Build an AR15?


March 31, 2003, 07:58 AM
How hard is it to build an AR15? Are they as reliable as buying factory? I know you can get one for $550 instead of $950.


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March 31, 2003, 08:11 AM
Nothing to it.

Exactly the same as the factory.

This is a military rifle that is designed to be maintained in the field. It doesn't require hand fitting of parts or anything like that. It is just a matter of assembling parts. You use good parts, it is as good as it gets.

March 31, 2003, 08:23 AM
Let's say you're going to go with parts from only one manufacturer. Will the savings still be that great?

March 31, 2003, 10:06 AM
For lowers, I'd stay Arnalite,Bushmaster,Colt,Rock River.
With Bushmaster and Colt you pay for name,past experience,good quality,slightly higher prices.
Armalite and Rock River more down to Earth prices fine products and dependiblity.
I went strictly Bushmaster all the way through.Except for a few specialty pieces
Well built,nice and tight fit,now I need to learn to shoot properly.
Shaw makes alot of Government contract uppers and barrels.Find a good lower and your half way there.New trigger group and your plinking with the best of them.

March 31, 2003, 12:28 PM
I built mine using a Rock River Arms lower, Olymic arms barrel, and Mil-Spec parst. al but the lower came from ( , and it works great.

March 31, 2003, 01:53 PM
You're unlikely to save a great deal of money unless factory rifles are pricey in your neck of the woods. Most kits plus lower are going to be in the range of $550 +- $50 or so. Then you'll need to buy a reciever block (~$45), GI combo wrench (~$15) at least. Add in for roll pin punches, regular punchs, torque wrench and other odds and ends and you can easily add $100 to that 550. Now having said that i would say go for it! It's fun, you'll really know your rifle when you're done and you can get exactly what you want instead of throwing away parts you paid for and replacing them with purchased parts. You can put it together in an evening if you're handy with tools, have bought quality parts and have the appropriate manuals and tools and you'll have the pride of having built the sucker yourself.

March 31, 2003, 02:56 PM
You can definitely assemble a nice AR for a little bit of savings over what you can get a whole rifle for.

My first AR was built on a RRA lower, and a Olympic PCR rifle kit. Cost me just over $600 for the whole thing.

Ended up trading it off for a couple other rifles, but now I'm building another AR... my M4gery. I got a complete Bushmaster lower from a buddy for about $250 (he bought it then decided he didn't want it... I did him a favor, but could have built up from a stripped lower for less)

You can get a stripped lower for around $100, maybe up to about $130. Get a lower kit for about $60, and it will have the trigger assembly, springs, pins and all the goodies for putting the lower together. Get a nice grip and buttstock (I like the Hogue grips.. RRA uses them on their rifles). Then order a complete upper.

baddabing. You got an AR.

I did NOT need any goofy tools to get the lower assembled. I did most with a screwdriver and needlenose pliers. Just be CAREFUL, so as not to scratch the receiver. A little scotch tape around the areas you're working on will help prevent that.

Check out for detailed, illustrated assembly instructions.

March 31, 2003, 04:25 PM
I was working at a gun show one day. It was slow. Wound up building an AR out of parts bought and horse traded from several different tables. Cav Arms plastic lower, ASA upper, already barreled so I didn't need an armorers wrench. Guy from Cav Arms put all of the trigger parts together because he was bored. :)

March 31, 2003, 05:03 PM
I just built an AR. I used a PWA lower and a J&T Distributing kit. The lower cost me 100 even and the parts kit was 450. the upper comes already assembled and headspaced so no need to buy special tools.

The average AR in my area is 750-800 bucks. I built mine for 550 using no special tools on the lower. I didn't even scratch it, ding it or dent it at all. It looks factory. And the best part is, I did it myself.

Then, after it;s built, I'm showing it to my dad and he dropped the lower on the garage floor. Dinged up the safety "ears" and nicked the receiver right behind the mag catch button. Does anybody know how hard it is to refinish nicks on an AR?:( What chemicals or special things do I need?

March 31, 2003, 05:58 PM
Not to spam the place or anything but head over to and ask about the refinishing question.

March 31, 2003, 06:24 PM
I'm gonna, but figured I was here at the time sooo......:D

April 1, 2003, 05:59 AM
I'm building an AR now and agree with what others have said; you probably won't save any money. In fact, depending on your options, you many spend more.

The up side is that you'll know a whole lot more about your rifle when you're finished.

April 1, 2003, 09:33 AM
Building an AR15 is easy, The only tool you have to buy is the barrel wrench, and a breaker bar if you don't have one. You don't need thevice jaws, 2 peices of wood and a ice work just as well, andif you don't have a vice, you can do like I did and use a floorjack and the frame of you truck or car. As for the roll pin punches and such, I didn't. All I used as a small screwdriver, a standard punch, and a wooden, or plastic hammer. you can build you AR15 for about $550 if you shop around. I found my RRA lower for $85 plus shipping, and bought the rest, slapped it together and it works just fine.

April 1, 2003, 09:53 AM
nsf003, I would caution you about building a firearm without some of the proper tools. You may be able to get by without some of the things i mentioned for example if you buy a barrelled upper you don't need the receiver blocks and torque wrench and some of the things like roll pin punches can help you do a good job although you can do without. But before you start pounding your AR together with rocks and a popcycle stick you might want to consider whether you want to gamble +$500 of parts. Me i'd rather spend a $100 or so on tools that can be used for other things as well and that will help assure that my build is fun and well-done.

April 1, 2003, 12:52 PM
This has been mentioned, but the AR15 is a modular system. The two primary parts are the upper receiver and the lower receiver. Very often when someone says they built an AR, they mean that they installed the parts in the lower receiver. This doesn't really take any special tools. Screwdrivers, and a hammer basically. A pair of needle nosed pliers will help, as will punches. I have built four or five lower receivers with no other tools than that. The lowers I put together could not have been put together any better by the finest gunsmith in the world with access to all the tools in the world. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is just putting parts together, there is no skill involved.
Putting together an upper receiver is a little more complictated and it has been my experience that most people just buy an upper that is ready to go. Usually this isn't done because putting it together is difficult, it is just that upper receivers are sold assembled most of the time and they are readily available. I have purchased three or four uppers at gun shows or off the internet. Since the AR15 is modular, you can change out your upper with any other upper in seconds. Once you have a lower, you can make it in to a match rifle, a varmint rifle, a CQB rifle, a clone of a military rifle, an SBR, you can change calibers from .22LR to .50 Beowulf......whatever, just by pushing out two pins. So, it is very common to see uppers for sale by themselves. Building an upper the right way does take at least one specialized tool. The barrel wrench. And if you are doing it right, you will need a torque wrench to install the barrel in the upper receiver. In addition, most people want a block to hold the upper receiver in a vise without damageing it.
When you are done, you will have an AR15 that is just as good as any production AR15 made. There are very few refinements that seperate a match grade AR15 from a common, garden variety AR15. Usually a target rifle will have a lighter trigger rather than a mil-spec trigger. A match grade rifle will usually have a free floated barrel, although even combat rifles often have a free floated barrel in the form of a free floated handguard with accessory rails such as the Knight Armaments RASII. And then, if you demand the absolute finest accuracy, you might go with a match grade barrel although I have read that you can compete at the highest levels with a standard barrel. This says a lot about the AR15 rifle. The standard AR15 rifle is very accurate as is, and the most accurate match rifles have very little done to them to make them that way.

April 2, 2003, 03:21 AM
I'm always comically amused that people consider the specialized tools a detriment to building a gun. That's silly.

Say you need a $100 barrel wrench and combo tool, whatever.

Buy them, build the gun, then sell them. Duh.

You might lose $10 or $15 bucks, but consider it a rental. Or, if you're going to build more, keep them. OR, charge $15 bucks to build a friend's gun and THEN sell them. Always a demand for those parts. Some morons on ebay will pay more than retail for parts like that. I sold my FAL receiver block for $65, when it cost me $50 used.

April 2, 2003, 08:12 AM
What do you think about getting an upper in another caliber, say 762 X 39? Then you could just switch uppers, right?

April 2, 2003, 08:51 AM
bacchus, i don't really know anything about the 7.62x39 ARs but i'm pretty sure that would work just fine since you can use a 7.62x39 lower on any upper i presume the opposite is true. I'm not sure how the magazine works.

April 2, 2003, 08:10 PM
You use a regular .223 mag as a single stack.

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