Along with the explosion of civilian AR rifles on the hunting and shooting scene over the past decade, the marketplace for tactical AR accessories has totally gone wild. As wild as SHWAT™ style hog hunting, for sure. This whole situation is a sheer delight for gun owners, shooters and hog hunters who are enamored with the AR platform.
And as SHWAT™ fans already know, one of our most favored rifles for tactical hunting is the AR platform. For many reasons, the AR rifle is perfect for the tactical approach to hog hunting. Better yet, the AR is an absolute ideal format for accessorizing. That makes owning one even more fun.
There are literally hundreds of accessories that can be added/swapped on the AR format, especially with a Picatinny type forearm rail system installed. The total rifle configuration options are virtually endless. Shopping for these accessories has been made easier than ever, too, with countless web site catalogs available. It’s like Christmas every day.
SHWAT™ hunters need to be aware that some of these products are not quite up to snuff in terms of high quality. “Buyers beware” certainly is the order of business. The trick is to pick well-known AR accessory product brand names that have earned reputations for quality and durability under heavy field use.
AR Accessory Evaluations
As with many other products that are made off shore as well as some made here, quite a few are of inferior quality, poor fit, or easily broken under the stress of everyday use. Since I do shooting and hunting product reviews as part of an outdoor writing career, I have examined, acquired, and used a large number of these AR accessory items. Many brands I can recommend, and many I cannot.
Before you buy any AR accessory, examine it firsthand. Shop your local gun dealers, shooting ranges, and gun shows. Compare like products, prices, fit and finish. If the accessory involves screws or attachment bolts, run them in and out to check the threads. The same goes for latch locks such as on optic mounts. Look for metal or plastic burrs, unfinished edges, or poor finishes. Read the packaging to see if instructions are included as well as the origin of manufacture. You can find lots of AR accessory reviews on line as well as on YouTube ®.
It’s not a bad idea to have your own AR on hand to be certain the accessories fit your rifle’s rail slots. Some simply are not made to spec and will not fit tightly or are too loose even when bolted down. Check to see if the item wiggles in the Picatinny slot. Even though we’re hunting and not going into combat, we don’t want a critical part like a sling attachment or a scope mount to fail in the field. On a recent hunt I had a pushbutton sling mount “let go” at a critical moment, but was able to catch the AR before it hit the mud.
I am a personal stickler for steel, but many AR accessories are made of aluminum or alloy mixes. Some are really good; some are cheap like pot metal and will fail. Again, buy products with strong reputations and warranties or the ability to return if the piece warps or breaks. Manufacturers that stand behind their products make good stuff to start with.
When buying AR magazines, buy brands known to work. There are some really well made aluminum magazines on the market as well as some made of tough, abuse resistant polymer plastics. Make sure the followers don’t hang up when pushed down. They should pop right back up free and clear. Examine the mag floorplates, too, for a tight, secure fit.
With some AR accessories, the purchase can only be based on simple trial and error. Sometimes you just cannot completely know the quality until you use it. I have a couple boxes of junk that were not up to par, have twisted out screws due to poor threads, broke, would not fit right, or magazines that constantly jam. If I had back what I paid for all this stuff, I could buy another AR. It’s part of the process.
However, getting to the point, if in doubt, buy a brand with a stand up reputation for producing and selling top notch AR accessories. One of these that I can unequivocally recommend is Magpul.
The Magpul Cornucopia of AR Accessories
Where to start? First, let me highly recommend that you visit the Magpul web site at www.magpul.com. If, after a little travel about the site, you fail to comprehend that this company is a fervent United States Patriot, then you need to go back and double check your own citizenship status. You might have been deported but just don’t realize it yet.
As best I can say it, Magpul Industries Corporation is All-American. They are an American based company established in 1999 and located in Boulder and Erie, Colorado. (For now that is. Note their plan to move because of recent changes in the political climate of Colorado).
Their products have been idealized, created, designed, and manufactured by people used to relying upon such equipment under the most adverse conditions. I’m not talking hunting lodges either; I mean active military engagements and/or law enforcement uses. And all of Magpul’s AR accessory products are manufactured in the United States.
Magpul got its start by having created what else but the magpul. It is still in their product line. This is a simple molded synthetic rubberized collar that fits snuggly around the bottom of a 5.56 AR, 7.62, or 9mm subgun magazine (sizes differ) offering a finger loop with rough gripping edges to grab for a quick disengagement of the magazine from the rifle. I own many of these and they really work even when wet.
Going forward from that product, Magpul has greatly expanded its product lines to include the following items:
– AR rifle stocks
– Hand guards
– Trigger guards
– MOE accessories
– Sling attachments
– Polymer rail sections
– Light mount kits
– Vertical grips
– Battery storage cores for grips
– Rubber butt pads
– Stock cheek risers
– PMags- 10 to 40 round polymer magazines w/wo cartridge count windows
– Ranger Plates
– Dust Covers
– Mag couplers
– Magpul loops
– Angled forearm grips
– Rail covers
– Fold down BUIS open sights
– Battery assist device
– Specialty AR sling
I probably missed a few items, but you see their offerings are pretty darn comprehensive in terms of AR accessories. I suspect that even as I write, their research and development labs are creating new offerings.
What do I use and recommend firsthand? All of my AR magazines are equipped with either an original Magpul loop or a hard polymer Ranger Plate which replaces the magazine floorplate with a fixed grab handle. These plates go on in a second or two. The rubberized Magpuls take a little strident stretching to get them fitted, but then they are there to stay.
I have Magpul BUIS (back up iron sights) on two rifles. These are solid, well made, fully adjustable front and rear open sights that can be quickly folded down out of the way of conventional optical scopes or holographic sights like an EoTech. The BUIS pop up into place with the push of a button and attach easily to the Picatinny rail.
So far, I have installed Magpul trigger guards on three rifles. These open the trigger finger space for use with winter gloves, or shooting gloves like a Mechanix ® grip glove. I just like the extra bit of space in the critical trigger area. These are easy to install with the proper punch and, as with all Magpul products, they come with simple to understand installation instructions.
I also have two rifles set up with Magpul’s AFG angled fore-grip. These are super cool for hunting applications and general shooting fun. The grip allows for a more stable hold on the forend of the rifle, permitting greater shooting comfort with less arm fatigue and increased accuracy. The AFG also helps with faster follow up shots and recoil control, both good characteristics for SHWAT™ tactical hunting.
Other Magpul accessories I have used include their sling attachments, and collapsible stocks. All work well and function is flawless.
When any marketplace is flooded with products, whether it be craft beers, hamburgers, screwdrivers, or diapers, it can be difficult to sort out the good from the bad without trying them out firsthand. The same could be said of the plethora of AR accessories for sale.
But then, one has no need to worry when taking a Magpul accessory off the shelf and putting it through its paces. It will work every time. SHWAT™ tactical hog hunters in the process of setting up their personalized AR hog rifles should strongly consider outfitting their ARs with Magpul magazines and accessories. Trust me, you can’t go wrong with Magpul.