There are few things more satisfying than capping off hundreds of rounds through an AR-15. As one of the most popular military-inspired rifles of all time, the AR has become the tool of choice for avid shooters everywhere.
With so many AR’s in circulation, how do you make yours stand out from the next guy’s? Fortunately, there’s no shortage of sick ways to trick out old-faithful with top-notch AR-15 parts making it more powerful, more efficient, better looking, and best of all; yours. Check out these six ways to totally customize your AR-15:
AR-15 Lower Parts Kit
Let’s face it. If you just go out and buy a fully built AR, you’re just asking to be made fun of. The whole point of these guns is to build one from scratch and make it something special. The first step in that journey is your lower parts kit.
Lower parts kits contain your grip and all the pins and safety components that make up the lower housing of the rifle. At first glance, these parts may seem inconsequential but choose wisely. The type of lower parts kit you buy influences both the types of parts as well as the overall performance of the rest of your build.
Pay particular attention to your trigger assembly. You want something durable and reliable as well as easy to pull. There is nothing worse than getting through your whole build only to find out your trigger assembly and associated parts create a crappy shooting experience.
Also, keep in mind that a lower parts kit purchased separately from a lower receiver means you have to put all that stuff together from scratch. You can also just buy the lower receiver already assembled which is recommended for first-time builders.
Most lower receivers come with all of the AR-15 trigger, safety, and magazine release components already assembled. In addition to that, you get the grip, receiver housing, and stock all attached. This is pretty much the entire lower half of your rifle.
This is the point where you really get to put your own flavor on your gun. There are tons of different types of lower receivers all with their own style and functionality. You can choose from military grade and style or more of a sportsman type look.
There are also tactical style receivers and if you really want to drop some coin, the Magpul ACS-L edition lowers are a top choice.
Keep in mind that you can purchase just the lower housing which doesn’t have a stock, trigger assembly, or any other components. These are typically pretty cheap. You can also purchase fully assembled lowers that get you a lot further along in the process.
The barrel assembly for your AR is a key feature that can start defining your identity. The type of barrel you choose is important because if you get something weak, you aren’t going to be able to put a lot of rounds through it before it gets too hot to handle. The barrel also impacts things like accuracy and shooting performance.
A sweet addition to your rifle could be the Hammer-Forged stainless steel PSA 20 inch barrel. This bad boy is a little pricier but it’s heavy and doesn’t quit early on you. It’s about 3 pounds so it’s not too incredibly heavy and it has the M4 barrel extension. It’s a really nice customization for any rifle.
Another choice addition is the PSA phosphate barrel system which features a chrome moly steel barrel and mid-length gas system. This one is a little more expensive but it’s a high-quality barrel assembly and it looks awesome.
The previous parts of the gun are sort of necessary evils. You need a lower receiver and barrel assembly for the gun to even fire but the sights are something you can have some fun with. Sights are also important for obvious reasons. You aren’t going to hit anything if you don’t have some good sights.
There are a lot of sights you can install but personally, I’m a fan of the post sights and especially the Precision brand. For example, the KNS Precision Crosshair’s are a great little sight. They aren’t obtrusive or large but when you get down to aiming, they are a pretty sweet little addition.
You should ultimately get a scope for your rifle but if you don’t have the cash right away, the Crosshair post sights are really nice and only around 30 bucks for the front.
The grips on your AR are like its shoes. You have to customize this more than anything else and since you’ll be holding it, make sure it’s comfortable. Most of the time, the default grips that come on your lower receiver are uncomfortable especially if you’re shooting for prolonged periods.
Some good alternative brands include Tango Down, Company, Hogue, and Ergo Grips. Grips from these manufacturers tend to be contoured better for your hand and are made of better materials.
The stock on your AR is one of the most iconic pieces of the whole rifle. It also happens to be the first thing you notice when your gun isn’t comfortable to shoot. That’s because it’s the first part hitting you.
If you skimp on anything with your new rifle build, don’t save money on the stock. A good stock will prolong your shooting enjoyment and your armpit will thank you. The Ergo Pro Stock F93, for example, is a very comfortable and ergonomic stock for the price.
It features a rubber recoil pad, a web-sling attachment (plus 2 additional ones), and dual sling hook attachment points. It’s got 8 positions so it doesn’t matter who the shooter is, it can be re-worked to fit. It’s super light at about a pound and comes in green drab which is my personal favorite.
If you plan on owning an AR-15 you better plan on making it custom. There are just too many different types of high-end parts available to settle for buying a pre-assembled, boring old rifle. The key areas outlined in this post are some of the most important to focus on for comfort, safety, performance, and fun.