Purchasing an AR-15 is similar to purchasing a new car; the chances of finding two AR-15s alike are slim to none. Many upgrades and customizing options are available to help a shooter express his or her personality and to enhance marksmanship. The shooter’s motivation to own and use an AR-15 will greatly impact the customization options he or she chooses. Some things to consider when customizing an AR-15:
- The distance of the target.
- Desired type of ammunition.
- Type of firing.
- Durability needs.
- Shooting environment.
- Personal strength and stature
More on each of these is covered here. In this article, we will focus on one particular element, the merits, and choices of a vertical foregrip.
Vertical foregrips are mounted on the handguard towards the front of the rifle. Adding vertical foregrips can help: manage the recoil of the rifle, maintain control, and provide a guide for proper hand placement.
Vertical foregrips are only useful when they are used correctly. Vertical foregrips are often clutched strongly by the shooter mimicking how they are used in the movies; movie stars are not trained marksmen and should not be observed in an effort to develop marksmanship skills. To properly use a vertical foregrip the shooter should place his or her hand in front of the grip on the clutching the handguard using the grip as a stop mechanism.
Deciding to add a vertical foregrip is only part of a shooters decision; hundreds of vertical foregrip styles and sizes are available through diverse manufactures. Some of the most common vertical foregrips include:
Best AR-15 Verticle Foregrip Comparison Table
|GG&G, INC.||PICATINNY VERTICAL FOREGRIP|
** Editor's Choice - Best AR-15 Verticle Foregrip **
|BRAVO COMPANY||PICATINNY BCMGUNFIGHTER SHORT VERTICAL GRIP|
** Best Budget AR-15 Verticle Foregrip **
|TROY INDUSTRIES, INC.||PICATINNY MODULAR COMBAT GRIP||USA||Vertical|
|MAGPUL||PICATINNY RVG RAILED VERTICAL GRIP||USA||Vertical|
|TANGODOWN||PICATINNY STUBBY GRIP||USA||Vertical|
1. GG&G, INC. – PICATINNY VERTICAL FOREGRIP
** Editor’s Choice – Best AR-15 Verticle Foregrip **
The GG&G Picatinny Vertical Foregrip slides on and off the Picatinny rail. The grip provides a guide to grasp the same place each time rifle is handled. Twisting the cap on the bottom of the grip will tighten and loosen the rail so that it is easily detachable.
2. BRAVO COMPANY – PICATINNY BCMGUNFIGHTER SHORT VERTICAL GRIP
** Best Budget AR-15 Verticle Foregrip **
The Picatinny BCMGunfighter Short Vertical Grip is a shortened version of the BCMGunfighter full-size vertical grip. The storage compartment on the grip has a flip-open lid instead of a screw on cap eliminating the risk of losing the cap. To mount the BCM short vertical grip you do need to mount a five slot rail to the handguard. When the grip is mounted to the rifle, the rail is not visible.
3. TROY INDUSTRIES, INC. – PICATINNY MODULAR COMBAT GRIP
A shooter has length options with the Troy Picatinny Modular Combat Grip. The grip comes in three sections: a stubby option for a short vertical grip, and extender piece, and the bottom cap. The cap does have an o-ring to allow the grip to be used for waterproof storage. The aluminum does increase the durability of the grip; however, the grip does conduct more heat than grips made from polymer blends.
4. MAGPUL – PICATINNY RVG RAILED VERTICAL GRIP
The RVG Railed Vertical Grip by Magpul comes with its own rail section so a second purchase is not necessary to utilize the grip. This grip can be mounted in either direction providing different angles; some shooters find mounting the grip with an obtuse angle is more comfortable than mounting the grip with a five degree angle.
5. TANGODOWN – PICATINNY STUBBY GRIP
The height of the Tangodown – Picatinny Stubby Grip is not as long as the original Tangodown foregrip that reaches the same length of the pistol grip. It comes in both black and earth color to match common rifle colors. When mounting the grip, it is important to mount it in the best spot that will allow you to comfortably gain control of the weapon.
AR-15 CUSTOMIZATION CONSIDERATIONS
Distance of the Target & Ammunition
The length of the barrel on the AR-15 affects the velocity of the round. The length of the barrel affects the velocity; in other words, the longer the barrel the higher the velocity. The velocity can also be affected by the type of round fired through the barrel. Matching the right ammunition with the ideal barrel length may increase the velocity but is not likely to affect the shooter’s accuracy.
Type of Firing
Rapid firing will cause the barrel to become very hot. Shooters who use rapid firing often should consider purchasing a free-floating handguard. Free-floating handguards do not touch the barrel of the rifle and will not increase in temperature as quickly as handguards that do touch the barrel. Free-floating handguards will also help with accuracy by allowing the rifle to remain more stable while firing. A high quality, free-floating, handguard typically run between $130 to $300.
Durability & Shooting Environment
Several upgrades are available to make the rifle more durable. Durability will be more of a priority for shooters in harsh environments and hard training regimens. Shooters commonly will change the type of material of the key components to stronger, more reliable material in an effort to increase the rifle’s durability:
- Barrel: The Cold Hammer Forged Barrel (CHF) is one of the most relied on types of barrels when it comes to durability. Changing the barrel to a CHF barrel will slightly reduce the accuracy of the rifle but not enough to devalue the upgrade. Upgrading to a more durable barrel will allow you to fire more rounds through the rifle before needing to replace it.
- Bolt Carrier Group: The bolt carrier group is essential to properly fire the rifle. When the charging handle is pulled back the bolt carrier group (BCG) puts a round into the chamber making the rifle ready to fire. Upgrading the BCG to nickel boron can also increase the durability of the rifle.
- Protective Coating: Applying a Duracoat or Cerakote can also provide a rifle extra protection guarding it against moisture and friction hardships. Applying a protective coat is a process that is most successfully done by a professional and can cause malfunctions to the firearm if completely incorrectly. Do a background check on the gunsmith before hiring him or her to add the coating; there are many amateurs trying to gain access to the market.
- Magazines: One of the simplest ways to increase the durability of the AR-15 is to upgrade the magazines. Aftermarket magazines may be accessible at a desirable price; however, low-quality magazines can cause malfunctions, misfires, and even squib loads.
- Springs: Replacing the springs can help reduce the recoil of the rifle. Stronger springs are not necessarily the best option; too many spirals can cause malfunctions. The weight of the spring also matters, too light or too heavy can cause the firearm not to function properly; most shooters test options and choose one based on their own preferences.
Increasing the rifle’s durability can help to extend its life and increase its functionality if done correctly. Rifle owners need to remember that not every upgrade is the best upgrade for everyone. Always research before purchasing.
Personal Strength and Stature
The best way to increase accuracy with an AR-15 is to customize the rifle to fit the needs of the shooters personal strength and stature. A small woman who stands five-foot-tall should not consider a 20-inch barrel and expect to stabilize the weapon by reaching the tip of the handguard. A shooter should be able to carry, fire, and stabilize the rifle comfortably.
Size does matter on a whole new level. Bigger is not always better; if an AR-15 is too large for the shooter he or she cannot expect be an accurate marksman. Customize based on the needs of the shooter. Changing the trigger allows the shooter to change the pounds of pressure required to pull the trigger before it fires as well as pull distance.
A common error made by beginner shooters is trigger anticipation causing them to pull the entire rifle up when they think the rifle is going to fire, causing them to miss the target. Lowering the pounds of pressure required to fire will make the rifle easier to fire for the shooter and anyone else who may encounter the firearm. Decreasing the pull distance can do the same thing eliminating the ability for the shooter to anticipate trigger. Shooters applying these changes should adhere to strict personal safety precautions for everyone’s protection.
Before changing the trigger and pull to increase accuracy and reduce nervous errors shooters should focus on technique and form. Many upgrades are available to enhance marksmanship including thousands of options for forward grips such as vertical foregrips.