There’s a whole bunch of reasons gun enthusiasts love the AR-15 rifle. For beginners, a handgun would seem like a better weapon to start with instead of a rifle. It’s handy and easy to store.

But in terms of recoil, which is something a lot of beginner shooters struggle with, a handgun doesn’t give you much stability. If you use your steady hand to hold the gun and shoot, then your other hand for support, that only gives you about two contact points maximum for recoil. When you start firing the weapon for the first time, your shooting arm is not as steady as it should be. You’ll end up with a wobbly aim and firing at the wrong target.

As for the AR-15, it gives you at least four contact points for support. It’s a semiautomatic rifle, which means you can release the ammunition one trigger at a time. With the four contact points, AR-15 lets you shoot your target with more stability and precision. Though it’s not as light as a handgun, it doesn’t move much while you’re firing, which makes it a lot easier to shoot.

And unlike handguns, AR-15 is like a Lego firearm. Every part of the rifle can be replaced or upgraded. You can also mount additional accessories to it depending on how you intend to use your gun. As you practice with your AR-15’s store-bought assembly for a few months, you’ll soon find out which parts are better off replaced or which accessory you’d like to have to improve your shooting skills. To start with, here are the usual components that get upgraded or added to make your AR-15 rifle rock.

Buttstock

As you become better at shooting, you’ll need more support for precision from your buttstock. Your shoulders take a slight beating every time you shoot. Also, most store-bought buttstocks are easily worn down and tend to become wobbly after several rounds of shooting. You need to replace it with something more comfortable and reliable.

Several brands offer different types of buttstock kits. Before you go out and buy one, make sure you know the diameter of your rifle’s tube. As for the material, choose aluminum because it’s much easier to carry and can last a lifetime. A buttstock kit usually includes the stock, buffer, tube, springs, and plate. Magpul MOE, VLTOR IMOD, and B5 Systems.

Rail Covers

Upgrading your rail covers will allow you to mount more accessories on your rifle, giving it more teeth, so to speak. Picatinny, KeyMod, and M-LOK are some of the most popular choices for AR-15 rifles. Whether you use your gun for gaming operations, home self-defense, or hunting, having rails will let you attach lasers, foregrips, optics, and other accessories you may need as you become better at shooting.

Rails are also a cheaper way to protect the unused areas of your rifle and cover them securely. At first, you may find the tracks bumpy and abrasive. But comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean reliable in the gun world. You’ll get the hang of it sooner than you think and realize their value once you start attaching additional parts securely to your rifle.

Compact Shooting Mat

Starting rifle owners underestimate the value of shooting mats, but mats are dependable protection for AR-15 rifles. If you’re the type of shooter who likes to rough it up in the mountains or enjoy hunting in the damp woods, then you’ll definitely need one.

Mats prevent scuffing your rifle and scratching the external parts. They are also waterproof and come with pouches that can hold a bunch of stuff for you while you’re carrying your rifle. Shooting mats can keep your AR-15 in pristine condition for as long as possible.

Iron Sights

As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing you cannot mount on your AR-15. When it comes to zeroing your rifle, iron sights are often placed on the back burner, as compared to scopes. But the advantages of having reliable AR-15 iron sights cannot be denied, especially if they come with a subtle front post and flip-style rear. The wide iron-sight settings are ideal for close shooting while the fine settings work best in longer ranges.

A lot of shooters find it challenging to see in longer ranges. However, with patience and practice, you’ll easily be able to adjust the sights according to the shooting condition you’re in and learn which setting to apply.

In terms of affordability and durability, iron sights take the cake. Scopes are much more delicate, expensive, and a lot easier to break. Iron sights are a must-have accessory especially for shooters who run their rifles hard.

Optics and scopes

AR15s, like most firearms, have limitations. Because of its lighter ammunition, you can use it for target shooting in a 500-yard distance, but it may not work well beyond it. Which is why you need additional accessories to optimize the performance of your rifle.

AR15 can do most of the heavy and accurate shooting for medium range work. The most effective types of scopes should give you the extra focus you need that’s within the rifle’s reasonable range. 

You can definitely score using the iron sights alone. But if you want your rifle to do more in terms of moving or farther-placed targets, then you’d need a scope setup. Most avid shooters work well with 9 to 10 times magnification on a customized AR setup. This level of magnification is best for target practice or daily shooting. Pushing for more magnification may pose a problem considering you’ll be shooting lighter and smaller bullets for AR15 rifles. Also, with reasonable or lower magnification, you can get a fuller field of view and gives you a more room for maneuvering. 

Optics come in two types: magnified and non-magnified. Starting with the non-magnified optics, more commonly known as red dots, you can go with the endpoint. They are small in size, can even be used on handguns, and often come with a square window with multiple reticles. You can use endpoint optics in almost any close to medium range shooting adventure you’re planning on participating. 

Holographic red dots is another type of optic that lets you transition between targets faster and makes follow up shots seamlessly. They can also be used with night vision devices because it uses a laser transmitter hologram and magnifies the image in your optic with a holographic film.

But if you’d much rather have multiple magnifications, variable optics should come in handy for your shooting needs. These are the same optics commonly used by the military, competitive shooters, and hunters in general. You can use this type of optics for a wide variety of ranges. They are larger in size and built to endure rough shooting conditions. 

Another type of scope is fixed power. This type of range comes in simple designs and provide low to moderate magnification. They are light and compact and are usually cheaper than the variable optic. 

Other than magnification, the primary thing to consider when choosing optics or scopes is durability. AR15s are like your workhorses. Being a lightweight rifle, your AR15’s accessories should be tough enough for the bump-and-grind movement or any type of roughhousing during shooting. Either way, for as long as you know your priorities and follow the same order when buying accessories for your rifle, then rest assured you’re on a solid track to building the best AR15 for you.

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