5 Best AR-15 Pistols: Hands On-Reviews & Rankings

AR-15 Foregrips

The AR15 pistol – a smaller, more agile version of the traditional AR-15 – is an ideal firearm option for those who want versatility and performance in a smaller size. There are a range of models out there, offering something for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

We went out to find the best of the best, putting each AR15 pistol through various tests. In the end, we concluded the CZ-USA BREN 2 MS 5.56 AR pistol to be the best, offering a perfect balance between performance and value.

What Is An AR-15 Pistol?

An AR-15 pistol is a compact version of the AR-15 rifle. You can fire an AR-15 pistol with one hand, although you get better control when using two hands.

Basically, an AR-15 pistol is a mini version of the traditional AR-15. You get all of the features and modularity of a normal AR-15 but in a smaller, more maneuverable package, making it an attractive option to anyone who wants a compact weapon.

Who Should Buy An AR Pistol?

Anyone who needs a reliable home defense weapon can use an AR-15 pistol. In particular, it works great as a car and truck gun because of its compact size. However, many sports shooters and hunters also use an AR pistol because of its versatility.

5 Best AR15 Pistols

After rigorous testing, we concluded that these are the best AR15 pistols currently available:

  3. PSA 10.5″ CARBINE-LENGTH 5.56


Editor’s Pick

The CZ-USA BREN 2 MS is the best AR pistol we tested. It stands out with its 5.562-lb lightweight yet robust design. The engineers at CZ significantly reduced its weight – featuring an aluminum receiver and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer frame.

I also enjoy the ambidextrous manual safety and magazine release, allowing for greater versatility in tactical situations. It has a barrel length of 11.14″, which is fairly long considering it is a pistol AR-15. But that just means it prioritizes long-range performance as well.

Overall, the CZ-USA BREN 2 MS excels in the areas where an AR pistol caliber should – tight spaces. It’s nimble, lightweight, and gives an amazing adrenaline rush.


  • Lightweight and robust design.
  • Ambidextrous controls for ease of use.
  • Customizable with a modular forend.


  • Not aesthetically pleasing.
  • Expensive – $1,822.28


Best Compact AR-15 Pistol

PSA has always been a pillar in the rifle and AR sector. The PSA JAKL is one of their best AR pistols, boasting a unique long-stroke gas piston system, which provides exceptional reliability and durability.

I’m quite a fan of their monolithic receiver, enhancing the AR pistol’s structural integrity. Plus, the toolless 4-position gas block adds to the user-friendliness of this weapon, allowing for easy adjustments.

If you want an extremely compact AR-15 pistol, this is the one to get. The JAKL’s 10.5″ barrel, ambidextrous side charging handle, and absence of a pistol brace highlight its compact and versatile design even more.


  • Durable long-stroke gas piston system.
  • Affordable – $999.99
  • Ambidextrous and compact design.
  • Easy adjustments with a toolless gas block.


  • Absence of pistol brace can be a downside for some

3. PSA 10.5″ CARBINE-LENGTH 5.56

Most Durable AR-15 Pistol

This model is a testament to PSA’s commitment to quality and affordability. The 4150V chrome-moly steel barrel ensures accuracy and durability, while the nitride treatment adds to its longevity.

It has a faster twist rate of 1 in 7″, which makes it ideal for heavier bullets – if you want to add some punch to your AR-15 pistol. I also quite enjoyed the tactical efficiency of the PSA 10.5″, boasting a lightweight M-LOK rail and full-auto profile bolt carrier group.

Plus, the inclusion of an SB Tactical SBA3 adjustable pistol brace enhances its functionality. The PSA 10.5″ is best for those who want to prioritize tactical efficiency in rifle calibers.


  • High-quality barrel and bolt carrier group.
  • Affordable without compromising on quality.
  • Includes an adjustable pistol brace.


  • A bit bulky


Best Hunting AR-15 Pistol

Sig Sauer – a venerable brand always mentioned in the same sentence as quality self and home-defense firearms. Well, the MCX is a product of their continuous innovation. It features a lightened handguard and a profile barrel for improved accuracy.

It has a beautiful AR-15 pistol, thanks to its coyote cerakote finish. The MCX has a longer barrel of 11.5″ and a magazine capacity of 30 rounds.

I was quite impressed by how much this AR-15 pistol prioritizes precision and ergonomics – something we don’t often see in the AR pistol format. Therefore, the MCX is ideal for longer-range shooting scenarios that still require the maneuverability and compactness of the pistol AR platform, such as hunting and trekking.


  • Innovative design with improved accuracy.
  • Fully ambidextrous controls.
  • Durable and aesthetically pleasing finish.


  • Very expensive – $2,499.99


Budget-Friendly AR-15 Pistol

Diamondback Firearms is another established brand in the AR-15 pistol category. The DB15 is an AR-15 pistol that prioritizes aesthetic appeal thanks to its midnight bronze finish. But the finish is not just about looks; it adds to the rifle’s resilience, ensuring longevity.

Its modular rail system and optics-ready platform make it a great option for those who want to mount a red dot sight or other accessories on their weapon. When I tested the DB15, the smooth trigger action and reduced recoil stood out for me. It just adds to the user-friendliness of the DB15, allowing more inexperienced shooters to also enjoy the weapon.


  • Excellent accuracy and ergonomic design.
  • Affordable – $710
  • Customizable with a modular rail system.
  • Optics-ready platform for easy sight installation.


  • The specific finish might not appeal to all users.

What Makes A Great AR Pistol?

There are five main determinants of the quality of an AR pistol, including reliability, accuracy, weight, modularity, and value. The best models balance a shorter barrel length with effective firing capability. They also offer adaptability and customization to various accessories, such as different and same magazines, vertical grips, and more.

But, most importantly, the AR pistol should offer immense value. Its price should be within bounds of its competitors, all while offering a range of features to ensure it can perform in its respective application and use case.

How Important Is Use Case For Picking AR Pistols?

When picking an AR pistol, your use case is crucial. Remember, not all AR pistols are designed for the same application. For instance, a model ideal for home defense will have a shorter barrel and a lighter weight than a hunting AR pistol.

Ultimately, when choosing your AR pistol based on your use case, look at factors like barrel length, caliber weight, and how easy it is to mount accessories.

Which AR Pistol Is The Best For Hunters?

For hunters, the best AR pistol is the SIG SAUER MCX Spear. Its accuracy, lightweight design, and capacity to adapt to various environments make it an excellent choice for hunting.

Which AR Pistol Is The Best For Self-Defense?

The CZ-USA BREN 2 MS is the best self-defense AR pistol. The AR pistol’s compact size, reliable firing mechanism, and ease of handling make it the best AR pistol for home and personal defense.

Which Is The Best Packable AR-15 Pistol?

The PSA JAKL is ideal for packing due to its compact size. It is small, has a short barrel length, and easily fits into a backpack, making it ideal for discrete transport.

What Is The Optimal Barrel Length For AR Pistols?

The optimal barrel length for AR pistols is 10.5 inches, although it depends on your use case. For hunters, I would go with a longer barrel length (10.5″+), while I recommend a barrel length of 10.5″ and lower for self-defense users.

Which Is The Best Short Barrel AR Pistol?

The best short-barrel AR pistol is the Diamondback Firearms DB15. It has a compact form yet doesn’t compromise on power and accuracy. It also offers a lot of mounting space, even though it has a short barrel.

Which Accessories Are Worth Mounting On Ar15 Pistols?

Accessories I always recommend to new AR15 pistol owners include a stabilizing brace (because it lacks a rifle stock), a vertical grip, and a better muzzle device. However, the most important accessory for me is an optical device like a red dot sight or AR15 scope – it’s vital for better accuracy and target acquisition.

Should You Use Red Dot Sight or Scope On AR Pistols?

Yes, you should use red dot sights or scopes on your AR pistols. Deciding which one, however, depends on your use case. AR-15 Red dot sights are perfect if you want to prioritize quick target acquisition at close range. While scopes are better suited for hunting or longer-range shooting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Legal Considerations For AR Pistols?

Yes, as per the National Firearms Act, AR pistols are subject to laws and regulations. Ensure you have all your documents in place with an appropriate tax stamp. And always check your local laws before purchasing or carrying an AR pistol.

What’s The Average Cost Of An AR-15 Pistol?

The average cost of an AR-15 pistol is around $1,400. However, it depends on the brand, model, and features. For instance, the Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW, with a 300 Blackout barrel chambered cartridge, costs $2,120. In comparison, the highly affordable DB15 from Diamondback Firearms only costs $710.

The Bottom Line

AR-15 pistols are versatile and powerful. Each of these AR15 pistols brings something unique to the table. Whether it’s precision with a longer barrel, control with a pistol brace and vertical foregrip, or agility with a compact design – there’s an option here catering to your needs.

Always remember when choosing an AR15 pistol to consider what features are most important to you, and remember the best firearm is one that suits your needs in terms of performance, comfort, and functionality.

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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