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Upgrading Your AR15 Carbine

I don’t this to belittle those of you with something that isn’t on the same level of quality and reliability as the higher end. I am trying to educate people about AR-15’s. 

Many people start out by buying a lower end brand just to get their feet wet and then progress from there. If you bought a more inexpensive AR-15, you can make it a bit more reliable and robust.

Trust me when I say that I have seen a variety of AR15’s and have seen the difference in quality and reliability between most of the more common manufacturers. What I want to do in this post is cover a few things you can do to upgrade your AR15, if you so happen to have an AR15 that is lower quality.

I believe you are best served buying a high quality rifle right off the bat but that is just not how it always happens. For me, my first AR15 was not a Colt. My first experiences with AR15’s were with RRA, Bushmaster, and Model 1. I eventually sold most of these AR15’s, or at least various parts of them. However, it’s been a long process.

I learned the hard way and my intention is to share some of my knowledge with you in the hopes that you won’t have to. That said, I know that some of you are stubborn (like me) and probably won’t take this advice.

You may be perfectly happy with your Rock River, Bushmaster, etc.

It may work perfectly fine, and if that is the case you may not want to change anything up. However, for those who plan on running their rifles hard, or may be putting their life on the line with it, you might consider a few of these upgrades.

I want to talk about the bolt and complete BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) first. I consider it to be the heart of the AR15 as well as one of the weakest points.

One of the easiest things to upgrade and change out on your AR15 is the extractor spring. It’s cheap too, basically $12 to upgrade 3 rifles. If you find that you are having FTE’s (Failure to Extract), this could very well be the fix.

If you want to spend the money, a complete M16 BCG, or at least a bolt from BCM or Spikes (these usually run about $70 or so) would be a fairly easy way to upgrade your rifle. These already have the upgraded extractor spring and they are also HPT/MPI’ed, meaning that they passed milspec required testing that proves they have no flaws that would make them more susceptible to breaking at an early round count. Keep your old bolt as a back up/spare.

Another thing to consider is making sure that the carrier key is properly staked. One of the first failures I experienced with an AR15 was due to a loose carrier key. It is something that is commonly overlooked by most AR15 manufacturers. This can be done with a pin punch and a hammer, but I prefer the use of a <a href=””>pocket MOACKS</a>. Because I often work on AR15’s, whether they are mine or someone else’s, I invested in one of these. I can’t say how many times I have used it, but it was a good investment.

If you have a lot of money to burn to upgrade your rifle, and even if you already have a high quality BCG, like a BCM, Colt, LMT, etc, something to consider is an M16 NiB (Nickel Boron) BCG.

They feature dry lubricity and basically require less lube. They are also much easier to clean. 

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