Selecting a pistol grip is one of the main considerations for anyone building an AR-15. It’s also one of the first things a new owner will upgrade on their rifle or pistol. But with all the high-quality parts on the market, choosing the best AR-15 pistol grip may be a challenge.
A lot of pistol grip manufacturers offer top-shelf build quality, ergonomics, and aesthetics. So, for the most part, what you choose will likely come down to personal taste. I would even say that if you stick to a trusted brand, you really can’t go wrong regardless of what you choose.
But, there are a few factors you’ll want to be aware of, and I’ve taken the time to detail the most important ones here. I’ve also put together a comprehensive list of the best AR-15 pistol grips currently available and broken out my top 5 favorites.
Best AR-15 Pistol Grips Interactive List
I always like to start these guides by providing an avenue to explore your available options. That way you can see what different brands have to offer. If you’re new to this, you may find a few unfamiliar terms. But don’t worry, I’ll do my best to cover everything you’ll need to know later on.
With that in mind, I’ve created an interactive list that will let you compare and contrast different makes. Select the button for additional information.[table id=7 /]
What To Consider When Choosing A Pistol Grip
The purpose of any pistol grip is simply to orient your hand forward allowing you to operate a weapon in a safe and stable manner. But there are some other factors you should consider, as the intended use of some pistol grips may not match your specific needs.
Foremost, you want to make a decision based on the other components of your setup. As an example, if you use your AR-15 as a personal defense weapon or rely on your gun as a duty weapon, you want to focus on getting a grip that is both comfortable and rugged enough to work in any situation.
If your AR-15 is simply a range gun or something you break out once-and-a-while for fun, then you can probably forego some of those considerations and concentrate more on price or aesthetics.
Similarly, if you do competitions your needs may change. Either way, it’s an accessory that you want to make work for you and your particular style. To get a little more in depth, I’ve put together a list of various considerations to help make things a little easier.
Comfort and Ergonomics
Comfort and ergonomics is huge when selecting a pistol grip for any AR-15 pistol or rifle. Simply put, you should always look for a grip that not only matches your intended use, but one that feels right to you. Here are some things to consider when choosing a grip:
- Hand Size and Orientation
- Reduced Grip Angle VS. Standard Grip Angle
- Finger-to-trigger Positioning
- Build Material
- Rubberized Finish VS. Hard Finish
- Aggressive Texturing VS. Smooth Texturing
- Palm Swells VS. No Palm Swells
- Finger Grooves VS. No Finger Grooves
For an AR-15 pistol build in particular, I really dig the new reduced grip angle stuff from Magpul and Bravo Company USA. I’ve found that a vertical angle facilitates a more squared stance. It also places your wrist and hand in a more comfortable position relative to a standard angle grip. This is great
when shouldering a pistol or for a rifle with the butt stock collapsed all the way.
Palm Swells and Finger Grooves
Rubberized finishes and aggressive texturing really make a big difference when handling a weapon for long periods of time. These features are great especially in wet or sweaty environments. I’ve found some texturing and stippling to be uncomfortable, however, and it can make carrying your weapon a nightmare.
I really like the rubberized finish you’ll find on some grips like the Hogue and Ergo grips. But from my perspective, this isn’t a deal breaker.
One thing to really consider is the size and shape of palm swells and finger grooves. Many people, especially those with big hands, love a substantial palm swell and finger grooves. Others, however, find them annoying. I love them, especially on the aforementioned Hogue and Ergo grips.
Durability, Aesthetics, and Price Point
There are so many high-quality AR-15 pistol grips available from reputable manufacturers now-a-days, that durability and aesthetics have really become secondary considerations. Most grips cost between $5 and $50 as well, so you’re not really breaking the bank.
Like I said previously, it’s hard to find a bad pistol grip if you stick with a good brand. Most AR grips are made from durable polymers or reinforced fiberglass and are virtually indestructible under most conditions.
So, concentrate mostly on choosing something that you are comfortable with, fits your budget, and matches your needs.
Top 5 Best AR-15 Pistol Grips
The Magpul MIAD made my list for it’s combination of clever design, ergonomics, and aesthetics; it’s also super popular. At most online retailers, you can find one for around $35. And, it’s packed with features that would impress just about anyone.
The MIAD is a standard drop-in replacement for most AR-15 lowers. In the box you’ll get 3 back straps, 2 front straps, a removable inner core that holds a 1/2 ounce lubrication bottle, and mounting hardware. The back straps come in small, medium, and large sizes to match your hand size. Note that the small back strap does not have a beaver tail like the medium and large back straps. The interchangeable front straps come with or without a finger shelf (A2 or A1 style.)
The removable inner core holds a reusable 1/2 ounce lubrication bottle, which is a nice touch. Just fill it up with your favorite lubricating oil and you’re ready to go. Other grip cores are available through Magupul that allow you to store anything from extra bullets, batteries, or even an extra firing pin and bolt.
The Hogue OverMolded pistol grip is another hugely popular choice, and for good reason. With it’s rubberized finish, finger grooves, and generous palm swells the Hogue grip is extremely comfortable and ergonomic- especially if you have bigger hands. And, at only $18 it’s a steal. The rubberized grip is surprisingly “grippy” and offers great purchase even with wet or sweaty hands.
The Hogue OverMolded pistol grip is not without fault, however. It doesn’t come with mounting hardware, so you will either have to buy the bolt, washer, and spring separately or reuse your old stuff if you’re upgrading. The grip also doesn’t come with a core plug, so you’ll have to buy that separately.
It does accommodate the Samson Manufacturing Field Survivor Tool which is a pretty sweet addition if you want to spend the money. Otherwise a separate core plug is available that holds 123A, AA, or disc shaped batteries.
I love the TangoDown BG-17 pistol grip for it’s simple, clean, and unique design. The back strap features a unique curvature that is meant to fill and support the hand as well as provide the correct finger-to-trigger positioning. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that the BG-17 is a very comfortable grip that dramatically decreases fatigue when compared to the standard A2 grip.
The BG-17 pistol grip is also a little bit bigger than it’s brethren the BG-16, which I found was a tad too small for larger hands. From my perspective, however, the BG-17 is just right and offers a great alternative. It’s aggressive texturing is also great and provides a secure purchase regardless of the elements.
TangoDown’s BG-17 also features an element resistant storage compartment that allows easy access to spare batteries or other small parts. At $37, however, the TangoDown BG-17 is a bit on the expensive site. It is made in the USA and for what you get it’s certainly worth every penny.
BCM Gunfighter MOD-3
A more recent trend is pistol grip design is towards grips with a reduced grip angle. The vertical nature of the grip promotes a more squared stance as opposed to a bladed stance that has become less and less popular over time. The reduced grip angle is great for AR-15 pistols as well since the grip puts your hand and wrist in a more neutral position when shouldered.
The BCM GUNFIGHTER Grip MOD 3 is one such grip that offers a reduced grip angle and great ergonomics. The entire Bravo Company USA product line up has received great reviews from users, and I’m no exception. In fact I’ll likely be using this very same grip on an upcoming AR-15 pistol build.
The MOD 3 is a welcome addition to the BCM GUNFIGHTER pistol grip lineup and is slightly larger than their previous models. It also features a slight palm swell that really makes the grip feel great in all hands, large or small. It also features a weather resistant storage compartment for storing extra batteries or other accessories. The grip comes with a new bolt and washer, but you’ll need to purchase another detent spring or keep your old one. At only $18, the MOD 3 is also a killer deal.
The Magpul MOE-K2 is another reduced angle pistol grip that’s getting great reviews. Similar to the offering from Bravo Company USA, the Magpul MOE-K2 greatly improves ergonomics when used on a AR-15 pistol or rifle with the butt stock collapsed.
The MOE-K2 also has a few other unique features, which make it worth considering. The new texturing Magpul uses is simply great and from my perspective offers a better purchase than the original MOE-K grip. Its unique back strap design does take some getting used to, however, but is well designed and aides in trigger finger placement. I think it helps, but I also found the back strap to be a little uncomfortable after prolonged use- particularly in the webbing between the thumb and index finger.
The MOE-K2 also accepts Magpul’s proprietary grip cores just like the MIAD. That’s one feature I really love about the Magpul pistol grips. The MOE-K2 comes in at a very reasonable $20 and comes with all the necessary mounting hardware and standard grip cap.
Choosing a pistol grip isn’t rocket science. However, you can see there are a few things to keep in mind when making a decision. If you are still unsure about what to pick, try a few out. You’re bound to find one that you like. Ask a trusted friend what they recommend or look around the net or on YouTube for some suggestions.
I’ll be updating this article periodically as we test new pistol grips. In the mean time, if you have any input or want to make a recommendation, leave it in the comments below!