EDIT: Thanks for all the feedback. So heads up this list was originally part of this AR-15 build guide spreadsheet
, hence the frequent mentioning of that gun/platform and some arbitrary shout outs to specific AR-15 makers. (Ironically I'm primarily a shotgun guy at the moment.) So PLEASE look elsewhere if you are looking for recs devoid of any political consideration. The original intention was this as a disclaimer / FYI oriented list of companies with good, iffy, or straight-up bad Ppolitical affiliations/etc. as well as US made and/or unionized companies. It's been muddled with quality mostly apolitical budget-oriented recs as well. I am likely not listing many (like dozens if not hundreds) and I don't want to open a can of worms and end up listing general gun suggestions / lists. I might even par it down for that reason.
So that said I'll leave additional recs to the comments. Will edit and add any companies to overtly avoid for shitty politics/ownership and likewise will add any that are inclusive and/or liberal or left leaning. Thanks!
The information below is aimed at informing gun enthusiasts with moral, ethical, and ideological reservations about certain supporting manufacturers. It lists reputable apolitical and professional manufacturers to consider, is then followed by disclaimers about other reputable manufacturers, then concluded with manufacturers to consider avoiding.
Full disclaimer: this effort stems from frequent and incessant debates and discussions I've seen among gun owners from center to far-left and from my own concerns personally as a leftist. That said if you are neither left-wing nor liberal but nonetheless want to support honest and sincere gun manufacturers this information is worth reviewing. This is not aimed at calling out any company with remotely right-wing political affiliation or leadership, that would be not just flippant and needless but absurdly futile. In fact the only ones I recommend to avoid have overtly engaged the following: pandered to destructive and vitriolic identity politics, bootlicked and idolized authoritarian entities and leaders, or in a few cases literally touted fascism and right-wing extremism.
I would argue these are not mere red flags to myself or others on the left but more broadly sentiments that sincere conservatives and libertarians should also wholeheartedly condemn. It is my sincere belief that gun ownership rights are a not only universal right and a necessity for the working-class but also potentially a unifying ideological issue that will hopefully transcend contemporary politics.
Fundamental respect for gun safety and handling and willingness to include all who want to be involved in legal and responsible gun ownership is common ground for anyone who believes in basic equality and freedom. Lastly, if you are still rolling your eyes, ready to list a litany of dismissive rants as one of those "better dead than red" edgelord dolts, than by all means F.O.A.D. Manufacturers To Consider:
/// Solid Companies in every regard: Much of this intel gathered from this helpful post on reddit
who help spurred on this effort and also from this extensive Something Awful Thread
. Further info gleaned from a private FB group I will not name. If anyone from there sees this, many thanks. There's also a great thread here
that recommends a lot of of distros, stores, and ranges. Windham Weaponry
- Mostly lateral organizing, employees treated as collective owners (to clarify no indication they are literally collectively owned). Broke off from Bushmaster after Freedom Group buyout. Wide arrange of models. Fair pricing, great customer service and high quality (Kudos to tip-off via FB Group) Rocket Armory
- Arguably the only overtly liberal AR part manufacturer
. Not quite leftist (Lefties might want to skip the LGO logo lower - some elements of LGO have been adverse to leftists) but nonetheless an outspokenly progressive maker is a worth supporting IMO. Lowers and fixed mags only. Current stock shipping in mid-December 2020. CMMG
- Apolitical and high quality. Allegedly unionized (not sure but their website does tout solid benefits) Good selection of various caliber platforms both complete, uppelower reciever packages, or stripped parts. Known for their 22LR conversion kits that provide affordable training option for AR platforms. JP
- Expensive but high quality, anecdotal stories of apolitical / non-CHUD atmosphere from employee that appears to be reflected in their PR. Whiskin Tango Foxtrot (WTF Guns)
- Gun building/customization business in Fort Worth, TX in process of acquiring machinery. Veteran owned and liberal friendly. Rainer Arms
- Minority owned and straightforward online store with good selection. Liberal Gun Club Member Business
- A list of firearm accessory businesses and not manufactures
but nonetheless worth looking at to support liberal gun enthusiasts Smith & Wesson
- Mostly apolitical, huge company but American made and makes solid entry-level AR-15s Cz-USA
- US distro/importer of the venerable Czech manufacturer. Atlantic Firearms
- apolitical and reliable merchant and they are helpful with compliance guns for ban states Ace High Armory
- Small CLP maker, affliated/supporter of LGO (see above) Off Color Decals
/ Dorner Tactical
/ Red Stone Creative
/ John Brown Armory
/ Space Dog Laika
/ Outcast Society
/ Flank Left
/ Sleep of Reason
/ Cultivated Laser
/ Left Queer & Sticky
/ LGO Store
/ Slay Shop
/ Liberal Gun Club
- Stickers, patches, etc. Custom dust covers at Far Enough Left
and custom magazines at Splatt Magz.
Lot to find on Redbubble
as well. Guerilla Tactical
- Holsters, Medical Kits, and apparel John Brown Prints
- Shirts and stickers, though specifically these proceeds go to BLM and bail funds
Others...There are far more smaller American AR-15 manufacturers of varying quality and pricing, consider smaller and local options as politics aside they are employing enthusiasts making firearms for fellow enthusiasts. Regarding quality: research forums and comment sections before you buy!
/// Unionized: Colt (UAW)
- The original maker of AR-15s after they bought ArmaLite in 1964 and patent holder on design until 1977. Big law enforcement / military supplier. Good but arguably a redundant consideration now with so many AR-15 options. Savage (IAM)
- Mostly non-AR-15 style rifles like bolt action, hunting semi autos, competition, etc. Good and often affordable consideration for those platforms. Unionized Non-AR makers>>>
Browning - IAM, Douglas - IAM, Winchester - IAM, Remington - UMW (Bankruptcy impending and Navajo purchase fell through, post-Freedom Group quality dip after 2007)
/// Solid but with disclaimers/caveats: Aero Precision / Ballistic Advantage Barrels
- Huge selection, affordable, well-touted and potentially the benchmark of non-gucci lower receivers. Not innocent, the tone deaf AF blurb for Rhodesia camo comes to mind
, but otherwise less CHUD-y. Excellent "default" manufacturer to use for builds that are budget and mid-tier / entry level oriented. Mid State Firearms
- Great PSA alternative, far less knee-jerk and pandering. Offers discounted bundles and kits of cancelled orders, blemished but good parts, and "oddball" assortments.
Read multiple testimonies of good customer service in response to any issues. Like Aero they aren't perfectly apolitical as they sell 3%er dust covers. Thanks for the tip datcatburd KE Arms
- Mostly solid and somewhat under the radar, competition quality oriented - collaborators in the WWSD 2020 rifle
with InRangeTV's "What Would Stoner Do?" gun projects
and InRangeTV is notably inclusive. Allegedly friendly staff but Russell Phagan, aka longtime SomethingAwful poster SinistralRifleman, was banned after relentlessly defending the Kenosha shooter. More FYI than anything. He still has a working relationship and focus on WWSD and has not used KE Arms as a platform, i.e. he's remained professional otherwise, especially here on reddit where he's been very transparent on WWSD updates. Brownells
- Well-regarded and has budget part options, owns a lot of AR-15 related ventures including AR15.com
and family has major NRA ties and lobbying industry. Distro for InRangeTV + KE Arms What Would Stoner Do? WWSD 2020 AR-15
. Again not perfect, they had a cringe-y fellowkids
level nod to boogaloo shirts in a recent vid Midway USA
- Comparable to Brownells, lot of options, reliable vendor, etc. Some NRA connections but nothing crazy. More info here thanks
to u/rocketboy2319 SGAmmo
- not the only ammo supply company by any means but a solid bulk option with no BS apolitical tone. Primary Arms
- Another distro to consider, mostly because it's been keeping a lot of AR-15 parts in stock despite panic buying Bravo Company USA [BCM]
- Bit pricier but another solid and popular choice for upper tier ARs, had confederate battle flag engraving option. As u/mp8815
pointed out they are a great option for more serious milspec than Aero, PSA, etc. Little Creek Trading
- Distro/online store - lot of expensive / high end stuff but also good deals on lower recievers, parts, accessories, and built ARs. Pleasant website layout so worth browsing for ideas if nothing else. Sell affordable slings. Sig Sauer
- 75% +/- US made, reactionary "US anthem" anti-kneel BS commemorative models but fairly tame jingoism in context Ruger
(Acquired in late 2020
) - Excellent guns including the classic 10/22 and various other models, some have US components and assembly, well-regarded starter AR-15, major NRA donor (interestingly and ironically the late Rugar was outspoken about magazine limitations) Glock
- Universally know and solid handgun maker, USA distro / service is well regarded. Gaston Glock allegedly a right-wing donor in Austria but from his coffer. Note: Polymer80
guns are an option for anyone wanting to build their own Glock style handgun. LaRue Tactical
- Expensive but well-regarded and established, their triggers (MBT-2S esp.) are well touted and affordable ($80) upgrades over milspec; FYI they send gimmicky overt right-wing bumper stickers with orders and the owner is cozy with right-wing and GOP leaders. Geissele
makes well regarded triggers and parts but owner is allegedly tyrannical, work environment is rough and has high turnover.
BCG options: Toolcraft
and Cryptic Coatings
offer affordable options and appear fairly apolitical. Primary Arms
- Affordable scope options, some stereotypical law enforcement pandering but that's the case with most peers. Daniel Defense
- Update: previously reputable and touted brand but according to this
previous indication of good worker environment are unfortunately obsolete. QC is allegedly slipping and ownership attitude has become negative and toxic. On the flipside recent buyers report satisfactory quality and originally I had read the work environment was unusually inclusive. Maybe opt for different high end brand? Jury's out TBH. Still likely a solid choice quality wise but keep an eye out for them. Springfield Armory / Rock River Arms
but FYI some shady legislative lobbying efforts heads via this post
disregard, they've since left IFMA Sons of Liberty Gun Works
Tip off here about one of it's owners, Mike Mihalski, being unhinged in the past - assaulting his mother and numerous threats against cops actually doing their job that were then brushed off by law enforcement superiors he was friendly with, DUIs and public intoxication at a hotel while armed (albeit he cooperated)
Update: Mike has apparently been sober and stable for awhile, more a disclaimer to be aware of. It's otherwise a solid manufacturer akin to other mil-spec AR makers. Trijicon
- continues practice of subtle but cringe-y bible verses inscribed on products that spurred a military contract controversy
, actually well-regarded optics though arguably getting too expensive compared to alternative options Del-Ton
- PSA alternative and alternative to cheap "iffy brands" with more notorious QC issues - def more entry-level and milspec but generally good reviews - consider if budget is a major factor Radical
(see more below) - Allegedly better but QC issues in the past...(see details below) Ammo Supply Warehouse
- good selection, pricing and service but FYI their logo on their main page has fucking SS totenkopfs on it. That said the also obliged a customer request to sing the Soviet anthem while packing their order
, so perhaps they use the iconography naively and flippantly and not as a dogwhistle. Palmetto State Armory
(see more below) - *Only listed because of historically affordable parts, products, and supplies, though this is arguable. Hit or miss customer service, including customer info leaks and inadvertent doxxing customers. Most notably one of the worst offenders in cranking out right-wing and jingoist bullshit ~ MAGA drooling, ID politics crap, etc. More on this under "Reconsider" List
Others...Many, many others out there but like anything else you can easily drop a lot of money seeking out "the best,"
>>> mediocre rifle in the hands of a qualified shooter is a better than a high-end rifle in the hands of a inexperienced shooter.
/// American Made not yet mentioned: Mossberg
- Factories in Connecticut and Texas. Not sure 100% if MMR is US made. At least one model is Turkish made (SA20), and the Maverick 88 has Mexican made parts that are assembled in Eagle Pass, TX. IMHO the best pump action shotgun catalog to choose from, the Maverick 88 along with the H&R Pardner or Savage 320 are solid budget pump actions. American made brands (non-AR-15)>>>
Thompson/Center, Henry (some expensive MAGA nonsense FYI), Marlin, Ithaca, Kimber, Beretta (some models)
/// Reconsider / Possibly Avoid:
To re-emphasize no shame if you own or bought the below and the "line in the sand" is very arguable, but these, especially if pricing is not as much of an issues, these can be easily opted out of in your AR-15 procurement and builds. Palmetto State Armory
- Mentioned again because easily the most debated manufacturer.
Numerous examples of racist and fascist etched lowers aside I agree with the sentiment that their motivation is capitalism above all else and not so much right-wing worship although those pair well together.
Case in point - they cancelled their planned Kekistan lower due to backlash, i.e. didn't double-down nor apologize but reaffirmed business first. They also sell some self-deprecating, humorous and more apolitical lower engraved options. Beyond this crap they have also had customer service hiccups including personal info leaks. Your call. Last ditch option for me personally but I wouldn't completely rule them out either especially as parts and new guns are increasingly expensive and hard to acquire. To sum up I rather a comrade have half a dozen of these than some sole spiffy new gucci AR-15. Bushmaster
- Quality has been criticized by many, Windham broke off to establish better quality gun line and ultimately they closed shop this year. Avoid any you might find out there post-2007. Anderson
- Popular but notoriously entry level choice (hence the "poverty pony" nickname) but bootlicking MAGA bullshit so honestly it's pointless to tout over Aero Precision, PSA, or MSF. Tennessee Arms
- Mixed feedback about their polymer lowers, gloated over Infowars showout/endorsement, dumb (like okbuddyretard
level) memes on FB Enoch Industries
- 10/22 Takedown parts and custom builder, some quintessential grey area Odin/Pagan
stuff that could be harmless warrior aesthetic stuff or a dog whistle. Esstac
- Solid and affordable pouch and other accessory maker including shotgun cards I rec, that said they came out as Kenosha shooter stans. Their stick on velcro loops are pretty damn solid but other teeth velcro cards can be found elsewhere. Classic Firearms
- Used auction site/seller. Not politically iffy, just often overpriced and waste of time to browse, use gunbroker.com
or even cautiously use armslist instead [edit: to clarify "waste of time" for anyone looking for pragmatic deals to skim, not niche stuff to collect.] Kel Tec
- This one is tricky, the off very affordable non-AR-15 9mm carbines - same working class price niche as High-Point - but just FYI they've had cozy PR with George Zimmerman in the past H&S Precision
- Hired Ruby Ridge FBI participant Lon Horiuchi in the past Cheaperthandirt
- Tread carefully even if you see a deal - plethora of complaints about service, pricing, turnaround, etc. Check with other options first. Note on foreign manufacturers (IWI, Canik)
- This another debate point that leads to a lot gray area and arbitrary claims whether it's regarding companies based in countries with authoritarian governments, human rights abuses, war profiteering, etc. One could argue that applies to all American makes. When it comes to state made guns most state owned firearms companies of the past either have been privatized (like IWI in Israel) or are not legally importable in the U.S. (Norinco in China, various Russian companies). Ironically while the U.S. bans certain Chinese guns many U.S. manufacturers rely heavily on Chinese plants and parts. The general reality is most non-American and non-Western manufacturers are part of multinational conglomerates or distribution networks, as is the case with many Turkish guns like Canik. History ebbs and flows too, a 60s/70s era Galil is different case than a new Tavor in terms culpability, South African guns now are less arguably problematic than apartheid era stuff. Overall, it's up to you.
/// Companies with noted QC issues: Radical Arms
- Issues in the past
but reportedly the QC is improving so could be a potential budget option and arguably the best of the iffy makes. Your call. Bear Creek Arsenal
- Formerly Moore's Machine. People have touted BCA as an effective and reliable budget rifles but their QC seems risky
, others have had major issues. Apparently they have a good warranty option though so there's that as an option. Anderson
- See above. Stripped lowers are probably a-ok. DPMS / Bushmaster
- Easy avoid, dead as of Jan 2020 - another post Freedom Group brand that declined after 2007 as mentioned above - mixed reviews but needless consideration considering so many other options in the NOS and used market. Vulcan/Hesse/Blackthorne
- Easy avoid, multiple name changes and near universal dismissal or negative reviews.
/// Avoid if you can in the future: Blackwater Worldwide / Iron Horse
- Invested, touted, and overtly marketed by longtime mercenary, grifter, and war criminal and profiteer Erik Prince, the poster child of the present day world military industrial complex. Collaborated with Spike's Tactical (see below). Formerly Iron Horse Guns and original company unchanged product wise but they're-branded as Blackwater Worldwide in exchange for Prince's investment. At least they are honest and transparent about it I guess. Spikes Tactical
- Hysterical anti-antifa (i.e. fascist
lol) CHUD to the max, many note iffy / overrated products compared to peers - don't sweat it if you have one but ditch this option in the future and spend your money elsewhere. Fenix Ammunition
- anti-Antifa hysteria and with a boog angle too boot DS Arms
- Overt Rhodesia glorifying, not just camo fetishism 4Ward Defense
- Threatened to dox and call the police on a customer who was simply trying to cancel an order. Griffin Armament
- "Front Towards Arabs" engraved suppressors, lazy racist shit (notice it isn't ISIS) compared to the more snarky "infidel" dust covers and decals Kahr Arms
) - Literally run by major cult (Moonies) i.e. the Unification movement
Apparently Kahr is crappy anyway but Auto-Ordnance makes 1911, M1, and Thompson replicas so seek other options for those models (mispelled earlier, meant Kahr, not Khar) Smith Enterprises
- SS iconography sold, i.e. actual Nazi stuff not the Iron Cross aesthetics T-Rex Arms
- Quiverfall members more on that group here
and Lucas has posted cheap homophobic crap.
) Troy Industries
- Apparently tits up but backlash for hiring Dale Monroe - i.e. FBI veteran and Ruby Ridge participant DesertTech
- Owner is fringe Mormon sect member with racist views
Non-AR makers/businesses to avoid... (Sourced from Something Awful thread above) DE Guns
- Neo-Nazi ties Glockstore
- White Supremacist organization ties LGBT Gun Rights (facebook and twitter)
- faux progressive social media run by Neo-Nazi
, do not join either as they are aiming to misinform and glean info on progressive and leftist gun owners
^ these are the tip of the iceberg TBH. There are likely problematic owners of stores and companies who will never be outed. Always look out to avoid local gun stores, distros, and individual sellers with bigoted and fascist sentiments and/or scammers - this kind of trash has always been the nasty underbelly of gun culture. Def be subtle and unassuming IRL while shopping - be cautious and tactful in interactions. Alternatives include more apolitical / hunting and hobby oriented stores like Bass Pro/Cabelas, Academy, Dick's, Big 5, etc. Love it or hate some Walmarts often have good deals.
There are plenty of individuals, stores, and companies that are politically more conservative or libertarian but well-meaning and honest and worth patronage, i.e. you can hold to your ideology without limiting yourself to strict arbitrary choices as a customer. Try to embrace the shared sentiment of gun ownership as a right and launching point to reaffirm that owning firearms is an universal and inclusive right for personal and community self-defense. Opportunity to praxis is likely rare, but it might emerge.
YT personas to stop subscribing from - IV8888, Brandon Herrera, CRSFirearms, etc. (there's a shitload TBH, feel free to tell me others to avoid) - Most are coming as bootlickers in recent times (not a shock), and if a YT channel isn't focused on guns over right-wing edgelord bullshit move on. For leftist/liberal/non-right wing content check out Forgotten Weapons, InRangeTV, Tacticool Girlfriend, Armed Margins, thegunpenguin, Beau of The Fifth Column, Sapper Gentleman, and DeviantOllam has a few. More apolitical and great content but likely right-wing and/or hinted such sentiments: Honest Outlaw (no idea, he plugs a local food shelter and is seemingly apolitical), Hickok45 (arguably the nicest and least pretentious YT gun personality, old timer who is passionate about sharing knowledge with others), Luckygunner, #itsonyou, 32icon, Katharina Vikør, C&R Aresnal, Rob Ski, 9-Hole Reviews, 22plinkster, Paul Harrell,
(recent dogwhistles and TBH he has a weird Patrick Bateman vibe - HD content but maybe look elsewhere), gunthots, mixup98, Demolition Ranch. Wild card is Yankee Marshall - bit of a nutter but he's sincerely unabashedly pro-2A / anti-NRA and shit stirrer in away that's amusing. To his credit - although it was likely a weird fluke - he lost a bunch of subscribers for calling Garrett Foster a patriotic veteran. List of POC youtubers here
- Colion Noir is probably the best known black gun YT persona, unabashedly pro-2A, like Hickok45 dropped his NRA affiliation fairly recently; the did so both over disagreements in their budget spending and ad agency contracts respectively.
/// Editorial / Op-ed from original AR Build Spreadsheet
Some advice and food for thought regarding reconciling ideology with present day gun enthusiasm:
If you are a liberal, progress, moderate, etc. who has come into gun ownership more recently, or has been reckoning with shifts in gun laws and gun culture in the U.S. over the last few decades, than you've likely managed to cut through the noise surrounding the debate, discussion, and frequently knee-jerk hysteria that surrounds semi-automatic rifles and the AR-15 platform. Now you're probably navigating the persistent injection of right-wing identity politics via stamped receivers, accessories and apparel with cheap shock value and superficial pandering, tacticool veering into authoritarian fetishism, tribal jingoism, etc. You've pushed aside misguided liberal identity politics that mis-characterize and attack gun enthusiasm only to have it's reactionary core shoved in your face. It can easily be reconciled with a concept you've likely seen: “There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”
It's been overused and even widely applied in dubious scenarios but I'd argue it's highly relevant when it comes to buying any new firearm or firearm component. All that aside it's still perfectly reasonable to not inadvertently throw your hard-earned cash at bootlicking goons, so when it comes to manufacturers this list should at least help you navigate and plan your purchases armed with information and awareness. If anything, supporting more apolitical and progressive manufacturers who aim to focus first and foremost on making quality firearms for all should be spurred on, not stymied.
If you're a leftist of any variety and interested in AR-15s you are likely already past the idea of committing to firearms that seemingly align with your views - AKs, milsurp SKS, Mosins, anything from cold war era socialist or communist states, etc. You've likely realized the last era of true Nazi-eliminator rifles are now 75+ years old. Futile seeking out new firearms and parts from non-capitalist states in 2020 will only reinforce this sincere but arbitrary hill to die on. A more pragmatic approach some make is to focus on buying only used firearms and parts already in circulation but this could still involve the financial patronage to a distributor, store, or individual of bad character. On a personal tangent, I first warmed back up to the idea of owning a semi-automatic that wasn't an AR-15 either by following the same arbitrary classification that deems a used M-14 or old M-1 carbine a better choice, but beyond classic value and aesthetics they are in the same niche. Even though defenders of the AR-15 sometimes veer into obnoxious and flippant ackchyually
territory, especially after tragic gun massacres, they are often technically correct. The blunt fact is the AR-15 platform is fundamentally as legal as other semi-automatic rifles. It's popular for that reason and that's why it has so many fans, defenders, and apologists in so many forms.
When it comes to broader ideas of firearm ownership in relation to one's ideology, something I reflect on often is the fact that history has always involved the oppressed using the weapons of their oppressors both past and present. It's a moot point what the firearm is, it is a tool that reflects the individual who wields it. A rifle in the hands of a fascist is a fascist rifle and likewise a rifle in the hands of a socialist is a socialist rifle.
To further make the case for the AR-15 many have made in some variation is that it is the present day rifle of the proletariat, the M1 Garand or PPSh-41 of it's time. When it comes to affirming your support for gun ownership, advocate for more widespread gun education, training, and positive and inclusive gun culture. Put lawmakers to task for pushing gun regulations that discourage law-abiding citizens - especially lower income citizens and people of color - from lawful ownership of guns. Support instead substantive reform and funding of mental health resources, de-militarizing law enforcement, and ending gun lobbying that side steps gun owners to only further corruption and complicity. If those who wish to do you harm are armed and will likely always be armed, there's no point in handicapping yourself or your peers.
Buying or building any gun, AR-15 or otherwise, is an exercise of one's 2nd amendment right. For those outside of the U.S., and to all lawful and well-meaning comrades, arm yourself however you can legally and responsibly. Marx put it more bluntly in 1850 than the 2A's far more nuanced wording and arduous historical establishment: “Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary” Lastly, above all else, with tensions rising and outright violence being perpetuated by the far right, it is more imperative than ever simply to arm oneself as quickly, effectively, and safely as possible, regardless of the manufacturers, stores, and distros involved. A well made affordable gun you can acquire ASAP is a lot more imperative than your ideal build/choice. This is a guide not a plea. It's better to be armed with a gun from the "avoid" list today than to wait around for some ideologically preferable firearm weeks or months from now.