HOOfan_1's First AR-15 Build Log (picture Heavy)


May 6, 2012, 08:28 PM
Let's start out with pictures of parts and tools

Armalite Stripped Lower


Daniel Defense Stripped Upper



Daniel Defense Bolt Carrier Group


Daniel Defense 16" 1:7" 5.56x45 M4 contour barrel


Daniel Defense .750" Low Profile Gas Block


BCM Gunfighter Charging Handle


PSA Receiver Extension, Buffer Spring, Reciever Extension Endplate, H Buffer, Colt Receiver Extension lock nut



PSA LPK with Magpul MOE Grip and Magpul Aluminum Enhanced Trigger Guard


Midwest Industries T Series 9" Midlength MI-T9 Free Float Quad Rail


Yankee Hill Machine Black Coated Carbine Gas Tube


Yankee Hill Machine Phantom 5C2 Flash Aggressor Hider


PSA Ejection Port Cover and DPMS Forward Assist Assembly


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May 6, 2012, 08:29 PM
Magpul ACS Stock



laid out



Tools of the trade

Micro-Meter Torque Wrench, Midwest Industries Jam Nut Wrench, PRI Barrel Nut Wrench, RRA Receiver Extension Wrench, Grase USA Roll Pin Punch Set, Schuster Roll Pin Holder Set, Brownell's Lower and Upper Reciever Vice Blocks, Sinclair AR-15 Bolt Dissassembly Tool (not pictures Brownell's Bolt Catch Roll Pin Punch)


Aeroshell 33MS Moly Grease


May 6, 2012, 09:04 PM
Hoofan seems like quite a build you have. I know this is the highroad, but I am going to ask a low road question. Would you mind putting a price on everything you listed? I believe this would greatly help those new shooters trying to decide whether to build or buy a complete rifle.

Seems like you have a great shooter. Have you decided what trigger you will use? Am looking forward to a range report with pictures as well. Thanks for posting a good thread.

May 6, 2012, 09:18 PM
Good luck with your build. Good looking furniture!

I just got through with a DPMS Oracle kit as my first build. It was a fun learning experience and didn't seem that difficult. I say that because I haven't got it to the range yet - hopefully I got the gas block positioned correctly. Everything else seems to function well. There's lots of good resources available and videos all over. I used the Brownells and MidwayUSA video series to help quite a bit, but had to modify a few things due to lack of a work bench and vice.

May 6, 2012, 09:57 PM
Would you mind putting a price on everything you listed?

Gun Parts ~$1240 (still need sights)
tools etc. ~$210 (still need a headspace gauge...then again not all of the tools I bought are necessary)
shipping ~$100

So total is ~$1550

A similarly configured gun at retail is probably $1300-$1500. I could have easily spent about $100 on tools instead of $200. If supplies were not so low right now I could have probably saved ~$50 on shipping. I also probably spent more on the gas block, lower and bolt carrier group than I should have I could have saved about $60 there. I decided to go ALL OUT. I could have easily done a really good first build for less than $1000. This was not about saving money, this was about assembling something with my own two hands.

I am using the stock PSA trigger from their parts kit

May 6, 2012, 11:10 PM
Hoofan, good job selecting the parts. I used a lot of the the same in my last build.

I wouldn't worry too much about the headspace gauge. Just get a field gauge, if anything, so that you can check for excessive headspace. There's really nothing that you can do to adjust the headspace anyway.

May 7, 2012, 12:34 AM
What's the point in a name brand gas tube?

May 7, 2012, 09:32 AM
Looks like it will be a nice rifle. Make sure the grease you're using is high temp rated. I wouldn't worry about checking headspace, but that's just MHO.
Good Luck!

May 7, 2012, 10:40 AM
looks like a good build! when are you going to put it together?

May 7, 2012, 01:08 PM
What's the point in a name brand gas tube?

I liked the black...it was all of $5 more than generic...so why not?

Edit: oh yeah and most importantly it was the only one I could find in stock at the time when I was buying several other items. It was worth buying it just so I wouldn't have to spend more money on shipping to buy just it later

Looks like it will be a nice rifle. Make sure the grease you're using is high temp rated.

It conforms to the Mil-spec indicated in the Technical manual

looks like a good build! when are you going to put it together?

I am at least going to start this week...I might start the lower today

May 7, 2012, 07:30 PM
HOOfan, I see from the title that this is your first build. I'm not trying to be presumptuous, but I saw that set of punches in your pics and I kind of cringed.

My only advise when installing the roll pins in the lower would be to do one of two things. Either get yourself a set of nail punches (punches that have an indention in the tip) to lessen the chance of the punch slipping (or flaring the pin) or use a pair of pliers with a generous amount of electrical tape wrapped around the jaws to squeeze the pins in (although doing this makes me feel cheesy).

Be careful when installing the trigger guard. Make sure that the bottom is adequately supported. You don't want to snap one of the little ears off.

Like I said, I'm not trying to be presumptuous, but I've seen lots of guys that are proficient with tools and are very mechanically inclined mar up nice lower recievers messing with the roll pins.

On a last note, when installing the barrel nut, don't just crank down on the nut to torque spec. Snug it up and loosen, snug it up and loosen, snug it up and loosen, then torque to spec, then loosen and re-torque.

If you get to a point where you have the notch in the nut lined up but it's too loose and you can't get it to the next notch without exceeding the torque spec, yell out.

May 7, 2012, 09:33 PM
Either get yourself a set of nail punches (punches that have an indention in the tip)

those are roll pin punches...they have the nipple on the end.


got a special roll pin punch from Brownell just for the bolt catch...I probably should have just used pliers for that though.

May 7, 2012, 11:19 PM
LOL. Thanks for the link. With all of the ARs that I've built, I've never seen those before.

May 8, 2012, 07:37 PM
Got the magazine catch on (a blind monkey could probably do that in its sleep)

Got the bolt catch on.
I bought the Brownell Bolt Catch Roll Pin Punch...it came in handy, I slapped a little tape on the side of the lower anyway. I used a pin punch from the other side to keep all of the holes aligned. Tried to use a roll pin punch holder to start it, but the holder was just too thick to get in there.
The only knick I got on the lower was right around the edges of the roll pin hole. I am not sure it is possible to keep that from getting a little black knocked off though. A sharpie pen fixes that just fine.


Could not really get the camera to focus on the roll pin hole, but you get an idea of how it looks


Also got the pivot pin in. My dad would say it was a bit like kissing a duck's behind without getting feathers in your mouth. I didn't bother buying the special tool and using needle nose pliers was just a waste.

I didn't want to do it in my messy garage, if the detent shot out I would never find it. I just sat on my living room floor with the receiver in the lower vise block and used my legs as a vise. I aimed the entire assembly into a huge card board box although I never really had the detent shoot out. I ended up just using my fingers instead of pliers to push it a tiny bit into the hole then pushed it the rest of the way with a box cutter, manifested my third arm and pushed the pin in.

Then I gave myself a real scare. No matter how hard I pressed I could not get the pivot pin to push back out. I eventually put some paper towels over the receiver and took a light weight acrylic mallet and popped it. I guess it just needed a little breaking in because it works fine now.


Lower Parts from Palmetto State Armory seemed to be packed in a cosmoline like substance too...very sticky. I cleaned them off with some Ballistol

May 9, 2012, 08:06 AM
Good job not launching the detent pin! (I've launched a couple). On most of my rifles, I've snipped a little bit off the spring for the rear takedown pin. It makes it a lot easier for me to open it up for cleaning. Never had any issues with the pin backing out during use. That spring is easy to get to, so you could go back and modify if you wanted.

The only other thing you have left to do that's been a pain for me is the trigger. I probably do something wrong because getting the disconnector lined up for the trigger pin takes me a few tries.

May 10, 2012, 02:48 PM
Got the grip, safety/selector and trigger guard on.

Had to use a hair dryer to soften up the grip because it didn't want to fit on the lower.
Trigger guard was a real PAIN to get on. I used some wood shims wrapped in tape to support the lower trigger guard ear...I probably needed to shoot some Ballistol on the roll pin....it took a lot of banging to get it all the way in. No damage or major finish wear was evident though.


Got the receiver extension on. I have not staked the lock nut though. The bottom of the tube which locks on the stock does not seem to be 100% centered with the lower. The tube is straight as far as I can see, but with the groove for the tooth on the endplate, I can't seem to rotate it the tiny bit I need to in order to center it. I put the stock on and it seems to be fine though.





got the forward assist and ejection port cover mounted also. Forward assist was a big time PITB. My vise was not big enough to turn the vise block upside down...should have done it right side up I guess...but I used the pin punch to secure the FA and a roll pin stater to start the pin....but the hammering kept knocking my pin punch out and shooting the FA across the room. Had to get a flashlight and crawl around looking for the spring several times. Again maybe I needed to lubricate that roll pin...it did not want to go in. Ejection port cover was a little tricky too...not enough hands





May 10, 2012, 09:01 PM
I thought I would be clever mounting the gas block. I eyeballed it first for alignment. My barrel came with rubbery plastic caps for the breech and muzzle. I used 3 fingers to cover the gas tube holes and 1 of the roll pin holes on the gas bock then covered the last roll pin hole with the nozzle of some compressed air. I held the muzzle cap against me and when the breech cap was blown across the room I knew I had a good alignment. So I used locktite on the clamp screws. Then I go to torque my barrel and remember the wrench I bought fully encloses the barrel and won't fit over the gas block....so I had to decide whether to return that wrench for an open ended one or just take off the gas block. I decided to just take off the gas block.

When torquing my barrel, I wasn't sure I trusted my torque wrench so I set it to 20ft-lb. first. After that I could see I was almost half way between two gas tube holes and the hole on the upper. I set my wrench to 25ft-lb. That barely moved it, so I loosened the nut some and set the wrench to 30ft-lb. That still wasn't enough, so I set it to 35, barely moved it. Loosened the nut some, set it to 40..still not enough 45...not enough 50..almost. 55ft-lb. aligned them and I checked with a drill bit (3/16 I think). I then peeped through the receiver and saw it looked good, although I might have needed a tiny bit more, but I thought 55ft.-lb was already pushing it, even 25ft-lb below the upper limit. I probably messed up on my tighten-loosen cycle, but I guess we'll see if it blows up in my face. :o

Then I decided I could try my compressed air trick again by capping the muzzle and putting one of the plastic dummy rounds which came with my stock in the chamber. I was getting the rounds to blow straight up. Tightened down the block...then the gas tube would not go in without putting pressure on it...so I loosened the block again until the gas tube would go in without being pressured and apparently without bearing against the side of the barrel nut holes. Took me a while to get the roll pin holes on the block and tube aligned. Lubed the roll pin and that thing when in like butter. Apparently the trick to getting roll pins in is a bit of lube.

So I pop in my charging handle and bolt carrier assembly and try to determine if it is dragging on the gas tube. I am still not sure. It didn't take much pressure pushing it in and pulling it out, but I could feel a bit of drag as the bolt cammed closed on the chamber. My gas tube is coated black and it didn't appear to be getting nicked.




the Free float tube top rail was a really tight fit against my upper receiver's top rail



The directions for the flash hider said to hand tighten and then turn at least 1/4 turn and then until the upper cut was top dead center. When when I hand tightened it, it was almost center. I used a pretty long 3/4 inch crescent wrench and turned it maybe 3/16 of a turn before the top hole was centered. I didn't see how I could possibly get another full turn out of it, so I left it there. Brownell's instruction video said there was no minimum torque value....




May 10, 2012, 09:07 PM
Here is the mostly finished product. I still need sights, I still play to check headspace and I plan to buy and put on the FF rail cap. Red dot is a future add on...probably very future. Hopefully I won't have to take anything apart and rework it after a test fire session.






May 10, 2012, 11:04 PM
You've already done it, but I'll pass along a great tip.

Use handheld C-Clamps to drive in those pins in your lower. There is almost no chance you'll tear an ear off your receiver while installing the trigger guard.

August 16, 2012, 07:45 PM
Here it is with some Troy rail covers and Yankee Hill Machine folding sights on it.


With those YHM sights at 50 yards from a rest I shot these 30 shots.
First 10 shots I put the font post at the top edge of the orange dot, after viewing the result from a spotting scope, I shot the rest with the top post of the front sight around the middle of the orange dot.


August 17, 2012, 12:11 PM
Cool, you can really learn a lot by building your own. How much does it weigh?

August 17, 2012, 12:21 PM
I like to build my own too. I have parts on order for one currently. It's at 10 weeks of waiting now though. The wait always sucks.

August 17, 2012, 01:26 PM
Cool, you can really learn a lot by building your own. How much does it weigh?

The only way I have weighed it so far was stepping on the digital scales and zeroing them with my weight and picking up the rifle. It said 7 pounds, so not sure how accurate it is.

I like to build my own too. I have parts on order for one currently. It's at 10 weeks of waiting now though. The wait always sucks.

I bought my first part at the end of March and searching around every day on the internet to find in stock parts it took me 5 weeks to scrape it all together and buy it. Now that it is closer to the election, I am guessing stock is even more scarce.

August 17, 2012, 11:14 PM
Nice rifle. Go Hoos.

August 18, 2012, 12:48 AM
Hoofan, how is your ejection pattern? Is it running like it's getting enough gas? I'm just asking because I couldn't tell from the pics if you remembered to leave that little gap for the handguard cap to make sure that the gas port lines up the way it should.

In any case, it is apparently running. Good job and very nice rifle.

August 18, 2012, 12:56 AM
nice job!

October 10, 2012, 12:03 AM
Hoofan, how is your ejection pattern? Is it running like it's getting enough gas? I'm just asking because I couldn't tell from the pics if you remembered to leave that little gap for the handguard cap to make sure that the gas port lines up the way it should.

In any case, it is apparently running.

hmm, not sure why I missed this back in August.

I am collecting all my brass so I do have someone out to the side with a box catching it. I think it is ejecting at about between 3 and 4 o'clock.

I've run 450 through it now in 3 separate trips. My fastest follow up shots have been about 1-2 seconds though. Although there is no written rule, the owner of my range frowns on firing much faster than that. In those 450 rounds I have not had any sort of jam at all.

I did drop the hammer on an empty chamber once though...but I had just pulled the magazine to check how many rounds I had left, and I probably did not insert it well enough...I was shooting with the mag resting on the bench so it wouldn't have fallen out even if it wasn't locked in. A tap and rack and I went another 100 rounds without incident. I can't imagine if there was a feeding problem with that round, that it would have just completely missed the round, so I am sure it was a magazine insertion issue.

I am still only using the open sights, but I want to slap a spare scope on it, just to check its accuracy. In the future I am thinking AIMpoint Pro, or Vortex SPARC, or maybe just cheaping out on a Bushnell TRS-25. Right, now, with open sights, and resting my elbows on a concrete bench, I am getting about 3-3.5" 30 round groups at 50 yards, which amazes me, since I can barely even see the 1" orange circles I am using for aiming points.

I am using 55 gr. Hornady FMJ in FC American Eagle Brass with 24.5 gr of 335.

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