At a Glance: Best AR-15 Accessories
Comparison of Best AR-15 Accessories
Our Top Pick
|Magpul – AR-15 30rd PMAG Gen M3 Magazine 223/5.56
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Our Top Pick
|Bushnell – Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight
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Our Top Pick
|Geissele Automatics – AR-15 Enhanced Triggers
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A factory-assembled AR-15 is like a ready meal from the supermarket, it’s good to go, but the flavor isn’t going to be anything special, it will be pretty average and bland. Adding accessories to your AR-15 is like adding sauces and spices to that meal, you can get it to match your tastes just right.
Our guide to the best AR-15 accessories plus why you need them
You could spend all day browsing through AR-15 accessories and still be nowhere closer to making a decision. Fortunately, you have people like us who spend their time playing around with guns and accessories. We’ve put together a list of 8 top AR-15 accessories to upgrade your rifle with and why you need them.
Why you need the best AR-15 magazines
Upgrading the AR-15 magazines that you use will go a long way to ensuring that you don’t experience jams or wear after excessive use. Stock magazines are prone to jamming if they get crushed or have to feed ammo at a tilted angle. They’re also more vulnerable to dirt and dust build-up, which can also cause jams.
Upgrading your magazines is an affordable way to get around these issues. Upgraded mags provide more strength and reliability thanks to the superior design and materials they’re built with. They use stronger springs to feed ammo, which won’t wear or rust quickly, and they can just take more of a beating.
You want peace of mind that your expensive rounds, or those that you took time reloading, are protected when they’re in the magazine.
The best AR-15 magazines are built to withstand the elements, making them ideal to take out hunting or target shooting in the field.
What to look for in the best AR-15 magazines:
- Solid construction, especially the spring
- Anti-tilt tech with constant curve internal geometry to prevent jams
- Dirt and dust-proof
- Easy to take apart and clean
Magpul – AR-15 30rd PMAG Gen M3 Magazine 223/5.56
The Magpul AR-15 30-round PMAG Gen M3 is an affordable polymer magazine that provides excellent resistance to all forms of crushing impact. The difference is immediately noticeable compared to stock magazines.
With a constant-curve design, the Magpul PMAG Gen M3 will prevent blockages and allow rounds to feed smoothly into the chamber. The curve is just enough to get the job done right, but not so much that it gets in the way.
The long-life USGI-spec stainless steel spring will last for years before it needs to be changed, giving you peace of mind that you can shoot without any hassle.
Of course, a good shooter knows the value of maintenance, and this magazine can be disassembled without any tools, which makes cleaning it a breeze. The Magpul magazine also comes with a pop-off dust guard to prevent dust build-up during storage.
This is the third generation of the PMAG, so it has years of trial and error behind it. What you’re left with is a magazine that has been developed over time to become the ultimate companion for your AR-15.
- Strong and reliable
- Designed to prevent jamming
- Easy to disassemble and clean
- 30-round capacity
- The price goes down when you buy in bulk
- Not an extended magazine
Why a red dot sight is perfect for an AR-15
The iconic red dot sight is perfect for the AR-15. From shooters who have used them in the field to teens playing Call of Duty, everyone knows what a red dot sight is. You can purchase a red dot sight for a relatively cheap price compared to other optics.
A red dot sight allows you to quickly acquire targets and place shots with surgical precision. The simplicity and effectiveness of the red dot sight make it ideal for hunters, casual shooters, and competitive shooters alike.
If you’re using an AR-15 for home defense, then a red dot sight will give you a much clearer sight picture in poorly lit environments. In short, it could save your life in the event that you need to make that critical shot.
Most red dot sights come with various brightness settings, so you can aim clearly in even the brightest sunlight.
Another major benefit of using a red dot sight is that it allows you to keep both of your eyes open when aiming. This means you have much more peripheral vision and thus are more aware of your surroundings. This could also save your life.
Finally, red dot sights are easy to install on your AR-15 and unlike holographic sights, they have tens of thousands of hours of battery life. In short, they’ll never let you down in the field, so long as you treat them right.
Bushnell – Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight
The market for red dot sights is one of the more saturated areas of the AR-15 aftermarket. Without a doubt one of the best red dot sights for your AR-15 is the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight. It doesn’t come cheap, but for the improvement in quick aiming that it’ll deliver, it’s well worth the cost.
The TRS-25 has a 3 MOA red dot and uses a fog-proof finish to ensure you’re always on the ball. The 11 brightness settings will allow you to shoot in any light setting. The sight doesn’t have night vision settings, unfortunately, but obviously you’ll be able to make out the dot clearly at night, at least.
The sight is protected by a solid metal casing and rubber exterior and has been field-tested to ensure it can withstand bumps, shocks, and all the rest of the mistreatment you’re likely to throw at it in the field. The matte black finish will ensure that light doesn’t reflect off the sight and reveal your position or startle game.
The TRS-25 is also totally waterproof, even when completely submerged for extended periods of time. This is thanks to the O ring sealed optics.
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is easy to install and is compatible with most Picatinny and universal rails. If you want to shake things up, then you can also attach it to your handgun or even a shotgun.
- Durable and reliable
- 11 brightness settings
- Easy to install
- Works with most Picatinny rails
- Allows shooting with both eyes open
- Quite expensive
- No night vision support
A trigger upgrade: The most important AR-15 upgrade you can make
Most accessories will improve the functionality of your AR-15, but there are none that can top a trigger upgrade. If you want to improve the accuracy, reliability, and control you have over your AR-15, then installing a dual-stage trigger assembly is a great way to do it.
The single-stage stock triggers on AR-15s are known for deteriorating over time. They tend to build up slack and have a more rocky break. They’re built using standard materials, which means standard springs that can break if you’re not careful.
Upgraded trigger assemblies are built to offer smooth, clean breaks and a specified amount of pull weight. With adjustable two-stage triggers, you can adjust the trigger pull weight to match your preference.
A dual-stage trigger allows you to take up some of the initial ‘pull weight’ of the trigger in the first stage, then have a featherlight trigger pull to fire the shot. This means that the force you’re putting on the trigger, usually around 8lbs on a factory AR-15, isn’t going to knock your aim off.
If you’re shooting long-range targets, then a dual-stage trigger will be your best friend. It can:
- Improve the focus you have on the target
- Improve accuracy
- Offer a lightweight, clean break
Dual-stage triggers are also great for home defense as they prevent an itchy trigger finger from accidentally firing when it shouldn’t.
Geissele Automatics – AR-15 Enhanced Triggers
When choosing the right AR-15 trigger, a dual-stage trigger with a light pull weight is your best bet. Geissele Automatics’ AR-15 Enhanced Triggers offer exactly this. With both a dual-stage and a rapid-fire option to choose from, you’ll be able to find exactly the right fit for your needs.
Built using superior materials, the AR-15 Enhanced Triggers are built to last against the elements and will offer a clean break every time.
The 2-Stage Enhanced Trigger (B-G2S-E) consists of a 2.3lbs first stage, followed by a second 1.2lbs break that is so light your rifle won’t even notice it. This is perfect for hunters and long-distance target shooters.
One of the issues with dual-stage triggers is not being able to quickly place follow up shots, but with such a lightweight trigger pull in both stages, the AR-15 Enhanced Trigger manages to gracefully get around this problem.
The Geissele Rapid Fire Trigger (B-GRF) was designed to offer the same performance as the Geissele Super Select Fire (SSF) triggers that are used in the U.S. Special Operations Community. It pulls like a single-stage but resets like a dual-stage.
The pull weight can be set to either 3.2lbs or 4lbs, which makes this an ideal trigger to use for 3-gun competitions and casual range shooting alike.
- Super-light pull weight
- Reliable construction uses superior materials
- Improves accuracy
- Rapid-fire capability
- Drop-in design is easy to install
- Used by the U.S. Special Operations Community
- The best upgrade you can make to your AR-15
- Quite expensive
- Limited ability to adjust pull weight
Why you need backup offset iron sights
Offset iron sights are one of those innovations that just make perfect sense, especially if you’re using a scope on your AR-15. Having backup offset iron sights allows you to switch between your scope or optic and iron sights without having to flip them up.
The speed and convenience of simply tilting your rifle to use the iron sights make it a much more versatile weapon. You can be hitting targets at long range, then instantly switch to plinking close-range targets without needing to make a single adjustment.
Offset iron sights attach at a 45-degree angle to the side of your rifle so they don’t get in the way of your primary sighting system. They generally have the option to fold down and then pop up with the press of a button. If your main sighting system fails, you can keep firing immediately without fumbling to get it out of the way.
Having backup offset iron sights is an affordable way to make your AR-15 a more versatile in the field and at the range.
You can buy offset iron sights in the same variety of styles as regular iron sights, so there isn’t too much new to consider when buying them.
Make sure that they’re made using high-quality metals and that they’re from a reputable manufacturer. Other than this, ensure that they’re compatible with your rail system.
Souforce – Premium Flip-up Mil-Spec Iron Sights
If you want to turn your AR-15 into a more versatile weapon with minimal effort and at an affordable price, then I can’t recommend the Souforce Flip-Up Mil-Spec iron sights enough. These backup offset iron sights sit on your rifle at a 45-degree angle and have a button that springs them up for quick use with no fumbling around.
These offset iron sights are made with high-quality aluminum alloy to protect against the rough and tumble of the field, as well as the force of recoil.
They’re designed to be ambidextrous. Simply install them backward and they’ll work exactly the same so left-handed shooters will be comfortable using them.
One of the big advantages of the Souforce offset iron sights is that they’re compatible with most Picatinny and Weaver rails, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to use them on your rifle.
The pop-up function ensures that they’re not going to catch on anything when you’re not using them. When you press the button, the sights flip up in a forward motion, allowing you to switch to close-range target acquisition or bypass a broken optic.
- A perfect companion for a long-range scope or optic
- High-quality materials
- Flip-up button for quick use
- Doesn’t interfere with other accessories
- Withstands recoil
- None – they really just don’t get in the way of anything
Handguard upgrades: A great way to improve the function and looks of your gun
The handguard is one of the three essential furnishings of your AR-15 rifle. Upgrading it is an excellent way to improve the functionality of your weapon by allowing you to add more accessories to it. It’s also a great way to improve the aesthetics of your AR-15.
If you want to change up the look of your rifle, then you could change your drop-in handguard to a free float one, or vice-versa. This is an easy way to totally change up the style of your rifle and it can make it look seriously badass.
But there’s a lot more to this than just good looks. As with any accessory upgrade to an AR-15, practicality is always a consideration. So what are the practical benefits of upgrading your handguard?
The main benefit is the rail system and potential accuracy improvement. You have to consider how many accessories you want to mount on your handguard. Drop-in variants aren’t as good for mounting accessories as free-float handguards for attachments, but they are usually lighter.
Free float handguards don’t touch the barrel, which would affect barrel harmonics, so they improve accuracy. This allows for more accuracy when shooting. The best ones are also lightweight to ensure that they don’t offset the weight of your rifle.
Make sure that your handguard is from a reputable manufacturer and that it uses high-quality materials. You should also make sure that any other accessories you want to attach to the handguard are compatible with its rail systems, usually a universal top rail and M-Lok slots on the other surfaces.
Aero Precision – AR-15 Atlas S-one Slim Line Handguards Free Float M-Lok
If you want one of the best free float handguards for your AR-15, then Aero Precision is a reputable company worthy of consideration. The Atlas S-one handguard is built using 6061-T6 aluminum, making it an extremely durable piece of furniture for your rifle.
The build is strong, yet lightweight with a slim profile, so you can shoot accurately without increasing the weight of your weapon. The M-Lok rail supports most accessories, making it an ideal choice going into the future.
The central section of the top rail has been removed to get rid of excess weight, but this still leaves plenty of room for extra add-ons. The handguard attaches using mirrored tapered locking units, which allows for an even pressure attachment and has the added benefit of looking great.
The handguard is available in either black or FDE styles and comes in various lengths for different length barrels and gas systems. Whether you’re sporting a carbine, a mid-length, or a full-length rifle barrel, Aero Precision has something that will attach comfortably to it.
An affordable and stylish piece of furnishing for your AR-15, this handguard is one of the best ways to upgrade the look and function of your rifle.
- Looks great
- M-Lok rail
- Multiple lengths
- Lightweight and slim
- Extremely durable
- Limited rail space on the top
Why every AR-15 needs a high-quality sling
When you mention AR-15 accessories, most people think of handguards, scopes, grips, magnifiers, and other things that attach to the rifle itself. Not many think of the sling right away. That’s funny because a sling is actually the first accessory you should buy.
Imagine slugging around in the woods all day having to carry your rifle by hand. That’s not efficient or comfortable at all. The simple solution: a sling.
You’d be forgiven for assuming that this is some $5 quick add-on, but you’d be mistaken. A proper AR-15 sling is designed to remain utterly reliable even when under intense stress. The thing is holding a weapon in place, after all, so it’s pretty damn important that it stays tight.
You can adjust a good AR-15 sling a lot, allowing you to have enough room to operate the rifle effectively, while also allowing you to tighten it to the point where you can run at full sprint and still not have it loosen up on you. Plus, a sling can be a great aid in aiming. If used right, it can add stability to your shooting position.
Make sure that your sling is one from a reputable company, preferably made in the USA, is used by the military or at least has extensive positive feedback from users in the field.
The last thing you want is to have your AR-15 slinging hanging all over the place and whacking you in the back of the leg, potentially causing you to trip over your gun. Make sure you choose a well-designed and proven AR-15 sling.
Blue Force Gear Vickers 2-Point Combat Sling
Buying the best sling for your money is important and the Vickers 2-Point Combat Sling is by far the best bang for your buck.
Designed by 1st SFOD Delta operational member Larry Vickers, this 2-Point Combat Sling has been purpose-built based on years of experience and a longing for a sling that is reliable and makes it easy to transition from slung to operational in seconds.
The 2-Point Combat Sling achieves this by utilizing a Quick Adjuster, which allows you to quickly take the gun from carry to shooting. This solves the most commonly reported issues from lesser slings and goes a long way toward explaining why you ought to invest the extra bucks in one that is purpose-built.
The sling is made in the USA from superior materials and can withstand all the wear and tear you’d expect to be thrown at it in the field. It’s been extensively tested in combat by every branch of the U.S. military, as well as other militaries around the world.
If it’s good enough for war, then it’s good enough for you.
- Super reliable in the field
- Used by the U.S. military
- Quickly swap from transport to fighting mode
- Stays tightly adjusted even under strain
- Makes carrying your AR-15 much more comfortable
- A little more expensive than you’d expect it to be
AR-15 handstops: A great way to ensure handling and control
A handstop is a simple accessory, legally considered to be a foregrip, that allows you to have more control and handling with your rifle. While larger and heavier foregrips are more likely to catch on obstacles, a small and lightweight handstop is much less likely to get caught on anything, one of its many benefits.
A handstop allows you to quickly get your hand into the optimal shooting position, while also allowing you to pull the rifle back into your shoulder, giving you more control over it. Another added benefit is that it stops your hand from slipping and touching the hot end of the barrel.
It’s low-profile and lightweight, which is useful when you’re mobile out in the field. This might sound like a small thing to obsess over, but all of your accessories weigh something, and that weight can add up to make for a much heavier rifle. A heavier rifle is more of a challenge to carry around over long distances and it’s less accurate.
Some handstops are also designed to work as barricade stops, allowing you to lock yourself into position on an obstacle and get a more precise shot. It’s quite amazing how much added versatility you can have with such a small and unassuming accessory.
Make sure that you buy one made of sturdy materials that can withstand wear and tear and the force of recoil. And of course, make sure that it fits onto your handguard.
Magpul AR-15 M-Lok Handstop Kit Polymer
This affordable handstop from Magpul is the perfect example of a low-profile, lightweight handstop that will give you more control and precision when shooting. The Polymer materials used in construction are superior quality and won’t come loose from recoil, even if shooting an alternative AR caliber.
The Magpul AR-15 M-Lok handstop attaches to most rails and comes with an adaptor to use with wider-profile rails. It’s easy to install and remove when you desire and it barely takes up any room on your rifle or in your kit.
For such a small accessory, the Magpul AR-15 M-Lok handstop punches well above its weight. You’ll be able to pull the rifle deeper into your shoulder, gaining more control over it and thus placing more accurate shots.
What’s more, this handstop can be used as a barricade stop to give you much more stability when shooting from cover. This should certainly be one of the first upgrades you make to your AR-15, as it’s such a simple way to improve the versatility and accuracy of your rifle.
- Improves control and handling of your AR-15
- Easy to Install
- Doubles up as a barricade stop
- Attaches to most handguards
- Includes an adapter for wider profile rails
- Some shooters will prefer a full forward grip
Why you need a light on your AR-15
This is another one of those accessories that a lot of people simply overlook. The truth is, having a light on your AR-15 isn’t just practical, but it’s also going to improve your safety if you’re out in the woods at night and could stop you from shooting someone or something you don’t want to shoot or walking into a ditch with a loaded rifle, not something that we’d recommend.
You’ll actually use a light on your AR-15 more often than you’d think. It isn’t just something to switch on when the sun goes down. You’ll find yourself going from outside to inside – especially if you’re in law enforcement or another service branch. Having a light allows you to clear rooms more effectively and gives you more visibility in dark corners of the woods and other environments.
A light on your AR-15 could also go a long way towards incapacitating an opponent before you’ve ever fired a shot at them. An animal or, God forbid, a person can often be blinded by the light from an AR-15 flashlight. This gives you a massive advantage and they’d be crazy to try and attack you when they can’t see anything and you have a clear view of them.
The same can be said for animals such as pigs and bears, which will be warier of your presence if you’re using a light to guide your path.
One more benefit of having a light on your AR-15 is that you can signal people. Whether it’s other hunters in your squad or the police, you can easily signal someone to let them know your position and status. Just remember to maintain muzzle control.
There are many different options when it comes to lights for your AR-15. Some of them are very affordable, while others are eye-wateringly expensive. Of course, you get what you pay for and you’ll be a lot more ‘combat-ready’ with a flashier light (no pun intended), but you could definitely make do with a basic one and still be much better off than if you had nothing.
Streamlight – 69260 TLR-1 HL 1000-Lumen Tactical Weapon Mount Light
This tactical weapon light from Streamlight is a mid-range option that provides a 1000-lumen beam with peripheral illumination. It’s good for up to 1.5 hours of consistent use and will shine bright up to 300 meters.
The casing is aircraft-grade aluminum and it’s waterproof up to one meter, so you can rest assured that you’re not going to break it when you’re out in the field. You can also count on the shock-proof glass not to break if hit against an obstacle.
The lithium batteries are securely stored behind a tethered door that allows maximum protection but also a quick and easy way to change the batteries when need be.
The 1000-lumen beam is enough to blind any person or animal you shine it directly at, so bear this in mind when you’re in the field. This makes the light a great accompaniment to your rifle for use in home defense, as well as out in the field.
The Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL 1000 Lumen Tactical Weapon Mount Light attaches to the side of your handguard and fits most weapons. It’s easy to attach and detach and is designed to keep your hands away from the muzzle when using it.
- Extremely bright LED beam
- Light can disable an opponent for a second giving you a tactical advantage
- Aircraft-grade aluminum and shock proof glass
- 1.5 hours of continuous run time
- Easy to install
- Mid-range price
- Battery life could be bette
What is an AR-15 accessory?
It’s important to distinguish between accessories and furniture for your AR-15 rifle. The furniture of your rifle consists of three main parts: the handguard, the grip, and the buttstock. These are there to improve the comfort and usability of the rifle.
AR-15 accessories, on the other hand, are things that you can add on to your rifle to increase performance. This includes scopes, rails, triggers, and anything else that you’re sticking onto your weapon aftermarket.
Some accessories are so good that they’re practically essential. This could include trigger and sighting system upgrades. Others, such as bayonets, are less useful, but could still find their home on someone’s rifle.
How to choose the best AR-15 accessories
The market for AR-15 accessories is booming and the right one isn’t going to just fall into your lap. Start by figuring out exactly what you want to do with your firearm.
If you want your rifle to be more accurate at a long-range, then getting a scope and perhaps even a dual-stage trigger is your best bet. Once you know what aspect of your rifle you want to improve, you can consider the following factors.
Everyone has a budget, but don’t skimp so much that you’re compromising quality, or you’ll just have to buy a new accessory in a year or two.
If you want reliability, then you’ll need to choose a reputable American company that has been serving the shooting community for a long time. Companies that are partners with the U.S. military are always a good bet.
Make sure a high-quality material like steel or aluminum has been used in the build. They should also be corrosion-proof. This isn’t just to ensure they last, but it’s also to make sure they can withstand gradual damage from recoil, especially with alternative AR calibers. This is particularly relevant for scopes.
How hard is this thing going to be to install? Am I going to need the services of a gunsmith? If so, would it work out cheaper to just spend more on a drop-in accessory?
Perhaps most important of all, is it even going to attach to my rifle? Make sure your accessory is compatible with your rails or handguard slots.
Pros of adding new accessories to your AR-15
Most people don’t just stick with the factory components when they purchase an AR-15. Upgrades and accessories have so many obvious benefits that it’s difficult to avoid buying at least one. Here are some of the biggest benefits of upgrading your AR-15 with aftermarket accessories.
Accessories like trigger assemblies, magazines, bipods, and slings will all go a long way toward improving the functionality of your AR-15. This can make your rifle much more efficient in specific environments. It can make it easier to carry, to set up,to reload, and much more.
Many AR-15 stock parts are known for degrading over time. For example, the stock trigger generally builds up slack over time and doesn’t break as clean as it did when it came off the line. A new trigger assembly can solve this and make your rifle perform much better.
Whether you’re a hunter, sport shooter, or just a casual marksman, adding accessories to your AR-15 will improve the performance of your rifle and help you to hit your target with more precision.
The standard iron sights on a factory AR-15 aren’t going to do it for you. You can buy a red dot reflex sight for as little as $20, so are you really going to resist the urge? Adding any scope or optic will increase your accuracy, as long as it’s the appropriate sighting system for your style of shooting.
Dual-stage trigger assemblies and vertical grips will also greatly improve your accuracy by giving you more control over the rifle.
Optimized for use
Adding accessories to your AR-15 allows you to get the best use out of it. You’re going to have different needs if you’re a hunter or if you’re a 3-gun competition shooter. Adding accessories allows you to get the best for your needs.
Cons of adding new accessories to your AR-15
While there are many pros to adding accessories to your favorite toy, there are also some downsides. As with anything in life, sacrifices will need to be made. It’s up to you to decide whether these sacrifices are too much to justify having new accessories.
The most obvious downside of AR-15 accessories is the cost. While some accessories are very affordable, others can send your bank balance into dire straits. For example, some scopes will cost you more than you paid for the rifle itself.
Not all accessories will fit on your rifle. Some will require specific rails and this means that you won’t always be able to pair two items together. For example, if you want to install a carry handle on your AR-15, then you most likely won’t have room for a magnifier.
It’s essential to check that any accessory you buy will be able to attach to your rifle and that it won’t do so at the expense of another accessory. Usually, adapters are available.
Too many accessories will throw your AR-15’s weight off balance and this can reduce your accuracy. If you’re going to load up on accessories, then it’s best to evenly distribute them across the rifle, rather than just having them all in one area. A lightweight, balanced rifle is more convenient and more accurate.
While all of the accessories in this list will greatly improve the performance and function of your AR-15 rifle, we must pick one that stands out above all others. If you were going to buy one of these upgrades today, then we’d recommend one of the Geissele Automatics AR-15 Enhanced Triggers.
The trigger upgrade is by far the most important upgrade you can make to improve the overall functionality and performance of your AR-15. It allows you to shoot much smoother and with more accuracy and you can place follow up shots with more precision.
If you’re going to throw one cheaper accessory into the mix with it, then we’d definitely suggest the Blue Force Gear Vickers 2-Point Combat Sling. No rifle is complete without a good quality sling and this is one of the best on the market.
AR-15 accessories will make your rifle significantly more comfortable to shoot, making them a great investment. Even though the cost can add up, the benefits that you’ll get when shooting make it all totally worth it.