AR-15’s are fantastic platforms because they are so customizable; You can truly make it your own!
This list will feature various upgrades and accessories that you can include in your AR builds. Stand out and make the gun you truly want to use!
Note: None of the products or services featured in this article are paid placements. This is our own pure, honest opinion.
15. Upgraded Trigger
Not only are these pre-assembled trigger units a heck of a lot easier to install, but the difference between a truly polished, light weight trigger and the stock trigger is reserved for those who actually shoot. Most people might not notice or feel the need to upgrade the trigger, in fact, I personally think the mil-spec trigger in most AR’s are fine for most applications.
However, having shout a friend’s custom build using a fancy $500 trigger upgrade, I can tell you in my experience, there is a difference in response, lack of motion on the pull, and precision on target.
14. Free Float Rail System
If your AR isn’t already free floated, then you’re living in the past! Most modern AR-15 uppers come already free floated, but many cheap AR-15 kits bought at gun shops might not be.
The advantages of free floated rail systems range from being able to have longer rails, to essentially eliminating any harmful stress put on the barrel from accessories or bipods.
Technically, a free floated system should be more accurate than your standard AR.
13. Vertical Grip / Angled Foregrip
Assuming it is legal in your state, vertical grips or angles foregrips are great for enhancing the grip and stability of the rifle while you shoot.
While angled foregrips (in my opinion) aren’t as comfortable to hold as more aggressive vertical grips, I think it is a lot more comfortable than holding the rail directly.
It also makes the gun look cooler!
12. Sights / Optics
My favorite thing to run on my AR is a Votrex Red Dot sight (the version which uses a AAA battery, no weird battery sizes for me!) and the vortex 4X magnifier to get in closer on target.
Shooting at the range is fun, actually being able to see where your shots are hitting through a zoomed sight is even better and more satisfying!
11. Folding Stock
I know what you’re asking, can it be fired while folded? The answer is that it’s not recommended, but I have seen videos on YouTuber where people have been able to fire it no problem. (It doesn’t cycle of course, so single shot only!)
A Folding AR-15 Stock might be a good option for AR Pistol builds, as you can fold the stock and store it in a backpack or something for an emergency kit. Easier storage = more convenience right? And at really no performance cost, why wouldn’t you want to better store your firearms?
10. Ambidextrous Charging Handle
Usually, you can never go wrong with ambidextrous stuff! And I love the Juggernaut Tactical charging handle! There’s not much to say about it or any other charging handles, it does what it’s supposed to do, only this one looks a lot cooler!
9. Sexy Foregrip
Magpul AFG’s and standard vertical grips are an upgrade to most AR-15’s, but on some builds, it just doesn’t cut it for me.
You want to go all the way with something awesome and sexy? You gotta go with something like the HERA CQR foregrip!
Is it a vertical grip or an angled forward grip? This is a question that could be the difference between an illegal NFA weapon or not (for AR-15 Pistol builds) I contacted HERA arms specifically to ask this question, (as of July 2018) they informed me they have not received a ruling from the ATF as to whether or not their CQR forward grip is considered “angled” or “vertical.”
There are ways to play it safe and not use it on a pistol build, or look into the 26″ grey area, but this is at your discretion and we are not providing legal advice!
8. Backup Sights
What happens when your red dot battery runs out? It’s a good idea to have some flip up sights on your gun at all times just in case.
Some shooters actually like to have their front sight up while looking through their red dot as a form of quick reference. No problems with that.
Technically, you can look through the red dot sight (with the dot off) and use your front sight when the battery runs out.
This might seem obvious, but a bipod definitely helps keep your gun stable while firing (duh!). What a bipod really adds to is long distance shooting where you may need to hold the gun absolutely still and make micro adjustments.
It’s very difficult and no fun to do that while standing or holding the gun with your hands. There are a lot of cheap and effective bipods out there.
Some AR builds it might not make sense to put a bipod on it, but a bipod has really enhanced my range days, especially when I run my AR-10 which weights 10 pounds unloaded!
6. Rail Mounted Light
Flash lights are useful, why not have something useful mounted to your gun? Rail mounted tactical lights are good for blinding enemies and actually seeing where you are going.
5. Ladder Rail Covers
Ladder rail covers help if your gun has a color theme going. A lot of people like black and tan, and I think it goes well together!
Ladder rail covers are thinner and lighter than your typical slide on rail covers. You can also cut them to the perfect length. Why put big ugly rail covers when you can use thin and light weight?
4. Silencer / Suppressor
Some people call them silencers, others INSIST that you refer to them as suppressors (legally they are called Silencers so that is what they will be referred to on this website).
If you are hunting, silencers can be an essential tool. Of course, you need to jump through a few extra legal steps in order to obtain silencers, and in some states it’s nearly impossible or completely banned for normal citizens to obtain silencers.
For those who can own silencers legally, why not take advantage of that privilege? Maybe some of you are like me with loud muzzle brakes and enjoy pissing off the person next to you at the range!
They are in movies and video games, and let’s be honest, silencers are just downright bad ass! (Not to mention safer for shooter’s hearing!)
Yes I know, another OBVIOUS thing to have on your rifle, but I actually only know 2 other gun owners that have slings on their rifles. Why is that?
Maybe because it’s so obvious that it’s the last thing people think about, and probably because you don’t need to / aren’t allowed to sling guns at the range.
However, when we go to the wilderness to shoot, it becomes instantly regrettable to not have a sling. You have only a few options, carry your gun around everywhere (whether you need to pee or drink water, you really want to hold your gun?) or set it down in the dirt! If you’re smart you would probably bring a folding table, but you forgot a sling, so you probably forgot a folding table, and a lighter for your grill and the hot dogs you brought!
I personally prefer single point slings because I don’t like the sling flapping around while I shoot. It also means the gun points directly down while I’m not holding it (which is usually the safest position) and makes it very easy for me to quickly engage my firearm when needed.
My advice, stay away from cheap quick detach crap, especially if you’re addicted to buying cheap “2 packs” on Amazon.
I’ve had my expensive, heavy AR-10 drop to the ground because cheap QD equipment decided to quickly detach itself without my input! You don’t need to quickly detach your sling from your gun, it’s not going to strangle you or get in the way if you do it right.
Most slings already come with quick detach plastic clips. those are alright! I also wouldn’t put a sling on super heavy guns unless the sling was heavy duty and mounts were designed for such. Slings on my light weight AR builds are perfect!
2. Muzzle Brake
My absolutely must have on almost all my AR builds, a muzzle brake is fun and awesome.
It reduces the felt recoil of your gun by strategically diverting the muzzle pressure in different directions, as a result your gun sounds much louder! (This might be a con for some.)
Reduction in recoil means more accurate shots, louder noise I can deal with because most of us prefer to wear hearing protection while shooting anyways! It also turns heads when shooting at the indoor range and you can really “feel” each and every shot at the air and sound causes everything on the table to fall off.
There are many different types of muzzle brakes and they will usually range from $50 – $200 depending on which type you get. More aggressive designs will usually cost more. You should clean it (at least where the bullet will be traveling) but gunk does build up on the sides, it’s usually pretty hard to clean it at the sides and not really worth it to be honest!
1. TiN BCG
This is another MUST HAVE on all my AR builds. A well polished, smooth TiN BCG will run better in your gun and cycle smoother. It’s also a heck of a lot easier to clean!
F-1 Firearms makes the best TiN BCG’s that I have seen. We went into thorough detail about why we love TiN BCG’s but you can decide for yourself!
Better cycling, easier cleaning, and a hard, long lasting surface that will ensure the longevity of your rifle.
This is also one of the most standout upgrades you can do to your AR-15 that most people don’t have or can’t afford. Yes these will run you around $250 – $350 depending on the company, but it is well worth it, trust me!
The AR platform is amazing for those who want to customize the build the way they want it.
If you are a true American then you should own an AR-15, and on top of that, you should upgrade it the way you like it. Half the fun is decking out your gear that you hopefully never have to use in a self defense situation, but at least it’s there when you need it!
Be safe, enjoy the 2nd Amendment and follow local laws when upgrading your gun!