In the world of lightweight ARs, the ultimate purchase will be the complete rifle. As this is a new and growing market, the options are not as varied as with the standard platform. However, there are more than a few options out there, many of which are not much lighter than the standard. So, to help weed out the "lightweight" from the "ultra-lightweight" I've researched what's out there and come up with my top 3 favorites. With the standard rifle weighing around 6 lbs. these options come in well under that.
Faxon has been in every article I've written about the lightweight platform, and for a good reason. Their products are some of the lightest on the market and are built solid. The Faxon FX5500 Ultralight rifle weights 4.95 lbs. and comes ready to work. The heart of this rifle is the 14.5" pencil barrel with a 3-port muzzle brake permanently attached. The upper and lower receivers are forged and house their proprietary lightweight BCG. They also use their adjustable gas block used to regulate gas pressure, which also mitigates recoil. Surrounding the barrel is their carbon fiber handguards with M-Lok technology. They also utilize the Raptor LT charging handle for strength and function. The lower houses a Hiperfire EDT3 trigger and comes with a tension screw to sure up the fit between upper and lower receivers. They add a minimalist MFT stock and Magpul MOE grips to finish the rifle up. Overall it is a quality build using quality parts. This rifle isn't just light but is also accurate and made to take a beating. Retailing for $1425, it's the cheapest on this list and won't disappoint.
The Master of Arms Enyo Lightweight rifle caught my eye almost immediately. This is a unique build on many fronts. First is the weight. On my list, this is the lightest. Coming in at 3.65 lbs. it's nearly half the weight of a standard M4 AR. They have a proprietary Esoteric Tennalum upper and lower receiver; which is CNC'd billet that has been cut for lighter weight and optimum performance.
The upper comes with a Titanium BCG and a lightweight charging handle. One of the more unique features is the barrel and handguard combo. They use a proprietary stainless-steel barrel with a custom profile and their own proprietary full-length carbon fiber handguard. To ensure the barrel does not move during the firing process, they heat the barrel to maximum expansion then torque on a nose cone nut to ensure a solid lock with the barrel. The handguards run the full length of the barrel, which eliminates the muzzle brake and gives a unique look. The lower houses an AR gold trigger, Hogue G10 pistol grip, and Titanium Ambi-Safety. They also have a Cobalt Kinetics Buffer system, which is surrounded by a Master of Arms carbon fiber buffer tube and stock. Takedown pins are made of Titanium, and the bolt release is also lightweight.
Everything about this gun is built around weight and built to run for a long time. With this weight and these parts, it may be the best option. However, this is the first I've heard of Master of Arms, and there are very few reviews on this rifle online. For this reason, I list it as my secondary option. Retail for this rifle is $3104 and would be worth the money.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Battle Arms Development engineers their products to the point that it could be considered over-engineered, which means they are strong. Their OIP 002 Ultra Lightweight AR is an awesome example of their engineering. This rifle weighs 3.8 lbs and looks great.
They start with their lightweight billet receiver group and add a 4150CM OIP pencil profile barrel that is black nitride for corrosion resistance. They add a 10" free-floating carbon-fiber handguard along with Titanium function parts like the takedown pins and bolt catch, flame-colored for aesthetics. The handguards have the M-Lok technology built-in for whatever you care to add to your rifle. They utilize a Rock River 2 stage national match trigger and their BAD-ASS-LW lightweight ambidextrous short/standard safety selector. The stock is a mid-length fixed stock that has been minimalized for weight. Everything is built for function and quality, and look has even been added to the equation.
The retail for this rifle is $3290 and worth every penny. I've had the pleasure of working with Battle Arms Development over the years and been able to have some real-world experience with their products. I can attest that they are of high quality and well worth everything you pay. For this reason, they are my #1 choice.
Lightweight ARs are getting the recognition they deserve. They are light, balanced, and easy to shoot. If you want to get one for yourself but on the fence, I highly suggest trying one out. Once you do, you'll be sold and purchase your next favorite rifle. Get your rifle and be part of the growing masses that have already learned the benefits of these designs.
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Prices accurate at time of writing