Cons

  • Balances cost and quality, with an emphasis on quality
  • Extended feed ramps in the chamber for reliable feeding of rounds 
  • It comes with a Radian Raptor LT charging handle
  • Durable and reliable
  • M-LOK and Picatinny space
  • Upgraded furniture
  • It is still pricey for some

One of my favorite rifles from one of my favorite rifle manufacturers is the Noveske Chainsaw—the People’s Rifle.

noveske chainsaw 16
Noveske Chainsaw via noveske_llc

Usually, Noveske rifles are priced way out of what most of us can afford, but now that it has opened the gates, I’ve been able to get my hand on the Chainsaw and see what it’s about.

The price may be lower, but the Noveske quality is still there. It comes with one of Noveske’s well-known stainless steel barrels and is easily capable of sub-MOA accuracy with 62-grain 5.56×45.

The upper and lower are machined from 7075 T-6 aluminum, and the extended feed ramps in the chamber help ensure you never get a failure to feed.

noveske chainsaw
Noveske Chainsaw via: noveske_llc/IG

It features a Radian Raptor LT charging handle and an ALG Defense Advanced Combat Trigger (mil-spec style), both of which are among the best in their respective categories.

The Chainsaw was built to give shooters a dependable, fieldable, yet affordable rifle. If SHTF and you had to pick the Chainsaw up and go, you wouldn’t have to worry about your rifle giving up on you.

I’ve put 1,500 flawless rounds through the Chainsaw during a LARPing event in harsh PNW elements, and it never stuttered. So, if you’re looking for a hard-use and lightweight AR-15 that can do it all, consider getting a Noveske Chainsaw.

I recommend this rifle over any others on this list if you can spare a little weight.

Who This Is For

This list is for those looking for the lightest AR-15s on the market that don’t sacrifice durability for weight (in most cases).

Most of these rifles we listed above fit that exact niche. Especially ones like the Noveske Chainsaw and the BCM Recce14, which can fill almost any need dependably. Some of the other options wouldn’t be my first choice for a SHTF or battle rifle, but they would still be great for home defense and range use.

If you don’t need a truly lightweight rifle, the floodgates open in terms of options. Our Best AR-15 article can be a great resource if that’s the case.

How We Chose Our Top Picks

Most of the time, lightweight rifles take a massive hit in the durability sector, but I would never recommend a rifle you can’t trust. All of these rifles had to be under seven pounds and reliable.

I’ve had the pleasure of shooting hundreds (and some thousands) of rounds through these rifles, and while the WWSD is better left for home defense or range fun, the rest are good to go for almost any task.

We also wanted to give options at varying price points so that we didn’t exclude anybody who may be on a tighter budget.

Buyer’s Guide

How To Choose A Lightweight AR-15

When selecting a lightweight AR-15, consider its intended use, the suitability of materials like polymer lower receivers for your needs, potential attachments, and the type of handguard and rail system, ensuring the choice aligns with your specific requirements and preferences.

Choosing a lightweight AR-15 may not be as easy as it sounds, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Everyone has their needs when buying an AR-15, and buying the wrong one can leave you stuck and out of money. My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

The first thing you should consider when buying any AR-15 is the purpose you need it to serve.

For example, if you plan on using your AR-15 for heavy shooting and rugged use, you shouldn’t buy a rifle with a polymer lower receiver.

So before you go in there and buy an AR-15, sit down and think, “What am I going to use this rifle for?” and be honest. I made the mistake of not being honest and ended up with less than I needed.

Think of what you plan on doing with the rifle after it’s yours. Are there certain attachments you want to put on? If so, you’ll want to look at what type of handguard and rail you’ll need.

If you’re a serious shooter putting his face in the dirt, you may want to choose Picatinny over M-Lok or Keymod. Trust me, it makes a difference.

So, when choosing an AR-15, buy what’s best for you and not what some random influencer says is the best. Take your time making your decision to avoid ending up with buyer’s remorse.


I considered several other AR-15s when coming up with this list, but they just didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. For example, the LWRC DI Standard Rifle almost made it here, but it was too expensive in relation to what you get.

That said, it’s still a great rifle and comes in at only 6.6 pounds. I’ve also put thousands of rounds through it and never had any issues. If you like it, I would recommend it.

But it just so happens that the BCM and Noveske are better rifles for the money, at least in my opinion.

All of these picks were chosen because they deliver a ton of value for their respective price points. They’re lightweight, durable, and offer a ton of options.

But, for the price, the Faxon ION-X offers the most for how much it weighs. So, I would start there if you’re in the market for a lightweight AR-15.

Do you have another lightweight AR-15 that you would have added to this list? If so, drop it in the comments so other readers can check it out!