One of the great things about the AR-15 is the versatility built into the system.
Starting as a military arm, the AR’s popularity has increased at such a rate it seems there’s now an attachment that will wash your car. The gun can be transformed to handle any duty.
Further, improvements in the trigger and floating the front end have enhanced the accuracy and versatility of the weapon. And nowadays, it seems like you can attach almost anything to the picatinny rails on an AR (I like the Daniel Defense oval-shaped four-rail grip I got from Wilson Combat).
One item I’ve added to my AR that really makes it fit better is Magpul Industry’s PRS stock, which lets you change the length of pull and cheek height via two small wheels. The wheels are ergonomically located so you can make adjustments with your non-trigger hand, as it’s held back on the stock when bench-shooting. The cheek-piece adjustment has made it easier for me to get my face onto the stock and get on target faster. Also, with my cheek in the same place every time, I get greater consistency from shot to shot.
The stock is easily installed with a screwdriver and a 1/8-inch hex key. The extended length of the length-of-pull adjustment is 11.45 inches, but you can also add an optional extended butt pad if you want more length The newer Generation II stock added some length and reduced the weight. That’s always a good thing. The older I get, the heavier everything gets.
I really like the ease with which the stock can be adjusted. It would be great for a police department, in which officers of varying size could adjust the weapon for individual fit. Although no one else will shoot my AR, the adjustments are still useful. Adjusting the settings to my stature gives me a great initial fit. However, I find that when I get into different shooting positions, a slight adjustment helps the rifle fit more precisely. Also, I might be shooting in cold conditions while wearing heavier clothing, so I’ll want to make subtle changes to adjust the length of pull. The Magpul stock lets me do that easily.
Magpul makes the stocks for the AR-10 and AR/M-16. Armalite puts the stocks on its SASS (Semiauto Sniper System) .308 rifles.
I have also have a carbine with a collapsible stock. Long-range shooting isn’t an issue with this gun, but quick sighting is. DPMS makes sights that clamp on the rail — front and rear — of a flat-top model. They flip up when needed and down when they are not. I like the carry-top model for a close-quarters weapon and use the peep sights that come with it. Most close-quarters battles don’t require sights anyway, but you have them if needed.
A Long-Range Look
Flat-top uppers also help you take advantage of the already-accurate AR. These help you mount long-range scopes — and not so high that it’s nearly impossible to get a good cheek weld when sighting the rifle. I have a Leupold VX-III 4.5-14×40 mm scope on one of my ARs. The gun is capable of minute-of-angle accuracy and has routinely killed coyotes at 400 yards. Having a long-range scope that lines up well really make those shots easier.
Leupold’s new Indexed Matched Lens System and Varminter Ranging and Drop Compensator Reticule make a perfect top for an accurate varmint or tactical rifle. The clarity and light transmission is excellent in dim light. It’s important to have quality light-gathering lenses, because I’ve never been on a SWAT callout that didn’t start or end during evening, and the light-gathering quality of Leupold glass will carry you until night-vision equipment is needed.
Sights and Lights
I also like to have a red-dot-type sight for close-quarters duty. My favorites are the Aimpoint and EO Tech holographic type.
I grew up on Aimpoint and carried one on my M-16 when doing entries. I liked being able to keep both eyes open and focus on the red dot and my surroundings. It’s a quick way to get on target. Although my eyes are suffering from looking downrange too many years, the red dot still remains in sharp focus when iron sights do not.
The same goes for the EO Tech holographic sight. I ran one of these through the Morelli grinder, and I could not get it to malfunction. They are really tough.
Another thing I like on a defensive carbine is some sort of white light. From from my earliest days on patrol, I’ve always used Streamlights. They were one of the brighter lights years ago, and although they were huge by today’s standards, they made things visible.
One of my favorite lights from Streamlight is the Strion. It’s a xenon light with a rechargeable battery pack. It also comes with a mount that attaches to the rail of my carbine and can be operated with my thumb via a button. It’s small enough to keep in my pocket and can be used with my pistol in the Harries position or affixed to my carbine for bright light to 50 yards.
Streamlight also makes the TLR-1, which is actually a pistol-mounted light that comes with an interchangeable rear cap that can be plugged into a pressure switch. The light can pull double duty. It has a comfortable pressure switch that can be left on the carbine when the light is on the pistol. The light is really small and not a hindrance on the carbine. The pressure switch also comes in handy so the light can be operated using a vertical grip or some other configuration. It’s plenty bright for close-quarters protection.
Surefire also builds a great xenon light for a rifle. It has a built-in mount that attaches to a picatinny rail and is plenty bright for spotting a distant adversary or blinding a close attacker.
Some attachments combine close-quarters combat advantages and help for longer shots. The Mono-Grip from CTK Precision is such a tool.
This well-crafted vertical grip can be attached to the bottom rail of a four-rail grip for better control and retention. The grip has a rubber bottom and extends to support the rifle as a mono pod if it must be steadied on a vehicle hood or wall for a longer shot.
This pod helps steady critical shots with no extra inconvenience. Better, the thumb-operated light is easy to engage with the vertical grip positioned properly.
Something for Everyone
No matter the purpose, someone is making an accessory for the AR that will help you complete your mission. That’s why the AR is so popular.
— Dave Morelli is a retired policeman, having served as a patrolman, trainer, SWAT operator and a SAR tracker/trainer. He now writes about guns, hunting, tactical gear and training.