Yeah, this seems to be what the industry is quietly moving towards as the next area that they want to focus on. By affordable ARs, I really mean entry level ARs or perhaps you could even say “sport” ARs. These are guns with MSRPs in the $700 – $800 range and a real world retail price in the $500 – $700 range. These guns are being brought to the market place in an effort to focus on a consumer who would never be anything more then a casual AR owner… Its a gun for the hobbyist and at a hobbyist price.
The major firearms companies seem to be making a shift towards focusing on cost cutting efforts that will allow them to bring ARs into the market place at much lower price points. These guns are not your standard Mil-Spec ARs. Many of these models are lacking standard AR features that can run up manufacturing costs. Features like the dust cover, forward assist, shell deflector, chrome lined barrel, carry handle/rear sight/front sight, and they often have light contour barrels.
For the casual gun owner that just wants something to pull out of the closet a couple of times a year to go punch holes in paper, this might be a great way to get into the AR game… So, lets take a look at some of the choices that are out there in the category.
DPMS offers several choices in this area which include their Sportical, Oracle, and their Lo-Pro Classic model. Each has a $700 – $750 MSRP and the Oracle can even be had in A-TACS camo with an MSRP of $809. These models can be found at many online retailers starting at $575.
Smith & Wesson
S&W’s offering into this category is the M&P Sport which has an MSRP of $709. It is a relatively recent addition to this category and has been getting very good reviews. It comes with a lifetime warranty, and a full set of iron sights are also included with this model. With a little searching, this rifle can be purchased online for approximately $600, and has been seen in big box retailers being sold on promo for as low as $500.
Bushmaster has been in this game for a while, and has several variants of their Carbon 15 model to choose from. Both their Model 4 and their Flat Top Carbine carry a $900 MSRP. Their Red Dot variant includes a forward assist, dust cover, and an entry level Bushnell red dot sight. All can be found online for under $700.
Mossberg became the newest entry into the low cost AR game with the recent introduction of their MMR (Modern Mossberg Rifle). Offering both tactical and hunter models, the MSRP of these rifles range from $885 – $921 depending on model/features. Since these are brand new to the market we have yet to see what real world pricing will be, but you can look for their no sights tactical model to squeak into this category and be under $700.