Want a short-barreled AR-15 but don’t want to pay the tax stamp for it?
We understand, which is why we’re going to introduce you to the wonderful world of AR pistols.
The National Firearms Act, commonly called the NFA, is the law that restricts much of what we’re allowed to own, including our beloved AR-15s. The AR pistol was created to be an alternative to an SBR while still staying on the right (and cheaper) side of the law.
We’re going to get into that more, as well as get a better understanding of what an AR pistol is, why you need one, and show you the best AR pistols available for a variety of budgets.
THE QUICK LIST
Table of Contents
Budget-Friendly AR Pistols: Quality Without Compromise
1. PSA 8.5” SOB Pistol
This Palmetto State Armory offering hits a sweet spot for those seeking reliable performance without breaking the bank.
The 8.5-inch barrel is an optimal length for maneuverability and balance, providing a compact size without sacrificing too much on velocity.
The pistol includes a brace, which is a substantial addition, allowing for better control and accuracy when shooting. Chambered in the ubiquitous 5.56 NATO, this pistol ensures you have access to affordable and readily available ammunition.
Additionally, the PSA 8.5″ SOB comes with a robust M-LOK handguard, offering ample space for accessories, and a monolithic top rail that’s perfect for optics – making this pistol not only budget-friendly but also highly customizable to suit any shooter’s preferences.
2. Radical Firearms 10.5″ Pistol
The Radical Firearms 10.5″ AR pistol is designed for those who value a bit more barrel in a compact platform.
Its extended barrel length over standard AR pistol sizes means improved ballistic performance and reduced muzzle blast, making it a more pleasant shooting experience overall.
This is a firearm that strikes an excellent balance, offering the agility required in tight spaces with the added benefit of a more traditional rifle’s range and accuracy. The handguard is designed for versatility, supporting both M-LOK and RF FGSA attachments, and the ergonomic round shape ensures comfort during extended shooting sessions.
Ideal for both new and seasoned shooters, this pistol stands out as a solid mid-budget choice that doesn’t compromise on quality or performance.
Mid-Tier AR Pistols: Superior Features at Great Value
3. TNW ASP Pistol
The TNW ASP Pistol deviates from the standard AR-15 platform by offering a blowback-operated 9mm option that’s as functional as it is innovative.
Taking commonly available Glock magazines, it appeals to those who prioritize interchangeability and ammo availability. The side charging handle adds to its unique operation, and the inclusion of a brace in the package means it’s ready for action right out of the box.
This pistol’s 10.25-inch barrel offers a longer sight radius for improved accuracy, and the lightweight design makes it an excellent choice for a versatile survival tool.
Its name, Aero Survival Pistol, encapsulates its role perfectly – a reliable companion for any unexpected situation.
4. Diamondback DB 15 Pistol
Diamondback’s DB 15 Pistol is engineered for enthusiasts who want a powerful, compact firearm with an aggressive edge. Its 7.5-inch barrel, outfitted with a flash suppressor, is designed to minimize muzzle flash, a common issue with shorter barrels firing rifle cartridges.
The handguard features integrated top and bottom rails, providing plenty of real estate for sights, lights, and other tactical accessories. While it comes without a brace, the soft foam covering on the buffer tube makes it comfortable for cheek weld, enhancing aim stability.
This pistol is an excellent choice for those who appreciate a loud and proud shooting experience and a platform that stands ready for customization.
5. FightLite Industries SCR Pistol
The FightLite Industries SCR Pistol stands apart with its distinctive design, shedding traditional AR-15 attributes for a more revolutionary appearance and ergonomic feel.
The Shockwave Raptor grip and lack of a buffer tube not only give it a unique silhouette akin to a modernized pirate’s firearm but also contribute to its exceptionally lightweight and nimble handling.
With a 7.25-inch barrel and an M-LOK rail system, it’s ready for the essentials but stands out more for its form factor than its accessory compatibility.
Weighing in at only 3.9 pounds, this pistol is ideal for those looking for an ultra-compact AR without the bulk, perfect for quick handling and easy transport.
Premium AR Pistols: When Only the Best Will Do
6. Daniel Defense DD MK 18 Pistol
The Daniel Defense DD MK18 Pistol is a pinnacle of AR pistol craftsmanship, mirroring the specifications of firearms used by elite military forces. Its 10.3-inch government profile barrel is crafted for precision and reliability under the most demanding conditions.
The MK18 comes with the option of a brace, which transforms it into an even more formidable weapon system. Its quad rail is a nod to classic preferences but is built to modern standards, providing a solid foundation for all tactical attachments.
The inclusion of a Daniel Defense 32-round magazine is a testament to its readiness for high-capacity scenarios. This pistol is for those who demand the best in terms of build quality, performance, and pedigree.
7. Bravo Company RECCE-11
The Bravo Company RECCE-11 KMR-A Pistol is an exceptional blend of size and performance, extending the barrel length to 11.5 inches for those who want a little more from their AR pistol.
This additional length grants the user increased velocity and range, pushing the envelope of what an AR pistol can do.
Outfitted with BCM’s high-quality Gunfighter gear, it includes a free-float handguard.
What’s an AR-15 Pistol?
It seems rather odd that the AR-15 could be a pistol. The AR in AR-15 stands for Armalite Rifle, after all. Most configurations have it firing a rifle round, and even the smallest ARs are much bigger than a pistol.
AR-15 pistol is a classification that exists due to some silly American gun laws and definitions. An AR pistol cannot have a stock but can have a bare and exposed buffer tube. Another no-no is a vertical grip, but an angled grip like the Magpul AFG is legal.
AR-15 pistols can have barrels as short as you want them to. Personally, I own an AR-15 pistol with a 7.5-inch barrel, and while it is ridiculous, it’s a lot of fun.
Over the last few years, the popularity of AR-15 pistols has grown significantly. This growth is mostly tied to the advent of stabilizing braces. Stabilizing braces turned a gaudy, heavy, and awkward gun into a stable, comfortable-to-shoot weapon.
Why Would I Want One?
Skip the red tape and long waits associated with the National Firearms Act. AR pistols offer a world of benefits – from home defense to legal concealed carry in certain states.
They’re the smart choice for firepower without the hassle.
AR pistols present a compelling alternative to SBRs, blending adaptability with legal simplicity. With the advent of innovative braces, the difference has become negligible. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a newcomer, our selection is tailored to help you make an informed, satisfying purchase.
Join the Discussion: Share Your AR Pistol Experiences! Own an AR pistol? We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and check out our reviews on the best AR pistol braces to enhance your firearm today.