Top 5 AR15 upgrades/accessories


November 9, 2008, 11:51 AM
AR owners, please list your top 5 favorite AR15/M4 accessories or upgrades. No particular order required, explanations encouraged.


1.) Sling
2.) Optics
3.) Backup Irons
4.) 3-4# trigger
5.) Rail System


1.) Ease of retention, assists in off hand shooting
2.) Increase accuracy and target identification, or speed and target acquisition
3.) In case optics go down or run out of batteries
4.) Increased accuracy, quicker accurate follow on shots
5.) Opens the door to mission specific gear like a light or vert grip or target designator.

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November 9, 2008, 12:17 PM
I'll play:

1.) Sling-Same reason as above
2.) Ammo
3.) Mags
4.) More Ammo
5.) More Mags

I subscribe to the "KISS" philosophy.

November 9, 2008, 03:00 PM
1. reloading equipment.
2. brass
3. bullets
4. primers
5. powder

November 9, 2008, 03:07 PM
excluding ammo...

1. mags
2. iron sights
3. sling
4. rails
5. optic

November 9, 2008, 04:02 PM
I'll bite:

For my AR: (no order) (excluding the "duh" answers like ammo and mags)

1. Sling
3. Optics
4. Light
5. Rails

1. I occassionally use my hands when carrying my rifles.
2. Optics can break and inopportune times.
3. Ease of shooting. Magnification is nice.
4. I live in the damned woods and have a coyote problem.
5. Gotta have some way other than duct tape to attach things.

-- John

November 9, 2008, 04:16 PM
1: single point sling
2: optics
3: foregrip
4: rails
5: grenade launcher.

1: to hold gun when i get lazy
2: So i can hit target better.
3: To hold gun steadier when in odd positions.
4: to put above thingy on gun
5: Does this need explaining???:evil::D

November 9, 2008, 04:25 PM
1.) Sling-Same reason as above
2.) Ammo
3.) Mags
4.) More Ammo
5.) More Mags


Plus a magazine locking system for when I'm in California.

November 9, 2008, 09:04 PM

and then training

November 9, 2008, 10:58 PM
Lights, I haven't been in a combat situation since 1978 so I don't need all the buis and stuff. But when we are pig hunting at night those lights come in real handy, I'd list spare mags and slings 2nd and 3rd.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 9, 2008, 11:00 PM
In order of importance:

1. Optics
2. Sling
3. ERGO grip
4. Tac latch
5. Collapsible stock

You said 5, but if I were to keep going:
6. Flash hider
7. Light

That's it. I'm not counting mags, because I don't consider mags an "accessory" - something that is required for the gun to function is not an "accessory" in my view.

November 9, 2008, 11:17 PM
1. Irons
2. Mags
3. Ammo
4. Optics
5. Sling

November 9, 2008, 11:45 PM
Now for me it's:

Magazines because they will probably get controlled.

Ammunition because it may get more controlled and taxed a lot more.

Spare parts because I am worried about the supply if manufacturers have problems staying in business, and prices may climb. (Also to build up stashed stripped lower receivers.)

Optics But I feel they will be around without too much adverse attention.

Good Fitting Stock and Grip To make the gun fit better to me, and allow me to get the most out of the design.

Hope this was not too political or alarmist. :)

November 9, 2008, 11:48 PM
Depends on what you're using it for.

For range/comp. work the optics would be up there.

For HD/personal protection I wouldn't bother with optics, get a rail and a light.

November 9, 2008, 11:54 PM
I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to my AR:

1) sling - simple, inexpensive, and will provide the greatest improvement in your accuracy
2) quality magazines - you can have the highest quality, tricked out AR-15, but it won't be worth a damn without quality mags. I prefer Colt 20 rounders.
3) trigger job - once you start shooting with a slick 3lb trigger, you'll never go back. May I suggest a JP fire control package (installed) or a Timney drop in trigger
4) comfortable grips - I hate the stock AR-15 grip. The Ergo grip is really nice, but even a simple Hogue grip is a vast improvement.
5) .22LR upper - shoot 20x as much, or for 1/20 the price

November 9, 2008, 11:55 PM
I don't consider mags an "accessory" - something that is required for the gun to function is not an "accessory" in my view.


November 10, 2008, 05:54 AM
just get a hogue rubber grip and a good reflex sight and the rest SHOULD be irrelevant. it got me where i wanted to go, and should do the same for you without a billion fancy expensive upgrades. when you ask for AR upgrades, you will get the apples/oranges comparison. everyone has their own personal preferance. but in my honest opinion, go with the grip and a moderately priced sight and you will get the rifle where it deserves to be.

November 10, 2008, 03:54 PM
t got me where i wanted to go, and should do the same for you without a billion fancy expensive upgrades.

The relevance of the above is based on the large assumption that one wants to go to the same place as you.

November 10, 2008, 04:07 PM
1) Optics They make it much easier to hit where I want. Aimpoint, Eotech, or something along that line.

2) BUIS All electronics can and will fail. And having an aiming system is a must.

3) New grip The standard A2 grip is very uncomfortable to me. That finger rest gets in my way.

After those three it's a toss up on what ever. Stock, sling, rails, flashider, lights all fall into the nice to have but not needed. Probably in that order but not a definite for me. I didn't include mags or ammo since I figure that is a given of what a AR needs to function and not an accessory

November 10, 2008, 04:17 PM
1) Sling
2) Light
4) Optic
5) Mags

1) Absolutely essential on any gun. Kind of goes without saying.
2) Low light shooting is REALLY hard without one.
3) Batteries die.
4) They make shooting easier.
5) I guess in my opinion this goes without saying, too.

November 10, 2008, 04:19 PM
A good sling is certainly an important upgrade. A plain old sling is one thing (and yes, some sort of sling, no matter how good is absolutely essential), but a good quality sling can really help the user be more effective.

I would also say, high quality mags (e.g. PMAG's), and a quality optic are pretty big upgrades.

Things outside of that are probably more of a personal preference than anything else.

November 10, 2008, 05:52 PM
1) BCM MPI'd auto BCG
2) XS CSAT rear aperture
3) primary weapons systems FSC556 flash suppressing compensator
4) ergo grip
5) magpul trigger guard

November 10, 2008, 06:31 PM
The relevance of the above is based on the large assumption that one wants to go to the same place as you

busted... i need to quit drinking whiskey before i post on here.

August 18, 2010, 03:22 PM
In no order, if you havent already got em

1. Extractor upgrade kit
2. MPI Bolt
3. Chrome chamber & bore
4. Backup Irons
5. Aftermarket piston system (personal preference)

IMO slings, optics, etc etc are accessories rather than upgrades

August 18, 2010, 04:22 PM
1. Ammo
2. Targets
3. More Ammo
4. More Targets
5. Training

August 18, 2010, 04:32 PM
Grip upgrade
Trigger job
BUIS - may never need them, but I hope I don't need life insurance either
6.8 SPC upper ;)
Rail mounted tactical fuzzy dice - :uhoh:

August 18, 2010, 04:45 PM
1. Magpul Ms2 sling and sling adapter plate.
-allows weapon retention when transitioning to secondary or two handed task. Also allows user to quickly switch arms to shoot left.
- switches from single point to 2 point comfort in just a second.

2. Larue optic mount
- flawless, strong, holds zero within 1/4-1/2 moa when reattached.
3. Aimpoint Comp m3
-fast, reliable, 5 yr battery life
4. Stag Ambi safety
- speeds up ambi shooting, must have for combat rifles.
5. Magpul BAD lever
-reduces time it takes to reload and clear double feeds. Even more useful for leftys

Do we have to stop at 5?

6. Daniel Defense Lite Rifle length Free float rails
-room for your lights to be mounted in a manner that deosn't hurt a stretched out grip stance. Lets you reach out further making it easyier to steady your aim. Good to get bipods out far on SPR's

7. Magpul Pmags
- biggest leap of AR reliability ever

8. Magpul UBR/ACR stocks, Magpul Moe/Miad grips
- obvoius

9. Magpul XTM rail covers
-best rail covers ever, easy to get on and off so you can add or remove lights, bipods as needed. Comfortable, tight, and cool looking.

10. SSA ammo

August 18, 2010, 04:52 PM
After market trigger, JP, Two Stage National Match, etc.
Free-float tube.
Magpul MOE grip.
Range time.

August 18, 2010, 05:06 PM
Rail mounted tactical fuzzy dice - :uhoh:

Now, that right there is funny. I don't care who you are.

Al Thompson
August 18, 2010, 05:15 PM

Friendly, Don't Fire!
August 18, 2010, 05:40 PM
Optics - Leupold Vari-X-I w/ QD Rings
Timney AR-10 4# drop-in trigger group
Comfortable sling
spare ammo

August 18, 2010, 06:36 PM
I'm not big on putting a bunch of crap on my rifle, but some pieces of gear are either necessary or a useful "battle" upgrade that help rifle manipulation, marksmanship, tactical maneuvers, etc.

I have a Bushmaster that I've done nothing to except put a 2-point sling on.

I have a Stag Model 2 that I've put a 2-point Vickers tactical sling on, an Eotech 512 and I like to run P-mags in it.

I will soon add an ambi-selector switch and I'd like to try a redi-mag. I'm thinking about changing the hand guards to rails but I'm not sold on that yet.

If it's functional I'll consider it. If it's to just look cool and add weight, then I don't see the point.

August 18, 2010, 06:50 PM
*EoTech 511
*3.5lb two-stage trigger
*MIAD grip
*MS2 Sling
*Free float extended-length rail system

My AR upper receiver and bolt assembly is upgraded to an LAR Grizzly OPS-4 upper with a reciprocating left-side charging handle; I'd trade two of the above for this upgrade alone. Easily the best thing I've done to any of my AR's, aside from a 3.5 lb trigger swap. If you have some spare coin and wanna really beef up the form and function of your AR, maybe give the OPS-4 a try. It's not cheap, but it's worth it. (end shameless plug; but for real, they're sweet)

August 19, 2010, 11:44 AM
It's 2MOA shooter to be effective out to 600m - maximum. So any upgrades need to make the shooter more likely to hit the target and keep it down. Starting with a AR15 A1 fixed stock, 16" mid length with rail:

1) 6.8SPCII. Longer range cartridges are unnecessary. The very first study to justify a .22 caliber assault rifle substantiated that most hits in combat are rarely over 100m. Most hunters report the same, 6.8 is enough bullet, and often the legal choice vs. 5.56.

2) Red dot optic. Most shots are 100m, magnification is unneeded. It'll do out to 400m, that doesn't happen very often.

3) Left Side charger upper. You don't have to move the trigger hand from the grip or break cheek weld. Most combat weapons have had this for decades, most new designs do, too.

4) Foliage Green. Black is highly attractive in movement, and not PC. FG wins hands down in most environments, is cost effective, and available.

5) Suppressor. You don't have to wear much in the way of hearing protection, you don't mess with the others with you, you don't leave much of a direction finder for others to monitor if the chips are down.

NOTE: no quad rail, adjustable stock, or sling. A rail can mount on stock handguards for a light, most now weigh ounces and use LEDs. Most of us don't wear armor, adjustable length of pull won't enhance a 2MOA gun and is weaker in CQB. No sling, no freefloat needed, it won't snag on things, won't be a weapon against you in CQB, and keeps the gun in your hands at the ready.

22 years Reserves, Infantry/MP, much of the net and in advertising depends on the consumer being clueless. M4geries with target triggers and high power scopes are typical. :evil:

August 19, 2010, 02:10 PM
1. Eotech or Aimpoint (and rear BUIS, if not already present)
2. LED light
3. BCM Gunfighter Mod 4 charging handle
4. Vickers style 2-point sling
5. Smith Vortex or AAC Blackout flash suppressor, if not already present

I'm assuming the rifle already has a good adjustable stock, but if it doesn't I would put that as #3 and bump the existing #3-5 down.

August 19, 2010, 04:01 PM
For my game guns it’s:
1. Optics (scope on top red dot on FFT)
2. Free float tube
3. Trigger
4. Compensator
5. Over sized controls (almost all of them)

For my leisure AR’s

1. Suppressors
2. Optics
3. Triggers
4. FF tubes
5. More often than not bipods

August 19, 2010, 04:18 PM
It depends on what came standard on your rifle.

Maybe an mp bolt if yours doesn't have one.
Spare bolt
Eotech or Aimpoint

August 19, 2010, 05:16 PM
1. Irons
2. Magazine
3. Ammunition
Can't think of anything else that is "needed" for the other 2.

August 19, 2010, 05:49 PM
Red dot

Flip up sights

Free-float rail

That's all I can think of.

August 19, 2010, 06:02 PM
1. Good sling. The regular "strap" that comes standard just never did it for me. Its "ok" for carrying long distance but if you actually need to shoot at something the magpul ms2 is great. The option to switch it into a one point is extremely useful.
2. Optic. Halo, Acog, CCO they all work fine.
3. Furniture. The fancy magpul buttstocks and pistol grips really do make the AR feel like different gun but whether or not you really need that stuff is debatable.

Thats it,,

August 19, 2010, 06:08 PM
1) BCM GunFighter charging handle in whatever style you prefer--better design overall, well-made, not very expensive, and just drops in
2) Furniture in whatever style feels most comfortable to you
3) Sighting system (optics and irons) best suited to your needs and tastes
4) PMAGs--they're solid, reliable, and no more expensive than other magazines available
5) Classes/training and practice

August 19, 2010, 06:51 PM
1: Magpul pistol grip
Not a big fan of the traditional AR grip, the Magpul MIAD/MOE grip is the most comfy grip that I've tried and one of the first aftermarket parts I add to any AR I aquire.

2: Magpul stock (any one will do)
I think Magpul's line of stocks are really impossible to beat, all of them are amazing however some of them are a bit pricey. I use the plain and simple MOE stock and I'm very content with it.

3: PMags
If I need an AR mag the only kind I buy are PMags!

4: Optic with QD mount
I wouldn't want an AR without BUS but having a nice optic is really nice. However I do like shooting with iron sights so having an optic on a QD mount is really convenient for me.

5: Railed handguard
Although I don't like adding lights and lasers and other junk to my AR I do like having a railed handguard if for no other reason than to mount a VFG or my personal favorite the Magpul AFG!

6: Magpul AFG! I'm a huge fan of the AFG, I'm not really a fan of VFG's so I fell in love with the AFG right away.

August 19, 2010, 07:39 PM
1. UTG airsoft style foreend
2. Fake suppressor
3. 4 D Cell Maglight duct taped to barrel
4. U-15 California Legal Lower (with several hello-kitty stickers)
5. G.A.T. full auto crank

On my latest one I tried to stay fairly light and simple:
LMT collapsable stock lower w/ergo grip
BCM Midlength upper, YHM lightweight FF foreend
Magpul trigger guard

August 19, 2010, 08:20 PM
Turner Sling (or similar)
Shooting glove/mit
Shooting mat
Spotting scope
Shooting coat

There are a few more out there but those are the 5 I would rather have first to go with an AR.

December 10, 2010, 04:24 PM

and then training
Please excuse my question, but I'm a wife trying to learn more so I can buy surprise gifts for my husband...lots of posts talk about "optics", what's the diff in optics and scopes? Isn't a scope an optic?

December 10, 2010, 04:49 PM
I wanted to leave my rifle as 'stock' as I could but I made the following upgrades:

1. New sling. Mine came from DPMS; it's a fully adjustable leather shooting sling.
2. Fixed 4x scope I can mount on the carry handle. Mine is illuminated but if batteries go out the crosshairs are just black. Also has a mount to fit on a flat top, very useful item.
3. Hogue pistol grip. I really didn't like the standard A2 grip, after a season of shooting I replaced it.
4. Magpul magazines. Many mfg's of magazines out there but Magpul are the best according to every source and they are inexpensive.

The only other thing I'd suggest is several boxes of ammo in different weights to see what your rifle shoot best.

December 10, 2010, 08:04 PM
Please excuse my question, but I'm a wife trying to learn more so I can buy surprise gifts for my husband...lots of posts talk about "optics", what's the diff in optics and scopes? Isn't a scope an optic?
You are correct. But a non-magnified red dot sight is also an optic and wouldn't be considered a scope. Optic is just a general term for an optical aiming device.

December 10, 2010, 08:18 PM
1. Iron Sights
2. 6.8 SPC Upper.
3. Piston Kit
4. Mags
5. Ammo

December 10, 2010, 09:07 PM
1) free floated tube, preferably railed by some means (not necessarily fully railed)

2) trigger

3) optics

4) decent comp

5) good mount for your optic. If that's considered part of "optics" then good mags.

Fortunately I'm not limited to 5, so...

December 10, 2010, 09:39 PM
Ok, after much thought, I've distilled down to this:
(really applies to all arms)

"Fit" is everything that makes the arm fit you. Grips, stocks, slings, etc.

"Aiming" is just that, you have to be able to put the weapon on target repeatably. Glass or iron, lit or not; and they, too, have to fit you.

"Function" is for all those things that make the arm run for you. Triggers, levers, controls; magazine well and/or latch changes; even the humble AccuWedge (still the best $2 I ever spent). Specific to the AR, having the right buffer; a matched set of springs; a decent tuning by a qualified gunplumber.

"Feeding" is in having reliable feeding devices, in the sizes that suit you, and also in what you put in them. Which means testing ammo, too. Finding the ammo that consistently produces known results is as cool as NVD or lasers, any day.

"Support/Comfort" covers the rest of those things that "fit you." Bipods; rail covers; suppression of noise or flash (or both). It's also subtle things like web gear (really handy if you have to hump from ride to shooting line any distance). Or carry cases (very handy if the indoor range shares a building with a Starbux or the like (O thank you, thank you, W Waller & Sons, if only you were still around).

But, I know I'm biased; others' differ.

December 10, 2010, 10:14 PM
I have an A2 carbine so I'll dispense with the BUIS/optic suggestions. I also assume ammo is a consumable and you'll always be buying more.

1) sling, i.e. Wilderness sling
2) magazines, i.e. MagPul
3) trigger, i.e. Rock River match (about $100)
4) spare OEM bolt and parts kit (springs, pins, etc.)
5) possibly another grip, such as a MagPul MIAD.

If you want to go crazy, consider a Daniel Defense Omega free-floating fore end rail. Easy assembly, about $260, supposedly cuts group sizes in half, if you are seeking such accuracy.

I think a stock AR is pretty much good to go as it comes out of the box.

December 11, 2010, 12:49 AM
My AR is a Noveske upper on a CMMG lower with a basic mil spec trigger. It's main purpose is to be a defensive gun I can run hard in carbine courses but it can also be used for other roles if I so please (I change the optic to magnification and it will do a number on varmints). It came with a troy sight so no need to add BUIS

1. Sling: I like an MS2 on an ASAP mount: transitions to handgun, or other things that make it nice to be able to sling the weapon.

2. Optic: I'm partial to aimpoint T1s: I'm faster with a RDS plain and simple. The T1 has the attributes I look for in an optic and is very light.

3. free float rail: My Noveske is an accurate rifle and a free float tube helps to make the most of that and provides a place to mount the few other things I like on my gun

4. light: targets have to be identified and I can't see in the dark.

5. suppressor: Reduces noise, blast, and flash.

Others that I like:

BAD lever, AFG, upgraded grip, upgraded stock (I'm eying an UBR), gunfighter charging handle.

Things I don't like:

With a few notable exceptions after market triggers or trigger jobs. Again with a few exceptions these often crap out in carbine courses.

December 11, 2010, 10:16 AM
2. Tac Latch
3. CAA extended stock saddle
4. ErgoGrip
5. FabArms magwell grip (on one of my AR)


6. MagPul extended trigger guard (not so important here in Georgia)

December 11, 2010, 11:42 AM
1) 1/4 min match rear sight
2) low-profile railed gas block, JP aperture front sight and riser
3) Hogue grip
4) GI nylon web sling
5) Side cocking upper

1 - I shoot some competition, so the 1/4 min is nice. I'd hate to lose the ghost ring. I don't think red dots are much faster or easier than irons, and they add weight and cost.
2 - hate the front post. An aperture sight give me way more options, while still being 'irons' and easily removable if need be.
4 - cheap and light, mainly for carry, but easy to use as a shooting aid
5 - really intuative to use, but it does send brass over my right shoulder instead of forward.

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