AR-15 Upper Kits: A Brief History

AR-15 Upper Kits are Extremely Popular

Since their inception, AR uppers have been through very little revision. This component, along with the lower receiver, are essential to the modularity of the AR-15 rifle. Here at Thunder Tactical, we are big fans of the AR-15’s modular capabilities. I mean, after all, we do sell AR-15 kits, parts, and accessories, so our business very much takes advantage of the fact that people want to be able to customize their rifle as much as possible. One of the most popular things we sell are our AR-15 upper kits and, in today’s post, we thought it would interesting to give a little more history about the AR-15 upper receiver; after all, the upper is one of the main reasons that people enjoy their AR-15 so much. Continue reading below to learn a little more about this little piece of engineering greatness.

The Upper Receiver Has Barely Been Changed

The AR-15’s upper receiver was designed with two things in mind: Durability and ease of disassembly. The upper receiver of this rifle can quickly be detached by simply removing two pins holding it in place. In its original iteration, the upper receiver of the AR-15 was equipped with a carry handle; however, this design has fallen somewhat out of favor with the general population. This change in public opinion happened for two reasons: first, modern gun slings were developed that it made it much easier to carry a rifle and second, the popularity of sighting systems exploded. Additionally, the removal of the carry handle on top of the upper receiver provided a lot of additional real estate for other, more useful accessories. The only other change to the AR-15 upper receiver of particular note is the inclusion of a forward assist. This addition was added because while the AR-15 is great in many aspects of its design, it is not the world’s most reliable rifle when it comes to bolt action.

What Does the Upper Receiver Even Do?

The upper receiver of the AR-15 rifle serves the function of holding the barrel and the bolt carrier group together. The upper receiver houses the charging handle, incorporates the forward assist, and also contains the dust cover which falls over the chamber in order to keep dust and other undesirable debris out of the rifle. It is important to remember, when searching for the perfect upper kit for your AR-15, that while the bolt carrier group and barrel aspects of the upper receiver aren’t optional, dust cover and the forward assist. When browsing upper kits, be sure that the kit your are considering contains all of the features that your desire. Also, it is important to remember that there are different types of uppers. You need to make sure that the upper receiver kit you are considering is compatible with the barrel and/or gas system of your particular AR-15. While 90 percent of systems are compatible, there are always those outliers that just won’t work together. Finally, it’s important to know which type of material you want your upper receiver to be made from. Below we have listed the most common types of AR-15 upper receiver:

  • Forged: Forged upper receivers are made from aluminum and are hammered into molds to achieve a basic shape. The aluminum is then milled into the final form of the receiver, resulting in a very strong and lightweight AR-15 upper.
  • Milled: While it may sound the same, fully milled upper receivers are different than forged receivers that are milled during the detailing process. Milled upper receivers are made from solid blocks of aluminum that are cut to certain specifications on a CNC machine. Again, this will leave the user with a strong, yet lightweight upper receiver for their rifle.
  • Cast: Cast upper receivers have the weakest design among different upper types. This is due to the fact that the crystalline structure of the metal is not fully bonded during the casting process resulting in a weaker receiver. However, while they are technically the weakest, they are also, usually, the most cost efficient.
  • Whatever upper receiver kit you choose, just be sure that it is within your budget, fits your AR-15 and your AR-15’s components, and comes with all of the features that you desire. Remember, just because something looks cool doesn’t mean it is the best practical choice for your rifle.

    Upper Kits Will Keep Any Enthusiast Busy

    When it comes down to it, upper receivers are a key part of the overall design and versatility of the AR-15 rifle. Upper receivers are unserialized, which means that an AR-15 owner can switch out the upper receiver to fit a multitude of situations without worrying about compromising the legal standing of the rifle. This means that if in one situation you need an upper receiver that accommodates a short barrel with iron sights and in another you need an upper receiver that holds a longer barrel and can hold a scoped sight, you can easily switch between the two. In summation, while the upper receiver of the AR-15 rifle is not the most important part of the rifle, it is a part that should still be considered when deciding how to customize the rifle.

    We here at Thunder Tactical, hope that this blog post has helped to shed a little more light on the upper receiver of the AR-15 rifle. If you’re in the market for a new upper receiver, check out our wide selection of upper receivers and upper receiver kits. We have a wide range of AR-15 upper receivers in multiple colors, materials, and caliber size and are sure to have an upper receiver that will fit your style. If you’re not in the market for an upper receiver, check out our website anyway. We have multiple parts and accessories for AR-15 rifles, including barrels, sighting systems, foldable stocks, slings, and vertical grips. Whatever you need for your AR-15, we are sure that we will be able to help you out. Don’t delay, trick out your AR-15 today with the experts at Thunder Tactical.

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