Best AR-15 Pistols of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

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Are you looking for the best AR-15 pistol? If so, you’re in the right place. Finding one might be a challenge for you. But if you know what you’re looking for and you don’t have all kinds of legal hoops to jump through, the process will be much easier.

This kind of pistol has grown in popularity over the years for so many applications. There is nothing more satisfying than firing a pistol that has the abilities of an AR-15 rifle. If you’re a first-time user, you’re going to be in for quite a treat.

To get you started, we’ve put together a list of six of the best AR-15 pistols that are currently on the market as of today. Before we get to it, we’ll be talking about comparing AR-15 pistols to AR-15 rifles and the qualities and features that took to make the list.

Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Pistols

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Sig Sauer MCX Rattler .300 AAC Blackout Pistol

  • Barrel is 5.5 in length.
  • Fires .300 Blackout rounds.
  • Has a three position adjustable brace.
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Bravo Company Pistol 11.5in 5.56x45mm Nato 30+1rd

  • Overall length is 27 inches.
  • Carbine length gas system.
  • Magazine capacity is 30 rounds plus one.
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Radical Firearms - AR Pistol 10.5" 5.56 M4 Contour, 10" FGS

  • Best AR-15 pistol on the market.
  • Magazine has a 30-round capacity.
  • Free-floating handguard for quicker heat dissipation.
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Aero Precision - AR-15 OEM Pistol 5.56x45 10.5"

  • Carbine length gas system.
  • Barrel made from high-quality Vanadium steel.
  • Lower receiver made from forged high-quality aluminum.
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Zev Technologies - AR-15 Forged Pistol

  • Barrel length is 8.5 inches.
  • Features a low-profile gas block.
  • Includes a Shockwave adjustable pistol brace.
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AR-15 Pistols vs. AR-15 Rifles: Differences You Need to Know

It’s obvious that AR-15 pistols and AR-15 rifles are both different from each other. Plus, they have some of the same features and parts that help make it function. But what exactly are the differences? Let’s take a look at a few so you can distinguish between one or the other:

Length

Of course, we begin with the obvious difference. An AR-15 pistol will be shorter than 26 inches in total length along with a barrel of fewer than 16 inches. An AR-15 rifle will be longer with a barrel of 16 inches or above.

However, if an AR-15 is above the 26-inch overall length threshold, it will still be considered a rifle regardless of the length of the barrel. In some states, laws will require barrels not to go a certain length (i.e.--In the State of New York, no rifle barrel should be below 16 inches in length).

Buttstock

Another noticeable difference is the buttstock. Your AR-15 rifle will obviously have a buttstock attached to it. In this case, it is considered a Title II firearm in accordance with the National Firearms Act of 1934. If you’re converting a pistol into a rifle, you’ll have to go through the legal channels to ensure that you are complying with ATF regulations and standards.

An AR-15 pistol, however, is absent of this. The closest thing that you can get to a buttstock for an AR-15 pistol is to purchase a brace. You can also shoulder the brace to make it mimic the behavior of a standard buttstock.

Foregrip

One other difference is the foregrip. While an AR-15 pistol cannot have a vertical foregrip, it can have one that is considered angled. Meanwhile, an AR-15 rifle can be allowed to have a vertical foregrip that will allow them to have better control over it.

How We Chose These Top Picks

Below is a brief list of what we looked for to handpick the six AR-15 pistols that we’re reviewing. This should also be your guide on what you need to look for. These qualities and features are important to almost any AR-15 pistol owner. And we made sure that these were usable for just about anyone regardless of the application. Here’s how you can choose an AR-15 pistol based on the same system we’ve used to list them:

Length

To ensure that they met the legal requirements of being considered a pistol, they had to have barrels measured at lengths of less than 16 inches. They also had to have an overall length of 27 inches. We also made sure that they did not have any buttstocks added onto it. Doing so would make this an SBR as opposed to a pistol.

Material

Every AR-15 pistol that we chose is made from high-quality materials. For example, the upper and lower receivers are made from 7075-T6 aluminum or similar. This is proven to handle multiple amounts of gunfire. It can also withstand a lot of abuse such as hitting hard surfaces at a high rate of velocity.

Ease of Use

Most AR-15 pistols are easy to use thanks to pistol braces that act as support stocks for shooters. More specifically, we made sure that the pistol braces were easy to adjust and can fit all kinds of shooters regardless of being able-bodied, disabled, or size of the frame. These pistol braces can also be shouldered so you can easily use them as a rest if you feel that it’s more comfortable to shoot that way.

Review of the Best AR-15 Pistols

The following is a list of the six best AR-15 pistols that are currently on the market. As you look through these, take note of some of the features and functions that are listed. This may or may not pique your interest to look at the pistol a little further.

If you see one that you like, you’ll need to do some in-depth research so you know what people have to say about it. Then you can make a final decision on whether or not it’s worth the investment. With that in mind, let’s begin with the “best overall” AR-15 pistol on our list:

Pros

  • Adjustable Brace will Fit Almost Any Shooter
  • Lightweight and Allows You to Move Freely and Quickly
  • Excellent for Target or Competitive Shooting. Also Great in Home Defense

Cons

  • None

Kicking off our review list, we’ll be taking a look at the Sig Sauer MCX Rattler .300 AAC Blackout Pistol. If you’re the kind of AR-15 pistol owner that’s got some .300 blackout rounds stored away, you’ll need a pistol that you can rely on to fire them with accuracy and precision.

Why not look at an AR-15 pistol from a brand that is known as one of the more reliable brands on the market? The MCX Rattler is a semi-automatic pistol with a barrel measured at about 5.5 inches in length and an overall length of 19.3 inches.

This comes with an M-LOK rail that you can use to add on any accessories that are compatible with this kind of rail. If you have an optic or a sight that you want to put to good use, then your Sig Sauer MCX Rattler will look super beast-like at the range.

This comes with a 3 position brace that will allow you to make adjustments that will better fit you. Never will you have to do any guesswork to figure out whether or not the brace will fit.

If you’re the kind of shooter that moves fast and smooth, then you’ll want an AR-15 pistol that will allow you to move freely in competitive shooting or home defense application. The MCX Rattler might be the best possible choice for you regardless of your intent or purpose.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best of the best, then the Sig Sauer in our point of view is just that. One of the things that we liked the most is that it has the ability to be used by just about any shooter all thanks to the adjustable brace.

Because a “one size fits all” kind of brace just won’t cut the mustard. Aside from its usability, this is the perfect AR-15 pistol to fire if you’re a fan of the .300 Blackout. Why settle for anything less than the best if you’re looking for a reliable AR-15 pistol?

Pros

  • Very Accurate Shooting
  • Recoil Reduction is Noticeable
  • Excellent for Low-Light and Nighttime Shooting Thanks to the Flash Hider

Cons

  • While it’s 27 Inches in Length, it May be Scrutinized as to Whether or not it’s a Pistol or an SBR. Err on the Side of Caution and Research Laws in Your Jurisdiction

Up next, we’ll be taking a look at the Bravo Company AR-15 pistol. This is chambered in 5.56 NATO rounds and has the ability to hold up to 30 rounds plus one. The upper receiver is made from machined aluminum, making it a tough all over kind of upper that won’t get damaged or banged around.

So even after you fire over 1000 rounds, it will still hold its own without any jamming or reliability issues. This has a carbine length gas system and can be easily converted into a rifle once you have the right parts. In fact, it’s measured at right around 27 inches.

So as long as you’re able to use it without a buttstock, it should be no issue for you legal wise. But it’s always important to err on the side of caution and do additional research before choosing a pistol like this.

Also equipped with this pistol is a flash suppressor that is designed to prevent night blindness caused by the bright flashes of your shooting. A great flash suppressor will definitely give you a leg up, especially in home defense settings where giving away your position is risky.

If you’re looking for an AR-15 pistol that will be best used for 5.56 rounds and will give you a dependable, reliable performance with less flash and minimal recoil, the Bravo Company Pistol might be just what you need.

Bottom Line

The Bravo Company AR-15 pistol is your best bet if you’re looking for one of the best pistols that can fire 5.56 NATO rounds. And it delivers a superb performance like no other thanks to the flash suppressor’s ability to fire shots with reduced recoil. Plus, its ability to be a reliable pistol in a home defense situation doesn’t go unappreciated.

You can hide somewhere in the dark and ward off the home invaders without ever having to make a move. It is quite accurate in short distances, so you can take comfort in knowing that you don’t need to be in close quarters to fire off a shot or two.

Pros

  • Recoil is Minimal
  • Very Accurate Shooting
  • Super Sturdy. Doesn’t Damage Easily when Accidentally Dropped

Cons

  • None

If you’re looking for an AR-15 pistol that is reliable and won’t break the bank, the Radical Firearms might be the answer you’re looking for. The AR-15 pistol you see here has a barrel measured at 10.5 inches in length. It is chambered to fire off any 5.56 NATO rounds.

The magazine capacity is 30 rounds plus one, so if you need an extra shot or two for any application at all, you’ll have more than enough with the magazine capacity. This is an AR-15 pistol that’s as close as you’re going to get to something that’s considered a law enforcement style type of pistol.

This is a tough as nails kind of pistol that is made from high-quality materials that make it durable from the inside and out. Strictly speaking, this takes all kinds of beatings and will handle many rounds fired. Don’t be shocked if it’s still giving you a jam-free function after hundreds or thousands of rounds.

This also includes a free-floating handguard that keeps your hand and the barrel cool. So the heat dissipation will be almost instantaneous. If you’re looking for an AR-15 pistol that will not burn you if you accidentally touch the barrel, then you’ve found it in the Radical Firearms pistol.

The handguard also has the ability to help boost up your accuracy quite a bit. And speaking of accuracy, you can also up it to another level just by adding a scope or optic that will best be fit on any Picatinny rail. After all, you do have that kind of rail included on this pistol.

So find a red dot sight or optic of your choice and install that puppy on there before hitting the range. You’ll be quite pleased to see the accuracy get a whole lot better after just a few minutes of installing the right sight. If you’re looking for an AR-15 pistol that will fit your budget (and almost any other budget for that matter) the Radical Firearms AR-15 pistol is worth the investment.

Bottom Line

This AR-15 is affordable and exceeds the expectations of an average budget pistol. You won't regret investing in this, even if you have money to work with. This AR-15 pistol is highly reliable and gets the job done no matter what the application.

With little recoil to speak of, don't be surprised if your shot groupings are a little tighter than the previous pistols that you've used. If you're looking for an AR-15 pistol that will last you a lifetime and won't suck the life right out of your bank account, the Radical Firearms brand AR-15 pistol might be exactly what you're looking for.

Pros

  • Super Durable. Designed to Last You a Long Time
  • Lightweight Enough for You to Move Around Freely
  • Best Used in Target Practice, Competition Shooting, and Home Defense Situations

Cons

  • None

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the Aero Precision AR-15 OEM Pistol. This has a barrel measured at around 10.5 inches and is chambered to fire 5.56x45 NATO shots. This comes with a low profile gas block that is part of the carbine length gas system that is designed to give this pistol a superb performance.

The magazine is a removable magazine that fits up to 30 rounds. It might be just enough or a little more than enough regardless of the application. If you’re looking for something that’s lightweight and allows you to move freely in a run and gun situation, then the AP pistol might be something that’s worth checking out.

You can practice running and gunning at the range so you can be ready for the real thing if and when it happens. More specifically, this is something that will happen in a self-defense situation.

The barrel, upper and lower receivers are all made from high-quality materials to ensure durability. And they're not the kind of parts that scuff up quite easily. Not bad for an AR-15 pistol that is considered one of the heaviest hitters in existence.

Every component that comprises this AR-15 pistol is designed to provide superior performance that will be hard to beat when competing against other pistols. If you're looking for an AR-15 pistol that will be the envy of the range, the AP could be your go-to choice.

Bottom Line

The AP AR-15 pistol is one of the toughest and most durable pistols on the market. And surprisingly, it’s lightweight enough for you to move around quickly in some applications.

If you want something that’s easy to carry and easy to operate, then the AP will probably be your best friend whether you’re in a self-defense situation or if you’re caught up in the heat of intense competition.

Pros

  • Recoil is Smooth, if Not Minimal
  • Super Durable from the Inside and Out
  • Pistol Brace is Adjustable to Fit All Kinds of Shooters

Cons

  • Available in a Longer Version (Overall Length and Barrel). Be careful in What You’re Choosing so You Won’t Run Into Any Potential Legal Issues Due to Some State Gun Laws

Up next, we’ll be taking a look at the Zev Technologies AR-15 Forged Pistol. This brand is one to look out for if you fancy yourself a fan of the AR-15 pistol. That’s because their aim is to design a high-quality pistol that you can rely on for as long as possible.

It is built using high-quality materials that will stand up to all kinds of abuse and multiple rounds among all else. The upper and lower receivers are made from high-quality 7075-T6 aluminum, one of the most popular types of aluminum that is trusted by gun manufacturers. The barrel is measured at 8.5 inches with the overall length measured at 25 inches, making it the ideal pistol for any kind of application.

At nearly 5.5 pounds, this is lightweight to carry and will allow you to move quickly and freely in situations where life is on the line. It’s also a great pistol to have if you have to move quickly in competitive shooting situations. Either way, you’re not going to feel like you’re carrying around a 100-pound dumbbell while running at full speed.

Sometimes when you move to fast, you might bump into things. But make no mistake, this pistol can handle the bumps and bangs like nothing else. If that’s the kind of pistol you want, you’ll get it with the Zev Technologies AR-15 Forged Pistol.

This pistol is chambered to handle .300 Blackout rounds. So if you’re looking to fire off any at the range, you’ll have a pistol that will put them to good use with the Zev Technologies AR-15 pistol.

Bottom Line

Lightweight, durable, and usable for all kinds of shooters. These are the three things we’d come up with if given the chance to describe this AR-15 pistol. If that’s something that you’re looking for, then the Zev Technologies AR-15 pistol is your best possible option.

This can be used for pretty much any application you can think of. Aside from that, it delivers an excellent performance that may be hard to match. Especially when you’re practicing your running and gunning at the range.

Pros

  • Excellent for Just About Any Application
  • Easy to Customize Thanks to the Handguard Rail
  • An Excellent Starter AR-15 Pistol for First-Time Users

Cons

  • Despite Being Affordable for Most Budgets, Some Have Complained that it’s a Little Overpriced

For our final AR-15 pistol, we’ll be taking a look at the Diamondback Firearms DB15 Pistol. This is a pistol chambered to fire 5.56x45mm NATO rounds. The barrel is measured at 7.5 inches that has the ability to hold up to 30 rounds in one magazine.

No matter if you’re out for a long day at the range or if you’re in a home defense situation, you’ll have more than enough rounds to get you through. If you’re looking for something that’s as close to a military-style AR-15 pistol as possible, the Diamondback Firearms pistol is exactly what you’ll want. Best of all, it’s available at a price that you can afford.

As a budget shopper, you can jump for joy (or celebrate some other way) for that purpose. The bolt carrier is stress-tested to handle all kinds of abuse and heat resistance. Meaning that it has the ability to be one durable unit for as long as possible.

If it doesn’t pass the test, it doesn’t get included in the assembly of this pistol. This also has an aluminum handrail that will allow you to up the accuracy game a bit with the addition of a scope or optic. If you have a red dot sight handy, why not put it to good use?

The upper and lower receiver is made from high-quality aluminum while the barrel is made from high-quality chrome moly. In plain English, it can handle beatings and multiple rounds. Expect this to be reliable and unable to jam on you after you’ve blown through dozens of rounds.

Bottom Line

The Diamondback Firearms has proven itself to be a rugged looking and highly reliable AR-15 pistol that is as close to military grade as possible. If you hold an appreciation for that kind of style, this might be the AR-15 pistol you’ve been dreaming of.

Aside from it being accurate, the customization ability is what’s even more impressive. If you’re looking to up your accuracy and make it a force to be reckoned with at the range, the Diamondback Firearms AR-15 pistol might be the best option for you.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Before buying one of these AR-15 pistols, it’s absolutely important to consider the following aspects listed below. These are not only helpful in making the best purchasing decision but will also make you aware of any legal issues that may arise (depending on which state you live in) if you’re not careful with which pistol you’re looking to buy. Here is a list of aspects that should not be ignored:

Is it Legal in Your State?

Due to strict gun laws in some states like New York, California, and Illinois (among others), the question is whether or not the AR-15 pistol is legal to own in your state. It is important to err on the side of caution and research your local and state laws to ensure that you are legally allowed to own and operate an AR-15 pistol. It should also be noted that you should also consult with federal laws as well. This way, it’s better to avoid legal trouble than unintentionally getting into it.

What is Your Intent or Purpose?

Are you target shooting? Are you using it for a self-defense application? Your intent or purpose may be depending on whether or not an AR-15 pistol is right for you. While there are other pistols out there for all kinds of purposes, an AR-15 pistol is much different compared to the others. It has the ability to fire as a semi-automatic weapon and can be converted into a rifle with the right kind of parts.

Does it Fit Your Budget?

As a budget shopper, the price might be important to you over everything else. However, it really shouldn’t be the only reason why you’re purchasing it. As you’re looking for a pistol of your own, be sure to take a look at the overall quality and performance. This is where you’ll need to do some due diligence through some of the gun forums online to see what people are saying about the AR-15 pistol you’re interested in.

Conclusion

The best AR-15 pistol is out there. And all it takes is a little time and determining whether or not it’s worth your hard earned money. No matter what the application, there is nothing more satisfying than using a pistol that has the ability to fire like a semi-automatic rifle.

While there are some legal questions that surround these types of firearm, they are still as popular and enjoyable by all kinds of shooters. If you want to know what the excitement is all about with these, get one of your own. 

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