6 AR Add-ons & Kits That Are Still Legal

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By Jordan McDowell

As many people may not know, AR stands for Armalite rifle and not assault rifle or automatic rifle. The AR was first developed in the late 1950s as a military rifle, and has made significant advancements since then. While there are different AR guns, the most popular is the AR-15. The AR is a fantastic piece of machinery, but regardless of your shooting goals, there are some add-ons and kits that can benefit your AR and your wallet, and these added essentials are still legal!

Grips

How the rifle feels in your hands is vital because it will impact the level of comfort when you’re shooting. Your primary focus should be on the target and not your hands. Therefore, having proper grips is number one on your add-on list.

AR grips are a must-have and one of the most common upgrades, especially for the AR-15. There are many things to consider when purchasing grips.

●    The feel – The feel could be smooth or rigid, depending on your preference.

●    The material – The material could be rubber or polymer.

●    The grip model – This aspect could include being angled or having vertical foregrips or pistol grips.

The proper grips will also reduce added stress on your wrists, allowing more relaxation while shooting.

Charging Handles

The charging handle is another must-have add-on mostly because it makes the gun functional for shooting. There are also other essential functions of the charging handle.

●    Ejecting unfired rounds and emptied shells

●    Checks for any obstructions and rounds

●    Clears any blockages and releases bolts that have rear-locked

Since some people are right or left-handed, ambidextrous charging handles allow the shooter to charge from either side. Also, some of the higher-level ambidextrous charging handles are designed to increase the surface area and provide maximum grip.

Optics

Adding optics to your AR is essential for optimum accuracy when shooting. Seeing your target clearly and precisely allows for a bullseye every time, but there are different optics available, and choosing the right one can make a huge difference in your end game.

●    Scopes – Scopes allow your targets to be closer to you, making shooting much more manageable.

●    Red dot sightsRed dot sites are more common than holographic and come in two styles:

○    Heads-up – These weigh less than the tube body and can be mounted farther down the rifle, resulting in less bulk.

○    Tube-body – The tube-body is different because it is more robust and sturdier than the heads-up style.

●    Holographic sights – These sights utilize a laser and are smaller and lighter than red dot sights, but they also have a heads-up style which has advantages, such as:

○    Larger field of view

○    Less sight obstruction

●    Hybrid sights – The hybrid sights contain both refractive and diffractive surfaces to manipulate light. 

● This type of optic allows shooters to switch between magnified and non-magnified views quickly.

Muzzle Devices

Upgrading with muzzle devices such as muzzle brakes and muzzle compensators can make a huge difference when shooting. These devices help in reducing recoil and maintaining vertical stability.

●    Muzzle brakes – This device is essential to keep the barrel steady by drastically reducing recoil. Muzzle brakes redirect the gas out of the barrel following the bullet by pushing it through the vents on the side, which is vital to accuracy and speed.

●    Muzzle compensators – The muzzle compensator is similar to the muzzle brake as it vents gas up toward the muzzle, which helps push it downward. This process allows for more vertical stability.

Handguards and Rail Systems

Handguards and rail systems provide more than just a place to grip; they also assist as ventilation points, so heat does not build up. There are different varieties of these AR add-ons.

●    Free-floating handguard – This handguard is often heavier because it has to support its weight and any other added accessories. 

●    Drop-in handguard – The lighter-designed drop-in handguard makes contact with the barrel on both ends, allowing it to affect accuracy by transferring its minimal movement to the barrel.

●    Rail systems – Rail systems allow for the mounting of other essential accessories, including lasers, flashlights, and more. This AR add-on gives an extra edge and an element of safety, especially in tactical settings.  

Stocks

Having stocks helps absorb any unwanted kickback from the AR. Choosing the right stock depends on your shooting goals, such as competition, home defense, or tactical shooting.

●    Competition – Finding an adjustable stock is critical to allow you to choose the length of pull for the ideal height and fit for the cheek-rest area. Having a more natural and accurate feel guarantees the shooter first place in any competition.

●    Home defense – A home defense rifle needs to be available to whoever needs to use it at a moment’s notice. For this reason, the stock should be ambidextrous, allowing right or left-handed individuals quick access. 

●    Tactical shooting – Adapting to any environment is imperative in tactical shooting, and having short and collapsible stocks bring high functionality at close range. If the need to add ammunition quickly is necessary, a stock merged with a magazine carrier is the best choice. 

The above are just a few of the legal add-ons available. All add-on accessories will enhance the shooting performance while minimizing any undue stress or potential injury to the AR user.

Besides AR add-ons being available, there is also a wide range of AR build kits to choose from, and they supply everything needed for you to put together an AR from beginning to end.

(Need more information on the scale of disaster? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to the four levels of disaster?

AR Kits

There are AR kits for all branches of the AR, including AR-15, AR-47, AR-9, and AR-10. When you put together and build your AR, you gain new knowledge about the parts and how they work together. This knowledge will save you money when the AR needs repairs because you will know how to fix what isn’t working instead of paying a gunsmith, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Regardless, when you build an AR, you ultimately have the most control over your money because you decide how much you want to spend on each part.

Building your AR will also give you a feeling of accomplishment because you made it yourself, and you can customize it to fit your specific shooting needs.

AR kits for your AR-15

As far as the legality of building an AR-15 is concerned, yes, it is 100% legal to make your own in the United States. However, different states have varying laws and regulations regarding building or buying an AR-15. Some states, such as New York, New Jersey, and California, have certain restrictions, so check your state laws before purchasing any build kits for an AR-15.

The AR-15 usually comes with a 16″ barrel and a 5.56 NATO chamber, equivalent to a .223 Remington. There are also build kits for other AR-15 lengths, such as 7.5″ and 10.5″.

The AR-15 20” sniper rifle build kit is another outstanding choice for precision and long-range uses.

AR kits for your AR-47

The caliber for an AR-47 is typically 7.62×39 and is not as accurate as the AR-15, but still an excellent choice for home defense purposes. The magazines for an AR-47 have a distinctive curve that allows for smoother ammunition feeds.

The effective range for a fully automatic AR-47 is approximately 330 yards and for a semi-automatic AR-47 is around 440 yards.  

AR kits for your AR-9

The AR-9 is a combination of an AR carbine with a pistol-caliber bullet. A short and compact style and its shorter barrel, lighter lower receiver, and lighter ammunition make the AR-9 build kit one of the best home defense gun options available.

Another benefit to the AR-9 is the extremely minimal recoil, and this gun can be built large or small depending on the owner’s needs.

AR kits for your AR-10

The AR-10 is ideal for long-range target shooting and is also effective for hunting large game like bison due to its larger bullets.

Unlike the AR-9, the AR-10 is not built for home defense due to its .308 caliber round, making it too big for home defense purposes. It would be too easy to pass through walls and other barriers.

The AR-10 build kit contains everything you need to make an accurate, reliable gun that is incredibly easy to add accessories to, and on top of that, it has minimal recoil.

Make your gun yours with AR add-ons.

Adding on to your AR can be exciting because you must decide on the parts you want to include, making it your unique creation. You can also utilize build kits that provide everything you need without picking and choosing.

Making additions can also increase your knowledge of the parts themselves, which can save you money when necessary repairs are needed.

Owning an AR and using it safely is essential, so learning all about the federal gun laws (and state/local laws) is mandatory to keep all AR purchases legal.

AR add-ons and building kits are both available and legal. A responsible gun owner will take the time to train and learn everything they need to know for everybody’s safety and well-being. Fortunately, many places offer complete instructions on carrying and transporting firearms safely and legally.

What do you think of these kits and add-ons? Have you used any of them in the past? Are there any you’re hoping to acquire? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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About Jordan McDowell

Jordan McDowell is a writer and second amendment rights advocate. As a proud advocate for responsible gun rights nationwide, he writes about recreational hunting as well as the latest developments in state and national legislation. Check out his work at https://swordsofnorthshire.com/

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  • 5.56 NATO while the same diameter is NOT the same as a .223 Remington. 5.56 develops higher pressure and should not be used in a chamber designed for .223.

    • James,
      Thank you for bringing up that accurate statement.
      Safety first!
      However, the .223 Wylde chamber can shoot both 5.56NATO and .223REM safely.

  • Flash suppressors are one of the “evil features” that are banned in some of the Blue States.

    The article mentions adding muzzle brakes, but it does not mention that the removal of a flash suppressor will increase the night time signature of the firearm when it is fired. Is the author saying that the flash suppressor/muzzle brake trade-off is of no consequence?

    Let’s face it. The recoil from a .223/5.56 is rather inconsequential for all but the most dimunitive women and youth, so there should be a good reason for exchanging a flash suppressor with a muzzle brake.

  • The stock GI style grip is the first thing I would replace with a aftermarket one.

    I find the top mounted charging handle to be ergonomically burdensome (try running it without taking it out of the pocket of your shoulder). I prefer a side/BCG mounted charging handle.

    I know of a number of guys who rave about the AR being “light” weight. Then put 5lbs of stuff hanging off the rails.

    A scope allows you to see clearer and farther than iron sights. The target is NOT actually closer to you. Only if you have master the fundamentals of marksmanship will a scope get you that well placed, first round hit.
    The higher the power of the scope, the smaller the exit eye pupil diameter. Harder to not only see, but also dimer. The solution to this, a larger objective diameter. Sounds great right? Except then the scope weighs more in both tube body, and glass. Now you are looking at a 50mm objective scope weighing nearly 2lbs.

    This day and age of thin skinned modern construction, I think just about any round could over penetrate. I have loaded 110grn varmint bullets atop a light charge, putting it on par in FPS with 55grn .223REM ammunition. Both would be concern for over penetration.
    Fragmention ammunition or COR BON Glaser products might be a better solution if in a situation where over penetration is a possibility.

    IF I had the money, I would own a variety of rifles in differing calibers. Unfortunately my budget only allows for one round. I need a round that can do nearly everything, not just one specified thing. So, I had to go with the .308WIN. I can load it with varmint bullets, mid-range light skinned game, to heavy large game with deep penetrating or solid bullets. Bullets that in heavy brush less likely to deflect vs a lighter, smaller caliber bullet. Shoot competition, with BTHP bullets and not have to load the rifle from the ejection port (COL exceeding magazine length). Even use it as a anti-material round if need be.
    And, components for it are common and cheap. Well, more so than some other calibers.

    • 1stMarine,

      Right there with you on the charging handle. If it worked well, why do so many folks go to extended ears? Muddy gloves, now your running your muddy fingers across the cheek rest, well, what is sort of a cheek rest. If your stressed, or shooting out of position, your overreaching and getting mud on your scope eyepiece. I can’t be the only one here.

      Its dumb. Some folks love that top charging handle, I don’t get it.

      I have a pistol length AR. Not impressed. I’m older, so I grew up shooting the older, bigger calibers.

      The recoil impulse is low on .223, and still low on 5.56. But out of a 10.5 inch barrel, the back blast requires a suppressor, almost not an option unless your going to fight in earpro, and the muzzle flash at night… you can forget that quick follow up shot.

      There are some great new calibers, but here,. 308, 30-06, 7mm mag, there are boxes of ammo still tucked away in tons of rural homes.

      I’m going with a shotgun for SHTF anyway. 12 gauge (autocorrect, why do you doubt my spelling?) for many reasons. The VR80 is still semi, box mag fed, familiar AR controls, and you can switch the charging handle to the left side, the way God intended.

      Bolt handle on the right, because that’s how prone works best on a bolt action, and thats probably how I’m shooting that gun. Fixed power scope, because I’m not that experienced and I’m gonna shift my head around fighting eye relief and parallax, and I want to be familiar with the round, the scope, and the dope for a few different ranges. I don’t shoot scopes often, has to be simple.

      Charging handle on the left in a dynamic environment, so the rifle stock stays in the pocket and I can at least keep the sights up in my vision during reload, if I get a ftc, or I let the gun get so dirty it needs an assist to chamber.

      I swear it seems like we keep relearning the same lessons over and over, I mean, look at the Sig service rifle. That’s a rifle you can’t deploy without a massive and close support system to maintain it. All that complication to get the ballistic performance of… a .308. ?

      • Misreading The River,
        Great post!

        Right about shooting when stressed and keeping things simple.

        I have several scopes, and red dots. Each has its pros and cons and all take a degree of training/practice to master to be effective. I have a fixed high powered scope that has to be set just right (on the rail and the stock adjusted) to get the proper eye relief/sight picture. Once set, no problem . . . for me. For someone else, might be off enough they have difficulty sighting in or even seeing the target.

        I try to match my loads, powder charge to barrel length to reduce muzzle flash. Some powders are better than others for this.

        The Sig rifle? I have not heard anything about support to maintain it. Is that due to the round? Or the design of the rifle itself?

        • The Sig rifle looks big and complicated to me. I’m completely assuming on the support, it just looks at first glance to be complicated enough, and new enough (rifle and round) to have some birthing pains. I just picture lots of rifles getting turned in for repairs, and I don’t know how that works for a deployed squad. Whether parts or replacements rifles are readily available down range? I know the Marines and Big Army have lots of experience with this, my own experience deployed tells me mistakes happen at the individual, unit, and even command level. And that includes logistics issues. Thats one thing of its an optic, or a piece of comms gear. The rifle and the man behind it are the most basic unit of the fight.

          As far as the round, you have a dual metal case to handle the pressures.

          I probably just fear what I don’t understand lol.

          But still. We could easily have gone with a .308 chambered AR platform rifle, SAW, and designated marksman rifle. Without going into the high pressures required to get the same energy transfer from the smaller projectile. The effective range doesn’t seem that much greater, unless we think the “next war” is going to be fought at combat ranges greater than a couple hundred yards now? I get that it’s an anti armor round, and everyone is going to ceramics in plate carriers.

          I’m not a combat guy. The more I learn, the more I learn I don’t know what I don’t know.

          All I know is, given a choice, I’ll take a simpler rifle, and ballistic performance sufficient to be lethal on a single hit or out of the fight on multiple if it hits armor,, with the range and weight to do some damage to optics/sensors on vehicles if need be.

          I thought we had that already.

          But again, there’s so much I don’t know. I’m armchair quarterbacking this.

          • Misreading The River,
            I am right there with you. Lets see the birthing pains of a new rifle and round before passing judgement.
            Looks sexy on paper!
            Reality is something different.
            And I would add, new technology can give a advantage, it is only as good as the shooter.
            If you cannot master the fundamentals of marksmanship, that all new, all great rifle and round will not make up for the deficiencies of the shooter.

    • When I did my first build, I went with .300 AAC or .300 Blackout. Ballistically, it’s close to the 7.62 X 39, but much more accurate. I could now use this rifle to legally hunt in Colorado if I wanted to (Though I’ve my old bolt action .338 Win Mag for that purpose).
      One thing I like about the. 300 AAC is the 220 grain Sub Sonics which appear to be tailor made for Home Defense (though SoecOps used them for suppressor use).

      I do understand the budget 1stMarine, being in a similar position with limited funds. It took me 3 years to complete the build, buying a part here or there at a time. Prepping is a touch harder when you’re on a strict budget that I’ve experienced 1st hand. Worse now, with the Demented Idiot in office.

      A Thank you for your past and future comments.. I’ve found them to be insightful and helpful, and enjoy your wits and wisdoms.

      • Bemused Berserker,
        First and foremost, thank you for your kind compliment. I do appreciate it and try to post comments and articles to help the average prepper to get them to a place where they will succeed and thrive in a SHTF or post-SHTF event.

        The .300 Blackout I find to be a interesting round.
        As Misreading The River noted about combat ranges, in some cases, an intermediate round may be a better round for some. Taking that 600yrds shot is not something the average shooter can do. And how often do we expect to shoot past 200 or 300yrds? Without sound intelligence, or some kind of obvious visible marker, how do we know we are not shooting at our neighbor/local militia (friendly fire) vs a bad guy?
        For me, shooting game, a 300yds shot is a real possibility. And some shots may be closer, but in heavy bush.
        While I would say, “adjust to your environment,” at the same time, you may find yourself outside of your environment in a SHTF or post-SHTF event.

        Semper Gumby.

        • “And how often do we expect to shoot past 200 or 300yrds?”

          in police work the average combat distance is about 15 feet. in wwii it was 21 yards.

  • Good article but, like always, creates a perfect storm of comments, counter comments and name calling. Build your rifle to work for you, no one rifle is perfect for everybody and every job. As a side note I like the Noveske Comp. It directs the blast, noise and all the badness directly at your target. Don’t take the paint off the walls. Don’t subject family and friends to the effects of muzzle blast. Send the gases, the heat, the noise and the bullet where they belong; in the perps face.

  • My first M-16 in the army didn’t have the cromed receiver and hardened bolt. but I never had a Jam. Even though my buddies and lots of others were jamming often. The LSA that we were supposed to use for cleaning maintenance was just not available. Our cleaning was done in a Half barrel with a gallon of mogas, and a few quarts of 30-weight oil. I was on a tidal saltwater river in Chulai VN and we cleaned our M-60 and M-79 all the same way. We never had a jam. Before my buddies and I got to the river the section lost several guys. When we got there we found out they never cleaned their weapons.
    We did clean every patrol, that was 12 hours, and never lost a soul. Thankfully most of us are in our mid-seventies now. A few have passed for other reasons. I love my AR’s they are great freedom keepers. They will never be taken by a corrupt government without being used for the purpose I have them, KEEPING FREEDOM.

    • BarrensHomey,
      I go back and forth on that one.
      Not so sure it would be justified(??) at close ranges for the throw of a light??
      Shotgun, different story. My shotgun has a Surefire light, and a red dot.

      Then we start down the 5lbs of stuff hanging off the rails path e.g. 1-6×24 scope, topped with a red dot, off set iron sights, light/laser combo, vertical shooting grip, bi-pod, sling attachment point with beer/bottle opener (yes, they are out there, no joke!), iPhone docking station and Bluetooth enabled (okay, that was a joke, but the DoD selected Vortex scope, red dot, laser rangefinder, ballistic app, some other stuff and something called “Intra-Soldier Wireless” whatever that is).

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