-=What follows is from personal experience and experimentation=-
Many people complain about the AR platform and it's short-comings. While there are design issues with the AR platform, the free-market has provided us
with solutions to reduce or eliminate the most common "problems" with AR type rifles. I will be discussing ONLY useful products. This is not a how-to
on "tricking out" your AR with needless furniture and accessories. Please feel free to add to this body of work with your own experiences.
1. Trigger group:
The number one complaint of AR owners has been the heavy trigger pull of stock trigger assemblies. The typical Carbine with a stock trigger is about
6-8 lbs of pull weight. For the newbie, the pull-weight of the trigger affects the targeting of the rifle. In my experience the heavier the
trigger-pull the more deviation from the target. The lighter the trigger-pull the better as the weapon will be less affected by the motion of the
trigger-pull. The best trigger assembly I have found is the tried and true National Match 2 stage trigger assembly. There are many manufacturers of
National Match triggers and it is important to carefully pick and choose the right one. The best I've tested thus far is is the Two Stage National
Match grade trigger assembly by Rock River Arms
. It's pricey, in the $150 range, but the overall quality is
unsurpassed, and are guaranteed to not fail on you.
2. Buffer Springs:
Buffer springs can be seriously problematic for the recreational and defense user of AR platform rifles. The springs wear out, they corrode, and can
be just a general pain to maintain. This is why I recommend hydraulic buffers. They reduce felt recoil better than even the best buffer springs, they
react faster making follow up shots quicker and as a direct effect, makes you more accurate. These buffers also reduce bolt bounce which could create
fail-to-feed or fail-to-eject problems that you don't want when seconds count. There are not many companies offering hydraulic buffers, but after
testing several springs(including high-tech Silicon/chrome alloy springs) I have found the best results, measurable, are found in the use of these
hydraulic buffers. Enidine
is the company I bought mine from, and it cost me roughly 100 bucks.
3. Bolt and bolt carrier:
With enough fouling a bolt assembly can develop pitting and cracks. The heat and shock combined with propellant deposits can do some serious damage to
the bolt and carrier assembly of your AR15 rifle. Indeed, heat management in AR platform rifles has been a long standing complaint among AR owners for
decades. There are ways to help mitigate this though. Starting with one of the most important parts of your rifle. The Bolt and bolt carrier. Standard
bolts are usually parkerized steel. And while that makes them very corrosion resistant, the friction parkarized steel produces aids in wear and tear.
To mitigate this I picked up a FailZero
bolt and carrier assembly. These bolt and carrier groups are steel coated
in a proprietary metal finish that reduces friction overall and works even better than chrome lined assemblies. It reduces the amount of maintenance
required and extends the life of your rifle.
3A. Carrier weights:
I use carrier weights to reduce bolt bounce and to mitigate fail-to-feed/fail-to-extract-issues. These weights also help extend the life of your
internal parts among other advantages. The weights I use are made of tungsten carbide and can be dropped right in. It should be noted that these
weights will increase lock-time by a hair. I use the Tubb "CWS" Carrier Weight System
3B. Firing Pin:
Steel firing pins in any weapon have one fatal flaw, as they heat and cool, the forging becomes loosened. Overtime this means that your pin will
simply snap. There is one pin on the market today that won't snap, and that's the Titanium firing pin- I've tested(2000 rounds) ones manufactured by
and Christie & Christie(No link available). Either will do just fine.
4. Conveniences and Useful Furniture:
Buttstocks are a tricky thing as many of them are just tacticool furniture to make your AR look nicer. But some are built with functionality in mind
and it is those I will focus on. One in particular is the VLTOR IMOD Modstock
. It is incredibly comfortable and has a
flared cheek rest for better line up with your sights. They come in fixed and collapsible versions and can be quite pricey.
Fore-grips. I've seen a ton of fore-grips, and while they do aid in some stability, the best I've seen and used is the angled fore-grip by
. This fore-grip is designed with natural body mechanics in mind and offers the best possible ergonomics. It
slides right on to a picatinny rail and cross bolts in place.
We've come a long way in AR mag designs over the decades. The best out there are no longer the tried and true steel and aluminum mags, but polymer
magazines by various manufacturers. The Magpul PMag
series is the best and they are not too expensive. They are
self-lubricating, positive feeding, and durable magazines. For the price, Tapco
polymer mags are also pretty good.
But my recommendation, if you want quality for your hard-earned dollar, is Magpul PMags.
If your AR is an A2 version likely you have fixed sights on your weapon. You can always add optics to your carry handle. But If you have a flattop A3
style AR with a pic rail there are several iron sights you can buy for it that attach right to your rail. I've tested two picatinny attached front and
rear sights. Rock River Arms
. While they both functioned equally
well, the steel anodized sights from Rock River Arms
broke on me after a fatal drop(Out 100 bucks). The same
drop did nothing at all to the Magpul
polymer "ironsight". So my recommendation is three for three on
As far as optics are concerned. The best out there is EOTech
. Hands down. I spent a lot of money on my
reflex sight($450), but compared to NCStar
, and others I've tested
there are no substitutes. The cheaper $40-$150 sights have a tendency to break easily, or they don't sight in properly, or the elev-wind dials don't
seem to adjust anything at all.
5. Cleaning Kits, Solvents, and Lubricants
I've used a lot of cleaning kits and the best, hands down, the standard kit issued by the US military. It has everything you need to fully clean all
necessary parts. The best solvent I've used so far is break-free nitro solvent and it comes in many brands. All work about the same. Lubricant, on the
other hand, is a matter of debate among many weapons experts. But they're arguing about using oil based lube. I, on the other hand, don't use any oil
at all. I use Teflon wax lubricant. It keeps dirt and dust from sticking to internal parts, reduces friction, and the frequency of maintenance.
I hope this post helps new and old AR lovers get an idea of what products are out there to help with the functionality of their AR platform weapon.
There's a lot of BS out there, and useless products that look cool but fail in function, pick and choose carefully. Happy shooting!
1-6-2011 by projectvxn because: Added/fixed links to manufacturers/Formatting, grammar, spelling June 1st, 2011