If you are a firearms enthusiast, then there’s a good chance that you either already own an AR 15, or you are looking to purchase one in the near future. When it comes to tactical rifles, these outclass most of the others in the category.
They are very popular guns, as they are fun to use, relatively affordable, and super reliable. On top of that, they are easy to modify and optimize, given the amount of the company’s producing aftermarket parts.
Wondering what the best AR 15 upgrades are? If you are a true gun nerd, then you are always looking for ways to upgrade and make a gun better suited to your shooting style and personality. Keep reading to discover the best AR 15 upgrades for the money so that you can enjoy the flair and functionality that comes with a customized rifle.
Why Upgrade Your AR 15
If you purchase a complete AR 15 from a local gun store, there isn’t much you are going to need to upgrade. The stock components will work fine for the casual user, or even those purchasing for home defense.
But for the enthusiast who likes to tinker, or for those who shoot often and are looking for performance upgrades, the AR 15 is the easiest type of gun to modify. The platform of the gun itself is modular.
That means that every component can be removed with ease and swapped for a third-party component. This also makes it very doable to build your own AR 15 from the ground up.
If you want to upgrade more than one or two components on a gun, for aesthetic and performance customization, then it makes sense to do it on a AR 15, as opposed to most other models of guns.
Best AR 15 Upgrades
As you can see, the sheer amount of available components to upgrade is insane. Here’s what to consider upgrading first.
1. Try a Muzzle Break
Whether you are a new shooter or have been shooting guns your entire life, there’s one thing you probably wish would go away; recoil. Recoil is the process of your gun moving back, and up towards your face, every time you pull the trigger.
That’s due to the explosion taking place inside your barrel as the powder combusts and launches your bullet forward. Gas is produced, and that gas needs to get out fast. This is what pushes your gun backward, making it harder for you to take follow-up shots.
Some people just deal with this and accept it as part of the shooting process. But if you’d like to keep your shoulder and your face safe, and make it easy on your hands, then try a muzzle brake on your AR 15 instead.
A muzzle brake is definitely one of the best upgrades for AR 15 users. These are small, add-on components that help to reduce the amount of recoil that you feel, and limit the amount of movement by your gun after each shot.
They do this by allowing gas to release through the sides of the muzzle brake, rather than build up and release out the front, which causes the upward movement of the gun. Having a muzzle brake in place may also reduce the sound emitted from each shot, which can protect your ears as well.
Given that muzzle brakes are small, easy to install, and super affordable, they are one of the best budget AR 15 upgrades you can make today.
2. Get a New Charging Handle
Looking for the best AR 15 upgrade parts that are super easy to install? The charging handle should be at the top of your list.
The charging handle is what you manually pull back in order to cock the gun. You’ll need to grab and pull this every time you want to start firing the AR 15.
It’s what will eject unused cartridges. And if there’s a jam, this is responsible for clearing it. So if you want a gun that fires efficiently and reliably, having a charging handle you can trust is important.
You’re AR 15 probably came with a mil-spec (military specification) grade handle. These will do for casual users. But if you shoot often, consider a better handle.
If you are a lefty, you’ll find out that most AR 15’s come with a charging handle designed for right-handed shooters. So upgrading an AR-15 charging handle might be a necessary purchase for you anyways. Get an ambidextrous handle to make it easier for you to cock the gun with either hand.
You can also choose an extended charging handle. The extra length on the handle makes it easier to operate. This is helpful in virtually any situation, making a charging handle one of the best AR 15 tactical upgrades.
3. Upgrade Your Trigger
You can get used to any trigger on your gun. But some are going to be much more enjoyable to use than others.
If you want to be able to shoot with precision and speed, such as in a competition setting, then opting for a trigger with a lower weight pull may make it easier for you. Though the mil-spec trigger that came with your gun is going to be reliable, even if it is quite heavy.
Aside from mil-spec triggers, you can choose either a single-stage or a two-stage trigger.
Single-stage triggers fire using one pull of the trigger, making these extra crisp. They require the least amount of weight to ultimately fire a bullet.
Two-stage triggers have, you guessed it, two stages. During the first stage, you exert the majority of the pressure to get the trigger into the firing position. This is known as “the wall.”
At this point, all it takes is one more slight movement of the finger, about a pound of pressure, to activate the second stage of the trigger pull to fire a bullet.
It’s best to test each type of trigger yourself before installing one on your gun. See if your local range has either option available on a rental gun. If not, find a friend who has one you can try.
4. Get the Right Type of Handguard
The handguard of your AR 15 is the cage that surrounds the barrel of the gun. Because the barrel itself is small, it heats up quickly when firing rounds. You wouldn’t want to grab this as you can easily burn your hand.
But you need to be able to grab the gun somewhere on or near the barrel, in order to steady your gun, aim, and fire with consistency. That’s why you can install a handguard.
There are many types and designs available. Basically, they are hollow cages that allow you to firmly grasp the fore-end of your gun without contacting the barrel itself. Handguards also give your AR 15 a tactical appearance, so keep the design in mind when shopping around.
You also need to ensure you purchase the correct type of handguard for your barrel. Longer barrels will need longer handguards and vice versa.
5. Swap the Bolt Carrier Group
Do you want your AR 15 to function as a semi-automatic rifle? If so, then you need a bolt carrier group. While this will come with your stock purchase, you can obviously upgrade it for increased performance and a smoother shooting experience.
The BCG is what will cause the firing pin to strike the primer on your rounds. It will eject the spent casings automatically. It will recock the hammer and it will pull another round into the barrel.
So it’s vital that your BCG is working properly, otherwise, you wouldn’t be spewing very many rounds.
Many people choose a BCG with a different type of coating around it, allowing for a smoother function. Others go with a lightweight option to decrease overall gun weight.
6. The Perfect Barrel
Few things will change the performance of your gun than the barrel. Barrels for the AR 15 come in all shapes and sizes, and ultimately depend on how you shoot your gun.
If you want to stay accurate at much longer distances, you’ll want a longer barrel, closer to 20″ in length. You can also choose a barrel with heavier contours to prevent accuracy issues.
If you want top-of-the-line accuracy, you could choose a stainless steel barrel. But these aren’t known to last as long, and they’re more expensive to boot.
Looking for a lighter-weight gun? Consider a medium-length, fluted barrel. A fluted barrel cuts out excess materials, saving lots of weight.
7. Accessories, Please
Of course, you can add a hundred and one accessories to your AR 15 depending on the scenario. Accessories are much easier to pop on and off, as opposed to actual components of the gun.
Accessories to play around with include optics, such as scopes and red dot sights. And adding Picatinny rails to the gun will allow you to mount such sights and scopes with ease.
You can add a brass catcher, which is a small net attached to your gun to catch all your spent casings. Everyone shooting outdoors should use one, so as not to litter your casings around the great outdoors. You can also learn how to reload spent casings and enjoy cheaper ammo costs.
Enjoy the Process
There are tons of ways to customize your AR 15 to your liking. One could spend many years trying different components and configurations.
Ultimately, the best AR 15 upgrades are the ones that enable you to shoot more often and to hit your target when you need to. Finding these golden components is usually a matter of testing, testing, and more testing. But that’s part of the fun.
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