July 13 2021 – Kara Schott
Some gun accessories mount directly to your rifle. Others require you to swap out a part for replacement, and still others yet are accessories that don’t attach to your firearm but can improve your experience at the range or in the field.
We’ve compiled some of the most practical gun accessories, some of which you can order for a song, and all of which will enhance your shooting experience, give you an edge in the field or facilitate maintenance.
- Extra magazines
One of the most basic of all gun accessories, fundamental to the operation of rifles capable of semi-automatic and selective automatic fire to the point that, surprisingly, most guns are sold with just one.
Whether you are a practitioner of range therapy or you actively compete in shooting sports, rounding out your rifle with several spare mags is more of a must than a suggestion. For one, in competition, wherein you will be timed, an accessible, spare loaded mag (or several) is an absolute imperative.
As for those of you who love to burn brass at the range, you can either waste time reloading the same mag over and over again or you can cycle between 3 or 4 or even 5 spare loaded mags before fumbling around with cartridges again.
Affordable and wildly practical, every tactical outfit should have space for a few spare loaded mags. Use that space.
- A speedloader
A speedloader is a gun accessory that you might not think you need, but won’t be able to envision life without once you’ve gotten used to it. There are all different types of speedloaders featuring equally different construction, and they all work in different ways. Some load a mag one cartridge at a time whereas others can load 15 or more rounds in a sweep. Some are also even really good at unloading mags, too.
Here’s what they have in common. They save you time - so much time - and that time is money. If you’re renting range space by the hour, every second you aren’t spending shooting is wasted time. Even if you aren’t being actively charged, you go to the range to practice and enjoy the shooting sports. You can load magazines at home over a bench, or sitting by your tailgate. Don’t do it at the range.
For what it’s worth, speedloaders won’t simply drastically cut back on wasted time you would otherwise spend at the range loading or unloading mags. They will also improve your comfort. We can’t claim that .223 cartridges are as difficult to manipulate as .22 LR rounds. They aren’t, even in the cold; but it is a lot more comfortable to load a mag with a speedloader than it is to do it by hand.
Some veteran shooters know the old trick to use the rim of a cartridge to strip off unfired rounds from a loaded mag - but this only helps with reloading. When it comes to loading, pay a few bucks and throw a speedloader in the range bag.
- A range tool
A range tool is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that you should throw in your range bag, even though there isn’t one neat way to categorize them all. They aren’t gun accessories in the sense that they don’t mount to your firearm, but they do make an impact on the shooting experience.
Some range tools, for example, have choke wrenches so clay shooters can swap out chokes to improve their likelihood of dusting the birds. That’s not much use for shooters of sporting rifles, but many range tools contain pin punches and a wide assortment of driver bits that can be used to field strip rifles to give them a thorough cleaning in the field.
Some range tools even have adapters for cleaning jags and brushes which can be highly useful for field cleaning as well - although, if you scroll a little bit further down, you will see that we are also advocating - separately - for the inclusion of a cleaning kit in your collection of essential gun accessories.
Basic range tools will have Torx driver bits, flat heads drivers, and allen wrenches. With these, you can assemble and disassemble certain components of your firearm, adjust scope rings and even adjust the scope itself. Some of them will even enable you to manipulate trigger pull and other settings; it’s like having a little shop in your range bag, and well worth the investment.
- Snap caps or dummy rounds
Ammo is not only not cheap at the moment, in some instances, but it is also downright impossible to locate. Even popular cartridges like .223 and 12 gauge have become rare, hot commodities. If you’re new to shooting sports, still developing confidence, or helping get someone else into them, snap caps might provide a lot of value.
For one, they can improve confidence behind the rifle and give the shooter a sense of predictability about when the trigger is going to break. If you become confident with them and train with them before going to the range, they may even be able to help you overcome a propensity to flinch.
Also, if you’re going to train with dry-firing, or, if you’re going to let someone else use your rifle to do so, don’t let them drop the firing pin on an empty chamber. That will be likely to eventually break your firing pin and is simply not worth it.
There’s one more thing about snap caps. If you’re personally in the habit of releasing spring tension before storing your gun and like to store your rifle with the action closed and uncocked, you can throw a snap cap in your chamber and drop the firing pin. That way, you can store your gun uncocked without having to dry fire it.
Today, the name Magpul is associated with Magpul Industries, which makes and markets quite a variety of gun accessories. However, much of their success has been attributable to the immense popularity of the original Magpul - a magazine pull. A magpul is a remarkably simple magazine accessory that makes it easier to draw a magazine from its place in a vest or pouch.
The value here is basic and doesn’t need to be overstated. These accessories are very popular among soldiers, but if you’re a competitive shooter that is scored on speed, easy access to a magazine on your vest might garner you some favor.
- A lightweight, folding bipod
A lightweight, folding bipod is also an extremely valuable gun accessory, especially for two different classes of shooters: long-range shooters and hunters.
While an AR-15 or similar sporting rifle is probably not the first thing you consider when you think of long-range shooting, some shooters who own them do enjoy the long game. The thing is, effectively shooting a sporting rifle at distance requires a stable platform, period. There’s no practical way to use your forearm or even your pack as a rest, and a light, folding bipod will give you a stable surface, enabling you to improve shot placement and get those groups on target.
AR 15 rifles and similar sporting platforms have become very popular among hunters in certain areas of the country, especially those who hunt game that is either dangerous or wily to the point that quick follow up shorts are a part of the chase.
However, hunters occasionally still need a stable shooting rest to make ethical shots - especially at distance - and a bipod is vital for this. If it’s light and folds out of the way when not needed, even better.
- A cleaning kit - preferably a light, compact kit with a case
Plenty of shooters do their cleaning and disassembly at home, and cleaning out the bore, bolt carrier group, trigger assembly, and other sensitive, moving parts of the rifle will keep it operable and accurate for longer. Allowing fouling to accrue and go unaddressed will eventually come back to bite you. You can take that as fact.
In some instances, especially if you are in the field and will be away from home or “base camp,” as it were, it might be necessary to clean, oil, and lube your gun before you get back. For example, if you’re on a multi-day hunting trip and conditions are less than favorable, field stripping and cleaning can save the sensitive works of your rifle.
Mud, silt, water, and fouling can all wreak havoc on a firearm, even in a space of fewer than 24 hours. Flash rust is a real thing, but keeping a firearm clean and lightly oiled can work wonders. You just need to be fastidious; keep a portable cleaning kit on hand.
- A brass catcher that works
Ammo is short right now, in all areas of the country, and it isn’t cheap, either. Don’t waste your brass, but don’t go raking it up, either. Put your money in a brass catcher that works and won’t hang up on the brush, jam, melt or catch fire.
Our Brass Goat brass catcher has been specifically designed to meet each of these issues head-on. It mounts in seconds to lower receiver magwells (without the need for tools) and will not jam, melt, or catch fire. It’s made from solid, molded ABS resin that is durable and reliable, and compatible with a hopper that can hold up to 30 rounds of .223.
Another great point associated with this vital gun accessory is that, since it doesn’t require any rail space and has a slim profile, it will keep your sight picture entirely unobstructed as well.
- A center mass laser sight
Center mass laser sights like the classic LaserLyte Center Mass Sights can be highly valuable for target acquisition. Admittedly, they are more popular among owners of handguns and shotguns, but the ability they can give shooters to reflexively acquire a target and make quick, responsive adjustments is second to none.
For reflex shooting and shooting in darkened conditions, a center mass laser sight can be a very practical gun accessory. Some of them are even activated by grip, which makes them extremely user-friendly.
- Night sights
The laser sight and the right dot sight might not be for everyone. Some shooters, no doubt, will prefer the simplicity and power-independence of glowing night sights.
Night sights, such as those that use tritium, are independent of power and excellent in low light conditions where concealment is critical. Not many shooters work over naked iron sights, but if you’re a traditionalist in that sense, a set of night sights might be a very practical upgrade for your rifle.
- A range bag
It might seem like a foregone conclusion, but you’re going to need a place to store all of the other gun accessories mentioned here, and that makes a range bag a must. Stuff your range bag with all of the accessories we’ve mentioned here that don’t mount to your gun, along with spotting optics, lubricants, solvents, cleaners, brushes, tools, and any other accessories that you could need at the range. Simple, unexciting, but necessary, a range bag is an accessory that’s worth the money.
- An ammo box; or, several of them
Finally, there’s one more plain but entirely necessary accessory you should throw into your catalog of gear, and it’s an ammo box or an ammo can. More properly, it is several of these.
Ammo boxes will protect your ammunition from extremes of temperature and will also keep them safe against the ravaging influences of moisture. In addition to protecting your ammo, many ammo boxes or cans will also give you the ability to lock them, if you so choose. Just like a range bag, ammo boxes are not particularly exciting, but worth the few dollars they will cost.
Looking for additional gun accessories or gun parts to keep on hand to improve your shooting experience? Do you have questions about our Brass Goat? Get in touch with our customer service department via our contact page and we’ll lend assistance.