AR15 home-built accuracy/quality questions


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Tarvis
March 26, 2008, 02:54 PM
I have recently aquired a taste for building my own AR15's, but I'm curious why manufacturers and dealers can get $800-$1k for a rifle I can build for $600-$800. Do they fit thier lowers to the upper, or are they charging to put them together? If I bought a DPMS stipped lower and a kit from (insert website) is 1moa or better achievable without too much gunsmithing work or armorer knowledge? What kind of accuracy can I expect out of a DPMS lower and a non-chrome lined barrel with a standard trigger and handguard?

Any thoughts would be great ;).

Also, what exactly are M4 feed ramps?

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ArmedBear
March 26, 2008, 02:56 PM
Some manufacturers do thorough tests. And time is money. How long does it take you to put together an AR from scratch from bags of parts, then test it? They have to make money on that time, too, not just the parts.

And if it doesn't work right, they have customer service and warranty departments. If your home-built one doesn't work, well, you just have to figure it out and fix it.

taliv
March 26, 2008, 02:58 PM
there's also a tax on complete guns that you don't pay on stripped lowers

johnson_n
March 26, 2008, 02:58 PM
Are you using the same exact parts in your build? Are you factoring in your time? Warranty? There's also an 11% FET that manufacturers get charged for when selling a complete rifle as opposed to a lower and upper seperately.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=118&t=306487

Q: What are 'M4 Feedramps' and how do I know if I have them?
A: They are the feed ramps introduced with the M4 carbine that improved feeding with the M855 round - especially when the magazines were dirty/worn. Unlike previous ARs, these ramps continue onto the upper receiver - see the images below.

(images courtesy of Randall from AR15Barrels.com)
http://ar15barrels.com/tech/feedramps.jpg

Tarvis
March 26, 2008, 03:58 PM
So the extra charge is for testing, taxes and warranty; that makes sense I suppose. Thanks for the pic on the m4 feed ramps as well. Would you say that m4 feed ramps are a necesity, a good idea for certain ammo or a shorter bbl, or $55 that should be spent on reloading components instead?

DMK
March 26, 2008, 04:14 PM
If I bought a DPMS stipped lower and a kit from (insert website) is 1moa or better achievable without too much gunsmithing work or armorer knowledge?If you buy top quality parts, use the proper tools and the proper techniques, you can build an AR just as good as almost anything your can buy in your gunstore. It's not difficult. It just requires patience, and attention to detail.

Bartholomew Roberts
March 26, 2008, 04:19 PM
The ramps are nice if you are going for ultimate in reliability, need to fire the longer 70+gr rounds full-auto, or have particularly worn/old magazines that you use.

WyrTwister
March 26, 2008, 05:01 PM
You can buy an upper , completly assembled w/ bolt and charging handle . I think they will headspace the bolt & upper .

You can buy a completly assembled lower receiver .

Only assembly you have to do is to put the two halves together and slide in the pins . Than slap in a magazine .

Done !

God bless
Wyr

Tarvis
March 26, 2008, 05:30 PM
Well, I already bought two stripped lowers, so buying the upper wouldn't make much sense, as I'd still have to buy the parts kit and the stock.

DougW
March 26, 2008, 06:01 PM
How about a pic of some rifles built from a "bag of parts":

http://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p118/MDWINK/IMAG0003-1.jpg

:D:D:D

Bill2e
March 26, 2008, 06:10 PM
while fun to build, i would much rather pay a little more for the warranty & to make sure it's built correct. Pluse the time saved is worth it to many.

Bartholomew Roberts
March 26, 2008, 07:26 PM
I've built my own and I am pretty handy with troubleshooting them; but even the ones I build from top notch parts do not come out as reliable as my MSTN-built upper.

The kicker is I cannot even tell you why that is the case and I am very handy with troubleshooting ARs. This is the difference between their knowledge base and mine.

Having said that, the AR is easy to maintain and build and most people are capable of doing a decent job on one if they start with decent parts. The problem with buying a parts rifle though is you never know what corners the guy cut in building it (or usually you don't - there was the one guy who I asked if I could look inside his personally built rifle and he said "yes." When I opened it the buffer spring detent and spring shot past my head and the bufffer and buffer spring spewed out of the buffer tube. He had failed to secure the detent with the lip of the buffer tube. I handed it back to him - at which point he demanded I fix it since I was obviously the one who "broke" it.)

Zach S
March 26, 2008, 09:15 PM
If you could see the manufacturing process and the cost involved, add the 11% FET, and consider that that its sold at a profit three times (from the manufacturer to the distributor, the distributor to the dealer, and then from the dealer to you), then 800 to 1000 bucks for a rifle built with 600 to 800 bucks worth of parts isnt that bad. Not a really big profit for anyone involved.

BTW, a bag of ice from a gas station has a 100 to 150% profit margin. It only cost a dollar or two, but if it costs DPMS $600 to build their bottom of the line rifle or carbine...

MMcfpd
March 26, 2008, 09:21 PM
It makes me wonder why people will pay $100 for a brake job when they could do it themselves with $50 in parts.

Kurt_D
March 26, 2008, 09:38 PM
Well, I haven't built an AR15 yet, I have built my AR10 though.

The cost turned out to be the same as a AR10T. IMHO I used much better parts; parts like LaRue FFtube and mount, Noveske barrel, Magpul stock and grip, etc.

The results: I've only had factory hunting rounds to test with but with me shooting I get at least 1 MOA at 100 yards. Usually my results are 3-4 shots within 1/2 inch with one, which usually I can tell you which, opens it up to 1 inch at 100 yds. I feel the gun is far more capable than I right now.

ETA: I didn't have to headspace my set-up. The AR line has the headspace set at teh factory in the barrel ext. Using a new bolt should put you in spec everytime (assuming a quality manufacturer)

Kurt_D
March 26, 2008, 10:05 PM
Do you want a precission rig? If you just want a "basic" AR, and for <$1000 it sounds like you do, then I highly recommend a chrome lined barrel because they are much easier to clean.

Accuracy will not vary greatly, if at all, with a quality manufacture, chrome vs. non-chrome. Chrome usually runs ~$50 more.

Anyway, a lower is a lower and DPMS is fine.

I'd personally would not cheap out a lot on the upper. I'd buy complete (as in barreled) as this is the section where you'd have to buy extra tools to build. Your accuracy is here to. There are some good uppers out there that won't break the bank. Watch for Bushmaster's Tax time sale too, you might batch a hell of a deal on a total complete upper. New barrel with new bolt = should be no headspace issues.

There are several good lower parts kits out there that are inexpensive and within $10 of each other.

Basic stock are inexpensive.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't get hung on cheap "kits" when you could get better parts for the same money if you shop.

Tarvis
March 27, 2008, 12:10 AM
while fun to build, i would much rather pay a little more for the warranty & to make sure it's built correct. Pluse the time saved is worth it to many.

Well, I'm thinking it would take me around 3 hours to get the parts figured out and put together, so time isn't necesarily an issue. Even if I'm underestimating how long it will take, I'm still willing to invest the time. If something goes wrong with one of my guns, I usually fix 'em myself anyhow, unless it's something far beyond my scope.

Not a really big profit for anyone involved.

You are definetly correct there. Volume is the key in the gun business. My FFL guy would make about $2 per box of berger bullets if he sold 'em, and his bulk price on hornady bullets are pretty close to retail as well.

The cost turned out to be the same as a AR10T

From the little I looked at AR10's, it seems like you don't save a whole lot building your own, but you do get exactly what you want when you make one.

I'd personally would not cheap out a lot on the upper.

I'm thinking a kit is the way to go here, simply because it is 2 fewer items to buy (parts kit, stock). I know I can buy 'em seperately but until I want a build with a different stock than what comes in the kit, it seems like a no-brainer, mostly because adding upgrades is cheaper than buying them seperate. m-aparts.com seems to be very confident in thier quality and I think I'll be ordering from them when I do. I'm not too confident in my decision-making skills when it comes down to piecing an upper together on my own so I'll buy a DPMS or a Bushy or some other brand name I've heard of.

Do you want a precission rig? If you just want a "basic" AR, and for <$1000 it sounds like you do, then I highly recommend a chrome lined barrel because they are much easier to clean.

Well, I'm looking for a deal, but I'd rather pay an extra $50-$100 if I knew I'd be getting something capable of sub-moa. I get the feeling most of this comes with the barrel, but I'd rather rule out me not putting it together correctly.

Essex County
March 27, 2008, 01:34 PM
Essex thinks that when doing a build, think twice about going with lowest bidder. Quality only hurts once. Essex

ArmedBear
March 27, 2008, 01:52 PM
Quality only hurts once.

We need you over in the Shotgun forum.:)

It's hard to explain to some people why buying an Over/Under with a reputation for breaking down after a short time is not a "good deal" no matter how low the pricetag is.

GaryM
March 27, 2008, 01:56 PM
I have built a few AR15s, one is a heavy barreled varmint type using a sabre defense barrel, CMMG lower, RRA two stage match trigger group and various other components of unknown origin I scraped together. That rifle will shoot sub MOA with quality (my own handloads using 69gr SMKs) ammo. IMHO the barrel, sights and the trigger group are the most important hardware involved when trying to build a really accurate rifle.

hags
March 27, 2008, 02:04 PM
Having said that, the AR is easy to maintain and build and most people are capable of doing a decent job on one if they start with decent parts. The problem with buying a parts rifle though is you never know what corners the guy cut in building it (or usually you don't - there was the one guy who I asked if I could look inside his personally built rifle and he said "yes." When I opened it the buffer spring detent and spring shot past my head and the bufffer and buffer spring spewed out of the buffer tube. He had failed to secure the detent with the lip of the buffer tube. I handed it back to him - at which point he demanded I fix it since I was obviously the one who "broke" it.)

You're kidding right?

SSN Vet
March 27, 2008, 04:13 PM
people will pay $100 for a brake job

I need to get introduced to your mechanic. Noboady around here will do a break job for $100.

I just put together my first ever AR lower last night.

I was a little intimidated at the prospect, but the posted instruction on AR15.com seemed very clear.

It was so incredibly easy! Only real tool required was a small hammer and a pin punch (or you can use vice grips).

My research lead me to believe that the best route to go was to buy a completely assembled upper, and then put the stripped lower, LPK and stock together yourself.

Anvil Arms sells a very high quality stripped lower (on sale for only $100). And he'll even laser engrave it for you at no charge.

AR-15 Rep
March 27, 2008, 04:40 PM
I sell the kits with everything except the lower receiver. The lower is easy to assemble. The upper is assembled complete ready to run with headspacing checked and test fired to ensure quality. With a 100.00 lower you could be into your ar for less than 600.00

Tarvis
March 27, 2008, 06:50 PM
Essex thinks that when doing a build, think twice about going with lowest bidder. Quality only hurts once. Essex

What would you consider to be quality; are we talkin about putting a good barrel on it, or a good brand upper reciever, or a good trigger...? I agree that quality comes at a price, but why would I buy a dpms stripped lower for $115 from del-ton.com (3-4 week wait due to back orders) when I can get the same reciever from colemantyler.com for $103 ($97 each if you buy 5 or more, I bought six)? There is no reason to find the absolutely lowest price and go with it, but whats wrong with finding the lowest price for what I want?

I keep hearing "buy quality," but I have yet to hear what quality they are refrencing. Asking who the best manufacturer is would get a flood of opinion, but that doesn't leave out discussion on who makes the best lower parts kit or what barrel is superior.

It seems like everyone thinks a good ar costs $1000, and that buying something cheaper than that guarantees that your rifle will malfunction and be inaccurate. The purpose of this thread is to figure out what parts/manufacturers/kits are quality and which are not; I haven't seen a post that points me in the right direction yet, only that it should be expensive.

Bartholomew Roberts
March 27, 2008, 07:08 PM
You're kidding right?

Sadly, no. It is experiences like that which make me wary of homebuilt ARs, even though I know how to correct most of the problems that can develop.

Soybomb
March 27, 2008, 10:17 PM
What would you consider to be quality; are we talkin about putting a good barrel on it, or a good brand upper reciever, or a good trigger...? I agree that quality comes at a price, but why would I buy a dpms stripped lower for $115 from del-ton.com (3-4 week wait due to back orders) when I can get the same reciever from colemantyler.com for $103 ($97 each if you buy 5 or more, I bought six)? There is no reason to find the absolutely lowest price and go with it, but whats wrong with finding the lowest price for what I want?

I keep hearing "buy quality," but I have yet to hear what quality they are refrencing. Asking who the best manufacturer is would get a flood of opinion, but that doesn't leave out discussion on who makes the best lower parts kit or what barrel is superior.

It seems like everyone thinks a good ar costs $1000, and that buying something cheaper than that guarantees that your rifle will malfunction and be inaccurate. The purpose of this thread is to figure out what parts/manufacturers/kits are quality and which are not; I haven't seen a post that points me in the right direction yet, only that it should be expensive.

You'll find a pretty wide variety of opinions on that as well and I think the idea of quality is somewhat subjective too. If you're building a defensive rifle quality might mean making sure you get a top notch bcg and a decent feeling trigger that will be reliable. If you're building a rifle for accuracy you might not care that the bcg isn't as thoroughly tested and might want a better barrel than the defensive rifle's, quality on it might mean the best trigger pull possible at the expense of reliability.

I don't think you can buy a bad parts kit from any of the big names if that helps.

Tarvis
March 27, 2008, 11:22 PM
Very informative Soybomb, thanks; that's what I was looking for. I think I'm going to build the all-arounder; good upper with a good barrel. In other words, I don't plan on making a serious investment and I'm not going to go cheap on anything either.

Suggestions for a good BCG or what to look for as opposed to what is not good? I haven't really looked into the differences or the options.

Suggestions on barrels would be great as well, geared more towards what the barrel is made of and what profile.

Soybomb
March 28, 2008, 12:39 PM
There's a nice chart floating around showing what some guns have and what some dont. If I were you I'd look at some LMT uppers. LMT and colt are the only two bcg's I'll consider because as far as I know they're the only 2 manufacturers that fire a proof load and then mpi every bolt they make. Others claim large statistical samples but the market is pretty tightly price controlled so if I'm paying $130 I might as well get the most bang for my buck. Don't forget to look at twist rate of you barrels. The top defensive ammo is heavier and won't shoot well out of 1/9 twists for many people making 1/7 a better choice.

My last gun was built as a defensive gun and a fun plinker. I don't get to shoot past 100 yards or compete in bullseye competitions or anything like that. I didn't see any reason to spend big bucks for a super accurate barrel for that. I went with a 16" chrome lined, 1/7 twist, light weight profile barrel. I hate holding a shooting heavy rifes. It has a mid length gas system to hopefully be a bit more gentle on the parts, a lmt bcg because of its quality, and is all stuffed into a cmt upper receiver because I didn't see the need to spend big money on billet since it wasn't a target gun. Ymmv, you can do a lot of reading and think about a lot of options :D

Grunt
March 28, 2008, 03:03 PM
I have seen a lot of junk put together cobbled together from the cheapest parts available put together by people that were at what I'd consider questionable compitence. A lot of these rifles tend to have problems. However, if you stick with the decent parts and are compitent in what you are going, a home-built rifle can be every bit as good as the high-end factory rifles at a fraction of the cost. It's not going to be as cheap as a rifle you built from "gun show special" parts but it's going to work better in the long run and still be cheaper than the factory that has to deal with customer service, labor, equipment, infastructure, etc.

Tarvis
March 28, 2008, 03:49 PM
I was planning on buying a kit, but now I think I may do the LMT bcg and a barreled upper. +1 on the 1-7, I haven't heard if it would give you any problems with lighter bullets and opens the door to 69+ grain bullets. I think there are times for chrome lined and times for non-chrome lined, and I haven't decided what kind of rifle I'm gonna put together first, but I will most likely own atleast one of each at some point.

Coronach
March 28, 2008, 03:58 PM
Building an AR is not that hard, EXCEPT the barrel/upper interface. Everything else is just "go slow, RTFM, if it won't go don't force it, check it twice before you think you're done" type stuff. I've had plenty of detents and springs go flying, but it's pretty easy to figure out what you did wrong, and as long as you can find the little bit that went soaring across your garage, you didn't harm anything. It pays to take your homebrew rifle on a shakedown cruise before you put it in the rack for anti-zombie duty, but that's probably true of a factory built gun, too. You just need to be careful and check everything, multiple times.

Putting the front end on the upper, though? That's where a guy who knows what he's doing, has the proper tools, and likes to drink your brand of beer comes in handy, at least the first time. If nothing else, you can get a complete upper and assemble your own lower. There's NOTHING in the lower to fear.

Mike :)

DougW
March 28, 2008, 08:30 PM
I suppose that I might be in the minority when it comes to building. I am about to build #10 with my son in a few weeks. I have changed barrels on uppers probably 6 or 8 times. I haven't broken anything, and all the rifles function 100% and are all accurate. I will also say that I don't have a rifle that has less than $1000 invested in it, especially since I have enough spare parts to assemble a complete upper, and only need a lower parts kit and a lower (on order). Thus, #11 will be here by May. It is just me, since I am very interested in the inner workings of all my weapons that I love to be hands on with my weapons. I haven't seen anything personally in a complete factory rifle that I cannot do or add myself.

Omaha-BeenGlockin
March 29, 2008, 09:27 AM
I've built 4 so far---both uppers and lowers---all are reliable and accurate.

The receivers themselves(upper and lower) are just shells and most anything will work---I pretty much use DPMS for those----I use Bushmaster barrels as they are already headspaced and chrome lined---most all other internal guts are from Rock River or Bushmaster.

I have all the tools--use the proper grease(looked all over--finally found a tube of Exxon brand at Autozone)--properly torque the barrel and buffer tube--have a military armor's manual and the Bushmaster video and used AR15.com directions---take your time and do it right the first time.

I'll put my home builds against any factory offering.

johnson_n
March 29, 2008, 10:14 AM
To those that have "built" your own (piecing together everything), how many classes has it been through? How many rounds? Has it been thrown around or is it just a target gun?

Tarvis
March 31, 2008, 11:14 AM
I'm willing to bet that they are just as tough and durable as a factory AR, as the parts are generally the same. Some of the internals may be better on the high end factory guns, but other than that I'm sure they're different yet the same.

DougW
March 31, 2008, 12:05 PM
johnson n, one of my builds has been used in 7 3-gun matches and a rifle/pistol class. Approx 1500 rounds with no failures. My rifles are for training, target, and fun use, and I don't haphazardly "throw" my weapons around. The older rifles have signs of use, and are not safe queens. They all run.

sacp81170a
March 31, 2008, 12:29 PM
To those that have "built" your own (piecing together everything), how many classes has it been through? How many rounds? Has it been thrown around or is it just a target gun?

My M4gery build, a DPMS lower and upper with all DPMS parts except for the quad handguard rails and the stock went through a 5-day Patrol Rifle course and about 2000 rounds with nary a hiccup. Never cleaned it, either. It was March, weather was cold and rainy with snow flurries throughout. Occasional squirt of Rem Oil was all it needed when it got dry. It was messy to clean afterwards, but not much more than usual. I'd say it got a good wringing out, and I fired Expert on the standard Army 25 meter paper target (39 out of 40). Not too shabby with iron sights.

taliv
March 31, 2008, 02:09 PM
To those that have "built" your own (piecing together everything), how many classes has it been through? How many rounds? Has it been thrown around or is it just a target gun?

mine's been through several matches and a couple of carbine classes and hasn't had any failures that weren't ammo-related (or intentionally setup in the class to practice clearing malfunctions. i also just keep squirting LSA in it, in lieu of cleaning, and have just shy of 6k rnds through the current upper and about 13k through the lower.

however, i hasten to add that a) i spent almost twice as much in parts as a new colt would have cost me, and b) one or two positive examples isn't statistically significant and you should probably make any decisions in light of the overwhelming negative examples

i can't remember the last time i shot it off a bench. it wasn't this year

Tarvis
March 31, 2008, 10:02 PM
IMHO, if you aren't very apt at fixing broken guns or trouble shooting problems and aren't in to the "self built" or the "sweat equity" rifle and have the cash, it may be a good idea to buy a rifle thats already put together and possibly with a warranty.

Gary G23
March 31, 2008, 10:51 PM
"Essex thinks that when doing a build, think twice about going with lowest bidder. Quality only hurts once. Essex"

I have to agree with this. There is a big difference in the quality and price of parts. Of course you can build one cheap if you use cheap parts.

My last iron sight build cost over $1000 in parts. But it has never malfunctioned with thousands of rounds through it. And it was pushed very hard at the Steel City Tactical Rifle Championship last weekend.

Tarvis
April 2, 2008, 12:54 AM
There is a big difference in the quality and price of parts. Of course you can build one cheap if you use cheap parts.
So, if I find a DPMS lower for $115 on website A and a DPMS lower on website B for $100 I should go with the one for $115? I agree that you get what you pay for, but if a standard parts kit is $10 less at a different vendor and they're both USGI, why spend more? I am planning on getting a LMT bcg, possibly a LMT upper and a good match grade barrel, both of which cost more; but at the same time the rifle will still function well with standard parts, and I'm willing to bet (by bet I mean I'm guessing ;)) that with mediocre factory ammo it will still shoot less than 2moa; and I'd bet it would shoot less than 1moa with good handloads tuned to the rifle and a trigger upgrade. The whole point of the thread was to figgure out if a standard ar15 kit would be accurate, and if not what I need to look for in upgrades.

You can spend 1k on an upper and be satisfied that it was expensive and is of high quality, but I want to know what part or what about the parts make it high quality, as opposed to the "spend more" theory.

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