Available in black and Flat Dark Earth, these ergonomic handguards feature quick-detach sling sockets, enhanced milling for a better grip and Picatinny top rails. The side and bottom Picatinny rails are short, eliminating weight and providing a more compact design in the rear gripping area of the handguard. Quality machining allow these handguards to eliminate bulk while retaining strength and stability in the field.
Anderson Manufacturing’s upper, lower and bolt carrier group set provides a lot of bang for the buck. Both the upper and lower are machined from 7075-T6 aluminum that has been Type III hardcoat anodized for extreme durability. The upper features M4 feed ramps and can be used with multiple calibers. The dust cover and forward assist come preinstalled. Anderson Manufacturing used 8620 steel for the bolt carrier group, with the bolt being comprised of 9310 steel. The set comes complete with the cam pin, firing pin and firing pin retainer.
Among the high-quality/low-cost barrel options from Ballistic Advantage is the well-crafted, 5.56mm NATO, 16-inch, M4-profile, carbine-length Modern Series barrel. Constructed from 4150 chrome-moly-vanadium steel with a corrosion-resistant QPQ finish and a QPQ-coated M4 feed ramp extension, this barrel is a straight shooter for a very low price.
The BCM Gunfighter ambidextrous charging handle features an extended latch and charging handle forged from 7075-T6 aluminum with a hardcoat anodized finish. The durable Mod 3 (large latch) and Mod 4 (medium latch) versions are compatible with mil-spec, direct-impingement AR-15s.
The compact and lightweight Bushnell TRS-25 tactical red-dot sight with riser weighs in at only 6 ounces but packs plenty of features, including multi-coated lenses, a 3-MOA dot for precision and 11 brightness settings for ideal illumination in any condition. This red dot is also well constructed and highly accurate while being 100-percent waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, so it’ll last for years. The supplied riser positions the sight at the optimum height for an AR.
The grip contained in the Daniel Defense complete lower parts kit is ergonomic and comfortable. Made of polymer, it’s simple, straightforward and provides a secure grip. The kit also includes internal lower components machined and molded to the highest standards to easily integrate with the lower receiver.
The Blast Cap was designed to direct the concussion away from the shooter while also eliminating muzzle rise and recoil on short-barreled rifles. This is particularly useful for operators in CQB engagements, directing blast forward to ensure none is directed toward adjacent shooters. Constructed from heat-treated steel alloy and aircraft-grade aluminum, the device also features interchangeable caps that will be released at a later date.
The MACH 15 ambidextrous charging handle from Falkor Defense is designed for easy operation by right- and left-handed shooters. These charging handles allow for either the finger and thumb or the palm of the hand to be used to charge the rifle on both the strong and support side. The oversized levers make it ideal for firearms with optics, or for operation by shooters wearing gloves.
This simple and effective muzzle brake has a diffused front baffle to reduce flash and backpressure. The uniquely tapered, single-port design maximizes the efficiency of gas pressure distribution while re-directing the flow to eliminate muzzle rise. Machined from high-quality 12L14 steel, the black nitride finish ensures longevity. This is an attractive and effective brake that will help you maintain a steady bead on target.
The Mag-Pod is a fantastic and durable replacement for the standard 30-round PMAG floorplate. Compatible with Gen2 MOE or older PMAGs, swapping out the floorplate converts your PMAG into a flat-surfaced, monopod-style base for enhanced stability. The Mag-Pod makes for a sleek, cost-effective addition for those who don’t desire the extra heft of a full bipod getting in the way of run-and-gun operations.
The Magpul ACS (Adaptable Carbine/Storage) is a drop-in replacement buttstock for AR-15/M4 carbines using mil-spec receiver extension tubes. Dual water-resistant battery storage tubes and an integrated storage compartment in the butt of the stock allow for multiple storage options. The ACS comes with a 0.3-inch thick rubber buttpad that prevents shoulder slippage even with body armor and other gear.
Compatible with almost any Picatinny- railed handguard, the Magpul AFG-2 (Angled Fore-Grip) is an ergonomic upgrade that providing a comfortable and stable platform while reducing operator fatigue and allowing for precise weapon control. By positioning the shooter’s hand high on the centerline of the bore in a “C-grip” hold, the AFG-2 mitigates recoil and allows for greater control on the weapon to facilitate faster, more accurate follow-up shots.
One of the most popular stocks on the market, the Magpul CTR mounts easily on mil-spec carbine receivers. The sloping cheekweld provides a contoured profile for user comfort while the shielded release latch prevents snagging and accidental engagement when handling. This stock is aces when it comes to reliability, durability and cost.
These low-cost, injection-molded, folding front and rear backup sights are specifically designed for the AR platform. The MBUS rear sight is adjustable for windage, and the front is adjustable for elevation. Both sights are lightweight and highly durable, fitting most Picatinny rail-equipped weapons. Spring-loaded, these sights can easily be activated from either side by simply pressing down on the top portion of the sights.
This is a 30-round 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington magazine that offers a cost- effective upgrade from its aluminum USGI counterpart. Made from impact-resistant polymer and easy to disassemble, the PMAG has a flared floorplate, a resilient stainless steel spring for corrosion resistance and an anti-tilt, self-lubricating follower for increased reliability, making this mag one of the best in the business. The transparent windows allow for a quick inventory of how many rounds you have left, an invaluable feature for operators in critical scenarios.
The Magpul PMAG Ranger Plate is a floorplate replacement for 5.56mm PMAGs and EMAGs that incorporates an integral loop at the bottom. Designed to provide enhanced retrieval speed and control during high-stress magazine changes, the PMAG Ranger Plate is a favorite among operators.
The Phase 5 Single-Point Bungee Sling with MOLLE attachment system allows a weapon to be carried close to the operator’s body for enhanced on-target capability. The sling features a heavy-duty elastic shock cord and reinforced hog-ring clips for extra support, durability and comfort. You can also get the Single-Point Bungee Sling with a quick-detach attachment point and a heavy-duty push-button swivel that is compatible with the Phase 5 sloped quick-detach end plate, which is sold separately.
This is an exceptionally lightweight (only 5.7 ounces) and ultra-compact fixed stock solution for your rifle that fits on a variety of buffer tubes and receiver extensions. The Phase 5 Universal Mini Stock is a sturdy and effective hassle-free stock made from U.S.-sourced 6061-T6 aluminum.
Get an up close and personal view of your target with this 3X optic. Featuring multi-coated lenses to provide a crisp image and an ultra-wide field of view, this magnifier also features windage and elevation controls for centering your sight. The exceptionally smooth adjustable eyepiece and innovative flip-to-side feature allows for easy transitions between 1X and 3X magnification. The housing is machined from aluminum.
The UTG 4.2″ ITA Red/Green CQB Dot provides an excellent field of view and eye relief. This crystal-clear and sharp sight sits at an optimal height for use with an AR and is ideal for use in conjunction with iron sights. The reflection-limiting emerald coatings allow for a variable-brightness 4-MOA red/green dot to be viewed in a variety of conditions. A smart adapter and a convenient QD mounting deck for use on any rail are included.
An innovative new product for competitive shooters is the handmade Bag Rider from Walsh Custom Defense, which is designed exclusively for Magpul’s CTR and MOE stocks. Designed to provide precision rifle shooters a stable rear point of contact and resting surface, this bag rider allows for the optimal use of a rear shooting bag by providing a flat plateau. Made with composite materials and attached with included stainless steel and aluminum hardware, the Bag Rider easily attaches through factory cutouts, requiring no modifications to your existing rifle to drastically step up your precision shooting game.
The popularity of the AR platform lies in its modular, customizable design and the ability to configure your rifle to suit your specific needs. There are some fantastic AR upgrades available that are sure to enhance your shooting experience at a price point that will keep you on target without breaking the bank. To that end, we sought out budget AR upgrades that were approximately $150 or less.
To learn more about the budget AR upgrades featured in the gallery above, please visit the following sites.
Aero Precision Gen 2 Enhanced Quad-Rail Handguards
Anderson Upper/Lower Build Kit
Ballistic Advantage Modern Series Barrel
BCM Ambidextrous Charging Handle
Daniel Defense Lower Receiver Parts Kit
Falkor Defense Blast Cap
Falkor Defense Mach 15
Falkor Defense Queen
Mag-Pod Base Plate
Magpul MBUS Sights
Magpul PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M2 MOE Window
Magpul PMAG Ranger Plate
Phase 5 Single-Point Bungee Sling
Phase 5 Universal Mini Stock
UTG 3X Magnifier With Flip-To-Side QD Mount
UTG 4.2″ ITA Red/Green CQB Dot With QD Mount
Walsh Custom Defense Bag Rider
This article was originally published in “AR Rifleman” 2018. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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