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The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Modify Your AR Rifle

Three Quick and Easy Ways to Improve Your AR

Photos by Henry Z. De Kuyper

Almost any stock AR can be tweaked to improve its performance without breaking the bank. Here are a few modifications that are so simple, they should be part of every rifleman’s toolbox. Start off by following normal safety procedures and separating the upper and lower receivers.

Tools & Parts:
1⁄8-inch punch
Hammer
Dremel with cutoff wheel
Bearing grease
High-temp barbecue paint
JP Enterprises Reduced Power Spring Kit

1. Eleven-Dollar Trigger Job

A Mil-spec AR trigger is rated to come in at a pull weight of anywhere between 5.5 and 9.5 pounds. An improved trigger is one of the best modifications you can perform on an AR — in Issue 9 we presented a buyer’s guide to AR triggers that featured aftermarket triggers priced from $60 to $300. But you needn’t break the bank to improve your trigger.

Get thee to JP Rifles, pilgrim, and purchase a reduced-power fire control spring kit for the princely sum of 11 bucks. Dally not at the website, lest thy bank account be smitten a mighty blow, the likes of which would rattle the gonads on a bull elephant.

1. Use a punch to drive out the hammer pin, then the trigger pin. Remove the hammer (along with the hammer spring).

ARtrigger1

2. Press firmly on the right side of your safety while moving the lever through its arc. The safety will pop out, allowing you to remove the trigger. You can also loosen the screw inside the pistol grip to relieve pressure on the safety detent, if you wish.

ARsafety

3. Lay out your fire control components and note the orientation of the trigger and hammer springs.

ARtrigger2

4-5. Remove your stock trigger return spring and replace with the JP yellow version. Be careful not to dislodge the disconnector spring in the tail of the trigger.

ARsafety2 ARtrigger3

Disassemble your fire-control components and install your new yellow hammer and trigger springs, following the steps on these pages. Congratulations, you now have a much-improved trigger pull that will allow for greater practical accuracy. Best of all, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

For those home tinkerers who are tempted to grind and stone sear surfaces to further improve their triggers, remember that standard trigger groups are typically only surface hardened. So by removing material, you may be shortening its useful life.

7. Do the same for the hammer. Make sure you orientate it properly, or you’ll get light strikes.

ARhammer

8. Place the trigger back in the lower. Thread your punch through the lower, trigger and disconnector (which will be under tension from the disconnector spring). Use the punch as a slave pin to hold the components in place while you replace the trigger pin from the opposite side.

ARlower

9. Now use your punch to press down on the safety detent while you insert the safety. If you loosened the pistol grip earlier, tighten it back down now.

ARsafety3

10. Replace the hammer, ensuring that the tails on the hammer spring sit on top of the trigger pin.

ARhammer2

11. While holding the hammer under spring tension, align the holes and press in your hammer pin. Function check thoroughly — cock the hammer and make sure it only releases when you pull the trigger, then test the disconnector by cocking the hammer while holding the trigger back. The disconnector should first catch the hammer and then release it to the sear when you let go of the trigger. Also test that the safety functions properly.

ARhammer3

2. Lose the “Sproing”

One of the AR’s less endearing features is the annoying twang the recoil spring makes inside the buffer tube (receiver extension for the purists) as the bolt carrier group cycles back and forth, right next to your ear. This is perhaps the easiest of faults to remedy. Using a punch or bullet tip, depress the buffer detent and pull out your buffer and recoil spring. Apply a dab of heavy bearing grease on the spring coils. Reassemble and voila! No more annoying “sproing.”

ARspring

For those who actually like the sproing noise, hearty congratulations are in order. Revel at being soulmates with your AR.

ARrecoilspringARbufferspring

3. Low-Profile Gas Block

Let’s say you’re planning on installing an extended free-float tube or rail system, or you’re just tired of the shadow in your optics. That front sight tower has got to go, but your piggy bank is empty and you can’t buy a new low-profile gas block. Time to break out the Dremel.

ARgasblock

Start off by removing your flash hider or muzzle brake by unscrewing it from the muzzle. If you have an upper receiver block and a vise handy, it will make this step easier. Now drive out the taper pins that secure the front sight base (FSB). Look carefully — one end (usually the left side) is a smaller diameter than the other, and this is the one you’ll want to tap with a punch and hammer to remove the pin.

ARdremel

Slide the FSB off the muzzle end of the barrel. If you’ve got more than a few hundred rounds down the tube, you may need to use a little persuasion from a soft head hammer to get it to move.

ARgasblockbarrel

Place the FSB in a vise and get to work with a cutoff wheel, following the dotted lines shown. Once you’ve removed all the extra steel, switch to a coarse sanding drum and contour the rough edges. A quick shot of black barbecue paint, and you’re ready to reinstall.

ARhandguard

 


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