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Smith & Wesson M&P15

With the M&P, the bottom line is that it’s a Smith & Wesson. It looks good, shoots good, and comes with the base AR package you’ll find with many of the other entries at this price level. The main difference is that it’s a Smith & Wesson, which is nice.

The budget-friendly M&P lineup has always been popular with shooters who prefer reliability and function over frills and polish. The M&P15 comes standard with an adjustable post front sight and an adjustable dual aperture rear sight, which may be all you ever need if you don’t want magnification.

At 6.5lbs, the M&P15 is right smack in the normal range for AR clones. While it doesn’t have many standout features, you get the quality you’d expect from a Smith & Wesson product at a price that unknown makers would be hard pressed to beat.

Frankly, there’s really no reason not to go with the M&P15, especially if you plan to use open sights. Several veterans we’ve talked to say the M&P reminds them of their military issue M16 in terms of balance and accuracy.

Lowest Retail: $629

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