Going to build a AR?


January 12, 2011, 08:24 AM
I am looking into building a new AR. I am not sure yet on whether or not I want open sights or optics but that can be worked out later.

It does not have to be Mil spec but, if it in my budget that would be good.

The shooting will be short-mid range practice 80% of the time and it may second as a Varmint gun?

Budget is $1500 without optics.

Suggestions on good uppers, lowers, triggers, barrels so on so on........ Would be great help.

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January 12, 2011, 08:43 AM
Sounds like a good project. Are you going to build the upper as well, or buy a complete upper?

Spike's Tactical is a great lower, whether you buy a complete lower, or put it together yourself. You can get a stripped lower from them as low as $69.

Upper, well, there are a lot to choose from. It sounds as if you're wanting a carbine. I'd recommend a 16" barrel with a mid length gas system; this will have a lighter recoil pulse than a carbine gas system, and is supposed to be more reliable. Bravo Company (BCM), and Daniel Defense (DD) are held in very high regard for being top notch gear for lower prices. Their barrels and bolts are High Pressure and Magnetic Particle Inspection tested, just like Colt. And speaking of Colt, you can get a 6920 upper receiver from Brownells.

Now, some that I didn't mention would be Spike's Tactical, Rock River Arms, DPMS, Bushmaster, Del-Ton, etc., etc.. These are good companies. The only reason that I didn't recommend them is that right now there is negligible price difference between them, and the first two that I recommended. But the quality difference is much greater; most if not all of these companies do not test to the same rigorous standards that BCM or DD do. Will they most likely be just fine, and accurate? Of course. But if you could get a Mercedes for the price of a Toyota, wouldn't you want to do so?

Edited to add: Spike's may have HP and MPI tested parts, and Del-Ton is now stating that they do. I simply didn't put those at the top due to not having solid info on them, and am in no way saying that they are inferior in any way.

January 12, 2011, 08:52 AM
I've never built an AR but own two.... for 1500 bucks you aught to be able to build the most high end top of the line AR possible. from what i understand that is about twice as much as you need to build a very good AR.

January 12, 2011, 08:58 AM
I bought a Spikes Upper (Midlength) and lower separate and saved about $100.00. Fit and finish is excellent! Contrary to what Birdog said Spikes Tactical is just as high in quality as DD and BCM IMO. Fit, finish and function are excellent!

If you would like to save some cash Delton is a great way to go. I believe they have a 1-7 twist upper on sale for $399 right now.

January 12, 2011, 09:04 AM
Custom build your lower
Accurate upper would be best bought complete
For your budget?... Noveske, LMT, POF, Larue for an upper or

custom build with top end parts...

POF upper receiver, POF or Noveske for better than milspec barrel or Krieger barrel for match grade accuracy, Young bcg, BCM gunfighter charging handle

January 12, 2011, 09:11 AM
Frank, please note that I wasn't disparraging Spike's; I just don't have the experience with them that I do with DD and BCM.

It must be early; I completely forgot to mention LaRue! I'm not so sure that the OP can get into an LMT or Noveske for his budget, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

January 12, 2011, 09:18 AM
Thanks for the tips and info!

My brother bought a Del-Ton the spring and it is a great gun even though it has much less of it's original parts then it once did! I was going to just buy one of those as it does a great job but, I can't have the same thing as my brother can I? HA:neener:

He put on a new Butt stock, Forward grip, BCM Bolt, Eotech Holographic Sight, Magpul mags and I think one or two other things!LOL

I want to skip the replacement parts and go right to the good stuff!:D

January 12, 2011, 09:22 AM
So what is it that you want in a carbine? Sounds like non-standard. Free float rail? Stainless barrel? Take a look at Bravo Company's site, and Smartgunner for DD. Last month Smartgunner was running a deal with DD that made it cheaper than most others; I almost bit, but I've got a different project in mind.

January 12, 2011, 09:32 AM
I think I would like a SS Kriege barrel but, that is why I asked as there are soo........... many options out there I was hoping that some of THR members have gone down this road before me and can throw me a bone!

I am going to check out BCM and DD and compare.

January 12, 2011, 10:08 AM
in regards to optics, I'd get a flat top upper that you could add whatever you want to on it. Affordable flip up sights that clamp on the rails? magpul makes decent set, or you can spend more and get better. (an easy pit to fall into with every component of the AR)

you want an optic, very easy to do. Most folks will recommend trigicon, aimpont or eotech for hardcore top tier rugged red dots, 2nd tier opens up a few more options for about half the price (vortex, burris, etc) personally I'm running a millet dot. It's good enough for pigs, but not fabulous, and it sounds like your budget will allow for better.

There is no shortage of opinions on regular scopes, but I'll toss out a simple opinion: spend more than 100 bucks and you'll be fine. Just remember you have to mount a scope or dot pretty high off the gun.

Keep in mind that the AR is very modular. try a configuration, if you don't like it, switch some parts around. I'd start with a basic quality gun with a decent optic and look at upgrading the trigger and buying ammo before I started looking at free float rails, grips slings flashlights etc.

Lots of people report 1-2" MOA accuracy with the standard upper so you might not ever need a heavy free floated varmint barrel. But if you didn't go nuts on optics, with your budget, you could probably buy a complete lower, and 2 uppers. a long range one, and a short range one.

Have fun and post pictures when you are done.

January 12, 2011, 10:23 AM
The items your brother installed on his may help him to shoot it better, but they don't do anything to make it more accurate. That's up to the barrel alone.

Most accessories simply eliminate bad influences on the barrels inherent ability. A milspec AR will have a sling swivel attached to the gas block, tighten up on it and it will change the point of impact, sometimes dramatically. Free float tubes are installed to eliminate pressure on the barrel by attaching the swivel to it, not the barrel.

While many would call that an accuracy improver, it isn't. It's really an inaccuracy eliminator. Big difference, as putting one on a 2MOA milspec chrome barrel makes it a 2MOA milspec chrome barrel - not a stainless 1/2 MOA match.

Forget about brand fan recommendations, you need specifications:

At the minimum, a premier stainless match 20" rifle barrel, free float smooth tube, A3 flattop upper, fixed stock, and anybody's trigger with a travel adjustment screw. Add one really good optic nearly the cost of the gun, and very few would complain.

Avoid chrome lined military barrels, proprietary billet receivers, adjustable M4 stocks, expensive modular grips, and don't even think about shooting cheap surplus or import fodder. Accurate guns have to shoot accurate ammo, premium loads earn their price by keeping the deviation in speed to an absolute minimum. Many loads improve accuracy of the system by another 1/2 MOA compared to the cheap fireworks some stuff in a magazine.

It's simple to surf the web and view all the varmint AR's out there, and not a bad idea to survey them and see what the specifications are. You should consistently find the barrel and painstaking assembly as the two major items, not fad parts or brandboys arguing nuances over their one gun sample data base. It also won't hurt to read posts on long distance shooting forums to get an idea of who has a good reputation. There are some makers with splashy web pages and great prose, but the reality isn't there.

If you want an accurate shooter, it's not about X vs. Y, it's about stainless button rifled vs hammerforged nitrided, or standard scope construction vs. first focal plane reticle. At those levels, the brands sort themselves out real fast.

January 12, 2011, 11:15 AM
I should have asked...

What is your accuracy goal and what is your maximum range you are thinking of??

January 12, 2011, 11:26 AM
At the minimum, a premier stainless match 20" rifle barrel, free float smooth tube, A3 flattop upper, fixed stock, and anybody's trigger with a travel adjustment screw. Add one really good optic nearly the cost of the gun, and very few would complain.

Avoid chrome lined military barrels, proprietary billet receivers, adjustable M4 stocks, expensive modular grips, and don't even think about shooting cheap surplus or import fodder. Accurate guns have to shoot accurate ammo, premium loads earn their price by keeping the deviation in speed to an absolute minimum. Many loads improve accuracy of the system by another 1/2 MOA compared to the cheap fireworks some stuff in a magazine.

I have to say that in my experience that 20in barrels are not a must. I have a "plinker" 16in DPMS that will shoot 1 MOA to 300yds with handloads.

Billet is a bit expensive but the added stiffness to the upper is better for accuracy. YMMV.

Smooth freefloat is better for off of bags but little else over a modular forearm.

Triggers are very much personal preference and may be application specific.

Accurate guns will shoot accurate ammo better, however, Walmart special does better in accurate guns than less accurate rifles. Once again the components, including ammo may be specific to the application. I don't need better than 2 MOA to shoot PD's at 100yds.

January 12, 2011, 05:39 PM
I don't agree that the barrel has to be 20" long. I'd also argue that all things being equal, a short barrel is going to be more accurate than a longer one. Provided that the shooter is up to the task, you can bang steel all day long at 300, 400 or even 500 yards with a 14.5" barrel. I do agree that ammunition is the key. Trash in means trash out. If you want to shoot bug holes, you have to feed the rifle good ammunition. You'd be surprised at what a Noveske or Centurion M4 barreled AR will do with some 77gr match grade ammunition (and these barrels are chrome lined by the way).

I'd also avoid billet. They are bulkier and thicker and manufacturers claim that this is to make them stronger. Yes, the bulk does make them stronger, but forgings are stronger than billet and the billet has to be bulkier to be as strong as a forging. Of all of the uppers that I've used to date, my favorite has been the Daniel Defense. The machine work is clean, the anodizing even and complete and the tolerances are tight, though not overly so.

If you want an all purpose AR and have a $1500 budget, this is what I'd do. I'd go with a 16" Bravo Company SS410 barrel. This barrel is a tack driver and is a steal at $300. I get a Daniel Defense upper. I got my last one from Midway with the dust cover and forward assist installed for $125. I'd also get either a Timney or Geissele trigger (depending on whether you like single or two stage) for around $200. All else is a matter of preference.

My version of what I described above looked like this....

It was a SOLID MOA and under shooter. I've never spent a bunch of money on factory match ammunition, but with my standard load of 24gr of Reloader 15, a 77gr SMK, Remington benchrest primer and lake city brass I could consistently hit paintballs at 100 yards. The rig was also pretty light for being a "precision" rig and was no problem carrying it around on a sling.

January 12, 2011, 08:52 PM
nice gun there tony. love the stock and optics.

good information, i am also planning to build one soon but 1500 bucks is a good bit out of my ballpark.

January 12, 2011, 09:07 PM
-This upper ( when back in stock):

-pinned A2X flash hider
-BCM bolt carrier group
-Stag lower parts kit, maybe get a GieslleSS trigger
-Any ambi safety
-Noveske Stripped Lower
-BCM buffer tube, nut, H or H2 buffer
-Magpul ACS stock
-Magpul Moe Plastic grip
-Magpul XTM rail covers
-Rail mounted sling loop
-Gear Sector hand stop
-Magpul sling mount plate or MI HK ambi sling mount
-Troy BUIS
-Magpul BAD lever

Boom, I'm done, for now.

January 12, 2011, 09:12 PM
Thanks again everyone!

Tony that is a great example of something I might be interested in!:cool:

January 13, 2011, 10:49 AM
there are so many good company's out there last year i picked up four receivers
because they were shooting up in price so i picked up a Charles daily and three stag arms about 100 bucks a pop and most of the lowers are of great quality and the parts company's out there are selling all kinds of rifle kits with everything you need to build a rifle except the ammo like J&G sales and MODEL 1 sales they have everything from 22lr 9mm 5.45x39 5.56x45 7.62x39 and on and on that's who i deal with i just don't have them assemble the upper otherwise it will be a pain to get it apart the most expensive one i have picked up was the 9mm go figure there heavy barrels are sweet i and i always get the barrels fluted take a look model1salesdotcom

January 13, 2011, 12:31 PM

I have 3 AR's and of the three I built two of them myself. The last one was a 6.8 that I built from the ground up. My personal experience is that the bolt and barrel play the largest part in accuracy. SO, everything else can be the cheapest stuff you can find as long as the barrel and bolt are of top quality. Obviously, you don't want to buy something that has a reputation for poor quality just because it is cheap.

If I were to build another rifle, the very first question I would ask myself is how much I want it to weigh. My first two rifles were intended to be target rifles for shooting at the range. My third was intended to be as light as possible. What do you want? Light and handy or heavy and super accurate after a lot of shooting? (My personal experience is that heavy doesn't always mean more accurate but it can). The barrel will account for most of the weight so keep that in mind while looking around.

Now, as far as the stripped upper and lower goes, I would buy an Aero Arms simply because they seem to be cheapest these days.


for $260 (not including shipping) you can get everything you need from this website except for the barrel, bolt, gas block and tube, float handguard, and sights. It shouldn't be too hard to get a really good barrel and bolt for another $300-400. Then from there you can just add the rest of the parts of your choice. Probably shouldn't cost more than 200-300 bucks.

Pretty much any parts kit will work just fine. Find a good quality gas block that will work for you.

I like the troy free float tubes as they are very light and reasonably priced. Their tubes are also not going to chew the crap out of your hand.

This isnt all my ideas but this will give you a start.

January 13, 2011, 03:38 PM
Thanks Jake! I think I am leaning on the side of light and handy but, I may want to shoot for a in between the 2?

January 13, 2011, 05:12 PM
I just finished doing a build after a bunch of research. I wanted 14.5 midlength, light, handy, balanced, long lived, quality components, mil spec? etc. Ended up with BCM upper (EAG) and BCM lower. 1625. You could certainly do a nice build for 1500 out of BCM parts. They were great to deal with too.
They seem to prefer everything being done via email....the response turnaround was typically in an hour or so.




I liked this look too, but BCM was out of stock with the guards.


January 13, 2011, 09:27 PM
I have been reading these replies about building an AR rifle. There is one or two things that you must remember. 1) The lower, I think with a few videos my 12 year old can assemble it. 2) Now we get to the upper: Unless you are planning on building a few of these you may want to get a completed upper, because if you get it in pcs. you will need a barrel wrench and headspace gauges and a few other items. I am pretty good at assembling the lower but as far as the upper, i sent back parts and reordered a completed one. It was a little more costly.

January 13, 2011, 09:37 PM
If you buy a troy free float tube it comes with a barrel nut wrench. Many other aftermarket handguards come with one as well specifically desigend for the handguard. It is not at all hard to do. The upper was easier for me to put together than a lower. Also, just make sure you buy the barrel and bolt together as a combo. That way they should come headspaced from wherever you buy them from.

Here is the battle rail I got from troy. Mine is a 9". The length will depend mostly on what you want. I found mine used (sorta, it was never mounted) on ar15.com for $140 shipped. It came with the barrel nut and wrench. http://troyind.com/battlerails/trx-battlerails

January 13, 2011, 10:11 PM
1500 before optics?
There is only one option.


January 13, 2011, 10:26 PM
Here is a good option for a barrel, bolt, and gas tube. Adco is a great company but if you try really hard you can probably find one for a little cheaper. I chose white oak because they are top of the line stuff. This is just an example. You can probably find good deals everywhere ar's are sold.


I would look around for more though if I were you. Also remember to factor in the price for the carrier.

January 14, 2011, 06:30 AM
1500 before optics?
There is only one option.

Well that link kind of takes the fun out of building now doesn't it! LOL Nice AR though!

Thanks for the links Jake! How is school going?

January 14, 2011, 07:49 AM
You could always buy just the upper and then build your lower. :D

January 14, 2011, 09:20 AM
School is okay. I have never really been the academic type so I am pretty miserable half the time. I would rather be working. However, I just keep telling myself that if I can get through it I will be able to make enough money to buy me lots of guns and toys. That is law school's only saving grace.

January 14, 2011, 04:16 PM
Jake good luck with that and I hope you get everything you want in life! I wish I would have gotten more of an education so now that my back has gone out of me permanently.:cuss:

I am stuck inventing jobs to try and get by these days! Thank goodness for a great girlfriend!:D

Your making the right choices difficult as it may seem now.;)

I am saving for my GF's gun a SR9C which I will be getting for her by the end of the month and then it's my turn and AR time! By the time I figure out what it is I want I will have the money to buy it! If I can't find what I want to build I will be looking at just buying a complete rifle from DD, BCM or maybe SIG's new 516?

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