The takedown pin on your AR-15 might not be something you’ve ever really thought about unless of course something is wrong with yours or you lose it entirely. 

But poorly made takedown pins can make fieldstripping your gun or swapping uppers a pain and, of course, if you’re building your own lower you’re going to need one. So let’s talk about this seemingly simple part that can have a big impact on your gun’s performance.

In this guide, we’ll talk about what AR-15 takedown pins are, what different types are available, how they work, how to choose one, and, of course, a few of our favorite takedown pins for the AR-15. Let’s dive right in.

Our Best AR-15 Takedown Pins

  1. Yankee Hill Machine EZ Pull Takedown Pin Set (Our Top Pick)
  2. CMMG HD Pivot & Takedown Pins AR15 Parts Kit (Best Budget)
  3. KNS Precision .250 Diameter Enhanced Push Button Take Down Pin (Best High End)
  4. 2A Armament Titanium Takedown Pin Set
  5. Battle Arms Development BAD-EPS Enhanced Takedown & Pivot Pin Set

What Are Takedown Pins For AR-15s?

AR-15 Takedown Pin

One of the things that make the AR-15 so popular is the level of modularity you get with the gun. This has made the AR platform the go-to infantry rifle for many western militaries (including the US Armed Forces with the M4 and its variants) as well as the most popular rifle with civilian gun owners in the US in general.

The major bragging point of the AR-15 is that you can field strip it in about ten seconds, and you can take the whole upper receiver off and swap in a compatible one. This can allow you to shoot multiple calibers through the same firearm since the bolt, barrel, and chamber are all contained within the AR-15 upper receiver, and the actual firearm is the lower receiver.

Holding these two halves of the gun together is your takedown pin and your pivot pin. These two spring-detent pins can be pulled out of position to allow the gun to split into its two separate receivers, or you can just pull the rear one, which is the takedown pin, and let the gun hinge open on the front pivot pin. 

This is especially useful for cleaning and maintenance, swapping your bolt carrier group or charging handle, or clearing a particularly stubborn jam like a cartridge with a torn case head that won’t extract.

What Are The Different Types Of Takedown Pins For AR-15s?

AR-15 Takedown Pin

Typically, when referring to takedown pins people are referring to both the rear pin and the front pivot pin, but there are some differences between the two and technically it’s the rear pin that’s really the actual takedown pin. Many people don’t realize this and just refer to both the takedown pin and the pivot pin as the “takedown pins” so we’re going to cover both, just know that there is an important difference.

For one thing, the takedown pin is actually shorter than the pivot pin, and they’re not interchangeable. This is important to realize whenever you’re working on your gun as you need to put the right pin back in the right place once you remove them completely, and if you’re only trying to swap out one factory pin, you need to know what to buy.

As far as the pins themselves, there are a few different designs. Most simply use a spring-loaded detent to trap the pin in position. This keeps the pin from working it’s way loose on its own, and it keeps the pin from coming away from disconnecting entirely from the receiver when you pull it out and disengage it to open the rifle up.

Some standard mil-spec pins are very flush to the receiver with little material extending past the lower for you to push or pull on in order to remove the pin. These shorter pins are totally functional, but you may have to use something like the tip of a cartridge, a pen, or the edge of a coin to push the pin out enough to grip the head and pull it out.

Extended or enhanced pins make this much easier, which speeds up fieldstripping and makes taking your rifle apart less of a pain. These simply have a little extra material and an easier-to-grip head so you won’t struggle as much with removing them, even with greasy or dirty hands.  Some even have a push-button that disengages the pin for easy removal.

How Do Takedown Pins For AR-15s Work?

Like most machine pins, the takedown pins on an AR-15 are designed simply to fit into holes and hold things together. In this case, we’re talking about two holes on the lower receiver and the corresponding hole on the upper receiver (these have special names but don’t worry about it, you can’t really put the upper on backwards, I promise). 

Holding the pin in place and keeping it from going AWOL on you when firing the rifle is a little rounded steel gubbin called a detent which is spring-loaded. The detent fits into a slot in the lower and is pressed upwards by the spring into a channel in the takedown pin. 

At each end of that channel are two holes that the detent can slip into when the pin is either fully inserted or pulled back and disengaged.

This means that it takes some really deliberate effort to get a takedown pin to disengage, and some even more deliberate effort to remove it completely from the gun, which is what you want. 

Some takedown pins also have push-button releases that make it a little easier to remove the pin while still locking it in place during normal use. 

What Do You Look For In The Best Takedown Pins For AR-15s?

AR-15 Takedown Pin

Now that you know a bit more about takedown pins, let’s talk about what to consider when selecting a high-quality AR-15 takedown pin. 

Quality Machining

First and above all, we want something that is machined and finished well, and to tight tolerances. Standard AR-15 lowers are made for a standard pin diameter of .250”, so a takedown pin should match that pretty exactly.

If your pins don’t fit properly, pin installation is more difficult and pins will be a pain to pull out when it comes time to do maintenance or swap uppers. In addition, a takedown pin that’s too small is a common cause of slop, a gap between the upper and lower receiver that leads to wiggling and wobbling because of the poor fit.

Ease Of Use

One of the main reasons people want to swap their takedown pins out is to get something that’s a bit easier to use. That goes for not just assembly and disassembly, but also pin installation. Fortunately, installation should be easy, since standard AR-15 lowers 

If you have thick, clumsy fingers or are like me and have tiny fingers that can make it hard to get a good grip, or even just don’t like the feel of your default takedown pin, swapping to an “enhanced” pin that has a little bit more real estate for you to grip when you’re pulling the pin out or some sort of mechanism for easier removal can help a lot.

Included Parts

You also need to decide whether or not you need a full pin set with both the front pivot pin and rear takedown pin, as well as detents and detent springs, or if you just need the takedown pin itself. If you’re not happy with the pin that came in your lower parts kit or the one that came on your factory-built rifle, you may just need the pin itself and you can reuse the spring and detent.

Now, having said that, I would strongly recommend having a spare detent and spring on hand when you’re changing the pin out. That detent likes to zoom off into the wild blue yonder and it will be absolutely impossible to find on the garage floor, I promise you. 

Don’t worry, even the most experienced gunsmiths occasionally have a detent and spring with a hunger for freedom and have to buy spares. It happens to the best of us.

Best Takedown Pins For AR-15s Reviewed

Alright, now you should know more than you ever thought you would about takedown pins, so let’s dive into some recommendations. 

1. Yankee Hill Machine EZ Pull Takedown Pin Set (Our Top Pick)

Yankee Hill Machine EZ Pull Takedown Pin Set

Our top pick is the Yankee Hill Machine EZ Pull Takedown Pin Set. 

This set includes both a takedown and pivot pin, both precision machined from heat-hardened steel. Each also has a mil-spec matte black parkerized finish for even greater durability.

The oversized, button-style pinheads mean there’s no need for a punch to remove the pins.

Pros

  • Includes both takedown and pivot pins
  • Heat-hardened steel with a parkerized finish
  • Oversized, button-style pinheads

Cons

  • Only includes pins
  • Extended pinhead sticks out from the receiver

Buy The Yankee Hill Machine EZ Pull Takedown Pin Set


2. CMMG HD Pivot & Takedown Pins AR15 Parts Kit (Best Budget)

CMMG HD Pivot & Takedown Pins AR15 Parts Kit

Our favorite budget AR-15 takedown pin is the CMMG HD Pivot & Takedown Pins AR15 Parts Kit.

As a kit, it includes both pivot and takedown pins, as well as pivot and takedown springs and detents. Each part meets or exceeds mil-spec standards.

The enhanced pins have an extended length for easier removal. Even if you have to use a punch to remove the pin, the divot on the end of the pin means there’s less risk of scratching your receiver since the punch is less likely to end up moving off to the side.

Pros

  • Complete pivot and takedown set
  • Extended length and divot on the tip for easier removal
  • Each part meets or exceeds mil-spec standards

Cons

  • Lower quality materials 
  • Extended length leads to protruding tips

Buy The CMMG HD Pivot & Takedown Pins AR15 Parts Kit


3. KNS Precision .250 Diameter Enhanced Push Button Take Down Pin (Best High End)

KNS Precision .250 Diameter Enhanced Push Button Take Down Pin

For a more high end option, we like the KNS Precision Enhanced Push Button Take Down Pin. Unlike the other recommendations on this list, it’s not a set, just the enhanced takedown pin, but KNS Precision also makes a matching pivot pin.

It also has a spring-loaded push button design to avoid wear and make removal easier. This design means there’s no need for separate detent and spring because they’re built-in. The wide end cap also helps with pin installation and removal and prevents debris from making its way into the receiver.

Pros

  • Built-in detent and spring
  • Highly durable, made from stainless steel with a black nitride finish
  • Spring-loaded design

Cons

  • Cost
  • Takedown and pivot pins are sold separately

Buy The KNS Precision .250 Diameter Enhanced Push Button Take Down Pin


4. 2A Armament Titanium Takedown Pin Set

2A Armament Titanium Takedown Pin Set

The 2A Armament Titanium Takedown Pin set is made from USA Grade 5 6AL-4V titanium. Titanium offers unbeatable durability while also being almost half the weight of steel. These pins also have a through drilled design and pocketed pinhead for additional weight reduction.

Sure, pins don’t weigh that much by themselves, but ounces here and there do add up over an entire gun. The two pins combined weigh just .18 ounces.

These pins are available in bead blasted matte and black ion bond matte finishes, as well as in steel with a black oxide finish. They’re made in the US.

Pros

  • Includes both takedown and pivot pins
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Highly durable

Cons

  • Cost
  • Only includes pins

Buy The 2A Armament Titanium Takedown Pin Set


5. Battle Arms Development BAD-EPS Enhanced Takedown & Pivot Pin Set

Last up is the Battle Arms Development Enhanced Takedown & Pivot Pin Set. This enhanced pin set includes both pins, plus detents and springs.

The pins feature textured heads to make gripping easier without the need for an oversized head. In fact, these pins have a lower profile head than mil-spec. The extended length and divots on the tips also help with removal. In addition, EZ Guide Channel and Magnetic Assist Install allow for easier installation without the risk of losing detents and springs.

The pins CNC machined and available in titanium or stainless steel. They’re compatible with ambidextrous safety selectors.

Pros

  • Complete pivot and takedown set
  • Compatible with ambi safety selectors
  • Very easy installation

Cons

  • A bit costly
  • Extended length leads to protruding tips

Buy The Battle Arms Development BAD-EPS Enhanced Takedown & Pivot Pin Set


Final Thoughts On Takedown Pins For AR-15s

Takedown pins are a really simple topic in theory but, as is the case with so many things, the devil is in the details here. Don’t underestimate the importance of any part of your AR rifle, the takedown pin included. 

An ill-fitting, difficult-to-remove takedown pin may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it’ll get annoying fast. And with takedown pins being so affordable, there’s no big advantage to skimping.