What Is An AR-15 Style Pistol? History, Use Cases, Benefits

The nimble AR-15 pistol is a smaller version of the normal AR-15. It boasts a similar potency as its big brother but in a rather unorthodox design. While it still has the same parts as a normal AR-15, like an upper and lower receiver and a handguard, it does have its differences.

Since arriving on the scene in the early 2000s, brands like PSA and Daniel Defense have mass-produced this style of AR-15 weapon, all to appeal to the AR-15 community.

It quickly rose in popularity because of its effectiveness and benefits in certain applications (home defense and vehicle carry). And, given the modularity of the AR-15, users could modify this little AR-15 to cater exactly to their needs and improve its performance. Overall, the AR-15 pistol is a welcome addition to the AR-15 world.

AR15 Pistol

What Is The Definition Of An AR-15 Pistol?

AR pistols are essentially a shortened version of the popular AR-15 rifle. It operates on the same mechanism but is a short-barreled rifle instead of the longer barrel length we see with typical AR-15 rifles.

AR pistols more or less have the same main parts as a normal AR-15 but often lack a traditional stock, instead featuring a pistol brace or even leaving the pistol buffer tube exposed.

Not all AR-15 pistols are exactly the same. Below are the main types of AR15 pistol style firearms that shoots commonly use.

AR-15 Pistol Type Description
Standard AR-15 Pistols Basic AR-15 pistol configurations with a short barrel, lacking a stock, and often featuring a stabilizing brace for improved handling.
PDW-style AR-15 Pistols Compact AR-15 pistols designed with features common to Personal Defense Weapons (PDWs), including short barrels and folding or collapsible braces.
AR-15 Pistols in Different Calibers AR-15 pistols chambered in various calibers beyond the standard .223/5.56mm, such as 9mm, .300 Blackout, and 6.5mm Grendel.
AR-15 Pistol Caliber Carbines (PCC) AR-15 pistols designed to chamber pistol cartridges like 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP, often referred to as pistol caliber carbines (PCC).
Custom and Specialty Builds AR-15 pistols customized by enthusiasts with various components to meet specific preferences and requirements.
Competition-oriented AR-15 Pistols AR-15 pistols optimized for competitive shooting events, featuring specialized enhancements like improved triggers and compensators.

What Are The Main Parts Of An AR-15 Pistol?

There are five main parts of an AR-15 pistol.

  1. Barrel: As mentioned, it is a short barrel, much shorter than a traditional AR-15 rifle.
  2. Upper and Lower Receiver: Two vital components in any AR-15 – house the firing components and connect the barrel, handguard, and buffer assembly.
  3. Handguard: Protects your hand from the heat of the barrel and also acts as a mounting surface for accessories like red dot sights and flashlights.
  4. Buffer Assembly: Comprising the buffer tube, buffer, and buffer spring.
  5. Pistol Brace: Used instead of a traditional stock.

When Were AR-15 Pistols Invented?

While it is unclear when exactly AR-15 pistols were invented, we know they rose in popularity in the early 2000s. Their popularity was due to an alternative to the cumbersome traditional AR-15, allowing users to have a compact AR-15 platform without navigating the regulatory maze associated with machine guns, short-barreled rifles, and the 1934 National Firearms Act.

Which Brand Invented AR-15 Pistols?

The brand that invented AR-15 pistols remains a mystery. It is very hard to pinpoint who exactly invented the AR-15 pistol as all of the popular brands like Daniel Defense, Diamondback, PSA, and more began producing them at more or less the same time.

AR15 pistol history

All these manufacturers saw the immense potential in these AR variations and began producing their own versions.

What Is The Most Prominent AR-15 Pistol Manufacturing Brand?

PSA is the most prominent AR-15 pistol manufacturing brand. However, Daniel Defense and SIG Sauer, to name a few, are tight on their heels.

What Are The Primary Use Cases For AR-15 Pistols?

There are four primary use cases for this short-barrel rifle, including home defense, sport shooting, hunting, and vehicle carry.

Its compact size makes it ideal for home defense, as it has great maneuverability in tight spaces. Furthermore, it is popular in competitive shooting events due to its portability and rapid-fire capability, making it a great unorthodox shooting event.

Additionally, AR-15 pistols are ideal for hunting small to medium game, given you have the right ammunition. Finally, the short rifle barrel makes it easier to transport, allowing it to be a great vehicle carry weapon.

What Are The Benefits Of Using An AR-15 Handgun?

When I think of my own AR pistol, the three main benefits below come to mind.

  • Versatility: Like its bigger brother, AR-15 pistols also have great modularity, which means you can customize them extensively.
  • Maneuverability: The shorter barrel and compact size make it perfect for tight spaces.
  • Ammo Compatibility: Often uses the same ammunition as AR rifle calibers, but you can also modify it to shoot a pistol caliber round.

What Are The Downsides Of Using An AR-15 Handgun?

An AR-15 pistol has three downsides: limited range, noise, and regulation. When you make the barrel shorter, it reduces the weapon’s accuracy at longer distances. I mean, have you ever seen someone accurately killing a deer at 400 yards with a short-barreled hunting rifle?

Additionally, weapons with a short barrel length are louder than their full-sized rifle counterparts. Finally, regulation can be a headache in certain states because of its unique design, so always double-check your state’s jurisdiction and firearm laws.

However, they can last for a long time if maintained properly. Be sure to check out how to disassemble AR-15 properly to learn to clean your firearm correctly.

How Can You Improve The Performance Of AR-15 Pistols?

You can improve the performance of your AR-15 pistol by modifying it with accessories or better-quality parts. Performance-enhancing AR-15 modifications include upgrading your barrel, trigger system, adding a vertical fore grip for better control over recoil, or adding a high-quality optic. The tricky part is to decide which AR-15 modification you should do first.

Which AR-15 Modification Should You Do First?

The first AR-15 modification you should do is add a red dot sight or another type of scope to your AR-15. We at HuntersHalt always recommend modifying your aiming platform first, and then, you can go into the intricate stuff like trigger systems, barrels, and handguards.

The reason is when you add a scope to your AR-15, such as an AR-15 red dot sight, it greatly improves your accuracy and, in the process, also improves your shooting experience.

Should You Use A Red Dot Or Scope On Your AR15 Handgun?

You should use a red dot scope on your AR-15 handgun. When deciding between a red dot vs scope on AR-15, think of your shooting application. The majority of the time, you’ll use your AR-15 handgun in short-range scenarios – this is where red dot sights excel. At these ranges, red dots improve the target acquisition rate, which is crucial when faced with a life-or-death scenario.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Legal Considerations For AR-15 Handguns

Yes, AR-15 handguns have legal considerations. They should adhere to a minimum legal length for their barrel, and the rest of the design should also comply with your local laws.

Is An AR Pistol Considered A Handgun?

Legally, an AR-15 pistol is considered a handgun. But it does have some specific rules and regulations different from traditional pistols.

How Much Do AR Handguns Cost On Average?

AR handguns cost, on average, $700. Budget-friendly options can cost as little as $500, while top-tier options can set you back $2,000.

The Bottom Line

The AR-15 pistol offers the versatility of a normal AR-15 but in a compact form factor. Whether for home defense, sport, hunting, or recreation, it’s an exciting addition to the firearms market. However, always ensure you adhere to legal considerations and that you’re compliant with local laws. Ultimately, an AR-15 handgun is an incredibly fun yet deadly addition to your firearm arsenal.

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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