So You Just Got An AR-15! What Should You Do To It? [2024]

Budget AR Featured Image

Congratulations! You now own an AR-15, one of the best rifles ever designed. The AR has seen use with all 6 branches of the US Military, innumerable police departments, and countless countries on all 7 continents. So what do you do with it? You’ve probably already been told to buy magazines, a case, some sort of lock or ideally a safe (I would hope), however you're probably left wondering what to actually put ON the gun. Well, we'll be giving you a quick rundown on that here.

The Essentials: Light, Sight, Sling

You likely got one of the Christmas season specials for under $500 dollars from PSA, Anderson, or someone else. Try not to pay too much attention to people who turn their nose up at your gun. While it may not have a free floated barrel, match trigger or fancy ambidextrous controls, but frankly, you don't need them to be squared away on the fundamentals. Those are components that you can add on down the line, if you want to.

Anything outside of the 3 things listed above that are not ammo, mags, and cleaning equipment is extra, in my personal opinion. In a world of constant streams of information, sometimes it pays to be able to cut the meat from the fat, take what you need, and ignore everything else for now.

As such, I believe that you need a weapon light, an optic, and a sling. I'll be recommending some entry-level options, but know that you can always upgrade to higher-end choices down the line.

AR Setup: Light

Budget AR WML

Part of using a gun for self defense legally includes knowing what you are shooting at. The world is dark half the time, and even when it's not, if the lights go out or you're in a dark space, positive identification can mean the difference between a misunderstanding, and a tragic mistake you will carry for the rest of your life. You need to know who or what you are pointing the gun at, a robber, a racoon that broke in, or your drunk neighbor that tugged on the wrong door. These things matter.

You may not have a mounting system to accommodate a light, but you probably have access to some decent tape and some money for a budget light. For keeping it basic and inexpensive, a Streamlight PolyTac or Surefire G2 will run about $40-100. While it may seem extremely basic, taping your light to the rifle is a tried-and-true method of attaching lights. It goes as far back as the 1960s, and honestly this is the most important thing to have on a gun for actual use. I would much rather have a cheap solution to attaching a flashlight right now, than to skimp on it for a much more expensive solution in the future. Ideally, you should be able to actuate the switch with either hand.

AR Setup: Sight

Budget AR Optic

Red dots are the sh*t. I could end it there, but I will elaborate. They are super easy to use when compared to irons, are just as durable as irons in most cases. They're better in low light than irons or magnified optics, and are easier to mount than a scope.

To many, red dots are synonymous with the name Aimpoint, and Aimpoint is synonymous with spending over $500 dollars. While I still say that Aimpoint is THE name in red dots, there are other companies that will get you something really good that will probably never break. SIG and Holosun are those two brands. I recommend the 403r from Holosun and the Romeo 5 or 7s from SIG, specifically on PSA’s website since they both go for well under $150.

A quality dot will last a long time, and the baseline for quality has gotten less expensive as time goes on. This is a win-win for the budget market.

AR Setup: Sling

Budget AR Sling

Slings have been in use since before your grandpa could walk, they keep the gun on your body, are essential in weapon retention if someone tries to take it from you. A good sling is nice, but don't get too wrapped up in “what is a good sling". Rather, focus on "what do I do with the sling".

You need to securely attach it to the gun, and adjust it to where it's not too tight and not too loose. It doesn't matter who made it, and it doesn't matter what other features it has. There are plenty of pictures of soldiers with simple canteen lanyards tied around their guns, that will work. Hell you could even make a sling out of duct tape but that wont last as long as something made of canvas.

The Haley D3 Slim is good, as is the VTAC Mk1. If your gun doesn't have QD cups, then get some paracord and learn to tie it up around the gun's sling loops to accommodate it. You could also browse your local surplus store for the aforementioned canteen lanyards or something in the bargain bin, but the important thing is that it stays on the gun securely, and fits you. Its not complicated and shouldn't be. Remember, weapon retention is the primary goal of your sling here.

In Closing

These three items are things that should be on your AR-15. They don't need to cost an arm and a leg, and you shouldn't go into credit card debt getting them. The beauty of the AR is that it is incredibly customizable. We can begin with a basic, workable gun, and upgrade it piecemeal throughout our time with it.

About Jackie Valentine 1 Article
Back to back EB games super smash brothers 2006 and 2007 champion.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.