Three Great AR-15s that Won’t Break the Bank

With the increased potential for new gun control, there are a good number of people looking to grab an AR-15 before any possible assault weapons ban could be enacted. If you’re one of those people, I have three recommendations based on firearms we here at TTAG have tested that will not only scratch your AR-15 itch, but serve you well and continue to work great for years to come without dropping tons of cash.

Recommendation #1, as always for me, is the Mossberg MMR Tactical.

Mossberg has been expanding into the more modern firearms lately, and the MMR Tactical is their attempt to cash in on the booming AR-15 market.

On paper, the rifle is fantastic. The free floated handguards make for increased accuracy, the Picatinny rails mean you can hang crap off it to your heart’s content, and the full length top rail makes optics selection a wide open question that you’re free to answer in your own time. In practice the handguards can be a bit uncomfortable, but other than that its a great rifle.

While I may not like all of the features on the gun, the bottom line is that you’re getting a 1 MoA rifle that has tons of potential for expansion and upgrades down the line at a price that doesn’t tip the scales. MSRP is $950, last reported price at Bud’s Gun Shop was $726.

Number two on the list is something my man Shotzberger loved in Arizona, the Smith & Wesson M&P-15 Sport.

While the MMR Tactical had all of the bells and whistles, this rifle is more of a stripped down bare-essentials kind of gun. The lightweight profile barrel and attached handguards save weight, but at the cost of longer range accuracy. There’s also no forward assist, but then again I’ve never really needed to use one. Despite those two minor issues, what you get is a great rifle at a really good price — lower than the Mossberg even.

MSRP when we reviewed the rifle in 2011 was $709, last reported price at Bud’s Gun Shop was $649.

The last option is going to be a little more difficult — building your own rifle. If an assault weapons ban comes into effect, there’s a good chance that any firearms purchased before the ban goes into effect would be grandfathered in and exempt from the regulation of “evil features.” As such, if you really don’t have a ton of money laying around, simply buying a stripped lower receiver might be your best bet. And the best bang for your buck is made by New Frontier Armory.

Polymer lower receivers are not only cheap and easy to manufacture, but surprisingly sturdy as Chris found out while doing his review. By going with just the lower, you only need to pay for the actual “firearm” (with the serialized part) and you can build whatever rifle you want… when you scrape together some more money.

The issue with buying just the lower though is that everybody and their brother has already done it. There are none to be had, and lowers that were selling for $100 last week are now up to $300. Which, if you really are nervous about the coming months and want something just in case, is still cheaper than a complete firearm.

MSRP for the lower alone was $109 when the review was published, but the NFA store still has complete lower receivers offered for around $200. Backordered, but still available at that price and shipping directly to you as soon as they get to your place in line. Which, compared to traditional aluminum receivers, should be fairly quick.

I’d love to hear if anyone has been seeing rifles for reasonable prices — leave a note in the comments!