The AR is one of the easiest rifles to customize, and there are literally tons of aftermarket parts to choose from. Even though an AR is inherently an accurate weapon, there a few tweaks you can make to transform the rifle from a really good weapon to a really fantastic weapon. So, I took a look at four different categories for AR Accessories that can boost accuracy: optics, triggers, handguards and barrels.
These four areas are fairly easy to upgrade because, like many of us, I’m a big fan of instant gratification. I’ve also ordered these categories from the easiest to the most difficult—not that swapping an AR barrel takes a degree in mechanical engineering, but it’ll still take some time. Of course, new stocks, grips and compensators can make your rifle easier to shoot, and you’ll also see a difference in your shooting accuracy with those upgrades, but I like to tackle accuracy head on. Scroll through the gallery above to learn more about some quick upgrades for your favorite AR-platform rifles.
Installing an optic requires minimal effort and can be accomplished with tools you probably already have on hand. There is no black magic to installing a scope or red dot. Just make sure that the mount is tightly attached to your AR and the rings around the scope are secure. There’s no need to gorilla the screws—just use blue Loctite #242, which will help your scope maintain its zero in spite of recoil.
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When it comes to scope mounts specifically designed for the AR platform, I have three recommendations: the Leupold Integral Mounting System (IMS), the Nikon M-223 scope mount and the Vortex Optics Precision QR Extended Cantilever mount. All three of these are one-piece designs that set the scope at the right height for an AR. These mounts are also perfect for the smaller scopes used in 3-Gun matches.
Variable-power scopes are perfect for ARs—crank the magnification down for defense work or up for coyote hunting. Reflex sights are another good choice, and many have reticles ballistically calibrated for common 5.56mm loadings. The gallery above has a few optics options worth looking into.
Installing an aftermarket trigger with a crisp break will do wonders to your accuracy. Most mil-spec-style AR triggers are OK, but drop a better trigger into that fire control group pocket and you will instantly see tighter groups because you will be better able to control the trigger and the resulting shot. Many aftermarket triggers are drop-in cassette-style units that you literally install by dropping them in and replacing two pins. That’s it.
Mil-spec triggers need a little more finesse to install them. I use a punch as a slave pin for the hammer pin to overcome the spring tension. There are a number of triggers available from Geissele, Timney and others. I’ve installed more triggers than I can remember. Scroll through the gallery above to see a few worth considering for your AR.
Free-floating handguards do not contact the barrel, so they cannot adversely affect your rifle’s accuracy. This upgrade is more labor intensive, and you may need to swap out your current gas block with a lower-profile design. Today’s handguards incorporate M-LOK and KeyMod slots for hanging accessories off of your rifle. Many manufacturers offer free-floating handguards, and the gallery above has a few I recommend.
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If you are going through the expense of installing a handguard and changing out the gas block, you might as well bite the bullet and opt for a better barrel. If you shoot a specific load, matching your barrel rifling to your bullet weight will greatly increase your accuracy. It’s also important to consider your barrel’s profile—longer, more rigid designs might be more accurate, but a lighter profile means less weight and faster handling. In the above gallery are a few barrels I’ve had the pleasure of sending rounds through.
For more information on the products featured in the gallery, visit the following sites.