Photo: Scott Smith.
Editor's Note: View our photo gallery, "AR Accessories."
One of the fastest growing sectors of the law enforcement market is enhancements for the AR Series of firearms. The AR has become the firearms counterpart of Burger King's Whopper: You can have it your way, any way you want it, literally.
There are so many companies making AR accessories that an article like this can't be comprehensive. All we're doing here is giving you a sample of what's available. So if you don't see your favorite accessory, that's why.
One of the simplest pieces of kit that I have used for nearly a decade is Buffer Technologies' Mag Cinch and Pull Tab. This simple bracket, screw, and strap will secure two 15- or 30-round magazines side by side, keeping them at the ready in your AR. My original Mag Cinch has been used all over the country and has yet to fail me. The Mag Cinch works best on GI or Brownells SOCOM contract magazines.
Buffer Tech also produces a replacement tip for the AR's recoil buffer. This is one of the most overlooked pieces on most operators' ARs. With time it becomes brittle and does not serve to reduce the impact of the buffer. This is a $10 piece, and I would recommend that you replace it annually. This problem is particularly common on surplus military ARs.
Another AR part that has been known to fail is the charging handle. Bravo Company's Gunfighter is made from 7075 T6 billet so it is nearly indestructible. I have used one on my DPMS M4, and my partner has one on his Bushmaster. Both have been to numerous shooting courses and used on duty and have yet to show any signs of bending or being out of true.
Forearms and Rails
Let's move on to one of the most commonly modified parts on any AR: the forearm. It seems there are as many styles of forearms as there are colors in the rainbow; come to think of it you can get forearms in a number of colors.
Midwest Industries makes one of the best direct replacement forearms I have seen, the MCATAR17. It simply clips into the delta ring and front gas block. The two pieces clip in from the top and bottom. These parts are so well machined they look like one piece when in place and there is a block on the top to mate with the upper receiver of your AR and give you a continuous rail.
If you prefer a "free floating" rail, you would be hard pressed to beat Daniel Defense's Omega 7 Rail. This rail secures via the delta ring and set screws. I have used it on a 20-inch barrel to mount a bi-pod and zero was not affected no matter how hard I leaned into the rifle. The Omega 7 is easily installed by the end user and comes with three sets of rail covers.
Should you want to lighten your AR, I suggest Precision Reflex Inc.'s Gen III Carbon Fiber Forearm. This forearm mounts via a barrel nut that replaces the delta ring. You must also remove the front sight, gas block, and gas tube. The Gen III will reduce the weight of your M4 by several ounces over a metal rail system. And you will still have four forward mounting points to add lights, lasers, or a fore grip.
One of the newest players in the AR accessory business is Choate Machine and Tool. Choate makes excellent stocks for many rifles used by precision shooters. Choate now offers quad rail forearms and stock assemblies for ARs. The machining of the forearms is excellent and they fit like a glove.
Choate's stock assembly is SOPMOD style with storage for batteries in the cheek piece on each side of the stock. You can order it as mil-spec (1.14 inches) or as a complete assembly if you have a commercial buffer tube (1.17 inches). Choate uses a larger locking pin in the stock and it will not fit standard buffer tubes.
Removing the buffer tube is no big deal as long as you have an AR wrench and a padded vise. If you or your agency has ARs, this is one piece of equipment you should have. I ordered mine from Brownells several years ago. Once the buffer nut is loose simply remove it and replace the new buffer tube.
If you wish to add a sling attachment, you can do that while replacing the buffer, as many require you to remove the buffer nut. The list of sling attachments reads like a Who's Who of AR parts: Brownells, Daniel Defense, DPMS, GG&G, Magpul, Midwest Industries, Vltor, just to name a few.