One Gun to Rule Them All: The Best All-Purpose AR 15 Setups

Versatility is one of the things that makes the AR-15 such a versatile rifle. The AR-15 is easy to handle and operate in all its configurations. However, the berth of potential configurations enables you to get an AR-15 that’s exactly what you need.

Some shooters have needs that require a very specific AR-15 setup. However, I find that one of two configurations will cover all the bases for just about anybody:

  1. 16-inch configuration.
  2. 11.5-inch configuration.

Most people can settle on one of these two AR-15 variants because they’re efficient for just about anything a civilian would need to do with an AR-15. And these configurations can be acquired—purchased complete or built from parts—very cost efficiently.

I’ll talk a little more about why a 16-inch or 11.5-inch AR-15 will most likely work for you. Then I’ll outline some of the best complete rifles to buy and the best components to use if you’re going to build your own AR-15.

The Best AR-15 Variants: What Are The Best AR-15 Setups?

Let’s start with determining how long (or short) of a rifle you need. It pretty much comes down to one thing: are you going to use your rifle as a suppressor host?

There are plenty of good reasons to run a suppressor—like protecting your hearing if you need to use your rifle for self-defense.

But suppressors are kind of expensive. You may or may not have the budget for that. And, if you’re not going to run a suppressor, you may as well get the extra performance from a longer barrel.

If you can afford to run a suppressor, your rifle ends up being about the same overall length as a rifle with a longer barrel... But you have a suppressor. And you get as much ballistic performance as you can cram into that platform.

This is where someone busts in and says something about how you need the shortest rifle possible for clearing your house or whatever. But the reality is that you’re probably not going to clear your house or anyone else’s house, unless your job involves clearing buildings.

If you’re a regular civilian, and you need a house cleared for some reason, call the police. They’ll show up with a team of tactical pros and clear the heck out of that house.

TL;DR: a rifle with a 16-inch overall barrel length works great for civilian self-defense. But a shorter barrel is valuable if you’re going to attach a suppressor to your rifle. That’s why I’ve narrowed things down to a rifle with an 11.5 inch barrel or a barrel that’s 16-inches overall.

But there’s one other reason why these two barrel lengths are good choices: short barrel rifle tax stamps.

For you’re not going to put a suppressor on your rifle, a gun with a 16-inch barrel saves you a couple hundred bucks. And you can use a standard rifle stock, which also makes your rifle more affordable, because AR pistol braces are more expensive than standard stocks.

So using the 11.5 inch variant only if you’re going to run a suppressor is the most cost efficient way to get an AR-15 rifle that will do everything you need.

That’s it. Save yourself some money and stop obsessing over barrel lengths.

Onto the best complete AR-15 rifles and which parts will enable you to build the best all-purpose AR-15 your budget allows.

Top All-Purpose AR-15 Rifles on the Market Today

The Best All-Purpose AR-15 Rifles

There’s also a bonus benefit to opting for a 16-inch barrel: you have a LOT more options for complete rifles. Most manufacturers make a 16-inch AR-15 variant.

On the other hand, AR pistols and rifles with 11.5 inch barrels aren’t quite as popular or as common. If you’re after a really short rifle, you’ll most likely have to build your own gun or go with a 10.5 inch barrel.

I’ll cover all the parts for your home built rifle shortly. But, here are some excellent options for those who want to buy a complete rifle:

1. Radical Firearms, LLC. FR16-5.56SOC-15CR Rifle - Budget All-Purpose AR-15 setup

  • Model: Radical Firearms, LLC. FR16-5.56SOC-15CR Rifle
  • Barrel length: 16 inches
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 7 inches
  • Handguard attachment system: M-LOK
  • BCG finish: Black melonite

Radical Firearms makes really good budget rifles. We’ve had a whole bunch of them through the store. And there’s never been an issue. If you need a really affordable AR-15, the Radical Firearms, LLC. FR16-5.56SOC-15CR Rifle is for you.

The best part about this rifle is that it’s a budget rifle that delivers more than the bare minimum in terms of parts quality and ergonomics.

Most budget rifles are fitted with simple mil-spec parts.

This one comes with Mission First Tactical furniture. The pistol grip is FAR more comfortable than an A2 grip. The grip angle is more comfortable than the A2 grip angle. And the grip texture is both more comfortable and more effective.

Additionally, the stock is lighter and more comfortable than a mil-spec M4 stock. It has a rubber recoil pad. And the but plate is angled at the toe to make presenting your rifle from the ready more efficient.

Then, the bolt carrier group is finished in black melonite to make your rifle’s action smoother, more reliable, and easier to clean.

Overall, for the absolute minimum price, you get this Radical Firearms rifle that performs far better than most budget rifles.


2. Ruger AR-556 Semi-Auto Rifle - Value AR-15 Setup

  • Model: Ruger AR-556 Semi-Auto Rifle
  • Barrel length: 16.1 inches
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 7 inches
  • Handguard attachment system: M-LOK
  • BCG finish: Black melonite

The Ruger AR-556 Semi-Auto Rifle is easily one of the best AR-15 rifles that you can get for the money. There is one small downside to using this rifle. Even so, the price and performance you get from this rifle are really hard to beat.

The biggest benefit of this rifle is the durability. Several parts—such as the gas block and barrel nut—are far beefier than standard mil-spec equipment. You won’t have any issues with failing parts on this rifle.

Additionally, the pistol grip is far better than a standard A2 pistol grip. The grip angle is more comfortable. The grip texture is better. And the beavertail aligns your trigger finger with the trigger.

The only downside to the beefier construction is that you may need to get additional parts if you want to upgrade your rifle. Not everything on this rifle is compatible with standard mil-spec hardware.

However, that’s not an issue if you plan on using this rifle in its default configuration.

If you’re looking for a super durable, super affordable all-purpose AR-15, this Ruger model is the best option.


  • Model: PSA PA-15 16” Nitride M4 Carbine 5.56 NATO Classic AR-15 Rifle
  • Barrel length: 13.5 inches
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 7 inches
  • Handguard attachment system: M-LOK
  • BCG finish: Chrome phosphate

Most rifles use a 16-inch barrel, then add a muzzle device. The end result is a rifle with a barrel that’s around 18 inches long overall. The PSA PA-15 16” Nitride M4 Carbine 5.56 NATO Classic AR-15 Rifle uses a slightly shorter barrel. That way the overall length is as short as possible.

There is one caveat that I always mention with PSA rifles, though: you should do a thorough inspection on the rifle, or have a gunsmith check it, before you fire this rifle.

Sometimes, PSA rifles ship with assembly mistakes. If you find a mistake and correct it before you fire the gun, there’s no problem. If you fire the gun when it’s incorrectly assembled, you could damage otherwise good components. Check this gun before firing.

However, if everything is good to go, this AR-15 is an outstanding value. The black nitride finish on the barrel is better than the standard mil-spec finish.

The handguard is FAR better than the traditional A2 handguard. It’s both more comfortable and more modern, with M-LOK slots all over the place for adding your favorite forend attachments.

And the barrel is only 13.5 inches. That way the overall length is almost exactly 16 inches. That way you don’t need an SBR tax stamp. But your rifle is as maneuverable as possible.

The only bummer about this is that they have to pin and weld the muzzle device. If you need to replace the gas block or take the barrel nut off, you have to unweld and unpin the muzzle device, which can be a pain. And you may end up destroying the muzzle device.

But, most shooters won’t have to mess with this. Overall, this PSA model offers a whole lot of performance in the most compact package possible.

Also, if you’d rather not have a pinned and welded muzzle device, you can get the 16-inch model: PSA 16” Mid-Length 5.56 NATO.


4. Savage MSR15 Recon Semi-Auto Rifle - High-Precision All-Purpose AR-15 Setup

  • Model: Savage MSR15 Recon Semi-Auto Rifle
  • Barrel length: 16.12 inches
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches
  • Handguard attachment system: M-LOK
  • BCG finish: Melonite QPQ

Just because it’s an all-purpose rifle doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t have some long range capabilities. You’ll have a 16-inch barrel, after all. The Savage MSR15 Recon Semi-Auto Rifle has quite a few features that make it easy to hit precision shots, without giving up versatility.

Savage is known for producing precision bolt-action rifles. So they’ve included a lot of precision shooting features in their modern sporting rifle (MSR).

The big deals with this rifle are the trigger and the barrel.

First, the trigger is a Blackhawk nickel boron trigger. The nickel boron trigger is very smooth, with an impressively crisp break. And the breaks at around 5.5 pounds. The trigger makes it super easy to press your trigger without disturbing your point of aim.

Then, the barrel will sling bullets as precisely as possible.

The barrel has a 223 Wylde chamberIt’s a slightly tighter chamber that produces better precision than the traditional 5.56mm chamber, without causing any reliability or ammunition compatibility issues.

The only thing to watch out for with the 223 Wylde chamber is that you may want to be a little more mindful of how clean you keep your rifle’s chamber. There’s less room for debris inside a 223 Wylde chamber.

Additionally, the barrel is cut with 5R rifling, which produces excellent bullet stability. The rifling also helps minimize bullet deformation. So you get the best precision and velocity possible.

All the other aspects of this Savage rifle are just about the same as you’d find on a standard AR-15 rifle. That way you can put this rifle to use any defensive context. But you’ll get outstanding precision at long range, if you want to push your shots a bit further.


Components for the Best All-Purpose AR-15 Setup

Those complete rifles are all 16-inch variants. If you want an 11.5 inch barrel, you’ll most likely need to put your rifle together yourself. Also, there’s nothing wrong with building your own rifle, even if you’re using a 16-inch barrel. Building AR-15’s is cool.

One more thing: some people say that a 12.5-inch barrel or a 10.5 inch barrel is better than an 11.5. But 11.5 is a good middle ground between muzzle velocity and compactness.

But, if you insist on going with a 10.5 or 12.5-inch barrel, I recommend going with the 12.5-inch model. An extra inch isn’t going to cause any massive maneuverability issues. And a 12.5-inch barrel pretty easily hits muzzle velocities of 2500 feet per second, which is about the minimum for good ballistic performance with .223/5.56mm.

Now, if you need to build your own rifle or upper, which parts should you use?

These are the parts that I’ve had the best experiences with, when it comes to building AR-15 rifles.

Top All-Purpose AR-15 Barrels on the Market Today

The Best All-Purpose AR-15 Barrels

First, I have to admit that 11.5 inch barrels can be tricky to find. There simply aren’t as many manufacturers that produce 11.5 barrels as there are that sell 10.5 or 14.5 barrels. If you need to get a more common length simply because of availability, that makes complete sense.

Here are a few suggestions to help you find an 11.5 inch barrel, though.

1. Faxon Firearms 5.56 NATO Gunner Rifle Barrel - Overall Best 11.5 AR-15 Barrel

  • Model: Faxon Firearms 5.56 NATO Gunner Rifle Barrel
  • Barrel construction: 4150 chromoly vanadium
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 8 inches
  • Gas system: Mid-length
  • Finish: Black nitride

Faxon Firearms is one of my go-to barrel manufacturers because they make great barrels. However, they also make barrels in just about every configuration that you might want. The Faxon Firearms 5.56 NATO Gunner Rifle Barrel is one of the few 11.5 inch barrels that you can get with a mid-length gas system.

There are ups and downs to using a barrel with the gas block so close to the end of the barrel.

The first benefit is that the recoil impulse is gentler than a barrel with a carbine length gas system. And I’ve run a few guns that are fitted with this barrel. None of them have reliability issues. They run great, suppressed or unsuppressed.

However, this barrel is fairly gassy when you run a suppressor.

I suspect that Faxon fitted this barrel with a fairly large gas port to compensate for the ridiculously short dwell time. You’ll get a fair amount of gas in the face, even though the recoil impulse is pretty mellow.

The gas isn’t terrible though. The only time I had an issue with the gas blowback was when I shot on the indoor range. It wasn’t really an issue outside.

There’s a whole lot more to love about this Faxon barrel. But the big deal is the short barrel combined with a long gas system. If you want a super smooth shooting 11.5 inch barrel, this barrel is the way to go.


2. Luth-AR AR-15 Government Profile Barrel - Budget 11.5 AR-15 Barrel

  • Model: Luth-AR AR-15 Government Profile Barrel
  • Barrel construction: 4150 chromoly vanadium
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 9 inches
  • Gas system: Carbine length
  • Finish: Phosphate

Let’s just face it: Luth-AR makes budget AR-15 parts. But they’re actually not bad parts. Yes, I’ve seen the occasional lower receiver part that’s out of spec. However, all the major parts that I’ve seen from Luth-AR are fine. They just have zero creature comforts.

If you need an affordable barrel that’s good enough for government work, get the Luth-AR AR-15 Government Profile Barrel. It’s super well priced. And it will do what most civilian shooters need.

At its core, this is a phosphate coated, chrome lined barrel. Standard mil-spec equipment.

There it deviates from the military specifications a bit is in the rate of twist. This barrel sports a 1 in 9 inch rate of twist. That’s best for shooting lighter bullets.

Admittedly, this isn’t a precision barrel. If you’re looking to get an 11.5 inch AR that will shoot as far as possible, you may want to get a barrel that’s geared for precision rather than price.

Reason being: the 1 in 9 inch rate of twist works best with light bullets, like 55 grain projectiles. You’ll typically use a heavier bullet for shooting further. And this barrel won’t work as well with heavy bullets as a barrel with a 1 in 7 or 1 in 8 inch twist.

Ultimately, this Luth barrel is best for shooting light bullets at short and intermediate ranges—out to about 200 yards or so.

But, if you’re looking for a super affordable barrel that will work just fine for most civilian contexts, this barrel is the way to go.


3. Aero Precision 5.56 CMV Barrel - Value 11.5 AR-15 Barrel

  • Model: Aero Precision 5.56 CMV Barrel
  • Barrel construction: 4150 chromoly vanadium
  • Rate of twist: 1 in 7 inches
  • Gas system: Carbine length
  • Finish: Black QPQ

The Aero Precision 5.56 CMV Barrel is a more traditional barrel design in terms of the contour and gas system length. But it’s affordable and works great.

Also, Aero Precision and Ballistic Advantage barrels are manufactured by the same machining company. So, the design may not be from Ballistic Advantage. But the build quality is just as good.

Speaking of the design, this barrel is pretty much just a mil-spec barrel.

The steel is 4150 chromoly vanadium. And the contour is a traditional government profile.

The government profile is a little bit front heavy. But it works just fine for anything you’d do with an AR-15. There’s a reason the government profile exists.

Additionally, the gas system is a carbine length gas system. The gas system length produces a slightly poppier recoil impulse. But it also delivers strong reliability because you get solid gas pressure to move your bolt carrier group around.

The area where Aero Precision did better than military specifications is the finish. This barrel is finished in a QPQ corrosion resistant finish. It’s smoother, more durable, and better looking than the traditional phosphate finish.

Overall, the price is low enough for most budgets. And this Aero Precision barrel delivers enough performance for any shooter.


Top All-Purpose AR-15 Bolt Carrier Groups on the Market Today

Best All-Purpose AR-15 Bolt Carrier Groups

Depending on who you ask, your barrel is either the most important or the second most important component in your rifle. Then, also depending on who you ask, your bolt carrier group is either the most important or the second most important component in your rifle.

But, no matter who you ask, the bolt carrier group (BCG) in your rifle is important. Get a good one. These are some good ones.

1. Aero Precision AR15 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group - Overall Best All-Purpose AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

  • Model: Aero Precision AR15 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group
  • Bolt construction: Carpenter 158 steel
  • Carrier profile: Full-auto
  • Finish: Black nitride

Aero Precision makes excellent components. And the Aero Precision AR15 5.56 Bolt Carrier Group is one of the most affordable bolt carrier groups you can get that’s been both high pressure tested (HPT) and magnetic particle inspected (MPI).

Essentially, that just means that they’ve test fired the bolt carrier group, then ran it through the magnetic particle inspector to ensure that firing it didn’t cause it to crack or deform.

Many bolt carrier groups are only quality controlled with MPI. This bolt carrier gives you better than bare minimum quality control for the price.

Additionally, the bolt is Carpenter 158 steel. C158 steel is the original mil-spec AR-15 bolt steel. I prefer C158 steel bolts simply because I’ve seen fewer issues with C158 steel bolts than I have with 9310 steel bolts.

That’s not to say that 9310 steel bolts don’t work or aren’t reliable. I just have more confidence in a C158 steel bolt. And this BCG comes with a C158 steel bolt.

Also, this bolt carrier is finished with a nitride finish. At the very least, it looks cooler than the standard phosphate finish. But it’s also smoother and more corrosion resistant.

Also, the bolt carrier has the Aero Precision logo laser etched on the side. It’s a nice looking logo. However, it may not be for you if you prefer a plain black bolt carrier group.

Overall, if you want an affordable and reliable bolt carrier group, this is the one to get.


2. PSA 5.56 Nitride MPI Full-Auto Bolt Carrier Group - Budget All-Purpose AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

  • Model: PSA 5.56 Nitride MPI Full-Auto Bolt Carrier Group
  • Bolt construction: 9310 steel
  • Carrier profile: Full-auto
  • Finish: Black nitride

PSA rifles occasionally have assembly mistakes. However, the base components are solid. So the PSA 5.56 Nitride MPI Full-Auto Bolt Carrier Group is a solid option for those who need a super affordable bolt carrier group that will get the job done.

The main thing with this bolt carrier group is that it’s a super affordable BCG that’s finished in black nitride, which is smoother and requires a bit less lubrication than the traditional phosphate coating.

However, the bolt is a 9310 steel bolt. It’s more affordable than a Carpenter 158 steel bolt. But you may or may not trust 9310 steel.

The thing that gave 9310 steel bolts a bad name back in the day was poor heat treating. These days, the heat treating is done well. And 9310 bolts don’t have the issues that they used to. But confidence is important.

If you want a Carpenter 158 steel bolt, the PSA Custom Fathers of Freedom 5.56 Full Auto Profile Phosphate Coated Bolt Carrier is a pretty affordable way to get a C158 steel bolt and true mil-spec coatings, if you’re into that.

But, if you want a super affordable bolt carrier group that works far better than you’d expect from looking at the price tag, this bolt carrier group is your best option.


3. Midwest Industries 5.56/AR15 C158 Bolt Carrier Group - Value All-Purpose AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

  • Model: Midwest Industries 5.56/AR15 C158 Bolt Carrier Group
  • Bolt construction: Carpenter 158 steel
  • Carrier profile: Full-auto
  • Finish: Black nitride

Midwest Industries is one of the most underrated firearm component manufacturers around. They make really solid parts. So the Midwest Industries 5.56/AR15 C158 Bolt Carrier Group is a really solid part.

When it comes down to it, this is a basic mil-spec bolt carrier group with one key upgrade.

This is a black nitride finished bolt carrier group. The finish is smoother and more corrosion resistant than the original phosphate finish. It requires a little bit less lubrication. And it’s a little easier to clean than the traditional finish.

Obviously, clean your gun and oil your bolt carrier group. But you might be able to get away with a slightly looser maintenance routine using this bolt carrier group. And the black nitride finish looks great.

Then, the bolt is manufactured from Carpenter 158 steel. It’s the true mil-spec bolt steelIt lasts for a long time. And it’s as reliable as any AR-15 shooter would need.

This bolt carrier group is only quality controlled with MPI. But Midwest Industries is a quality manufacturer. And it’s unlikely that you’ll get a Midwest Industries bolt carrier group that doesn’t work.

Overall, this Midwest Industries bolt carrier group delivers plenty of performance and lifespan for a really reasonable price tag.


4. Radian Weapons M16 Enhanced Bolt Carrier Group - All-Purpose AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group for Suppressed Shooting

  • Model: Radian Weapons M16 Enhanced Bolt Carrier Group
  • Bolt construction: 9310 steel
  • Carrier profile: Enhanced full-auto
  • Finish: Black nitride

The Radian Weapons M16 Enhanced Bolt Carrier Group is designed specifically for use in suppressor hosts.

Before I talk about the elements that make this excellent for suppressed shooting, here are the basic specs:

The finish is black nitride to help ensure that your bolt carrier moves smoothly and resists carbon buildup to help deal with all the gas that gets blown into your action during suppressed operation.

Then, the bolt is 9310 steel. Radian Weapons claims that their 9310 steel is actually stronger than Carpenter 158 steel. I’ve never strength tested the bolt. But Radian Weapons bolts seem to hold up well. So the bolt in this bolt carrier group may well be stronger than a C158 bolt.

However, the big deal with this bolt carrier group is the shape of the bolt carrier itself. It’s contoured to increase the weight slightly and reduce carrier tilt.

The carrier design reduces component wear and keeps recoil as low as possible during suppressed shooting. The end result is a rifle that lasts longer and shoots softer.

If you want the very best bolt carrier group for running a suppressor, this Radian Weapons bolt carrier group should be at the top of your list.


Top All-Purpose AR-15 Components on the Market

Best All-Purpose AR-15 Components

If you’ve got your bolt carrier group and barrel dialed in, you can pretty much use any components you want, and things will be just fine.

But using good components is always better than using bad components. So here’s a quick rundown of all the best components to put around your favorite barrel and bolt carrier group.

1. Bravo GFC-MOD-0 BCM Gunfighter Compensator Mod 0 - Overall Best All-Purpose AR-15 Muzzle Device

  • Model: Bravo GFC-MOD-0 BCM Gunfighter Compensator Mod 0
  • Device type: Compensator
  • Suppressor mount: A2 compatible suppressors
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Finish: Phosphate

The Bravo GFC-MOD-0 BCM Gunfighter Compensator Mod 0 is probably the best all-purpose muzzle device, no matter what you want your muzzle device to do.

Reduced flash? This muzzle device helps.

Reduced muzzle rise? That’s covered too.

Less recoil? This one does it.

Minimal muzzle blast? Got it.

Suppressor compatibility? Yup. This muzzle device is compatible with anything that will attach to an A2 birdcage. Griffin Armament GateLok suppressors are the most popular.

Also, if you need a longer muzzle device to pin and weld onto a 14.5 inch barrel, get the Bravo Company MFG Compensator Mod 1.

The only downside is that this Bravo muzzle device doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well. But it covers all the bases for a relatively low price.


2. VG6 Precision Gamma 556 High Performance Muzzle Brake - All-Purpose AR-15 Muzzle Brake

  • Model: VG6 Precision Gamma 556 High Performance Muzzle Brake
  • Device type: Muzzle brake
  • Suppressor mount: None
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Finish: Matte black salt bath nitride

Not interested in running a suppressor? Want minimal recoil? The VG6 Precision Gamma 556 High Performance Muzzle Brake is just what you’re looking for.

This muzzle brake is consistently at the top of the charts when it comes to recoil reduction. The recoil reduction per dollar is stellar. And the muzzle blast is reasonable (for a muzzle brake).

Additionally, this muzzle brake looks cool and lasts a super long time.

It’s not ideal if you’re going to run a suppressor. But if you just want a gun that’s easy to shoot, this VG6 muzzle brake will help get you there.


3. SilencerCo Hybrid ASR Muzzle Brake - All-Purpose Suppressor Mount

  • Model: SilencerCo Hybrid ASR Muzzle Brake
  • Device type: Muzzle brake
  • Suppressor mount: SilencerCo ASR
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Finish: Black nitride

The SilencerCo Hybrid ASR Muzzle Brake is a solid muzzle brake in its own right. But it’s also a suppressor mount for SilencerCo suppressors.

SilencerCo makes some of the best suppressors on the market. And they make a suppressor for just about everything. You can’t really go wrong with a muzzle device that’s compatible with SilencerCo suppressors.

If you already have a suppressor from another company, it probably came with a suppressor mount.

But, if you don’t have your suppressor yet, you won’t be sad if you cap your AR-15 with this SilencerCo suppressor mount. And it will make your rifle easier to shoot while you wait for your suppressor tax stamp to clear.


4. Aero Precision AR-15 Atlas R-One Handguard - Overall Best All-Purpose AR-15 Handguard

  • Model: Aero Precision AR-15 Atlas R-One Handguard
  • Attachment system: M-LOK and Picatinny
  • Construction: 7075-T6 aluminum
  • Barrel nut attachment: Aero Taper Lock Attachment System (ATLAS)

The Aero Precision AR-15 Atlas R-One Handguard is easily the best handguard that you can get for the money.

These handguards are easy to install. They’re durable. And they have the right attachment points where you need them.

Also, the design is super comfortable with any type of support hand grip. It’s narrow enough for a thumb-over grip. And angular enough for stability with a thumb forward grip.

Ultimately, if you want a great handguard for a great price, this handguard is the way to go.


5. Geissele 9.5in M-LOK Super Modular Rail MK8 - Versatile All-Purpose AR-15 Handguard

  • Model: Geissele 9.5in M-LOK Super Modular Rail MK8
  • Attachment system: M-LOK and Picatinny
  • Construction: 7075-T6 aluminum
  • Barrel nut attachment: Geissele 2-Inch barrel nut

The Geissele 9.5in M-LOK Super Modular Rail MK8 is one of the best rails you can get, no question.

The mounting system is ridiculously secure. This handguard might be a bit heavy. But it’s never going to come off or rotate and lose the zero on your sights or lasers.

Additionally, the handguard itself is incredibly well designed. The M-LOK slots are well placed. And the size and design of the rail is comfortable. It’s not super slim. But it’s actually very comfortable with any support hand grip technique.

This Geissele model is a tad pricey. But there are very few handguards that are meaningfully better than this one.

Also, if you need a longer rail, you can get this handguard in a 13 inch model: Geissele Super Modular Handguard Rail MLOK MK8 13 Inch.


6. Magpul MOE K2 Grip - Overall Best All-Purpose AR-15 Grip

  • Model: Magpul MOE K2 Grip
  • Construction: High density polymer
  • Internal storage: Magpul Grip Core

The Magpul MOE K2 Grip is one of the only pistol grips that I use. There’s almost zero other pistol grips that work as well as this one.

The main benefit of this pistol grip is that the grip angle is much more vertical than a traditional A2 grip. It’s far more comfortable and puts your wrist in a more natural position when you shoulder your rifle.

Additionally, the beaver tail is thick enough that you can’t over seat your hand on the pistol grip. The beaver tail almost perfectly indexes your finger over the trigger.

Ultimately, this Magpul grip makes it quick and easy to get a nearly perfect grip on your rifle.

If you need one pistol grip to rule them all, this grip is the one to get.

Unfortunately, this grip is often out of stock because it’s so popular. If you have a hard time finding this model, the B5 Systems AR-15 P-Grip 23 is an excellent alternative.


7. B5 Systems AR-15 SOPMOD Bravo Stock Collapsible Mil-Spec - Overall Best All-Purpose AR-15 Stock

  • Model: B5 Systems AR-15 SOPMOD Bravo Stock Collapsible Mil-Spec
  • Form factor: SOPMOD
  • Sling attachment: Webbing slots and QD mounts

The B5 Systems AR-15 SOPMOD Bravo Stock Collapsible Mil-Spec is often used on clone rifles because it’s popular among military units. It’s popular among military units because it’s an awesome stock.

The main thing about this stock is that it’s narrow. But the body has just enough angle to get an excellent cheek weld for your fourth point of contact. This makes it easy to get stable shots, even when you’re shooting from unstable or unorthodox positions.

Additionally, the recoil pad is super thick. It pretty much eats up the recoil of a 5.56mm rifle. This stock makes your rifle super comfortable.

Ultimately, this B5 Systems stock is reasonably priced. And it’s incredible for just about any type of shooting you might do.


8. SB Tactical SBA3 Pistol Stabilizing Brace - Overall Best All-Purpose Pistol Brace

  • Model: SB Tactical SBA3 Pistol Stabilizing Brace
  • Construction: Polymer and rubber
  • Brace type: Adjustable
  • Sling attachment: QD socket
  • Included hardware: Mil-spec carbine receiver extension

If you’re building an 11.5 inch AR, but don’t want to pay for the SBR tax stamp, the SB Tactical SBA3 Pistol Stabilizing Brace is pretty much the best option.

It’s super stable. If you “accidentally” or “incidentally” shoulder your AR pistol, this brace will give you all the stability you need for shooting with four points of contact on your rifle. And it works from any shooting position.

Additionally, this SB Tactical brace is super easy to install and super easy to adjustIt’s just as easy to use as an adjustable rifle stock.

Sadly, it’s notably more expensive than a standard rifle stock. But it’s still less expensive than an SBR tax stamp. So you’ll still be saving yourself quite a bit of money and paperwork.


Finishing Up Your build

There are more parts that you’ll need to complete an AR-15 rifle. However, all the remaining parts are either:

  1. Inconsequential in terms of your rifle configuration. This includes the gas tube, gas block, buffer spring, receiver extension, etc. These parts aren’t really part of how your rifle is set up. As far as these components go, any one will work, as long as it fits properly.
  2. A matter of personal preference. This includes your safety selector, trigger, sights, and so on. Use whichever parts you like best.

Some might argue that things like the pistol grip and stock fall into this category. But, if you’re building a pistol, you need a brace. So it was pertinent to offer some options there. And the pistol grips I presented are the best, no matter what you like.

Just kidding… But seriously.

If you need guidance on purchasing any of the parts that I didn’t cover here, we’ve got guides for all those components right here at the Minuteman Review. Check out the rest of our articles if you need even more information for completing your all-purpose rifle.

Now that you know what the best end results are, grab a box of parts, and put the best rifle for everything together.