I tested many different products and found the DB-15 to be the best and cheapest AR 15.
I have spent a lot of time around AR 15 rifles and have tested out many for myself. With AR 15 rifles, I have seen enough to know what guns are high quality and which ones aren’t. The products I have tested range from regular semi-automatic rifles to carbine rifles and NATO rifles.
Diamondback Firearms has established a presence in the world of affordable firearms while still maintaining the quality material and mechanics needed to make a good firearm. The DB-15 is another inexpensive and durable semi-automatic rifle in their collection.
The DB-15 is a highly customizable firearm that features a gas-impingement system. The chambers for the DB-15 are 5.56 NATO with barrel lengths ranging from 16 to 18 inches. Overall, I believe the DB-15 to be my top choice for a high-quality yet affordable AR 15.
If you are interested in seeing which guns I rank the best and which category they fall in, continue reading.
The Top 9 Cheap AR-15s
Below I have listed the top 5 AR 15 guns and explained what the guns are best for. While these categories don’t cover every use or feature for an AR-15, they will help you understand what to be looking for when choosing an AR.
Once again, the DB-15 is the best AR 15 overall.
The gun is excellent for those who are not quite masters at handling firearms. The DB-15 is easy to use and works for a variety of different situations. You can hunt, defend yourself, and practice shooting with the gun.
There are many features that the DB-15 offers for its users. Apart from being affordable(under $600), the semi-automatic rifle delivers a high-quality experience and a well-built design.
The design of the rifle is a smooth matte black with an A2 pistol grip. The gun’s material is a forged aluminum metal with a chrome-moly free-float barrel. With all of that, the DB-15 is a durable and dependable gun. It can withstand the test of time and the outside terrain.
The DB-15 also features an aluminum handguard and a 30-round magazine. Along with those, the gun has a six-position collapsible stock and an MPI Mil-spec 8620 bolt carrier.
There are countless features and customizations for the DB-15 and all within an affordable price range. That is why I have chosen the DB-15 by Diamondback Firearms for the best overall AR 15.
- Under $600
- High-quality materials
- It can be used for many different occasions
- Not beginner-friendly
With guns, more is often better. This is especially true when considering those who enjoy collecting guns. With the RUGER AR-556, you get a lot of options in variety.
For the RUGER AR, there are several gun variations that each feature an original design, capacity, or model.
The RUGER AR currently comes in three different styles: standard, MPR, and free-float handguard. The standard RUGER AR 5.56 NATO is my top pick out of the available types.
Model number 8500 has a total length of 32-25 inches, with the barrel length being 16.10 inches. The front sight has an adjustable post, and the rear sight features a folding rapid deploy mechanism.
The RUGER AR features 7075-T6 hard-coat aluminum forgings and a proof-tested 9310 steel bolt. Along with those features, the gun offers an 8620 steel bolt carrier. On the inside, the gas key and carrier are plated with chrome.
The standard RUGER AR is easy to use by one person due to the barrel nut and delta ring feature. The glass-filled and heat-resistant nylon handguard provides a safe and dependable experience when handling the gun.
However, you will be able to use your favorite handguard, as the gun’s design allows you to use most carbine-length handguards.
The 5.56 NATO chamber allows both 5.56 NATO ammunition and .223 Rem. ammo. The alloy barrel brings excellent accuracy with your ammo.
And because of all of this data, I have found this gun to bring the most variety. It is worth it to have a multi-functional rifle, as you can experiment with the unique features and see what works best for you.
- Features a tremendous amount of variety
- Easy to handle
- Over $600
The Nitride M4 Carbine is a classic AR-15. I have chosen this gun for the best carbine firearm.
The barrel is 16 inches, with a chrome-moly steel finish. The chamber carries 5.56 NATO ammunition. The barrel also features a 1/7 twist and M4 barrel extension. On top of that, the gun works on a carbine-length gas system.
The overall weight of the gun is just below 7 pounds and provides a sleek design. The color is matte black and sports a nitride finish.
The upper receiver of the gun is machined to MIL-SPECS and anodized in a hard coating. The upper features include dust-covers and forward assist technology. The features on the gun have been made from manufacturers within the United States.
The lower receiver is quality 7075-T6 aluminum and has a “MULTI” marking to show the caliber. The finish is the same as the upper, a hard-coated anodize.
The overall length of the gun is 32 inches. One of the best perks about a carbine rifle is that the length is smaller than the average rifle. If you are into carbine rifles specifically, I would highly recommend the Nitride M4 Carbine.
- Sleek and modern design
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Not beginner-friendly
The ATI Omni Hybrid Maxx 5.56 NATO Semi-automatic rifle is the best overall semi-auto rifle on the list.
The Omni Hybrid is lightweight, sleek, and extremely durable. It was designed and put through a series of tests to tolerate a wide range of abuse.
The manufacturers at ATI used pressure and weight-bearing tests based on the US Military’s form of weapon testing. After the extensive testing, ATI was satisfied with how well the gun function even after the heavy machinery used to treat the gun like an armament.
Despite the high durability, the gun only weighs about 5.5 pounds. The lightweight feel is due to the material that makes up the structure of the gun. The lower and upper section of the gun is made up of a fiberglass-composite polymer and zinc material that has been reinforced.
The Omni Hybrid also features a 6-position stock beveled mag to assist you make faster magazine switches. The overall length of the gun is 34 inches, with the barrel being 16 inches long.
Not only is the Omni Hybrid a great semi-automatic rifle, but the gun is also selling at a great price. It’s challenging to beat a cheap semi-auto that is under $500. Because of the Omni Hybrid’s lightweight yet powerful material and affordable price, I have chosen this gun as the best in its category.
- Affordable price
- Very durable
- Not beginner-friendly
I have chosen the Anderson Manufacturing Optic Ready Rifle as the best optic ready semi-automatic rifle on the list.
Having an optic ready rifle is necessary anytime you plan to incorporate the use of optics or electronic sights. When considering the best optic ready rifle, I chose the Anderson AM-15 for its lightweight feel and simplicity.
While more is often better when using firearms, there is nothing wrong with a simply designed gun. Guns that prioritize simplicity over featuring bells and whistles are great for beginner gun users. With the Anderson AM-15, the simple design is not a bad thing.
The Anderson AM-15 is 6.2 pounds in weight and 36 inches in length. The length of the barrel is 16 inches. The gun features a 6-position collapsible stock and a .223/5.56 caliber. The gun sports an aluminum black finish, with the barrel using a chrome-moly vanadium steel material.
The optic ready carbine also features one 30-round magazine with an A2 handguard and an A2 flash hider.
- Optic ready
- Great for beginners
- Good pricing
- There may be issues with the trigger
Radical Firearms’ SOCOM 556 isn’t a genuinely budget AR-15, but it’s certainly better than most of the competitors currently on the market. In fact, it’s one of the best overall options in the lower-priced range.
This rifle offers a 16” barrel of 4140 Chrome Moly Vanadium, with a Melonite finish for a smooth system. The mid-length gas system supports a low-profile gas block, while the rifle itself has both a forward assist and a dust cover for general performance.
However, what stands out about this gun is the exceptionally long rail system up top. This offers maximum customization for different accessories, which is fundamental to getting the most out of your rifle. In other words, this isn’t a complete gun so much as the start of a heavily customized platform, and that’s just the way I like it.
This rail system is rare enough that it deserves a little more focus. It’s hard for me to overstate how rare of a feature this is on AR-15 platforms. Most guns in this range only have a receiver-length rail that holds one large accessory or two small ones (if you’re lucky).
A rail that goes down the entire length of the barrel, plus the receiver, is roughly 4-5x what you usually see. In many ways, that makes this the ultimate option if you’re looking for a customizable AR-15 that’s still down in the budget range. In fact, there are plenty of tactical-level rifles that aren’t as customizable as this one.
Radical Firearms is a generally trustworthy company with a lot of experience in the industry, so you can generally expect high build quality from them. However, keep in mind that this is a fairly popular rifle, so you may need to check back over time to find it in stock. You can also write to the manufacturer to get more information about when they expect to have more ready.
The manufacturer also has generally dependable customer service, so consider talking to them after you’ve ordered your rifle and you’re waiting for it to arrive. They may be able to recommend specific parts or accessories that match the way you plan to use this rifle.
- Extremely customizable
- Excellent customer service
- Reliable build quality
- Sometimes hard to find
- More expensive than some competitors
Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport II (Runner-up)
It’s hard to find people that don’t know the Smith & Wesson name, even if they’re not interested in firearms. The famed manufacturer has produced good guns since the 1850s and continues to lead the market with outstanding build quality and general ingenuity.
The M&P 15 Sport II is fundamentally a sporting rifle engineered for both recreational and sport shooting applications. It also works well in most professional environments.
This model features a Magpul MBUS Rear Sight system, a forged internal trigger guard, forward assist & dust cover systems, and an Armornite barrel finish. The 6-position collapsible stock gives it more flexibility than some competing products, and it’s generally compatible with standard AR-15 accessories.
As sold, this rifle holds 30 rounds and weighs about 6.5 lbs total, which makes it light enough to carry for extended periods without trouble. The safety is a standard setup, which doesn’t wow me but also isn’t a problem. I don’t hold anything against manufacturers when they include systems that work, even if I think they could find ways of improving somehow.
The one thing that notably sets this rifle apart from the Radical Firearms model is the shorter rail system. Unlike that model, where the rail goes practically the entire length of the gun, the M&P Sport II has a noticeably limited area that offers less customization.
This rifle is a little more rear-heavy than some of its competitors, thanks to the smoother, narrower end of the barrel. If you’re used to larger barrels, you may need to spend a little more time practicing with this gun to get used to the difference in weight.
To be clear, none of this means the M&P Sport II is a bad rifle. Quite the opposite, actually. This is a fantastic rifle on its merits, even if the price is pushing what I’d call budget pricing. However, it’s not quite as customizable as some other models. In other words, you’re trading flexibility for overall quality, and that’s a deal many people are happy to take.
- From an extremely reputable manufacturer
- Useful in many situations
- It comes with a lifetime service policy
- Supports most extension components and accessories
- Not as customizable as some other options
- Relatively expensive for a budget model
DPMS Oracle A3 (Runner-up)
The DPMS Oracle is a well-balanced AR-15 model, and the A3 variant works particularly well for most situations. This affordable option is about 6.4 lbs and features a 10+1 capacity along with a 16-inch barrel. The rail system is a standard Picatinny unit on a receiver and gas block.
This is functionally a mid-range carbine that hits the sweet spot between the sporting and tactical markets. While not quite the right choice for most tactical personnel, its affordability makes it a great training gun, and it will outperform many other budget models.
This unit also offers a good amount of flexibility with its rail system. While it doesn’t quite match up to the Radical Firearms unit’s incredible length, it still has more rail space than many competitors and, therefore, more opportunities to customize it to your liking.
The DPMS Oracle A3 also benefits from generally-high build quality, which means there are rarely any issues with the rifle itself as long as you take care of it. You might see the occasional problem with a magazine, but DPMS typically replaces those without giving you any trouble.
However, the same factors that serve as strengths for this rifle also serve as something of a weakness. It’s not quite good enough to be a truly tactical weapon, so that cuts out an entire segment of the market. It’s modestly affordable but still not the cheapest option, which means it doesn’t appeal to true budget-seekers either.
In short, this rifle is a good option for those who want to spend more than the minimum amount on a rifle but don’t want to increase their budget enough to enter the truly professional range. It’s a nice gun, but it’s a little harder to match the target market.
- Excellent rifle for the money
- Better than most budget rifles
- Generally high build quality
- Good customer service
- An odd balance between price and performance
Bushmaster XM-15 M43 A3 (Runner-up)
Bushmaster isn’t quite as well-known as some other companies on this list, but the XM-15 M43 A3 Carbine Rifle is still an excellent option if you’re looking for a solid, reliable gun. Among its most notable features is an A2 flash hider, which makes it a better choice for both hunting and tactical needs.
The outer coating is a Mil-Spec manganese phosphate setup that provides excellent protection from rust and corrosion, while the bore and chamber are chrome-lined for general longevity and ease of cleaning. That’s the kind of detail I like to see on AR-15s, and it’s one of the reasons this rifle got onto my final list.
Other notable features include a detachable carry handle, an F-Marked front sight base, an M16 bolt carrier, and a staked castle nut. While this rifle performs well, it’s definitely more of a close-range rifle straight out of the box. You can tell because the handle takes up the entire length of the rail system, leaving no real room for attaching other accessories.
The biggest strength of the AR-15 system is its flexibility, and carry handles aren’t particularly useful for many buyers. Some people will like them, sure, but I’d rather see that as an optional extra you can get along with the rifle instead of a component that comes standard.
While you may end up removing the handle and replacing it with something more useful for your environment, this is still functionally a professional-grade AR-15 and it’s suitable for most purposes.
Make sure you check the exact specifications of your model, though. Some versions of this rifle have a 30+1 capacity while others only have a 10+1, and that could make a major difference in overall performance while you’re out shooting.
- Among the best budget options available
- Great choice as a starting model
- It comes with a relatively rare flash hider
- Excellent accuracy for the price
- Noticeably more expensive than competitors
- It may be hard to get replacement parts
Of course, it is pointless to read about which guns are the best in each category without explaining what to look for when buying. There are many things that you should be looking for in a high-quality yet affordable semi-automatic rifle.
Things to Keep in Mind
When buying any kind of gun, there are a few things that you should keep in the back of your head.
Why Do You Want an AR-15?
There is no wrong answer for wanting an AR-15. Whether you are a collector and want to add to your collection, or if you are a hunter looking for something new to experiment with. However, there are many different models of semi-automatic rifles.
Some semi-automatic rifles are better for hunting, while some are better for working with beginners. Some rifles will work for more than one activity. Knowing what you plan to do with the gun once you have it can help you narrow down a choice.
Your Personal Budget
Luckily, as we saw in the list above, there are many affordable options for high-quality AR-15 guns. If you are working with a decently-sized budget, you may feel compelled to look at a wider range of options.
Many great guns fall within the $1,000-$1,500 range. If you can afford it, you may find it in your best interest to invest a little extra in a gun that you find very appealing.
However, you can often find a gun that is less than $1,000, or even less than $600. Keeping your budget in mind will help you to avoid overspending.
What to Look for in an AR-15
Now that you know what benefits owning an AR-15 can provide, you should also know what makes a high-quality gun.
As mentioned before, your budget is important when selecting a final product. It is important to research the gun you are interested in thoroughly. While a gun may seem like a great deal due to its price, you may not receive the highest quality. Your gun may break, leading you to spend double the money to replace it.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, just because a gun is expensive does not mean that it is high quality. Buying an expensive gun only to have it falter on you is a costly inconvenience that can typically be avoided.
For the crafty gunmen, there are many options to buy an AR-15 set that has not been assembled yet. These sets allow you to create your AR-15 with your own hands. If you are into building your firearms, these sets are a great option for you.
However, if you are looking to get a finished AR-15, make sure that you are aware of how the gun is built before purchasing it. Overlooking this detail could lead to a frustrating experience, so make sure that you clarify whether the gun is a complete rifle or not.
If you accidentally buy the wrong kind of rifle, you may not be out of luck. A lot of firearm companies have a return policy or a product warranty, which brings us to our next point.
Finding an AR-15 of high quality is the end goal, but no matter how high quality a gun is, accidents will still happen. Whether you made a mistake on your end, or there was an incident during the shipping process, mistakes happen.
Firearm companies know that there is a chance that something could happen to your gun that is beyond control. As a result, many firearm companies offer a warranty plan. The length and conditions of the plan often differ from company to company, so make sure that you read the details of any warranty before accepting it.
Accessories and Features
The accessories and features that come with an AR-15 can change the value of the gun.
Depending on your use of guns, you may be looking for a gun that has a higher level of safety features. Or you may be looking for a specific kind of m-lok attachment, suppressor, or Wylde chamber. Either way, there are countless accessories and features to choose from.
You will also want to pay attention to the material used to build your AR-15. Different materials provide different levels of durability. The material that the gun features can also play a part in how heavy or light the gun is.
If you are not very knowledgeable on the different AR-15 parts, such as the bolt carrier group, you may find it in your best interest to research the information regarding them. Brands such as Rock River manufacture AR-15 parts specifically.
When selecting an AR-15, you will want to make note of the size of the gun.
Depending on how you like to work with guns, the standard length of a barrel is typically 16 inches long. However, some people may find they prefer something different than the standard 16-inch barrel. Depending on the situation, some people find it easier to work with a longer, mid-length, or shorter barrel.
The best barrel size depends on personal preference. If you enjoy working with guns that are lightweight and easy to maneuver, you may want to choose a gun with a shorter barrel length. In instances where long-range shooting is preferred, such as hunting, a longer barrel might be the best option.
The weight and overall length of a gun can also bring their pros and cons. Heavy guns are difficult to move around with but can be great for aero-precision and long distances. Lighter guns are great to carry while moving around on foot, but bullets can fall short if your target is moving.
Countless firearm brands around the world sell and distribute AR-15 guns. Brands ranging from Diamondback to Magpul, to DPMS Panther Arms, to Remington and Bushmaster are well known among the gun community. Remington is responsible for creating the .223 Remington rifle cartridge. Palmetto State Armory, otherwise known as PSA, is one of the most popular companies for AR-15 parts. Brownell’s will also provide many of these parts.
Some brands have been around for hundreds of years, such as Springfield Armory, which was founded in the late 1700s. Some brands are much more modern, like Sig Sauer, founded in the late 1970s, and Daniel Defense, which was founded in the year 2000. Even Geissele was founded in the year 2004.
It is essential to remember that while some brands are certainly better than others, the value of one brand compared to another is often a matter of personal preference. If you are familiar with a certain brand already, you may find it helpful to look for an AR-15 within the brand you are already using.
The differences in brands can expose you to different styles of guns.
It can also be helpful to experiment with different brands, however. Some brands may feature a certain design that you find works best for you and your family. Brands such as Diamondback are well received for their affordable prices. Shopping around for different brands can provide you with many great options.
What are the Benefits of Owning an AR-15?
If you are looking into buying an AR-15, you may be wondering what the benefits are to owning one. There are several benefits of owning an AR-15 for many different situations. semi-automatic rifles are used by people all over the world, including SOCOM, the United States Special Operation.
One of the biggest reasons that people buy any kind of gun is for self-defense. In a world where nothing is certain, owning a firearm is a way to help many families sleep easier at night. When it comes to self and home defense, the AR-15 has helpful benefits.
Because AR-15s are typically lightweight and easy to work with, they allow whoever is handling the gun to move quickly and efficiently. In a situation that requires self-defense, it is very important to be able to move quickly.
As well as providing free movement, AR-15s often have very low recoil. A low recoil on a gun is a great way to prevent loss of time or self-injury during a frantic situation. Low recoil is favored among guns in general, as guns that possess strong recoils are usually difficult to work with and can sometimes be painful. Using a gas block can also help lessen the recoil.
It is Easy to Customize
If you are a collector of guns, then you know that being able to customize your gun is a great benefit. With an AR-15, you will have a lot of options for customizing and experimenting with your gun.
An AR-15 that is optic ready will allow you to add on red dot laser optics, iron sights, and more. Most models will allow you to switch out stocks, handguards, triggers, quad rails, charging handles, BCGs(bolt carrier groups)and other various parts of the gun.
The mechanical system of an AR-15 is fairly easy to understand and work with when you have a good knowledge of guns. Those who are skilled with working on guns will be able to customize a standard AR-15 to their hearts’ content.
Hunting and keeping control of livestock can be made much easier through the use of an semi-automatic rifle.
The AR-15 is known for providing great accuracy with low recoil. The gun can function well on its own, but those who customize their guns can get greater results when it comes to hunting. The use of laser optics and sights can make hunting in the dark a breeze, as well as customizing other features to make a great hunting rifle.
Easy to Fix
Owning an AR-15 can help turn you into a handyman. If you are interested in learning how to take a gun apart and put it back together, the AR-15 would be a solid option for you.
Because the structure of the gun is easy to navigate, many people can fix any mechanical issue without going to a specialist. When fixing a gun yourself, you get to save money while also learning how the gun works.
While not every issue that occurs when working with an AR-15 will be within your realm to fix, you will be able to enjoy the process of trying.
Gun safety is one of the most crucial parts of owning a gun, no matter what the model or size.
Whether the gun you own is a Winchester rifle, a Blackout rifle a Colt handgun, a Glock, or an ACP(automatic colt rifle)gun, there is a safety risk that you take every time you pick up a gun.
While most guns come with a built-in safety system, there is still a significant amount of responsibility that falls on to the owner of the gun.
The responsibility of keeping children and other individuals who are not properly trained to handle guns falls on the owner of the gun as well. To prevent this issue, many gun owners will store their rifles and other firearms in a safe spot. Some guns come with carriers that can be locked to prevent loose fingers from easily removing the gun.
Leaving your gun out where anyone can reach it is a great way for someone to accidentally get hurt. Even if no accidents occur, leaving an exposed firearm can allow intruders access to a weapon that can hurt you and your family.
Which is the Best Option?
There are many great options for a cheap AR-15. Out of all the guns that I have personally tested, I found that the DB-15 is by far the best option.
The DB-15 is a durable and user-friendly gun that does not take a lot of experience to handle properly. Simultaneously, the gun has many features and customizable options that allow for experienced gun users to experiment with different options. The design is modern and aesthetically pleasing. On top of all of that, the gun is less than $600.
The DB-15 beat out the other four contenders on the list, but the other options still hold a lot of value. Each gun was ranked the highest in its category and can substitute the DB-15 if you have a preference for a specific category.
Now that you have all of the information needed to buy an AR-15, including the best option for an AR, it is now time to go and get your dream rifle.