So you’ve just purchased your first AR, congratulations. For this post I’ll assume your new rifle is chambered in either .223 or 5.56mm. Depending on your interests, monetary situation, and creativity there are tons of attachments to go with your new gun. I’ll try to help you decide how much or how little to customize your gun.
An AR is a great choice for home defense. The adaptability and light weight of the weapons platform lends itself to home defense brilliantly. You’ll need to choose your accessories to fit a low light close quarters combat scenario. A LLCQC scenario is among the most dangerous anyone can be in even with a properly outfitted weapon. You’ll definitely want some type of sight. I’d recommend a red dot or holographic one, even iron sights wouldn’t be a bad choice. ACOGs are great sights but they aren’t well suited for LLCQC situations because of their increased magnification. Choosing a barrel is important as well, if you’re choosing a gun specifically for any scenario it’d be advantageous to buy the proper barrel with your AR. In a LLCQC scenario the shorter the barrel the better. Most of the shooting in that situation will occur at less than 10 yards so a longer barrel will only hamper your maneuverability. Weapons lights are another attachment I would recommend looking into. The ability to incapacitate your opponent without firing a shot is a huge advantage some lights offer. Lights also allow you to see in situations where your opponent may not be able to, another huge advantage. Defending your home or clearing a structure is never easy but if you give yourself every advantage your chances of success will increase exponentially.
Everyone loves to hit bullseyes and show off at the range. ARs are pretty good accuracy weapons because of their method of recoiling. Without getting into specifics or scientifics too much, the AR recoils straight into your shoulder instead of rising up like an M-14. This helps with semi automatic accuracy and fast follow up shots. When building or buying an AR for accuracy an ACOG or more powerful scope is optimal. The better you can see your target the easier the target us to hit, pretty simple. Other than a bipod attachments won’t help your AR’s accuracy much, most of a rifles accuracy comes from its internals instead of its externals. New trigger assemblies and heavier barrels are the easiest and most popular ways to make your AR into a real tack driver. You’ll also want a fixed length stock instead of an adjustable one. The less moving parts the better.
To build a great all around rifle you’ll need to combine segments of both of the previous two sections and decide what you like best. My personal all around AR-15 has an ACOG sight, 16″ barrel and a collapsible butt stock. That’s personal preference of course so yours might be different. I would caution you however to try to keep your rifle as light as possible. Attachments are fun but they tend to get heavy fast.
Now you can ignore all this advice and buy a custom AR but they aren’t cheap. You’ll also learn much more about your gun by tweaking it to your specifications. You’ll get one much closer to perfect doing it yourself than any custom shop will doing it for you. The Internet is full of videos and articles on ARs so don’t be afraid to use that resource.
Let me know in the comments how you’ve customized your AR. I might just “borrow” some ideas.