One of the best things about being a firearms enthusiast for many people is the ability to accessorize, improve, personalize, or otherwise bling up your guns and gear with accessories. Whether this is purely an aesthetic choice (“tacticool” add-ons can help you flex on the ‘gram) or an effort to add more functionality to your home defense, personal defense, training, or target shooting setups, we’ve gathered some of the hottest firearm accessories for gun owners in 2022. Let’s get started!
Top Firearm Accessories
1. Mini red dot sights and optics for handguns
As we pointed out in our article on handgun red dot basics, the mini red dot sight (MRDS) category of firearm accessory is one of the hottest trends in all gun-dom, due to its ability to increase speed, accuracy, and versatility of any handgun.
Red dot sights for pistols, in general, are selling like hotcakes, with ultra-small carry-sized red dots being offered by all the major players for the super-slim micro-compact carry pistols prevalent today. Nearly all firearms manufacturers wanting a share of the concealed-carry or competition market are offering guns that are pre-milled and drilled/tapped to allow the mounting of MRDS optics.
However, the most exciting development in handgun red dot optics lately is the trend toward enclosed-emitter models.
The vast majority of MRDS optics over the past 10 years have been “open emitter” designs, with a single reflective screen to reflect the dot’s emitter, which is exposed to the elements. This can potentially allow water, dirt, snow, mud, tactical Twinkie crumbs, etc. to partially or fully obscure the emitter or window, which is no bueno for obvious reasons.
An enclosed-emitter MRDS is essentially a miniaturized and “ruggedized” version of the durable and ubiquitous rifle-sized red dots (such as the gold-standard Aimpoint Micro T2), with a sturdy housing and both front and rear glass screens to keep the emitter free from debris or damage. If you get snow/dust/mud/blood/whatever on the lenses, you can simply wipe it off and the optic will still be functional.
The tradeoff here for handgun designs is weight, bulk, battery life, view window size, and cost. The “boxy” enclosed emitter MRDS needs a thicker, bulkier outer housing both to enclose front/rear lenses (which have to be smaller than some open-emitter designs) and also to protect them from the demands of typical use.
In addition, this design requires more oomph from a battery, and the initial offerings were disappointing in this regard. Recently, though, several companies are stepping up to the plate with enclosed-emitter MRDSes that are both rugged and have satisfactory battery life.
The Aimpoint Acro was one of the first pioneers here, with Holosun following with the well-regarded HE509T and recently with their EPS (Enclosed Pistol Sight) models, which have solar-assist and a choice of red or green reticles.
The Swampfox Kraken enclosed-emitter MRDS
One new entry for 2022 we’re pumped about is the Kraken, coming soon from Swampfox Optics.
The Kraken is a new enclosed-emitter model from the Colorado-based company, and for a first offering it’s singing all the right notes:
- Rugged, enclosed-emitter design
- Shake-awake technology (automatically shuts off the optic after about 225 seconds of zero movement)
- Very positive, 1-moa clicks on the externally fenced reticle adjustment dials
- Submersible up to 1 meter depth
- Fenced-in, easily accessible brightness-adjustment buttons
- Externally accessible battery compartment (so you don’t have to remove/reinstall/re-zero your optic after replacing batteries)
- Half a year constant-on battery life (extended significantly–up to 2 years–by the shake-awake feature)
- Two NV (night vision) settings
- Fits in law-enforcement Safariland holsters
- Compatible with popular RMR and Glock MOS mounting footprints, with more plate/footprint options coming
This all sounds great, but the really exciting news is the price compared to some other brands. The Kraken’s price point is very attractive with an MSRP of $349 and a likely street price of around $300 when they hit the market sometime around Q2 of 2022.
2. Weapon-mounted lights (WML) for handguns
Nearly every “duty-sized” handgun now comes with (or has available options for) integral picatinny rails or other suitable mounting points for lights, lasers, compact tactical espresso machines (kidding), chainsaw attachments (not kidding), and other accessories.
While the practical utility of a laser, bayonet, or bottle opener on your defensive handgun is debatable, a weapon-mounted light is an extremely good idea. Previously relegated mostly to military or police use, and popularized by industry pioneers like Streamlight, handgun-specific WMLs are now becoming available at very attractive prices for armed citizens.
One weapon-mounted light that’s making a big splash this year (especially considering its tiny size) is the Olight Mini Valkyrie 2, a truly small light that matches the intent of compact, concealable handguns while still offering 600 lumens of LED-provided white light for about $90 MSRP.
Inforce is a US-based company with several very attractive, streamlined WML designs for popular duty pistol platforms.
The new gold standard: Surefire X300 Ultra weapon-mounted light
One of our favorite WMLs for serious, hard use is the Surefire X300 Ultra. Offering an impressive 1,000 lumens from its rugged LED to “help you positively identify threats at significant distances while temporarily impairing your adversary’s vision,” the X300 Ultra also has an intuitive, rugged mounting system, ambidextrous controls, a durable aluminum housing, and provision for multiple switch configurations depending on intended use and user preference.
A great number of duty and concealed-carry holsters are available to accommodate handguns with the X300 mounted. There are even infrared variants for use with night vision equipment. Surefires aren’t cheap at around $300 and up, but if we had to pick one go-to-war WML, it would be the X300 Ultra. Great stuff.
3. The striker control device is back for Glock pistols (a must for appendix carry)
One of the primary concerns many people have when carrying Glock pistols is the lack of an external thumb safety to positively prevent the trigger from firing a shot unintentionally. Though Glocks have a “safe action” design including a trigger tab/safety and several internal drop-safety mechanisms, the fact is, if you pull the trigger (or something gets caught in the trigger guard while holstering), it’s going to go bang.
When you’re carrying in the popular new “appendix” position (12 or 1 o’clock), if you get a drawstring, a bit of your clothing or a finger jammed into the trigger guard area while holstering, that “bang” could send you to the morgue with a hole in your femoral artery, or to the ER with some of your family jewels missing.
A “striker control device” is a hinged mechanism that replaces the OEM slide backplate on Glock pistols, and allows you to positively prevent the striker from moving to the rear and releasing unintentionally. You put your thumb over the rear of your slide (as many officers and soldiers were trained to do when holstering double-action/single-action pistols like the Beretta M9 and SIG P226), and it allows you to hold the striker (via the hinged plate) forward and prevent it from moving rearward and releasing if something’s wrong as you holster.
The striker control device was originally invented by Tau Development Group, but Langdon Tactical Technology just announced that they will be taking over the manufacture and distribution of the machined and heat-treated striker control device. This is a good thing, as LTT is known for top-quality machining and innovative accessories/parts for several lines of firearms.
The striker control device doesn’t affect the normal, safe operation or the stock trigger pull in any way. It’s all upsides. If you carry a Glock, especially if you carry AIWB (appendix inside-the-waistband), you should take a very serious look at getting a striker control device. For around $80, it’s a no-brainer.
4. Night vision and thermal scopes/optics
Night vision was experimented with as early as the end of WWII, but the equipment was so crude that the idea was dropped for all intents and purposes, until the lessons learned in Korea and later in the 1950s showed the world’s militaries that fighting at night was going to be a big part of modern warfare.
By Vietnam, the US military had developed functional (if bulky) night vision devices that could be mounted on rifles and still maintain portability. Since then, night vision binoculars, monoculars, scopes, and other types of optics have been shrinking in size and cost, and increasing in popularity and availability to “civilians” for multiple uses.
Lately, companies like ATN and AGM have been offering military-type helmet- or weapon-mounted night vision/thermal imaging devices to the public.
While military-grade setups can go for several thousands of dollars, night/thermal vision optical scopes for hunting or recreational use have been coming down in price.
The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro offers features that sound like they come from the future, including ultra-HD resolution, bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, the ability to record in 1080p, internal ballistic calculator, smart rangefinder, one-shot zero capability, and enhanced HD night vision mode, all for around $800 for the 5x-20x version (lower magnification versions start around $600).
It’s even got Ralphie’s “compass in the stock and this thing which tells time!” (No kidding… there’s an internal electronic compass.) Cheaper stuff is available from places like eBay and Amazon, but as always when dealing with these places, caveat emptor. There are a lot of ripoffs out there.
For any tech nerds out there who want a deeper dive, here’s a reasonably good overview of the history of night vision and thermal imaging equipment. And here’s a good video going over the advantages and disadvantages of monocular vs. bi-ocular night vision devices.
5. Laser training systems
In these “interesting times,” ammunition is often unavailable and has become staggeringly expensive when it is available. For this and other practical reasons, handgun laser-training systems are growing in popularity.
There are several different designs and systems, but the basic premise is you install a device into your favorite home-defense, target-shooting, or concealed-carry handgun, place a laser-sensitive target system in your home or range, and rather than simply practicing dry-fire techniques, you can be tracking your shots and improving marksmanship at the same time, all without expending any ammunition.
Some of the main players here are Laserhit, Coolfire, MantisX, and Strikeman.
The Coolfire offers unique CO2 powered “recoil” feedback with each shot, that can more satisfactorily replicate the feel of a real range session. The MantisX Laser Academy starts at about $100 (or the cost of a couple of boxes of ammo these days). MantisX also offers very innovative live-fire analysis tools that provide extremely detailed laser tracking of pre- and post-shot muzzle movement to help you develop effective trigger control.
The newcomer to the market for 2022 is the Strikeman, which should be shipping as of February 18. With the Strikeman, your smartphone acts as the sensor that records the location of each laser “shot” and translates it into a reviewable “shot group.” By using Strikeman’s signature target, laser cartridge, and smartphone holder (systems start at around $99) in unison with their smartphone app, you can practice “shooting” multiple types of drills with your desired firearm in the comfort of your home.
The Strikeman Pro (starting at $199) includes a larger array of multi-target “posters” (sheets with 12 circular or 8 silhouette targets printed on them), and even allows two shooters to compete against each other at the same time. The app also includes multiple “game” modes including “critical thinking” drills, and records your reaction time and accuracy.
Instructors might use these systems to introduce students to the stress of competition or live-fire drills, or any enthusiast can use these training aids to have fun and improve trigger control while competing against friends and family, all without the noise and expense of using live ammo.
6. Rifle chassis systems for PRS
With the explosion in popularity of long-range rifle shooting and sports such as the Precision Rifle Series competitions, interest in highly accurate bolt-action rifles for recreational use has never been greater. Nearly all major rifle manufacturers are coming out with dedicated “PRS” rifles, and one of the newest and most useful trends has been the new offerings in rifle chassis systems.
These used to be simply called “stocks” and makers such as McMillan offered fiberglass blanks that gunsmiths and rifle builders could glass-bed their actions into. However, due to the fixed nature and wood-or-fiberglass construction of traditional rifle stocks, their modularity, adjustability, and versatility was limited.
Today, a fully adjustable, fully modular “chassis” is the choice of many shooters, and makers like MDT, Accuracy International, and Masterpiece Arms are some of the frontrunners in this space. These chassis have rigid, low-tolerance hard-point mounting systems for most popular action types (such as the Remington 700 platform) and typically have fully railed, accessory-friendly aluminum or carbon-fiber forends, folding buttstocks, and are near-infinitely adjustable for length of pull, buttpad height and angle, cheekrest height and angle, ocular box size, grip type/angle, rear bag or monopod setup, accessory attachment, bipod mounting, and more.
One of the chassis for 2022 we’re excited to see is the Cadex Defence Strike Pro. (It’s so new that at the time of publication it’s still not on their website, but we got them to send us some pics).
Like all Cadex Defence rifle chassis, it won’t be cheap, but with full adjustability and features ideal for recreational long range shooting or PRS competition, the Strike Pro might be the one to watch for 2022. Plus, it just looks badass.
7. AR-15 free-float handguards and integrated suppressor covers
Ah, yes… Lego for adults! The AR-15 platform has proven the most modular, customizable, and popular rifle platform in history, and one of the hottest trends going is in the area of free-floated, lightweight forends/handguards for the AR. Geissele is known for very high-quality, high-strength modular rails, and Midwest Industries is another very popular choice with lots of lengths and options.
One of the buzzworthy items at the 2022 Shot Show was Lancer’s LCH5 Carbon AR-15 freefloat handguard with integral suppressor cover. Lancer’s carbon stuff is stupid-light while remaining strong, and this year they introduced a system where you can slide a ventilated carbon-fiber suppressor cover over your (mounted) rifle suppressor and lock it into the front of the handguard.
Simply ingenious, and this system will likely spawn lots of imitators. Now you can practice handgun transitions from your suppressed rifle without worrying about a 500-degree suppressor taking skin off your lower body parts.
8. 1-10x LPVOs (Low Power Variable Optics)
LPVOs have traditionally been a sort of “jack of all trades, master of none” type deal, but they have been gaining popularity over the past decade due to improvements in designs and lens quality.
The Low Power Variable Optic craze began in earnest in 2009 with Trijicon’s Accupoint TR24 1-4x. Since then, it’s been a flurry of back-and-forths from all the major players in the rifle optics game, and everyone came out with a 1-6, then a 1-8, and now several companies offer a 1-10X LPVO (previously thought impossible), which further blurs the lines between fixed-1x-powered “red dot” rifle optics and traditional variable-magnification rifle scopes.
With a good LPVO, you might not have to choose. You can get really good 1X red dot functionality for up-close-and-fast shooting, and then dial up to 5, 7, or even 10X magnification for faster target identification and easier hits at longer ranges.
The tradeoffs have typically been cost, weight, light transmission, and a restricted field of view at max magnification compared to dedicated “traditional” variable rifle scopes, but the latest models are better and cheaper than ever.
We are pumped for the Eotech Vudu 1-10X LPVO, due in March 2022, but… bring money. MSRP for this bad boy is close to $1,800. Ouch.
However, don’t be dismayed. For the *ahem* budget-oriented among us, Swampfox now offers a 1-10x Arrowhead LPVO for around $500 which is a simply ridonkulous bargain.
And if you don’t really need a 1-10x (and you probably don’t), Primary Arms offers their 1-6X LPVO for less than three bills.
9. Bluetooth earbuds/hearing protection
Protecting your hearing is absolutely essential when participating in shooting sports, but many hunters have gone without hearing protection in the wild, reasoning that “I need to be able to hear the animal or conversation.” Hence, there are a lot of old-timers with permanent hearing damage from the high-powered rifles or shotguns they hunted with.
This no longer needs to be par for the course, as several companies now offer active hearing protection in either headphone or earbud platforms.
Walker’s is a major player in this market and offers several models of Bluetooth-enabled earbuds, including some that you can control fully via your smartphone app. You can play music, enable noise cancellation, or even enhance ambient sounds for better hearing, all while protecting your precious ears from gunshots. Make protecting your hearing an unbreakable habit. You’ll thank us later.
10. Shooting bags, rests, and tables
You may have fond memories of resting your rifle on a wadded-up denim jacket or a wobbly pile of dried buffalo chips, but chances are your accuracy wasn’t that great. A good set of shooting bags will go a long way toward improving accuracy and reducing fatigue, whether at the bench or in the field.
Caldwell offers a full line of shooting bags and rests, including their Tack Driver X bag designed for PRS competition.
Their Dead Shot shooting bags are extremely affordable, and are available either filled or unfilled, so you can add sand or lead shot depending on how heavy and stable you want your shooting bags to be.
If you can’t bring yourself to lie down in the dirt, Caldwell also offers several types of portable shooting benches and tables. If you want to up-scale it a bit, Stukeys Benches are a few steps up in quality, durability, and price.
So there you have it… our list of some of our favorite firearm accessories for 2022. We hope you found something of interest. Of course, the first firearm accessory any gun owner should purchase is a quality USA-made safe from Liberty. Get out there and shoot!
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