ANDERSON MANUFACTURING AM-15
The basic AM15-BR 5.56 NATO is an optic-ready, multi-caliber choice that provides a smooth shooting, reliable option that is accurate right out of the box.
If you’ve been considering the purchase of an AR-style rifle, you might not be sure where to start looking. Although the local gun shop might have a decent selection, it’s hard to figure out the variances in cost and features if you aren’t wholly familiar with the gun.
I’m of the mind that any gun is a good gun, and until you truly know exactly what you are looking for, and why, starting off with a dependable name and affordable quality is where you want to start. Anderson Manufacturing provides exactly that. Check out my Anderson Manufacturing AM15-BR review below, and find out why you want to have one.
Anderson Manufacturing History and Overview
For more than 30 years Anderson Manufacturing has operated out of Hebron, Kentucky offering American-made rifle parts and assemblies, accessories, and a full range of complete rifles. Taking pride in their performance, reliability, and amazing value, they are the home of the world’s only no lube rifle and offer awesome quality for an entry-level AR-15. Because everything is made in house, they control cost, and so despite being labeled an entry-level option, it truly is a competitive quality being offered for the price.
The AM15 is the manufacturer’s copy of the Colt AR-15 since Colt acquired the Armalite name and AR-15 label. Incredibly budget-friendly, it is ready to go with your choice of sights and optic additions, and doesn’t slack on quality parts.
As a new AR owner, I wanted a choice I could get a lot of use out of while getting comfortable with the style. The AM15 was perfect for my needs, and with only a 6.2 lb unloaded weight, easy to handle. The multi-caliber barrel feeds both 5.56 NATO and .233 REM, making buying ammunition a bit more accessible whenever it gets scarce, plus it’s easy to modify for your own comfort and stylistic needs.
- Incredible shooting value
- M4 profile barrel with 1:8 twist for a wide range of bullet options
- Multi-caliber option provides consistent shooting of both the 5.56 NATO and .223 REM
- You need to add your own optics, adding to the overall price
- 7” Carbine Length Handguard (not really a con, but I like a longer handguard)
What to Consider Before Purchase
Anytime you plan on putting down money for a firearm, budget-friendly or not, you want to check out the details of the product. Anderson Manufacturing is a solid product investment, and
The AM15 models offered by the company provide the same standard frame and style of the original AR-15, using forged aluminum upper and lower receivers with an M16 bolt carrier profile and carbine length gas system. It has a 16-inch stainless steel threaded barrel that boasts an M4 contour with an A2 style grip, handguard, and flash suppression. A 6 position buttstock is perfect for adjusting to any arm length, and a picatinny rail is ready for your choice of irons or optics.
All AR15 rifles are basically the same. The major differences include variances in materials, overall design, specialized coating, and slight features that affect the overall aesthetics, but for the most part, they all have the same parts, break down exactly the same, and shoot similarly.
Obviously, you want to pay attention to multi-caliber, or 5.56 NATO vs .233 REM choices. Even though the cartridges are the same size, a 5.56 will not shoot through a .233 safely. This is due to the size of the gas system not providing what is needed. However, a .233 can and will fire in a 5.56 option without issue. If you want the capabilities to shoot both, you will need a 5.56 NATO capable rifle.
If a full-length rifle isn’t your thing, you also might want to consider the Anderson Manufacturing AM15 pistol design. This shorter option has all the main features and benefits of the full length in a more compact size. This weighs less than 5 lbs. and has only a 7.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 24 inches.
Anderson Manufacturing AM15 Features & Benefits
The following information should provide you with all the main details pertaining to the features of the AM15 design. Having shot various brands, I find it competitive- and of course, comparable in overall feel and consistency to other entry-level AR-15 models. In fact, I sort of feel like I won the lotto on affordability and quality with it as it handles better than some other, more expensive choices.
32 ½ inches – 36 ⅛ inches
5.56 Nato, .223 REM
Original M&P Shield PC
M&P Shield Plus PC
M&P Shield M2.0 PC
9mm Luger, .40 S&W, .45 Auto
M&P Shield EZ PC
.380 Auto, 9mm Luger
Capable of handling both the 5.56 NATO and .223 REM cartridge, I feel this is the best choice when considering any AR-15 style rifle. Not only do you have the ability to take advantage of a wider array of available ammunition, you also have versatility in its use. Because of this, I’ve had no problems in staying stocked with ammo, since almost everyone has either one or the other on hand.
The rifle comes standard with a 30 round magazine, and it takes both metal and polymer mags without issue. I have about 4 different brands I use and all have fit and fed effortlessly while shooting.
The AM15 includes the standard fire and safe switch that is within easy reach from the grip. I find the design compact and comfortable, which is saying a lot due to my very narrow grip. I have no issue keeping a good hold on my gun while moving the safety from either position, which is a huge win for me as the grip feel and reach can be a make or break deal in my world.
A2 Style Grips, Handguard, Flash Hider
The standard 16-inch stainless steel rifle barrel is threaded and includes a 7” carbine length A2 style handguard that is easy to replace for a different length or custom design. As mentioned, the grip is narrow and comfortable, and works great for smaller hands without sacrificing hold for somebody larger. It comes with a flash hider, that by all means seems to do its job well. It’s a small detail, but one many people appreciate.
6 Position Adjustable Butt-Stock
Typical for this style of rifle, the adjustable buttstock makes it a much more versatile piece for various shooting scenarios and body shapes and sizes. With six points of adjustment, you have a lot of play for your own needs, plus, it slides off easily if you choose to replace it with a more customized piece. It slides super easy, something I really appreciated when I was finding what position felt best for my shooting stance and sights.
The integrated Pinckney rail provides the means to call this a true “Optics Ready’ option. Personally, I really like being able to put the types of irons or sights on my firearms rather than being stuck with what the manufacturer felt I needed, or dealing with a replacement. Although it is good practice to be able to shoot using various sighting techniques, there is nothing wrong with preferring one type over another, and this rifle gives you that option in a ready-to-attach solution.
I attached an entry-level Tru-Glo Red Dot to figure out if this was a type of choice I liked without having to invest too much into one financially. I definitely was pleasantly surprised at the quality, ease, and accuracy it provided despite being offered at a much lower price point than much of its competition. Check out our Tru-Glo Red Dot review here!
Ejection Port Cover
The ejection port cover may seem excessive to some, but it absolutely is a necessity. Well hinged and easy to manually open and close when needed, this is an effective way to help keep dust, dirt, and grime out of the inner workings of your rifle. Great for dusty range days, arid weather, and just regular use, this is a great way to help keep the inner workings of your rifle in good shape.
A bolt catch stops the bolt’s travel and enables the bolt to be locked to the rear after emptying a magazine in order to insert a new one. This is an unobtrusive bolt catch that sits almost completely flush with the aluminum lower. I’ve had no issue with it and expect I never will.
The forward assist is a left-over from the mil-spec days that insisted you have the means to close the bolt if a round doesn’t fully seat in the chamber. In short, it was a backup for a problem, which is what you need in combat. Ergo, it’s definitely not something you need for punching paper at the range. It’s there, it’s functional, it looks mil-spec, but if my gun doesn’t fire or something isn’t right, I’m not going to force the bolt closed and risk a bigger problem- I’m going to clear the round via the charging handle and probably clean my gun.
There is something satisfying about having a smooth mag release and popping a new one in. Easy to feel without having to look, textured to keep your finger from sleeping, and located in a perfect position, it is easy to drop a used mag (seriously, don’t drop it in the dirt) without it being too stiff.
Open Trigger Guard
An open trigger guard requires a pin-in-place trigger guard- which means you can swap it out for what you really like. Truly, one of the best features about this entire gun is how easy it is to turn it into a project option to customize. On that note, I’ve been happy with the basic trigger it came with. It’s a good size for my small hand and feels solid under my finger
Optional RF-85 Treated
Anderson Manufacturing also offers an RF-85 treatment that is their patented, famous claim to fame. This is the process that allows you to clean your gun only with soap and water, keeps you from ever having to lube it, and promises a 23% faster action and 85% less friction.
My Bottom Line
I’m no expert, but I’ve shot my fair share of firearms, and I can honestly say I have been very happy with the Anderson Manufacturing AM15 line of rifles. It has been a dependable, consistent piece that has given me no issues despite putting through hundreds of both 5.56 and .223 rounds. It is ready to go right out of the box, and will be easy to modify for some specific details I have in mind for a more customized shooting experience. In my opinion, it is probably one of the best entry-level AR rifles you can buy, and is an excellent backup or project piece for more serious shooters.
What the Rest Are Saying
You truly can’t go wrong with this rifle, and consumers overwhelmingly agree. The company has only built up its name through the years, offering consistent quality and excellent customer service. Anderson Manufacturing uppers and lowers are popular for personal builds, and their wide range of accessories to help you detail your gun is spot on earning them consistent 5-star reviews.
To Wrap It Up
Some people will avoid certain manufacturers based on biased opinions that only long-standing brands are worth considering, but when you consider everyone needs to start somewhere – Anderson Manufacturing has built a pretty strong name for themselves in only a few decades. Their parts and accessories are popular for builds, and their completed rifles offer an excellent selection of both features and style, as well as price points to help you find what you need, want, and can afford.
We’d love to hear about your experience with the brand, and have the chance to answer any questions you may have. Let us know in the comments below, and, as always, please share!