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7 Best AR Pistol of 2020 Reviews | Semi-Automatic, Lightweight Handguns

3 Top Picks

4 Reviewers

30 Hours Of Research

20 Products Considered

A pistol? A rifle? We’re looking at a new melange of firearms. However, I ran into problems trying to normalize their legality. Luckily, I resolved them and focused on my trips to the range.

AR pistol is not your average home-defense gun, it's not something to be bought as your first gun and does not fall into concealed carry category. For the experienced gun lovers, however, it's a real treat! I’ll take you on a journey to discover the best AR pistol for you and overcome the roadblocks you're going to encounter!

1. [Overall Best AR Pistol]
CZ Bren 2 MS

CZ Bren 2 MS pistol

Editor's Rating 

4.8/5

2. [Best Budget AR Pistol]
PSA Gen4 

PSA Gen4 pistol

Editor's Rating 

4.7/5

3. [Best Defense AR Pistol]
Wilson Combat ARP

Wilson Combat ARP

Editor's Rating 

4.7/5

Shopping for an AR Pistol? Read Our Guide and Read It Carefully!

Although shooters are happy with the adoption of a rifle platform in handguns, they still can’t get around the fact that AR pistols should be shot one-handedly to evade the legal consequences, and I fell in that trap before.

The AR pistol has blazed a trail as a standard for an outdoorsman’s handgun. However, you should be responsible for the firearms you have in your arsenal, and AR pistols are no exception. Follow me as I guide you through some rules of thumb.

Product Name

Benefits

Rating

CZ Bren 2 MS pistol
  • Long 11-inch barrel

  • Open-ended flash hider

  • Comfortable grip

4.8/5

PSA Gen4 pistol
  • Affordable

  • Interchangeable with Glock magazines

  • State-of-the-art Magpul grip with inner compartment

4.7/5

Wilson Combat ARP
  • Available in 2 barrel lengths

  • Advanced trigger unit

  • Comes with flash hider and suppressor

4.7/5

Weapon
  • Supports 300 HAM’R ammo

  • Great for self-defense

  • Foldable arm brace

4.6/5

FM 7” Glock Style gun
  • Ambidextrous charging handle

  • Foldable SBA3 brace

  • Muzzle blast diffuser

4.5/5

FM 5” Glock Style gun
  • Affordable

  • Ambidextrous handle

  • Not magazine-sensitive

4.5/5

Geissele gun
  • Precision-honed receivers

  • Supports 5.56mm ammo

  • Comes with an SBA3 brace

4.4/5

AR Pistol vs. AR-15 Rifle

Despite the expertise, many shooters are held captive by the idea of mistaking AR pistols with AR-15 rifles. So, what is an AR pistol?

This abbreviation only denotes that an AR 15 pistol is basically handguns that adopt the AR-15 platform that depends on designing a semi-automatic, lightweight firearm for either self-defense or casual shooting.

The major difference between both is that AR pistols have shorter barrel lengths. You won’t come across any AR pistols with barrels longer than 16 inches.

Legality of AR Pistols

I’m not your average lawyer, but there’s a bunch of catastrophes that gun owners might be bound to inflict when they either construct or buy a pre-built AR pistol. Generally, AR pistols are legal until you implement some modifications.

Remember when I stated that AR pistols should have braces instead of stocks? The reason for this is that if you choose to attach a stock to the AR pistol, you’ll have converted it into an SBR (short-barreled rifle).

Possessing short-barreled rifles without a Form 1 or a tax stamp is considered a felony by AR pistol laws. If you ever wish to affix a stock to your AR pistol, you must conduct the paperwork and send a hefty $200 tax stamp until the Government accepts your request, which takes six months to process.

Best AR Pistol Reviews

1. [Overall Best AR Pistol] CZ Bren 2 MS

4.8/5

Features: 

  • Bilateral controls on both sides for an ambidextrous, one-handed experience.
  • Flip-up front and rear sights that are adjustable for windage and elevation.
  • Bolt release button integrated into the trigger guard.
  • Modular firearm that shoots two calibers when you swap barrels.
  • Comes with a maintenance kit to clean the gas regulator.

CZ Bren 2 MS pistol

The Bren 2 MS is the AR pistol that outshines all the firearms in my arsenal. Why? Because it’s an MS! MS stands for modular semi-auto, meaning that you can change the barrel to either accommodate 5.56 NATO or 7.62 x 39mm cartridges, the latter providing unforgiving penetration to your targets.

Specifications of the CZ Bren 2 MS

Barrel Length

11 inches

Gas System

Carbine

Magazine Capacity

30 rounds

Grip

Stippled

Caliber/Gauge

7.62 x 39mm

Overall Length

22.8 inches

Weight

5.562 lbs

If you’re familiar with the last-generation CZ 805 Bren, you’ll notice a decrease in weight when you lay hands on the Bren 2 MS since CZ incorporates a carbon-infused polymer in the lower receiver instead of aluminum, which it reserves for the upper receiver.

One thing that makes this AR15 pistol modular is the gas system, a 3-way adjustable one: an option is set by default and meant for normal conditions, a second option for extreme precision shooting (minimally dissipates heat), and a third one to shut down the gas system entirely for pistol-style single shots.

We’re talking here about the accurate, 11-inch version. Just look at this barrel—it’s lengthy enough to allow for top-tier aiming accuracy, especially when you consider that the rear sight has variable aperture measurements for rapid shooting. I personally limit the aperture to fine-tune my long-distance shots, and it works!

The Bren 2 MS’s barrel is home to a three-prong flash hider. CZ has done a great job crafting their flash hiders with open ends since the old-school ones have proven their failure in hiding muzzle flashes. Beside the trigger, you’ll see AR15 pistols’ bolt catch to lock the bolt for magazine insertion.

The ambidextrous operation of the Bren 2 MS reminds me of the CZ Scorpion. I really appreciate the non-reciprocating charging handle that allows for full control over the handle to eject tenacious cartridges. You can also switch that charging handle to either side of the upper receiver, good news for lefty shooters!

Similarly, you’ve got the safety switches on both sides, and the magazine release button is two-sided as well—you can release an empty magazine from either side. For bolt release, you have the AR-style button on the side. However, I liked the button at the front of the trigger guard for a one-handed operation.

The trigger pull is the smoothest you can get. This 2-action trigger requires minimal pressure for firing a cartridge. Note that the LOP (length of pull) may vary according to the brace you affix to the buffer tube. For me, the cheek rest provided an optimal LOP to shoot tight groups at the range.

Pros

  • Feather-light carbon fiber receiver
  • Long 11-inch barrel
  • Open-ended flash hider
  • Comfortable grip

Cons

  • Receiver is subject to overheating

2. [Best Budget AR Pistol] PSA Gen4

4.7/5

Features: 

  • The shorter barrel enhances the portability of this AR pistol.
  • Boasts a premium SBA brace instead of an empty buffer tube.
  • An ample magazine capacity of 30 rounds.
  • Blowback-operated creates minimal recoil instead of heating the receiver.
  • A spacious trigger guard for gloves and an optimized LOP.

PSA Gen4 pistol

The luxury of shooting an AR pistol is no longer hindered, thanks to the budget-friendly package that Palmetto State Armory presents in its PSA Gen 4. This budget AR 15 makes every aspect of having a pre-built AR pistol prominent: from grips to braces. However, that doesn’t mean that PSA compromises on build quality.

Specifications of the PSA Gen4

Barrel Length

8 inches

Gas System

Blowback

Magazine Capacity

31 rounds

Grip

Magpul, Black

Caliber/Gauge

9mm (9 x 19)

Pistol Brace

Adjustable SBA Brace, Black

Weight

5.137 lbs

At first glance, you’ll be greeted by a mid-sized 8-inch barrel, forged from a robust block of chrome molly steel. When I first took a glimpse at the barrel, I became sure that it would withstand thousands of rounds in a lifetime, and it didn’t disappoint! Also, the short barrel didn’t ruin my recoil retention at the range.

The mind-soothing thing about having a 9mm PSA Gen4 is its blowback mechanism—no need for gas! This AR pistol has no gas regulator since it relies on the thrust produced by the 9mm round’s propellant. It also has 2 QD cups carved in the rear and front for running a sling in case you use the pistol as a primary weapon.

If you have a Glock CCW piece, the PSA Gen4 will undoubtedly be your loyal companion—it’s the best budget AR 15 pistol. I like the idea that it supports any proprietary Glock magazine. This means that you can switch over between a carry gun like the Glock 17 and this one in no time.

Not only will you be able to exploit the more powerful 8-inch barrel, but you’ll also be capable of acquiring targets at longer distances, given the foldable sights of this AR 9mm pistol. Coinciding with the barrel is a Birdcage flash hider, not very effective owing to the lack of muzzle flashes. So, I’d recommend replacing it with a suppressor.

It’s generous of PSA to include the adjustable SBA arm brace in the purchase. What I appreciate about this brace is the sufficient padding with rubber that gave me a comfortable cheek weld while shooting. Without this brace, we wouldn’t have the rear QD cup for sling attachment.

It’s safe to rest this brace on your shoulders, but you should do the classic cheek weld to avoid FTA problems. As my best 9mm AR pistol, it also ships with a high-quality Magpul grip, whose shiny look hints at a rough texture. However, it felt great in my right hand when I fired the PSA Gen4 in the handgun mode.

This AR pistol has the buttons (like magazine release and safety) on one side—I wouldn’t count it as a con since the CZ Bren 2 MS is designed for ambidextrous usage. Moreover, the charging handle is lined up with handguards. So, beware when you install optics on the rail since you may accidentally skin your knuckles.

If I had anything to complain about, it’d definitely be the mag release button. With extensive use, it gets clogged and may require some oiling in the long run.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Interchangeable with Glock magazines
  • State-of-the-art Magpul grip with inner compartment
  • Adjustable front and rear sights

Cons

  • Stiff magazine release button

3. [Best Defense AR Pistol] Wilson Combat ARP

4.7/5

Features: 

  • The accurately crafted barrel will excellently stand the test of time.
  • The aluminum receivers can withhold wear-and-tear.
  • Chambered in 2 cartridges for versatility.
  • The grip neutralizes the unrelenting recoil of the direct-impingement gas system.
  • Combat Wilson’s Armor Tuff finish gives the AR pistol a premium sheen.

Wilson Combat ARP

Wilson Combat is known for its purpose-built AR firearms for home and self-defense, and the Wilson Combat ARP is no exception. This AR pistol is available in two different barrel lengths: 8 or 11.3 inches, and two calibers: the 300 AC BLK and the 5.56 NATO. I use the latter variant since these cartridges are easily securable in the US.

Specifications of the Wilson Combat ARP

Barrel Length

8 or 11.3 inches

Gas System

Carbine

Magazine Capacity

Variable

Grip

Starburst Gunfighter Grip, Black

Caliber/Gauge

300 AAC Blackout, 5.56 NATO

Overall Length

25 inches (8-inch barrel), 28.25 inches (11.3-inch barrel)

Weight

5.82 lbs (8-inch barrel), 6.33 lbs (11.3-inch barrel)

I like how both the upper and lower receivers of the ARP Tactical are billet, meaning they’re crafted from hard-anodized aluminum that withstands rust. I’m happy with how I shoot the 11.3-inch ARP with mitigated recoil, thanks to the Shockwave Stabilizer Brace.

You may get annoyed because every part of this ARP is proprietary; however, Wilson Combat is a celebrated firearms manufacturer that crafts cold-hammer-forged barrels from scratch for the AR platform’s sidearms. Even the handguards are considerably ergonomic, reflecting its home defense purposes.

I’ll give that trigger guard a huge thumbs up owing to the obtuse cut it has on the base. Moreover, this AR pistol utilizes the TTU (Tactical Trigger Unit), where both the trigger and the hammer are forged from indestructible steel. This trigger also features a tangible positive reset for rapid shooting.

I’ll give that trigger guard a huge thumbs up owing to the obtuse cut it has on the base. Moreover, this AR pistol utilizes the TTU (Tactical Trigger Unit), where both the trigger and the hammer are forged from indestructible steel. This trigger also features a tangible positive reset for rapid shooting.

The Accu-Tac hider on the muzzle boasts a three-pronged design confining and muzzle flashes that arise from the 5.56 NATO cartridges. While we’re at the muzzle, let’s take a look at the M-LOK rail that hides the barrel. This rail is compatible with a plethora of optics and even flashlight attachments for nocturnal home defense.

The Gunfighter grip sports a unique texture with velour-padded sections for marksman-grade comfort and confident handling. Above the grip, you’ll see a Fire-Safe switch instead of a button—the safety lock is one slap away! Still worried about burglars? Then, it’s time to try the pre-included suppressor!

Pros

  • Available in 2 barrel lengths
  • Advanced trigger unit
  • Comes with flash hider and suppressor
  • Recoil-reducing brace

Cons

  • Expensive

Features: 

  • Ample magazine capacity for uninterrupted shooting.
  • The caliber options are swappable in case you can’t secure a certain ammo type.
  • Oversized trigger guard for a convenient LOP.
  • The M-LOK rail and handguards are compliant with most tactical add-ons.
  • The muzzle brake considerably reduces recoil impacts.

Weapon

The Wilson Combat ARP tempted me to expand my AR pistol arsenal once again with the Wilson Combat AR Protector. While the ARP is primarily targeted at home defense, this one is for self-defense purposes.

Specifications of the Wilson Combat AR Protector

Barrel Length

11.3 inches

Gas System

Carbine

Magazine Capacity

20 + 1 round

Grip

Wilson Combat Starburst Grip

Caliber/Gauge

300 AAC Blackout, 5.56 NATO, 300 HAM’R

Overall Length

27.5 inches (extended) 30 inches (collapsed)

Weight

5.62 lbs

This becomes more evident when the manufacturer chambers this 9mm AR15 pistol in the 300 HAM’R caliber, featuring a terminal power comparable to the .308 Winchester. Designed by Wilson Combat, this bullet is more powerful than the traditional 5.56 NATO ammo with bulkier dimensions for a retained mag capacity.

So, what’s the difference between the AR protector and the ARP? The answer lies in the receivers. The ARP sports receivers that are crafted from a billet, a solid block of aluminum. On the other hand, the AR protector rocks receivers made of forged aluminum, far more durable and free of impurities.

Another unfortunate difference is the lack of a safety lock. So, you probably need to think twice before landing your index on the Tactical Trigger Unit, which is roomier than its counterpart in the ARP. The absence of a rear sight that lines up with the front ramp is a bummer, too.

However, the rear sight’s disappearance pushed me toward discovering the M-LOK rail on top of this AR pistol, which is compatible with a myriad of accessories: flashlight attachments, red dot sights, and scopes.

Admittedly, I had a great time firing this bad guy—the 11.6-inch match-grade barrel is reinforced with a muzzle brake and a Q-Comp flash hider to complement my experience at the range. Combine the personalized accuracy with the top-of-the-line Armor Tuff finish, and you’ll let out a sigh of relief that you’re wielding a Wilson Combat!

Pros

  • Supports 300 HAM’R ammo
  • Great for self-defense
  • Foldable arm brace
  • Sturdy receivers

Cons

  • No iron sights

Features: 

  • Accurate, flip-up front and rear iron sights out of the box.
  • Larger magazine release button.
  • The M-LOK rail universally supports AR15-based accessories.
  • The upper and lower receivers are made of a durable billet of aluminum.
  • An easy-to-slide Fire and Safe selector.

FM 7” Glock Style gun

The hefty price tags of AR pistols are what most marksmen frown upon, but the FM 7” Glock Style lets you avoid the 4-digit price curse with a minuscule, 7-inch barrel chambered in the good ol’ 9mm Luger caliber. You can effortlessly swap the magazines between this AR pistol and a seasoned Glock sidearm.

Specifications of the FM 7” Glock Style

Barrel Length

7 inches

Gas System

Blowback

Magazine Capacity

Variable

Grip

Textured With 2 Knuckles

Caliber/Gauge

9mm Luger

Overall Length

24 inches

Brace

Standard SBA3 Brace

Foxtrot Mike Products tries to achieve a budget-friendly package with the FM 7”, and it’s been a great call for me at the shooting range, especially that it incorporates a blowback recoil mechanism that utilizes virtually no gas.

An included brace always saves you the hassle of buying one at a local store, and the FM 7” AR pistol comes equipped with the classical SBA3 arm brace. At first, I thought that it’s stationary, but on pulling it back, I discovered it’s retractable, which is rare at this price point.

A collapsing brace is synonymous with a customizable LOP and a comfortable cheek weld—well, that’s the main point of holding an AR pistol! I also thought that the lower price, combined with the shorter barrel, will lead to recoil problems. Yet, the brace houses a rigid recoil string capable of absorbing the kickback like a champion.

On the muzzle, you’ll notice a pre-installed blast diffuser that directs the gas produced by spent cartridges once they leave the barrel to the front for improved aiming precision. What even surprises me with the controls at this price segment is the ambidextrous charging handle behind the M-LOK handguard for faster reloading.

Pros

  • Ambidextrous charging handle
  • Foldable SBA3 brace
  • Muzzle blast diffuser

Cons

  • No magazine included

Features: 

  • Shorter barrel length adds to its packability.
  • Blowback recoil for fewer gas formations while firing.
  • The easy-to-pull trigger has a moderate LOP.
  • The barrel is compliant with all Glock mags.
  • QD mount cup on the brace for sling attachment.

FM 5” Glock Style gun

I’ve always believed that shorter barrel lengths are for experienced shooters who are looking for a more portable and magazine-friendly AR pistol like the FM 5” Glock Style.

Specifications of the FM 5” Glock Style

Barrel Length

5 inches

Gas System

Blowback

Magazine Capacity

Variable

Grip

Textured With 2 Knuckles

Caliber/Gauge

9mm Luger

Brace

Standard SBA3 Brace

Weight

6.44 lbs

Like its sibling, the FM 7”, this AR pistol is enhanced with billet-infused upper and lower receivers, extremely impervious to elements and rust. Similarly, the 5-inch barrel is chambered in 9mm and compatible with Glock magazines. Actually, that’s the most magazine-friendly AR pistol that I’ve carried—it just eats up what you insert.

Attached to the muzzle is a handy blast diverter to clear out the concussion resulting from the blowback recoil mechanism when cartridges leave the barrel for better sight while aiming. I’m happy that Foxtrot Mike Products still ships this AR pistol with an SBA3 brace for shouldering instead of an empty buffer tube.

I couldn’t whine about the trigger pull here—it’s almost buttery-smooth for the price you pay, let alone that the trigger guard has ample space if you happen to wear gloves. I’ve had no issues with this gigantic magazine release button as it needed no oiling, and the 2-way charging handle is always a welcomed plus!

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Ambidextrous handle
  • Not magazine-sensitive
  • Heavy-duty billet receivers

Cons

  • Unbearable recoil for absolute beginners

Features: 

  • Forged upper and lower receivers are coated against wear-and-tear.
  • The SB Tactical brace accommodates firm springs for recoil reduction.
  • The two-action trigger is easy to operate.
  • EMR M-LOK rail for attaching accessories.
  • SCAR MK16 handguard gives a feeling of holding a rifle.

Geissele gun

Being last on our list doesn’t make the Geissele Super Duty LE an AR pistol to refrain from. Contrarily, both the upper and lower receivers are constructed from forged aluminum, found in the high-end Wilson Combat AR Protector.

Specifications of the Geissele Super Duty LE

Barrel Length

10.3 inches

Gas System

Carbine

Magazine Capacity

Variable

Grip

A2 Grip

Caliber/Gauge

5.56mm NATO

Brace

SB Tactical (SBA3)

Weight

6.687 lbs

In America, 5.56mm calibers have the upper hand in ammunition availability for both law enforcement, self-defense, and fun shooting. It’s great that this 10.3-inch barrel is both coated with manganese phosphate for wear resistance and chambered in 5.56mm NATO caliber.

The Quality Mil-Spec trigger we have here has a more seamless pull than the stock trigger units we’re familiar with in cheap AR pistols, and the textured A2 grip has been optimal for practicing stippling techniques one-handedly.

This AR pistol has a stress-relieved bolt for improved barrel rifling—I’ve never come across any malfunctions when pulling the charging handle for a quick bolt release. Another thing that I favor about this upper receiver is the protruding Fire-Safe switch since it’s easily accessible on the left side.

Pros

  • Precision-honed receivers
  • Supports 5.56mm ammo
  • Comes with an SBA3 brace

Cons

  • No magazine included

AR Pistols Shouldering

If you’re a fan of the 2nd Amendment like me, you probably can’t wait to kick that AR pistol back to your shoulder and start firing right off the bat.

In 2015, shouldering an AR pistol would classify it as a short-barreled rifle since the pistol brace is meant to improve accuracy by aligning it to your arm, not fixing it to your shoulder.

Fortunately, in 2019, the ATF declared that guns are to be regulated based on their usage. The good news is that citizens can safely shoulder their AR pistols. Yet, try to keep that to a minimum since ATF pistol regulations braces are always bound to be changed.

All Calibers Welcome, 9mm and AKs

When you read any AR15 specs sheet, you’ll notice the AR platform’s compatibility with a wide array of calibers is the reason for its everlasting legacy. It has become a standard that many firearms manufacturers release calibers.

Some calibers, like the .458 SOCOM (designed to outperform 5.56 calibers), are compatible with the triggers and the buffers of both the M4 and AR-15 platforms, on which AR pistols are based. You can even go haywire and unleash a vulgar display of power with the penetrating ability of the AK’s 7.62 x 39mm cartridge.

You’re able to switch back and forth between a Glock pistol and an AR pistol since the latter can effortlessly fire 9mm rounds, the most abundant on Earth.

Mass Production With Premium Touches

Restrictions sparked outrage among gun owners in September 2019 when Colt, the firearms manufacturer that has the AR-15 rights, announced that it would halt the production for civilians.

Later in 2020, Colt unveiled that it would allow producing pistols based on the AR-15 architecture once again as gun sales skyrocketed in the United States.

Tons of firearm manufacturers followed Colt’s footsteps and decided to be innovative with their new line of products, including my all-time favorite aluminum receivers in the best AR pistols.

Buffer Tube and Endplate Replaces Stock

Why use illegal stocks when you can just stick to the legal brace? AR pistol braces are straightforward in terms of construction: they comprise an endplate and a buffer tube. An endplate is used to secure the brace in place so that it doesn’t loosen.

Unlike rifle tubes, AR pistol buffer tubes have no holes for stock adjustment—they only house a spring, to which the bolt retreats to create the kickback that allows a cartridge to be fired.

Space for Tactical Gear

I’m glad about my AR-15 pistol setups with Picatinny rails or rails from Aero Precision. These rails should provide spacious room for tactical gear to scale up your shooting endeavors.

Although most AR pistols come with pre-installed red dot sights, I presumed to attach front sights from Magpul. I find this setup very convenient for aiming precision since when the 3 sights (rear, red dot, and front) align, you’ll be able to achieve quick target acquisition on the fly.

A Choice of Configurations

The perpetual question in the realm of AR-15 pistols: to build or not to build? Customizability is the reason why AR pistols have amassed popularity. You can still tweak your AR handgun legally to make it compatible with different cartridges.

AR 9mm pistols are the most cost-efficient. For a 9mm caliber, you can install a barrel as short as 6 inches. A 9mm AR pistol doesn’t need a gas system to fire 9mm caliber bullets since they’re designated for self-loading firearms that depend on the propellant’s ignition to operate.

Mastering AR Gun IS the Point

Before heading to the range, you should learn how to execute a tight grip on the sidearm while aligning the pistol brace with your arm.

After all, AR pistols aren’t revolvers—they shoot rifle-based cartridges with incredible accuracy that doesn’t require top-level marksmanship skills to achieve. That’s the mindset behind the AR-15 platform: it’s for everyone. Factor in the iron sights or scopes, and you’re off to a great start with the offered AR 15 specs!

Conclusion

Embracing the best AR pistol for you primarily depends on how good of a shooter you are. Marksmanship aside, the AR platform is the epitome of practical and efficient firepower that’s paved the way for the introduction of a reliable firearm like the AR pistol.