Best AR Furniture for Lowers, come on you know you want to free float your upper.
Finally, we are at the fun part of building an AR, the furniture, grip, butt stock, fore end, trigger. This might take some planning and I want you to have the resources I’ve found since I built my first AR-15.
Furniture for the AR used to be grip, buttstock, and fore end but more and more shooters are using free floated barrels because it really does improve shooting. I’ll cover rails and Completed Uppers later. But right now we need to help you find the best grip and buttstock for your gun. Don’t bother with a fore end just yet; you will want to replace it with a free float rail in the near future.
The thing is that there is not one choice, everyone is different. AR-15s are basically adult Legos when it comes to furniture and accessories so I’m going to show you the most popular builds and choices for your build. Just remember if you try something you don’t like, trade it at the range and grab another option. Anyone can build or change the furniture on an AR-15 with just a screwdriver and maybe a bit of Loctite.
So what do you want to build today?
Your choice in furniture won’t have much effect on accuracy. Yeah, right, like choice of golf clubs doesn’t have an effect on your golf game. If you don’t play golf, what I mean is that you need to choose furniture that fits you. The most important is the buttstock. The grip is a personal preference but the buttstock has a bit of science behind it.
- Finding your length of pull
- The Best Furniture for the AR-15
Finding your length of pull
Stand relaxed bend your arm 90 degrees. Curl your trigger finger. Measure the distance from your bicep to your trigger finger. You can do this for Standing, Sitting, and Prone. Add up to a ¼ inch for clothing if you plan to shoot during the winter. You should end with a length of pull around 13.50 inches. Having the proper length of pull greatly reduces fatigue. Less fatigue makes it much easier to aim and more importantly hit your target.
Finding the furniture you want comes from many places. Often you are attempting to build a long range shooter, a 3 gun or a CQB rifle. Many AR-15s are known as Franken guns, a bunch of parts cobbled together to make a functioning firearm. Maybe you are looking to build a Clone of an M4A1 or an M16A2/A3/A4. Sometimes you want a retro build, or a high speed low drag custom. So let’s talk the three most popular builds. M4A1, M16 and a high speed custom 3 gun.
The M4 and the M4A1 is the current service rifle of the United States and many other militaries around the world, as known as the classic AR-15 because it was the popular kit when the AR-15 became available after the Assault Weapons Ban expired. The M4A1 build is a 16 or 14.5 pinned and welded barrel with a flat top upper, Standard A2 pistol grip, M4 stock and a carbine length rail. We recommend you free float your front rail on all AR-15s so an upgrade while keeping in the tradition of the M4 is a Carbine free float rail.
Standard furniture for the closest clone to a M4A1 with a Midwest Industries quad rail for free floated shooting, though if you have the money you can go all out for a 416 rail by Heckler and Koch for a badass beauty queen.
- Midwest Industries 9.25″ Quad Rail Combat T-Series Free Float HandGuard
- Heckler & Koch 416/MR556 Handguard Free Float Picatinny
The M16 has several variants the most popular is the A2 from the Vietnam era or the Iraq Freedom A4. The M16 is a 20 inch barrel AR that has a fixed stock, an A2 pistol grip, a rifle length gas system, and a much longer front rail. The M16A3 is one of my favorite rifles to shoot because of the classic lines and the rifle length gas system. The rifle length gas system developed for the M16 is a reliable and very soft shooting even compared to the M4 Carbine. The M16 has higher bullet velocity and yet softer recoils and quicker follow up shots. It is truly the modern musket that can do everything but often overlooked because of the length. Building a M16 makes a great range rifle but if you are only able to own one AR build a 16 inch AR with a collapsible stock. The M16 is built for a different type of combat than the M4 or standard ARs it is not for everyone but it is an amazing shooter when built right.
- Palmetto State Armory A2 EPT Rifle Lower Build Kit
- Heckler & Koch AR-15/M16 NM Free Float Barrel Sleeve
A Custom gun can be anything you want it to be from a 3 gun racer to a long range tack driver. But building a standard 16inch custom is a multipurpose gun; the most popular is a 16inch mid length for the softer shooting, Magpul with an M-lock rail. Most 16inch customs are tack drivers with or without a scope. The best scope is a 1-8x illuminated scope. We went with the ACS EPT Magpul and a 15 inch Midwest Industries rail to complete the build. The Enhanced Polished Trigger is the best trigger available without splurging for a custom trigger. While the 15-inch rail is great because it covers nearly the whole barrel.
- PSA Magpul ACS-L EPT Lower Build Kit
- Midwest Industries 15″ One-Piece Free Float M-Lok Compatible Combat Rail Handguard
When you don’t have experience with the hundreds of different grips available for the AR-15, yes, I know I have a problem; you are going to be worried about your choice. But don’t fear, keep it simple, and go for the A2 when in doubt, at under $5 you can’t go wrong because it is cheap, effective and you will know everything you need to know from the feel of the A2. Do you want a thicker grip? A Different angle? Finger Shelf? Or do you want something wildly different? Having a A2 grip lets you change later with the turn of a screw. Alternatively, if you are stuck between two grips buy them both and swap them out until you find the one you like. There are a lot of AR shooters with a draw full of AR grips because they looked for exactly what they want.
A2 grip for when you need to outfit an army. The A2 grip is nothing special save for a finger shelf on the grip. Cheap and effective, the Luth-AR A2 grip is as close as you can come to a standard A2 grip. The A2 is angled for the older style blade shooting popular in the 1950s and 60s. Made from polymer, stippled for grip it is a no-nonsense grip for any rifle.
Magpul MOE +
The Magpul MOE + is a A2 with a bit of refinement. A solid polymer construction, similar but stronger than the A2 grip, but where the A2 stops the MOE+ adds a storage compartment and more importantly a beavertail back strap to keep from pinching the fleshy part of your hand while shooting. Available in several colors the MOE+ is the go-to grip for a standard build. Our favorite is Olive Drab Green or Flat Dark Earth.
The Magpul K2 is very similar to the MOE+. Same solid construction, beavertail back strap, and storage compartment, but the K2 is redesigned for the modern shooter. Instead of the relatively angled A2 style, the K2 uses a steeper grip angle designed for modern shooting stances, especially for short length of pull rifles like a collapsed CQB Rifle but it isn’t a slouch on long range shooting. The better ergonomics is personal preference but when running with the tucked instead of blade shooting I prefer the K2.
Magpul Slim Line is a simple replacement for the A2. Great for smaller shooters that need a more vertical grip for their shorter length of pull. The most noticeable change from the A2 is the inclusion of the Beavertail back strap so you don’t pinch you hand during shooting.
BCM Gunfighter Mod 3
The Bravo Company Gunfighter is an improvement over the Magpul K2 and the A2, with a steeper grip angle the GFG or Gunfighter Grip is built to increase ergonomics when shooting. With or without the beavertail back strap the GFG also improves on the Magpul by adding a hinged storage compartment with a water resistant seal for when you need to keep your equipment dry.
The Ergo Suregrip is one of the most popular grips for long distance shooters. Seen on several high end military and police firearms because of the comfort and precision. The Ergo Sure Grip is available with or without the palm shelf for precision adjustment during long range shooting. The heavy textured rhino hide construction means you have a stronger hold on the firearm and that no matter how badly you treat this grip it will come back for more. The finger grooves make the rifle feel like an extension of your hand not a cold chunk of plastic.
Timber Creek Enforcer AR Skeletonized
The Timber Creek Enforcer is a skeletonized grip CNC’d out of aircraft grade aluminum for a weight of just 4oz. While that is 1.2oz heavier than the Magpul it is very light considering the materials making the grip of your AR-15 feel more like a solid rifle built entirely out of aluminum isn’t for everyone those that use the Timber Creek Enforcer rave about the solid feel and ergonomics, feeling the rifle is much more connected to you for shooting is a different feeling that the polymer grips. Most comparable to the older wood and steel rifles like the M14 and M1 Garand.
Choosing a buttstock requires knowing the length of pull, height of your optic or iron sights, and whether you want to be able to collapse the stock or not. Most shooters prefer fixed stocks over adjustable stocks while shooting, but hate them when transporting the rifle. The length of pull is a personal preference that is fit to your size but don’t worry. If you are worried about the height of you optic don’t worry the standard for AR optics is 1.5 inches
The Fixed A2 buttstock is the standard for the M16. The A2 is great for long range shooting on a range or shooting with optics. It is the basic stock but you will either love it or hate it. Most people that switch to the A2 stock are looking for a more classic military looking firearm or they are tired of their beard being ripped out while shooting. A unique aspect of the A2 stock is unlike more AR stocks it requires a rifle length buffer tube.
Not recommended for everyone because you can’t change your stock without changing you buffer tube.
The M4 Classic stock is the stock everyone should try. The Brownells AR-15 stock assembly is designed for those that want to build their first AR. It has everything needed to add a stock to your lower and get shooting as quickly as possible. The collapsible stock allows you to adjust the stock to your shooting. Unfortunately there isn’t much else to say about the stock. The injection molded plastic is standard on nearly every AR available but there is nowhere to go but up.
B5 Systems Enhanced SOPMOD Stock
If you like the M4 Stock but want to spend nearly $100 dollars, check out the B5 SOPMOD developed by NSWC CRANE, This stock is amazing but it is hard to justify the price. But dozens of 3 gun shooters love it. The cheek weld is amazing, but for the price you might want to check out LUTH or the Magpul UBR.
Magpul Stocks are more or less equal with the exception of the UBR, PRS and PRS lite. They are mostly product improved M4 stocks specialized for the user.
- The MOE or Magpul Original Equipment is the standard.
- The CTR or Compact/Type Restricted uses a friction lock to reduce movement
- The SL or Slim Line is the MOE with Magpuls sleeker profile
- The STR is the CTR with a storage compartment for batteries
- The ACS has more storage than the STR through a triangular compartment.
All of the Magpul stocks are well built, solid fitting, but they are collapsible so they will grab your beard. The stocks adjust to the 11.6-14.9 for length of pull. They also have a variety of attachment points of a sling and if you need more cheek rise you can use the Magpul comb attachments sold separately.
You can’t go wrong with a Magpul buttstock much like you can’t go wrong with a Magpul grip but they are fairly basic compared to the UBR, PRS, and PRS Lite.
- UBR: The UBR is a favorite for those that can afford it. The Utility/Battle Rifle stock is the high end Magpul stock for those that prefer shooting iron sights or low ring mounts. The UBR can be adjusted to 11.8-15.3inches that should cover most shooters; it can be increased by additional rubber stock inserts. The UBR also has a good amount of storage for tactical skittles or you can remove your doors for a reduction in weight. But let’s face it if you are looking at the UBR you want it because you prefer the look. Buy it you won’t be happy until you have tried it out. MAGPUL – AR15 UBR 2.0 Collapsible Stock.
- PRS: The PRS or Precision Rifle/Sniper, stock from Magpul is for long range shooters, it weighs quite a bit, can be adjusted for cheek rise and length of pull, requires a rifle length buffer tube and makes shooting a dream. Seriously, I’ve fallen asleep on this pillow while waiting for the range to be called clear. The Rubber butt plate can be adjusted for cant and height in addition to length. It is thick and solid to cushion the recoil from shooting heavier calibers so on a 5.56x45mm it may be overkill but it is designed from precision and repeatability not just comfort. If you are looking to build a tack driver look at the PRS until you decide you can’t afford it. MAGPUL – AR15/308 AR PRS Gen 3 Precision Stock Adjusttable Rifle Length.
- PRS Lite: The UBR and the PRS had a baby and it is the cutest thing for an AR-15 since Hello Kitty. The PRS Lite fixes the major problems of the PRS stock, namely weight and price, while solving the only issue the UBR has which is an adjustable cheek riser, it might be the best stock Magpul has made for AR-15 shooters looking for long range precision without towing the boat around to take the shot. The PRS has 0.8 inches of height adjustment and 1.4 inches of length of pull. The Rubber butt plate can still be adjusted for height and cant allowing you to quickly index and shoulder your rifle the same every time. MAGPUL – AR-15 PRS Lite Buttstocks
The Battlelink Minimalist is for those who want the lightest AR-15s possible. MFT builds great products and the Minimalist is no exception The Battlelink weighs under 6oz making it the number one choice for super lightweight builds. But it isn’t just a small stock the cheek weld is just as good as the CTR or most other standard stocks. Don’t forget to grab a paracord NRAT strap to complete your build for the ultimate survival rifle.
Strike Industries AR-15 Mod1
Another minimalist AR stock, the Strike Industries Mod1 is perfect for any lightweight AR build. At just 6.6oz the Mod1 is a simple replacement for the standard stock. The Mod1 stock has a 9.25 to 12 inch length of pull, making it shorter than most stocks but great for smaller shooters in both length of pull and weight. Unfortunately, the smaller buttstock makes it more difficult to hit your long range shots but it is great for a small truck AR or a CQB rifle.
The Hogue Overmolded is basically the Magpul MOE with rubber for more comfort while shooting. It isn’t amazing but you might prefer it over a hard polymer.
Luth AR MBA-3 is Luth’s answer to the PRS from Magpul and probably the reason Magpul’s PRS lite is under $150. The Luth MBA-3 uses a 3-Axis adjustable butt plate, adjustable cheek riser, and length of pull, all on a carbine buffer tube. You can attach a monopod to the buttstock for more precise shooting off a bipod as well as several QD swivels.
The Luth MBA-3 also weighs about half the Magpul PRS coming in at 18.5oz compared to the beefy 31.2oz of the PRS. It is going to come down to looks, if you want the PRS instead of the Luth you will have to spend the Big$$$ but the Luth is great for a precision rifle or a recce rifle.
The Best Furniture for the AR-15
Probably the Magpul MOE or CTR.
Listen most AR-15s for civilians use Magpul furniture. Magpul is one of the biggest suppliers of parts. The combination of quality and low cost makes them the choice most people use when building an AR platform.
They also developed the M-Lok attachment system that beat out Keymod as a replacement for Picatinny rails.
Magpul furniture should be your first look at different AR furniture but not necessarily the last choice. For everything, Magpul does right and they get a lot right, there are a hundred other choices. The problem people run into is price and availability.
If you want specific parts for your AR keep looking but don’t feel like you are basic by using a Magpul in the meantime. I have lost dozens of competitions to shooters using a basic AR with basic Magpul furniture. Don’t overthink it but build what you want.
Andrew Maurer is a Precision Rifle Series competition shooter and gunsmith. Building competition rifles for over 12 years. He works as a big game hunting guide in Iowa, South Dakota and Arizona. He is also a political scientist studying the effects of gun control on society. He teaches youth rifle shooting. You can find more info on me here.