AR-15 Upgrades – How to Make Your Gun Better For Notta Lotta Dough

AR-15 Upgrades

Daniel Defense DDM4v7LW before upgrades. Woody for TTAG

When I got my first AR-15, I was bewildered. There were so many choices for me to modify the rifle, and because much of it was easy to do, it was hard to know where to start. But before beginning my AR-15 upgrades, I had a rough idea of what I wanted the rifle to eventually become: an easy-to-shoot, dependable, light-ish rifle that I would develop for years, if not decades.

My plan was to buy an affordable AR platform rifle with good guts from a well-known brand, shoot it, see what irritated me the most, then replace offending parts with other ones I thought I’d prefer. This squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease method has allowed me to plod along, stay within budget, and isolate and test the changes before moving to the next problem area. The upgrades I’ve made to my AR have made me reluctant to sell it, so it keeps hanging around. 

The Sorting

I’ve had the good fortune to extensively shoot a bunch of ARs over the years, and I’ve bought and sold several. The most affordable (at the time) included 5.56mm-chambered rifles, such as a CMMG Mk4LE 55AE160, an S&W Model M&P15 Sport 811036, a Bushmaster C15 SuperLight ORC 90689, a Mossberg MMR Tactical w/Sights 65014, a High Standard Flat-Top Carbine HSTX6551, and a Remington R-15 VTR Predator Carbine, all under $1000.

Above $2000, there have been a Ruger SR-556 Takedown 5924, a DRD Tactical CDR-15, a Windham Weaponry RMCS-4 package, and most recently, two models from F-1 Firearms.

The middle is pretty crowded, with a Rock River Arms LAR-15 Varmint A4 AR1520X, Ruger SR-556E Essential 5912, Stag Arms Model SA6L LH Super Varminter in 223 Rem., a DPMS RFA2-AP4A Patrol Carbine, a SIG Sauer 516 Patrol R516G2-16B-P and SIG M400 RM400-16B-EC. Also in this price range have been a Bushmaster Stainless VS PCWVMS 24-9SS in 223 Rem., an Olympic Arms K3B-M4-A3-TC, a Springfield Armory Saint ST916556B, SIG Sauer M400 Classic RM400-16B-C, and Battle Rifle Co.’s BR4 LIT Carbine. 

Even though I liked many of those rifles, I wound up keeping a Daniel Defense DDM4v7LW chambered in 5.56 NATO I bought for $900. It had become discontinued, which helped me get it cheap. The Version 7 LW is 5 ounces lighter than the standard Daniel Defense M4 Carbine. 

It had good internals. The DDM4v7LW is equipped with a single pinned low-profile gas block that is drilled, taper reamed, and press fit into place to securely attach the low profile gas block to the barrel assembly. The upper receiver is optics-ready with an A4 flat-top style. Inside, there is a chromed gas key and bolt carrier, and the bolt-carrier group is an M16-profile with a flared mag well and a six-position Mil-Spec receiver extension.

A Magpul MOE sliding buttstock adorns the shooter’s end, and a chrome-moly vanadium steel barrel, 16 inches in length, sits out front. It is chrome-lined and magnetic-particle inspected (MPI). The barrel includes an M4 feed ramp and has a lightweight profile. The DD 12-inch Modular Free Float Handguard came with three 3-inch Picatinny rail sections, much lighter than a quad rail. Overall length runs from 32.75 to 35.75 inches, with an LOP of 10.5 to 13.6 inches.

So, those are the basics of the rifle. But then I started working on it in the areas of fit and feel, trigger pull, barrel, sights, and function, and below are 10 things I did to maintain and improve it. There are so many good AR-15 upgrades out there, a single person could never get to it all. Because I’m always looking for ideas to make this rifle the best AR-15 it can be, I’d love to hear your upgrade choices in the comments below. 

#10 Cleaning Kit

Yes, this isn’t a modification to the gun per se, but it is an integral piece in keeping it running for the long term. 

In the AR-15/M16 Professional Cleaning System, 080-000-573WB, $150, Brownells brings supplies premium-quality components for detailed cleaning of the entire 5.56 NATO/223 Remington MSR, including bore, chamber, gas system, and bolt carrier.

For the bore, there’s a top-quality 36-inch Dewey cleaning rod long enough for any AR-15 barrel, 12 Special Line bronze bore brushes, and all-cotton flannel patches, plus tools specifically developed for the AR-15. The rod comes with a jag and an 8-32 thread adapter. 

A hold-open link separates the upper and lower receivers and locks them in place so you can clean the bore and chamber the correct way, from the breech. A rugged Delrin plastic bore guide centers the cleaning rod in the bore and protects the rifling from damage, and silicone O-rings in the bore guide seal the chamber and keep solvent out of the action and trigger.

For the upper receiver, there’s a combo cleaning tool that has a properly sized bronze brush and cotton mop to let you scrub away stubborn carbon fouling from the bolt carrier and lug recesses. Then there’s the combination bronze-and-stainless-steel chamber brush, originally designed for the M16, which digs out fouling that can hinder extraction.

All the gear comes packed in a rugged plastic storage/carry box with a top compartment and three slide-out drawers. Other items in the kit include cotton bore mops, gas tube cleaners, shop cloths, a 4-ounce can of Break Free CLP Cleaner, and a 24-ounce can of TCE Cleaner/Degreaser. 

#9 Multi-Tool

Of course, this isn’t a direct addition to the rifle either, but I’m really glad I bought it with the rifle. The seven-function AR-15 Multi-Tool by DPMS, $48, lets you build and repair AR-15s without cluttering your shop table or range bag. The brawny DPMS powder-coated steel wrench combines seven tools-in-one for maintenance, building, or repair of AR-15 series rifles. It’s well thought out from one end to the other.

A wide hole in one end of the wrench keeps it handy. Hang it flat on a wall peg in your work area, and you’ll always know where it is. A big-slot screwdriver head makes removing buttstock screws a snap.

A semi-circular cutout with an inset area fits collapsible stocks. A ¾-inch-square slot on the top of the wrench makes changing out compensators simple. Opposite the compensator slot is a 5/8-inch wrench slot that fits buttstock tubes. Next is a half-inch-square hole for a socket or torque wrench. A ridged slot will remove and install peg-style barrel nuts and standard barrel nuts. Pins on the front of the Multi-Tool will help install and disassemble free float tubes.

#8 Stop Rattle 1

If your AR-15 lower and upper are loose, and that bugs you, you can tighten them up with an ACCU-Wedge. It is a small plastic piece with a wedge-shaped extension on it. To install, push the rear disassembly pin out and push the upper away. Press the ACCU-Wedge in place in the rear of the lower, behind the rear disassembly pin and under the buffer tube. Close the upper and press the rear pin to the locked position.

You will likely need to put some weight on the upper to have that rear pin to line up. Also, on some rifles, you may have to shave a little off the flat portion for the upper receiver to fit. The ACCU-Wedge is available from Brownells (080-000-663WB, $5.99). 

If that’s too spendy, you can also use a hard-foam earplug and cut it to fit. Some will complain about pin wear, but I’ve not had that problem. I have also tightened the upper and lower fit on some guns with O-rings and the JP Enterprises rear tensioning pin, but the ACCU-Wedge is cheap and easy to install. Click here to see another TTAG discussion of the ACCU-Wedge. The video below describes installation of the piece, running from 1:35 to 1:55. 

#7 Stop Rattle 2

Shortly after buying it, I replaced the DD’s Magpul MOE buttstock with a Magpul CTR buttstock. The slack in the telescoping stock of most is just an irritant that I choose to fix. The Magpul CTR (Compact/Type Restricted) is a drop-in replacement buttstock for AR-15/M16 carbines.

They’re light, and the streamlined A-frame profile avoids snagging and shields the release latch to prevent accidental activation. It also provides an ambidextrous QD sling mount that will accept any push-button sling swivel. My rifle’s carbine receiver extensions, aka buffer tubes, were Mil-Spec size rather than Commercial.

The easiest way to distinguish between Mil-Spec and Commercial receiver extensions is to measure the tube diameter or read the manufacturer’s description. Mil-Spec receiver extensions have a slightly smaller diameter of approximately 1.148 inches. They also usually have a flat back. Commercial receiver extensions have a slightly larger diameter of about 1.168 inches and usually have slanted backs. Click here to see more on the topic. 

To install, I removed the existing stock then gently mated the stock body with the carbine receiver extension and slid them together until the stock stopped just over 2 inches in. Then I depressed the release latch with one hand, and with the other hand, grasped both ends of the release pin and pulled down firmly. When the pins moved downward, I pushed the stock forward to complete the mount.

To adjust the length of the stock, fully depress the release latch and pull the stock rearward to extend it. Push the stock forward to collapse it. Intermediate positions may be selected by partially depressing the release latch and moving the stock to the desired position. The CTR has a supplemental friction lock system that minimizes excessive stock movement. 

It’s available from Brownells here. There are several part numbers for different colors, but they run from $47 to $57 (100-002-946WB).

Read 7 Top AR-15 Stocks for Your Build or Upgrade to see some other choices TTAG has reviewed. 

#6 Feeding The Beast

How many magazines is too many? Thunder Ranch Owner and Trainer Clint Smith has some thoughts on that in the video below.

A lot of folks in rights-restricted states will wish they had read this years ago and got ‘em some, and it is no less true today: Buy standard-capacity (30-round) magazines for your AR-15 right now. A bunch of Californians are wishing they took advantage of the recent one-week suspension of that state’s magazine-capacity law. 

No, I do not have “1000 loaded magazines,” as Mr. Smith hyperbolically suggests in the video. But more is better. I have about 40, and I rotate them in and out of range time.

If your state legislators are talking about magazine restrictions, stop reading this and buy more AR mags right now. If not, I watch for sales, and I buy mostly Magpul PMags (Brownells 100-006-987WB, 10-mag pack on sale) and Brownells aluminum-body units (078-000-454WB, on sale now for $11). 

I also have a set of 10-round PMags because they’re easier to handle on a benchrest (100-011-418WB). 

I also have a few window PMags and haven’t had any failures with them, even after dropping them from various heights (100-011-219WB) and other abuse.

I’ve also had a couple of the 40-round PMags (100-012-633WB), and I like them fine as far as function goes, but I banged them into things a lot. That’s not the mag’s fault. 

#5 Getting a Grip

The original AR-15 grip is skinny and, for shooters with large hands, the original grip is too small and uncomfortable to hold. I’ve tried several dozen grips, and I settled on Magpul’s Mission Adaptable (MIAD) unit, an eminently functional and smart design.

Made of reinforced molded polymer construction, the modular grip system with interchangeable inserts lets you find the grip configuration that fits your hand size and mission requirements. All models come with a main grip body and detachable rubber core that holds a half-ounce lubrication bottle in the cap. Additional cores for storing batteries and other items are available separately.

Front- and backstrap inserts slide on easily, yet snap firmly into place and require no glue or screws to stay put. It comes with one straight and two different beavertail backstrap inserts, plus one straight and one finger-ledge front strap insert. Shooters looking for a cushioned grip might not care for its hard polymer construction, however.

The color scheme for my rifle is OD Green, and Brownells had the green MIAD (100-019-347WB, Magpul part number MAG520ODG) on sale while I was writing this, so I ordered it for $26 today. Click the link above to see the black, FDE, and grey versions available at Brownells for $34. This is one of the easiest AR-15 upgrades to accomplish.

Below is a 2-minute installation video. Pro-tip: Using a magnetic screwdriver tip or a properly fitted tip makes getting the grip screw back in pretty easy. 

Click here, here, here, and here to see other TTAG articles on AR-15 grips. 

#4 Offset Rail

Many shooters understand the AR can provide multiple sighting options, and I’ve settled on a small-magnification top optic and either a red dot or laser as the  sight for quick target acquisition. YMMV. Irrespective of the in-close sight choice, it has to be presented in another sight plane than the optic.

The GG&G 45-Degree Offset Accessory Rail (GGG1526) allows the shooter to install micro red-dot optics, flashlights, lasers, and other items at a 45-degree offset. Righties will put the rail on the right side so they can go from scope to dot with a quick counter-clockwise turn of the rifle, and without having to change head position. The unit is ambidextrous, so if lefties want to cant clockwise, that’s easy, too.

The offset piece mounts to a MIL-STD 1913 rail and offers five cross-slot mounting locations. It is 2.5 inches long, but only uses 1 inch of the top rail for mounting. It weighs 1.45 ounces and is available for $30 from Brownells (336-000-053WB). Brownells also carries other 45-degree offset mounts here. 

AR-15 Upgrades; How to Make Your Gun Better For Notta Lotta Dough

The GG&G 45-Degree Offset Accessory Rail allows the shooter to install smaller items at a 45-degree offset. Woody for TTAG

#3 Handguards

The original AR polymer handguards, like on the M-16 and M16A1, were comfortable to hold and sat level on sandbags. The M16A2’s handguards were circular in cross section instead of triangular and had more effective heat shields in them. Then came free-floating hand guards with quad rails, which were bulky and heavy. So, the trend after that was to get rid of the M1913 rails and make the handguard free-float into a slotted tube. Then, different systems popped up. 

KeyMod allows the shooter to attach accessories in the slots, when the accessories had the appropriate KeyMod hardware on them. M-LOK, by Magpul, was as secure as KeyMod, but M-LOK required less machining than KeyMod, and as a result, costs less. The current status seems to be that M-LOK won, but there are still plenty of KeyMod accessories to mount on KeyMod handguards. I’m Switzerland on that argument.

My Daniel Defense rifle has the company’s Modular Float Rail (MFR) 12.0 on it. It’s a 12-inch CNC-machined modular free-float-handguard that covers the low-profile gas block. I usually run the tube slick, save for the uninterrupted top rail that runs the length of the tube. Adding modular Picatinny rails at standard 90-degree or offset angles is easy. Currently, I’m running a TLR-2 HL G light/laser on the 9 o’clock rail. So I haven’t made a change in this area, yet. 

But I recently took a trip to the F-1 Firearms factory in Spring, Texas, and that experience is resetting my expectations. I have my eye on the company’s Ultra-Lite handguard, but that’s a lot of spend, $204.25 at Brownells (100-020-543WB). Also, F-1’s Miculek Handguard (100-020-542WB), $247, has some appeal.

AR-15 Upgrades

F-1 Firearms Ultra-Lite Handguard, courtesy of Brownells

Got a handguard you really like? Share your experience in the comments below. Also, check other TTAG articles on the topic to round out your knowledge:

7 Things to Look For in an AR-15 Handguard

M-LOK vs KeyMod: Handpicking A Handguard

Lyman Products New Tacstar Carbon Fiber AR Handguards

#2 B.A.D. Lever

The AR-15 M16 B.A.D. Lever by Magpul allows the rifle shooter to release the bolt with the trigger finger, keeping his hand in the ready position on the pistol grip. The Magpul Battery Assist Device, or B.A.D., is an extended bolt release. It streamlines bolt-catch manipulation to get the weapon into battery more quickly. The trigger finger can stay outside the trigger guard as you operate the lever.

The factory bolt catch retains normal function with the B.A.D. installed. It’s easy to install and remove, with no rifle disassembly required. The B.A.D. lever clamps securely to the factory bolt release with a Torx-head screw and extends a paddle through the front of the trigger guard to the right-hand side of the weapon. It’s available from Brownells (100-004-755WB, $29). 

#1 Replacement Trigger

I’ve shot several sets of high-quality AR triggers, including the Rise RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger, Ruger Elite 452 AR-Trigger 90461, HiperFire HiperTouch 24E Elite, HiperFire HiperTouch EDT AR-15/AR-10 Enhanced Duty Trigger, the Timney 668-S Trigger (small pin, 3-pound pull), Geissele’s SSA-E (Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced) Trigger and Hi-Speed National Match Trigger, and the factory triggers on the ARs, of course. For me, making the decision to replace the DD’s factory trigger was a no-brainer. It had to be done. The question was, with what? So here are some choices.

If you want to have a Mil-Spec trigger, but with better fitted and finished parts, then check out ALG Defense. These are standard triggers with enhanced parts. The $46 Quality Mil-Spec set (100-009-796WB) has a honed sear contact surface and a pull weight of about 6.5 pounds. The ACT, or ALG Combat Trigger (100-009-797WB) employs nickel-boron coating on the trigger and nickel-Teflon coating on the hammer, disconnnector, and pins to increase surface hardness and reduce friction. Average pull weight is about 6 pounds for the $71 unit. Advice: Spend the extra $25 and get the ACT if you go this route.

There are several self-contained drop-in  modules, either single-stage triggers or two-stage styles. I haven’t shot them all, so I hesitate to recommend one over another. One of the more affordable modules is Mossberg’s JM Pro Trigger, $100 (631-000-387WB). Much pricier but very good are various Hiperfire single-stage choices, starting at $190. 

I prefer two-stage triggers, and I wound up installing a Geissele Super Semi-Automatic (SSA) 2-stage combat trigger (100-003-620WB, $240), which has a fixed 4.5-pound total pull weight and non-adjustable sear engagement. I have shot the Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E, 100-006-357WB, also $240) and wish I had bought it instead. It provides a 3.5-pound total pull weight with a first-stage pull of 2.5 pounds, followed by a 1.3-pound second stage. 

Click the links below to see other TTAG articles on AR-15 trigger choices.

New from Timney: Fully Adjustable AR-15 Competition Trigger

Gear Review: KE Arms DMR Drop-In AR-15 Trigger

Gear Review: CMC Triggers Drop-In AR-15 Trigger

Here’s a quick tip about using two-stage triggers.

These are just a few of the available AR-15 parts out there, and I haven’t touched on replacement front sights and rear sights, backup iron sights, charging handles, muzzle brakes and other muzzle devices, additions for long-range rifles, lights for self defense and home defense, red dot sights, and a whole bunch of other AR accessories. What has been the most important area of the AR-15 to upgrade for you? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. avatar 🙂 says:

    I’ve built AR’s from a donor rifle (M&P Sport II) and from stripped upper and lower receivers. Just my personal preference but I prefer the stripped upper and lower receiver method. The reason is there are very few parts left of the base rifle of the M&P Sport II. Therefore I have about $350 in the upper and lower receiver of the base rifle. All because I wanted the S&W M&P on the side of the receiver. After that lesson I practiced more patience and built another 5.56, 6.5 Grendel, and AR-10 in 6.5 Creedmoor from stripped receivers. I ended up with just as good of rifles, with the same quality parts and with less money in them in the end.

  2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Barrel quality and trigger are the two biggest accuracy components to a AR.then ergonomics play the next role in a fun easy to shoot AR.

  3. avatar Mark N. says:

    I’ve built both of my rifles, with a little help from a local smith to torque nonstandard barrel nuts and couple of muzzle devices. I didn’t save any money over a completed rifle, but I put on the parts I wanted, or was forced to change to by changes in the law. And it let me spread the cost out over a fairly long period of time.

  4. avatar California Richard says:

    “A bunch of Californians are wishing they took advantage of the recent one-week suspension of that state’s magazine-capacity law.”

    Of course I got all those mags during Freedom Week. You got any paperwork that says otherwise?

    1. avatar One who sees we live in post-rule of law days says:

      I applaud your optimism that your state won’t require you to prove dates of purchase.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        Without serial numbers they can pound sand.

        1. avatar Post Rule of Law says:

          It’s CA. keep that in mind.

      2. avatar OBOByy says:

        I am VERY sure that ANY out of state or behind the lines in cali… FREEDOM loving mag seller or maker WILL give you ahhh cough! back dated receipts for ANY mag bought or ‘not’ in cash (that lovely untraceable cash!) Just to stick it to the Gun-grabbers….heck they might even do more than that if you ask—lol

        1. avatar guest says:

          No the fuck they won’t.

        2. avatar Anymouse says:

          I sold thousands of various magazines as a private seller during that week, but I didn’t track who I sold to. If you want your receipt, send your address, type/quantity bought, and date of sale.

      3. avatar Mark N. says:

        The state has the burden of proof in a case of criminal possession. It already knows that it cannot meet its burden. If you have no receipts proving other than lawfully purchased, they have no case. The mantra is “I paid cash.” That is, if you say anything at all. As things stand at the moment, police are precluded from seizing magazines unless and until the case is reversed on appeal and the stay is lifted.

        1. avatar sound awake says:

          unfortunately history hath shewn that ultimately the government can do whatever it wants for at least a short period of time
          and in the meantime its costs the government essentially nothing while it may cost you everything
          this is the reason for small government:
          smaller government
          smaller overreach

      4. avatar Kevin (the other one) says:

        They sure will when they see me shooting a 100 rnd mag. That is why I have kept all of the paper work.

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    Well I gotta Smith & Wesson Sport. I’m not doing the myriad of advert er suggestions here(this a very good guide). Getting a forend and a red dot soon. I spend a LOT of time on YouTube looking at AR builds. I can see it’ll never end😏

  6. avatar Kenneth says:

    You forgot one:

    It might seem a little pricey on its face, but this is one important piece. Over the years I’ve seen more AR failures in this part than any other cause. It is the source of most of the annoying noises and vibrations ARs tend to suffer from. If the castle nut loosens up or the pin that locks the mainspring into the stock gets slightly bent, those can cause any number of weird, hard to track down, malfunctions.
    For my money, its worth the price just for the way it makes the rifle feel, to say nothing of the convenience of having a captured spring, or living through nasty parts failures.

    1. avatar Anner says:


      KM Tactical makes a cheaper version for $75. It doesn’t run as smoothly as the JP model but it has the same desired effect and it’s reliable with all 223/5.56/300BLK loads I’ve ran through it.

      After a trigger, this is the first thing I’d buy to upgrade a stock AR.

  7. avatar Some dude says:

    #6 Feeding The Beast
    I took serious advantage of Federal’s recent rebate program and bought 5.56 from PSA with included ten 30 round Gen2 Pmags final cost $299.95 after rebate. The cost of 10 Pmags in the deal, $50. I had more (steel and aluminum) mags than you before, and now have way more. For anybody looking to buy some thing, check PSA to see if you can get it in a bundle with Pmags.

    #5 Getting a Grip
    There are surely more expensive grips out there, but I like the B5 Systems P-grip at about $20. It is very light and simple with no storage to add weight and has a more square grip angle that straightens the angle of the trigger finger to the trigger and brings your elbow down and in. Way more comfortable for my wrists, especially in a two point frontal carry.

    #3 Handguards
    I don’t have any high end AR’s; I am perfectly satisfied with the plastic A2 handguards on my old Colts, but my recent low end purchases from PSA came with nice (to me) aluminum m-lok handguards… Nice to me, until I picked one up on a cold day, and then on another day after a bunch of shooting; aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat! I found very similar replacements on eBay from a seller called Prosupplies in what is claimed to be black carbon fiber, but is at least some kind of glass reinforced polymer for $45-10″ and $50-12″. Too cheap to be any good, right? They also sell the same handguards in carbon fiber look. I like them very much, and they dropped 5oz of weight.

    #0 Foregrips
    On these new fangled short barreled pistols especially, I often find my hand at the barrel/mag well junction when shooting offhand, as I am old and weak… I like the IMI FSG2 type jammed up against the magwell, which gives me a more comfortable grip there, as well as providing a more forward stop that i can pull back against if I do extend my support hand reach. It’s nice and wide with room for a large hand. Available as IMI FSG2 at about $38, or a cheap Chinese knockoff ACI IMI FSG2 on eBay at $13.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      Dude, my storage grip adds little weight in the spare battery for my Trijicon MRO and the lens cloth for same. Wouldn’t do without it.

      1. avatar 🙂 says:

        Have to agree with you. The way I figure it is if a few more ounces are that burdensome than it’s nothing some trips to the gym can’t cure. The body is a great machine in the fact that it can adapt with proper training.

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Its an AR-15. You can not substantially improve it. It costs a lot more money, but buy a real rifle.

    1. avatar WI Patriot says:

      Would rather have that M16A1 I humped around…

  9. avatar GS650G says:

    I improved my AR15 by getting a .308 AR.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Well, that is something.

    2. avatar NoLies says:

      Best reply!

  10. avatar Jedi Wombat says:

    If you can swing the extra few dollars over the ACT, Larue has a very nice 2 stage for 87 bucks. You can’t get a better 2 stage at twice the price. I have an ACT which I got for around 55 bucks a few years ago and it was a large improvement over the stock PSA trigger that came in the lower I bought, since then I have teied several different triggers from folks like Velocity, and Timney and for 87 bucks, the Larue is the winner IMO.

    1. avatar 🙂 says:

      Try a Geissele Hi-Speed National Match! I have 4 of them and they are great.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      I bought a Rise on sale for under $100. Single stage, no slack, short reset, 4 lb pull. For me, the way to go is a drop in–no fussing with fighting springs to get a two piece set installed like the ALG I have on the other rifle.

  11. avatar Southern Cross says:

    The Accu-Wedge in far from new. I saw a write-up on them in a magazine in 1988. And I had one fitted to my SP1 in the 1990s.

  12. avatar D says:

    The number one improvement is a quality trigger. LaRue Tactical gets my vote.

    1. avatar Anner says:

      Yes and yes. My Larue rivals my Geisselle but at 1/3 or lower the cost. 5yrs ago Geisselle had a stranglehold on the premium 2-stage market. These days you’re just you’re paying for the name.

      1. avatar Rincoln says:

        +1 on the LaRue. The MBT-2S is the best 2-stage trigger for the money.

  13. avatar No one of consequence says:

    #7 – LuthAR MBA 3
    #5 – I’m partial to Ergo Grips myself.
    #3 – OdinWorks Ragna, Seekins NOXs, SLR Rifleworks Helix
    Trigger – LaRue 2-stage

  14. avatar M1Lou says:

    I’ve built a ridiculous amount of AR’s over the past 10 years. I get a new idea, I buy the parts, I build it. It’s a terrible disease that I can’t shake.

    I just sighted in my new 10.5 inch cheapo pistol today. I fired 60 rounds through it and it functioned flawlessly and seems to be decently accurate at 25 yards with BUIS and red do. It’s much more enjoyable than a 7.5″ AR pistol I built and traded off a few years ago. The only upgrade I would do on it is a better trigger. I’ve used the ALG, PSA enhanced, and multiple drop in’s. I don’t really have a preference, but good drops ins can be had fairly inexpensively these days.

    1. avatar 🙂 says:

      You have to admit though, putting together an AR from scratch is about as simple as putting Legos together. Plus the added benefit of quality barrels and triggers makes for a reliable accurate rifle that is infinitely customizable. The only problem having the AR bug is how much disposable income that’s available to throw at it.

      1. avatar M1Lou says:

        I built an AR with channel locks, a hammer, and a punch one time when I moved. I was bored and my household goods were in shipping for almost two weeks. It’s been a great shooting rifle.

        I also build AKs, but at this point they are significantly more expensive to build. My next build is an AMD-65 based pistol. I have other kits like CETME Ls, AR70s and a few SMGs to build in the future, but I’m in an apartment right now, and my garage is stored. I wish I had access to the rest of my tools to get to work on them!

        1. avatar 🙂 says:

          I would like to build an AK just to see what it’s like and to say that I did it. Several problems with the idea for me personally though. First is the costs for tooling to be able to do it right. I’m not that into AK’s so I would most likely only build one. That also precludes the cost of tooling. I also don’t know anyone that is close that has the tooling or that does something like teaches a class on the subject while allowing the student to build their own rifle in the process. Granted I could buy an AK but as you and I both know it’s not the same thing.

  15. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Other than a stock upgrade, my DPMS RFA2-AP4A is the same as it came from the factory 12yrs ago, and after 12yrs, It’s as reliable as it was on day one…

  16. avatar B.D. says:


    So many options.

  17. avatar Bad Hat Harry says:

    Missed upgraded charging handles, especially the large paddle type you can just swipe with your palm.

  18. avatar GlockMeAmadeus says:

    More doo dads for the govt confiscators when they take them! Keep it cheap!

    1. avatar Bad Hat Harry says:

      Sad but true. In fact, for a self defense arm, you probably don’t want to use a top tier model or an heirloom in case it is not returned after a self defense investigation, or returned in poor shape.

  19. avatar sound awake says:

    $200-$300 triggers are nice but in my experience not a requirement or wise allocation of resources
    im 1 moa capable with all my rifles that have stock single stage mil spec triggers
    id rather spend that $ on an optic or my next upper
    a trigger imo should never be a high dollar item

    1. avatar 🙂 says:

      Or wait a little longer and have both. Every AR I own has a Geissele Hi-Speed National Match trigger in it. Every rifle I have is capable of 1/2 MOA or better accuracy that I attribute to quality barrels and yes $280 triggers. I currently have a $1200 scope on my AR-10, a $900 scope on my 6.5 Grendel, and a $600 1-6X on one of my 5.56. All of the scopes I currently have sit in Badger Ordnance rings or Unimounts and two of them have Accuracy 1st bubble levels on them. I still have two more scopes to buy. At over $1000 a peice just for the scopes it’ll take a little more time to acquire them. I’m ok with the wait so I know I got what I wanted instead of settling for what I could get right now.

  20. avatar KGM says:

    Wait wait wait. What about a chainsaw bayonet or something like. We could argue about battery or gas powered.
    All the name dropping look at me BS, really? Bet you’re a real hit at the range.

  21. avatar Rich Gun Guy says:

    I know gun nerds love acronyms, but you don’t define a term with an acronym, i.e., “magnetic-particle inspected (MPI)” above, unless you are going to use the acronym later in the writing. In this case, it wasn’t used again so just literary masturbation (LM) by the author. Let’s avoid such LM — it makes you sound like a military wannabe.

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