AR-15 kits


October 2, 2006, 09:41 PM
yeah, I know... yet another AR thread... I can't help myself

I'm interested in getting one of the "complete kits" (without the stripped lower). Let's assume the CAR A4 kit from RRA. Already assembled, headspaced, and test fired. It's my understanding that this is not an "FFL" transaction...?

Then later I would get a stripped lower - also say from RRA. This would require an FFL.

Total cost $795 at full retail. The similar complete assembled CAR A4 rifle retails for $1000.

Olympia also has a similar kit. I don't know which company is considered better quality, or even the many other companies.

I figure this way: its cheaper, and you can buy the 2 parts at different times - as you can afford to. And its a learning experience.

Or maybe you can shop the gun shows and get a similar complete rifle at the same price or even cheaper? I know some of you recommend buying a complete AR first, then trying your hand at building one later. However, it seems that the "complete rifle kits (but no stripped lower) are already assembled and tested for you. So all I would have to do is put the lower parts in.

does this sound ok? and what about the other AR companies, do they also offer the complete rifle kits w/o the stripper lowers? Is Oly a decent company?

thanks, and sorry for rambling...

edit: I was tempted to add this post to clarkpat's "building an AR" thread, but I'm trying to stop hijacking threads...

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October 2, 2006, 09:57 PM
I've been debating this very same thing for about 6 months now, so you're not alone. My main concern is that I've never even field stripped an AR before, let alone tried to assemble one from scratch.

Are there any special tools needed to put one of these kits together?
Is "model 1" sales a decend supplier for these kits?

October 2, 2006, 10:00 PM
i'd take RRA over Olympic anyday of the week. big plus of that kit, you get the 2-stage NM trigger. you may also want to check out if you are on the cheap, check, but it's hit or miss.

October 2, 2006, 10:10 PM
Are there any special tools needed to put one of these kits together?
See the Lower Receiver Assembly ( instructions at

Is "model 1" sales a decend supplier for these kits?
Some people swear by them, others swear at them. I had a very positive experience with Del-Ton (

October 2, 2006, 10:11 PM
To answer your question on tooling, all that is needed to assemble the lower is a stock wrench, like the one by RRA. It works on the CAR stock as well as the buffer tube used on A1/A2 rifle stocks. A lower reciever holding fixture is not a necessity, but helps while you assemble the lower. The hinge pin detent and spring can be fun. I found compressing the detent and spring into its hole with the flat side of a single edged razor bladewhile inserting the pin is the fastest way (IMO). A 3/16" allen head nut driver/bit for the grip screw is also needed, as is a 3/32" roll pin punch for the bolt stop roll pin, and a 1/8" roll pin punch for the trigger guard roll pin.

Stock wrench=

Lower reciever vise block=

October 2, 2006, 10:32 PM
I've had great luck (so far) w/ my RRA middy...they make some good stuff!

October 2, 2006, 10:41 PM
where does one buy the kit at a discount, that is if one is determined to not pay full retail ?

October 2, 2006, 10:43 PM
The hinge pin detent and spring can be fun.
That's for sure!

I found compressing the detent and spring into its hole with the flat side of a single edged razor bladewhile inserting the pin is the fastest way (IMO).
Excellent idea!

October 2, 2006, 10:49 PM
does the military use 20" barrels? and they are HBAR right? RRA doesn't have a 20" complete kit.

and what about paying a slight premium for a chome lined barrel ($40 retail). Worth it? I probably will not shoot the rifle that much, but I may appreciate the "easier to clean" aspect of it.

October 2, 2006, 11:12 PM
An M16A2/3/4 is Gov't profile, thin under handguards. As far as chrome, if the rifle will just be a range toy, and you'll be using "good" ammo, then the chrome probably won't be worth it to you.

October 3, 2006, 04:17 PM
I just got a J%T kit and DPMS lower and am waiting to put it together soon. The kit (upper assembled) looks very nice.
20 in. A2 BTW

October 3, 2006, 07:19 PM
I've been browsing AR-15 kits. Some say "ban compliant".

If the ban ended 2 years ago, why do companies still comply with it?

Model 1 is one of the companies that still label their stuff "ban compliant"

October 3, 2006, 07:23 PM
If the ban ended 2 years ago, why do companies still comply with it?

Certain states have their own AWBs in effect. The "pre-ban" items are not legal in such places as California, Massachusetts, etc.

October 3, 2006, 08:24 PM
model 1 sales seems to have good prices, but I dont know what their rifle kit would be that is equivalent to this RRA kit:

I want the flat top w/pic rail.

Another question I have is, when you put a scope (whatever type...) on a flat top, does the front sight get in the sight picture? Is that front sight removable, or is it a functional part of the rifle (a gas thingie, or whatever)?

October 3, 2006, 08:31 PM

I believe this is a list of Model 1 CAR kits, roughly equivalent to RRAs offering, in style not quality. The scope you choose needs to clear the front sight base, or with Aimpoints/ EOTech etc, you can co-witness the height of the center of the sight to match your front sight height. For a low-pro scope mount, you can remove the front sight base and replace it with many different styles of gas blocks. This can be difficult to do without the right tools, but Model 1 can customize your kit with several different gas block styles.

October 3, 2006, 08:32 PM
The comparative kit from Model 1 is here and would run about $480:

The A2 front sight on those models have the gas integral to it and is not easily removeable. Mount a scope low and you will be obstructed somewhat by the sight. With a red dot, the dot is usually cowitnessed with the front sight pretty close. However, you can get a railed gas block and a detacheable front sight if you want to use irons.

If you know you're going to scope it, I'd get the railed front gas block.

October 3, 2006, 08:54 PM
I'm positively gonna scope it, but I need to study up on all the options available. I'm preferential to a plain old glass scope. All these eoTechs, red dots, holographics, ACOGs, and such... it's all new to me. Plus, some of those scopes are damn expensive.

But I may scope it very much later after buying it. I will probably use the iron sights for a while first.

Ok, here we go with AR-15's For Dummies:

what's the diff between the standard CAR handguard, and the extra cost aluminum free float? I know they look different, but what's the operational diffs, if any? Pros & cons?

is that Model 1 rifle being shown with the collapsable stock all the way collapsed? I mean, the length of pull looks pretty small... I would probably want a little longer LOP.

do most people get the NATO chamber as opposed to a .223rem chamber? As far as I know, I'll only be shooting my own reloads (.223). I know that .223 can be shot in the NATO chamber, but not vice versa.

I believe this is a list of Model 1 CAR kits, roughly equivalent to RRAs offering, in style not quality.
does that mean that Model 1 is considered a "lesser quality" manufacturer?

October 3, 2006, 09:02 PM
I have no experience with Model 1, but plenty with Bushmaster, RRA, Colt, DPMS, Olympic Arms and an Armalite. My RRAs are top notch, I do not feel you'll find a better quality AR for the price. The 4 position stock in the photo in the link posted by lycanthrope is fully collapsed. The aluminum free float handguard is mounted via a special barrel nut, which takes any stress you put on the barrel with your support hand out of the equation. The CAR handguards are secured in the front by a retainer attached to the front sight base/ barrel. My RRAs (one with a Colt upper) are .223/5.56 and 5.56. I'll let someone with more knowledge on that subject answer this one.

Check out this thread for other THR members input on Model 1.

October 3, 2006, 09:41 PM
The free float handguard offers a slight increase in accuracy. I like them.

The Model 1 6 position stock is the same as the RRA 6 position. Yes, it's shown collpased...although the adjustable stocks aren't as long as the full stock A2 model. For a scoped rifle I really get a much better cheekweld on the full stock.

Get the 5.56 chamber. With the 5.56 chamber you can shoot 5.56 ammo and .223 ammo. With a true .223 chamber in an AR you shouldn't shoot the hotter 5.56 ammo (the pressure it's loaded at is the only difference).

I'm happy with my Model 1.....and my Clark Gator....and my Olympic.....and my White Oak....all have been very reliable and ALL have shot under 1 MOA with my handloads. "Lesser" quality is quite subjective and muddied by internet lore. My Model 1 cost $515 to build and my Gator cost about $1100. Most shelf rifles run about $750-$1000. My Gator and White Oak are a LOT better than a shelf rifle. My Model 1 runs just as well as all of them with a slightly rougher gas block casting and a trigger that looked painted verus parkerized.

As a result, I think most shelf rifles are overpriced and my future rifles will all be either semi custom or cheap kits.

October 3, 2006, 09:54 PM
Is "model 1" sales a decend supplier for these kits?

I bought a Rifle kit from them. It has been great to me so far. I have fired only around 1000 rounds through it and have had no problems, other then these stupid ten round clips in California. And there customer service was outstanding.

October 3, 2006, 10:05 PM
It is much easier to add iron sights to a flat top/railed upper than to try to mount a scope on a carry handle. With a flat top you can even have a detacheable carry handle and have an A2 looking model.

October 3, 2006, 10:09 PM

True, most scopes don't adapt to carry handles easily:D

October 3, 2006, 10:12 PM
Yeah, it is better to have a flatop upper even if you dont want a scope right now. I wish I would have gotten a flatop, now that I want to put a red dot aiming scope on mine. I think I might just get a new upper compared to mounting the scope so high on the carry handle.

October 3, 2006, 10:16 PM
in this RRA lower parts diagram:

Let's say I get the RRA CAR A4 complete rifle kit, which has the collapsable stock. Let's also say, I want to use a regular butt stock sometimes. Do I just need to buy the outer buttstock (number 74 on the diagram)? I would probably also need to buy the "standard" receiver extension tube (# 113B).

Then if I want to put the standard buttstock on, I would have to change the receiver extension tube also...? and vice versa, when I want to use the CAR collapsable buttstock, I'd put the shorter CAR extension tube back on...?

any other parts needed just to change buttstocks?

edit: ok, I was posting this before I saw the previous 2 posts. Yes, like Sigfan's two rifles, that's what I'd want... except I'd want one rifle, that I could change between the collapsable buttstock and the standard buttstock. That's what I was trying to say here. Also, flat top instead.

October 3, 2006, 10:20 PM
You'd need the extension tube, the spacer, the stock screw, buffer, well heck, get the whole assy pn. AR0074K A2 Buttstock Kit, Black $57.50, as all the stock parts are different. Also AR0165 Tactical CAR Stock Wrench
Engages the lock nut on the Tactical CAR stock. $6.00 is needed.

The stock wrench works on the CAR nut and the buffer tube in the rifle stock

The Deer Hunter
October 3, 2006, 10:23 PM
Sigfan, howcome the receiver on the AR in the picture above is gray?

October 3, 2006, 10:25 PM
The upper is a Colt A1 from CDNN, the lower is a new RRA. I wanted to refinish the lower in Colt grey like the upper, but didn't wnat to wait on the Norrels product. I used Brownells dark parkerizing grey Baking Laquer to refinish the upper, lower, and front sight base. It's a pretty close match to the Colts color.
Edit to add pic

October 3, 2006, 10:31 PM
thanks to everyone who helped. especially Sigfan...! You'll be glad to know that yesterday I ordered this from Midway:

It's the Owner's Guide (vol 1). Hope its good.

Vol 2 is the actual assembly/disassembly book. I'll get that volume on my next order.

I'll have my nose in the book for the next couple weeks... I like to be well-read before going to gun shows, instead of asking dum-dum questions...

October 3, 2006, 10:38 PM
You'll find......

That eventually you'll have a 20" full stocked gun to add to your 16" collapseable stocked gun.....

Get both.

October 3, 2006, 10:47 PM
love to. but it takes me so long to be able to afford an expensive gun, it may be another year....

I need to cut down on my cigars... I'd have more "shooting hobby" money if I did...

btw: there was another ar thread around here where someone recommended those ACE skeleton stocks, and provided a gunblast link... I thought those stocks were pretty cool.

there's two gunshows coming here this month. I'm gonna cruise both and check the AR prices.

October 4, 2006, 04:20 PM
oh no... page 2 already...:)

ok, someone give me a brief explanation of "cowitnessed"

when you google it, you get a bunch of junk about child psychology...

October 4, 2006, 05:31 PM
cowitness is when you have your gun set up with a red-dot scope that also allows you to see your iron sights though your scope. That way if your red-dot fails, you don't have to take the time especially during a fire fight to remove your scope to finish up with your iron sights.


October 4, 2006, 06:06 PM
I've built 3 AR kits, the first a standard A2 from M&A Parts, second was a varmint model from J&T Distributing, and the most recent a 16" carbine from Del Ton. My first kit used a RRA lower receiver, the second and third a Stag Arms lower receiver, RRA's lowers are machined by Continental Machine & Tool (CMT), CMT's own brand of receivers are sold under the Stag Arms brand name, so CMT machines both RRA and Stag Arms lowers, and Stag Arms has a very good reputation.

I don't have any complaints against any of those three companies, my original kit from M&A was short a few parts, but they sent those when I called them. I don't know the exact details, but Model 1 and M&A Parts are all supposed to be one family, and they don't really have a good reputation among the AR15 community for their quality or service.

If I were building another AR kit today, it would be from Del Ton or J&T, and using a Stag Arms lower receiver, as I said my most recent build was a kit from Del Ton.

My most recent build, Stag Arms lower receiver on a Del Ton 16" carbine kit.

October 4, 2006, 08:32 PM
g56 - that is pretty much the same thing I want. What scope is that?

Is it this del-ton kit?

$475 seems like a good price. As for options, I've read a few articles that like the Ergo pistol grips... which is a $17 option. Free float handguards... I've read that they get a lot hotter than the standard handguards...

btw: I checked Stag's website, but I didn't see any "stripped lowers"

October 4, 2006, 09:15 PM
That scope is a Trijicon ACOG. They start around $675. An excellent optic.

I really like the ergo grip.

As for free float handguards, they won't be bothersome until you drain 3 mags back to back in rapid fire.

Get a Stag stripped lower from Eagle firearms or Title 2.

I still recommend a railed gas block and flip up irons for backup versus working around the A2 front sight.

October 4, 2006, 09:36 PM
That scope is a Trijicon ACOG. They start around $675. An excellent optic.
ouch... out of my range :(

What handguard is shown in g56's pic?

As for free float handguards, they won't be bothersome until you drain 3 mags back to back in rapid fire.
ok, I won't have to worry about that then !

I'm ordering a couple of those $9.99 30-round ar-15 mags that Midway has on sale.

October 4, 2006, 10:47 PM
Kind of hard to tell by my eye. Either the CAR or M4 style (looks like CAR to me). The M4 style is slightly diameter. I prefer the CAR style since my hands are not huge.

October 4, 2006, 10:58 PM
Standard CAR handguards in g56s pic, hard to tell but the ones in my previous pic are the M4

October 4, 2006, 11:03 PM
Some better shots of the M4 handguards. My personal preferance.

October 7, 2006, 04:55 PM
RRA's complete rifle kit, except the stripped lower, is assembled, headspaced and test fired.

What about the other companies? Mostly, Del-Ton. I emailed them with this question a couple days ago, but have not gotten a response yet. Or if I did, maybe my junk mail filter filtered it...

Is the Del-ton complete rifle kit assembled, headspaced & test fired?

Do gun shows sell these kits, or do they just sell complete rifles? I'm going to a SAXET show in San Antonio in a few weeks. I'm curious about the possibility of getting the complete kits at a lower than full retail price.

I'll probably get a Stag stripped lower.

October 7, 2006, 07:31 PM
All complete uppers in the kits should already be headspaced. No idea about test firing.

October 7, 2006, 07:55 PM
Is the Del-ton complete rifle kit assembled, headspaced & test fired?

Upper assembly comes completely head spaced and test fired.

October 7, 2006, 09:04 PM
doh ! My bad... I didn't remember seeing that....

where do you guys get your Del-Ton kits? From the company at retail? are there online dealers that sell at a discount?

I received my Complete Owner's Guide (by Kuleck & Duff) from Midway yesterday. Need to completely read through it. I see that it has a lot of wasted print space regarding "pre-ban" "post-ban" stuff... but I expected that.

October 7, 2006, 09:28 PM
where do you guys get your Del-Ton kits?
I ordered mine through their web site. I really liked being able to customize the kit to my specifications.

October 7, 2006, 11:03 PM
do you think the $475 base price is a good price? It seems good to me, based on the complete rifles from other companies... such as RRA for $640.

What options do you recommend? I assume I would want the RRA 2-stage NM trigger for an extra $80 (damn that's expensive for a few pieces of metal). lycanthrope recommends a railed gas block with a flip up sight.. instead of the A2 block/sight. I suppose since I'm interested in using optics only rather than iron sights, that the railed gas block would be the smart thing to do.

So far: basic rifle $475 plus RRA 2-stage trigger $80 plus 2 pic rail gas block $45 is $600. That's skipping the "flip-up front sight" option.

October 7, 2006, 11:26 PM
What kind of optics are you going to use? At 4X the front sight post is fuzzy, at higher powers, you don't even see it.

October 8, 2006, 12:04 AM
I'm not sure yet. Something not too expensive, probably a low-power glass scope. I need to study-up on the red dot scopes and other types, before making a decision there.

October 8, 2006, 09:15 AM
The price is good for that rifle. The RRA two stage trigger is good, but you can get the stick single stage down to 3.5lbs just by tweaking the stock springs. Unless you're shooting long range or high power, most people prefer the single stage. I run a two stage Jewell on one of my rifles, but it has a 1.5lb second stage and it's a different beast altogether... There are lots of trigger options out there (JP rifles, Jard, Chip McCormick, etc.) and changing triggers takes 15 minutes.

Put the extra $80 into glass, back up iron sights or ammo.

October 11, 2006, 09:55 PM
I was talking to the owner of a small local gun shop tonight, about AR stripped lowers.

He said he recommends Bushmaster lowers to all his customers... he thinks they are better quality. Said he would order me one for $185.

I was thinking stripped lowers were closer to $100 - 110. I mean.. from a dealer.

what do you think? I want to order a stripped lower real soon. Will worry about getting the Del-ton kit maybe around the end of the year (xmas present to myself) :)

October 11, 2006, 10:11 PM
Check with Lone Star Wholesale ( You can check their gun show schedule here (

Also check with Randy at Northwest Houston Tactical (

October 11, 2006, 10:33 PM
ok, I just checked LoneStar Wholesale. their price on a Bushie stripped lower was $175.

So it looks like my dealer's price of $185 is a fair deal.

I think I'm gonna order one from my dealer. Before some new AWB comes along.

October 12, 2006, 04:32 AM
Wow, thats expensive for a stripped lower. My LMT only cost 134. Got mine from these guys

October 12, 2006, 10:17 AM
Pick up a Stag or RRA lower for $100-110.

Just as good as Bushmaster without the recent QC problems.

October 12, 2006, 10:43 AM
the dealer admitted that Bushmaster lowers were more than other companies, but he was of the opinion that it was justified...

However, based on what members here think, I suppose I will get a Stag lower. One of the member dealers here said he could sell me one for $110.

October 12, 2006, 01:16 PM

I try to buy all my lowers from Robbie at Lonestar Wholesale. I have in the past purchased Stag and RRA, both high quality lowers, from him at about the $100 mark. He also had Doublestar which are comparable quality. I bought a DPMS lower from Cheaper Than Dirt for too much and was disappointed in the finish hardness, it scratched when I looked crossly at it.

I buy all my kits from DOC at M&A parts. I built two rifles for myself and I have built three more for friends, including M4, GUU 5/p, varmit and A2 type builds, all from M&A kits. I recommend them highly.

Go to a funshow and buy the lower from Robbie.
Call Doc and have your kit within a couple of days.
Build the gun using the guide from ARFCOM.


If you need anything LMK and I will try to help out.

October 12, 2006, 01:19 PM
Gratuitous Gun Porn follows.

October 12, 2006, 01:24 PM
what kind of scope is that?

edit: since I'm getting a complete rifle kit (del-ton) and a stripped lower, what's a good book or manual to use to assemble the lower? or will the del-ton kit com with lower assembly instructions?

October 12, 2006, 04:45 PM
No need to buy a book. Just print this out:

October 13, 2006, 12:26 AM
ok, I printed out those instructions. Regarding the tools needed, I'm gonna try to get what I need from Midway... since I get all my stuff from them.

"Roll pin holders"... is this the right item?

and the hammer, it doesn't say what size or type. I assume a brass hammer. what weight? Is this one OK? it has brass, steel, and a nylon head:


October 13, 2006, 12:34 PM
OK, the tools are OK, but I would really recommend getting the tools from Model 1 sales.

The reason is that they sell the pivot pin installation tool which is worth it's weight in gold unless you have three hands. Roll pin punches are best, but you can actually do it with regular punches.

A brass hammer is nice, and I recommend one with a small/thin head. Some pins have to be installed alongside the receiver and with large head you can easily scrape your finish. I always put some electrical tape in the receiver before I install pins just for this reason.

October 13, 2006, 12:35 PM
OK...Midway has the Model 1 tool. Just add it to your list and go through them if you wish.

October 13, 2006, 06:29 PM
I added these 2 items to my Midway order, based on lycanthrope's recommendation:

and, for after I'm done:

October 13, 2006, 10:54 PM
You don't need a pivot pin install tool.

Look closely at the buffer spring retainer pin. You'll notice it fits quite nicely in the pivot pin hole. That's your install tool. :D Insert spring, then the detent. Use the buffer spring retainer pin to "capture" the pivot detent. Now slide in your pivot pin, using it to push the buffer spring retainer pin out the other side.

I do recommend safety goggles, just in case, of course. :o

A small hammer with both nylon and brass heads is helpful. Brownells sells a nice one.

I believe I used a spare firing pin as a roll pin punch, but I don't really recommend doing so.

The tip about electrical tape is a good one. Especially if you're working on someone else's lower.

The Stag stripped lower I assembled with a CMT parts kit has the nicest trigger I've felt with an AR-15, and it's single stage. Your results may vary.

Good luck with your adventure, and welcome to Black Rifle Disease!

October 13, 2006, 11:09 PM
My J&T kit came with junk lower parts-many were out of spec. Any forged lower is honestly fine-just avoid hesse & the like. AIM has superior arms and stag arms lowers both under $100. I've used J&T, Model 1, RRA and Stag Arms for uppers.

I'd rank them:

1) Stag and RRA tied

2) Model 1

3) J&T

If it weren't for the junk lower parts I'd got I'd tie J&T and Model 1. I'd like to hate the Model 1 as cheap as it is, but it's been a solid performer with any ammo or mags I've used.

March 18, 2007, 10:17 PM
I have an ar15 a3 flat top with a standard A2 front sight post,even though I mounted a scope to the picatinny rail the front sight post does not show up in the optics it's so close to the scope I don't even see the front sight when i'm looking through the scope.

March 18, 2007, 11:13 PM
If it weren't for the junk lower parts I'd got I'd tie J&T and Model 1. I'd like to hate the Model 1 as cheap as it is, but it's been a solid performer with any ammo or mags I've used.

That's my experience as well.

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