With the AR aftermarket flush with performance-enhancing products and project-specific tools, upgrading your AR has never been easier
by Lou Patrick and Rob Reaser
For veteran AR fans, modifications and upgrades to America’s favorite rifle are well-worn paths. Those new to the AR platform or who have not attempted to upgrade their rifles on their own are understandably curious and possibly somewhat hesitant to tear into a project.
The truth is the AR is arguably one of the easiest firearms to upgrade yourself. The modular design means correctly engineered aftermarket parts do, in most cases, fit together easily and seamlessly. Plus, nearly every part can go on only one way, so potential screw ups are limited to improperly torquing threaded components, buggering up small pins, or maybe losing a small spring or detent. But if you have the right tools for the job, even those minor hazards can be avoided rather easily.
For those who have yet to take the first steps to customizing an AR, we developed the video above to walk you through the most common modifications. Here, we’ll be replacing the standard barrel assembly with a new barrel and low-profile gas block from Rock River Arms so we can take advantage of what may be the most popular AR mod of all…installing a free-float handguard. We’ll also be swapping out the standard trigger for a drop-in (captured) single-stage precision trigger from Velocity Triggers and putting in a winter trigger guard in place of the original.
Another common upgrade is a buttstock swap, and for that we have a real treat in Rock River Arms’ new RRA MAG CAR stock, which accepts a standard AR magazine. Finally, we’ll drop in TRUGLO’s Ignite 30mm red dot optic.
Making all these DIY projects easy on the novice and veteran alike is the AR15 Armorer’s Master Kit from Real Avid. We’ve been touting the virtues of this kit for the last few months because it makes life for the DIYer a breeze. The Armorer’s Master Kit has everything you need to disassemble, assemble, or modify an AR at home — all in one convenient and compact kit. What we like most about it are the many inherent “solutions” that the kit includes; subtle engineering that really makes the work go smoothly.
So, if you are new to the DIY game and want to build some confidence that you can do it (and you can), follow along as we turn our “issued-style” AR into a custom in no time flat.