You have the right to bear arms…and the right to customize those arms. For an enthusiastic gun owner, picking out a new gun is the equivalent of a car enthusiast picking a new car. It’s seldom done with the purchase of a finished product.
You choose it with a vision in mind so you can customize it and make it yours. It’s more fun to start with a blank canvas and then add pieces later that define you and your personality. Yes, your rifle can have personality.
People may choose to modify their rifles for any number of reasons–comfort, personal preference or simply to be “tacticool.”
Here are 7 AR-15 upgrades that will inspire you to make your rifle truly yours.
1. First Up: Get a Grip
Grips are one of the best gun accessories you can upgrade because a factory grip may be uncomfortable…or at least take some time to get accustomed to. A good grip is essential to making you as comfortable as possible when shooting. You don’t want your rifle to feel foreign in your hands.
When looking to upgrade your grip, there are a variety of options to choose from.
Here are some things to consider:
You’ll want to decide which material feels most comfortable to you. Rubber or polymer are popular choices. The material you choose is dependent on whether you want a smoother or more textured feel.
This is a personal choice and often rooted in the type of shooting you want to do. A textured grip has the potential to snag on clothing so may not be the best choice for those doing concealed carry. However, it offers an unarguably steady grip, so you don’t have to worry about slipping.
A smoother grip is going to feel more comfortable and less abrasive in your hand.
You’ll want your grip to match your rifle–or not. That’s the beauty in making upgrades and this is where your personality can shine through. Whatever your preference, you have lots to choose from, including black, desert tan or green.
To make sure you’re as comfortable as possible you want to pick the size that is customized to your hand. This will guarantee a fit that results in effortless shooting and less distractions. The last thing you need is to be constantly adjusting your grip and adapting to your rifle.
Take your time to figure out what size, color and material is meant for you and once you upgrade your grip you’ll feel the difference…and you’ll see the difference on the range.
2. Optics: To Be Precise
Accuracy is key to being a good shot. To be accurate, good optics are essential. When looking into upgrading your optics, you’ve got four popular choices, depending on what type of shooting you’re looking to do:
The scope is beneficial for those who are doing long distance shooting. When making gun upgrades, those who enjoy target shooting will benefit from the increased precision that a longer range will allow. This benefits hunters as well. When hunting you want to stay as far away from the target as possible to avoid startling it. This makes a good scope indispensable.
Red Dot Sights
The red dot sight uses an LED light that is beamed onto a special lens and reflected into your eye, making it appear as though a red dot is resting on the target. A red dot sight is fast and accurate. This makes these types of scopes very popular for competitive shooters.
Point, aim and fire…you’ll hit exactly where the dot is aimed.
Holographic sights are similar to red dot sights but they are smaller and lighter. The difference is the holographic sight appears to float over the target and appears as a circle with a dot in the center. You can also choose from different variations of the dot, like cross-hairs.
Holographic sights are popular among law enforcement, military and special operations units.
3. Triggers: Things that Go “Bang”
This is another area where comfort and feel can make or break your experience. It’s also one of the first areas that gun enthusiasts upgrade. Like the grip, you want the trigger to feel like it was made for your hand and the type you choose is going to depend on your personal taste. Some things to think about when it comes to triggers include:
Depending on the type of shooting you want to do, and your comfort level, the trigger can have a lighter or more heavy pull weight. Pull weight ranges from one and a half to eight pounds.
These types of triggers are defined by a lighter pull weight, making it easier and faster to pull the trigger. When shooting for accuracy, this is the trigger you want.
This trigger type is defined by greater pull weight and more pull range to initiate firing. These triggers are popular with law enforcement and military.
4. Magazines: Stay Fast on the Reload
Reload is another aspect of shooting that is often sacrificed in base model weapons.
Extended Magazine Release
To get the speed you want, an extended magazine release is what you need. Base AR-15 models often come with a smaller button that’s harder to find intuitively.
An extended magazine release makes it faster and easier to reload, making you more efficient in whatever type of shooting you’re doing.
When adding an aftermarket magazine, like those found at Volquartsen, you can also look for a magazine extension that will hold more rounds.
These devices attach to the bottom of the magazine and assist in removing it faster and cushioning the fall of a dropping magazine.
5. Bipod: Take a Load Off
AR-15s are heavy. And after a session of extended shooting they’re going to feel even heavier. A common AR-15 upgrade that will mitigate this is a bipod.
You can rest it on the ground while shooting so it’s easier on you, and it also improves accuracy by avoiding shake. When looking into bipods make sure you choose one that is easy to assemble and disassemble. There are plenty of options out there to add to your array of cool gun accessories.
Some bipods even double as a vertical grip. This is a benefit because while upgrades are cool they add weight. A vertical grip that doubles as a bipod lets you go from standing to prone faster when your arms need a break…but you aren’t done shooting yet.
When looking into bipods, consider the following traits:
If you have an extended magazine attached, your rifle is going to need a longer bipod to support it. The size of the magazine will help determine what height your bipod needs to be so make sure you take that into consideration before making your purchase.
If you’re using a bipod to shoot, you want to make sure it’s steady, otherwise you’re going to sacrifice accuracy. If you’re bipod is working against you, make sure it’s balanced and is an appropriate weight to support your AR-15.
Bipods with rubber feet will also ensure your weapon stays put, particularly if shooting in wet conditions.
The last thing you want to do is take time out to struggle to attach the bipod to your rifle. A good bipod will attach quickly and detach just as easily. Adjustable legs are another consideration. If you need to change you’re shooting angle, a bipod with adjustable legs will be easier (and quicker) to adjust.
6. Barrels: Size Matters
This is another area that is going to vary depending on your shooting style. You can upgrade your AR-15 by choosing a barrel that’s lighter or heavier, or shorter or longer–like most other upgrades it depends on your taste and the purpose of your shooting.
Fluted vs. Non Fluted
Another thing to consider if you want to upgrade your barrel is whether you want it fluted. A fluted barrel is lighter, more rigid and withstands heat better than non-fluted barrels.
This type will have grooves on the side of the barrel that also add an aesthetic appeal. If you’re looking for something that will be distinctive (and look cool), consider a fluted barrel.
If you’re shooting for competition or just looking for a more accurate shot, a longer barrel is what you need. A shorter barrel is lighter and easier to maneuver but you may have to work a little harder for accuracy.
7. Sling: Take the Weight Off
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of making a gun upgrade is the ability to change or add a sling feature. Why are they important? Rifles are heavy. When carrying a rifle for an extended period of time, it’s going to feel even heavier, especially if you’re running with it.
The sling allows you to distribute this weight more evenly across your body so you can hold onto it for longer. Also, depending on whether you’re right handed or left handed, you can adjust it to suit you.
You’ve got several options with slings:
Consists of a single loop in which the strap rests horizontally across your body. These slings allow for easy access to your rifle.
These slings have loops that can be adjusted quickly and as needed to carry across your shoulder, front of body or across your back.
The lesser used version of the sling, this option is meant to secure your rifle to you, but limits accessibility.
Like other upgrades, slings come in different colors to suit your personal taste.
Reaping the Benefits of Your AR-15 Upgrades
Maybe you’re seeing a trend here–comfort is key when it comes to AR-15 upgrades. The upgrades we’ve covered here will help you feel more comfortable, and incorporating the best rifle accessories you can find will showcase your unique taste and improve precision and accuracy.
The result? You’ll become the best and most confident shooter you can be overall.
Now that you have a better idea of the gun upgrades you can make, you’ll be able to create a gun that reflects your shooting style and preferences…to create a gun that reflects YOU.
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