Top 5 Accessories to Pair with Your AR-15
So, you bought your first AR and you've decided you want to trick it out. Welcome to the club!
Trust us when we say you're not alone. One of the main reasons we all love ARs so much is their modularity. The AR platform is insanely adaptable and practically encourages the use of additions. They've often been referred to as Legos for adults because there's so much that you can do with the platform. But that begs the question: Where do you start?
Not to worry; we've got you covered. There are numerous things that you can add to your AR to personalize it. Whether your goal is to make it more comfortable, improve useability or just increase your overall shooting ability, the AR has an add-on for that.
Just so we're clear: What makes you a better shooter is being consistent with practice and utilizing the fundamentals, not the things you add to your rifle. However, there are accessories you can buy that can help you develop your own specific shooting style. These things won't necessarily take you from being a bad shooter to a great one, but they can help you work more effectively to increase your skill.
Again, just to reiterate (because undoubtedly someone will miss the first time this was said), adding things to your gun will not make you a better shooter. That said, there's a ton of fun and awesome things that you can add that will improve your overall shooting experience.
A Quick Word About Attaching Accessories
Before we jump in, it’s worth mentioning that you'll need a way to add some of these accessories to your rifle, like for examples a quad rail system, Magpul's M-Lok system or Bravo Company's Keymod. Given that these are coming standard on many upper receivers now, we didn't consider this type of addition for our list.
5 Top AR Accessories
1. An Upgraded Buttstock
Regardless of whether you purchase a completed AR-15 or build it from parts or kits, one of the first items to consider upgrading is the buttstock. It isn't that the buttstocks that come on completed guns and lowers are bad; it's that there are so many options for customization. Since the buttstock is the point of contact the rifle has with your body, it's only natural that you should start your personalization there.
2. A Better Grip
Moving from the butt forward, the next place you're coming into contact with the rifle is the grip. Naturally, this is the next place you might want to customize and accessorize.
As with the buttstock, there's nothing wrong with the standard grip that comes on most ARs, but there are other options. There are versions available with storage compartments, versions for people with larger or smaller hands and versions that change the entire grip angle.
This is an area where you can truly customize the gun to you as an individual. It might not sound that exciting to simply change the grip, but once you do it, you'll see it as anything but a simplistic change. A grip change will make your AR feel like a whole new gun, and if that doesn't make you excited about shooting, nothing will.
3. Trigger Upgrade
Without a doubt this is one of the most swapped out parts on an AR, and it's wholly due to the amount of customization a trigger can have.
A trigger upgrade is one of the most versatile accessories you can add to your gun. Flat triggers, competition style triggers, combat triggers — you name it, there's a trigger for it. You can make it a lighter trigger pull or simply change the feel. You can even drop in a new trigger with just a few tools and completely customize your gun for competition shooting or for deployment to a war zone. The possibilities for trigger customization are almost endless.
There are few things that make your AR look tricked-out quite like adding lights. Whether you want to drop the big bucks on specialty lights with infrared capabilities for night vision compatibility or just add some lumens to help you see in the dark, they make for an excellent accessory. Lights are stylish and practical for range shooting or home defense. They're also affordable accessories that look great — what's not to love?
Without a doubt, nothing says “operator” like an optic, but even if you aren't trying to be an operator, there's no reason not to accessorize your AR with some kind of optic.
The beauty of optics (aside from helping you aim) is that there are a plethora of choices to help you customize your rifle. Maybe you want to add a reflexive sight with no magnification and just a red dot to an AR pistol for a home defense or truck gun. Or perhaps you want to add magnification for long-range shooting to channel your inner sniper. No matter what kind of gun you have or shooting you want, adding an optic is the best way to complete the package.
Each of these items is, for the most part, a must-have for your AR. They start you on the path of accessorizing your AR, and once you start down the path, you may be hard-pressed to stop. The good news is that each of these are practical and reliable options to add. But if you want to go a little further down the rabbit hole, check out these honorable mentions.
AR Accessory Honorable Mentions
Each of these accessories has a functional use, but not all are necessary for every AR use.
Adding a foregrip to your rifle is a nice way to help stabilize and shoot more effectively. Plus, honestly, it just looks cool. But before you purchase one, make sure you’re aware that, depending on whether your AR is considered a pistol by the ATF or not, you might need to opt for a handstop rather than a foregrip. Err on the side of caution here just to be sure; no one wants the ATF knocking on their door over something avoidable.
Better/Ambidextrous Charging Handle
This could easily have made the main list, and almost did. But a charging handle isn't something sexy to upgrade or change. However, once you get a handle that's ambidextrous or is engineered to work smoother than the stock one, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.
This one is admittedly not practical for every use. But if you want to carry your AR a little more concealed or in a bag of some kind, a folding stock might be for you. A few manufacturers on the market make this accessory, but it's definitely more than a novelty item. It's a functional addition to make your AR more compact.
Are you aware that you aren't stuck having to use the standard muzzle device that comes on the end of your AR? Well, you are now. There are a host of options available for these as well. You can buy ones to limit the flash signature of your firearm or ones that are designed to help keep your barrel steadier. There are also some that do both those things and are capable of attaching a suppressor.
Speaking of suppression, there is seriously nothing cooler that you can add to an AR. Unfortunately, due to the intervention of state legislatures, this particular accessory isn't for everyone. There are legal and regulatory barriers to entry for the average person, and that's why this didn't make the main list. That said, if you can afford it and your state allows it, you should absolutely consider adding a suppressor.
Accessorizing an AR is practically a rite of passage. Taking your stock gun from a good firearm to a great one is a personal, fun process that millions of gun owners engage in. Use this list for inspiration, and see what else you can find to add to your AR. If you've already tricked yours out, tell us what you've added in the comments to give us more ideas (or just make us jealous).