TFBTV: 5 Best Current Production AR15 Alternatives

Not an AR guy? Tired of the same old platform being rehashed as a new product? Well we take a look at 5 great alternatives that should relieve some of your AR fatigue!

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The full transcript is below …

– Hey guys, it’s Alex C.

– This is Patrick R.

– We’re back at you with another five guns video for TheFirearmBlog.com What you see here is five guns that are alternatives to the AR-15 platform.

Something I’ve noticed is that when we do a post on the blog about an AR-15 or a new product that is kind of AR related, people will chime in saying things like, “Oh look, another AR.” and to be quite honest I’ve experienced some of that myself with something I’ve kind of called AR fatigue.

The AR is a good platform.

It’s been around, and you can get one for 600 or less these days.

– I built one two months ago for $430.

– There you go.

With AR-15s out there costing $430 there’s no really good reason to not get that as your primary firearm, but some people don’t like them.

Some people want something a little different, and that’s what this video is for.

Obviously, a lot of these can’t compete on price, but the point of this video is alternatives regardless of price.

What we’ve picked are our five favorites that we have access to.

That’s not to say that there’s some that we like that aren’t on the table.

We could do 10 easily.

– Oh, absolutely.

These are just the ones we had access to at the time.

– And that we like the best that we’ve experienced.

– Yeah. Yeah.

– Going from our left to– – Well, the criteria that we had was it had to fire the.223, 5.56 round, and it had to not be an AR-15.

– That’s pretty much it.

Let’s go from our left to right, as usual.

We’re gonna start off with a gun that I really like.

It’s actually my favorite bullpup rifle.

This is the FN Herstal FS2000.

You can make all the jokes you want, it really does look like a yacht when you see it in frame there (laughs).

However, they handle and point really nicely.

I actually like the feel of them better than an AUG, and much better than a Tavor.

It’s cool, it’s got a trap door here to check the chamber.

This is one of the old-school models with the built-in optic with the backups on top, but you can take that off, and there is a Picatinny to replace it with.

It’s really easy to field strip.

It handles and points well.

Patrick, you like it as well.

– I do.

– It’s just a great gun.

It’s reliable. It’s accurate.

The trigger’s bullpuppy, but sort of okay.

– It’s not bad.

Make sure we’re clear here.

– It’s also ambidextrous.

Rounds eject out the front, which is very cool.

All in all, that’s my favorite bullpup, and it’s a great AR alternative.

– Yeah, like you say, the trigger is kind of bullpuppy.

Even the sight, it looks really futuristic and everything, but it works pretty well.

It’s very clear.

I like it a lot.

– That’s the FS2000.

That’s a great AR alternative.

Let’s move on to an old design based on the G3.

This is actually an HK33 rifle, but there’s clones on the market.

Some made by Sentry, some made by other companies like Vector, and ATI I think has one coming out.

– They might.

– But a lot of companies make these.

I know TPM Outfitters down the road from me will make you one.

You can make your own, too.

There’s kits on the market for about $500, which is awesome if you’re savvy.

These shoot very well.

If you like the G3, if you like the PTR91 guns, you’ll feel right at home on one of these.

They’re very smooth.

What do you think, Patrick? – I like this gun a lot, too.

I think you’ve got one that’s shorter.

I don’t remember what you’ve got.

– I’ve got a 53 that’s basically a short version of this.

It’s a lot of fun.

– We’ve taken that out a couple times, and I really like shooting that gun a lot.

It’s a crowd pleaser.

– They’ve got that distinctive G3 carrier movement that jostles your body back and forth just right, and I like the HK Diopter sights.

– I liked ’em so much that I purchased a set and put it on one of my short barreled AR-15s.

– There ya go.

That’s a great alternative, and you can build one of these for probably $600 or $700 I’m gonna say with a receiver flat if you’re a competent welder.

If you’re not, then you can get a Sentry clone for cheap.

However, there’s some questionable ones out there.

Evaluate what you’re buying.

– I want to say on building them, it is a little bit more daunting than building an AK or something like that, but it’s doable.

– It’s possible.

It is cool that it’s possible is the thing.

Next up, everyone who’s into guns definitely knows what this is.

– You don’t even have to be into guns.

If you’re into video games you know what the SCAR is.

– I will say, when giving kids, or my friends’ kids and what not tours of the gun room they immediately know what this is and they gravitate towards it.

I don’t know why that is.

This just draws the most attention from video game people, and I guess it’s in a lot of action movies these days, so it is what it is, but this of course is an FN SCAR 16S.

It’s definitely the most expensive of the offerings on the table.

– It is, but– – Arguably the most well made, and the most well received by the military.

– You see the rifle, it looks kind of bulky, and until I had picked one up whenever they came out I was thinking, man, that’s gotta be heavy.

I’m not gonna like it.

Picked it up, and it is just.

The handling and characteristics of this rifle are fantastic.

I like it so much that I’m lookin’ to purchase one.

– Right.

I would say I prefer the FN FNC, the old gun, to this, but they don’t actually import that anymore, so unfortunately it’s not on the table.

– That, and prices on those FNCs are over what you would spend on one of these– – Not that much more than that, really.

– [Alex] They were about $3000 – [Patrick} Well, yes, but.

– [Alex] These go for $2300 or so.

– $3000 to $2300 is significant.

– If I had the money, to be honest with you, I’d probably spend the extra dough, and get the.308 version.

It’s only a couple hundred more, and you do get that heavier hitting round which is awesome.

– Wouldn’t fit the criteria, unfortunately. – [Alex] Wouldn’t fit the criteria.

– So that’s there. It is an option.

I really do like this gun.

It’s reliable. Accurate.

It’s everything you want in a modern firearm and more.

– Something I do want to touch on is all the controls on this gun are very familiar.

If you’re an AR-15 shooter, you can pick this one up, and run it just like you would your AR-15.

– Absolutely, so great alternative.

The next one’s nothing new.

It’s actually been on the scene for years and years.

It’s based on the M1 Garand action.

This, of course, is a Mini-14.

I actually am a huge Mini-14 fan.

I think I bought this for $600 a couple years ago when I first graduated from college.

I thought, wow that’s a really cool rifle that I’ll use to take to the lease and whatnot, because I liked how the sights were right above the bore as opposed to the high bore sights of an AR-15.

I got some 20 round mags and stuff, and I used it to kick around for a little while.

It’s reliable. They’re accurate.

They’re good guns.

Another thing is they’re legal in California, New York, and your other ban states, because without the flash hider they’re featureless.

That’s one of the reasons I included this as a great alternative.

– We’d be wrong if we didn’t include it, to be honest.

Anything that uses this action belongs in a best-of video, period.

– Now, Nathaniel, I know you don’t like this action, but I do, so be quiet.

(laughing) They are reliable. They are accurate.

As long as you don’t do silly things like clog the action with mud like in one of those crazy videos.

– I want to say it was Ian McCollum from Forgotten Weapons.

They did an extreme mud test on an M1A, which uses a scaled up action, and it did very poorly, but as long as you’re using it reasonably, it’s great.

– For civilian use, it’s a great rifle, so don’t get hung up on those kind of deals, but understandable if you don’t want a traditionally laid out rifle like that.

Last and not least, these are in no particular order by the way, is the AUG, which we have done a cool video on for TFBTV.

This is a great rifle.

– I absolutely love it.

I’m currently searching for one as well.

– If you want a bullpup with history, support, and a proven record, the AUG is the way to go.

Some people will say, “Well, the Tavor.” Well the Tavor hasn’t been around as long as the AUG.

The AUG’s been around for much longer.

– The Tavor is a cool rifle in its own right, but it’s, in my opinion, just not as cool as this.

– It is my least favorite bullpup.

I probably will catch some flak for that, but the AUG and the FS2000, I think, beat the Tavor.

I haven’t had an opportunity to fire your Tavor yet, so I don’t really have an opinion, but I have shot this.

– Some people prefer the Tavor.

Some people prefer the AUG.

Some prefer the FS2000.

We’ll cover that later.

– We do have a bullpup shootout video coming. – [Alex] We do have a bullpup shootout video coming, so that’ll be kinda cool.

This is my, or our pick for the last great current production AR alternative simply because it’s handy, reliable, accurate, and it’s modular.

There’s parts. There’s long barrels.

You can convert ’em to nine millimeter.

– Magazines are readily available.

– True, and you can take either AUG or AR-15 magazines.

– Yeah, if you change out the body of the gun, which it’s not that hard, is it? – No, also as an aside, there are plenty of registered full-auto trigger packs available for these which is not something most people consider, but it’s just kind of cool that that exists for the gun, so in theory you can just get a full-auto AUG or trigger pack, throw it on your gun, and go to town.

– The same thing can be said about this HK rifle here.

You can get a Flemming sear for that, or a registered trigger pack, or whatever have you.

– Absolutely.

It’s a great gun.

I can’t sing the praises of the AUG more.

– Out of all of them, if I had to pick one it probably would be the AUG.

– That’s pretty bold.

I honestly don’t know which one I would pick.

What context? Are we talking hunting? – Just an all-around rifle.

Which one of these five would you choose if you had to have just one? – I would probably choose the SCAR, simply because of its user friendliness, and its modularity.

When I say modularity I mean it’s got a big Picatinny rail on the top that I can mount an optic to.

It’s got pistol grips I can change out to whatever I want to.

Folding stock. Collapsible stock.

– All fair points.

– I do wish it had a caliber conversion kit available like the ACR.

I think some companies make ’em aftermarket.

– I don’t know.

I don’t know enough about them, to be honest.

You do have to remember you’re built a little bit, you got longer arms and that kind of nonsense, so something like this works better for a short guy like myself.

– Well, there you go.

I can’t argue with that.

That’s our picks for the best five AR-15 alternatives that are currently in production.

I’m Alex C.

– And I’m Patrick R.

– Thanks again for watching TheFirearmBlog.com guys, and if you liked our video hit that subscribe button.

We’ll really appreciate it.



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Mike N.

    Are FS2000s still being imported?

    • We checked and saw that they are available on their website, so they are definitely not written off by the company. From what I understand, they are just in a brief production hiatus to focus on other products. I don’t think they sold particularly well so they may be waiting until demand returns to fire up the tooling. That said, I do believe dealers are sitting on new old stock guns.

      • BrandonAKsALot

        It has been confirmed that FN will do another run of them even though they were declared dead at one point. I’m glad. Mine is easily in my top 3 favorite guns I own.

  • John

    Exactly ! I have the same question as Mike ! Good luck finding an FS2000 – and if you DO find one, be ready to sell an arm, a leg, and a kidney to pay for it.

    Alex, we know you guys know people at FN. Can you ask them the question? WTH is going on w/ the FS2000?

    ’cause it would suck big, BIG time for anyone to shell out $2K or $2.5K (or more) for a used one, now that they’re nowhere to be found . . . for two months down the road to become available again at $1.5K or whereabouts . . .

  • Surprised that Arsenal’s 5.56 AK series didn’t make the list.

    • A .223 AK would definitely be in the 10 guns video!

      • SP mclaughlin

        And .223 Vz.58?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Or saiga 223.

  • Phil Hsueh

    One minor correction here, the M1A action, to the best of my knowledge, is not a scaled up version of the Mini-14 action, if anything it’s the reverse. The M1a is a semi-auto version of the M-14 and the Mini-14, as I understand, uses the same action but scaled down for 5.56/.223.

    • Correct Phil, we did not mean to imply that the M1A came after the Ruger, just wanted to reflect on the similarity of the two guns’ actions.

  • Sianmink

    Maybe Patrick could post what parts he used for his $430 AR. 😉

    • M

      A quick search on the cheapest I could buy and assemble:

      AIM Surplus: $40 Anderson lower + $40 LPK + $40 Stock w/ buffer = $120

      PSA:
      PTAC 16″ Midlength 5.56 NATO 1/7 Nitride Upper (without handguards) with BCG and Charging Handle – $270

      Add some ~$10 handguards and you have a $400 rifle

      If you wait for black friday, you can get a CHF PSA premium upper for ~$250-300

      • n0truscotsman

        I bought a couple on easter 🙂

      • Patrick R.

        More or less what I did. I will have to do a video on it in the future.

  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    Nice, 4 out of 5 Euro-creations…!

    • The Germans and the Walloons have this whole firearm thing figured out!

    • iksnilol

      That means we must be doing something right.

  • thedonn007

    No love for the Tavor? I own a Tavor. As far as looks, I like the looks of the AUG better. The FS2000 looks and feels like a boat. It is much bigger than it needs to be.

    • Definitely all comes down to personal preference, we just happen to prefer the other options. Nothing wrong with the tavor, just don’t prefer it

  • thedonn007

    Also, if the SCAR was about $1,000 less I would own one. Some other rifles for consideration would be the Sig 556XI, and the MPAR 556.

  • Bosch

    Meh. I like my Tavor just fine.

    Let’s see… $1500 new. Great customer support. Optics are more or less attached to the barrel. 2-3 MOA with junk ammo, 1-1.5 Match. Piece of Duct tape fixes Tavor Face. 2000 rds no cleaning / no failures (and counting). Comes with BUIS, sling mounts, bayonette mount, and a very nice cleaning kit, standard. Better trigger than the AUG. Can upgrade trigger if desired. Easy to field strip. Is very photogenic…

    Cons… Hit me in the face once firing from the left side. No forward assist. Barrel does not come apart easily.

    So yeah. Tavor. Get one.

    • Not bad rifles at all! Like I said though, it is all personal preference. The Tavor is a fine rifle, I just prefer other options.

    • Vhyrus

      You forgot the most important part: the tavor actually works with most magazines. The FS2000 has serious magazine compatibility issues, to the point that if you close your eyes and grab a random AR mag off the table it probably won’t work in the FS2000 and might even jam the gun.

      • thedonn007

        Even if you remove or trim the rubber seal in the magwell?

        • RealitiCzech

          You’d seriously take a chop saw to a $2000 rifle?

          • You just pull out a rubber gasket.

      • RealitiCzech

        FS2000 takes standard GI aluminum mags, so it’s not as if they’re pricey proprietary stuff.

    • n0truscotsman

      I was a bit skeptical about them at first, but took the plunge and bought one.

      They are easily the best bullpup available. They are superior to the AUG when it comes to ergonomics and are far less bulky than the FS2000. Mine has pretty much run anything I’ve fed through it and its a pretty intuitive rifle to learn. I put a blue force adjustable sling on mine with a surefire scout and RX30 reflex. It is handier than pant pockets.

      I wouldn’t hesitate to compare it to a AR or AK. IWI did an outstanding job on it. I haven’t heard of major issues with them either on forums or through hearsay.

      • Dan Atwater

        Ergonomics are entirely subjective. Both the AUG and Tavor have their benefits IMO, great rifle either way.

        • Patrick R.

          That is where the Aug wins out for us. Both Alex and I have broke our wrist earlier in life and are plagued with limited motion. The ergos of the Aug are better suited for us as a result of the handicap.

    • Patrick R.

      We happen to have one in our inventory, it just happen to lose out to other rifles that we prefer more. Keep in mind these are only our opinions, nothing more. The discussion of Aug or Tavor was pretty heated. The 80’s coolness of the AUG won out in the end.

  • Lance

    Those who a weapon not Bullpups and FN plastic. Try these weapons. H&K 93 and clones, SiG 556, Ruger Mini-14, IMI Galil, HKs new semi auto G-36. Or you want a mouse caliber thats not a AR or 5.56mm get a 5.45mm AK-74!

    • Lance, there are some problems with your list: The IMI galil is not in current production yet in the USA (the ace will come soon), no civilian G36 exists in the US yet, and while I own a sig 556, it is plagued with wandering POI (I have to sight it in every time I go to the range!).

      • tb556

        I had this issue with my 556 and then noticed the rail was not completely tightened down from the factory. Tighten and blue locktite your torx screws on the rail, problem solved. Also try shooting 69gr-77gr. My biggest gripe is the trigger weight being 8-9lbs.

  • BrandonAKsALot

    I like your list as I own 3/5 and plan to add an AUG to that. Not a personal fan of the Ruger, but I can definitely see why it would be there.

  • joe

    As others have mentioned, no love for the SIG556? And I have no problems with mine maintaining zero.
    Note that HK insists in all my correspondence the HK93 is NOT 5.56mm compatible. It’s marked .223, they say use .223. My Vector clone was fine with it and my HK will get a new barrel at some point.

    • Scott P

      It is SIG’s quality control in general and that run they did back in ’09 where they royally screwed them up that has tarnished the reputation of it.

      I have one myself and I too was leery to get one with the issues they had. Before I knew I was moving to a freedom-loving state my former state was about to ban them so I had to act knowing that I would never be able to get a real SIG-550 series rifle always wanting one so I took the plunge out of desperation. I lucked out not only by the fact it works, reliable with anything I feed it, and accurate but it was the last generation or transitional generation model of the regular 556 to the 556xi where it has a regular 556 upper but with the xi lower with an ambi mag release and selector that previous one’s did not have making them rather unique and daresay collectible.

      • Dan Atwater

        If you want a real SIG-550 series rifle, you can get damned close with the SIG 553p. It’s made in Switzerland and they only imported a limited number of them but they’re out there. Even though they were imported as pistols, they shipped to distributors with separate buttstocks. Fill out a Form 1 and you’re g2g.

  • James

    I absolutely agree with you on preferring the SCAR 17S to the 16S. In my humble opinion, as one who is saving up for a 17S, the price of a 16S simply does not offer enough advantages in the realm of 5.56. This is not to say that its not a good rifle, or even not a better rifle than the AR-15, its just not worth the cost for the improvement it offers.
    For the .308, however, that changes with the 17S. Great video, regardless.

    • Thanks James. When you get your 17S you will definitely be happy with it. Great gun!

  • Slim934

    Out of curiosity, what components did you source to build a $430 AR-15?

    • Patrick R.

      I can cover that in a future video. I will say there was a lot of bargain shopping involved.

  • abecido

    I find it a great mystery that PTR does not make a 5.56. Surely there are enough people who want a HK93, but don’t want to pay the HK price or trust Century quality control for it to be worth PTR’s while.

    • RealitiCzech

      I just wish they made an MP5 clone. There’s got to be some good reason as to why they don’t, an MP5 at the same price point as a PTR91 ought to sell like hotcakes, with clones going for closer to 1500.

    • No mystery really. They build their G3 clones on old FMP (Portuguese) tooling and are set up well to do it. They would need to purchase new tooling for a 5.56/.223 version and very few countries licensed hk33 production relative to G3 production. I bet we will see them make 5.56 guns in the future though!

    • BrandonAKsALot

      Fluting the chamber on the 5.56 is supposedly a good bit more difficult as well.

  • John

    So looking into the option you mentioned about dropping in a full auto trigger group into the AUG. From what I found the sellers of these mention that it is not designed for and is illegal in a semi-auto AUG. Would that function properly with the full auto trigger group installed? And what steps could you take to make the rifle legal to own in its full auto state?

    • You would need to purchase a legally registered AUG full auto trigger pack or sear. Fleming made a bunch, as did qualified. These full auto hammer packs that have been modded to fit inside a semi-auto stock.

  • David Pierce

    Say what you will…I love my TAVOR…After the trigger upgrade…..

  • Hahah, I got a special mention!

  • BrandonAKsALot

    It was confirmed last year that there will be another run this year. This news came out after all that.

  • Isaac Newton

    I like the use of the word Bullpuppy lol.

  • UCSPanther

    Rifles based on the SIG 550 and 540 are also potential candidates as competitors to the AR 15. The ones I have seen are solid and have a great reputation for accuracy and reliability. I’m hoping to add a Famae SIG 540 to my collection one day.

    They may be more heavy than the AR, but that shouldn’t be a problem to anyone who has had experience with older rifles…

  • WFA

    Thanks guys, can you perhaps field strip the rifles in future and show more of the technical features, internal operating systems, pistons etc and explain more about why some are more reliable than others.
    Granted you want to keep the show to sub 10mins so this may not be possible with 5 gun line up.
    Also please get some range footage of these, show them in action with thoughts on accuracy handling etc
    Looking forward to the bullpup shoot out.

    • We have an AUG video on TFBTV that shows the gun in action:

      Realistically there is so much we would like to do, but we have a lot in the pipeline!

  • Werner Aschenbrenner

    Years ago during my time at the Austrian Army we disassembled and cleaned the Steyr AUG infinitely often. You get used to the Ergonomics. The AUG – in Austria better known as STG77 (= Sturmgewehr 77) is the main service Rifle since 1977. Still one of the best.

  • Fegelein

    ______
    Something I’ve noticed is that when we do a post on the blog about an AR-15 or a new product that is kind of AR related, people will chime in saying things like, “Oh look, another AR.” and to be quite honest I’ve experienced some of that myself with something I’ve kind of called AR fatigue.

    The AR is a good platform.

    It’s been around, and you can get one for 600 or less these days.

    – I built one two months ago for $430.

    – There you go.

    With AR-15s out there costing $430 there’s no really good reason to not get that as your primary firearm, but some people don’t like them.
    _____

    Yeah, I’m burned out of AR’s, and I’ve been that way for easily the past nineteen months is not more. As for your price figures, come around where I live. In Virginia, the only way you’re spending less than $600 (more likely $800) on an AR is if you get a five finger discount on it. IDK about the primary arm thing, though; I don’t particularly like the platform for a number of reasons related to my actual experience handling and using it.

    _____

    This is the FN Herstal FS2000.

    You can make all the jokes you want, it really does look like a yacht when you see it in frame there (laughs).
    _____

    Well, if pretty much every new gun to come out doesn’t look like an AR15, it looks like a fish.

    _____

    Let’s move on to an old design based on the G3.

    This is actually an HK33 rifle, but there’s clones on the market.

    Some made by Sentry, some made by other companies like Vector, and ATI I think has one coming out.
    _____

    There’s a new run of these? I so want one; thanks for the news!

    ______

    Next up, everyone who’s into guns definitely knows what this is.

    – You don’t even have to be into guns.

    If you’re into video games you know what the SCAR is.

    – I will say, when giving kids, or my friends’ kids and what not tours of the gun room they immediately know what this is and they gravitate towards it.

    I don’t know why that is.

    This just draws the most attention from video game people, and I guess it’s in a lot of action movies these days, so it is what it is, but this of course is an FN SCAR 16S.
    _____

    I thought the SCAR was kinda sliding into obscurity thanks to even newer stuff coming out. I want to fire it, even though it looks like a fish. Great, now I’m hungry.

    _____

    The next one’s nothing new.

    It’s actually been on the scene for years and years.

    It’s based on the M1 Garand action.

    This, of course, is a Mini-14.

    I actually am a huge Mini-14 fan.
    _____

    Aaaaannnd I’m not really a fan of the world’s most expensive plinking rifle.

    No 5.56 AK’s? Guys, are you sure you’re feeling alright? Kinda seems like a bit of a stretch to just spontaneously forget about the world’s #1 and America’s #2 rifle platform.

  • Lol! He dun goofed.

  • idahoguy101

    Ruger Mini-14 is common, reliable, and not overpriced

    • UCSPanther

      I have one. My most favorite rifle out of my whole collection.

  • John Cancer

    “It points well” is not a valid argument for, or against, anything. Keep it real.