Gear, Parts and Accessories

Top AR-15 Upgrades for 2018

Sightmark Rapid AR Scope 1-4x20mm

A new AR is a blank slate. If you want it for tactical use, a light, laser, and red dot sight may be in your future. If your AR is destined for varmints or deer, elk, or antelope, a sling, bipod, and scope will be standard fare. Maybe your new AR will reach out to targets on the 1,000 line with a premium scope and benchrest accessories. Whatever your next AR is destined to be, the right accessories define the Modern Sporting Rifle.

Lights, Lasers, And Red Dots

Crimson Trace LiNQ mounted on a ghosted AR-15
Crimson Trace LiNQ

The AR-15 is a wonderfully versatile rifle that has served American shooters, military, and law enforcement for over 50 years. Due to its legacy of endurance, manufacturers have responded with a host of accessories and options. One of the most popular accessories is the laser sight, which enables rapid target acquisition and an assurance of well-placed shots. It takes more than a couple turns of an Allen wrench though. Your laser will need to be adjusted for windage and elevation.

Because lasers can be mounted under, over, or to the side of the bore, it is important to adjust them so that they correspond with the point of impact of your ammo. Like a scope, a laser should be adjustable for windage and elevation. And, similar to a scope, you’ll probably wind up dialing it in for a certain kind of ammo. For example, 55- and 68-grain bullets have different ballistics and impact points; be sure to dial the laser in for the distance you plan to shoot, and know your hold over (or under) at other distances for maximum accuracy.

Crimson Trace LiNQ

In the spring of 1994, Crimson Trace developed and sold its first laser sight—an internal system for Glock pistols—and the market hasn’t been the same since. Crimson Trace created a market with one goal in mind: To provide responsible firearms owners with a decisive aiming advantage that was reliable, ergonomic, and simple to use making confident and better shooters.

The Crimson Trace LiNQ Wireless Green laser sight is designed for the AR-15/modern sporting rifle platforms. No longer do you have to try and stretch and reach to activate the awkwardly placed light and laser on the end of your hand guard. Only now, thanks to the engineers at Crimson Trace can you activate your light laser combo with the same hand which remains permanently attached to your fire control. This revolutionary design will allow you to remain efficient in your movements especially during tactical operations.

Streamlight TLR-2 HL LED Weaponlight and Red Laser
Streamlight TLR-2 HL LED Weaponlight and Red Laser

Streamlight TLR-2 HL LED Weaponlight and Red Laser

It’s the middle of the night and you hear the sound of crashing glass in the living room. You grab your home defense gun and head out the bedroom door to investigate then you realize you do not have a light. Now what? This is a scenario you can avoid by preparing for the worst before it happens. Part of your defense set up should be a high quality light like those offered by Streamlight. Streamlight offers lights to fit every mission regardless of where that mission is taking place. Regardless if you are searching for a Home light, Tac Light, or a Weapon Light Streamlight should be at the top of your short list of companies to further research.

The TLR-2 HL with red laser provides a 630 lumen blast of light for maximum illumination while clearing a room or searching an alley. Its wide beam pattern lights up large areas so you can identify who or what is nearby.

TLR-2 HL is a rail-mounted, tactical C4 LED light with a strobe setting and an integrated red laser. The ambidextrous three-position switch allows operation of laser only, LED only or both, and a double tap activates the strobe (which can be disabled). It weapon light/laser mounts directly to Picatinny and Glock-style rails, and includes rail locating keys for Glock-style, Picatinny, Beretta 90two, S&W 99 and S&W TSW. The TLR-2 HL is made with impact-resistant, sealed construction and is IPX4 water-resistant. The light housing is 6000 Series machined aircraft aluminum with a black anodized finish, with a chemically-resistant engineering polymer laser housing. Each one is assembled in the USA.

Sightmark LoPro Green Laser Designator

Sightmark LoPro Green
Sightmark LoPro Green

The low profile design of this laser allows you to mount it in front of your riflescope without impacting the field of view. Features a 1MOA click adjustment, 600 yard visibility, works in all light conditions, constructed of thermoplastic and it is resistant to climate changes.

Featuring an innovative, low-profile design, Sightmark’s LoPro Green Laser allows users to mount a high-power laser in front of a riflescope on a picatinny or Weaver rail without blocking the field-of-view. The Sightmark LoPro can also be mounted on the side of a quad rail for maximum efficiency. The laser is offset, clearing the front sight post to ensure perfectly centered aim of the laser. With 1 MOA-click value adjustments, the hand adjustable windage and elevation turrets allow the user to zero in the laser dot for close-range shooting. Visibility ranges approximately 50 yards in the daytime to more than 600 yards at night.

Constructed of high-performance thermoplastic, which prevents a battery from getting cold over a longer period of time, the Sightmark LoPro Green Laser is not only resistant to cold weather, but also heat protected. Additionally, the unit is corrosion resistant, weatherproof, shockproof, and features a matte black finish for tactical applications. Exceptionally reliable and durable, the device provides nearly 30 hours of continuous use with a single CR123 battery.

Leapers UTG ITA Red/Green CQB Dot Sight With Integral Mount

The Leapers UTG Close Quarters Battle (CQB) Dot Sight features both red and green dots with five brightness settings for multiple lighting situations. The 30mm lens and emerald-lens coating give the shooter a large, clear field of view, and the 4 MOA dot allows maximum target acquisition speed. Coin-adjustable windage and elevation knobs adjust .5 MOA per click. The Integral quick-detach Picatinny rail mount attaches securely to any flat-top or railed forend with no need for scope rings. The Leapers UTG ITA dot sight includes integral high-quality flip-up lens covers for extra protection during transport.

Leapers is a Michigan, USA based company that develops and manufactures a wide array of parts, accessories, and gear for hunting, competitive, and tactical shooting. Leapers combines advanced technologies including CNC machines, robot-automated machines, RoboShot polymer injection machines, and a Cerakote painting facility. With all of the in-house design, development, and manufacturing, Leapers provides its customers with top quality and value.

Burris FastFire III Red Dot Reflex Sight

Burris FastFire III Red Dot Reflex Sight
Burris FastFire III Red Dot Reflex Sight

The FastFire III offers upgraded features such as windage and elevation adjustments that don’t require a special tool; a convenient power button with three levels of brightness and an automatic brightness setting and battery access on the top of the sight making it easier to change batteries. We’ve also added a low battery warning indicator and see through protective cap.

 Gas Blocks

Seekins Precision AR-15 Low Profile Gas Block

Seekins Precision beams with pride due to its unrivaled innovation and still to this day every single product is made and tested in Idaho. The Seekins Precision field adjustable gas block is easy to use by simply adjusting the gas regulating screw for the correct output of gas and locking the adjustment in place with the brass set screw.


Trinity Force M4/AR-15 Quad Rail Gas Block

Trinity’s gas block provides four times the additional rail space of most other railed gas blocks, providing even more accessory customization capability. The Trinity Force Quad Rail Gas Block accepts all standard Weaver and Picatinny 1913 accessories, optimized for red dots, flashlights, and lasers. The gas block is constructed out of durable black anodized aluminum.

Trinity Force M4/AR-15 Quad Rail Gas Block
Trinity Force M4/AR-15 Quad Rail Gas Block

LBE Unlimited AR-15 Lo-Profile Gas Block/Gas Tube Combo

LBE Unlimited is a quality manufacturer of AR-15 parts and accessories. This kit comes with everything you need to quickly get a new Lo-Profile gas block and tube installed on your firearm. This combo kit is a must have piece of gear for any AR-15 builder and having the Gas Block and Tube together in one assembly will save you time.


Magpul MOE SL AR-15 Carbine Length Handguard

Magpul’s new MOE Slim Line series of products are a great drop-in upgrade to your favorite AR-15 rifle. The MOE SL handguard is similar to the MOE hand guard but features a slimmer profile allowing operators an increase in weapon manipulation and controllability. The new handguards are M-Loc accessory compatible which allows you use of M-Loc accessories, or you can convert M-Loc back to a picatinny rail platform. MOE SL handguards are constructed of reinforced, heat resistant polymer which offers you a high level of durability in even the harshest environments. Whether your needs are for recreation, duty, or military service you need Magpul gear to get the most out of your rifle.

Diamondhead VRS T-Threaded AR-15 Handguard

Diamondhead’s innovative VRS T-556 15″ Free Floating AR-15 Handguards offer an uninterrupted rail extension and handguard in perfect alignment with the host weapons flat top receiver. VRS handguards replace the factory delta ring and barrel nut. The VRS Free Floating Handguard System provides excellent flexibility of use. Simply attach accessory rails to the VRS for the required accessories.

Diamondhead VRS T-Threaded AR-15 Handguard
Diamondhead VRS T-Threaded AR-15 Handguard

Leapers UTG PRO M-LOK AR-15 15″ Super Slim Free Float Handguard

Proudly designed and made in the USA, Leapers UTG presents the PRO M-LOK AR-15 Super Slim Free Float Handguard. This free float handguard offers multiple M-LOK slots on 7 tracks for mounting M-LOK accessories, which enables the user to tailor their AR-15/M4 to their specific requirements. The PRO M-LOK AR-15 Super Slim Free Float Handguard also features integral anti-rotation tabs for accurate alignment with upper receiver and prevents rotation under heavy use. Leapers UTG also includes all necessary tool required for installation. Finally, the octagonal profile with grooved surface for provides for a solid, yet comfortable grip for fast and seamless firearm handling.


Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24 Riflescope w/ Drop Zone-223 Reticle

Bushnell’s AR 1-4×24 Riflescope features fantastic close-quarters accuracy combined with the Drop Zone-223 Reticle for mid-range precision. The second focal plane keeps the reticle the exact same size as you move through the magnification range. The glass is fully multi-coated for incredible brightness even when aiming out to 500 yards. This Bushnell .223 caliber-specific reticle was designed help deliver every round with peerless accuracy.

Forged to ultra-tight tolerances, Bushnell AR riflescopes are built on the principals of maximum accuracy and reliability to master every tactical scenario. Bushnell provides optical precision and rugged reliability with uncompromising performance.

Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×56 Riflescope With Illuminated FireDot Duplex Reticle

Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x56 Riflescope With Illuminated FireDot Duplex Reticle
Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×56 Riflescope With Illuminated FireDot Duplex Reticle

The Leupold VX-5HD represents a new offering for 2017. Leupold is the name you know and trust when it comes to high quality optics, and the VX-5HD is no exception to that rule. At the heart of the VX-5HD is the high definition lenses for ultra sharp clarity and the Twilight Max Light Management system for superior low light performance. This combination provides you with a huge advantage at either dawn or dusk when generally speaking the biggest game is on the move. If you’re a target or sport shooter you will appreciate the CDS-ZL2 dial locks which secure in place so that your zeroing adjustments can’t be inadvertently moved from it’s position. Also all VX-HD riflescopes are CDS capable allowing you to send away to Leupold for a custom ballistic dial matched to your specific load and rifle. The VX-5HD is literally the pinnacle of quality and features not found elsewhere.

Sightmark Rapid 1-4x20mm AR Scope

The Sightmark Rapid AR Scope is a precision optic designed for close to medium range engagements. Housed in an elite compact body with a durable and rugged 30mm tube, this optic was designed to be used with .223 modern sporting rifles such as the AR-15. Equipped with the SHR-223 illuminated reticle, this scope boasts 10 illumination brightness settings, allowing you to shoot in most light conditions. If you are looking for a well built yet budget friendly scope for close to mid-range targets, the Sightmark Rapid AR Scope is perfect for you.

This list is just a starter for most. What accessories are on your favorite AR build? Share your answer in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. I’ll probably get some hoots and hollers, but one of the niftiest little accessories for the AR is the BAD lever, especially if you go through a dozen or so mags at the range.

  2. All I can say is buy a premiere walnut stocked controlled feed sporting rifle and you do not have to spend more and more money on all these AR “doo-dads”

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