AR 15s have remained a popular choice among enthusiasts since they were made available to the general public in the 1970s. Though these guns have evolved over the years significantly improving their capabilities, owners still prefer doing performance upgrades on these rifles. Which explains why it is difficult to see a stock AR.
ARs are probably the best when it comes to the extent of customizations that are possible on them. You can replace every part in an AR including the upper receivers, lower receivers, barrel, trigger mechanism, optics, and whatnot!
While all of these upgrades will for sure improve the performance of your AR, we’ll focus on some of the best upgrades to make on a AR 15.
While it may appear to most that a trigger doesn’t have an important role to play in an AR other than firing the bullet, it isn’t the case. If you were to ask a veteran or a gunsmith, you’d know the significance of the trigger when it comes to firing accuracy.
The key is to have the right trigger for your AR that gives your finger feel right at home. Not too tight, not too loose and not too big, not too small!
There are two types of triggers you can invest in:
- Single-stage trigger: As the name suggests, these triggers are designed to have a single-stage motion. They are designed to operate in one smooth range of motion and are known for their lighter pull weights. In short, these triggers will file the rifle the moment they are pulled. If you use your AR for home defense, we recommend you go ahead with a single-stage trigger.
- Two-stage trigger: These triggers have a two-staged motion. The first stage involves a lighter pull and the second stage involves triggering the firing mechanism. So in short, with two-staged triggers, you can pull the trigger to a certain extent and the firing mechanism will only be triggered when you pull it beyond that point. Two-stage triggers are mostly used in competition shooting & target shooting as they will give you better control over your shooting.
2. Upper Receiver
The group of bolt carriers and charging handles on a AR 15 is called an upper receiver. Upper receiver upgrades are mostly done on AR to change the rifle characteristics. For instance, to change long-range precision rifle to a close-quarters combat carbine.
Upper receivers are mostly made of aluminum and what differs is the way they’ve been made. When it comes to upper receiver upgrades, you’ve three options
- Forged uppers: Forged uppers are made by beating heated aluminum into the desired shape which increases the density of the material without any compromise on its composition. If you are looking for compatibility, longevity, and reliability, we recommend you invest in forger uppers.
- Billet Uppers: Billet uppers are more or less similar to forged uppers when it comes to mechanical strength and reliability. What’s different about them is the way they are made. Billet uppers are manufactured by milling a solid metal block. There are specialized instruments such as CNC used in the manufacture of billet upper which makes these uppers fall on the pricey side.
So yeah, if you are looking for customizations, invest in an upper receiver.
- Cast Uppers: Cast uppers are manufactured by pouring molten metal into a die and then finished by CNC cutting. Though they offer a good finish, they are the weakest among the three.
3. Lower Receivers
The lower receiver is that part of an AR that receives a round from the magazine before it is chambered. It is the lower receiver that holds the trigger, hammer, firing pin, selector switch, magazine release switch, magazine catch, and Bolt Catch Spring in an AR. Upgrading the lower receiver components can improve your firing speed, and the accuracy of your shots, reducing the chances of jamming and giving you an upper hand in ranges.
If you were to ask us, we’d say the weakest link in a stock AR is the optics that comes along with it. This is why we have added optics to our list of must-do upgrades on an AR-15. Here are the optics upgrades you can consider.
- Red dots: They are basic sights that are commonly used in the close-range shooting and come parallax-free and with a red or a green dot at the center. With red dots, you can fire your rifle with both eyes open giving you an upper hand during close-quarter combat.
- Holographic Sights: Holographic sights come with an attached laser marker that places a reticule on your target. Compared to scopes, holographic sights have a larger field of vision with less digital occlusion and significantly less parallax distortion.
- Magnified Optics: Magnified optics, commonly known as scopes come with a scope and an advanced reticle for long-distance accuracy. They can be used in both long- and short-range firing as their magnification can be adjusted.
5. Muzzle & Flash Hider
Muzzle and flash hider is another worthy investment that you can do on your AR when it comes to controlling the muzzle climb and recoil. These devices can significantly improve the dexterity of your AR 15 increasing your chances of hitting the bullseye!
Depending on your purpose, you can choose to upgrade the muzzle breaker, compensator, or even install a flash hider.
AR 15 magazines are prone to damage making it a wise decision to upgrade the stock magazines that come with your AR. There are two main types of magazines you can consider as an upgrade
- Metal Magazines: Metal magazines are mostly made from aluminum and fall on the heavier side.
- Polymer Magazines: As the name suggests, polymer magazines are made from polymers which have made them significantly lighter and more durable than metal magazines.
While you might get different opinions on which one to choose between these two, we’d always recommend you to go ahead with polymer magazines because of their reliability, weight, and ease of customization.
The upgrades we mentioned in the article are just the tip of the iceberg and there are a whole lot of other upgrades you can do on your AR 15. Before you spend any money on AR-15 upgrades, have a clear understanding of your requirements before you invest your hard-earned money. Feel free to visit us for best deals on AR-15 upgrades.