Rolling my own AR


August 26, 2003, 08:32 PM
Can I save some money putting together my own AR-15? Could somebody point me towards sources for the nessicary parts? Thanks.

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August 26, 2003, 08:54 PM
'build it yourself' forum of

I will be going the same route too.

August 26, 2003, 08:57 PM
You can build an AR for around $550, minus tools. Now if you add a set of receiver blocks to clamp the receiver in a vice for barreling, a combo tool, a set of punches, maybe a torque wrench and a few odds and ends and you can easily spend about $100 to $150 more.

So you're probably not going to save a whole lot of money building. But you will be able to build a rifle just the way you want it, built with quality parts and the pride of being able to say " yep i built it", and its fun.

A lower receiver can be had from bushmaster, rock river arms, eagle, DPMS. J&T ( , sherluk, quantico arms ( and legal transfers ( are all good folks dealing quality parts. Of course you can buy direct from bushmaster or dpms but price shop.

Stay away from american spirit arms and hesse stuff.

August 26, 2003, 09:07 PM
If your goal is to buy the cheapest possible rifle, then I doubt it.

If you don't have any of the tools, I also doubt it.

If you want to build an AR knowing that every component is exactly what you want, is of the best quality, and the rifle was hand assembled using the greatest care and perfection, then building your own AR is the way to go; but that isn't what you asked.

August 26, 2003, 09:10 PM
444, I suspected that was the situation.

Jon Coppenbarger
August 26, 2003, 09:17 PM
well you can go different routes but I usually have mine built for my match shooting but for plinking here is what I have done before and my new project now.
while at camp perry bought a rra's lower parts set with the nm two staqge trigger set up.
my cost $118 taking the match trigger out and replacing it with a rock river standard trigger which I have a few of laying around from previous projects.
so my cost for the lower parts comes to $42
now I have a few a2 surplus stocks in great condition that I paid $3.50 for with everything but buffer ,tube and spring.
relaced the rear butt pad with the newer nurled type for another $3.50 that was surplus new in wrap.
have extra tubes, buffer and springs from earlier projects and extras that I picked up.
also bought a complete rra's bolt and carrier at perry on dealer sale at $85
then found a colt a2 upper with charging handle for $200 complete minus the carrier and bolt.
now I'am in the process of ordering a stripped rra's lower at my cost of $80

so I end up with a complete rifle with a colt upper and rra's lower for the total cost of $414 ready to fire.
now I can also add the price of a complete stock ???. used off the net as they run for around $30 to $50 if you do not have one and that still makes it under $440.
if you look around and be patient you can build them fairly cheap.

August 26, 2003, 09:25 PM
I should also say that it is of course to build a very cheap AR15, if you get a smokin deal on all the parts. In other words you scour the web, gun shows, and the local guys in search of great deals; and you are willing to wait as long as it takes to get a complete parts set at the lowest possible price. Deals do show up from time to time. If you happen to be there to take advantage, good for you.
If you want to order everything today, it probably won't be any cheaper than something you could buy off the rack.
If you want to build it with good quality components right now, I am pretty sure you couldn't find the parts cheaper than you could just buy a new rifle.

Jon Coppenbarger
August 26, 2003, 09:47 PM
444 is right if you have to have it now it will cost you more.
if you do alot of shopping around and buy when you know the deal is right even if you do not need it right away you will come out ahead in the long run.
for example:
walked into a surplus store about 3 months ago and they have alot of m16 stocks with the rear trap door on them mostly a1's but also a few a2's mixed in. they wanted $4 each but since I bought 10 of them they were $3.50 each.
also at the same time I bought a2 handgaurds for $3.50 a set and picked out 3 nice sets.
also paid $3.50 each for brand new in the wrap new style butt plates but got about a dozen of them.
then also bought about 5 or 6 of the old bakelite pistol grips for the same price.
knowing those items will make alot of builds or trades in the future.

new buffers at perry were on sale for $8.50 so bought a few of those but had a few from gun show buys along with springs and tubes and other little pieces. do not pay full price for any of it unless I really have to have a certain part right now and it happens.
have a few ffl holders that will let me order for zero up to $20 for anything thats registered like a stripped lower and any parts are just cost if I pay for them when I order them from a company.

the upper is not a far out deal as most every week you can find something close for around $200 to $250 on the net. I bought that one just last week for $200 shipped and did not take his complete stock set up for $30 as I already have alot of them.
now I think I have got a pretty nice rifle getting built for a relitively low price with quality parts.
the upper is all colt and a a2 to boot.
the carrier and bolt are rra's as is the lower reciever and parts and they are new.
the only things surplus are the stocks and parts for the stocks but I also have bought a few complete new condition stock setups also for a great price and could put those on but do not plan on it.

4v50 Gary
August 26, 2003, 09:54 PM
You really don't have to buy a receiver block. If you've got oak or another hard wood, drill a hole that is the same as the outer diameter of the barrel and then bandsaw it in half. Voila! Poor man's barrel blocks. When my uncle and I built a heavy barrel upper (1.1" barrel) on a heavy upper receiver (DPMS), that's what we had to do since the conventional jigs didn't work.

About the only real special tool you need is the spanner wrench to tighten the barrel nut (secures barrel to upper receiver). Most everything else is pretty common (borrow the torque wrench).

August 26, 2003, 10:13 PM
Wilson makes a nice barrel:

August 26, 2003, 11:22 PM
"Building" a rifle isn't a good way to save money, but buying the two halves separately is.

I bought a Rock River upper (which is complete) and a complete Rock River lower ... I saved some money because the federal excise tax on firearms is only assessed on lowers and complete guns ... so the tax would have been added to the price of the upper if I bought it already connected to a lower.

The only "building" I did was to but it together as though I had just field stripped it.

August 27, 2003, 09:00 AM

Building AR's from individual parts is not the way to go....

Buy yourself a good parts kit from Model 1 Sales, M&A Parts, or one of the other places. These come with the barrel already mated to the upper, so you DON'T need all the specialized parts that have been referred to above. Since the upper is pretty much all together, all you really have to assemble is the parts that go into the lower.... trigger, takedown pins, pistol grip, buttstock and buffer tube. Piece of cake....

These usually run around $400 to $440, depending on options. Your typical GI type A2 kit is around $400.

After that all you need is the lower receiver.... $90 to $150 and whatever transfer fee your local FFL charges you.... and an instruction book (the parts kits DON'T come with instructions.). I used Duncan Long's book on "BUilding an AR-15". Very concise and well illistrated.

Tools to put kits like this together are simplicity itself. A couple screwdrivers and a brass punch or two. That's it. Nada else.

I assembled my first two AR's just exactly this way, and prior to getting the kit's I'd never even SEEN the inside of an AR before. Both kits went together in about an hours time and both shoot and work great. Both will shoot under 1-1/4 MOA all day long with decent handloads.

Buy a kit, receiver, instruction book, and ENJOY.

Best regards,

August 27, 2003, 09:09 AM
As I'm sure you've gathered, is the authority on AR15 related info. I bought a lower and an upper seperately and mated them together. Once I had a completed gun, I could start breaking it down and say "so that's how that works" or "so that's where that goes." If I had it to do over, I wouldn't want to be building my first AR from scratch, but that's just me.

Brian Dale
August 27, 2003, 07:19 PM
:confused: -- you wrote about taking the match trigger out and replacing it with a rock river standard trigger
I've seen some of your posts about Highpower; you shoot Master, right? Forgive the dumb question, but I'm curious about why you'd do that. I DO NOT have any preconceived notions about why, or cast any aspersions; I just want to find out. You're doing it this way, and you know a lot.

Was it just to build another fun rifle for as low a cost as possible, or is the standard trigger better for some applications? Thanks.

August 27, 2003, 07:40 PM
Not only you can say you built it, you can say it has no serial number.

August 27, 2003, 07:53 PM
Not only you can say you built it, you can say it has no serial number.

Except that whole serial number thing on the side of the lower reciever.

August 27, 2003, 08:14 PM
in my book "time is money". i'd rather buy one and know its done right than to have to go back and rebuild something i messed up.

Jon Coppenbarger
August 27, 2003, 08:30 PM
yes this is a fun rifle and as so will be used to shoot anything from match ammo if needed (most likely not) to any of the military issue ammo.

when using hand loaded or good quality match ammo it has two property's that help a match trigger.
#1 softer primers
#2 cleaner powder
the two stage match triggers have a light weight hammer so you gain lock time speed as the lighter the hammer the faster it gets to the primer.
by using a match trigger with surplus ammo you WILL have light hits and the rounds will not go off once in awhile.

also with dirty surplus powders your hammer pin will have a tendency to gum up causing it to slow down even more and turn it into a single fire rifle.

so a standard military trigger on a ar15 with the extra weight of the hammer will give you many, many rounds of reliable service.
thanks jon

August 27, 2003, 11:41 PM
Take a look at Gunsmoke Ent. He can sell you what you need. Experienced with a great reputation.

August 28, 2003, 01:40 AM
"Except that whole serial number thing on the side of the lower reciever."

Not if you build the gun from an 80% reciever.

"i'd rather buy one and know its done right ......"

Building it yourself is the ONLY way to ensure it is done right. And doing it right is no challenge at all. It is simple, you need no experience. Nothing to it. I built several on my kitchen counter in under an hour each.

Brian Dale
August 28, 2003, 02:33 AM
If the rifle that I'd like to assemble later in the year would be my first AR, and I'm interested in SR shooting (been to two matches; used borrowed Garands and loved 'em), then is there any problem with building, for example, a RRA-AR with the standard trigger, because that and surplus ammo will still shoot better than I can at this point? The other route I see would be to build a rifle with the match trigger right away, and already have it as I practice and get better. I guess the question becomes, "is it sensible to use surplus ammo for my first year or two of match shooting?" I've had lots of years of hunting and plinking, but I'm only starting to compete.

If the standard trigger is better for a beginning match shooter, should the standard trigger be adjusted to just over 4.5 lbs, as well? And will a beginning competitor be ready for a match trigger and match ammo at about the time the first barrel's ready to be replaced, making it feasible to do that all at once?

jc121, I've read a lot of your posts (and Steve Smith's) about competitive SR shooting here and at TFL, and in my short time here I've seen a tremendous wealth of information from you guys. If you've covered these topics already, may I ask for the link to it if that's handy? I don't want to ask you questions that you've answered over and over already. At the same time, I most certainly don't want to imply that I only want answers from you two. If anybody else wants to chime in, I'm grateful for it. Thanks!

August 28, 2003, 02:44 AM
I've been very pleased with my Olympic Arms PCR-4 kit mated to a stripped lower receiver from Rock River Arms. Barrel and upper come from OA pre-assembled and headspaced with the bolt carrier assembly. OA also provides in the kit all the parts to build out the lower receiver. shows the current price at $424. Don't know the exact cost of a stripped lower, but would guess at around $125. No fancy tools required, just some patience and the assembly instructions found at I'm confident that by assembling my rifle I understand the AR-15 better than I ever would have otherwise. Trust me, I'm no gunsmith. If you can assemble a model airplane, cook a complex dish, install memory in a computer, or change a flat tire, you've got what it takes to complete this kit. I took 3 - 4 hours to build mine, but that was because it was the first I'd ever done. I could probably cut that in half easily now.

Three options:

Build from scratch (requires knowledge of how to correctly headspace and some special tools)
Assemble a kit
Grab it off the rack

Brian Dale
August 28, 2003, 03:22 AM
Did another search, different keywords. So far:

The advice that I'm seeing seems to be that surplus ammo won't make it except for plinking. Am I missing something?



August 28, 2003, 12:01 PM
Take a look at Gunsmoke Ent. He can sell you what you need. Experienced with a great reputation.

If you decide to order a lower from Gunsmoke make sure you send an FFL to them prior to ordering. A couple of years ago I ordered a stripped Bushy lower from Gunsmoke. I gave them my CC number and authorized them to charge my CC pending reciept of my dealers FFL. I was told "No..we can't hold a lower for you until we recieve a FFL". It didn't matter that I told them to use my CC# to guarantee payment.

Well guess what. When they recieved my FFL 3 days later they were all sold out. Then they had the nerve to still charge my CC even though they didn't have any lowers in stock. Strange they wouldn't charge me when they had them in stock, and now they charge when they don't have them in stock.

Well, numerous phone calls and a couple of weeks later I finally got one shipped to me.

I suggest doing a search over at concerning Gunsmoke prior to ordering.

Good Shooting

August 28, 2003, 01:12 PM
If you are looking for good prices on AR stuff, check out the Equipment Exchange board on They've got a lot of good dealers and their prices are hard to beat.

August 28, 2003, 04:26 PM
I think that was your fault Red.

But here is a website if you want to built it from a 80%, I never done it but plan to.I think you only need to drill some holes with a press and tap a few holes then blue it.

August 28, 2003, 06:59 PM
I think that was your fault Red.

Huh?..How so?

A dealer has an item in stock. I ask to reserve the item with full payment pending the reciept of an FFL. He refuses to accept payment or reserve until a FFL is recieved. He recieves my FFL 3 days later and all or a sudden it is no longer in stock. He still charges my CC for an item on backorder status with no gurantee of a delivery date.

Ya lost me on that. I've done business with many other dealers on the internet for complete weapons and stripped lowers. All were more than happy to reserve the weapon with full pre payment pending reciept of an FFL.

Good Shooting

August 28, 2003, 07:35 PM
I've dealt with several dealers that won't take your order for a firearm without an FFL in hand. The way i had it explained to me one time was that if the FFL never shows up then they have a firearm that is in limbo, paid for, no longer for salebut cannot be shipped. I don't remember what gunsmokes policies are but many internet businesses charge when the order is placed not when it is shipped.

Sounds to me like your deal could have fit these 2 circumstances. Did you check out their FFL and CC policies before you ordered. If you didn't then you really don't have a viable grievance.

I've done bus with gunsmoke in the past with no problems.

August 28, 2003, 08:12 PM
I see the light.

August 28, 2003, 10:45 PM
I don't remember what gunsmokes policies are but many internet businesses charge when the order is placed not when it is shipped.

Many other businesses only charge when the order is shipped. This includes many reputatable manufacturers/ dealers. The Company should contact the purchaser in case the item goes on a backorder status or if the item is no longer available. In my case I waited a week from the anticipated ship date before contacting them, allowing time to get the FFL to GSE and time for the product to get back to my dealer.

As for company policy...there is none listed on the internet. I checked today and they have a new website look, but still no policies listed.

Oh well.....If you've had dealings with them that went flawless..then great! All I say is folks should check feedback over at and other places before ordering from any particular business.

Good Shooting

August 29, 2003, 07:54 AM
Does this count as a thread hijacking? Take this discussion over to the Rate Private and Retail Transactions ( forum. There was a perfectly good thread about building your own AR going on.

I'm totally interested in building my own 80% reciever now. I knew people did it, but I didn't realize now trivial the skills were that are needed.

I don't have the metal tooling needed, most of my stuff is for wood working. It looks like your three options are to buy the OSI jig for $250 and locate tooling yourself, buy a complete set with tools and jig designed for more usage for $600, or do-it-yourself. Since the cheaper OSI jig is not designed for as much use, and since I typically take the Tim Taylor approach to things, I'm leaning towards the better jig. Seriously, for less than $1000 it looks like you can get the jigs and tools for the 80% lower, plus all the vice blocks, wrenches, punches, and blah blah that you'd need to completely service any AR. It's not pocket change, but within the reach of most people.

August 29, 2003, 08:19 AM
If you look around and keep your eyes open, you can find those jigs avialable for sale or trade. One good way to do it is to get a group buy going; buy one jig and let everyone use it.
If you do a search, you can find several very good pages on building an 80% lower.

August 29, 2003, 08:30 AM
LOL... yeah, that's what the bunch on this website ( did. They seemed to have the same experience I've had with loaning out tools. You always seem to get them back late and in worse condition than when you lent it.

I think I'm going to put together an upper from scratch first, as it requires less capital outlay and time. Once I get a few put together how I like and they shoot satisfactorily off lowers that I already have, I'll tackle the 80% lower. Since the uppers and lowers require distinctly different skills and tools, I think I'll take it one step at a time.

I think brownells will be getting a call from me today...

August 29, 2003, 08:57 AM
Buy the jig, then resell it on ebay, I'm betting you will get almost all your money back. I'd build the lower and buy everything else.

August 29, 2003, 09:02 AM
Lower? Did I say Lower?

I meant LowerS!!

August 29, 2003, 02:40 PM
I was planning on buying a J&T upper with a mega/stinger lower(it is forged, very high quality, and only $88) for a total cost under 600$

Pretty easy, the J&T upper has everything but the lower reciever block, you just add the parts from the J&T kit to the lower reciever and slap the two peices together. It is a nice high quality for a decent price kit. Trigger options cost more IIRC.

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