April 2017

AR-15 Carbines for Less Than $1300: The Winner is a ‘Saint’

The Springfield Armory Saint is the gun for everyone, but SIG Sauer’s M400 Classic nears perfection. We were disappointed in the CMMG Mk4T, which to our eyes looked unfinished.

AR-15 Carbines for Less Than $1300: The Winner is a ‘Saint’

$1000 CMMG Mk4T with a 416 stainless-steel barrel with 1:7 twist

A staff member recently paid $2300 for a complete AR-15 carbine without regret. But you may have noticed complete uppers selling for as little as $400 during the last rounds of holiday sales and complete carbines selling for less than $700. Why pay more? One answer would be to take advantage of the latest technology in terms of manufacturing, helpful features and improved ammunition. Forged rather than cast aluminum is now the standard, and machining is more exact thanks to computer numerically controlled (CNC) automation. The efficiency and versatility of barrels have been upgraded to take advantage of heavier bullets able to land a more effective blow at greater distance. Barrels with twist rates of 1:8 inches and even 1:7 inches have replaced the original-issue lands and grooves that spun the bullets at a rate of 1:9. Handguards are now modular platforms for lights, lasers, and sights, and ambidextrous fire controls are becoming more popular as well.
With the desire for a more up-to-date AR-15, we went shopping and found that we didn’t have to break the bank — just get comfortable within a price range of about $900 to $1250 dollars. What we came up with was three AR-15s with upgrades that distinguished them from more traditional models.

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