You Just Got an AR15, Now what? Necessary Upgrades

You Just Got an AR15, Now what? Necessary Upgrades

  Guest Post by D.S.  

     When you get your AR15, you either consciously or subconsciously, make a plan on what purpose that rifle will serve you. For some, you might be configuring a rifle that is best suited for target or varmint shooting. Others might be making a home defense rifle or a general purpose rifle, and some are of course making a rifle to fight the communist zombies that will invade our country full Red Dawns style. No matter what you are building, there are a few key components that you should have on most of your rifles. 


TA01 ACOG Trijicon (3)


Guns are designed to shoot things, be it coyotes, squirrels, burglars, or communist zombies, you can’t shoot if you can’t aim. You need an optic, period. I know there are people who will say iron sights are perfectly fine, and I will agree with them, they’re FINE. And that’s “FINE” like when you piss your girlfriend/wife off and ask if she is okay and she says she is “FINE.” If irons were just as good as an optic, the military wouldn’t be spending a metric F*ckton on ACOG’s, Aimpoint’s, Eotech’s, etc.


Hit percentages past 100 yards deviate strongly AGAINST the iron sights. From “Effects of Sight Type, Zero Methodology, and Target Distance on Shooting Performance Measures While Controlling for Ammunition Velocity and Individual Experience”

You need an optic, so make it a good one. I know that money is tight and we can’t have an Aimpoint on one rifle, a Vortex Razor on another, and an Eotech and magnifier on the other, but have at least one gun with one quality optic. Aimpoint Pro’s are great and inexpensive comparatively, and Trijicon MRO’s are great and inexpensive comparatively as well. Red dots are going to get you better value to toughness vs a Low Power Variable Optic. So if you see yourself shooting 300 yards and in a red dot will suit your needs just fine. I just got a Trijicon MRO and I can already tell it’s worth it. Review to come. 



Speed and Control. Triggers do great things for your performance behind the gun. Above: Geissele SSA

   Triggers are one of those things where a mil spec trigger is fine, and fine actually means fine. It will get the job done, you won’t be getting the best group out of it as it’s such a heavy and gritty trigger compared to nicer triggers that there could be more deviation in your trigger pull. A Geissele trigger is well worth the money, but again, I can’t afford to put that in every rifle. An ALG ACT trigger is a great mil spec upgrade and I would almost consider it a competition mil spec trigger. It’s smooth, has no creep or grit, no over travel on the reset, but still a 4.5lb trigger pull on the light spring and 6.5 on the heavy spring. For about 65$ I don’t think it can be beat. Review of that to come eventually also, sorry, dad responsibilities come before blog responsibilities. 

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ALC ACT improved mil-spec trigger


Light Mount

   I am a firm believer in every rifle needs a light, but that applies more to every home defense/general purpose rifle needs a light. A target rifle or varmint rifle most likely won’t need a light as I am unsure about the legality of shooting varmints past sun down with a flashlight. However, I also know that it’s illegal to shoot a family member sneaking into your house for whatever reason… and you shot them mistaking them for an Intruder. Involuntary manslaughter is a thing. Get a flashlight and make sure to identify what you’re shooting at. That’s part of the main gun safety rules. Know your target. 


Blue Force Gear VCAS

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling. One of my favorite slings EVER.

   I have mixed feelings on slings. I’m also left handed so that screws everything up with slings, they’re on the wrong side and can cause malfunctions, get in the way of my charging handle or mag release. Slings for a left handed person kind of suck, but I still want the ability to tighten the rifle to my body if necessary. I have a sling on my home defense rifle but it gets in the way and is annoying. But if I ever get knocked to the ground, I don’t want them to just take my rifle. Or for those of you who are preparing for a SHTF scenario, you will want a sling to carry other items as well as your rifle, maybe you need to carry water back to your camp, but need to have a way to protect yourself. There are a multitude of reasons to have a sling on your rifle, and there are a multitude of reasons to not have a sling on a rifle. I would say however have a way to attach a sling to all of your rifles, and have a sling. That way, you have the option to attach a sling if needed. And when you don’t want it, just disconnect it. 

Other Useful Crap:

   Anyways, other useful crap would be something along the lines of a new stock. Usually the basic stocks that come with the gun and good enough but leave you wanting more. Once you have everything you need on the rifle, upgrade the stock. Get a nice Magpul stock for 30$ or a really nice Magpul stock for 50$ or more, pick your flavor. Having an upgraded stock can make your life a little nicer. Another upgrade you can make would be a good hand-guard. You’re going to need a solid platform for your front sight and anything you might be putting on your hand-guard. Free float is a good option but you’re looking at 100$ minimum for a good rail, but it will be short, 150$ for a 12 inch hand-guard or longer.


Free float rails seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but D.S. Suggests upping the budget to ensure you have a stable platform for accessories.

The last two things that would make your life nicer are a charging handle and a muzzle device. I think a charging handle is more important than an upgraded muzzle device. As the standard A2 flash hider that comes on an AR15 does a very good job at hiding the flash, there really isn’t a need for a compensator as the 5.56/223 round is a very low recoil round.


The trend towards pushing muzzle device cost towards a Benjamin Franklin is a little perturbing. These can usually wait.

However the Bravo Company flash hider/comp combo is a very good option as is the VG6 Epsilon. Either will serve you well and be a well rounded muzzle device. I do believe that a charging handle upgrade is much more important because if your charging handle breaks, you will have a very hard time operating your gun. I prefer the Radian Raptor LT charging handle. It’s smooth to operate, and very durable, as well as ambidextrous which is nice since I am one of the weird left handed shooters.


   I know this is a longer article with a lot of information in it, but the key takeaways from this article should be, get the 3 necessities first. Optic, light, sling. Then, you can start to upgrade your rifle with whatever your heart desires. Its when we upgrade too much though, that our rifle gets further and further away from the original lightweight, handy rifle that Eugene Stoner built. The AR15 is modular, adaptable, and extremely customizable which is what makes it such a great rifle that I think every individual should own and make it theirs. 

Written by lothaen

1 Comment

  1. John Mazur · February 21, 2020

    Iron sights are “fine”… I was in the Army and I could hit the 300 meter target all day long with iron sights. I hated the red dot i forget what it was called but it was garbage. The Acog’s are nice for sure but they aren’t needed.In squad designated marksman class we shot the m16a4 with optics but less than 300 meters they are just a luxury.

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