Understanding How AR15 Uppers Work and Why You Need One

Most AR15 uppers are very similar. They refer to the upper part of an AR15, and because they don’t contain the serial number, they are interchangeable and don’t have to be registered. An upper contains a charging handle, delta ring assembly, gas tube, gas block, dust cover, hand guard, barrel, flash hider, and forward assist.

There are a few design variations, but all uppers have the same parts and function. It goes without saying that you need an AR15 upper for the rifle to function properly.

Upper Styles

The A1 and A2 upper styles have fixed handles on the top. The A2 has a rear sight with elevation and wind adjustments, handy for any landscape or climate. The A3 and A4 styles are sometimes called flat tops. They have accessory rails on top for mounting any scope, sight, or A2 style removable handle.

Forward Assist

In some combat situations, dirt can clog the upper and prevent the bolt from closing against the back of the round properly. The forward assist enables you to jam the bolt into position when this happens. You will likely never have to touch this button, but it’s there if you need it. Some variations of uppers don’t have this button at all.

Charging Handle

The charging handle pulls the bolt carrier group back, releasing the first round into the chamber. You can also lock the bolt in the back position by engaging the bolt catch. It’s also called a cocking handle or bolt handle and results in the hammer or striker moving to the ready position.


Some uppers have t-marks, which are small white location indicators, helping with accessory location and installation. They’re called t-marks because they’re on the top of the Picatinny rail, but they can also have b-marks, l-marks, and r-marks.

Delta Ring Assembly

The delta ring assembly includes the delta ring, barrel nut, weld spring, and barrel snap ring. It serves to secure the barrel to the upper and provides an attachment for the hand guard. If a hand guard requires special assembly, it’s included in the purchase of that particular hand guard.

A free floating hand guard eliminates the need for a delta ring, so a lot of upper accessories depend on each other and must work together to complete the upper assembly.

Hand Guards

Hand guards attach to the upper and serve as a place to hold the rifle. The barrel gets hot as you shoot, and you can’t stabilize the rifle without a comfortable place to hold it. Hand guards come in all shapes and sizes. It should correspond to the length of barrel you’re using. Free-float hand guards attach to the rear of the delta ring and not at the front of the gas block. They improve accuracy by reducing the flex of the barrel.

Gas Tube

A gas tube transports the high-pressure gas from the gas block to the upper receiver and into the gas tube. Gas tubes should work with your choice of hand guard, and, like hand guards, there are many to choose from.

Flash Hider

The flash hider screws onto the threaded muzzle of the barrel. It does exactly what it sounds like. It hides the flash, making it more discreet in battle. Without cuts on the bottom, it prevents dust from releasing into the air.

It’s important to understand how an AR15 upper functions and why it’s necessary. The components of an AR15 upper allow you to shoot with comfort, ease, and accuracy. You can find all of these accessories and more AR15 parts for sale at grabagun.com.

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5 Best AR-15 Manufacturers on the Market

Though there isn’t a clear cut AR that stands above the rest, there are several manufacturers that outperform their competitors. Ask most gun owners and they will attest to the qualities of certain brands over others. But everyone has their own favorites, which is part of the reason ARs are so damn popular. Something we all love about the AR is their variety. You can customize an AR to make it unrecognizable from the stock product.

Many people say that MIL-SPEC makes the AR. That seems to have adjusted to be more of a marketing ploy rather than an accurate representation of the firearm. There are some criteria and specs that you should look for when you want to find an AR-15 sale. Some of those might include: M4 feed ramps, a high pressure test, gas key that is appropriately staked, the chamber and bore are both chrome-lined, and they are chambered for the 5.56mm NATO. There are plenty of other factors that define quality, but these are a start in what to look for when selecting your ideal firearm. So based off of those criteria, along with general consensus on what makes an ideal AR-15, here is a list of five of the best AR-15 manufacturers on the market.


Since the company is known for initiating some common trends in the AR-15 world, it is only fitting to have them lead the list. Though not an overly old company, dating back to 1982, Barrett has made an impact on the industry. They are credited with making the first shoulder-fired .50 BMG rifle. They are also credited with taking industry standards for an AR-15, bringing all those specifications into their model, and producing some of the world’s best AR-15s.


Colt might have defined early specifications for what an AR should be. Often being at the forefront of technology, they continue to provide commercial grade AR-15s that are almost identical to the military M4. So when you read MIL-SPEC on a Colt AR, it’s a damn good chance that you are getting products worthy of our armed forces. Just because you’ve been doing something for a long time doesn’t mean you will consistently be good at it, but Colt defies that theory by producing industry-defining AR-15s.

Daniel Defense

Necessity is the mother of invention. And when you need high quality AR-15 parts and can’t get them, you start your own company to become a leading producer or top-tier AR-15 rifles and AR-15 accessories; at least, that’s what Marty Daniel did when he founded Daniel Defense. Their AR-15 line has become a staple of the market, impressing thousands of gun enthusiasts with their performance grade finishes. Additionally, Daniel Defense prides itself in crafting many other of their own parts in house. That means the sights, rails, stocks, and flash suppressors will often be made by the company providing the kickass AR.

Heckler and Koch

With origins dating back to supplying firearms to the German military in 1956, it is easy to see why H&K has become trusted with the MIL-SPEC standards most people want in their AR. The HK416 was the firearm that killed Osama Bin Laden. Tried and true firearms that are then crafted for the general public are what H&K excel at. The real ingenuity of their rifles comes from their proprietary gas system, which is based off of a pusher rod. Though often a little bit pricier than some of their counterparts, H&Ks are worth the cost.

Smith & Wesson

Another company that needs no introduction, Smith & Wesson has provided quality firearms for generations. Their AR-15s are no different. They are the dependable, quality rifles that we have come to expect from the S&W name. When you purchase a Smith and Wesson AR-15, you’ll also have access to many of the key details that firearm owners want in their typical AR. It’s hard to have a list of quality firearms without including a S&W.

Now that you know some of the brands, you’ll want to start looking for good gun deals. One of the best options is to purchase with online layaway. This option gives you the flexibility you need to pay for the AR as you build the capital for one. Many of the ARs on this list have a higher price tag than other firearms.


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