15 Of the Best Next Generation AR-15s for 2022 By: Fred Mastison


To the general public, SHOT Show can be frustrating. The event is limited to those that work in the firearms industry, and others are relegated to watching online. I can understand the frustration. So, I spend each year looking for new and interesting gear to share with those unable to make the trip. This year’s task was running down the best new AR-15s.

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15 of the Best New Next Gen AR-15s for 2022

Whether for home defense, hunting, or just sport shooting, the AR-15 is America’s favorite rifle. So, I scoured the show and saw some new high quality AR-15 rifles and AR pistols that are worth sharing. Without further ado, here are the hot picks:

Anderson Manufacturing

Anderson Manufacturing M-15.

A company that quietly makes about a billion guns a year is Anderson Manufacturing. One of their newest offerings is the M-15 10.5-inch 5.56 pistol. This little blaster features an A2 front sight with Magpul rear sight and SBA3 Tactical Pistol Brace. It is built around lowers and uppers made from Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum.

The barrel is made from durable 4150 chrome moly vanadium and has a 1-in-8 twist. The barrel has a standard A2 flash hider but is threaded in 1/2 – 28 so it is easy to add a suppressor. Additionally, the gun includes an SB Tactical A3 stock.

For more information, please visit AndersonManufacturing.com.

Blackout Defense

Best AR-15s : Blackout Defense Quantum DTL.

The term “innovative” gets thrown around quite a bit, but one place I definitely saw it was at the Blackout Defense booth. Their newest gun is the Quantum DTL. What caught my eye with their barrel design was the use of two tapered barrel nuts. They call it the Dual Taper Lock (DTL) system and it is ingenious.

The DTL system harnesses the power of taper locks to secure and center the barrel. Tapers are used across various industries to lock two critical surfaces together because of the incredible frictional forces they generate when mated.

In the DTL system, Blackout Defense designed two areas of mating 60-degree tapers—on the barrel extension and primary barrel nut, and on the barrel profile and secondary barrel nut. These two tapers bring the barrel to center with the upper bore and substantially reduce harmonic vibration, which in turn improves barrel precision and accuracy.

The DTL system also prevents barrel un-torquing and provides an exceptionally rigid platform for handguard mounting. I believe we will be seeing this system coming from other manufacturers in the future.

For more information, please visit BlackoutDefense.com.



The Swiss weapon manufacturer came to SHOT Show with a massive expansion of their line. One gun that I believe is one of the best is their new B&T SPC9SC PDW. This gun is a harmonious balance between form and function. It is an M4-style lower that runs 9mm Glock magazines.

The gun offers a non-reciprocating, foldable, changeable and ambidextrous charging handle and an AR-15/M4-type charging handle. This is a lightweight pistol caliber personal-defense weapon that will be popular with anyone looking for a good truck or car gun. With the history of B&T, this gun is certain to be an exceptional performer.

For more information, please visit BT-AG.ch/en/.


Best AR-15s : Bushmaster 450 Bushmaster Lite.

A name that is back once again is Bushmaster International. They have been busy at the design board, and one of the newest products is the 450 Bushmaster Lite. This rifle is chambered in the hefty .450 Bushmaster. This is a fairly light gun, making it much easier to carry on long hunts. The gun also manages recoil well on this big-bore cartridge.

The gun features a Snake Charmer muzzle brake, 20-inch barrel length, 14-inch BFI free-float handguard, DM2S two-stage trigger, five-round aluminum magazine and a fixed A2 style shoulder stock. It is quite a bit of gun for the price point.

For more information, please visit Bushmaster.com.

DRD Tactical

DRD Tactical Aptus.

A company that I have not heard much about, but produces solid guns is DRD Tactical. The rifle that caught my eye was their Aptus. This rifle is built on the same principle as their Paratus rifle with a patented internal recoil and quick barrel change technologies in a smaller, even more discreet unit.

This system eliminates the standard buffer tubes and springs associated with most AR-style rifles. This special feature allows it to be fired with the stock folded and maintain in the ready for close-quarter battle situations.

The gun is also unique in that they eliminated the need for an additional upper receiver to change calibers, giving you the ability to change between 5.56mm or .300 Blackout with the swap of a barrel. It is a unique system to say the least.

For more information, please visit DRDTactical.com.


Best AR-15s : FoldAR Double Fold AR.

One of the newest trends in the AR world over the last several years has been to create break-down and folder-style guns. A unique gun in the category is the Double Fold AR from FoldAR.

This gun has a patented folding upper combined with a Dead Foot Arms Folding Pistol Brace. The design gives you the highest level of concealability possible without sacrificing any areas of performance, reliability, weight or safety.

Deployment and stowage only take a matter of seconds and is a simple and reliable process, allowing you to carry and transport the platform in ways never before possible quickly and efficiently. It is a compact little fighter that fits just about anywhere.

For more information, please visit FoldAR.com.

LMT Defense

LMT Defense MARS L9 Pistol Caliber Carbine.

Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) has always been one of my stops during SHOT show, and this year did not disappoint. New for this year is the MARS L9 Pistol Caliber Carbine.

This PCC is fully ambidextrous, has an M-Lok handguard, and a flared magazine well that accepts 15-, 17-, 21-, or 32-round factory Glock magazines. The monolithic upper paired with the MRP system allows barrels to be swapped easily.

The gun is chambered in 9mm and has a mil-spec anodized aluminum phosphate steel finish. It has an LMT PDW or six-position SOPMOD stock and weighs in at 5.5 pounds. LMT looks to release the gun in the third quarter of 2022.

For more information, please visit LMTDefense.com.

Palmetto State Armory

Best AR-15s : Palmetto State Armory H&R M16A1.

I must admit that I am a fan of retro and classic guns. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see the new H&R M16A1 clone from Palmetto State Armory. This is a solid copy of the gas-operated, semi-automatic M16A1 with a 20-inch barrel and is chambered in 5.56 NATO.

It has classic A2-styling with the fixed synthetic stock, A2 carry handle receiver, smooth rifle-length handguard and A2 front sight. It includes sling swivels and a 20-round magazine.

A bit of history here as well. H&R was one of only four manufacturers to have ever made an official M16 variant for the U.S. military. Because they are rare and hard to find, H&R military weapons are typically highly desirable to collectors.

For more information, please visit PalmettoStateArmory.com.

Red Arrow Weapons

Red Arrow Weapons RAW15.

New from the team at Red Arrow Weapons is the RAW15. This good-looking blaster is chambered in .223/5.56 and comes set up to fit several roles in your rifle lineup. It features a free-floating, 16-inch chrome moly, hard-coated barrel with a 1-in-8 twist, a 15-inch M-Lok rail system mates with an A3-style upper.

Both upper and lower receivers come from forged 7075 aluminum. The gun also has a CMC single-stage trigger with a 3.5-pound pull. It has a mid-length gas system and the shot-peened, magnetic particle inspected mil-spec 8620 bolt carrier group highlights the internals. The rifle comes out of the box with many parts that are in the upgrade category. It is a solid multi-role rifle.

For more information, please visit RedArrowWeapons.com.

Rock River Arms

Best AR-15s : Rock River Arms Assurance Carbine.

New this year at Rock River Arms is their Assurance Carbine. This gun follows RRA’s regular process of building guns around precision-made upper and lower receiver assemblies. This rifle is chambered in 5.56 and has a 16-inch chrome moly barrel to deliver solid accuracy and extended barrel life.

Rock River Arms equipped the Assurance with their popular two-stage trigger to enhance shooter control and increase accuracy potential. They also added a redesigned free-float, quad-rail handguard to the Assurance Carbine with a full-length Picatinny rails at the 12, 3 and 9 o’clock positions for red dots, lights, and other accessories.

For more information, please visit RockRiverArms.com.

Savage Arms

Savage Arms MSR 15 Recon.

SHOT Show would not be complete without a trip to see the team at Savage. For 2022, they have added to their popular MSR line. Their new MSR 15 Recon comes standard with upgrades serious shooters demand, including a nickel boron-coated trigger, free-float handguard and upgraded Savage barrel.

Its 5R rifling and a Melonite QPQ finish ensure consistent, accurate performance in any conditions, while the Recon’s custom-forged lower receiver and Magpul adjustable buttstock and pistol grip impart a look that stands out from the crowd. The rifle is as good looking as it is reliable.

For more information, please visit SavageArms.com.

Sig Sauer

Best AR-15s : Sig Sauer MCX-SPEAR 277.

Sig’s been busy the last few years with some major defense contracts, but they haven’t forgotten about the civilian market. Sig’s new MCX-SPEAR 277 comes from the military development side of the house—and it is exceptional.

This first production run, special-edition MCX-SPEAR is configured to be a near-exact match with Sig Sauer’s submission and finalist for the NGSW program. It features a 13-inch barrel and is fitted with the new Sig Sauer SLX Lo-Tox suppressor direct from the factory.

The special-edition MCX-SPEAR is semi-automatic and chambered in .277 Sig FURY—the commercial variant of the U.S. Army’s 6.8x51mm hybrid ammunition. With this offering, Sig gives consumers a semi-auto version of their submission to the new military weapon project. If you like unique guns that shoot as well as they look, this gun is worth investigating.

For more information, please visit SIGSauer.com.

Springfield Armory

Springfield Armory Saint Edge ATC.

The Saint Edge ATC is built around Springfield’s patented “Accurized Tactical Chassis” and is designed to deliver maximum precision in the AR platform. Featuring a monolithic lower/handguard system, the Saint Edge ATC delivers a 100-percent free-floated barrel, ensuring that the barrel, barrel nut and gas system are totally free from any contact with the lower chassis.

The gun comes with an upgraded LaRue two-stage trigger and B5 Systems’ Precision Stock. Designed for hyper-accuracy, the gun is certainly worth a closer look.

For more information, please visit Springfield-Armory.com.

Smith & Wesson

Best AR-15s : Smith & Wesson Volunteer XV.

Last but not least, S&W introduced their new series of Volunteer XV rifles. These guns are chambered in 5.56 NATO and configured for a wide variety of recreational, sport shooting and professional applications.

S&W offers these guns with premium stocks, grips, handguards, triggers, sights, upgraded 5R rifling and ambidextrous features. The S&W Volunteer Series rifles are purpose built and are everything you’ll need right out of the box.

Smith & Wesson M&P 15T II.

Another rifle from Smith and Wesson that caught my eye was their new M&P15T II. The S&W M&P15 line has become a standard across the rifle world. With the M&P 15T II, Smith & Wesson added premium enhancements that shooters want from a high-performance modern sporting rifle.

Features for the M&P 15T II rifle include a free-float 16-inch barrel with 5R rifling and 1-in-8-inch twist rate and a mid-length gas system for reduced recoil and also for efficient cycling.

Additionally, the M&P 15T II sports a forged, oversized trigger guard to provide maximum clearance when wearing gloves, along with the aforementioned flat-faced trigger. Plus, a Radian Raptor-LT charging handle allows for ambidextrous manipulation. It is a nice enhancement of the M&P15 line.

For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.

This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World June/July 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email subscriptions@athlonmediagroup.com.

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