(Photo courtesy of Pimp My Gun 2017)
AR-15s / M4s are pretty much the go-to gun when it comes to getting your first airsoft rifle and the AR-15 / M4 platform accompanies infinite possibility when it comes to accessories and upgrading parts.
Today we are going to have a shallow introduction into what parts you may want to upgrade externally to make the M4 / AR-15 you have a more efficient rifle. Shown above is an example of a 'pimped' M4 by one of our colleagues on Pimp My Gun platform just for illustration purpose but the principles still applies.
We are not here to lure you into dumping a zillion dollar onto a 'toy' gun you have like others would do, but more of how to find parts you need and how they would affect your shooting performance.
Pistol grips come in all sort of shapes and material, the current trend leans towards polymer ergonomic ones, such as Magpul / PTS / Strike Industries, etc. An ergonomic grip makes a happy shooter because your fingers would rest at the right areas and comforably wrap around the grip, thus itwould not distract you from your pull of trigger. Next up would be the grip size and grip angle, adjustable backstraps are usually favored as hands of your size might differ from others and a monsterous grip might not be for everyone; Grip angle on the other hand, affects greatly on how you would hold your rifle, some people prefer a straight angle, close to 90 degrees, some prefer a more canted angle from 60 degrees to 75 degrees, general rule of thumb is the shorter the stock you have, the straighter the grip angle you need, vice versa on longer builds.
Butt stocks are not really a deal breaker in most cases, as it only provides two functions, cheek rest and should support, most butt stocks have similar design features such as ability to add additional cheek rest and QD sling mount points. There are also a category named 'crane stock' and they usually have a better cheek rest and ample space for accessories such as batteries for your optics or such.
Backup Iron sights:
Backup Iron sights serve one purpose and one purpose only, which is to provide a backup to your original optics when they fail. Flip-up ones or canted ones are usually preferred as they would not affect your original sight picture and takes up less space on your top rail.
Fore grips or Angle fore grips or Hand stops:
Fore grips, Angle fore grips and hand stops basically all serve the same purpose, it provides support to the fore end of the rifle and provides an index to where you would place your weak hand. Fore grip takes up the most space and sticks out a fair bit in most cases, but generally cheaper as it doesn't need much engineer, Fortis shift and Magpul RVG are usually the go to ones. Angle fore grips provides a slanted front grip, usually placed towards the end of your rail system and held with an extended arm, where your front hand points would be where your general direct be, Magpul AFG would be a good example for angled fore grips. Hand stops are the absolute minimalist option as one would be gripping directly onto the rail, usually in C-grip with an extended arm and the hand stop would provide an indexing point to where your grip shall not exceed.
Rail systems nowadays come in all sorts of shapes and designs, from standard M1913 Picatinny Rail to Keymod Rail and M-Lok Rails. M1913 Picatinny Rail is still the golden standard when it comes to manufacturing as everyone uses the same spec, but Keymod and M-Lok have gained increasing popularity in recent years with additional benefits of weight saving, backward compatibility and the cool factor, being cool rules above all. Keymod and M-Lok rails mounts accessories onto the rail via dedicated cutout slots, which saves a lot of redundant weight from unused slots.
Instead of overloading accessories onto your gun with every available slot you have, industry trends towards a more sleek and lightweight design, such as the Knights Armament URX, the Centurion Arms CMR rails, the Fortis Shift etc. Accessories are strictly 'added on when needed' basis now.
Optics and Scope mounts:
Optics often help spotting your target and quickly aiming at it, in long range shots a good scope is especially important as not being able to quickly hit at what you are aiming at is just frustrating. A mid range variable zoom-optic gets the best of both worlds of a zoom optic and a red dot, red dot often are fixed to one magnification and being able to zoom in for longer range targets are definitely a plus. First focal or not is also a crucial element to picking your optic, as first focal optics the reticle does not zoom with the magnification and the reticle would not affect your sight picture. The RWA First Focal Scope (1-6x 24) provides a 1 to 6 time magnification for engaging both close range and mid range targets.
Scope mounts are also a key element when it comes to mounting your optic onto the gun, being able to be Quick Detach (QD) ensures you can take off and put on the optic without any other tools. Do also mind what diameter is your scope, if it has a niche diameter it might be difficult to find aftermarket options.
Ambi-dexterous charging handles, magazine releases and selector:
Now these are important factors, if one day your strong hand is hurt, you do not want to break your grip to reach these controls just because they only existed on one side. Having the perks of ambi-dexterous helps to operate the gun if you do have to switch to your off side, such as going around corners or when your strong hand is occupied by other duties.
We have included few examples to what one might want to add to their gun to make the shooting experience more comfortable and efficient, but these parts are not a must. The more accessories you add, the heavier the gun becomes, so get rid of stuff you do not need and shave the weight. When purchasing new accessories to your gun, do pay attention to the weight it brings, if it drastically adds on weight, it is probably not worth it.