Man at an outdoor shooting range shooting an AR-15 with a Gideon Optics Mediator mounted

Top AR-15 Upgrades for Accuracy

When you’re customizing your gun to shoot better, you need AR-15 upgrades you can rely on to improve your accuracy and precision. Improving your accuracy takes more than just slapping some AR-15 optics onto your upper. Making every shot count is about finding the right tool and applying the right skills to create a repeatable desired result. By adding the right AR-15 parts, you can improve your skillset and shoot better with a weapon you can be proud of at the range or in the field. 

Improving Accuracy and Precision

While the upgrades we’re suggesting can improve your accuracy with your weapon, they can also improve your precision. 

  • Accuracy – Accuracy relates to how close to your point of aim the bullet impacts the target.
  • Precision – Precision is all about keeping your shot groups tight by getting as close as possible to the aim point on successive shots.

Of course, the weapon is only one part of the equation. Remember to hit the range with your custom gun anytime you change your build. Putting in time with the weapon with its new components installed will help ensure you’re ready to make every shot count.

Top Aftermarket Custom AR-15 Upgrades

When it comes to upgrading your AR-15, you have plenty of AR-15 parts to choose from, and almost all of them will provide a situational performance boost. Any customization that improves the efficiency of your weapon as it cycles makes it more comfortable to shoot or adds additional tactical flexibility to affect your handling, including both your precision and accuracy. If you go into any gun range and ask what AR-15 parts will help you improve your accuracy, you can count the number of eyes divided by two, and you’ll get at least that many different suggestions.

Instead, we’re going to be focusing on the AR-15 upgrades that provide the biggest potential benefits across the board. Each of these offers a direct impact on either the weapon or how you interface with it while engaging a target. We’re not saying not to try out some of the other ideas you’ve heard of, but for this blog, we’re sticking with the AR-15 parts that give you more bang for your buck.

Match-Grade Barrels

Match-grade barrels can be the perfect place to start your AR-15 upgrades. Often built to tighter tolerances, these barrels give you more consistent ballistics as the bullet leaves the rifle, and repeatable results make it easier to find repeated success. The rifling and finish are engineered to provide the optimal bullet spin every time, and these barrels are often custom-matched to a specific bolt’s headspace. Additional AR-15 upgrades to the barrel may include fluting to reduce the weight of the barrel, porting, or threading for the use of muzzle accessories.

It may also be worth verifying you’re using the right ammo for your weapon. Many AR-15s shoot some version of either the .223 Remington or the 5.56mm NATO cartridge, with many 5.56mm NATO rifles (and the barrels they use in their upper receivers) stating that they’re .223/5.56 compatible. Compatible does not always mean optimal. While both rounds share a lineage, the .223 is shorter with a lighter bullet and slightly different necking. While they may both fit in a compatible weapon, a barrel that is designed and optimized for the round you prefer will give you better accuracy and precision.

Custom Trigger Group

Components of PR Triggers pull-release trigger

Triggers seem simple, and they can be. At its heart, your trigger group is a collection of levers and springs that, when properly manipulated by your finger, releases the hammer to strike the firing pin. An upgraded AR-15 custom trigger group, however, may have a lighter pull that requires less effort to reach the point of firing the gun. You can also upgrade your trigger group for a smoother pull and breakover. 

Heavier trigger pull weights require more effort, introducing more pull on the gun as you fire, which can cause the muzzle to drift. This drift increases as your muscles get tired, which means once your scores at the range start to go bad, they frequently get worse and stay there. A pull-release trigger system can also help and is a lot of fun when you’re more focused on volume than accuracy. These custom AR-15 parts use countervailing springs to fire a single semi-automatic round on trigger pull and trigger release. The off-setting spring tensions can give you a perceived lighter pull, but trigger control is still essential–too fast, and the successive recoil will rob you of any accuracy gains.

Muzzle Brakes

Muzzle brakes, like the Regulator from Matador Arms, are attached to the end of your barrel, where they channel the gasses that push the bullet out of the barrel when a shot is fired. Properly managed, these muzzle gasses can be redirected to counteract the recoil of the gun. The Regulator, for example, has adjustable settings that let you vent more or less of those gasses out of ejection ports along the top of the brake. Between the added weight of the brake on the barrel and the right amount of venting, you can practically eliminate any muzzle flip. 

Precision AR-15 Optics

Modern optics can help you find your target faster, create a better sight picture, and zoom in on the target. With the right AR-15 upgrades, your versatile rifle can be ready for hunting, make an excellent ranch gun, or can serve as a tactical defense weapon. The Guardian LPVO is a good choice for supporting that flexibility. With a 1-10X variable magnification and brightly illuminated etched-glass reticle, you can adapt your weapon for the range, varmint hunting, or even putting food on the table.

Gideon Optics Advocate mounted on an AR-15

Many AR-15 owners also like to install an offset rail on their weapon to accept a red dot sight for short-range tactical shooting. Any of the popular pistol red dots from Gideon Optics come with a 1913 Picatinny rail mount, allowing them to double as offset AR-15 optics. With features like shake-to-awake battery saving and adjustable brightness settings, they’re excellent AR-15 upgrades for both tactical shooting competitions and real life.

Stock, Grip, and Shield

A lot of AR-15 upgrade articles focus on the barrel, optic, or trigger group, and all of those AR-15 parts are important, which is why we’ve included them. The stock, grip, and heat shield or foregrip, however, represent the large surface contact areas the gun has with your body and hands. You know, the things you actually use aim, fire, and control the weapon. Making the connection between human and gun more ergonomic and functional can help the human part get better results from the gun part of the equation. 

The stock should effectively transfer recoil to your shoulder when rested in the pocket, while the grip gives your hand the needed leverage at the back of the lower receiver. The heatshield often doubles as a foregrip, although some shooters like to augment this with an actual foregrip for better stability. For AR models without the buffer spring and tube in the stocks, AR-15 upgrades that allow you more tactical flexibility, like a Sidewinder folding stock adapter, can give you the freedom to add more control and stability by shouldering the weapon when pistol-grip firing. 

Getting the Most From Your AR-15 Parts and Optics

Remember to put in the range time when you’ve customized your firearm. You’ll need time to sight in your AR-15 optics, and even drop-in AR-15 parts can take several hundred rounds to get used to. Once you put in the work, however, you’ll be ready to shoot with greater accuracy and precision.

Whether you’re building your own AR-type gun at home or customizing a commercial AR that just isn’t quite right, we’ve got you covered with quality parts from some of the most innovative brands in firearms. Order your AR-15 upgrades from JSD Supply today.