Building an AR-15?


Ohio Rifleman
August 13, 2007, 02:17 PM
On this board, I keep hearing members talking about AR-15 uppers and lowers and all that. As well as "building" AR-15s. I would love one of these rifles to call my very own, but seeing as how they run at $600 at best, I can't afford one. So, what do I need to build an AR-15 from scratch? Upper reciever, lower reciever and...?

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August 13, 2007, 02:33 PM
Ammo :)

Complete upper + complete lower = complete rifle. You can go A2 carry handle with iron sights or if you plan to use optics go with a flat top. The AR-15 pattern rifle is almost unlimited in its configurations.

Have fun!

Ohio Rifleman
August 13, 2007, 02:44 PM
At AIM, they're selling complete AR lowers for $90-100. How much are uppers? I know that there are many different uppers you can use for different calibers. How about just a plain ol' .223 upper?

August 13, 2007, 03:01 PM
At AIM, they're selling complete AR lowers for $90-100.
Those are "stripped" lowers. You would still need a lower parts kit and a stock to have a complete lower.

How much are uppers?
A little under $400 and up new. I have found it's cheaper to buy an entire "rifle kit" than it is to buy an upper, lower parts kit and stock separately.

August 13, 2007, 03:19 PM
I've purchased two DPMS AR-15 from great prices on kits components or even a completed rifle!

August 13, 2007, 03:45 PM
My understanding is that the only part that takes any real gunsmithing skills to assemble is mating the barrel assy to the upper (and installing the FSB/gas block if your barrel is not so equipped). Everything else is pretty straightforward. I've built several lowers- there is certainly not anything hard on the lower half of the rifle.

The multi-hundred dollars quote you're getting on an upper is for a complete upper, or at least an upper with barrel assembly installed. A stripped upper is, I believe, about $100. Figure at least another $100 for the barrel. You'll also need the bolt/carried assy, FA (if you buy and upper with one), charging handle, and rear sight parts if you don't go flat top. If you lack the tools, the training or a friend with the tools and training, I would go the barrel-installed route. Everything else is just RTFM and install. Pretty simple.


Ohio Rifleman
August 13, 2007, 05:14 PM
Yeesh, still kind of expensive. Not as much as buying a complete gun, though. I'd have to go the complete upper route since I have limited (read zero) gunsmithing skills. My dad's gun nut friend could probably do it...he probably HAS. But I don't see him a whole lot. I was just wanting some information so I could know what the heck you all are talking about, and maybe some day, building my very own AR-15.

August 13, 2007, 08:02 PM
You can get a kit from Model 1 Sales for $460 and the only other things you'll need will be a stripped lower (~$90-100), a buttstock wrench (~$10 at a gunshow) and a magazine ($~12). Plus shipping. If you buy the lower at a gunshow, you can probably avoid paying an FFL transfer fee.

Oh yeah, you'll need ammo ($!?!?!).

August 13, 2007, 08:42 PM
It is easily possible to build a simple no frills AR for less than $650. A complete kit from Del-Ton, Rock River, DPMS, Model 1, M&A, or even Sarco mated to a stripped lower, and you have it. Instructions are on and other places, and simple hand tools are about all you need. I have built 9 complete rifles, and have swapped barrels and changed upers 5 times. With the exception of all the small parts, they are very simple to build. On fact, my son is ordering an M4 kit to mate to the new lower in the safe for #10.

Then, the big investment is AMMO!

August 13, 2007, 09:22 PM
When I first was shopping for an AR-15, a lot of people encouraged me to build my own. I did a little bit of research on the subject but was still pretty uncomfortable with building my own firearm, so I chickened out and spent $1000 on a Bushmaster. It was only after I field stripped my Bushmaster and examined it up close that I realized just how simple it would have been to build one, and kicked myself for not listening to everyone. While I am perfectly happy with my Bushmaster and have no intentions of selling it, if I could go back in time, I'd definitely build my own the second time around.

My dad is currently in the process of building one. He bought a stripped lower about a month ago ago and just recently purchased a lower parts kit and assembled it. Now he's shopping for a stock. While paying $600 (and easily more than that) for a rifle might not seem like your cup of tea, remember that when you build your own, you can stretch the cost of it out over a longer time to lessen the sting. That's mainly the reason why my dad is building one too, he'd never be able to drop $600-$1000 all at once without my mom going nuclear, but a small monthly expenditure on a part or two goes completely under the radar. :p

August 13, 2007, 10:03 PM
Here's something to think about: You don't have to spend $700 right away to get an AR. Some think to build you have to buy all the parts at the same time, not so. You pointed it out, AIM has striped lowers for ~$100. Buy it and have it transfered through a FFL; everything else you can order and have shipped to your door.

Next step, save up some money and order a lower parts kit for ~$70.

Next step, save up a little more and watch the "for sale" section(s) on these websites. You can nab some good stuff, say a name brand barreled upper for under $400.

Next step, save a little more... well you get the picture. Buy as you get money and find deals. Yes, you still spend $600-$700 for a basic AR but it'll be spread out over time and you can get all quality parts.

August 13, 2007, 11:26 PM
Installing the pivot pin, detent and spring, is no easy feat and even with special tools it isn't uncommon to have a detent or the spring go flying off to parts unknown.

Installing the bolt release and magazine catch without scratching the lower receiver is an excercise in patience.

Installing the buffer tube sometimes involves a bit of hand fitting.

AR/M16 rifles aren't hard to assemble.
They are challenging to assemble correctly.

Ohio Rifleman
August 14, 2007, 12:41 AM
Hm, that's right. I didn't think of just getting a piece at a time. Still, the barreled upper would be a big expense. Nevertheless, all that AR-15 stuff would just be collecting dust for a while until I get everything needed. Oh well, I'm sure many of us have had to deal with that. :p

August 14, 2007, 02:46 AM
Ive built two rifles from Model 1 Sales rifle kits - each cost less than $600 and have given me NO problems.

Just grab a basic 16" or 20" rifle kit and a stripped lower, takes about 45 mins at your table.

August 14, 2007, 03:03 AM
Just follow these directions:

I only handled an AR15 once at the range, before I put my rifle together. It's simple!

mons meg
August 14, 2007, 04:01 AM
Installing the bolt release and magazine catch without scratching the lower receiver is an excercise in patience.

That's the truth. But I figure I only gave $90 total for my EA lower, and a little black paint can go a long way. :D Hey, it's not a museum piece...but it shoots great.

August 14, 2007, 07:35 AM
Installing the bolt release and magazine catch without scratching the lower receiver is an excercise in patience.

One approach is to put masking tape on the receiver around the molding for the bolt release when you tap in the retaining pin.

August 14, 2007, 08:49 PM
Oops, a double tap!

August 14, 2007, 08:52 PM

3 of the builds, my midlength, CAR, and A2.

My son's M4'gery with the ACOG, my CAR15 with ML2 Aimpoint
The M4 has about $3200 in it right now (the rifle also has a mil style laser)

The instructions on work very well. If you have some mechanical/tinkering skills, you can do it.

August 15, 2007, 12:20 PM
interesting thread. Is the general opinion of Model 1 kits pretty good?

August 15, 2007, 12:40 PM
The general opinion of Model 1 is "adequate". They have a questionable reputation as to parts quality. If you don't mind building the rifle and having to replace small parts that might go south later, you'll probably be OK. Note I said small understanding is that the major components (barrel, upper receiver, etc) are fine. Some of the springs, etc, might wear out more quickly, but those are a drop-in type of replacement.

Others will know more. They have a poor rep on Arfcom, but the Arfcommers are picky.

If I was buildng a serious use rifle that had to work, every time, I'd buy from someone else.


August 15, 2007, 05:35 PM
One approach is to put masking tape on the receiver around the molding for the bolt release when you tap in the retaining pin.Even easier...start the pin by hand then squeeze it in using a vise grip with tape on the jaws. Smooth and easy, a half turn at a time...

Rex B
August 15, 2007, 06:27 PM
If you don't mind using some used components, you can save a bit.
If you have access to a milling machine, and some skill, you can have a lower from a $25 casting. Otherwise, $120 seems to be about the bottom line, all things considered. There aren't any used ones, people hang on to them.
I bought a like-new upper, complete locally for $300.
Bare upper is $50 from LAR - seconds, but I can't find any blemishes.
Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) is $100, Changing Handle (CH) is $17
Barrels are $150 and up
Lower parts kit is $55
Buttstocks run $20 - $35, forestocks $20
Magazine is $10

So, that's $542 plus any shipping or sales tax for a complete gun
Realistically, $600. For that money you can buy an Olympic Arms Plinker model - but what fun is that??

August 15, 2007, 06:34 PM
Key point to having a great looking rifle, is the proper tools. Plan to do it right the first time. Then use your tool set to build another one.

Here is another look at the assembly of a lower, with the proper tools.

You don't have to buy from them, try midway.

August 15, 2007, 07:46 PM
interesting thread. Is the general opinion of Model 1 kits pretty good?

I built 2 rifle recently (last 6 months) using their kits.

I had one problem with the first rifle. It would have an occasional failure to feed. Often enough it was a problem, not often enough to figure it out. I called them up expecting the run-around, partly due to the bad press they get at AR15.COM. I got a very concerned, courteous employee who requested I send it back for them to look at. I put it in the mail Monday, they got it Wednesday. I get a call back from the tech that day at noon. He had replaced the upper receiver and shot it, he believed the problem was fixed. He also upgraded my rifle to M4 feedramps based on the fact I shoot alot of hollowpoint ammunition. I got my rifle back on Friday. Fixed in 1 week.

The second rifle I have had zero problems with. In fact since receiving the first rifle back from repair I have put thousands of rounds thru both rifles and had ZERO problems.

I have no idea about others experience, mine was great and they are the first people I call. They will do things that are mentioned on their site as well.

For instance the M4 feedramps, even though not listed on their site they will upgrade your rifle kit to these for $25 - this gives you an Armalite upper receiver in place of their regular receiver made my Anchor Harvey. You just have to call them with your order.

Both of these rifle cost me $580 to build and are on Superior Arms lower receivers.

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