Yes, they do exist, and they’re better than you think.
The history of the AR-15 pistol hasn’t been paved with gold. From non-flattering reviews, jabs at its practicality, and inevitable comparison to its rifle counterpart, it wouldn’t be surprising if you asked a friend about one and only got a “huh?” in response.
This view on the firearm isn’t without its reasons. At a glance it seems that the disadvantages outweigh the positives by a longshot. Less accuracy, less power, a blocky build, and an undesirable amount of recoil are all enough to make anyone wonder why they wouldn’t just want to buy a rifle. But all of that is surface level. The real value of an AR-15 pistol isn’t in what It seems to be; it’s in what you can turn it into.
As one of the most customizable firearms out there, you can turn it into just about anything you want.
Here are the best AR-15 Pistols:
Are you looking for something reliable, accurate, and all-around practical? If so, you may just want to scroll past this entry. If you’re looking for something fun, cool, and unique take that’s different from everything else on this list? In that case, you may have found your weapon.
Putting a bird’s head grip on an AR-15 pistol is choice strange enough to give anyone pause. The accuracy suffers, its unwieldy, and shooting it is a whole new challenge, but don’t let that deter you from how absolutely wild this pistol looks. The bird’s head grip and the streamlined design makes it look like someone made this out of a box of unrelated parts, and that makes it the kind of pistol that wouldn’t look out of place in the slums of a sci-fi city or the wastelands of the post-apocalypse.
It may not have a place in objective use, but as a conversation piece or a collector’s item this build fits right in.
The barrel length is 7.25 inches, adding up to a total length of 20.25 inches, and at 3.9 lbs. it’s almost the lightest pistol on the list.
It doesn’t come with a stabilizing brace on account of the grip, which is going to make the recoil even more extreme, but this is the kind of pistol that doesn’t need any more accessories. If it was a bit more practical this pistol would be much higher up, but as it is this weapon gets in on the merits of its looks alone.
You could customize it further, it’s got plenty of room for more accessories, but without changing the grip then they might just make it even more unwieldy. However, a different grip will take away a lot of what gives this pistol its charm.
The first thing that might come to mind when you see this pistol is “condensed AK-47.” The grip, the magazine, and the barrel are all reminiscent of its famous ancestor. If you’re a fan of that you’ll probably think this pistol looks awesome. If you aren’t, then this is one ugly gun.
Century Arms’ Draco AK Pistol comes in three sizes depending on the barrel length. There’s a 12.25 inch that totals up to 21.5 inches and 5.5 lbs., and then there’s a build with a 7.25-inch barrel, and there’s an even smaller Micro Draco gun with a 6.25-inch barrel. Regardless of the size, this pistol is anything but tactical.
The grip is made of cheap plastic, it looks unfinished without a stabilizing brace, and it’s clearly designed with more accessories in mind. Modifying this pistol is probably going to be more satisfying than any other pistol on this list, as all the unique AK upgrades you can hook up to it gives it even more customization options, but it may turn this visually unappealing pistol into a visually ridiculous one as well. The incredible muzzle flash and sound that comes out of this pistol are enough questionable quality, but it does give more character to it if nothing else. If all that’s what you’re looking for, then look no further.
That’s not to say that this pistol should be judged off of its aesthetics alone, far from it. This pistol is accurate, has high-capacity, and packs a punch. If you find the time to fit it with a proper stabilizing brace, this is a powerful and reliable firearm that’ll make you feel invincible if you’re sitting in the same room with it.
The Micro Draco build is your best buy for home defense, but if you’re looking for something you can customize and turn into something wildly unique, then the bigger the better.
Another build in the style of the AK-47, but this one comes looking sleek and stylish as soon as you get your hands on it. It still isn’t the prettiest, but its sturdy and streamlined design does make it one of the coolest.
This pistol is just a touch shorter than the largest Draco build, with a 10.5 inch long barrel and a total length of 20 inches, but the bells and whistles it comes pre-equipped with bumps the weight up to 8 lbs.
If you’re looking for a pistol and you love the AK-47, this is your best friend that, while still expensive, won’t cost an outrageous amount of money. It’s reliable and devastatingly accurate due to Steyr’s hand in this build, but just like any pistol it’s not good for much at long-range. Its four-groove rifling helps with the heavier ammunition this pistol is capable of firing, but its effectiveness still caps out at around 20 yards.
But after all, this pistol isn’t built with long-range in mind, and the accuracy it provides close up more than makes up for up. Even without a stabilizing brace, this pistol’s efficient assembly, front-sight, and flash suppressor makes it practical and controllable. The suppressor doesn’t do much to handle the light and noise, and just because its manageable doesn’t mean its elegant, but all of its bombastic qualities just make an already scary firearm into an even scarier one.
With the price tag already being as high as it is, customizing this will get expensive fast, but if you’re looking for an effective pistol fast then you won’t need to put anything else on it. This pistol is already suited up and ready to take on anything in its way.
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It’s not the greatest firearm on the market, and the cheap price reflects that. If you’re looking for something affordable, however, this is the pistol for you.
At around half the average price of an AR-15 pistol, and the added bonus of Palmetto State Armory’s outstanding customer service, this is the perfect firearm for anyone looking for a reliable home defense weapon, or for someone who’s just looking in to AR-15 weapons.
This pistol has a barrel length of 10.5 inches, totaling up to a length of 26.5 inches altogether, and a modest weight of 4.5 lbs. This makes it the most average pistol on this list, as it doesn’t excel in any specific area but it doesn’t fall flat in any either.
This build also has a Nitride lined barrel, making it more durable and accurate than chrome-lined counterparts, and is equipped with a 1 in 7 twist to boost that accuracy even higher. The stabilizing brace is an SB Tactical pistol brace, and has a standard Magpul MOE grip.
Its aesthetics are nothing to write home about either. It has a basic design with the necessities and nothing else. You won’t find anything too exciting about this build. It doesn’t have the flair, the style, or the sleek build as some of the more expensive items on this list, but that’s why it’s not one of the expensive items.
Of course, its simplicity is exactly what makes it a perfect starter pistol. If you’re looking for a pistol that you can buy now and customize later, then this pistol is the way to go.
Our guide to the top .22 pistols offers more quality firearms like this. Check them out.
Are you a fan of Diamondback Firearms’ AR-15 rifle, but you’re in the market for something smaller? This pistol variant has everything you need you need. Diamondback Firearms has done amazing work with this pistol, all while keeping the positives of its rifle counterpart and keeping the price at a manageable number. It may not have the power of other items on this list, and it doesn’t have the aesthetical flair of other builds, but for a compact weapon with an excellent price you can’t really get any better than this.
The barrel length is a simple 7.5 inches, and that only adds up to a measly total length of 16 inches. At that small size and a weight of just 3.5 lbs., this pistol is both the smallest and lightest on the list. With the barrel still being an intricate piece of equipment, it’s still not small nearly small enough to be inconspicuous, but does it make for one of the most maneuverable AR-15 pistols you can get.
Putting a brace on this pistol will bump up the weight and length a bit, but this is also one of the few AR-15 pistols that don’t need a stabilizing brace to be effective. Most of the cost of this firearm goes into the front end, which gives it a distinct look and an effective flash suppressor, but its real value comes in still being cheap enough for you to get your own modifications to add to it.
This pistol is a pretty effective set-up as it is, and it works beautifully for the cost. If you’re looking into building your own AR-15 pistol, then this also works as a great place to start.
Here are some of the top-rated 9mm pistols and handguns, as well. Don’t miss them.
This pistol makes top 3 on the list by virtue of being the absolute best you can buy on a budget. There are plenty of cheaper AR-15 pistols, but none are as reliable as this one. You’re getting exactly what you pay for, and that’s a fantastic pistol at an even better price.
The barrel is 10.5 inches long, and paired with the rest of the pistol and the stabilizing brace it totals up to 27.9 inches and 6.2 lbs. It’s got plenty of length, and that’s what makes it excellent. Despite its size, it’s still a pistol and functions just how you’d expect. It’s maneuverable, efficient, and its length means that its both usable at range and there’s plenty of room for modifications to make it even more effective.
It’s comfortable to hold, and if you want it to be even more comfortable its cheap enough to not feel guilty buying an extra accessory for it. You may not end up needing one at all, however, as the brace has an adjustable length that turns this pistol into a one size fits all. If a stabilizing brace isn’t your style, then it works just as well without it.
The rifling on this weapon helps make it one of the most precise on the list, and keeps this pistol in excellent condition. If you add a red dot or a scope to it, it gets even more accurate.
As a sporting pistol, a home defense weapon, or just a starter firearm, you’re getting a pistol worth far more than the price that Ruger is offering it for. Cheaper AR-15 pistols have their own merits, but the Ruger AR-556 pistol is pretty hard to beat when you can order such an excellent pistol on a reasonable budget.
Compared to all the other pistols on this list, the first thing you’ll notice here is that this pistol isn’t cheap. Nor should it be. Daniel Defense makes some of the best firearms in the world, and with this they’ve transformed their Daniel Defense V7, voted Rifle of the Year, into the top contender for the best AR-15 pistol on the market. If you have this, you’re safe. The only problem with it is the price, because everything else might as well be flawless.
It teeters on the line between a practical weapon and a collector’s item. Make no mistake, this is a premium pistol and the price reflects that, but that price also reflects the unbelievable amount of quality that’s been poured into this weapon.
With a 10.3 inch long barrel, a total length of 28.4 inches, and a weight of 5.44 lbs., this is a big pistol. As expected of Daniel Defense, they manage to make this work regardless. There’s so much room for customization on this pistol that no matter how many extra accessories you want there’s bound to be space for it.
With a folding brace, a tactical rail, and all the mounting points you’ll need, the opportunities to turn this firearm into your dream pistol are limitless. A red dot alone is already enough to make this into a weapon to be feared by all.
That’s only for those or are willing to go the extra mile to get accessories for this beautiful monster, as the price is going to climb fast. It’s a good thing that with all the quality parts that went into building this pistol, it comes without needing anything else to be worth the price. If you’re willing to go the distance to make your home safe, then this is the absolute best pistol. A premium price means a premium weapon, and this is one that will never let you down, just like some of these top-rated .380 pistols.
If you’re not willing to go the distance, a perfectly reasonable response when “the distance” is that much money, but you still have a loose enough budget, then the Springfield Armory Saint pistol is all you’ll ever need. There’s a reason it has the top spot here.
Along with having an affordable price, this is one of the most beautiful looking weapons on the list. It has a polished, stylish design that isn’t just for looks, and without a doubt it makes the best transition from AR-15 rifle into AR-15 pistol.
With a 7.5 inch long barrel, a 26.5 inch total length, and a weight of 5.8 lbs., it’s only barely the shortest of the top 3 pistols, but the ability to pack so much quality into a frame this size is nothing short of miraculous. Pair it with the fact that it’s being sold for an affordable price, and that’s what makes this build so desirable.
This pistol comes equipped with an SB Tactical SBX-K brace, a 1:7 twist in the stainless-steel barrel, which is treated with Melonite, and while it isn’t designed for long-range it also doesn’t shy away from it. This pistol is insanely accurate even up to 100 yards thanks to all the work put into it, and with the maneuverability of an AR-15 pistol that makes it effective in just about any situation.
You’ll notice that it doesn’t quite have the options that the Daniel Defense DDM4 has, which is expected considering that this is half the price, but just like number 2 on this list it doesn’t need anything else. The Springfield Armory Saint pistol is a basic build that has been refined and perfected. This a durable, accurate, reliable weapon that’ll act as the both your favorite pistol and the only one you’ll ever need.
You’ll hear nothing but outstanding things about this pistol, and all that praise just comes from what you pay for. No extra accessories, no customization. You can add more to it, but with the quality you’ll be getting you’ll struggle to find ways to improve upon it.
What makes it a pistol?
The AR-15 pistol carries the same name as its rifle variant and uses the same ammunition, so what makes it unique and, more importantly, why is it a better choice? The differences of the AR-15 pistol all seem only minor to adequate at first, but all those small changes add up to create a firearm in its own league.
The most major difference here is that the AR-15 pistol does not have a stock. Instead, you’ll be using a stabilizing brace to shoulder this weapon. Giving it a stock would change the pistol’s classification to Short Barreled Rifle, and those require a $200 fee and registration. A vertical forward grip could lead to the same problem, so you won’t see any of those either.
Another key difference is the size of it. One of the undisputed advantages that an AR-15 pistol has is its maneuverability and use in close range. These builds have short barrels, sometimes shorter than 8 inches, and this gives them a clear leg-up on their rifle versions. They still aren’t inconspicuous, however. AR-15 pistols are bulky and come with obvious protrusions, but that’s all for the sake of keeping its power only a bit below the rifle.
This is another difference that the pistol has to distinguish itself, even if it can be a hassle to keep track of. Despite all the accessories, the AR-15 pistol is still a pistol, and falls under that definition for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This means that it does not have a stock, which is usually replaced by that stabilizing brace, and must have a barrel under 16 inches in length.
However, with how customizable the model is, you’re bound to run into some murky waters. Some accessories may push the boundaries of legality, or be outright illegal in your area. Laws differ from place to place, and you should always double-check before you commit to a purchase or make any modifications to your pistol.
This is just a short answer. For more detailed information on pistols and other firearms, check the official ATF website.
Part of the charm and the fun that comes out of AR-15 pistols is the fact that you can build from the ground up, or you can buy a pre-made one and add your own flair to it. With the excessive amount of customization options that are open to you right away, paired with the limitless resources that the internet provides today, your very own AR-15 pistol is held back only by your imagination.
The caliber you’re using, the length of your barrel, and the brace or lack of a brace will be the deciding factor in how the pistol functions at the end of the day, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The size of your magazine, the rail, the mounting points, and optics are all secondary and open up a whole new path to go down while putting your dream pistol together. Lots of research, and even more money, will have to go into an ambitious build project, but that’s what separates the AR-15 pistols from everything else on the market.
These eight fantastic pre-made weapons are all made with customization in mind. If you took a look at one of them and thought to yourself “this would be the perfect pistol for me if it had…” then don’t let that stop you. The ultimate pistol for hunting, defense, or sport is usually just one extra part or one swap away, and everyone’s looks different. AR-15 pistols are the ultimate customization hobby for someone looking to make their own unique firearm, or just to make one that they’re comfortable with like no other.
If pre-made pistols aren’t for you, none of these looked appealing to you, or you’ve never heard of an AR-15 pistol before and now you’re eager to tackle it, then you’re on the right track. With enough fine attention to detail and a unique spin on this market, your own custom AR-15 pistol could end up being worthy of a number 1 prize too.