Tips, suggestions parts advice for first time AR builder.


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HOOfan_1
March 2, 2012, 03:54 PM
I realize that I might get more answers at an AR centric site, although this site seems pretty AR heavy.

I realize that answers to some of the questions are on this very page as I type this, but more info and more opinions are rarely a bad thing.

I've read several guides and watched about 8 different assembly guides. I did complex Lego builds when I was a kid. I have put together plenty of metal and particle board furniture and I've assembled computers. Seems to me I should be able to assemble an AR. I realize that with the parts I want to buy and the tools I will need to buy, I will likely be paying more than off the shelf, but I can get exactly what I want and I think it would give me a nice sense of accomplishment assembling one.

I called my local gunshop and they only sell Armalite stripped lowers, for $145. I've seen several other stripped lowers for around $80-$90, but with transfer fees that can easily run to $120. From what I understand, as long as the lowers are made to the correct specs, one is as good as another.

Personally I prefer the roll marks, and the bullet pictogram safety marks on the Spikes Tactical lowers, but stripped lowers seem to be out of stock EVERYWHERE. Should I roll with the Armalite, wait for Spikes or try PSA?

Lower parts kits...and recommendation? I was thinking Daniel Defense, or am I just paying too much for the name?

Upper receiver. Any Suggestions? Does the manufacturer make much of a difference? I just want a standard A3 flat top Stripped upper.

I'd like a 16" barrel. I think I want a low profile gas block which is covered by the hand guard....or a gas block with a rail on top. I am thinking Daniel Defense, Palmetto State or Bravo Company Barrel(if they ever are in stock). Does mid-length versus carbine gas system affect anything but the hand guard length? If I want the rail to cover the gas block, should I get a carbine gas system? How long should my hand guard be to JUST cover the gas block...a mid-length hand guard, or perhaps a 10" hand guard? Any suggestions on a not outrageously expensive quad rail free float hand guard?

What about bolt and carrier. Should I bother looking for a full auto carrier? Should I try to match the bolt to the barrel manufacturer for headspace reasons? I was thinking BCM or Daniel Defense bolt and carrier.

What size ratchet driver does the armorer's wrench take, 1/2" or 3/4"?

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chrome_austex
March 2, 2012, 04:44 PM
For a 16" barrel, you'd want a middy gas system. (Carbine for 14.5, Rifle for 20", Intermediate for 18"), but obviously many people run 16" barrels with carbine gas systems and end up a bit over-gassed. The amount of barrel after the gas port determines the gas system timing and how much gas you get. The more barrel after the gas port, the more gas you'll get. ARs like ~5 inches of barrel after the gas port unless you're monkeying around with lightweight carriers or heavy buffers.

The trouble with bolts and barrels is that if both parts are in-spec you're probably ok, but if one or both is out of spec, then you need to match them. In general ARs with random barrels/bolts won't have headspace issues, but the only way to know for sure is to buy the various go/no-go gauges to check it. If you can, buy two from the same vendor and as them to check the headspace on site before they ship it. Just getting parts separately from the same manufacturer doesn't necessarily mean they'll headspace properly. In general tho, if the barrel extension was setup correctly, and the bolt is in spec and not too worn down, you should be 'ok' for headspace. If you're going for the last ounce of accuracy or ammo tolerance, you might want to be more picky.

I doubt upper 'brand' will matter much. Some styles are more thicker/rigid than others. High-end tuners might shim or machine the barrel mating surface flat for accuracy.

I like to keep my gas-block as lightweight as possible. Some of the railed ones are pretty heavy. Some are damn light. Be careful with railed gas blocks, cause most are not the same rail height as the upper. LaRue tactical has a bunch of picks of different barrel and handguard lengths for their stealth uppers, which makes good reference even if you're looking at other manufacturers parts.

Checkout the Rock River parts kit with a National Match trigger. All triggers are NOT created equal, and I'd want a pretty good one. the RRA seems to have a good cost/performance ratio.

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