Some Of My Top Picks
Firearm accessories allow you to use the same gun in many different situations, and more often than not they give your weapon greater utility and performance capability with a simple attachment.
These add-ons can range from red dot sights to extended magazines or even a tactical sling. We’ll talk about some of the most common accessories and see which ones are worth your time to pick up.
The first thing you have to consider is the type of application you anticipate needing the gun attachments for. Tactical accessories may give way to additional features for enhanced ruggedness. Take a scope, for example. A deer hunter is looking for precision and weather durability. A SRT member on the other hand is probably most concerned about quick target acquisition, form factor (small size) and absolute ruggedness because they don’t want to knock their scope off while making a forced entry.
Another thing which of course matters is cost. We all want the top of the line accessory but it almost always comes down to cost, and it’s that price / performance ratio that you need to work out for yourself based on your own needs and situation. We obviously can’t cover all firearm accessories for every application, so this page is intended only as an overview and is based on my experience and preferences to give you something to chew on as you mull over your own needs and options.
Red Dot Sights
EOTech Red Dot Holographic Sights Deliver
One of the most common questions which arises when talking about firearm accessories is a red dot sight, either for small game / varmint hunting or tactical use. These sights typically don’t offer magnification but what they do is give a quick and clear sight picture. It’s easy to get a short to mid-range zero and then place pretty good shots, fast.
Depending on how much you want to spend, you can get the most common type of Red Dot, the Reflex Sight, or go for the much more expensive (but higher quality) holographic sights like the ones from EOTech.
Red Dot sights literally just provide a red dot via laser or LED lighting thrown by a parabolic reflector(s) for sighting , while holographic sights use a laser to emit the light within the sight to deliver the clear, crisp and always visible dot or reticle that is essentially parallax-free at all angles. (See images below)
However, for me and after reviewing and considering all the attachments available, I opted for what is considered by many to be the gold standard for holographic sights, the EOTech 512.A65 Tactical Holographic Sight shown above at Amazon. Yes, it’s pricey, but as you can see from the other reviewers it’s frankly a great sight.
This model isn’t made any more but plenty of retailers still have it in stock and it’s a gem of a find.
I’ve personally wasted too much money on cheap imports and low-quality knock-offs when buying firearm accessories. When I’m in the field or at the range I want to know that my firearm and accessories are reliable. And with a 4.8 out of 5 Star Rating on Amazon (350+ reviews) you see that a lot of other people feel the same.
Holographic Sight Diagram
Reflex Sight Diagram
I like the fact that this one uses the AA batteries and not a button battery like the EOTech XPS2-0 which I almost got due to its more compact size. If it ever hits the fan I know I’ll be more likely to find or have AA batteries than a non-rechargeable button battery.
My bug out bag already includes a portable Goal Zero 19010 Guide Solar Charging Kit which is tiny and fits nicely in my bag; I’ll have battery recharging juice for a long time off the grid if need be. While it’s clearly not in the firearm accessories category, I think it’s worth mentioning for those who take prepping seriously.
Another reason to go with a good brand like EOTech (or AimPoint) is that you don’t have to worry about recoil killing the sight. If you read enough reviews you’ll find that a lot of cheaper sights simply won’t withstand the shock of an AR or hunting rifle, so what’s the point of saving money if it breaks when you use it?
I would be nagged to death if I didn’t also mention or give a nod to AimPoint on a page about firearm accessories. Let’s face it, both EOTech and AimPoint are top of the line.
You’ll find fanboys for both brands and either will do the job well. That being said, I do like the Aimpoint H-1 4 MOA Micro Sight holographic shown here.
The H-1 4 has two major things going for it that might separate it from the EOTech mentioned earlier.
First, I really like the large adjustment knob and the fact that you can make on the fly adjustments without a tool or too much fuss. Secondly, this (and most AimPoints) sight claims to achieve 50,000 hours of battery life, or five years of continuous use. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot more use than I’ll likely ever need. Add one spare battery at .75 cents and you’ve got a lifetime of holographic sighting.
Yes, it runs on Lithium CR2032 batteries which you cannot recharge in the field, and as stated earlier one of my criteria was being able to replace my batteries with AA’s that I’ve recharged in the field for any potentiality that there’s ever a major crisis. I have solar chargers in my packs. But at 5 years per set of batteries its not likely to be a problem… just sayin’.
Both models are parallax-free and mount on any firearm or bow, though this AimPoint weighs in at a svelte 3.7 ounces making it more ideal for bows; the EOTech weighs 10.9 ounces.
One other point of note for those considering either of these two gun accessories brands is that AimPoint offers an astounding 10 year warranty for those using it for personal or recreational use (2 years for professional or competitive use), while EOTech only offers a 2 year warranty.
The two models are water-proof as well so that’s a non-factor. Finally, let’s talk about the sight picture and how that parlays into in-the-field use.
The EOTech models have 1 MOA while the AimPoint H1-4 has a 4 MOA. What does that mean to you and I? Here’s what OpticsPlanet says:
“Most red dot sights are around 4 MOA which means the dot will cover 4 inches at 100 yards, or 2 inches at 50 yards or 8 inches at 200 yards. When buying a red dot, remember that if you have a gun that will put all its shots into a 2 inch group at 100 yards and you install a sight with a 4 minute dot, you will never see a 2 inch group again.”
What that means is that with the AimPoint’s 4 MOA you will have a very difficult time hitting targets accurately over 100 yards, maybe even less, because the reticle will cover your hit zone, whereas with the EOTech and it’s 1 MOA you’ll be able to clearly see your target well beyond 100 yards.
The reverse of this is that at close distance the 4 MOA might provide a quicker target acquisition… so weigh this out for your needs.
For those sold on AimPoint and needing a more precise MOA, check out the Micro T-1 with it’s 2 MOA.
Best Red Dot Reflex Sight
Lastly, I feel the need to weigh in with a less costly (yet still quality) option for those wanting a Red Dot. If you just cannot afford one of the two top holographic options above, then there’s still hope. We all know that you get what you pay for, but there is a happy medium here where you can still get quality and the performance you need from your firearm accessories.
Bushnell has a very affordable yet capable reflex sight, the Trophy TRS-25, for under $100. You’ll see at Amazon that it has over 2,250 reviews with a rating of 4.4 out of 5, which is really good with that many reviews!
This thing is a work horse and will stand up to the abuse, and is light-footed at 3.7 ounces. Like all good sights, you can shoot with both eyes open and this model is parallax-free so eye relief and angle aren’t an issue. If you want to learn more or read user reviews, check it out here at Amazon.
Rail Mounted Tactical Lights
I admit it, this firearm accessory really doesn’t pertain to most hunters or pistol shooters, though some specific tactical uses call for a sidearm mounted light. I’m discussing these because many (if not most) of us have AR’s, Mini-14’s or other semi-automatic tactical rifles, and for a lot of us the added benefits of a weapon-mounted light are many.
That being said, and considering this category and the use I described, there is really only a handful of choices within a general price range of $100 – $150, and for my money they are all Streamlight.
I spent 15 years of my early career in law enforcement and I have owned and used Streamlight flashlights for much longer. Quality is synonymous with the company and user reviews bear that out.
The only model I’m going to discuss here is the Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL (shown left), a very high lumen rail-mounted tactical light. Before I get in to it, let Amazon user reviews guide you… this light has a 4.8 out of 5 Star rating based on over 2,672 reviews! It’s that good.
I know I stressed my reliance on rechargeable AA or AAA batteries and a dislike for button or other less common batteries, however in a small TAC light which will mount underneath or on the side of my firearm I think it’s worth the weight and space savings to settle for CR123A batteries… too much weight at the fore of your rifle just isn’t good.
The Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 weighs in at a mere 4.18-ounces and has a simple and quick mount/dismount rail system. It’s designed to fit all Glock-style rails as well as all MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rails.
It’s bright, letting loose of 630 lumens! Yikes! Expect the light to run for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, so as with all TAC lights, use it sparingly. Lastly, as you might expect, the light is fully waterproof.
EOTech 3x Magnifier
This doesn’t fall into the category of cheap firearm accessories, to be sure, but if you can afford it then it’s a no-brainer to add one to your AR rig. A Magnifier like this one allows you to use your Red Dot sight alone, without magnification, by simply flipping this down out of the way.
When you need to extend your range simply flip this up and lock into place with a handy quick lock bar, then working in conjunction with your red dot sight you’ll perform normal target acquisition, just at 3x magnification.
This one is the EoTech G33.STS Magnifier which everyone has raved about.
The G33 is one of those tactical gun accessories that just makes sense for anyone who takes their weapon seriously and who is committed to being ready for whatever situation might present itself.
As you can see in the image on the left, the Magnifier mounts directly behind your Red Dot and flips down, out of the way, when you don’t want or need the added magnification.
Of my firearm accessories, this is one of my favorites.
As you know, EOTech takes quality seriously and you can rest assured that this Magnifier is no different. In fact I’ll go so far as to say that EOTech is one of my favorite manufacturers for pistol and rifle accessories, simply because I trust their quality and I know I get my money’s worth.
This isn’t something everyone can afford, but if you can, you won’t regret it.
Miscellaneous Firearm Accessories
Here are a few of the other items I like and recommend. I realize they aren’t exactly tactical firearms accessories. However, if you’re like me you can never have enough gadgets or accessories, but there are some which really do merit having. I think these fall in to that category.
Gun Range Hearing Protection
I’ve used Noise Braker® type hearing protection for years because it lets me set the ear plugs and forget about it. I can carry on normal conversations with ease, and fire off shots at will without having to pull the plugs in between.
The SureFire EarPro EP6 here is a very affordable (under $15) option and should be in every gear bag. If you have and use ear muffs you might still be able to use these… the muffs I have do fit over the EarPro’s so I can use both if I want to and need additional protection for, say, skeet shooting.
What makes these worth the money is that they allow normal sounds below 85 dB, and anything above that is dampened with patented Hocks Noise Braker® filters. They have a small, center stopper which you can leave open to take advantage of the noise filter, or you can insert the stoppers and achieve noise reduction to 24 dB. Read more about them here at Amazon.
Eye Protection For The Range & Hunting
Like ear protection, I realize that these aren’t “firearm accessories.” Do a search and you’ll find lots of stories about people who received eye injuries because they weren’t wearing protection at the gun range or out shooting. I think it’s so important that I chose to talk about it.
We all think we got it covered, and stuff like that won’t happen to us, but the truth is it does, and can.
Because of that I’ve always taken it serious and I wear good stuff. That doesn’t mean I buy the most expensive Oakley’s or Smith Optics, but I do make sure the lenses and frames hold up and have a few features that matter.
This ESS Ice 3LS Eyeshield Kit is far and away the cost/performance leader for anyone who shoots or hunts.
For starters, “safety glasses” as a term doesn’t mean anything, it’s a generic term because there are so many “standards” with varying degrees of ruggedness.
Make sure that your glasses meet the most stringent standards, like the U.S Military’s .15 caliber ballistic impact test MIL-PRF-31013 126.96.36.199. Here’s what that means:
The ballistic resistance of the spectacles shall be such that they will pass a Vo test using a 0.15 caliber, 5.8 grain, T37 shaped projectile at a velocity of 640 to 660 feet per second when tested as specified in 188.8.131.52.
ESS Impact Testing – U.S. Mil Spec vs. ANSI
The ESS Ice 3LS is my favorite from their line for a couple of important reasons.
First, these are currently selling much cheaper than the other ESS models, even though they meet the same standards. Next, I like that this pair comes with extra, inter-changeable lenses for different scenarios, as well as a hard case.
I also personally prefer the look and feel of these over other models… they have a nice wrap-around style that adds extra safety and blocks out reflective lighting which can affect my shots.
In the end grab whatever you like best in terms of styling, and which meets these more stringent safety guidelines. But make sure you’re always using good eye-wear and have them in your gun accessories gear bag.
Quality Firearm Cleaning Kit
If you’re like me you have an ammo box full of spare parts, cleaning rods of various sizes, etc…. What that means is I have to sort through it all every time I clean one of my rifles or pistols to find the pieces I need.
Because of that and the general trend towards using bore snakes (Otis calls them Memory-Flex® Cables) I’ve made the move to specific Otis cleaning kits for each of my applications. Like this Otis M4/M16 Soft Pack Cleaning System which is something I don’t go to the range without.
These kits are small, lightweight and so portable. That means it’s easy to throw the ones I need into my range bag and do a quick cleaning in the field before I get home.
I especially like to run a bore brush through the guns before getting them home. One of the greatest advantages of bore snakes over old-fashioned cleaning rods is that I’m not pushing from barrel to breech, thus pushing the debris into the chamber of my weapon.
With a bore snake you pull the brush or cloth from the breech out towards the barrel tip, pulling debris out and away from your guns.
Have A Quick Deploy Day Or Range Pack?
The 5.11 Rush 10 Mobile Operation Attachment Bag is one serious pack, and Shooting Times named it one of their “Must Have Gun Accessories.”
I admit, if there’s one thing I collect too many of it would be backpacks and bags. I’m an avid backpacker and love to hike every chance I get, and I’m also a gun nut and love to stow and carry lots of gear. So yes, I love this bag from 5.11.
If you’ve read my other articles or posts somewhere then you know how I feel about backpacks and bug out bags (read more here if you haven’t), and so this doesn’t qualify as anything more than my range or day bag, or in my trunk as part of my get home quick bag in case there’s a reason I’m forced to hump it.
Truth is, I love almost everything from this company and I wear their clothes as well. You may question the price, but not the quality.
This bag is designed for those of us who like to take our gear, and who demand lots of space and quick deployment options. It’s also designed to attach to 5.11 RUSH backpacks giving you more flexibility.
Features which make this a winner include the concealed carry compartment in the belt system, and a pass-through hydration port and space for 1.5 liters of water.
A Quick Video Tour Of Some Cool Firearm Accessories (M4)
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Also check out this page at Amazon which highlights available discount gun accessories marked 50% off or more. Finally, visit our main resource page here for more firearm accessories related manufacturers links and information.
Do you have any of these or did I leave your favorite off the list?