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[Review] Lead Star Grunt AR-15: No Upgrades Needed

Looking for an AR-15 that doesn't need any upgrades out of the box? And is still affordable? We hands-on review the Lead Star Grunt that does both.

Another day, another AR-15 review!

Today we’re looking at the Lead Star Grunt, Lead Star has been a respected name in competition for a long time now but this is their more duty and entry-level AR-15.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (12)
Lead Star Grunt AR-15

Does it hold up? Is it worth the money?

Check out Johnny’s complete video review to see all the answers. And subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Now onto the written review! Or see if it’s in stock…(it goes in and out a lot).

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Table of Contents


Who Is Lead Star?

A name in the competition world for some time now, Lead Star has been making high quality, high tier competition rifles for years.

Lead Star Arms Shooting
Lead Star Arms Shooting

While their main offering is skeletonized, lightweight rifles and PCCS — that isn’t all they make.

Their Grunt line is designed for real use, either on the range training or in home defense.

lead star arms pcc
Lead Star Arms Prime 9mm PCC

These are full-bodied rifles and pistols that don’t offer much in frills but do offer a lot in durability and reliability.


  • Caliber: .223 Rem / 5.56x45mm
  • Operation: Direct impingement
  • Gas System: Mid Length
  • Fire Control Group: Grunt Combat trigger, Nickel Boron coated and polished, MIL-SPEC trigger
  • Pull Weight: Approximately 6 lbs.
  • Handguard Length: 17″
  • Handguard Material: 6061-T6
  • Bolt Carrier: M16, Black Nitride QPQ Finish
  • Bolt: Carpenter C-158, Black Nitride QPQ Finish
  • Muzzle Device: Ravage Linear Compensator
  • Barrel Material: 4150V CMV
  • Barrel Finish: Black Nitride QPQ
  • Twist: 1:7
  • Barrel Length: 16″
  • Grip: Grunt Combat Grip. Black with rubber over mold
  • Stock: MFT Battlelink Minimalist lightweight with 6 position adjustment.
  • Weight: 5.6 lbs.
  • Finish: Type III Class 2 MIL-SPEC hard coat anodized. or Cerakote (Concrete Grey, FDE, Sniper Green)

Range Report

This might sound a little boring but here it is — the gun just ran.


Zero failures, zero problems, just a gun that went from the box to the range and ran perfectly.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (6)

From steel cased ammo to Federal 55gr brassed cased, it ate all of the ammo it was fed.

A host of magazines, often the most unreliable part of a firearm, gave the Grunt no issues.

Every single one worked 100%.

Something that does stand out is the quality of every part.

This rifle didn’t just run flawlessly, it did it with style. These aren’t the same parts that you find on other mid-tier rifles, these are wonderfully finished and made with precision.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (10)
It comes in a box. Simple, but it works.

Coming in at barely over 5 pounds, this is on the lightweight side even for an AR-15. But combined with the Grunt linear comp and the 17″ handguard giving a ton of room for gripping, this is an outstandingly soft shooting rifle.

List Of What I Love

Everything, really.

The 17″ handguard stands out as being different, normally a 16″ barrel will have a 15″ handguard but the extra 2 inches found on the Grunt do a great job of giving you just a bit more room to grab.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (7)
Loooong Grip

The Grunt also features Lead Star’s Ravage linear compensator, designed and made in-house by Lead Star this adds an extra bit of length to the barrel making the 17″ handguard flow perfectly.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (1)
Lead Star Arms Ravage linear comp

It’s also one of the most effective linear comps we’ve ever used. It directs muzzle blast away from the shooter and greatly reduces felt recoil.

Lead Star lists their trigger as being the “Grunt Combat trigger, Nickel Boron coated and polished, MIL-SPEC trigger” but using it you would never guess that it is just a milspec trigger.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (14)
“Milspec” trigger, but polished and Nickle Boron coated makes it smooth and crisp!

The polishing job is outstanding and the Nickle Boron coating makes it simply outstanding.

Trigger pull is ultra-crisp, break is like a glass rod, and the reset is short and smooth.


If I had to gripe about something with the Grunt, I would pick the safety selector and the charging handle.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (5)
Milspec safety is… functional.

The safety is a totally milspec safety and I would really have liked to see a nice ambi safety with this rifle. To me, every AR-15 should have an ambi selector these days. Especially one that is aiming to be a step above the average rifle.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (4)
The Lead Star charging handle isn’t bad, it is just not ambi.

While the charging handle isn’t milspec, in fact, it is a nicely upgrade charging handle with an extended latch that works great — it still would have been nice if this was ambi also.

Again, not required but it would have been a small upgrade that means a lot.

All The Charging Handles
If you are looking to upgrade your charging handle, we’ve tested a LOT of them!

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

Made in America, but runs like a Swiss clock. Even with every type of magazine I could find, it still ran and ran!

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (13)
The wide range of mags tested!

Ergonomics: 4/5

It feels like an AR. Needs to be converted to ambi, but overall good ergs. 

Accuracy: 4/5

Like all 5.56s, not a half-mile sub-MOA rifle. I’d estimate it at 1 MOA which will do all you need it to do!

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (16)
Federal American Eagle 5.56 55gr on the top!
Best 5.56 XM193 55 gr
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Customization: 5/5

You do you, Boo. We highly recommend an optic, I used the Sig Sauer Romeo5 and sling like a VTAC.

Brutally Tested Budget Red Dot
at EuroOptic

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Value: 4.5/5

The Grunt’s price stings a little more than an ultra-budget AR, but it needs nothing. Slap on an optic and go to the range. It’s ready. 

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Overall: 4/5

It runs. It has solid features. And it looks good. Big thumbs up for a mid-tier rifle. 


The Lead Star Grunt AR-15 is solid and it has some nice upgrades straight from the box that puts it above the rest of the common choices while still keeping the price within a reasonable range. We didn’t find anything negative to say about it, and that’s a very rare thing indeed.

Lead Star Grunt AR-15 (2)

If only all of our reviews could be this easy!

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Will this be your first AR? What kind of upgrades do you put on all of your rifles? Let us know in the comments! If you’re looking for some inspiration, take a look at the Best AR-15 Upgrades!

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Ricky Johnson

    Very nice in 10.5 it looks great have not shot yet but a sig romeo 5 and sites upgrade charger it ready tun get the psa 28 case this guns Millsap and the fit is tight I mean best I've seen u wount but a 2000 ar that once for hafe go lead star slick rick midway ga

    April 26, 2021 2:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gary lackey

    Got one today iii like it my first AR came with a site on it and got it dialed in it is dead on target

    April 1, 2021 2:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    brian s

    Does anyone know if the Lead stars Grunt is legal in new jersey? I am thinking it is and wanted to order one. However, since they have ar-15 in the title that was my only concern. I know the muzzle tip is pre-drilled to accept a pin. so i know i would have to have it pinned before the shop would let me take it home and pin the 30rd mag to 10 rd. Any thoughts would be great before i smash the buy button.

    March 8, 2021 1:00 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Suggestions for iron sites? Magpul? Sig? Troy HK style? Already have a Romeo waiting for it, but would like some folding iron sites as well. Thanks.

    September 28, 2020 9:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The Ravage linear compensator does come on the grunt, but the one on the firearm that was being review was the Ravage muzzle brake. Might wish to change it in the review to be accurate.
    The stock that normally comes on it is the MFT Battlelink Minimalist, but that change was already mentioned.

    August 12, 2020 8:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Just received my carbine length Grunt yesterday and to my surprise it came with the Ravage muzzle break, not the linear comp. Perhaps only the pistol length versions come with a linear comp.
      As for the firearm itself, its incredibly light - at least compared to the Ruger 556 MPR.
      BCG disassembles easily and is designed as auto (the firing pin is protected vs exposed the gun itself is obviously semi-auto).
      The trigger was surprisingly crisp and is definitely light feeling even for a 6# pull. Its not as pleasing as the MPR 2-stage, but its more reliable than the MPR's 2-stage since its mil-spec with less moving parts and it still feels very good.
      The handguard has 2 spots on either side for a QD sling to attach - one right next to where it attaches and one close to the muzzle.
      The stock has a QD mounting point on its underside and the receiver end stock plate has a QD slot as well.
      The grip is a bit thinner than a magpul one and doesnt have heavy texturing, but it feels really good in the hand and lets you get a solid hold over the whole rifle.
      The charging handle felt a bit loose, but I immediately swapped it out for a Radian Raptor one. If you are right handed though, it has a large amount of area to grab and makes it easy to pull back - definitely easier than a base one.
      It came oiled and seemed as if it had been test fired a few times from the small amount of residual carbon and small amounts of wear on the BCG (very minor).

      I'll comment again when I actually have a chance to put some rounds through it.

      August 21, 2020 7:51 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Brandon Crow

    I'm hoping this will be my first AR, if/when they are back in stock!

    Looking forward to it, and can't wait!

    June 28, 2020 4:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Humphrey

    Full transparency, I'm newish to ar's, but not guns overall. I ordered the grunt based largely on this review. I was not disappointed and impressed a few shootets and the ffl shop too. Its a quality rifle with good parts. I got it for $699 at PSA. A quick field strip and light lube before the range and had no issues with different mags and both 55 and 75 grain 5.56. Only have iron sights for now, but this gun should last.

    June 13, 2020 4:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I don't really mess with anything that doesn't have a chrome linked barrel, and the name almost sells it for me

    April 20, 2020 5:15 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ricky johnson

      Its 4250v and its build lk a 2000 at realy all good grunt millspeck aswell

      June 7, 2021 2:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    R Petty

    Put a Radian charging handle and V7G Episilon brake on it and it would be hard to beat. But almost $800 is a bit much to have to start adding to right out of the box. I would like to see a parts breakdown for a self build.

    April 14, 2020 5:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joel Ramirez

    handguard length is longer than the barrel?

    April 14, 2020 3:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Yes, the handguard is 17" and the barrel itself is 16". The barrel also has a linear comp that is a few inches long though so it extends the bast past the handguard.

      April 14, 2020 4:33 pm
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