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Best Selling AR-15s of 2013

It is understandable that our top-selling AR-15s of 2013 are also some of our most affordable. My friend being able to easily sell his Frankenrifle for $3,000 cash proved black rifle prices went through the roof earlier this year. Now that the market has somewhat stabilized, all those who skipped the purchasing frenzy can now buy an entry-level AR at a price pleasing to their pocket books.

When I say entry-level AR, I mean to say one you wouldn’t necessarily want to take into battle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bare bones, no-nonsense AR-15. None of our top sellers will disappoint; high quality parts, surprising accuracy, durability and trusted brand names round off our list. Bare-bones tactical rifles are perfect for the beginner. You have a solid platform in any of the following ARs to start building upon. However, neither combat-grade, nor competition-ready, cheap AR-15s get the job done. Intended for plinking, punching paper, varmint hunting, and even home defense, the DPMS, Bushmaster, S&W M&P-15 and Colt LE 6920 are all dependable purchases.

Many AR aficionados will pooh-pooh some of the choices, however spending less than a grand means you have more cashola to accessorize and upgrade—not to mention extra dough to spend on magazines and ammo. Lower-priced ARs allow you to upgrade stocks, sights, triggers, and rails further down the line.

These five AR-15s will serve any beginner well. Listed by price ascending lowest to highest:

DPMS Sportical

Achieving 1-inch groups at 100 yards is no hard feat for the DPMS Sportical.

Achieving 1-inch groups at 100 yards is no hard feat for the DPMS Sportical.

If you want to learn the ropes of the AR-15 platform without spending a stack, the DPMS optic-of-your-choice-ready Sportical has no bells and whistles, but at the price, you can afford high-end glass to make it ready to shoot. The thin 16-inch barrel with a 1×9 twist is not chrome-lined and there is no dust cover, shell deflector or forward assist. Many would argue over the value of the forward assist. Keep in mind, however, the Sportical comes without just as AR-god Eugene Stoner intended. Don’t worry about the non chrome-lined barrel either as accuracy deficiencies are so minimal they go unnoticed. Decent, non chrome-lined barrels withstand thousands of rounds before losing accuracy.

Achieving 1-inch groups at 100 yards is no hard feat for the Sportical. With the right optic, you will get point and shoot accuracy that will surprise you at this price point. With an affordable Bushnell optic, after thousands of rounds, the DPMS just keeps running—each shot hitting its mark.

Even though DPMS skipped the sights on the Sportical, they didn’t skimp on the furniture. It comes equipped with heat-dissipating Glacier Guards and an upgraded Pardus adjustable length of pull stock.

DPMS owners describe their Sporticals as “great” in comparison to some of their other higher-end “incredible” black rifles, but you know what, great is good enough for me.

With the flat top upper and raised gas block, adding sights of your choice will be no problem. Rated for both the .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO cartridges, this 6.3-pound DMPS AR-15 has all you need to start sport shooting.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO
  • Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
  • Barrel: 16” 4140 chromoly, 1:9 twist
  • Stock: Pardus with commercial tube
  • Sights: Railed gas block
  • Length: 32.5”
  • Weight: 6.3 pounds
  • Length: 32.5″

Bushmaster SuperLight Carbon-15

The real gem is the rifle’s weight. At 5.5 pounds, I dare you try finding a much lighter AR.

The real gem is the rifle’s weight. At 5.5 pounds, I dare you try finding a much lighter AR.

The black rifle community is grumpy lately with Bushmaster. Once one of the top contenders in the AR-15 market, many so-called black rifle experts say quality has gone down hill. Both sides can yell, “taste great, less filling” until they are blue in the face. However, the Bushmasters I have experience with run like a dream all day in the hot and dusty Texas heat with zero malfunctions.

Others are skeptical of the Bushmaster SuperLight Carbon-15 carbon composite construction. Carbon composite is just a fancy way to say “plastic.” Much of the AR is plastic from the get-go, with the exception of the traditional aluminum upper and lower receivers, barrel and a few other bit parts. Traditionally, we are not used to plastic rifles, but we were not used to plastic handguns either. When the polymer-framed Glock came out, gun folks got in a tizzy over their durability and functionality. It goes without saying Glock’s polymer-framed “flop” has reached popularity in epic proportions.

Last year, CTD Rob bought a cheap plastic AR-15 lower. He questioned his gun’s durability. A year later, CTD Rob is completely satisfied with his cheap build and his AR has stood up to plenty of range abuse.

If you do research on the Internet when shopping for guns, you know everyone has an opinion. Don’t listen to the naysayers. The Bushmaster SuperLight Carbon-15 has a standard buffer, spring and bolt carrier group just like any other AR-15.

After thousands of rounds, the SuperLight Carbon-15 keeps shooting with no malfunctions. You might not get as tight groups with this particular Bushy as some other more expensive AR-15s, but it is reliable and accurate enough for home defense and target practice.

The real gem is the rifle’s weight. At 5.5 pounds, I dare you try finding much lighter ARs than this, making the SuperLight Bushmaster perfect for new, young and women shooters. The 16-inch light profile barrel is chrome lined as well as the chamber. It shoots both .223 Remington and 5.56mm rounds with a 30-round magazine. A red dot sight is included.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .223 Remington and 5.56mm caliber
  • Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
  • Barrel: 16″ light profile, 1:9 twist
  • Stock: Telescoping stock
  • Sights: Includes red dot sight
  • Length: 34.5”
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Bushmaster Optics Ready (O.R.C.)

The Bushmaster O.R.C. kills coyotes and other varmints with a vengeance.

The Bushmaster O.R.C. kills coyotes and other varmints with a vengeance.

Slightly higher in price than the Carbon-15, Bushmaster’s O.R.C. still sells for hundreds less than MSRP. It kills coyotes and other varmints with a vengeance—all you need are sights and the scope of your choice. The M4 16-inch barrel is chrome-lined, which extends the barrel life especially during heavy use and rapid fire.

Law enforcement agencies around the country trust their lives on Bushmaster rifles. As far as accuracy goes, with the right optic, an AR-15 built by Bushmaster has the ability to achieve at least 2-inch groups at a far 300 yards.

The milled, low profile gas block and 0.5-inch risers without sights, allows Bushmaster to cut their costs and pass that savings on to you. Go as cheap or expensive as you wish adding your own sights and optics.

Made for more than entry-level in mind, the Bushy ORC is perfect to start adding accessories. It comes with two-piece, plastic handguards and a nice durable manganese phosphate coating.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO
  • Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
  • Barrel: 16″ M4 chrome-lined, 1:9 twist
  • Stock: M4 collapsible
  • Sights: Milled, low-profile gas block and A3 upper receiver with two 0.5″ optics risers
  • Length: 36.25”
  • Weight: 6 pounds

S&W M&P-15 OR

S&W M&P-15s come highly recommended from many AR shooters.

S&W M&P-15s come highly recommended from many AR shooters.

Though fairly new to the black rifle market, S&W M&P-15s come highly recommended from many AR shooters—from yours truly, as well. The M&P-15 optics-ready rifle has no iron sights, but is outfitted with a rail for any type of sight or scope you want to put on it. Instead of farming them out to other manufacturers, most of the tight-fitting parts are made in-house by S&W. Smith and Wesson’s optics ready (OR) rifle shoots all types of ammo—even cheap steel-cased—without fail.

The M&P ARs are scary accurate right out of the box. The barrel, bore, gas key and bolt carrier are chrome lined. The 1×9 barrel twist has no issues firing traditional 55-grain bullets, both 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington in tight groups over 100 yards.

Even though the OR is one of S&W’s lowest-priced rifles, it isn’t a “saver” or even standard model. Put it through the paces and the M&P-15 OR will run and run. It’s cheap in comparison, but doesn’t act that way.
Even those intermediate and expert AR users appreciate S&W’s line of M&P AR-15 tactical rifles.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO
  • Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
  • Barrel: 16″ 4140 steel M4 profile barrel, 1:9 twist
  • Stock: M4, 6-position
  • Sights: Gas block with integral Picatinny rail
  • Length: 32” to 35”
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds

Colt LE 6920

The Colt LE 6920 is the closet factory rifle you can buy to what our military uses.

The Colt LE 6920 is the closet factory rifle you can buy to what our military uses.

The Colt LE 6920 is the closet factory rifle you can buy that compares to what our military uses. It also comes as one of the most recommend AR-15s in the tactical black rifle world. The 16-inch chrome-lined barrel has a mil-spec 1×7 twist. Chambered for 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington with a 1×7 twist, the Colt LE 6920 will handle heavier hitting bullets flawlessly.

Colt makes the LE 6920 AR-15’s bolt and other internal parts. Each bolt is test-fired before heading out for sale. It does have a forward assist and shell deflector, while some of the budget AR-15s do not. The one-piece, which Colt calls “monolithic,” A3 flat top receiver includes a standard A2 front sight base so you can add any type of optic you want. The double heat shields keep your hands from burning while throwing hundreds of rounds down range.

The Colt LE 6920, trusted by law enforcement around the country is the better choice for a home defense rifle and requires minimal upgrades. At the top of the price point of our top-selling AR-15s, the Colt LE 6920 won’t let you down.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO
  • Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
  • Barrel: 16.1″ M4 chrome-lined, 1:7 twist
  • Stock: 4-position Colt Superstock or original M4 (no choice)
  • Sights: Standard A2 front sight base
  • Length: 32”
  • Weight: 6.95 pounds

As far as functions and features go, there are not many differences in each of Cheaperthandirt.com’s top-selling AR-15s. Every one of them incorporates the standard carbine-length, direct gas impingement gas system. All shoot both 5.56mm NATO and .223 Remington ammo. All have 16-inch barrels, collapsible stocks and a 30 round magazine. All barrel twist rates are the same (1×9), with the exception of the Colt’s MIL-SPEC 1×7. Other exceptions are the SuperLight and the Sportical’s barrels are not chrome-lined. All but two of the modern sporting weapons listed come without sights with the exception of the Colt and the SuperLight. The Colt LE 6920 includes sights, while the Bushmaster SuperLight Carbon-15 includes a red dot sight.

For the price you want to pay to enter the tactical rifle world, none of these best selling AR-15s will be a regrettable purchase.

 ModelLengthGas SystemBarrel LengthAmmunitionStockMagazineBarrel TwistChrome Lined BarrelSights Included
Bushmaster O.R.C.CarbineDI16″5.56/.223 RemCollapsible30-Round1-9″YesNo
S&W M&P-15CarbineDI16″5.56/.223 RemCollapsible30-Round1-9″YesNo
DPMS SporticalCarbineDI16″5.56/.223 RemCollapsible30-Round1-9″NoNo
Colt LE 6920CarbineDI16″5.56/.223 RemCollapsible30-Round1-7″YesYes
Bushmaster SuperLight Carbon-15CarbineDI16″5.56/.223 RemCollapsible30-Round1-9″NoYes (Red Dot)

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