The AR-15 style rifle is a staple in American sport and defense. It is an incredibly light and agile semiautomatic rifle platform that is based on the ArmaLite AR-15 original design which was originally a slimmed-down version of the Stoner AR-10.
Since its debut, the AR platform has become one of the most popular sporting and home defense platforms in the US. The modular components are available separately or in prebuilt models. With only the lower receiver needing to be registered and tracked, the rest of the components including the upper receivers are widely available for purchase and customization.
But many people who are just getting into the hobby may not even be aware that there are a wide variety of left-handed parts including receivers for their new AR-15 build. We’ll look at some of the best uppers available right now, and how to choose the best one for your build and needs.
Best Left-Handed AR-15 Uppers
- Stag AR-15 Upper Receiver 5.56mm
- Stag Arms AR-15 Stag 15L Varminter Complete Upper Receiver
- F-1 Firearms LLC AR-15 Billet Stripped Upper Receiver
- Stag 15 Tactical Upper Receiver
- Bravo Company AR-15/M4 Flattop Upper Receiver
Stag AR-15 Upper Receiver 5.56mm
For those looking to build their own AR from scratch, this upper is a great option. When you’re left-handed, your choices for many things are limited, but the Stag AR-15 Upper is perfect for lefties. This upper is highly customizable, as it lacks a handrail, gas system, rail, and barrel.
What it does have, however, are a dust cover and a preinstalled forward assist. These will ensure your gun is accurate and reliable. This mil-spec left-handed upper receiver is super durable as well, as it has a Type 3 hard anodized finish, perfect for combating rust, moisture, and abrasions.
- Easy installation
- Can be customized
- Ensures shooting accuracy
Stag Arms AR-15 Stag 15L Varminter Complete Upper Receiver
If your main focus is hunting, one of the best options out there is the Stag Arms AR-15 Varminter Complete. This upper assembly helps left-handed folks hit their target every time. Built to last, this upper is made from 410 stainless steel, ensuring corrosion and rust aren’t a concern.
Included with the upper are a bolt carrier group, charging handle, free-floating handguard, and a rifle gas system. It is chambered in 5.56 NATO but also takes 223 REM. The 24-inch bull barrel is perfect for getting that high bullet velocity you’re looking for.
- Ideal for hunting
- Easy to customize
- Very durable
F-1 Firearms LLC AR-15 Billet Stripped Upper Receiver
This universal stripped upper fits with 5.56 NATO ammo and is compatible with all mil-spec lower receivers. With a black anodized coating, this upper looks nice and will blend with most other rifle components.
The lightweight design is due to the stripped upper. This skeletonizing reduces weight, is great for aesthetics, and because it allows more customization. This is the top choice for many situations, including tactical exercises, competitive shooting, and self-defense.
- Very durable
- Simple to install
Stag 15 Tactical Upper Receiver
Constructed from stainless steel and sporting a hard-anodized topcoat for added protection, the Stag 15 is an exceptionally durable upper for an AR-15. This tactical upper for lefties encourages maximum shooting accuracy, as the barrel twist rate is 1:7.
The 16-inch barrel is fully fluted, allowing the heat to dissipate quickly. This is ideal because you won’t have to wait so long for your weapon to cool before performing maintenance on it. Whether you are looking to build a rifle for hunting, tactical, or defensive purposes, fast cooling is never a bad thing.
- Accurate shooting
- Cools off quickly
- Very durable
Bravo Company AR-15/M4 Flattop Upper Receiver
One of the best things about the Bravo Company AR-15 Flattop Upper Receiver is that it can be used with many different types of guns. It is chambered in:
- 223 Remington
- 223 Wyle
- 6 5 Grendel
- 5.56 mm NATO
- 6 8 SPC
- 224 Valkyrie’450 Bushmaster
- 458 Socom
- 6 5 Creedmoor
- 300 Blackout
It includes a factory-installed ejection port and forward assist. On the inside, there is dry, firm lubrication to help reduce wear on the barrel. You can even use M4 barrel extensions if you prefer a tighter fit. It also helps with accuracy.
- Easy to install
- Compatible with many different guns
- Allows easy customization
The “upper” is the common term used to refer to the upper receiver part of the AR-15. The upper receiver is the housing and protection for many important parts of the AR-15. This includes the components that will determine the overall weight, performance and even the accuracy of your completed AR-15 build.
In the simplest terms, the upper receiver will house the bolt and the barrel. With a swap of the upper receiver, the AR-15 can go from a close-quarters powerhouse to a precision long-range decider. While the lower receiver is the portion of the firearm that is registered and controlled, being marked with a serial number, the owner can leverage a variety of uppers to increase the versatility of their weapon without the hassle of another round of paperwork.
When using an AR-15, there are only a few reasons that you will need to pay attention to the handedness of your upper. They are the safety selector, the bolt release, the magazine release, and the ejection port & dust cover. Most of these have some form of workaround or adaptive part to help lefties cope.
For example, the safety selector can be put in “backward” so that it effectively becomes a non-issue for functional and safe operation. The bolt release is already on the left, and a part that costs less than a box of ammo can modify the magazine release to be lefty-friendly.
The challenge comes with the ejection port. Near the end of the firing cycle when the spent casing is being ejected, the right-handed upper sees that casing ejected rightwards, relative to the operator’s aim. In the event of a left-handed shooter with a right-handed ejection, that spent casing is being ejected toward the operator. In a left-handed upper, that casing is ejected leftward, relative to the operator’s aim.
The primary benefit would be that of safe operation. When firing multiple rounds, perhaps even while moving, those ejected casings are going to add up, and while they may not seem that bad at the range, when those spicy brass boys are bouncing off your bicep or forearm, you might think a little differently. Since lefties will be firing the weapon at their left shoulder, ejecting the casing to their left keeps them safer and more accurate.
Additional benefits of using a left-handed upper include not having to modify anything to be able to shoot more comfortably. Sure, there may be a workaround or backward fitment hack for most things, but why should you have to improvise on your AR build? You are spending good money on quality components, you should be able to utilize them just as normally as any right-handed operator can. Using a left-handed upper can allow the standard fitment and operation of all components as designed.
There are three different types of construction when browsing AR-15 uppers. There are billet uppers, as well as uppers that have been forged or cast. Then there are going to be two different styles for each type of upper, often split between those with a carry handle and those without, often called “flat-tops”.
Billet upper receivers have been made from an existing solid block of metal material, being drilled out and shaped as needed to become the functional upper receiver. There are some who contest that billet uppers are weaker, though this will largely depend on the quality and consistency of the billet being used to create them. These are less dense and lighter overall than forged.
Forged uppers provide the grain and consistency of metal needed for the optimal mix of physical and mechanical performance. Forged uppers excel in things like hardness, fatigue limit, and weight. While they have a formidable physical profile they are also much denser and heavier than other types.
Cast uppers are made by dumping molten metal into a mold, or form. The parts are then CNC finished to ensure specifications and quality. While cast uppers tend to be the lightest, they are also the weakest from a metallurgical standpoint.
These uppers will have a handle molded into them so that they can be easily carried without the use of a strap. It will likely need a specific type of carry handle scope, so take this into account when choosing.
These uppers are flat and will only have the rail on top. This makes them much more versatile for users that may need to change optics or may use their AR-15 for multiple purposes.