12 Best AR-15 Complete Upper Receivers in 2023 (Don’t Miss Out)

best ar 15 complete upper receiver
Alfred Mendoza

If you don’t have much experience building an AR-15 or need to finish a build quickly, buying a complete upper receiver is a great way to go. Finding the right complete upper receiver may be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled our list of favorites for almost every type of build.

Let’s start with a summary of our top choices, then scroll down to see a more in-depth analysis of each one.

TOP PICK: 5.56 LONG-RANGE PRECISION

PSA 20″ CHF 5.56 NATO Rifle-Length Premium

Upgrade Pick: 5.56 Mid-length 16″ Barrel

Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 16″ 5.56 NATO Mid-Length AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver

Budget Pick: 5.56 Mid-length 16″ Barrel

Trybe Defense 16″ 5.56 Mid-Length AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver

Mid-Range Pick: 5.56 Mid-length 16″ Barrel

PSA 16″ 5.56 Mid-Length SOCOM Nitride AR-15 Complete Upper with MBUS Sight Set

Mid-Range Pick #2: 5.56 Mid-length 16″ Barrel

PSA 16″ 5.56 Mid-Length Phosphate MOE AR-15 Complete Upper with Rear MBUS Sight

Editor’s Choice: Classic 5.56 Carbine-length

PSA 16″ 5.56 Carbine-Length Classic M4 Freedom

RUNNER-UP: Classic 5.56 Carbine-length

PSA 16″ 5.56 Carbine-Length M4 Nitride MOE Complete Upper with MBUS Rear Sight

Editor’s Choice: .223 Wylde 18″ Barrel

PSA 18″ Rifle-Length .223 Wylde Complete Upper with MBUS Sight Set

Editor’s Choice: .223 Wylde 16″ Barrel

Primary Weapons MK116 MOD 1-M 16″ .223 Wylde Mid-length

Budget Pick: 7.62×39 Precision Shooting

Trybe Defense 16″ 7.62x39mm AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver

Upgrade Pick: 7.62×39 Precision Shooting

Jacob Grey Firearms 16″ 7.62x39mm Ultralight

7.62×39 AR-180 Inspired

Brownell’s BRN-180™ GEN 2 16″ 7.62×39

Top 12 Complete Upper Receivers for AR-15

TOP PICK: 5.56 LONG-RANGE PRECISION

1. PSA 20" CHF 5.56 NATO Rifle-Length Premium

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 20″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Rifle-length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: Chrome-lined (Extra thick including chamber)
  • Barrel Profile: A2
  • Gas Block: Flat-top with F-marked front sight post with sling swivel
  • Handguard: Classic
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged, Hard coat anodized
  • Barrel: Chrome Molly Vanadium Steel – proprietary blend – Hammer forged, Phosphate Coated
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158® steel – shot-peened
  • Size: 28″
  • Weight: 3.6 lbs

The best AR15 upper for long-range shooting accuracy is the PSA 20″ CHF 5.56 NATO Rifle-Length Premium Upper Receiver. A 20″ barrel is ideal especially when bench shooting. This classic A2 barrel is made up of a proprietary blend of hammer-forged chrome molly vanadium by FN dubbed “Machine Gun Steel” because of its required use in FN’s M249 and M240 weapons. To add to that durability, the chrome process for the bore creates a lining almost twice as thick as a standard M16. The ongoing argument about chrome-lining generally boils down to the trade-off between accuracy and lasting durability but as we usually expect from PSA, we experienced no accuracy issues, making it a great choice for long-distance shooting. The heavy barrel provides great balance which helps with more accurate follow-up shots.

PROS

CONS

UPGRADE PICK: 5.56 MID-LENGTH 16″ BARREL

2. Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 16" 5.56 NATO Mid-Length AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Mid-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: Chrome-lined
  • Barrel Profile: Government
  • Gas Block: Low Profile – Pinned – CNC Machined – Direct Impingement
  • Handguard:  M-Lok Free Float Rail – 7 position – uninterrupted 1913 Picatinny rail
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: Flash Suppressor
  • Receiver Material: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Machined
  • Receiver Finish: Type III Hard Coat Anodized
  • Barrel: Chrome Molly Vanadium Steel – Cold Hammer Forged, Phosphate Coated
  • Gas Block: 4140 hardened steel and Mil-Spec Heavy Phosphate Coating
  • Handguard: 6061-T6 Aluminum – CNC Machined – Type III Hard Coat Anodized
  • Charging Handle: Body: 7075-T6 Aluminum – CNC Machined; Handles & Latch: 6061-T6 Aluminum – CNC Machined; Roll Pins: Heavy Duty Stainless Steel – Type III Hard Coat Anodized
  • Size: 16″
  • Weight: 4 lbs

A favorite of many shooters, our upgrade pick for 16-inch mid-length 5.56 is the Daniel Defense DDM4 V7. Built around a cold hammer-forged 16-inch chrome-lined government profile barrel, this durable upper is built to stand the test of time. Some critics hold strong to the perception that chrome lining comes with a trade-off: while it undoubtedly increased long-term durability, accuracy is negatively affected. With the Daniel Defence DDM4, we found no noticeable issues with initial shots on target or sustained accuracy with follow-up shots. In fact, it delivered some of our tightest groupings.

If you plan to suppress your AR-15, the lightweight, ambidextrous GRIP-N-RIP charging handle is made for you. Its anti-gas features are engineered to redirect gas flow upward and away from your face.

The lightweight and ergonomic free-float MFR 15.0 handguard features an uninterrupted 1913 Picatinny rail with seven M-LOK attachment points providing lots of modular space for accessories.

PROS

CONS

Budget Pick: 5.56 Mid-length 16″ Barrel

3. Trybe Defense 16" 5.56 Mid-Length AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Mid-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Gas Block: Low Profile
  • Handguard: 15″ M-Lok Free Float Rail
  • Muzzle Device:  A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: Black Nitride
  • Barrel: 4140 Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel
  • Carrier: Black Nitride, MIL-SPEC
  • Bolt: AISI 9310 Steel Black Nitride
  • Weight: 5.4 lb.

If your goal is a top-quality AR-15 build that doesn’t break the bank, the Trybe Defense 16″ 5.56 NATO Mid-Length AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver is the best AR15 upper for the money. Reviewers agree that it delivers on the primary measure of accuracy and are impressed with its quality considering its low price tag. The entire assembly is nicely aligned with smooth cycling and no feed issues or malfunctions. The mil-spec BCG and charging handle are correctly staked.

The 15″ handguard features a free-float Picatinny rail with M-Lok attachment points. While the whole assembly seems durable and has stood up to repeated use, the finish on the handguard may not hold up to heavy abuse. We have noticed a few small cosmetic nicks and scuffs. To be fair, it did survive an unfortunate fall from the table at the range but after profuse apologies and a quick wipe down, it continued to work without fail.

PROS

CONS

Mid-Range Pick: 5.56 Mid-length 16″ Barrel

4. PSA 16" 5.56 Mid-Length SOCOM Nitride AR-15 Complete Upper with MBUS Sight Set

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Mid-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: A2
  • Sight: Magpul MBUS Front and Rear Flip-Up Sights, Black
  • Gas Block: Low Profile
  • Handguard: 13.5″ M-Lok Rail – Lightweight
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged and hard-coat anodized with M4 feedramp cuts
  • Barrel:   4150V Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel, Nitride finish
  • Carrier: Premium Nickel Boron coated
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158® steel – shot-peened

PSA 16″ 5.56 Mid-Length SOCOM Nitride AR-15 Complete Upper Receivers come with MBUS front and rear flip-up sights. The low-profile gas block allows you to co-witness with a red dot sight which can be easily attached to the lightweight 13.5″ M-Lok rail.

These sturdy 7075 T6 aluminum upper receivers are forged and hard-coat anodized. The classic PSA Freedom Barrel is made from 4150V Chrome-Moly Vanadium Steel, but the barrel itself is not chrome-lined.

As we have come to expect with Palmetto State, this complete upper receiver delivers accuracy and reliability at a very reasonable price tag.

PROS

CONS

MID-RANGE PICK #2: 5.56 MID-LENGTH 16″ BARREL

5. PSA 16" 5.56 Mid-Length Phosphate MOE AR-15 Complete Upper with Rear MBUS Sight

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Mid-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: A2
  • Sight: Magpul MBUS Rear Flip-Up Sight
  • Gas Block: F-marked Front Sight Base
  • Handguard: Magpul MOE Handguard
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged, hard-coat anodized
  • Barrel: 4150V Chrome Molly Vanadium Steel, Phosphate Coated
  • Bolt Material: Carpenter No. 158® steel
  • Size: 24.5″

This PSA 16″ 5.56 Mid-Length Phosphate MOE AR 15 Upper Receiver is a close second to our top mid-range pick and really comes down to personal preference. These complete uppers have F-marked front sight base gas blocks and Magpul MBUS rear flip-up sights.

The A2 chrome molly vanadium steel barrel is phosphate coated for durability and strength. These well-balanced complete upper receivers come with the Magpul MOE handguard giving the overall assembly a slick look.

PROS

CONS

Editor’s Choice: Classic 5.56 Carbine-length

6. PSA 16" 5.56 Carbine-Length Classic M4 Freedom

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Carbine-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: M4
  • Sight: A2 sight
  • Gas Block: F-marked Front Sight Base
  • Handguard: Classic
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device:  A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged, Hard-coat anodized
  • Barrel: 4150V Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel, Nitride Finish
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158® steel – shot-peened

The PSA 16″ 5.56 NATO Carbine-Length Classic M4 Freedom complete upper is our top carbine length pick for those that want a classic look. We expect reliability and accuracy from PSA and this M4 4150V Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel barrel delivers.

The classic look continues with the handguard and F-marked front sight base. Available in black and OD green.

PROS

CONS

RUNNER-UP: Classic 5.56 Carbine-length

7. PSA 16" 5.56 Carbine-Length M4 Nitride MOE Complete Upper with MBUS Rear Sight

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Carbine-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: M4
  • Sight: Magpul MBUS Rear Flip-Up Sight
  • Gas Block: F-marked Front Sight Base
  • Handguard: Magpul MOE Handguard – Hybrid Rail – M-LOK
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged, Hard-coat anodized
  • Barrel: 4150V Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158® steel – shot-peened
  • Size: 24.5″

PSA 16″ 5.56 NATO Carbine-Length Nitride MOE Complete Upper has the classic F-marked front sight base and comes with the MBUS rear flip up sight. Reviewers agree that this complete upper receiver functions without fail and shoots smoothly and accurately.

The Magpul MOE handguard features a hybrid rail for mounting accessories so you can easily attach lights or optics.

PROS

CONS

Editor’s Choice: .223 Wylde 18″ Barrel

8. PSA 18" Rifle-Length .223 Wylde Complete Upper with MBUS Sight Set

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: .223 Wylde
  • Barrel Length: 18″
  • Twist: 1:7″
  • Gas System Length: Rifle-length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: Chrome-lined
  • Barrel Profile:A2
  • Sight: Magpul MBUS Sight Set
  • Gas Block: Low Profile
  • Handguard: 15″ M-Lok Free Float Rail – Lightweight
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: A2 Flash Hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged, Hard-coat anodized
  • Barrel: 416R Stainless Steel
  • Carrier: 8620 steel – chrome lined,  phosphate coated
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158® steel – shot-peened
  • Size: 26.5″

The PSA 18″ Rifle-Length .223 Wylde Complete Upper is our top pick for those building an AR-15 chambered in .223 Wylde with an 18″ barrel. The carrier is chrome-lined and phosphate coated for durability. The stainless steel barrel is encased by a lightweight 15″ M-Lok Free Float Rail. The nice-sized rail coupled with the included MBUS sight set and low-profile gas system, combine to make this a great setup for co-witnessing with another optic.

PROS

CONS

Editor’s Choice: .223 Wylde 16″ Barrel

9. Primary Weapons MK116 MOD 1-M 16" .223 Wylde Mid-length

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: .223 Wylde
  • Barrel Length: 16.1”
  • Twist: 1:8″
  • Gas System Length: Mid-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: Medium
  • Handguard: 15.05” M-Lok Rail
  • Muzzle Thread: 1/2-28
  • Muzzle Device: PWS FSC 556 Compensator
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Forged, Anodized Finish

For those building an AR-15 chambered in .223 Wylde with a 16″ barrel, our top choice is the MK116 MOD 1-M Mid-length complete upper from Primary Weapon Systems. This upper is featured in one of the most popular firearms manufactured by PWS and one that is used by many law enforcement communities.

With a 1:8″ twist and a 3-setting adjustable gas regulator, this quality setup excels when it comes to accuracy on target. The smooth piston system features a rod-connected bolt carrier where the rod and piston can be separated and the charging handle can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance.

PROS

CONS

Budget Pick: 7.62×39 Precision Shooting

10. Trybe Defense 16" 7.62x39mm AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:10″
  • Gas System Length: Carbine-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: HBAR
  • Gas Block: Low Profile
  • Handguard: 15″ M-Lok Free Float Rail
  • Muzzle Thread: 5/8-24
  • Muzzle Device: A2 Flash Hider
  • Barrel: 4140 Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel
  • Carrier: Black Nitride, MIL-SPEC
  • Bolt: AISI 9310 Steel
  • Size: 16″
  • Weight: 7.5 lb

This upper receiver group by Trybe Defense is a solid option for precision shooters with a limited budget building an AR-15 chambered in 7.62x39mm. Accuracy is where this inexpensive upper really shines. The 4140 Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel HBAR heavy barrel provides great balance and softer recoil impulse, helping to maintain accurate follow-up shots.

The low-profile gas system paired with the 15″ M-LOK free float rail system allows for co-witnessing and provides space to attach additional accessories. The mil-spec bolt carrier group features a black nitride-finished carrier with an AISI 9310 steel bolt.

PROS

CONS

Upgrade Pick: 7.62×39 Precision Shooting

11. Jacob Grey Firearms 16" 7.62x39mm Ultralight

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:10″
  • Gas System Length: Carbine-Length
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: Heavy
  • Handguard: Ultralight M-Lok Free Float Rail
  • Muzzle Thread: 5/8-24
  • Muzzle Device: Brake
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Billet; MIL-A-8625F Type III Class 2 Hardcoat Anodized
  • Barrel: 4150V Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel, Parkerized Finish
  • Carrier: 8620 steel
  • Bolt: Carpenter No. 158® steel
  • Size: 25.5 in
  • Weight: 7.7 oz

If there is more room in the budget for your 7.62x39mm precision build, and you want the classic miliatary look, consider Jacob Grey Firearms 16″ 7.62x39mm Lightweight. These reliable and smooth shooting complete upper receivers feature a 1:10″ twist heavy barrel with a parkerized finish that resists corrosion and increases accuracy. This top pick comes with a muzzle brake which helps soften recoil and helps you stay on target for more accurate follow up shots.

It’s clear that JGF has a serious focus on long-term durability and reliability. In addition to using extra strong materials, areas that see excess use and wear are reinforced to increase strength and durability. At the same time, extra material has been removed to keep the weight manageable. Even with that extra measure, this is still one of the heavier options on the list.

PROS

CONS

Editor’s Choice: AR-180 inspired design

12. Brownell's BRN-180™ GEN 2 16" 7.62x39

SPECS:

  • Cartridge: 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Twist: 1:8″
  • Carrier Chrome Lining: No
  • Barrel Profile: Lightweight
  • Muzzle Thread: 5/8-24
  • Muzzle Device: 3-prong flash hider
  • Receiver: 7075 T6 Aluminum – Machined; Hard-coat anodized
  • Barrel:   4150 Carbon Steel – Machined; Nitride Finish

Brownell’s BRN-180™ GEN 2 16″ 7.62×39  AR-15 Complete Upper Receiver is a great choice if you plan to build a 1960’s Armalite® AR-18 inspired rifle with modern functionality and features. The BRN-180 improves on the original in two main ways. While the short-stroke gas operation is the same, the user can select between two settings depending on environmental conditions and the type of ammo being used. Having the option to make this adjustment ensures smooth, consistent functionality. Plus you don’t have to keep up with a spare gas piston cup.

The second improvement is the single large locking screw that ensures ample locking force and a more consistent handguard lockup than the previous mechanism. This important design update keeps the handguard in alignment and rigid with the upper receiver, especially during extended fire when the barrel heats up. This single screw also helps simplify takedown so the handguard can be removed to access the gas system without having to remove other internal components.

It still retains the original AR-180 design. For example, the bolt carrier on two guide rods is buffered at the rear with a built-in polymer buffer. The Nitride bolt replicates the original AR-180 bolt design, right down to its use of a standard AR-15 extractor.

PROS

CONS

What to consider when Choosing a complete upper receiver

Primary Purpose

There are countless options available for your AR-15 build which is what makes the AR platform so versatile and fun to customize exactly the way you want it. It’s also what makes a build a little daunting for a first-timer. Before you begin to decide on specifics like barrel length and gas systems, first determine the primary way you will be using your AR-15.

  • Self-defense (car or home defense)
  • Small game hunting
  • Competition / Precision / Long-range shooting
  • General Purpose (which could mean you need a versatile build that will work for multiple scenarios)

With the primary use in mind, many of the other decisions will be much easier to make.

durability

Budget

Another great thing about building your own AR is the flexibility you have with budget. If your budget is limited, or you want the best bang for your buck, the AR platform lets you splurge where it matters most (like your barrel) while saving money in other areas. Knowing the primary purpose for your build will help you determine where to spend and where to save.

Barrel

When I start a build, the most important consideration in the upper assembly is the barrel. Your barrel determines the longevity and durability of your AR-15 but most important, it has the single most impact on how accurate your gun will shoot.

Caliber

Many caliber options are available for the AR-15 platform chambered in rounds of 45mm in length or less including chamberings from .22 long rifle up to 50 Beowulf.

.223 Remington was the original AR-15 cartridge and the M16A1 was originally designed for 5.56×45 NATO. It continues to be the least expensive, accurate semiautomatic platform capable of keeping bullets supersonic out to targets at 600 yards.

Shooting a .223 Remington cartridge in a 5.56mm chamber is safe (but not the other way around) for the sake of versatility but there are tradeoffs in terms of decreased accuracy and velocity. If you need that flexibility for competitions or if you will use your rifle for both home defense and hunting, it may make sense for you to go that route.

The .223 Wylde chamber is used on .223 Rem rifle barrels to allow them to safely fire either .223 Remington or 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition.

Twist Rate

With caliber determined, think about the types of bullets you will shoot which will determine what twist rate your barrel needs to have.  Twist is the distance in inches that it takes for the bullet to make one revolution in the barrel. A 1:7″ twist means that the bullet will make one full revolution in your barrel every 7 inches compared to a slower twist rate of 1:12″ where the bullet will make one full revolution in 12 inches.

This revolution stabilizes the bullet in the air. A twist rate that is too high or low for a particular kind of bullet will cause accuracy to decline.

Barrel Length

Barrel length affects handling – both in how it feels for you as the shooter and how it shoots because the length will affect the bullet velocity.

Longer barrels add more weight and help with more accurate aiming making them a good choice for precision shooting and longer-range hunting. A heavier rifle will produce less recoil, which helps with follow-up shots, but the extra weight can be fatiguing. A shorter barrel is well-suited for self-defense and other closer-range scenarios because it’s lighter and easier to maneuver.

A 16″ barrel maintains very good accuracy but if you need higher velocities, choose a 20″ or longer.

Barrels shorter than 16” should be on an AR pistol lower. Otherwise, it’s considered a short-barrel rifle and subject to NFA rules.

Barrel Diameter

Next you want to make sure to choose the barrel diameter, sometimes referred to as the profile or contour, that best suits your needs. The diameter will determine how long your barrel will maintain accuracy during long strings of fire.

  • Thinner “pencil” or A1 barrels are lighter to carry, but will heat up faster.
  • Heavy barrels are heavier, but heat up slower.
  • Medium-weight or standard barrels offer a decent compromise between weight and heat management.

Manufacturers aren’t consistent with naming conventions, but a rule of thumb is:

  • .625″ for A1 or “pencil” barrels
  • .750″ for standard barrels
  • .936″ for heavy barrels

Chrome Lining

It has been long believed that non-lined barrels are more accurate, so why would anyone pay more for chrome lining? Chrome lining makes cleaning easier and increases the durability and longevity of your barrel. Manufacturers have worked hard to create chrome-lined barrels that don’t negatively affect accuracy and many have been highly successful. Our opinion is that most shooters will not notice a difference.

Free Float Barrel

Standard mil-spec handguards attach at the back of the barrel. This can cause the shooter to put pressure on the barrel when holding the handguard, affecting the point of impact when the trigger is pulled.
 
The average shooter will likely not find this to be an issue in most scenarios, but if you need your AR-15 to deliver consistent long-range accuracy, you may want to choose a free-float barrel.
 

Gas System and Handguard Length

Now that you have made all the important decisions about the barrel, you can determine which gas system length is best for you. A longer gas length equals longer dwell time in the barrel resulting in smoother, softer shooting and less wear on your bolt.

  • Rifle length is best on 20″ and longer barrels
  • Mid-length is ideal for 14″-18″ barrels
  • Carbine-length can be used with 10-18″ barrels. Shooters that want to maintain the classic A2 military style often use these on 16″ or 18″ barrel.
  • Pistol-length is designed for use on barrels that are 10″ or shorter
The handguard you choose will typically be the same as your gas system length but it doesn’t have to be. The handguard will also have features like a Picatinny rail for attaching accessories. Be sure to choose the option that fits the optics and accessories you plan to use.
 

Gas Block and Sights

The next option you will choose is the profile of your gas block which affects the type of sights you use. Two of the most common are:

  • Standard front site base – use with A3 or Flattop Receiver; if you are using an optical sighting system, the height of the standard front sight partially obstructs the field of view, making it less than ideal
  • Low-profile gas block – ideal for use with optical sights. Can add detachable and flip-up rear sights designed to work with your standard front sight, allowing you to co-witness by using the two in conjunction or switch between iron sights and an optical sight.

What’s Our #1 Choice for AR-15 Upper Receiver?

An excellent all-around choice is the Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 16″ 5.56 NATO Mid-Length. Our upgrade pick for 16-inch mid-length 5.56 is built around a cold hammer-forged 16-inch chrome-lined government profile barrel. This durable upper is built to stand the test of time. 

If you plan to suppress your AR-15, the lightweight, ambidextrous GRIP-N-RIP charging handle is one of the best features in this setup. Its anti-gas features are engineered to redirect gas flow upward and away from your face.

The lightweight and ergonomic free-float MFR 15.0 handguard features an uninterrupted 1913 Picatinny rail with seven M-LOK attachment points providing lots of modular space for accessories.

Our #1 Recommendation

Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 16″ 5.56

1 thought on “12 Best AR-15 Complete Upper Receivers in 2023 (Don’t Miss Out)”

  1. I think that the DI uppers from Midwest Industries deserve some consideration in terms of both quality and value while the same can be said of the complete upper assemblies from Radical Firearms. As for piston driven uppers, Primary Weapons Systems and Adams Arms offer some very reliable and affordable options as well.

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