Have you given up hope on achieving the same accuracy with your AR-15 rifle as you would with a high-end, custom rifle? While the AR-15 is generally quite accurate, there is room for improvement. Without too much of an investment, it is possible to improve the accuracy of your rifle by up to 45 percent. All it takes is a little know-how and a bit of elbow grease.
As with all rifles, each of the components that make up the AR play a significant role in its accuracy., Shooting styles may vary from one shooter to the next, but the requirement for proper gear remains the same. Top quality components are necessary for achieving success in long range hunting and service rifle matches.
This article focuses on getting the best possible accuracy from the rifle you currently own. It’s easy to improve accuracy by replacing major components like the barrel, but this can be expensive and defeats the object of working with the rifle you purchased in the first place. Less invasive upgrades are a great way to keep your costs down and maintain the integrity of the AR-15 as it is.
The Trigger: Keep Away from Standard Issue
Unless you know your way around a two-stage trigger, the standard AR-15 trigger isn’t highly conducive to accuracy. The standard-issue AR-15 trigger is clunky and irregular. It just doesn’t offer the lightness and ease-of-use you’re looking for. The preferred upgrade is a single-stage trigger that breaks at around 3 – 3½ pounds. A CMP set up is available for service rifle shooters who find themselves restricted to a 4 ½ pound trigger pull.
It is important to remember that fitting a new trigger doesn’t necessarily make the rifle better in a mechanical sense. It doesn’t come into direct contact with the cartridges, and it doesn’t affect the bore. While this upgrade doesn’t stabilize your shooting position, it does enable you to achieve maximum accuracy with your rifle.
The Handguard: Keep it Steady
Adjustments to your AR-15 handguard can make a world of difference. The drop-in handguards favored by most AR rifle users are easily installed and are light and inexpensive. However, to improve accuracy, a free-float handguard may be a better choice. A free-float handguard mounts directly onto the upper receiver. It does not contact the barrel, thus enabling it to “float” and therefore increase firing accuracy.
Particularly when using an AR-15 grip or bipod, a free-float handguard is almost guaranteed to increase accuracy by a noticeable amount. When attaching the rifle on a bipod attached to a drop-in AR-15 handguard generates a force that produces warping on the barrel. Even the slightest amount of warping will lower the accuracy of your rifle. Free-floating handguards can handle a fair amount of force without any effect on the barrel whatsoever.
Pistol Grip and Buttstock: Improve Your Control
Changing your AR-15 grip offers greater control of the rifle, which in turn will increase your shooting accuracy. The most important thing to bear in mind when upgrading your grip is to pay close attention to the size of your hand. Keep an eye out for an interchangeable pistol grip that features changeable finger grooves and palm swells.
It helps to have your pick of various front straps and back straps. Texturized rubber is also worth looking into as this will improve grips while reducing fatigue during repeated firing. It’s all about finding the right fit and focusing on comfort. Too many shooters overlook the benefits of comfort over an extended period of time. Having to adjust hand positions to compensate for discomfort will significantly affect one’s accuracy.
Upgrading the buttstock might seem superfluous but it can greatly improve the accuracy of an AR-15 rifle. Many shooters underestimate the importance of adjusting the buttstock to accommodate their length of pull and cheek weld — something that differs from person to person. Opt for lightweight, modular assemblies as these tend to be more customizable, and well-suited to comfortable shooting from both the left and right shoulder. You may be pleasantly surprised by a change in the recoil absorbency of an upgraded buttstock, another feature which improves the shooting experience as a whole.
Optics: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
To get the most out of your AR-15 rifle, you’ll need to do at least a small amount of planning. Generally speaking, optics is more a matter of opinion than anything else but a little adjustment here or there could actually make a big difference. If the shot ranges over 400 yards, you might want to look into a traditional scope equipped with a range-finding reticle.
As with most upgrades, optics depend primarily on the type of shooter you are. Take some time to do adequate research on the best optics you can afford and make an effort to learn to use them. Long range shooters, in particular, shouldn’t skimp on this feature. The more accurate you need to be, the more critical this upgrade becomes.
Understanding the Lower Parts Kit
Some people balk at the idea of looking at the inner workings of the AR-15 lower receiver. The “guts” of your rifle are filled with tons of tiny pieces, which may seem intimidating at first glance. A little guidance goes a long way, however, and in the end, it isn’t too challenging to understand the AR-15 lower parts kit.
A standard AR-15 lower parts kit contains no less than 30 pieces. The pieces in these kits can vary, depending on the type of stock chosen, but in general, the internal mechanisms remain much the same. Individually, identifying and understanding these pieces can be challenging. The trick is to group these pieces according to their assemblies: trigger guard group, trigger guard group, magazine catch group, bolt catch, pivot pin and takedown pin, fire control group, selector switch and handgrip groupings, and the buffer/lower receiver extension and stock attachment group.
Improving the accuracy of your rifle is readily achievable if you have some direction. Forums are often an excellent source of information. Check out what other shooters are doing, ask for advice, and make your decisions based on what you find.