These are the best AR-15 upgrades and AR-15 accessories you can buy for under $50. If you’re looking to upgrade your first AR-15 after you start using it, these are the places you should start.
After spending a few weekends at the range with my Bushmaster QRC, I decided it was time to upgrade several parts to better fit my shooting style and needs.
I wanted more comfortable “furniture” which is a new handguard, grip and stock. I also wanted to switch out the red dot optic that came with the QRC for a magnified scope that made shooting at longer distances easier. I also chose to add an angled foregrip for better grip. As it stands my last upgrade was a new charging handle that makes it easier to grab.
All of these upgrades are easy to do on your own in about 5-10 minutes each with common tools you have at home.
New AR-15 Handguard
The handguard is one of two places you’ll touch your AR-15 every time you use it, which makes it a perfect first upgrade. I like the Magpul MOE Carbine Length handguard. This is available in an array of colors and includes M-Lok mounting points to connect a grip or other accessories.
$27 to $33 At Brownells
New AR-15 Grip
The next place you’ll touch your AR-15 is the pistol grip, which makes it perfect for your next upgrade. The Magpul MOE+ Grip is comfortable and affordable. I like the feel of this grip for the price. I also like that there is a small storage space where I can keep a compact armorers tool in case I need to make adjustments. There are many other great options in this price range, including the $22 ATI AR15 X2 Scorpion Recoil Pistol Grip.
$22.75 at Brownells
New AR-15 Optic
If you don’t have a red dot on your AR-15 it is a great upgrade from iron sights. You can easily spend as much on an optic as you do on your AR-15.
The Leapers UTG ITA Red Dot/Green Dot is a good entry level red dot that includes a riser with quick detach lever lock and the ability to make the dot red or green dot.
This is a good starter Red Dot and upgrade from iron sights. If you prefer something with magnification you will need to spend more money for quality.
$48 at Jet
New AR-15 Stock
The stock, which is the part of the AR-15 that goes up against your shoulder. The one that came with my Bushmaster was adjustable and decent, but I wanted something that locked into place better and felt sturdier.
The Magpul AR-15 CTR collapsible stock fit the bill perfectly and it matched the other upgrades I chose. I like that this one locks firmly into place instead of rattling slightly like the one that came from the factory.
Make sure you get the stock that fits your buffer tube. I needed to get a Commercial version. You may need the Mil-Spec version. Unlike other parts where Mil-Spec is simply a rating, a Mil-Spec stock will not fit a commercial buffer tube.
$46.99 at Brownells
Angled Fore Grip or Vertical Fore Grip
I chose to add an Angled Fore Grip (AFG) to my AR-15 to make it easier to grip and to add more control than the standard hand guard. I went with MAgPul for this option as well, but there are many styles and options out there.
On my AR-9 pistol I went with a Strike Industries Link Curved ForeGrip, which matches the metal handguard on that build better.
$27.99 at Brownells
Upgraded Charging Handle
A new charging handle is easier to grip and feels more substantial than the one from the factory. You can also get an ambidextrous charging handle if you want to be able to charge left handed without hitting a scope.
This is a small upgrade, and the latest one I added, but it’s a very nice change. It is easy to grab, even with a glove on. An Extended Latch will cost more, but it’s worth it to many owners.
$32.95 at Optics Planet