In this article, we’ll discuss the three best firearm attachments for each type of firearm; rifles, handguns, and shotguns. While the types of attachments you can get for your firearm may be limited, the brands are endless. Before we get into the brand breakdown of attachments, let’s go over the most used weapon attachment types.
Rifle (AR / AK Platforms)
- Red-Dot / Reflex / ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) Sights
- Vertical Grip / Angled Grip
- BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sights)
- Flash Suppressor
- Extended Bolt Release
- Muzzle Brakes
- Extended Rail
- Tac-Light (Tactical Light)
- Laser (or Laser/Light combo)
- Under Barrel Weapon Attachment
The AR / AK platform is arguably the most customizable weapon system in a prepper’s arsenal. A lot of people think of the AR as the AR-15, but there are multiple different ARs that shoot different calibers (such as the AR-10). Some attachments, however, are not as useful as others. Because of this, we’ll break it down into the top five attachments we recommend for AR and AK owners.
The ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) is used by military service members around the world (including me). One thing I love about the ACOG, is that most of them don’t use batteries. Instead, their reticle is illuminated by the radioactive decay of tritium (don’t worry, the radiation is safe). The average lifespan of the tritium inside of the ACOG is 10-15 years, which is a great feature because you won’t have to use a single battery!
From a prepper’s standpoint, this makes the ACOG a great asset, because you won’t need to fetch new batteries for your optic. In case of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), your ACOG will still work, because it doesn’t rely on electrical wiring used by most attachable sights. This is another reason why an ACOG should be on your “most wanted” list for your AR / AK.
The brand I recommend for ACOGs, is the same brand I have on my M4A1 carbine that I use as an Infantryman. “Trijicon” is by far the most popular ACOG brand on the market. They even have a contract with the U.S. Government, supplying agencies and military branches such as the U.S. Army, and the United States Marine Corps. There’s a reason why Infantrymen love ACOGs, because they’re durable and they work.
I remember one time, I had fallen down a 15 foot drop off at night (because military night vision optics have terrible depth-perception) and my M4 sling had come off me, causing my M4 to smash against a large boulder. After recovering it, my M4 still worked, and my Trijicon ACOG kept its zero. While all Trijicon models vary in shapes, sizes, and reticle shapes, all of them are recommended for your consideration.
The one that I’m personally familiar with is the TA11-D-100291. The average price for this model is $1,600, making it pretty expensive for an optic on your rifle. There are other models that are less expensive on their website, but if you want a quality optic that you can rely on for years, Trijicon is your answer. This model offers a vertical BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) that is effective up to 800m (2,624ft.) with a chevron above it. BDCs are extremely useful in combat, because you don’t have to adjust your elevation dial (AKA “dope”) to accurately engage your targets.
BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sights)
BUIS are very important for your rifle, if you plan on attaching an aftermarket optic. In reference to the ACOG above, BUIS offer a short to mid-range solution to accurately engage targets, while your ACOG is used for mid to long-range engagements. Obviously, you won’t need batteries for your BUIS, so this is also a bonus for preppers. The less electricity you depend on when you bug out, the better.
I use BUIS on my M4, and I recommend that if anyone attaches an optic on their AR / AK rifle, they do the same. If an EMP detonates, and you’re using an optic that relies on electronic wiring (EOTech Reflex sights for example), your optic is useless. Then, you’ll have an overly expensive paperweight. It’s not recommended to use a battery-operated optic, however if you decide to, make sure you have BUIS.
There are many places that you can attach BUIS on your rifle, I personally recommend mounting the Magpul 45-degree BUIS. This way, you may engage your targets at long range, and simply rotate your rifle 45-degrees to engage short to mid-range targets. BUIS are only as good as their zero, however, so make sure when you mount them you zero them accordingly. A good distance to zero your BUIS to is 200m (656ft.). This is so you can engage targets at a longer range if your optic gets damaged.
Tac-Light (Tactical Light)
Tac-lights are very useful, for indoor use as well as outdoor use. Indoor use, however, is where you’ll see the most benefit with them. When you’re clearing a room in the dark, a bright enough light can temporarily blind your enemy while you aim at them. This can give you the upper-hand, because for a brief moment, your enemy is too disoriented to accurately engage you.
Many people think that tac-lights with strobe capabilities are the only tac-lights you should buy. While they do have their advantages (such as an added blinding effect), they’re more of a luxury than a necessity. A major disadvantage of a strobe light is the fact that you have to worry about accidentally toggling it on when you’re simply trying to use a regular light. This can cause an unnecessary nuisance, while costing you extra money for this feature. There are some strobe lights that cost less than regular lights. However, be careful, you get what quality you pay for.
A great tac-light that I recommend, is the Orion H40-W 500 Lumen LED. 500 lumens are more than bright enough to disorient your enemy within 15 feet, which is usually how close you are to your target in a room. A great feature of this tac-light is that it comes with a pressure switch, giving you more control while using it in a fast-paced environment. While you can mount your pressure switch directly on your rail system, I recommend mounting it on your aftermarket grip attachment.
Vertical Grip / Angled Grip
Grip attachments add a great amount of control for your rifle, giving you a different way of handling your rifle to best fit your shooting needs. Not everyone likes them, and that’s okay. For most people, however, a grip attachment can add more comfortability for shooting. An option for configuring your grip, is attaching the grip closer to your magazine well for CQC (Close Quarters Combat), and using the rail itself for long-ranged engagements.
When battling in close quarters, there are many ways to go about how you configure your support hand. Some shooters preach that you should never have your support hand close to the magazine well, while others swear that it adds more control. In my experience, I believe that it’s shooter’s preference where you put your support hand (although I don’t recommend using your magazine well as a grip).
If the purpose of your rifle is for mainly close to medium range engagements, I recommend the Magpul Rail Vertical Grip. Vertical grips offer you the ability to control the rifle with your palm facing horizontal rather than vertical. The advantage of this, is a faster reaction time when you need to change targets quickly. This is the same grip I have on my M4, and it’s proven to be very durable for the years I’ve used it (haven’t had to replace it yet).
On the opposite end, if you expect more of your engagements to be at a longer range and you don’t want to use a bipod, I recommend the Magpul Angled Fore Grip. The best feature of angled grips, is their ability to maintain a “vertical palm” grip, while adding comfortability. For long-distance shooting with an assault rifle, it’s recommended that you use a vertical palm grip with your support hand as far forward on the rail as you can comfortably. This allows you more stability while pulling the rifle into your shoulder.
Most rifles you buy will already come with a muzzle brake from the manufacturer. However, buying an aftermarket muzzle brake allows you to have more control over your recoil. Door breach muzzle brakes offer another way to incapacitate your enemies, as well as breaching capabilities while protecting your muzzle. Without a muzzle brake, putting your barrel up to a door to breach it can cause damage to the tip of it.
An effective way of incapacitating enemies at close range is called a “muzzle thump”. This method utilizes your muzzle brake to strike your enemy with your barrel like a spear. Using a muzzle thump is a very useful technique when an enemy appears unexpectedly in front of you. When you strike your enemy with your barrel, you’re delivering a powerful blow that can cause extreme pain, and can still fire your weapon shortly after without having to lay a hand on them.
With a door breaching muzzle brake attached, a muzzle thump to your enemy can kill them without having to fire a single round. This is due to the “teeth” on the end, although they’re made to embed in a doorway before breaching. For this attachment, I recommend looking at buying the SHREWD – AR-15 #5 Muzzle Brake. Shrewd has been my go-to for muzzle brakes since my enthusiasm for rifles began (don’t worry, they make them for AK models too).
With a reduced recoil, as well as an added physical impact effect, muzzle brakes are well worth their investment. They can be expensive, but you don’t have to buy an aftermarket muzzle brake if you don’t want to. If your rifle doesn’t come with one (which is rare), I highly suggest you get one yourself.
AR / AK Conclusion
ARs and AKs are two very different rifle platforms, but that doesn’t mean that the attachments are. Most attachments are made to be used on a picatinny rail system, which are offered on both AR and AK models alike. Make sure if you’re shopping for your AK, you adjust the size of the caliber to 7.62 and not the .223 (or 5.56) caliber of the AR models. Whatever attachments (if any) you decide to use for your rifle, make sure that they fit your specific needs.
While your uses for assault rifles change, so must your attachments. If you’re going to be in the wilderness most of the time, a tac-light might not be as much of a use for you as it would in an urban environment (although they can be useful at night anywhere). Don’t be “tacticool” when it comes to attachments. Remember, the more attachments you have, the more weight you’ll have to carry around.
Another factor to consider when looking to add on to your collection of attachments for your rifle is your magazines. I’ve found that Magpul PMAGs are incredibly reliable, as well as durable for a high-stress environment. For added assistance, the Magpul Mag Assist enhancement fits on the end of your magazine, so when they are face-down in your kit you can pull them out easier. In a firefight, your hands get sweaty from the nerves, making it difficult to reach for a new one. Any attachment that helps you in a firefight is your friend, do yourself a favor and invest in them.
Slings are also a great add-on for your rifle, making it easier to keep accountability of your weapon when SHTF and you need to transition to use both of your hands. I recommend using a two-point sling (I like the S2Delta), because you can transition from your rifle, to just your hands with a pull of a cord. Once you pull the cord, the weapon is tight on your body, keeping you accountable for it so nobody can grab it from you. To transition back to your rifle, simply pull another cord (read the simple instructions to learn how to use it). They’re very simple, and effective to use.
Rifle (Sniper / Hunting Platform)
- Range Finder
- Bullet Sleeve
- Recoil Pad
- Cheek Rest
While there’s not as many popular attachments for a hunting/sniper rifle as there are for its assault rifle counterparts, attachments can make your long-range shots a lot more comfortable. I preach that it’s not the hammer that puts in the nail, it’s the person swinging the hammer. While this is very true, any added comfortability (or compatibility) to your rifle can increase your accuracy for long-distance engagements.
While not absolutely needed, the bipod adds a lot of stability to your rifle. I don’t have to tell you why you should get a bipod, but I will tell you not to go cheap when buying one. A spring-loaded bipod is a great option for preppers, because it requires minimal set up. When looking for a spring-loaded bipod, shop for quality, not price.
Nothing can be more frustrating when you’re moving through thick brush with your rifle, and your bipod springs open, causing your rifle to snag on vines (I speak from experience). A lot of your time with a hunting/sniper rifle will be walking through the woods, so take into consideration how heavy the bipod is as well. Any added weight will easily be noticed when you’re walking for hours.
A brand that I’ve learned to trust after years of use, is Harris. For my long-range engagements, as well as trekking through the woods, I have had very little issues with Harris bipods. In my line of work, we aren’t exactly gentle with our equipment. If Harris bipods can withstand the rigorous trials that I’ve put them through in my line of work, they’re sure to withstand whatever you throw at them as a prepper.
Bullet Sleeve / Cheek Rest Combo
Most of your engagements with a hunting/sniper rifle will be with your cheek glued to your buttstock. If you find yourself running low on full magazines, it can be tedious to have to dig in your BOB (or pockets) to retrieve more rounds. A bullet sleeve slides onto your buttstock, allowing you to access more rounds with ease if you need to without having to step away from your rifle.
When your cheek rests on your buttstock for a long period of time, it can become quite sore (or even bruise in my case), making it difficult to comfortably deliver rounds down range. For this reason, I bought the GVN Portable Adjustable Tactical Buttstock Shell Holder Cheek Rest. The only downside about the one I had purchased, is the smell it retains after sweating on it. Other than that, it’s done its job just fine for me and I’m sure it will for you as well.
Cheek rests can also play an important role in eye-relief (how far your eye should be off your scope), making it more comfortable to place your cheek in the right position. With the combination of the bullet sleeve, along with a cheek rest, the GVN is a great deal for preppers. Any added comfortability can make a huge difference when your cheek is glued to your buttstock for hours on end.
When you shoot an upwards of 20-30 rounds per day for multiple days on end through a high-caliber rifle, recoil pads are a great luxury. Recoil pads are a slip-on attachment that you add to the end of your buttstock on your rifle, reducing the recoil felt in your shoulder pocket when shooting. There are many different brands of recoil pads, many of which are great. However, I don’t recommend using a gel-filled one as a prepper. Any puncture or tear in the pad will take away its cushioning, rendering it useless.
Most synthetic buttstocks have a cushion already embedded into them, but they aren’t enough protection for avid shooters. If you shoot more than 50 rounds through your rifle at the range every time you practice, recoil pads are more than worth their investment. The only downside I’ve found with them, is you need to compensate for your eye relief because your scope will be about an inch further from your eye than it would be without the pad.
Throughout my time shooting high-caliber rifles, I’ve grown to love my LimbSaver AirTech Slip-On Recoil Pad. The added cushioning has definitely saved my shoulder from the trauma associated with shooting. I bought one back in 2015, and I haven’t had to replace it yet. I’ve become very impressed with its durability and comfortability, and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you.
Hunting/Sniper Rifle Conclusion
Hunting/sniper rifles are a prepper’s best friend, especially when bugging out into the wilderness. Most rifles cost a good amount of money, so some people might be hesitant to spend more to get attachments and accessories. Let’s face it though, spending a few extra dollars to be a lot more comfortable shooting your rifle seems self-explanatory.
Shotguns (Tactical Platform)
- Pump-Action Grip
- Bandolier Belt
- Mounted Shell Carrier
- Muzzle Brake
- Aftermarket Sights
Shotguns are a great choice of firearm for home defense, though you might destroy your house shooting at an intruder. I won’t include hunting shotguns for this category, because if you’re going to add attachments to a shotgun, you’ll more than likely purchase a tactical one. Tactical shotguns have many uses, but CQC (Close Quarters Combat) is the most frequent reason why they’re used.
When using a pump-action shotgun, it can become tiresome to continue to pump rounds with your palm facing upwards. With a pump action grip, your palm faces sideways, making it a more natural position to push and pull from. With most defensive and offensive scenarios using a shotgun, you’ll be firing multiple rounds in a rapid succession. Any attachment that can ease the use of your shotgun can help you when fatigue sets in.
Based off of user reviews, the TACSTAR Shotgun Tactical Grip has proven to be a fan-favorite. Users have said that they’re a durable, reliable, and comfortable aftermarket grip for their pump-actions. As a prepper, shotguns are a great tool for a defensive position due to their area of effectiveness per shell. If you decide to use a shotgun, I recommend looking into a grip as well.
While a bandolier belt isn’t exactly an attachment, this accessory is highly recommended for use if you have a shotgun. Due to the inaccuracy of a shotgun at greater distances, the chances of you using a lot of shells are high. Because of this, a bandolier belt is highly recommended. Digging in your pockets, or BOB can be difficult in a high-stress situation. With a bandolier belt, you have access to as many as 30 rounds or more.
I personally love the Tourbon 24-round bandolier belt, as it was my first belt (I bought over eight years ago), and I still use it today for hunting. A great feature of the Tourbon belt, is its wide design. Most belts are narrow, wide enough only for the stitching to hold the shells in place. The Tourbon’s wider belt offers more comfortability, and durability when used for a long period of time.
Its two extra pockets located toward the buckle, and long zipper pocket located along the length of the belt on top, offer added storage capacity for various items you might need to access quickly. The zipper above the belt is also a great storage space for items you want to conceal, like small pieces of paper with sensitive information on them (such as locations, times of attack or movement, and number of people in your bug out location).
Tactical Shotguns are a great option for defending your home, or bug out location. Although not all of the possible attachments were named, the ones that were are the ones that are the best suit for your shotgun needs.
Also, just because not all of the attachments in the list didn’t make the top two, doesn’t mean they aren’t great attachments. It simply means that the top two are more practical for saving money, and usage for your shotgun. Whatever you decide to attach to your shotgun is your preference, just don’t spend too much time worrying about what looks cool. Worry about what works, and what has proven to be durable.
- Aftermarket Sights
- Grip Sleeve
Semi-Auto handguns have become more and more popular in the civilian sector since WWII (although they’ve been around earlier than that), and for a good reason. Most of them are reliable, and have a higher ammunition capacity than its revolver counterpart. Semi-auto handguns are far more compatible with attachments than revolvers, but that doesn’t mean you need every attachment on the market for them.
Tac-Light / Laser Combo
In the above segments, I described the uses for a tac-light in CQC (Close Quarters Combat) engagements. For handguns, however, tac-lights play an even more important role. Most (if not all) of your engagements with a handgun will be close-quarters, making the need for a tac-light capable of illuminating your target and disorienting them much higher.
Lasers can greatly increase your target acquisition at close range, making CQC engagements much easier for you while you’re under stress. Most preppers don’t have much real-life experience in firefights, so when they experience their first one, adrenaline can make you miss an easy shot from a close distance. Any assistance with finding your target can mean the difference between life and death, so choose wisely.
I personally love the Streamlight TLR-4 Tac Light with Laser, because of its capability to switch between the two while remaining ambidextrous. If I get shot in my dominant arm and have to switch to my non-dominant one, I feel more at ease knowing that I can still use my light/laser combo as I would with my dominant hand. Also, the laser holds its zero very well, even when it’s only hand-tightened. This is a great feature for when SHTF, because if your weapon falls on the ground and your laser gets detached, you can quickly hand-tighten it back on your handgun and continue firing later without worrying if you zero is lost.
Grip sleeves add a more comfortable feel to your handgun, which can make a big difference with accuracy. While relatively cheap, most grip sleeves are durable and lightweight. This makes them a great attachment a prepper’s handgun, because most preppers spend their money on bug out tools and have little more to spend on weapon attachments.
A grip sleeve can also help you handle your weapon when your hands (or gloves) are slippery because of dirt, water, or a combination of the two. Think of it as tire, you could technically drive with bald tires, but a tire with more grip makes a big difference in handling. The type of grip sleeve you get depends on your hand size and style, but a great brand for grip sleeves is GVN.
My personal favorite is the GVN Tactical Rubber Grip Sleeve, due to its light-weight design, and finger mold. For my finger size, the molding of the sleeve seems to hug them, which makes it so much more comfortable to squeeze and shoot with. With grip sleeves, however, it all depends on your hand size and shape. Give GVN a look, they tend to have the best selection for people with all shapes and sizes of hands.
I didn’t include revolvers on my article for attachments for one reason, there’s really not a lot of attachments worth spending money on for a revolver. Most attachments you’ll find for revolvers are usually cheap knock-offs that will stop working (or break) after a short period of time. My advice is not to spend a lot of money (or time) looking for attachments for your revolvers.
Semi-auto handguns have a variety of options for attachments. You don’t need them to make your handgun do what it’s intended to do, but some attachments will make the work much easier. Extended magazines are also an option for semi-auto handguns, but make sure you get a magazine compatible with the weapon you’ll use it for. Always shop for quality, not just for price.
Attachments and accessories are a great investment if you want the added luxury to help you with your self-defense needs. The biggest factor you should watch for when you’re looking at getting a new attachment for your weapon, is the reviews that follow it. I’ve learned from experience not to buy something for your weapon just because it looks cool and it’s cheap. If it looks too good to be true, most of the time it is.
Don’t be “tacticool”, and go buy all the attachments that you can fit on your weapon. First, you’ll be laughed off the shooting range when you go practice by the veterans. Second, you’ll regret doing so when you need to carry all the added weight for miles. When looking for attachments that run on batteries, try to look for the ones that use AA or AAA batteries. The more common the battery, the more chances you’ll have at replacing them when SHTF and looters clean out store shelves.
The best attachment you can get for your weapon, is the one (or many) attachments that best suit you to be able to engage your enemy with ease. Try not to spend too much on them, however, because the money could be used to stockpile on more weapons (or ammunition). Remember, it’s always shooter’s preference. This article is simply to guide you in the right direction when you’re looking for your next (or first) attachment for your weapon.