RailScales® est. 2014

AR-15 Build Tips: Low-Cost Rifle Mods

AR-15 Build Tips: Low-Cost Rifle Mods

June 12, 2019

Welcome to the third installment Of our series on AR-15 build tips. To get caught up, make sure you read our blog posts on the tools you need to assemble your AR-15 and our blog post on the six parts you should upgrade on your rifle first.

Once your rifle is built and appropriately accessorized, you’ve likely got an interest in adding more accessories or modding the rifle for a truly custom look and level of performance. Of course, your interest might not always match up with the realities of your financial situation. Customizing a rifle can be a costly endeavor, so it’s important to look for low-cost alternatives and ways to modify your weapon. Here at RailScales, were always looking for clever ways to make our rifles more practical. Here are some of the cheapest ways we found to make your rifle more practical at the range.

Stencil Your Magazines

Marking your magazines is a great idea for a lot of reasons. First, it’s a simple way to add a customized look to your rifle. Second, and most importantly, it’s a great way to keep track of your gear when you had to the range. When you stencil your magazines, do more than just put camouflage patterns on them. Include your last name, the caliber of the magazine, and then number the magazine. This ensures that one of your friends doesn’t walk away with one of your magazines at the end of your trip to the range. When they’re numbered, you can quickly account for all of your magazines when you’re packing up. Having the caliber printed on the side also ensures that you do not load the magazine with the improper ammunition, which may cause a major problem with your rifle. Plus, should one of the magazines seize up or simply fail to function properly, you’ll know exactly which one it is because it’s marked with a number.

Brighten Up Your Front Sight

Depending on the conditions in which you’re shooting, it can be difficult to see your front sight. Some AR-15 rifle owners choose to avoid this problem entirely by relying on electronic optics like red dot sights or holographic sights. While these are certainly effective, they are also quite costly. Instead of dropping $350 on a sight, you can spend $3.50 on a pack of paint pens.

On the edge of the front sight that faces you, use a brightly colored paint pen like white or silver to outline the protective wings on either side of your front sight post. In low light or nighttime conditions, having a bright color on your front sight can help you acquire your targets with some degree of accuracy.

Additionally, you can use another brightly colored paint pen to color the front sight post itself. If you use one color for the wings in the front sight, you should use another color for the front sight post itself. Once the rifle is zeroed, use a bright color like orange or neon green and paint the front sight post. Your eye will be naturally drawn towards the bright color, helping to improve your sight picture.

Color Fill the Lower Receiver

An easy way to add a personal touch the appearance of your rifle is to add a pop of color to the lower receiver. This low-cost mod adds paint to the role marks on the sides of your receiver. This can be accomplished in a wide variety of ways using any number of different color sources. Many have found that dipping a toothpick into nail polish allows them to precisely apply the paint to the engraved markings. Others used thinned model paint to fill in the markings. Still others simply rub a crayon over the markings and let the wax fill in the engravings. To ensure that there is no excess paint simply allow the colors to set for a minute then wipe over them with the rubbing alcohol-soaked rag or use a Brillo pad. You can do the same to the "safe" and "fire" stamps near your safety selector.

Nail polish is a great selection for those looking to permanently color their own marks. It’s resistant to most heat and most solvents. It can be lifted if you use nail polish remover and a Brillo pad. However, if it is not properly thinned it can be difficult to apply. Using thinned model paint is perhaps the easiest way to paint your roll marks but these paints are often susceptible to the same solvency used to clean your rifle. Additionally, it can take several days for this paint to fully cure, making it not ideal for those who take regular trips to the range. Using a crayon is also fast and easy, but it will be susceptible to the heat that your rifle produces while firing. This means that the color in your role marks can quickly melt and run down the side of your rifle receiver.

D.I.Y. Handguard Covers

If you’re using a Picatinny style handguard, you’ve likely cut your hands on one of the rail sections at least once. Rail covers quickly and easily address this problem, but aren’t always the most cost-effective. For a low-cost alternative that’s also practical, consider wrapping the handguard in paracord. You can simply run the cord in the grooves of the rail section to fill in the gaps. Not only does this prevent you from catching your hands on the rails, but also acts as a great heat shield for your forehand. On cold days, the paracord serves to keep your hand from the cold metal of the handguard. As an added bonus, you now have several feet of usable paracord whenever you need it. This is great for helping to set up tarps over your range, or for hanging up targets.

Mod Yourself

This is a cheap tip that can have a high value on your skills as a marksman. The fact is, no amount of mods, parts, or accessories for your AR-15 will make you a better shooter. Your fundamental skills as a marksman dictate how effective you are at the shooting range. So after tricking out your AR to the best of your liking, rather than spending one more dime on will more gadget take that money and spend it on ammo instead. Even just a few trips to the range can dramatically improve your skills. From recoil control to faster more accurate follow-up shots, frequent range trips only cost as much as a few boxes of ammo and a few hours of your time.

If you’re well and truly broke after totally customizing your AR-15, you can always practice dry fire. Dry fire practice is valuable for a variety of reasons. Drive fire practice allows you to learn the weight and feel of your trigger and helps you locate exactly where it breaks and resets. It can also help you to address some of your nervous tics while shooting. For instance, many new shooters flinch when they pull the trigger expecting the recoil. This can pull their shots to one side of the other and their accuracy suffers as a result. Practicing with dry fire exercises allow you to isolate these issues and address them.

Invest in Quality Gear

The saying goes "by nice or by twice." This is especially true in AR-15 parts and accessories. Often, low-cost alternatives are also low in quality, meaning that they’re more likely to break even after just a few trips to the range. While they might cost you a little bit more, investing in higher quality components ensures that you have fewer problems during your trips to the range.

If you’re ready to invest in high-quality AR-15 parts, that it’s time to look into RailScales. All of our rail grips, rail covers, and fixed iron sights are made from premium quality materials like HTP, G 10, and machined metal. Build your perfect rifle with the accessories offered by RailScales.