The Must-Have Accessories For an AR-15

  • Paul Money
Photo Courtesy of Dmitry Medvedev

The AR-15 family of rifles is one of the most popular in America. If you’re reading this, you probably have one, and if you don’t, you probably should. So what accessories do you need to get the most out of your rifle?

Adding accessories to an AR-15 can be expensive and adds weight to the rifle, so you should avoid doing so frivolously. To that end, this writer believes that the must-have accessories for your AR-15 are an optic, a sling, and a weapon-mounted light.


An optic is going to allow you to better aim your rifle and, depending on the optic, better identify your target. Optics for defensive-focused AR-15s generally fall into three categories: red-dot sights, fixed power prism optics, and low-powered variable optics (LPVOs). 

What kind of optic is right for you is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that whatever you decide to go with should be ultra-reliable, as an optic failure can result in an inability to aim your rifle, and thus hit your target.


Photo Courtesy of Mitch Barrie from Reno, NV, USA

A sling is your physical link to your weapon and is absolutely a must-have, as you don’t want to lose possession of your weapon at a critical time.  A sling is also critical if you are walking long distances with your weapon, as you might on a hunt. An AR-15 starts to feel pretty heavy if you have to walk a few miles holding it in your hands.

There are many varieties of sling out there. They vary in their adjustability, where and how they attach to a weapon, their materials, and other factors. Sling choice is very much up to the preferences of a shooter, but my advice is that it doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. Just make sure your sling is reliable and meets your needs.


Photo Courtesy of docmonstereyes from USA

The last must-have for your AR-15 is a weapon-mounted light (WML). Outdoors, it is dark roughly half of the time. Indoors, it can be made dark with the flip of a switch. With this in mind, a WML will allow you to more effectively identify your target and use your rifle in a wider variety of conditions.

There are also a wide variety of WMLs out there. When researching what works best for you, keep an eye out for brightness, usually measured in lumens, and how wide or focused the beam of light is. The same WML might not be ideal for every use case. The main two things to remember are, generally, brighter is better, and a WML should be reliable in a variety of conditions and under recoil.

That wraps up the must-have accessories for your AR-15! Down the road, we’ll do a breakdown of each category and find out which kinds of accessories fit which use cases.


Click here to get advice from SDI’s Master Gunsmith, Kip Carpenter, on choosing a trigger for your AR-15! 

Have other must-have accessories for the AR platform? Share this out on social media and let us know! 

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