You could be building an AR, or you might have just purchased a model with a bunch of mil-spec components.
If you’ve been duped into thinking “mil-spec” is better, it’s time for an awakening.
Mil-spec” just means it meets military specifications. It in no way means “superior,” at least not inherently.
For instance, some consider mil-spec triggers to be gritty, mil-spec BCG’s to require far too much liquid lubricant, and mil-spec lowers to have a rough finish.
They have a point. There are a number of components you could switch out on your AR-15 rifle that would make it not only look better but perform better as well.
These are our top suggestions.
1.Your AR 15’s charging handle.
We actually already wrote an article previously about when and why you should replace your AR 15 charging handle.
Your charging handle is vital for manually cycling the action. If a shell becomes jammed, the rifle does not fire, or the bolt has locked to the rear, the charging handle is your way out.
But mil-spec charging handles are somewhat small and tough to reach, especially instinctively, without looking down, in the dark, when it’s cold, or when you’re wearing heavy gloves.
Larger, extended charging handles or ambidextrous charging handles are easier to reach and use, even in the dark or in other adverse conditions. We also offer AR 15 charging handles that port gases away from your face, too.
2. Your bolt carrier group.
Mil-spec bolt carrier groups are phosphate coated. Phosphate coating is, well, alright. It’s tough, relatively corrosion-resistant, and all, but it’s a little rough to the touch. As a result, it requires more liquid lubricant to keep cycling smoothly.
This is due to the matte finish of the coating, which is non-reflective.
There are a variety of modern coatings, including but not limited to nickel boron, black nitride, titanium nitride (and others) all of which offer better permanent dry lubricity than phosphate. This improves cycling time and reduces your need for liquid lubricant.
We also wrote a blog that serves as a guide to bolt carrier group coatings. Check it out for more information on the different types.
3. Your muzzle device.
Most gun shops carrying sporting rifles that are equipped with muzzle devices sell them with flash hiders.
Like phosphate-coated bolt carrier groups, flash hiders are useful in tactical and combat situations. Phosphate is non-reflective and flash hiders conceal your muzzle blasts. Both keep you hidden.
Understandably, if you use your firearm for home defense, you might want to stay out of view. But domestically, most encounters don’t happen at extended ranges where your muzzle flash will betray you.
Muzzle flip, on the other hand. Well, that’s a legit barrier to follow-up shots, accuracy, and keeping your sights trained on target. Muzzle flip is a beast for most shooters.
So, the short answer is, to replace that flash hider that came with your AR with a muzzle brake, which can substantially diminish felt recoil.
4. Your trigger.
Gritty triggers are tolerable (at best) in situations requiring rapid, instinctual follow-up shots at close range.
They are monstrous for all other sorts of shooting, and completely useless in precision shooting.
Some find AR-15 mil-spec triggers to be somewhat gritty. Let your experience speak for you. If you don’t like yours, get a one or two-stage drop-in trigger and see if that solves the problem for you.
5. Your grips.
Mil-spec grips are another one of those components that are just alright. There’s nothing wrong with mil-spec pistol grips, but they could definitely be more comfortable.
Shooter fatigue is real, and less-than-ergonomic grips can tire you out faster. Tired, sore shooters are not accurate and don’t handle firearms confidently.
Instead, you could swap out the pistol grip entirely. If you’re not comfortable with that, get an over-molded grip that will diminish fatigue and fill your hand more comfortably.
6. Your sights (specifically, back up, offset sights).
Alright, you don’t need to replace anything in this instance. You need to add something to your rifle.
When you’re replacing that AR 15 charging handle with an upgraded model or an ambi-charging handle, get a set of backup, offset, flip-up iron sights, too.
Most shooters probably shoot over a red dot or some sort of optic, right? This means that they can’t use the sights their rifles came with.
Offset sights mount to one side of the rifle, on a cant. If it’s ever too dark to shoot through your scope, or the batteries in your red dot die, you’ll have the perfect, redundant backup.
7. Your stock.
You don’t need to replace your stock, but the truth of the matter is that comb height and LOP affect shooter confidence and handling. They’ll also cap how proficient you can become with the rifle, especially at longer ranges.
If your rifle doesn’t feel like it fits, get a new rifle stock with more adjustable settings and find one that seems like it works for you.
8. Anti-rotational pins.
Full disclosure: this is the most unexciting upgrade on this list, we admit it. But it just so happens that it might be one of the most functional of all.
Pins secure your hammer, trigger, and other parts of your rifle. Over time, these pins can roll and “walk” their way out, which can cause big problems for you until they are replaced.
Anti-rotational pins will not work themselves loose or come out, even during the most intense periods of fire.
9. Vert grips.
Gripping the handguard is not the most ergonomic, nor is it the most comfortable way to handle a rifle.
For this reason, some shooters prefer to add folding vert grips to their handguards. They are more ergonomic and more comfortable, and some shooters find that they offer vastly improved control and handling. They can also help diminish fatigue, too.
10. Gas block (go low-pro [low-profile])
Gas blocks help communicate gasses from the barrel through the gas system and to the gas rings on the BCG. This gas impingement system is what allows rifles to cycle automatically.
A low-profile gas block will give you more clearance between the handguard and the barrel, giving you more flexibility to mount accessories.
Start Your AR 15 Upgrades Here
Whether you’re looking for an upgraded charging handle that’s friendlier to left-handed shooters, a new trigger, new grips, or a new stock, we carry them. We also carry assembled upper receivers, lower receiver parts, and build kits, along with a litany of shooting accessories.
Check out our parts for upgrade, repairs, replacement, and customization, and contact us at 239-848-6757 if you have any questions.