Owning an AR-15 rifle is a dream come true for many firearm enthusiasts. There’s no point in settling for a stock AR-15 rifle when you can upgrade it to suit your needs.
Today, we’ll cover the most important AR 15 upgrades in this listicle, and it will help you unlock the true power of your AR-15 rifle.
Let’s get right into it.
Why Upgrade the AR-15?
Upgrading your AR-15 rifle doesn’t just mean improving its already powerful characteristics; you’re actually customizing it to your whim.
It’s important that a rifle fits your personal fit, ergonomics, shootability, and other critical points of customization.
While your rifle already boasts impressive capabilities, upgrading it ensures that you have a reliable weapon suited to your needs.
Whether they’re for accuracy, customization, or simply optimizing its potential, there are many upgrades for AR 15 rifles that definitely make the AR-15 rifle truly yours.
Benefits of Having an AR-15 Upgrade
By investing in the best AR 15 upgrades, you’re in for a treat. There are many benefits of upgrading your AR-15 rifle:
- Ambidextrous parts for effortless handling;
- Enhanced speed and accuracy for hunting or competitive shooting;
- Improved safety and comfort with zero malfunctions;
- Reduced recoil;
- Improved aesthetics. Keep in mind aesthetics shouldn’t be the sole reason for upgrading, but it’s a nice bonus.
Top Best AR-15 Upgrades
We decided to go all in and list out ALL the necessary AR-15 reliability upgrades that guarantee your platform will become the ultimate firearm, whether it’s for competition, self-defense, or just plinking fun.
Let’s start with the charging handle.
#1 Charging Handle
Upgrading to an ambidextrous AR-15 charging handle is one of the most important upgrades you can do because it guarantees full versatility, something that most shooters catastrophically overlook.
Designed for both right-handed and left-handed shooters, this essential component ensures smooth functioning and quick readiness.
High-quality ambidextrous charging handles like the Radian Raptor are also designed to give the user increased surface area and maximum grip to give them a better grip in crazy weather conditions.
With its ergonomic grip, increased surface area, and reliable performance, most shooters would have a ball with their AR-15 rifle. Whether these are lefties or not, it is going to be an easier handling process.
#2 Safety Selectors
When choosing safety selectors, again, an ambidextrous one means versatility. It greatly enhances the performance of your rifle, especially if you frequently use it. It allows your entire hand, rather than just your trigger finger, to control the safety selector faster and more easily.
This advantage is particularly beneficial in tactical scenarios and hunting situations. Look for an ambidextrous safety selector that provides a comfortable fit and function, preventing your fingers from slipping off, whether you’re out on the range or hunting.
#3 Anti-Rotational Pins
Firing pins are vital for the functionality of the AR-15 rifle because they trigger the firearm’s firing mechanism. If your rifle pin fits perfectly, that’s great, but it’s going to be a problem when your trigger pin runs into issues after years of use.
Upgrading to anti-rotational pins prevents this issue and pin movement, reducing vibration that can damage your rifle in the long run.
Once you replace your AR trigger and hammer pins with anti-rotational ones, you won’t have to worry about loose vibrating pins. Plus, it’s a cost-effective option, especially for fully automatic weapons or hard-use guns.
Some folks like iron sights, while others go for red dots. Whichever the case, sights are a must.
Factory iron sights are prone to breakage, and most red dots are truly expensive. Consider getting yourself another set of backup sights.
That’s why the SIG Sauer Romeo 5 is a very popular option for most, and it won’t break the bank.
When it comes to AR-15 barrel upgrades, it entirely depends on which caliber you’re planning to go for, as well as your intended use and shooting style.
Shorter barrels like 10.5 inches are great for home defense and that much-needed maneuverability.
Longer barrels like the 18-inch ones are a more general choice.
Don’t forget to consider the benefits of chrome lining, such as increased durability and protection against wear, tear, and corrosion.
#6 Trigger Guards
The purpose of upgrading trigger guards is to ensure safety, and this can’t be overstated enough.
The lack of space from a gloved finger on the trigger can spell catastrophic accidents. That’s why you’ll need enlarged trigger guards for that extra room for your fingers.
Remember, your preference matters, but keep in mind that you’ll need extra wiggle room both for safety and comfort.
#7 Extended Bolt Releases
Speed is crucial in most activities with your firearm. An extended bolt release allows you to release and lock bolts back effortlessly using just your trigger finger.
Whether you’re into competitive shooting, recreational sports, or law enforcement, clearing jams and swapping magazines quickly is important.
Picking bolt releases helps you speed up how you operate your AR-15 rifle, something like the TiN Titanium/Nitride Golden. They’re lightweight, durable, and easy to install.
#8 Extended Magazine Release
A magazine release allows you to reload your mags faster, keeps your grip tight, and helps with ergonomics. Speaking of gold, the TiN Titanium/Nitride Golden Mag Release is one such AR-15 upgrade.
Customizing your grips means ultimate comfort and better handling.
There are lots of grips with different levels of ergonomic contours. It’s important you consider factors like finger grooves, weight, and textures before you decide on one.
The right grip not only improves accuracy and comfort but also aids in managing heat and recoil.
#10 Handguards & Rail Systems
Speaking of grips, handguards and rail systems serve as other grip points for your rifle.
They prevent heat and build-up by ventilating your rifle. You can either pick:
Free-floating handguards and rail systems: These parts don’t touch the barrel, except for the barrel nut. These versions are usually heavy but made of lightweight yet durable aluminum.
Drop-in handguards: They are situated on the barrel itself, making them lighter but potentially affecting accuracy due to possible movements. They are commonly used if your AR-15 has a fixed front sight base.
#11 Muzzle Devices
Muzzle devices absorb recoil, and there are different types: muzzle brakes, compensators, and flash hiders that primarily cover the muzzle flash. These fancy ones are typically used by law enforcement and are expensive, so your better option is choosing a decent muzzle brake.
#12 Bolt Carrier Groups
Bolt carrier groups are a crucial part of an AR-15’s functionality and performance.
Using a nickel boron-coated bolt carrier group ensures smooth-flowing operation and prevents jams. Additionally, it’s lightweight, increasing shot speed due to an improved cycling rate.
M16-style bolt carriers are heavier, but much more accurate, reliable, and offer a significantly reduced recoil.
When it comes to accuracy, upgrading your rifle optics is key, and choosing the right optics greatly enhances your long-range accuracy.
There are several options to choose from, such as Red dots, Holographic Sights, Night Vision Scopes, and Hybrid Sights.
Holographic and red dot sights are the most popular choices, and they’re particularly effective for improving target acquisition. Red dots for AR-15 are more widespread and have a partial mirror coating on the objective lens.
AR-15 slings are divided into three groups:
Single-point sling straps: These are running diagonally across your body with a loop. It’s close to your body for easy access, but the weight distribution is questionable.
Two-point slings: These automatically adjust their length, allowing you to carry the rifle in any position. These slings provide stability when taking a shot.
Three-point slings: While they’re not popular, they offer solid security in holding the rifle in place by restricting its movement.
Stocks are the most important part of optimizing your shooting experience, as the recoil generally falls on your shoulder. That’s why it’s important to go for an adjustable stock with a cheek rest and adjustable height for the ultimate shoulder comfort.
Braces also help in ergonomics. So, feel free to check out our wide variety of stocks and braces.
Triggers are absolutely essential components of an AR-15 rifle, especially if you’re a frequent shooter. The most popular types are single-stage and two-stage triggers.
Single-stage triggers usually have a fixed pull weight and are suitable for shooters who don’t need adjustability. This is fine, but some firearm experts like to go for two-stage triggers.
On the other hand, if you’re all about customizing trigger pull weight scenarios, then a two-stage trigger is your priority. You can also pick between curved and straight trigger contours, and one of the best triggers for this bit is the ELF Match Trigger by Elftmann Tactical.
#17 Gas Blocks
Last but definitely not least, we have gas blocks. Gas blocks are the main component that regulates gas channeling in your AR-15 rifle.
Common gas blocks use an outdated tech that, although delivers decent power, it affects gunk build-up and snappier recoil.
That’s why it’s critical that you go for adjustable low-profile gas blocks that offer a better-controlled gas flow with better balance. This makes for a cleaner gun, reduced recoil, and ultimately better performance, but it will cost you more.
AR-15 Upgrades for Beginners
For beginners, there are a few key upgrades to consider for your AR-15.
First, prioritize lights for improved visibility, especially in low-light situations. Whether for home defense or hunting, a reliable mounted flashlight or night vision will do the job.
Next, slings provide stability and convenience. Opt for a single-point or two-point sling, with the latter offering better ease of use and flexibility.
Lastly, sights play a crucial role in accuracy. Back-up iron sights are reliable for regular shots, but consider investing in red dot or flip-up sights for enhanced precision. If you have astigmatism, prism optics may be a better alternative to red dot sights.
AR-15 Upgrades for Tactical Shooters
Always opt for trustworthy brands and models when reliability is in question, especially if you go for a more tactical approach.
Prioritize performance for your complete rifle with high-quality parts. Although most parts would work in direct unison and in combination with other mechanisms, it’s best that you consult the local gunsmith, that can help you compare parts and try out combinations.
Consider usefulness over aesthetics, and pay attention to even the tiniest details, like the bolt release, for accurate operation.
Avoiding the Geardo Syndrome
Avoid falling into the “Gerardo” trap. A ‘Geardo’ is a guy who goes overboard with unnecessary upgrades that ultimately break the bank. You’ve seen the type.
Choose wisely among the myriad options available for your AR-15. Focus on improving the parts you actually use and need for better accuracy, performance, and a more convenient shooting experience.
AR-15 Upgrades for Competition
When competition is in question, most sportsmen go for barrels, handguards, and trigger upgrades.
For barrels, prioritize stainless steel for optimal customization. A heavier barrel aids recoil control, while a longer barrel length boosts velocity and reduces bullet drop.
Instead of plastic handguards, go for free-float metal ones that are more lightweight but arguably more durable.
In terms of trigger upgrades, a lower trigger pull weight enhances consistency and accuracy, but two-stage triggers are recommended for competitive shooting. Mil-Spec triggers are top AR 15 upgrades for tactical purposes.
We hope that this guide showed you what to focus on when picking a decent first upgrade for your AR-15 rifle. It’s easy to take your platform to the next level with these top-notch AR 15 parts and upgrades.
All of these crucial AR-15 upgrades are building blocks that work best when combined with other brands and mechanisms.
Note: Remember to abide by local laws and regulations when modifying your firearms. Stay informed and seek professional advice if needed.