Setting Up An AR-Style Rifle, End of 2016 Edition

I found this article in a social media newsfeed, and it got me to thinking – there really has been a swing towards a standard-type AR rifle setup lately. In the late 2000’s – early 2010’s, manufacturers really started to branch out with innovative aftermarket AR products, with the appropriate response from the public.

Photo from

Photo from

All bets were off as to what kind of wacky shit would get attached to ARs while John Q. Public, the law enforcement community, and the military weeded out what worked and what didn’t.

Today, at the extreme tail end of 2016, we see the AR market has come around to a generally-accepted must-have formula that includes:

  • Optic – quality red dot such as the Aimpoint PRO or Aimpoint Micro T2, or seen more and more, a versatile low-powered variable scope like the Leupold Mark AR Mod 1. Back-up sights are a must.
  • Illumination – this is where I see a lot of variation of opinion, but a quality, bright light of over 300 lumens mounted at 2, 12, or 10 o’clock out at the furthest point possible on the rail/handguard. There are a ton of great options from Surefire, Streamlight, Fenix, and others.
  • Speaking of rails and handguards, we have M-Lok, Keymod, or picatinny rail mounting options. Magpul’s MOE series is the standard at the entry level, with options from a million different players likeĀ Troy and Midwest Industries available. Pick what you like and go nuts.
  • Sling: while I used to see sling attachment points all over the place, those in the know seem to have settled on mounting points at the extreme rear and extreme front for a two-point slings, and directly behind the receiver for a single-point, with the nod going to the dual-point for versatility. I like the article’s mention of the Blue Force Vickers sling – it’s a dynamite piece of kit.

A lot of people throw vertical or angled grips on the forward end of the rail, but a lot of people would agree that these aren’t a 100% necessity on a modern AR like the items listed above.

It will be interesting to revisit this concept at the tail end of 2017, to see how the modern AR concept has evolved – or how it hasn’t….the above seems like a pretty solid setup.

Check out this article, then let us know what you do different. How’s your AR set up?

Also – be sure to check out our GEAR GIVEAWAY going on now! Head to and enter to win!

2 comments… add one
  • Jairo April 3, 2017, 9:54 pm

    My first AR15 was a Bushmaster Patrolman Carbine XM15E2 with a fixed carry handle and collapsible stock. I have since acquired Colt 6920’s and DPMS with all the bells and fancy gadgets. At the end of the day, the bushmaster feels the most ‘right’ when shouldered. There’s a light weight and efficient feel to it. Further I like the old ‘carry handle’ and simple handguard look. Its my “KISS” rifle.


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