If you can’t afford the latest and greatest AR-15 parts and gear, the market has provided solutions for everybody’s pocketbook. You have to be careful you don’t end up with a lemon. And that’s what this simple guide is for.
We’ve picked out the best money-saving alternatives to high-end gear, and listed them below. These alternatives aren’t the lowest-priced option available, but they have a level of quality needed to be dependable under most circumstances at a price most can afford.
These accessories will let you outfit your rifle with the essentials you need for defensive use, while leaving you with cash leftover for ammo or training. As long as your rifle has a light, sling and optic, you’ll be ready for nearly anything.
Trijicon SRS vs. Burris AR-F3 FastFire
The only way to describe the Trijicon SRS is “high tech.” A unique front objective lens provides a field of view that’s second to none (picture looking through the small end of a funnel), and a solar panel on the top supplements the battery during daytime hours. It even includes a quick-release mount that returns to zero. With this high technology, however, comes a high price.
An alternative for those who can’t see spending two week’s pay on a red dot is the Burris AR-F3 FastFire. It’s rugged enough to retain zero on an AR-15 throughout the bumps and nudges that your rifle will doubtlessly encounter during training and competition, and the compact size is right at home on a variety of carbines.
Trijicon SRS price: $1,211.25 vs. Burris AR-F3 FastFire price: $299
Surefire M952V vs. Streamlight TLR-3
For military operations, a weaponlight such as the Surefire M952V is a requirement. Bomb-proof construction, a flawless penetrating beam and the ability to quickly attach and detach the light are essential features, but they come with a hefty price tag. And the average user doesn’t always need these enhanced options.
This is where the Streamlight TLR-3 steps in. Yes, it was originally designed for pistols, but mounting a handgun light on a defensive carbine is fast becoming the norm. What’s not to like? You still get a blinding beam capable of illuminating your target, in a package that’s compact and usable on every firearm you own with a Picatinny rail, whether it’s a rifle, shotgun or handgun. Talk about versatility!
Surefire M952V price: $535.50 vs. Streamlight TLR-3 price: $71.10
Blue Force Gear Vickers 2 to 1 Sling vs. BLACKHAWK! Rapid Adjust 2 Point Sling
While the Blue Force Gear Vickers 2 to 1 sling is a first-rate way to keep track of your rifle, it’s a bit pricey. Going with the BLACKHAWK! Rapid Adjust sling gives you a little less in the way of features, but still gives you a way to sling your rifle when you need to.
The BLACKHAWK! Rapid adjust sling is completely ambidextrous, and adjusts quickly and easily with an easy-to-find pull cord. Switching shoulders quickly while slung up doesn’t have to be complicated, and BLACKHAWK! solves the problem at a price anybody can afford.
Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling price: $89.97 vs. Blackhawk! Rapid Adjust sling: $21.97
Daniel Defense AR-15 Lite Rail 7.0 vs. Magpul MOE MLOK Handguard
While a precision machined, free-floating aluminum rail such as the Daniel Defense Lite Rail might seem like an attractive upgrade for your go-to carbine, all you really need the forend to do is insulate your hands from the barrel’s heat and provide a place to mount your light.
For a defensive rifle, a free-floating barrel isn’t really necessary. The AR-15 is more than accurate enough to get the job done, especially so at the common distances encountered around your home and property. Magpul’s MOE forend features aluminum heat shields to keep things comfortable, as well as the ability to accept a variety of MLOK accessories.
Just add a short MLOK rail section for your gun light, and you’re all set for a fraction of the price of a fancy free-floating handguard, without giving up any practical functionality.
Daniel Defense Lite Rail 7.0 price: $335 vs. Magpul MOE MLOK Handguard price: $28.45.
Real Suppressor vs. Fake Suppressor
More and more gun owners are also becoming suppressor owners. There are almost no downsides to owning a can, but the regulations behind owning one require sending paperwork to the Federal government if you want to take it out of state.
A fake suppressor is great for going to those out-of-state training classes without having to deal with NFA paperwork hassles. You can retain the look, feel and balance of your suppressor-equipped defensive carbine, without any obtrusive travel notifications to Uncle Sam.
Click here to read more about suppressors.
Ready to Shoot?
Setting up your defensive carbine with these affordable gear options will give you the confidence you need to keep your home safe, put meat in the freezer, or defend your title at a local 3-Gun match. Because you don’t want to have any doubts in your gear when everything is on the line.
Suppressor price: varies, plus $200 tax stamp vs. fake suppressor price: $29.97
Do you have any unique gear favorites that perform far outside their price range? Let us know in the comments below!