The AR-15 is such a popular rifle that there are easily a 1,000+ AR 15 Kit variations. Just looking at the civilian side of the AR-15 platform the two biggest segments are: AR-15 Rifles and AR-15 Pistols. Yes, the AR-15 can be a pistol, even though it looks, functions and fires a rifle round. This is due to the United States legal definition of what features create a rifle and what features create a pistol. Without digging too deep into legalese – the difference is that a “rifle” has a 16″ barrel or longer, and a stock. A “pistol” has a barrel less than 16″ in length and does not have a stock. There are varieties in between like Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs) and Any Other Weapon (AOWs), but we are going to focus on AR 15 Kits that are for both AR-15 rifles and AR-15 Pistols.
AR 15 Rifle Kit vs AR Pistol Kit
AR 15 Kits: Rifle Kits
A “rifle”, by United States law, is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and to be used with two hands. An AR 15 Rifle Kit will include a barrel with a minimum of 16″. Rifle barrels can vary, though, with 18″ and 20″ models being pretty common. There are also AR barrels up to 24″ for certain calibers, and for certain purposes. Certain calibers function better with longer barrels, and some underperform with shorter barrels.
An AR 15 Rifle Kit will also include a stock of some kind. It can be a fixed stock, or it can be a collapsing or even a folding stock with the proper adapter. A rifle build kit has the advantage of being better suited for longer range shooting. The stock helps stabilize the weapon when pressed against the shoulder.
Rifle kits are better suited for hunting, competition, and long-range shooting in general. Want your next AR build to be an AR-15 Rifle? Check out our AR-15 rifle options.
AR 15 Kits: Pistol Kits
AR Pistol Kits are designed to be shorter, and more compact packages. An AR Pistol Kit can have a very short barrel, or even only a moderately short barrel. Generally, they start around 12″ and can go as short as 7″ barrels in various rifle calibers and 4-inch barrels in pistol calibers. The AR Pistol Kits come with pistol buffer tubes. With these tubes, you cannot attach a standard stock. This is important because if a stock is attached to an AR 15 pistol it becomes a title 2 Short barreled rifle. An unregistered SBR is a big deal, and a crime you do not want to commit.
With an AR Pistol Kit, you cannot attach a vertical foregrip. This would make the weapon an AOW, another title 2 weapon. You can attach an angled fore grip to the weapon, like the Magpul AFGs. A lot of pistol AR 15 Kits come with stabilizing braces. It is perfectly legal to attach a stabilizing brace to a AR-15 pistol. However, according to the ATF, you cannot shoulder the brace, although this is contentious.
AR 15 Kits are the perfect way to do one stop shopping for your AR-15. Pair it with an 80% lower and it’s shipped directly to your door. Want your next AR build to be an AR-15 Pistol? Check out our AR-15 Pistol options.