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How To Enhance Your AR Platform Rifle

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posted on Oct, 25 2010 @ 06:05 AM
-=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 DPMS and Christie & Christie(No link available). Either will do just fine.


4. Conveniences and Useful Furniture:

4A. Buttstocks:

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.

4B. Fore-Grips:

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 Magpul. 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.

4C. Magazines:

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.

4D. Sights:

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 and Magpul. 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 Magpul.

As far as optics are concerned. The best out there is EOTech. Hands down. I spent a lot of money on my EOTech 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!
edit on 1-6-2011 by projectvxn because: Added/fixed links to manufacturers/Formatting, grammar, spelling June 1st, 2011

posted on Oct, 25 2010 @ 07:29 AM
I read through your post quickly so I didnt see if you mentioned it, but I put an accu-wedge in mine and it really tightened the whole thing up, cost just a couple bucks. good post though, luv the black rifle

posted on Oct, 25 2010 @ 07:32 AM
reply to post by inbound

Indeed. For those who don't know what this wedge is used for:

An accu-wedge just keeps the rifle from moving around. There's a little bit of a wobble to AR platform rifles and this accessory can eliminate that problem. The problem isn't so big that you absolutely need this product, but if you're a competition shooter and you absolutely need that extra millimeter then this product might help you out quite a bit.

Great post and thanks!
edit on 25-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 25 2010 @ 08:29 AM
I'm not an AR shooter but I wanted to tell you what a great post this is. People can run around for years trying to find out the very things you wrote here - this is invaluable information for AR shooters.
Me, I'm a cost-conscious shooter so I have to stick with AKs. Cheaper gun, cheaper round but still a capable weapons platform, especially in harsh field conditions.
I've had the opportunity to shoot some ARs and my favorite hands down had the EO tech sight on it - they are amazing quick for target acquisition and will reset to zero if you take it off and put it back on - great feature.
The only drawback I see with the EOtech is that it's lowest setting is still rather bright and the dot size could actually cover your target not allowing you to see it. It's also nightvision compatible so yeah, if your going to upgrade your optics spend the $500 because everything cheaper is junk.
great post.
I'm guessing you're a competition shooter?

posted on Oct, 25 2010 @ 08:37 AM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

I am not. But I have extensive experience and knowledge of various weapons systems. Competition shooting never had a draw for me. But I do like a lot of the National Match competition gear...Aside from the NM trigger assemblies I wouldn't take competition equipment to the battlefield though. And thank you for the kind words. I wanted to write a thread that would identify and address the problems found in AR rifles. Everyone who is in the AR camp refuse to admit the problems these rifles have, and thus you find very few resources on how to mitigate them. I LOVE the AR15. It is the Rifle of the American Patriot in my opinion. But we shouldn't pretend that there are no improvements to be made.

It took me a couple years and A HELL OF A LOT OF MONEY to put this thread together..

You see what I do for you ATS?
edit on 25-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

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edit on 25-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 08:11 PM
Great post.

This is the recipe for what Bill Carns calls the Ronin AR. I have implemented most of them and have no doubt the reliability of my AR has increased no less than two fold.

Edit: I went with the TiN bolt/carrier and can tell you getting the D ring fitted was quite a challenge.

edit on 27-10-2010 by bozzchem because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 08:35 PM
reply to post by bozzchem

I like the Titanium Nitride bolt/carrier assemblies as well. But they are pricey as hell. You can literally shoot them for days though...I wish I could afford one.

I had to buy something that was far better than parkerized steel components. I was going to go for the chrome lined bolt until I found FailZero and did some digging into their bolt and metal finish system. Bought one, and now I'm happy with it...

When I can afford to drop a couple of hundred bucks on a Titanium bolt I certainly will. I'll hand my FailZero to my girlfriend who is going to need a new bolt anyway.

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 09:38 PM

Originally posted by projectvxn
reply to post by bozzchem

When I can afford to drop a couple of hundred bucks on a Titanium bolt I certainly will. I'll hand my FailZero to my girlfriend who is going to need a new bolt anyway. need to change that from girlfriend to WIFE. Not pushing you...but she sounds like a keeper to me!!

I opened a wholesale account with Brownells so I get the dealer prices. The TiN is still damn pricey and sticks out like a sore thumb based on the coloration. Nothing like having a large gold color flashing from the side of an all black rifle.

Either way, I wasn't trying to jack your topic, just figured I'd add my two pennies since I was glad to see the topic had been started. The AR catches a lot of hell for its reliability but it can be made more reliable with a few mods.

One thing everyone should really consider is getting a boresnake for a quick clean of the barrel. Two swipes and the barrel looks brand new accomplished by a $12 item.

A gummed up bolt/carrier is another story and requires a bit more finesse. Shooting garbage ammo like Wolf through it only adds to the problem. The AR was designed to be fired with ammo that utilizes very clean powder but the contract to manufacture said powder was denied due to the fact that attempting to formulate said powder would potentially result in too many failed batches thereby making it a losing proposition for the formulation company. (I believe it was DOW Chemical)

Let's face it, the AR $hits where it eats so a bit more attention is required to keep it functioning properly but mine is exceptionally reliable and will do the job at distances the AK has no chance at. I have nothing against the AK having owned three of them. None of the ones I owned could hit reliably at 400 meters so I traded them in.

I also have an AR-10 so if the .30 cal round is required, I can go there too at distances only a professionally tuned AK could dream of.

Additionally, I load/reload ammo and use IMR 3031 powder for both .223 and .308 which doesn't leave the kind of residue one can expect from Wolf or the other cheap Russian rounds.

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 09:45 PM
reply to post by bozzchem

Indeed. Ammo propellants matter.

The wrong kind of ammo used enough will eat your weapon eventually. I prefer mil-spec ammo. So i stick to M855 and M193 rounds. They tend to use good propellants.

I think the benefits of Titanium nitride outweigh the bright gold color issue...

Just keep your dust cover closed until you're about to unload.

And don't worry about jacking the thread, this is about giving good advice on making the AR platform the best possible weapon it can be.
edit on 27-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 09:54 PM

Originally posted by projectvxn
reply to post by bozzchem

Just keep your dust cover closed until you're about to unload.

Isn't that the truth??

I need to add that to my training regiment. I never close the damn thing even though I know I should.

It's certainly not visible from a great distance but definitely sticks out when the dust cover is open while folks are sitting around chatting about their mods.

At the same time, that little bit of potential visibility is far outweighed by the reliability added to the weapon.

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 10:01 PM
reply to post by bozzchem

I train in the desert so keeping the dust cover closed is a must.
It's also why I use Teflon wax spray lubricant. It doesn't let dust
and propellant particulates stick to the components. So it makes
cleaning that much easier.


Indeed, she is a keeper.
And a hot red head too.

edit on 27-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 10:06 PM
ATS likes eating my posts lately so I don't know if this will go up. BTW, good topic for the original poster.

I am a competition shooter and I can assure all that match AR platforms are the new gold standard in the service rifle matches. Its my opinion, but I like it better than the M1 system. I personally shoot a colt HBAR, set up as an A2 style rifle. I run Hornaday 75 grain JHP-BT match ammo through it for competitions, although I am beginning to experiment with hand loading. Most of the top level guys run custom ammo through their guns.

I also have a tactical rock river build. I'm trying to keep this from looking like a "my rifle is better than your rifle" pissing contest, but I'll offer my two cents.
I would advise all to stay away from the steel cased ammunition, IE Wolf. Its cheap for a reason. Sometimes the cases fracture in the chamber, and the extractor only pulls out the rear of the case, causing a wickedly hard to clear malfunction.
I like EOTechs, Aimpoints, Elcan Specter DR, and anything Trijicon as far as optics. All of which are expensive, but really worth the money once you shoot them. I'm not a fan of those return to zero throw levers, I feel like they can get knocked loose. I just put them on semi permanently with the base mounting screws and thread locker.
I know a lot of guys that really like those "Tac Latch" charging handles, but I do not. I personally had a bad experience with one I ordered from DPMS. I ended up breaking it by placing lateral pressure on it, causing it to bend against the receiver while charging the weapon. It was a simple fix though, I just put the original one back in.

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 10:11 PM
reply to post by commdogg

Oh good a comp shooter. I think this thread could use your experience. I've trained to use my weapons for defense, and some of this equipment might not meet the needs of competition shooters.

posted on Oct, 27 2010 @ 11:25 PM
Well, comp guns are generally no frills A2 setups. Match barrels and triggers, and ammo. I know a few guys that shoot A4's but they are set up with carry handles and A2 style hand guards. The course of fire is very similar to a USMC KD course. All the tactical stuff is verboten.

posted on Oct, 28 2010 @ 01:59 AM
reply to post by projectvxn

S+F great post! as a recreational shooter i know exactly what you must have gone through for all your experience.

recently i have been wanting my own "survival" setup, as up until now i have only been playing with my SKS's. thinking logically, i would need to be using a weapon than can fire the same ammunition as my opposition. this restricts my choices to pretty much .223 and .308. citing exactly the AR platform's bad wrap which you mentioned, i have been more of a fan of the .308 and the M1A platform.

what is your opinion on the M1A as a survival/battlefield weapon? (personally i'd be leaning towards the scout model...)

i understand that the AR platform can also be chambered for .308? what are your opinions?


p.s. i must deal with kalifornia firearm regulations =/

posted on Oct, 28 2010 @ 02:13 AM
reply to post by mbzastava

I recommend you purchase the weapon that would best suit your specific needs. Get to know everything about it, all of it's flaws and all of it's strengths and look for ways to minimize the former while maximizing the latter. If we're talking SHTF rifle I recommend a decent AR with whatever enhancements you can afford, just be sure that you do your homework as much as possible. I think the AR-15 is perfect because it is modular, it will be relatively easy to find parts and ammo should something go askew. It is also an accurate rifle and with minimal maintenance-I say minimal, not to be confused with lacking maintenance, it will remain accurate and reliable.

No, you can't abuse it like an AK, but an AK won't really hit the target. It's a spray and pray weapon. If you absolutely need something with more punch than 5.56mm try out an AR platform 6.5mm Grendel. chambered rifle. It's a great round and you can still carry a hell of a lot of it. The problem with it is price and availability. But it is quickly becoming a hit among tactical shooters around the world.

The Garand and M14 family of rifles are wonderful, but they are certainly out of date. Today's .308 weapons are far more capable and engineered to better quality than those of the past. I'm not knocking the reliability of these rifles, I'm simply saying that if you want to be able to find cheap parts and ammo you may want to go with smaller caliber tactical firearms rather than older weapons systems that are scantly supported by the market.

edit on 28-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

edit on 20-1-2011 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 28 2010 @ 02:52 AM
I suggest purchasing weapons that can withstand bad conditions. AR 15's are beautiful weapons but only in good conditions and maintenance.

Personally I would go out and buy a mini 14, AK any type, SKS any type. They are good range if needed, not a sniper rifle but not a splatter gun either, enough to get out there and touch somebody. I dont see sniper rifles being much use other then punching holes in engine blocks down the road to stop deadly force. After that go back to the tried and true assault rifle variation that can take a beating.

I had an AR15 I lost in a house fire, man fine rifle, but in bad situation and bad conditions for extended periods of time (years I would assume in the near future) not much of repair and how many mechanical moving parts are on it, its a sacrafice thats for sure.

7.62 = stopping power also
accuracy can take a hit on bad rifle setups and cannot get out ther elike a 223, but 223 has bad stopping power even when tumbling. just my 2 cents, but those arnt worth much anymore.

posted on Oct, 28 2010 @ 03:08 AM
reply to post by Eavel

I disagree. I've put my ARs through a lot of crap. I've dropped them from unsafe heights, I've had them out in the rain for a couple of days, I've camped out in the middle of the Nevada desert(where my buddies and I train) and have never had my weapon fail on me in anyway that couldn't be attributed to my own mistakes. This is why I recommend that people do homework before buying ANY firearms at all.

And I'm sorry to hear about the loss of a fine rifle. What make and model was it?
edit on 28-10-2010 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 28 2010 @ 05:20 AM
reply to post by projectvxn

My homework is training with the A4, more to be desired and simpler designs can compete without the technical/mechanical failure issues that might occur. kudos if your AR is holding up well. Mostly bad ammo residue causes most the problems and people dont clean them right, but if you got the know how then yes as I stated, its a fine rifle.

posted on Oct, 28 2010 @ 05:22 AM
reply to post by Eavel

Oh and the model I lost I dont even remember, just a colt AR15 bought off the shelf when I started purchasing rifles long ago, it lasted about 6 months in the closet before burning up. Ran some rounds through it several times, but that was about it. I am military so my experience with this line of rifle is a bit more than the average joe, I just prefer my SKS if im semi. heavy ammunition, but takes one heck of a beating.

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