Yet Another Buy or Build AR-15 Question


February 25, 2007, 09:43 PM
Greetings all

Recently Mrs. Plinker gave me the go ahead to purchase an AR-15 of some sort. I know my local gunshop had at least two variants on the wall last time I was in there, and I know I could walk in and walk out with one of those with the least amount of fuss. But, if I can do a deal where I get the gun and save some over what I already projected, that will make both of us even happier, and will mean I can continue to expand my collection sooner rather than later.

For those who will wonder and ask, this gun is intended for fun, targets, possibly occasional varmints, and if need be a SHTF situation. I already have a Romanian WASR 10 that has proven to be reliable so far, but this will give me another option just in case another AWB shows up.

I have been reading through some of the recent threads on the subject of build or buy, and I see a recurring theme - buying is "safer" in that there is warranty protection from the manufacturer, but that building saves some money up front. But with all the reading I am doing, my head is starting to swim. I've got some of the terminology down, but looking around, I see stripped lowers, assembled lowers, but not yet stripped lowers plus parts kits. I saw some uppers as well on the Stag Arms site (following a recommended link) but, no barrel.

So, if I am going to put something together from parts, what exactly do I need to look for? Do I need to go to a bunch of different dealers to get one gun put together, or can I do some one stop shopping for a good quality gun at a reasonable price? I need to come up with a plan and a price so that when I go to the gunshop to get the price of the one on the one on the wall, I can do a decent comparison for Mrs. Plinker.

And, if I buy a box full of parts, am I looking at hours, days, minutes, or what to assemble this thing? I am reasonably mechanical, working with machinery and tools on a regular basis, but I have a tendency to get impatient with things that need lots of fiddling. I don't mind assembling, I don't like fiddling. I am going to hit the post button now and continue my research, but I will look forward to some replies.


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February 25, 2007, 09:49 PM
Buy one.

Save up some money.

Buy an upper.

Save up a tiny bit more, about a hundred bucks.

Buy a lower.

Have two.

One you bought and the one you built after you had one and knew what it did.

Ala Dan
February 25, 2007, 09:57 PM
My friend Green Furniture is absolutely correct~! :)

I got real lucky, and got a COLT M4A3 16" barrel Match Target Competition
model as a trade-in at our shop. :D

February 25, 2007, 10:24 PM
Yep. If you're western/mid PA come shoot my cheapo kit and semi customs.

Build it.

February 25, 2007, 10:42 PM
You can buy "kits" from places like M&A parts, Model1 Sales, J&T, Armalite, Rock River, DPMS, etc that consist of complete uppers and the parts to build a stripped lower. The lower is not a part of the kit, and you can get one through you local gun dealer. Prices for kits run from $425 to $1000. A lower should be in the neighborhood of $100, give or take a little.

Building instructions are available from and Assembly tools consist of basic hand tools, some small punches, and a little research on the how to's ,and what to watch for when assembling. I have 5 in the safe that I built "my way", that is, the way I wanted them. As far as warranty, most all the components are warrented from defects in materials. If something breaks (which has only been one set of gas rings), the rifle goes to the repair depot, my garage work bench.

If you have a little mechanical knowlege and are into tinkering, then building can save you money. I have from $570 to $1100 invested in various rifles. Building tham allows me to change out things I want, because I am familiar with the assembly procedure to begin with.

I helped a friend build 3 different AR's a few weeks ago. It took about 3 hours to build all 3. He and his son did the mechanical part, I was there to aid in technical support and suggestions. They are not scary to build, and all 3 of his rifles function perfectly.

The call to build or to buy is a personal one. I tend to be a little cheap, and I am not enamoured with "brand name" rifles:what: . I would stack any of mine up against a factory produced rifle any day. My rifles consist of 3 built from M&A parts kits, one from a demilled M16A2 kit from Century Arms, and the 5th is the piece rifle, built from pieces left over from the mods to the other rifles. The are on 2 DPMS, 2 Stag, and 1 Rock River lower. I also have 2 more new Stag recievers in the safe for later this year. Haven't figured out what to build next.

February 25, 2007, 11:02 PM
If you're out to save a few bucks, build one on your own. If you want a name brand & hit the range w/ it ASAP, go to your shop & buy one off the wall.

February 25, 2007, 11:11 PM
Build a CMT/Stag or LMT if you want good quality, something that would be suitable for self defense.

February 27, 2007, 11:52 AM
Thanks for the responses guys! After comparing some numbers, looking at spare time, and considering the advice here, I will most likely end up buying one off the wall at the shop, at least to start. I don't get a lot of free time right now, and spending it shooting or reloading is a priority, so off the wall looks pretty good, and the prices at the local shop are going to be very close I think, to what is available in the "put it together" category. I haven't gotten there yet, but that is on tomorrow's list of things to do.

1. take daughter to library

2. make appointment for dog at groomer

3. buy rifle

Maybe I should do that in reverse order so I can walk into the library with the EBR and ask if they have any books on that particular model. :evil: :evil: :evil: Sadly though, while I will probably put money on it, it won't come home for a while, unless the owner decides he likes me so much I can take the rifle and pay the rest when I get it. Soon though...

February 27, 2007, 02:51 PM
I see a recurring theme - buying is "safer" in that there is warranty protection from the manufacturer,Building is safer. - "You can give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats until the waters are too polluted to fish from."

Most AR parts are pretty inexpensive and very easy to replace. ARs are the ultimate in modularity. If you buy good parts, it will work. If something breaks, you'll know how to fix it. No AR manufacturer makes the best everything. Every one (well, except the bottom feeders Vulcan and Olympic) has a certain area where they are best. (ie. IMO, Bushmaster makes the best barrels, Colt makes the best bolts, RRA makes the best low cost trigger, Cavalry Arms makes nice furniture).

I'm soured on warranties. I've sent back too many things of all types to end up waiting months and then still not getting it fixed right. - "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

The added benefit of building is you build it the way you like it, not the way some company figures is best, so they can turn the most profit. (Yes, I'm talking about CAR gas systems and HBARS).:rolleyes:

Perhaps I'm just feeling especially cynical today...

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