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Last Updated: 5/27/2011 11:43:48 AM
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AR-15 Upgrades: Triggers, Breaks, Supressors, Sling Adapter

By Erik Rodriguez

Tags: MS2 sling, single stage trigger, dual stage trigger, vortex flash hider, A2 flash hider

This article provides information about different stocks, hand guards, and vertical grips for the AR-15.


I am not a gunsmith, expert, or anything close. I am sure there are many people with more expertise than I, but here is what I know about the AR-15. I also have some content posted about other firarms. I welcome all comments and please correct me if anything I have here is not accurate.


The following sections explain different upgrades associated with the AR-15 platform. Some of these are very simple "drop-in" upgrades. Others are fairly complex and require some time and knowledge of the weapon. Be careful when disassembling your weapon. ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE WEAPON IS ULOADED. I caught myself with a live round in the chamber because I picked up a loaded magazine that was sitting next to a stack of unloaded ones. YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO SAFE!

Trigger job

Triggers can drastically change the way an AR-15 operates. Some will improve accuracy, while others will improve reliabiity. Triggers come in single stage or dual stage. Dual stage is the longer pull, while single stage is a shorter one. Thing of the difference between single and double action pistol. All after market triggers will lighten up the pull weight. The stock pull weight varies from rifle to rifle, but upgrading my trigger to single stage 6.5 pound pull was a night and day difference. The stock trigger from Smith & Wesson was dual stage with a rumored 10+ pound pull. The cost of these triggers will range with retail prices from $65-200+. Some are ajustable and the installation process varies from drop-in to manual assembly. I recommend the Spike's Tactical Battle Trigger, as it comes in single stage with a 6.5 pound pull and is coated in Nickel Boron. For the price, you can't beat it.

Muzzle break/flash suppressor

There are tons of these on the market. Some of them are marked as flash suppressors, some compensators, and others muzzle breaks. While they all operate in the same fashion, some are mean to hide the flash, others may manage the recoil better, and some provide nothing at all. They range in price from around $25 to over $200. These are very easy to install with the AR wrench. Some can remain on the barrel and allow for a suppressor to fit over the top. The images below show an AAC blackout (vortex) flash hider next to a standard A2 flash hider.

AAC blackout flash hider
Click to Enlarge
AAC blackout 18T flash hider vs. standard A2 flash hider

As you can see the blackout flash hider is much larger. It also weights quite a bit more, but also has threads to attach a springed piston slicencer like the ACC M4-2000. However, the prongs used in this design do hide the flash very well, but also generate a ringing sound. The sound and operation are much like a tunning fork. The ringing sound can be heard when the charging handle is used or even dry firing the weapon.

Charging Handle

This is a must. In most cases, the stock charging handle sucks. It's too small and I have cracked my finger nails trying to use it. They come in several different sizes make it much easier to operate. This is a drop in 10 second install. They come in many different flavors with models for all different applications. There are special handles for running supressed, nickel boron coated ones, and more. Below is the stock and after market charging handle (BCM mod 3 large latched):

BCM mod3 charging handle
Click to Enlarge
BCM mod 3 charging handle vs. standard

Sling Adapter

Magpul makes are great sling adapter that replaces the buffer tube plate. It is a little tricky to install and requires the AR wrench to loosen the castle nut. It is a little pricy at around $40 but, well worth it if you plan on using a sling. There is also a quick detach front sling adapter that attaches to the front hand guard. This allows you to run the sling in a "2 point" fashion.

More AR-15 related content:

Ammunition: .223 vs. 5.56
AR-15 Upgrades: Choosing an optic
AR-15 Upgrades: Stock, Hand Guard, and Vertical Grip
AR-15 Upgrades: Uppers and Bolt Carrier Groups (BCG)
AR-15 Upgrades: Sights, Ejector Door, and Pins
AR-15 Upgrades: Triggers, Breaks, Supressors, Sling Adapter

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