how to choose ar15 accessories

There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of different optics and accessories to choose from for your AR-15. The different combinations of optics, lights, grips, and more are endless, so how should you set up your AR with accessories?

There is no simple answer to that because not everyone will have the same needs or desires for their AR. To get started, consider these factors so you can set up your AR in a way that’s perfectly suited to your goals.

Intended use

What you intend to use your AR for is the biggest factor for what accessories will work best for you.

Do you wan to set up an AR for personal protection? Hunting? Precision shooting? How you plan to use your AR will inform your choices for accessories and optics.

Some examples for personal protection accessories include:

  • Foregrips and handguards
  • Variable optics or holographic sights
  • Infrared laser for night vision
  • Weapon lights
  • Slings

If you want to customize your AR for hunting or precision shooting, you may need things like a high magnification riflescope, or a bipod for a built-in shooting rest. How you set up your AR will just depend on what accessories will help make your life easier.

In addition, if you plan to use your AR-15 in combination with a sidearm, you must have a rifle sling to transition from your rifle to your handgun. There are many different types of slings, so make sure to try different kinds to see which one works best for you.


Where you live, or where you use your AR-15 also plays a large role in how you set up your AR-15 with accessories.

Do you live in a heavily forested area where you can’t see far? Then you may need a variable optic. Live in an urban setting? You’ll probably need a holographic sight and a weapon light.

If you live in a rural area with open terrain, you may need a high-power optic not only for long range shooting, but for identifying objects and targets to confirm what they are.


Aside from the practicality of the AR accessories you may need for your rifle, budget is another thing to consider.

If budget is no issue for you, by all means have at it with whatever you want, but for most people that’s not the case. AR accessories, especially optics, can be expensive, sometimes more so than the rifle itself.

With a limited budget, you may have to choose wisely which accessories are worth it and which ones aren’t. Can’t afford that $1,000 riflescope? Instead, you may need to go with a $400 holographic sight.

You don’t necessarily have to compromise quality; you just may need to choose the lesser of two options in some cases.

Rifle configuration

Your rifle configuration, particularly your barrel length should inform what accessories are appropriate for your AR.

For example, a 50mm high magnification riflescope wouldn’t make much sense for an 11.5” barreled rifle, and some basic flip up iron sights won’t be of much use for an 18” barreled precision rifle.

Just like you should suit the accessories and optics to your intended use, you should do the same with your rifle configuration. If you keep in mind your intended use for your AR build throughout the process, setting up your AR with the appropriate accessories will be a breeze.


Perhaps the greatest attribute to the beloved AR-15 is how customizable they truly are. The AR-15 is without a doubt one of the most modular rifle platforms ever created, so there are thousands of ways to set one up.

If you don’t want to look like an idiot, or worse, have an AR that doesn’t live up to its full potential, keep these things in mind. If you apply these things to your build and choosing your optics and accessories, you will become a master with your rifle in no time.

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