Friday, December 9, 2016

Rifle Upgrades

A common question is what upgrade should one get for their AR15 rifle first?

There are three really good upgrades that will help any Rifleman or aspiring Rifleman. Optic. Trigger. Free float rail. These are investments for your rifle. Beyond these upgrades, the only things really left are more for precision - barrel upgrade and good ammo.

Free float rail
This device replaces your handguards. If you have an A2 front sight post, you will need to either:
A. Remove the sight post for a low profile gas block - ONLY if you want a long free float rail.
B. Order a shorter free float rail.
Remember to re-zero your rifle after installing the rail. The point of impact will shift.

The free float rail prevents the rail from being contacted by an external force. Such contact will shift the bullet point of impact... often significantly. The free float rail allows use of a bipod, sling, or even resting the rail of the rifle on something without altering the point of impact.

A drop in trigger is one of those upgrades that once you get it, you wonder how you ever got along without it. A RRA national match trigger can be had for around $100. Higher quality triggers from Geissele, Timney, and CMC can be had for $200 or less (or more!). Install takes about 5 minutes.

A good trigger will help with accuracy. The gun is less likely to be shifted by trigger pull if there is less trigger pull weight!

A good trigger will help with follow up shots and controlled pairs. Some people call this "double tap." With a shorter reset and less effort to pull, coupled with the reduced likelihood of shifting the gun with said pull, the controlled pair is made simpler.

These days, most folks should run a red dot on their AR15. Nothing wrong with a scope, but the red dot has a distinct advantage in 95% of combat ranges - 100 yards and closer. A red dot works well with a zero at 50 yards, and confirm at 200 yards. For longer distance shots, remember  chest-head-hat.

The folks at Primary Arms have  a red dot for under $200 that features 50,000 hours of battery life. It's a good red dot, and there are many others, as well. Ultimately, you'll realize that an Aimpoint is worth the money.

Do these three upgrades, and you'll have a really good, combat effective rifle. With match grade ammo and most modern barrels, you should be able to gets groups of 2 MOA or less. M193 and M855 bulk will print 4 MOA groups for you (provided you've trained your craft). You'll have the ultimate technology in hand for personal defense.


  1. Cabelas sells a Colt Competition version with an upgraded 6 lb trigger, free float handguard, and match grade steel barrel for $800. No irons or optics, but a one piece scope mount is included.

    When I was considering the basic Ruger or S&W AR, I thought about the inevitable cost of the upgrades you listed and bought the Colt instead. The Springfield Saint appears to be going for the same market.

  2. That's good news. Up until now, there have been very few factory offerings with those upgrades. Particularly under $1000.


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