The AR-15 has proven itself to be one of the most modular and adaptable weapons in the world. It is capable of doing a wide variety of different jobs that range from a sub-machine gun sized carbine to a full sized sniper rifle. With the massive amount of popularity of the AR-15 rifle more and more companies are releasing a massive amount of different accessories. Some investments are for looks, some are for function, and some for purely pragmatic reasons. The AR-15 is an easy to work on and easy to customize rifle. What five parts make a sound investment though?
Magazines are an important consideration for any firearm. When it comes to an automatic firearm the majority of problems and issues come from poorly made magazines. Well made magazines do not have to be expensive either. Spending 4 or 5 bucks on a thermold magazine is not a good idea. Spending 12 to 20 dollars on name brand like Magpul, Lancer, Okay, or Hexmag. This isn’t a complete list of good magazines, but is a good starting point.
What makes a quality barrel can be arguable. Generally speaking though a quality barrel will provide you with a longer lifespan, corrosion resistance, and contribute to greater accuracy. Stainless steel barrels offer resistance to the high heat abuse that happens in the throat area. It’s also incredibly corrosion resistant, and has a very long bore life. A cold hammer forged barrel will create the smoothest rifling pattern and operates in a more polygonal pattern which gives an accuracy and velocity advantage.
You also need to choose a twist rate for your barrel. If you are planning to shooting heavier 223 loads, like 77 grain projectile a faster twist rate like a 1:7 may be for you. If you want to shoot ultra light projectiles a 1:9 or even 1:10 may be your option. 1:8 is usually a good starting point for firing your more basic 55 grain loads.
3. Bolt Carrier Group
The bolt carrier group is the heart of the weapon. It contains the firing pin, the gas key, the extractor, and allows the weapon to complete the majority of its functions. A good bolt carrier group needs to be strong, and capable of taking the abuse of rapid fire. This is why most people choose a full auto mil spec carrier even when their rifle is semi auto only. It’s simply stronger.
A quality bolt carrier group will have a tightly secured gas key, or even better an integrated gas key. The finish will also help with reducing friction and nickel boron is a popular choice for easy cleaning and friction reduction.
4. Trigger/Fire Control Group
If you want to tap into the accuracy potential of your rifle a good trigger is a must. A quality trigger will have a light and consistent pull, with little over travel, and a clean break. Self-contained trigger systems from Geissele, Timney, and Wilson Combat are easy to install, and give you unparalleled performance.
5. Rifle Sights
You can’t hit your target without a good set of sights. Every AR-15, even those with optics, should have solid sights. A good set of sights is important because a cheap set of sights sucks. Cheap sights will not maintain zero, will move with recoil or minor bumps, and are typically poorly constructed. Sights by Magpul, Sampson, and Yankee Hill are the way to go. For night vision scope be sure to checkout our partner NightVisionScope.com.
DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY AR-15 building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. We are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.