If you are anything like us here at PDW you love to shoot AR-15s. But there is always one prevailing thought, “This is outstanding! I bet I could make it even better.” Don’t get us wrong, the AR platform is exceptional and a lot of fun to shoot, off the shelf. But putting a little work into a custom AR-15 makes it even more fun. These 10 products will help give you a start on building your own AR or upgrading/customizing your current rifle.
10 Upgrades for Your Custom AR-15
Luth-AR A3 .223 Upper Receiver
Every good custom AR-15 build has to start somewhere, and what better place than the upper receiver? The A3 .223 Upper Receiver from Luth-AR features a flattop construction with M4-type feed ramp. The flattop includes a 12 position Picatinny accessory rail, ready to accept your optics or flip-up sights. The upper is precision machined from 7075-T6 aluminum forging that is hardcoat anodized. The anodizing provides a tough, scratch-resistant coating. A shell deflector sits just forward of the forward assist housing and just behind the cover ready ejection port.
The MSRP of the Luth-AR A3 .223 Upper Receiver is $114.95. For more information, visit Luth-AR.com.
Sharps Bros. The Jack AR lower
Since you are already upgrading your personal rifle, or starting from scratch, you might as well add the cool factor. That is where Sharps Bros. comes in. With lower models like The Jack, you are sure to have the coolest AR on the range. The Jack is machined out of 7075-T6 aluminum with MIL-A-8625 spec anodizing. The magazine well features a beveled flare and is compatible with all standard capacity magazines, like PMags and Hex mags. The Gen2 now includes a threaded bolt catch pin and received a weight reduction. If The Jack is not your style, they have other models to choose from as well.
The MSRP on the Sharps Bros. The Jack AR-15 Lower is $275.45 – $295.99. For more information, visit SharpsBros.com.
Faxon Match Series- 16″ Flame Fluted, .223 Wylde, Mid-Length, 416R, Nitride, 5R, Nickel Teflon Extension Barrel
Sometimes the devil is in the details and performance and accuracy can come down to simple additions. The Faxon Match Series barrel is machined from gun-barrel-quality bar-stock and features 416-R in 5R rifling. The barrel is chambered for the hybrid .223 Wylde, that the 5R rifling takes full advantage of. After all testing, each barrel receives Nitride treating inside and out. For a better fit between the extension and the receiver, the extension is Nickel Teflon coated.
The MSRP on the Faxon Match Series barrel is $305.00. For more information, visit FaxonFirearms.com.
Cry Havoc Tactical QRB (Quick Release Barrel) 223 Kit for Rifle Calibers
The Cry Havoc Tactical QRB 223 Kit is a great addition for anyone who needs to change calibers quickly. An added benefit of the Cry Havoc QRB is the ability to quickly disassemble and reassemble it, for compact portability. The assembly requires only gross motor skills and can be assembled and ready to fire in seconds. Because the barrel still “head-spaces” off the stock positions, it is able to retain POA/POI and retain accuracy to less than 1 MOA.
The MSRP on the Cry Havoc Tactical QRB is $375.00 – $385.00, depending on gas tube size. For more information, visit CryHavocTac.com.
Franklin Armory BFSIII AR-S1 Binary Trigger
I am a firm believer in economy of motion and like to avoid wasted movement. So, naturally I would advocate for a binary trigger. The BFSIII AR-S1, from Franklin Armory, is the perfect trigger for the job. It is a 3-position trigger, and has positions for safe, fire 1 round per pull, and fire 1 round on pull and 1 round on release. The nice thing about the BFSIII AR-S1 is that you can cancel out the shot on release by moving the selector out of binary mode, while holding the trigger back. The AR-S1 features a straight flat-faced trigger, but they also offer the AR-C1 for a curved trigger.
The MSRP on the Franklin Armory BFSIII AR-S1 Binary Trigger is $386.99. For more information, visit FranklinArmory.com.
Phoenix AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle
Because we are not all built the same, and there are lefties in the shooterverse, Phoenix Weaponry has you covered. Their ambidextrous charging handle and latches are machined from billet aluminum, for strength and weight reduction. They come black anodized for corrosion resistance. The simple design stays latched at all rates of fire but can be charged with a pinky.
The MSRP on the Phoenix AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle is $154.99. For more information, visit PhoenixWeaponry.com.
Law Tactical AR-15/M16 GEN3-M Folding Stock Adapter
With the GEN3-M Folding Stock Adapter, and Quick Release Barrel (above), you won’t need anything more than a backpack for range day. The GEN3-M is built and assembled from CNC machined, 4140 steel. It works with direct impingement or gas piston systems and fits A2, carbine, mil-spec or commercial buffer tube and stocks. When transporting in non-permissive environments it can be folded with a simple one-button release. Simply open and fire to engage the stock, which automatically locks in place and requires no fine motor skills. The GEN3-M includes an integrated single point sling attachment point.
The MSRP on the Law Tactical AR-15/M16 GEN3 Folding Stock Adapter is $269.99. For more information, visit LawTactical.com.
Primary Arms SLx MD-25 Rotary Knob 25mm Microdot with 2 MOA Red Dot Reticle
When it comes to picking the optics for your custom AR-15 you can’t go wrong with one that received the Silver-Tier rating by the National Tactical Officers Association. The Primary Arms SLx MD-25 features a 2 MOA red dot, in a hardcoat anodized aluminum housing. The 6.5-ounce reticle has 50,000-hour battery life, with the CR2032 3V Lithium Coin battery. It features 12 illumination settings for bright days, as well as night vision compatibility. Risers and spacers for mounting to 0.96”, 1.41”, 1.54”, or 1.64” central height come with the SLx MD-25. However, it is also compatible with standard micro mounts.
The MSRP on the Primary Arms SLx MD-25 Reticle is $169.99. For more information, visit PrimaryArms.com.
DRD Tactical ARES
AR-15 carry system options come down to personal preference. Some people like single-point, some like 2-point, while some prefer a 3-point sling. Whatever the case, they all have one thing in common, they like to move around a bit. The Tactical ARES (Adaptive Retention System), from DRD Tactical, addresses this issue with its locking retention system. The ARES attaches to your tactical vest to help distribute the weight of the firearm to your entire vest. With the ergonomic single button release you can get your rifle back into the fight quickly and intuitively. Unlike a sling, your rifle stays in place so you can instinctively access it without looking, every time.
The MSRP on the DRD Tactical ARES is $124.99. For more information, visit DRDTactical.com.
Real Avid Master-Fit AR15 Crowfoot Wrench Set
Now that you have the parts, it is time to assemble it. But you might have noticed that your toolbox at home doesn’t have anything in it that can handle the job. That is where the Real Avid Master-Fit AR15 Crowfoot Wrench Set comes in handy. This 13-piece master grade armorer’s tool set has everything you need to assemble the large part of your custom AR-15. The 12 specialized crowfoot wrenches fit most common AR-15 assembly nut sizes and work with the heavy-duty ½-inch torque wrench. All of the stainless steel wrenches have a titanium coating for maximum strength. The entire kit comes in an organized tool storage case.
The MSRP on the Real Avid Master-Fit AR-15 Crowfoot Wrench Set is $299.99. For more information, visit RealAvid.com.