We have put together this guide listing 15 best AR15 accessories to smooth out the trigger pull, enhance handling and control ergonomics...etc
We have tried a tons of AR15 accessories to upgrade factory rifles and also build custom AR from scratch. Some are very practical, some are okay, and some are just junks.
Here are what we consider are the most practical upgrades to get.
Disclosure: All products have affiliate links for earning commission to support the website when you purchase
Aimpoint Micro - Best Red Dot Sight
Over the years, I have become quite familiar with Aimpoints, having owned several of them. This experience has given me a solid understanding of the brand's core design principles, which remain consistent across their range – ruggedness, simplicity, efficiency, and reliability.
Zeroing the optic is straightforward, with windage and elevation controls located in the top and right side turrets.
Magpul Battery Assist Lever - Faster Reload Speed
I've come across what I consider one of the best accessories for this rifle: the Magpul BAD (Battery Assist Device). It's transformed the way I handle reloads and weapon manipulation, addressing limitations that weren't originally designed into the rifle.
With the Magpul BAD, I can now reload without leaving my firing hand off the grip, not just when it's absolutely necessary. This device has significantly cut down my reload time and has been a great help in clearing malfunctions.
One of the standout features for me, as a right-handed shooter, is the added ambidextrous control. The BAD extends the release paddle to the right side of the rifle, allowing me to operate the bolt catch from the fire control/ready position without any awkward hand movements.
Surefire M600DF - See In Low Light
I've always believed that a weapon light is essential for a home defense rifle, and after trying out the Surefire M600DF, I'm convinced it's the best option for low light target identification on long guns.
I've found it to withstand drops, bumps, and the rough handling that's typical in everyday situations. Its Mil-Spec build gives me confidence in its reliability and longevity.
The wide spill combined with a hot center brilliantly illuminates the surrounding area, allowing me to clearly see at 9, 12, and 3 o'clock positions in the dark. This feature ensures that I don't miss anything important in a critical situation.
I tried the MODLITE SYSTEM PLHv2 Head on it, and the difference was remarkable. The increased throw (54k candela) significantly enhances long-range illumination, making it 2.5 times more effective.
Surefire Muzzle Brake - Reduces Felt Recoil
I recently equipped my AR 15 with a muzzle brake that promises to reduce felt recoil and enable faster follow-up firing.
However, I did have to spend some time timing the brake for proper installation, which was a bit of a learning curve but worth the effort.
For those who enjoy a flatter shooting experience, this muzzle brake is a dream come true. The fireball effect it produces is quite a spectacle, both during the day and at night. It adds an exciting visual element to shooting sessions.
I was relieved to find that it came with included timing shims. However, I can't stress enough the importance of wearing hearing protection when using this muzzle brake. The increased noise level is significant, and it's essential to protect your ears during use.
Magpul D-60 - Best AR15 Drum Mag
The Magpul D60 solves problems typically associated with drum magazine designs from the past. This new design improves reliability, although it does make the magazine larger and heavier.
The Magpul D60 AR-15 Magazine is made for users to be able to service it themselves. Loading rounds, even the last one, is made fast and easy with the ratchet lever.
As per Magpul's suggestion, the drum should be cleaned and lightly oiled after firing 1000 rounds.
Match Grade Barrels - Improves Accuracy
I've learned that the barrel is the most crucial component of a rifle, significantly influencing its ballistic performance. After swapping barrels on different rifles, I've observed that not all rifles perform the same with a new barrel, highlighting the importance of choosing the right one.
When shopping for a barrel, I pay close attention to certain core specifications:
- Length: This is critical as it affects both accuracy and bullet velocity. Depending on my shooting style, I can choose anything from a 7.5" to an 18" barrel. It's essential to remember that barrel length impacts the rifle's performance in terms of accuracy and velocity.
- Barrel profile: I consider options like Government or Pencil profiles.
- Gas port size: This varies depending on the barrel's length and caliber.
- Whether it's a DI (Direct Impingement) or Piston System.
- Twist Rate: This is crucial as it affects ballistic performance based on bullet weight.
In my experience, a cold hammer forged (CHF) and chrome-lined barrel stands out as superior to a button-cut barrel. CHF barrels are not only stronger but also cost-efficient during manufacturing.
Single Stage Trigger - Increase Trigger Reset Speed
If you're looking to shoot fast with your AR15, I've found that a single-stage trigger is the way to go. From my experience, the ideal trigger pull weight for both safety and reliability falls between 3.5 to 5.5 pounds. It's worth noting that not just the trigger, but also the BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) and buffer spring can be fine-tuned for optimal performance.
One aspect I really appreciate about this type of trigger is the shorter reset and pre-travel. The trigger breaks cleanly around 3-5 pounds, and the spring-assisted reset quickly readies it for the next shot. This feature has significantly improved my shooting speed.
The installation process is lightning fast. The drop-in trigger package can be easily placed in the receiver, and with just two pins to punch in, the setup is complete. There’s no need for any fitting or adjusting, which I found to be a huge time-saver.
Check Out: Best AR15 Drop In Triggers
Nickel Boron Bolt Carrier Group - Improved Bolt Durability
From my experience, the BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) is the heart of my AR-15 rifle, and I can't stress enough how crucial it is to have a durable one. It's one of the most critical components of the rifle, dictating both its performance and reliability.
When it comes to competition shooting, I've found that choosing a Low-Mass BCG, typically made of lightweight materials like titanium, is beneficial. This significantly increases the cycle rate of an AR-15. However, I've learned that to ensure reliable functioning, it often requires other upgrades, which can be a bit of a hassle and an added expense.
For home defense and range use, I prefer an M16 bolt coated with Nickel-Boron. This type of coating provides a reliable and smooth action, which is exactly what I need in high-stress situations or while practicing at the range.
Geissele Braided Buffer Spring - Enhanced Cycling Service Life
I decided to go for the Geissele Super 42 Braided Spring with an H1 or H2 buffer for my rifle, primarily for its promise of a longer service life without the spring losing its length over time. After using it, I can confidently say it was a good decision.
The Super 42 spring system operates at only around 35% of its maximum stress load compared to a standard spring. The way the springs flex separately from each other, acting like a harmonic damper and energy absorber, is impressive. It effectively displaces excess energy, which helps in preventing spring failure.
The braided wire design has also improved the reliability of my rifle. It increases the bolt return force, ensuring proper round chambering, especially when dealing with dirt or steel case ammunition. This feature has been particularly useful in maintaining consistent performance under various conditions.
One unexpected but highly appreciated benefit is the elimination of the spring twang sound.
Raptor Charging Handle - Better Grip Leverage
I've always wanted more leverage and positive contact when operating my AR15, so I decided to switch out the small latch charging handle for a Raptor charging handle. This change has been a significant improvement in how I handle BCG operations and troubleshoot malfunctions.
The larger surface area of this ambi charging handle really makes a difference. It's much easier to grab without slipping, which is a huge advantage, especially when I'm wearing gloves. The better leverage it provides is great for clearing nasty jams and malfunctions efficiently.
Another benefit I've noticed is the extra room to grip from both sides. The larger latch sticks out more, making it much easier to grip, regardless of whether I'm wearing gloves. This feature has been particularly useful in various shooting scenarios.
It's also an excellent addition for left-handed shooters like me. I can now use my left hand to charge the bolt just as easily as with the right, which has made my shooting experience much more comfortable.
Ambi Safety Selector - For Lefties & Righties
I recently upgraded to a short throw ambi safety selector for my weapon, and it's been a game changer in terms of ergonomics. This upgrade eliminates the need to break my grip when flicking the safety with my thumb, which I find incredibly convenient.
I can now operate the ambi-switch quickly from a pre-positioned angle without needing a full 90-degree rotation or breaking my pistol grip.
Additionally, the rock-solid detent of this safety selector provides very responsive and positive feedback, even when I'm wearing gloves. This tactile response gives me confidence in the safety's position and ensures that I'm always aware of the mode my weapon is in.
The only drawback I've noticed is that it took me a little time to adjust to the shorter throw and the different angle. But once I got used to it, the benefits far outweighed this minor inconvenience.
Durable Modular Handguard - Enable Attachments
I decided to get a modular handguard system for my firearm, and it's one of the best decisions I've made regarding customization. The flexibility to mount any accessory I like and remove it when it's not needed has greatly enhanced my shooting experience.
I can easily attach a weapon light, IR/laser device, offset mount, sling attachment points, backup iron sights, vertical grip, and even front thermal/NV optic attachments. The ability to add rail sections as needed not only smooths out the handguard but also significantly reduces weight, which is a huge plus.
I've been particularly impressed with the offerings from BCM, Daniel Defense, Geissele, and Aero Precision. As the industry moves from full-length Picatinny rail handguards to modular ones, the variety and quality of options available have noticeably increased.
The main advantage of this system is the incredible versatility and customization it offers. I can tailor my firearm to the specific needs of each shooting session, which has greatly improved my overall handling and effectiveness. The lighter weight and smoother handguard also make for a more comfortable and manageable shooting experience.
One of the features I appreciate most about these mounts is the built-in recoil lugs. They fit perfectly between the rail sections and effectively prevent any shifts during recoil. This has significantly increased the accuracy of my shots, giving me much more confidence in my rifle's performance.
The major advantage of these mounts is their durability and the stability they offer. They've maintained zero exceptionally well, even after extensive use and exposure to sharp recoil. This reliability is crucial for me, both in practice and in more critical scenarios.
However, I did find that getting used to the mounting system took a bit of time initially. It was a bit different from what I was accustomed to, but once I got the hang of it, the installation became straightforward.
Unity Tactical FAST Optic Mount - Red Dot & Magnifier
The Unity Tactical Aimpoint mount along with the FTC magnifier mount is the most unique red dot magnifier setup on the market. The raised optic height provides the shooter with much better cheekweld on most AR15 rifles, and it clears night vision goggles.
The FTC magnifier mount tucks the magnifier down instead of flipped to the side. This is a super cool setup for hardcore AR15 users. (Works for Aimpoint & EOTech G33)
Get FTC Omni to work with Vortex, Trijicon magnifier
Magpul UBR Stock - Improved Rifle Shouldering
I recently upgraded my AR15 with an aftermarket UBR stock from Magpul, and I have to say, it's been an outstanding improvement. This stock is incredibly sturdy, and it has completely eliminated the wobble I used to experience with the factory stock.
One of the things I appreciated most about this stock was that the installation kit came included. The new buffer tube provided in the box was very easy to install, which saved me a lot of time and hassle. Additionally, the built-in QD socket at the rear end of the stock and on the buffer tube plate has been very convenient for attaching a sling.
Another feature I found useful is the included storage pocket. It's great for storing notes and batteries, and the fact that I can remove the two access doors gives me flexibility in how I use the storage space.
However, before purchasing this stock, I had to be mindful of my buffer tube sizes. There are commercial (1.148" diameter) and Mil-Spec (1.168" diameter) options, and choosing the right one was crucial for a proper fit. Also, I noted that some rifles, especially DI guns, have longer buffer tube assemblies, which might not be compatible with this stock.
Overall, the Magpul aftermarket stock has been a fantastic addition to my AR15, significantly enhancing its functionality and user experience. The ease of installation, added features like the QD socket and storage pocket, and the elimination of stock wobble are major pros.
Large Magazine Release - Better Finger Reach
I've often felt clumsy during reload drills when trying to hit the small magazine release on my AR15, and I know I'm not alone in this. It's even more challenging in high-adrenaline situations, where precision can really slow you down. That's why I decided to try out an extended large magazine release button. It's all about making those minor tweaks to improve the AR15 platform, and this has been a significant one for me.
The larger button has made a noticeable difference in my reload speed. It's much easier to hit, especially under pressure, which has made my drills and real-life use more efficient. The simplicity of this upgrade and the improvement it brings to the overall functionality of my AR15 is impressive.
However, the only downside I've noticed is the initial adjustment period. Getting used to the new button size and placement took a bit of practice. But once I got accustomed to it, the benefits of having a larger, more accessible magazine release button became quite clear. It's a small change, but it significantly enhances the user experience, particularly in stressful or fast-paced scenarios.
If you're configuring your AR15 for just home defense purposes, please check out our separately written accessory guide below:
- Always ensure your firearm is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction when installing or adjusting optic riser mounts.
- Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for proper installation and torque specifications to prevent damage to your optic or firearm.
- Regularly check the mount's tightness and stability, as recoil and regular use may cause it to loosen over time.
- Be aware that changing the height of your optic may affect your original zero and require re-zeroing your firearm.