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AR Builds -- What Parts Did You Choose and Why??

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Mike1234567, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    Interesting thread.

    I just read through all of it as I'm getting ready to do a build.

    For those in a similar position here's my story

    I got my first AR about 5 years ago right before the panic. I didn't know much but knew that I wanted an AR. So the LGS and I talked about what I wanted and needed. When done I wound up with a DPMS.

    I shot it some and liked it but never loved it. Things got a bit tough so I sold it.

    Wanting another I learned about PSA. So I got on their mailing list and when I saw a killer deal on a complete blemished lower I jumped on it. I think it was under $150 at the time which was great. Now I've seen them a little lower but not so much that I feel bad about buying it when I did.

    I had it sent to the FFL and I had my first "build" going.

    Next I ordered a complete upper when I had the money. It's a 16" 1:7 twist basic upper. Nothing fancy, but the price was right.

    Total spent was less than $500.

    After that I found a nice scope at Sportsman Warehouse. It wasn't too expensive but good enough for my needs.

    Now the nice thing about the PSA upper/lower combo is that I actually like this gun.

    So having a good solid basic AR, I've been toying with wanting to build one and wanting to try 3 gun. The goal of the build is build it as cheaply as I can while still getting decent parts, a good shooting gun, and decent upgrades. So cheap really isn't right, best value would be better said.

    So the plan is to get a stripped lower. As everyone says the lower doesn't matter much as long as it's in spec and from one of the reputable vendors.

    Next I'm planning on going with one of the LPKs. Probably PSA but I've seen a few others that go on sale from time to time. So as long as it's one of the vendors with good reviews I'll get what winds up being the best value

    For a stock I'll probably go with a Magpul as I found one that looks really nice and right for my needs. So this will be the first area I'll spend a little extra. Likewise I'll get an upgraded pistol grip

    I'm still debating if I should go with the PSA Mil Spec trigger initially to get the gun going or to go with an upgraded one right away. Part of me suggest getting the basic one to learn how to install it, then tear it down and upgrade. Part of me says go the other way. So maybe this would be a good threat in the interest not to hijack this thread.

    For the upper, like the lower I'll look for the best value flat top.

    I'm looking at 1:8 18" SS barrels. I think this would be a good complement to the 16" I already have.

    For three gun I'll go with a rifle length gas system, and a muzzle brake.

    Of course a free floating handrail and a forward grip.

    Then to top it I'll go with an optic geared towards three gun.

    I'm sure I've forgotten a few of the odds and ends, but that's the general plan. So don't know if this helps anyone or if it sounds good, bad or other, but we'll see as I do this (as it'll be done as budget allows and as sales come up)
     
  2. ar-newbie

    ar-newbie Member

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    I used the PSA magpul lower build kit, not sure if the trigger was magpul or PSA, but it is very satisfactory for a basic unit. Has a high pull but still is very smooth and clean break. Not sure what other's experiences are with it, but I won't complain for what it cost. I am considering an upgrade trigger, but the gun shoots so well it's not a pressing issue.
     
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  3. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    I haven't been to PSA in a while and I'm not recommending them ... I wanted to see how cheap I could build* an AR; I know they have decent prices and a lot of people buy from them ... I don't think you could do an actual build from parts for less, even if you already had the tools as I haven't seen new AR parts this low in nearly 20 years.

    $399.97** you can have one ready to fire***


    PTAC 16" Mid-length 5.56 NATO 1:7 Upper -- $179.99

    PSA AR-15 Complete Blem Lower - $129.99

    PSA 5.56 Premium Full Auto Bolt Carrier Group & PSA AR15/M16 7075 T6 Forged Mil-Spec Charging Handle - $89.99


    Optional build* with stainless barrel and MOE stock and grip, only $30 more - $429.97**

    Blem PSA 16" Mid-length 5.56 NATO 1/8 Stainless Steel Freedom Upper - $189.99

    PSA AR-15 Complete Blem Lower Magpul MOE Edition - $149.99

    PSA 5.56 Premium Full Auto Bolt Carrier Group & PSA AR15/M16 7075 T6 Forged Mil-Spec Charging Handle - $89.99


    One last thing to keep in mind, I think these kits come with a standard trigger

    * if you consider pushing 2 pins through the upper "a build"
    ** plus shipping and transfer - some items have free shipping
    *** your ammo, mag & sighting system (if you need that sort of thing).

    Edit ... $399.98 to build from parts

    PSA Blemished Safe/Fire Lower - $49.99

    BLEM PSA 16" Mid-length 5.56 NATO 1:7 Stainless Freedom Rifle Kit - $349.99

     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  4. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    @Hokie_PhD, keep your eyes peeled for the Magpul LPK's at PSA. I grabbed one of the kits with the Magpul STR stock, MOE grip, and EPT for $140. Love the stock, just wish it was slightly longer when fully extended, so I'm considering moving to the rifle-length buffer tube. We'll see... In any case, if you're already looking at a Magpul stock, take a look at the PSA combos and see if they offer a LPK with the stock you want. Chances are, if they do, it'll go on sale at some point.
     
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  5. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    Thanks
    I have no idea how PSA does their sales, but you're right with a little luck and patience they have some great sales

    Thanks to this site and a few others I've also learned about several other good sites so I'm watching.

    In any case I'm getting excited about getting parts to do this build

    Hopefully next pay I can start!

    Anyway I'm also looking forward to seeing more folks post on what they've done or plan to build.
     
  6. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    I kind of envy you young guys that are just now getting into AR's ... Makes me wish I was 30 years younger!

    Back In the 70's, when I was getting into the AR game DPMS was doggie-do and if you didn't have a Colt, you didn't have anything worth having ... Bushmaster broke into the game then Armalite was reintroduced ... there were very few parts available M&A Parts, Model-1(the 2nd worst Customer Service) and ASA had changed there name probably half a dozen times because they were THE WORST in CS ... most people looked down their nose at a parts-gun or "Franken-AR" and dealers wouldn't give you much of anything for one either and usually made fun of your mouse-gun, if it wasn't 30 caliber, it was a baby toy ... this was all back in the catalog days ... Pre-GunBroker ... You saw it in a mailer/catalog or Shot Gun News, picked up the phone and ordered ... If you were lucky your order arrived in 2 weeks!

    Then the Internet was born and everything changed!

    Now there are so many parts manufacturers and optional configurations its mind boggling.

    / rant off ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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  7. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    Well, I'm out here in the rats maze known as Calif... So we have all sorts of new restrictions (now, and coming). So I never wanted any AR style but my lovable old Hydra-Matic Div that was issued to me back in the day. But that ain't ever going to happen, so I was quite happy to have a few blued steel pieces with wood grips and call it a day.

    Then these new laws and rules and regs started to get under my skin, so I decided I need one ... Way to go legislature, motivate a lazy old guy :D

    So I dreamed up my build. I'm goinna build a 22WMR on a poly lower (rim fires exempt, poly's can't be CA DOJ registered). All the awful black rifle features I can think of and I know that even if I try to self register, they won't let me :D

    So there it'll be, in their files with photos and my own serial number and all the features they don't want to see. And they won't do anything about it :D
     
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  8. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    Good for you ... thats one way of fighting back!
     
  9. Gun Master

    Gun Master Member

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    I must have pulled a "Rip Van Winkle", possibly since I'm mostly into handguns, but I just saw on NBC News "Ghost Guns".

    Apparently you are able to LEGALLY purchase parts kits and assemble them, without an FFL involved, for AR-15's.
    I tried to read several parts of this thread, but couldn't find all the info needed.

    Could one (or more) of you guys tell an elderly man how to LEGALLY buy and assemble the materials needed, and how much time, money, and physical and mental requirements are involved. Also, names of places reccomended, with their best prices, since I'm economically challenged, will be appreciated .

    Thanks.:)
     
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  10. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    You can legally buy any part EXCEPT the lower.

    And lowers have an exception if it's not fully machined. So you can buy what's called an 80% lower without an FFL

    80% lowers aren't as easy to complete as the media makes out. They require the purchase of a set of jig (if your not a machinist and know how to use a milling machine well) and tools.
     
  11. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    My cousin, who went into the Marines right out of high school, now a retired attorney, along with a couple of his golf buddies bought 80% receivers, a jig (which came with drill bits), drill press and an assortment of files and made their own lowers ... he said that they weren't pretty but they were functional. He said now that they know what they are doing they plan to do it again and hopefully they (the next receivers) will turn out better ... He did say that while they could have bought finished receivers much cheaper, it was fun.
     
  12. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I know a couple of people who have gone the 80% route. I haven't seen their work yet. But one is a mechanic and very anal retentive and he's said that it took him forever because he wanted it "perfect". So I'm sure you cousin and his buddies did ok and they're right, as with anything the more you do something the easier and better the next ones come out.

    I'm thinking about doing an 80% lower, but I've pretty much decided that I'm going to do a stripped lower build first. My thought is this way the receiver will be right, and I'll know how things are suppose to be. Once I successfully build the stripped lower, I'll then do an 80%.

    In my case it's about learning. So first the stripped lower to learn how to assemble a lower, then the 80% to learn about the machining and such.

    I've also watched a bunch of videos and read quite a bit on this so I feel pretty confident that putting an AR isn't any harder than other things I've done so I'm ready to give it a try as soon as I get the money for the parts!
     
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  13. Gun Master

    Gun Master Member

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    How about a finished receiver, and buying the other parts separately ?

    Would the difference in time, money, and effort be worth the difference ?
     
  14. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I went with a PSA lower then a complete upper for my current AR and highly recommend that route for someone wanting a good inexpensive AR.

    So yea a complete lower can be a good cheap option. PSA always has one on sale. I'm sure other places do too.

    Deciding to do an upper yourself may or not be better. Do you want to learn to assemble guns or do you want to shoot sooner? And how fast do you want it?

    Personally I'm going with a stripped lower to learn how to build one. Plus I want a different trigger than most lowers have. I'm in no hurry as I like my current AR but my new one will be different and fit different purposes.

    Once I build the lower I'll test it with my current upper then build the upper for it.

    Cost is a factor of the parts you select. For the money PSA is hard to beat if you want the options they offer. When you go outside of the parts they select then it seems a custom build makes more sense to me.

    Time is always hard to calculate and it just depends on your skill and how fast you want something vs how must time you can put in.

    If I had all the money for my build I'd order the parts and build it. Then be done. I don't, and I'm in no rush. So I'll order them as I see sales and have a little extra money here and there and build it as I can.
     
  15. Wanderling

    Wanderling Member

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    Can someone help me pick up a minimal-knowledge-required AR kit from off the shelf components ? I am good mechanically (i.e. can assemble per instructions ;) ) but don't want to deal with adjusting the gas system or figuring out the misfeeds. Perhaps I should stick with an off the shelf gun - I have no idea, tbh. But sounds like getting an upper and lower and putting them together shouldn't be a big deal ?

    I have shot AKs and SKS but never an AR. Never owned a semi-auto rifle in any "real" caliber either. Don't really care for AK's ergonomics.

    I would be primarily using it for range plinking but would also want it to be good for a HD / SD situation.

    What I want:

    - reliability, simplicity, minimal amount of tweaking out of the box, no history of being picky with ammo
    - An adjustable stock
    - The ability to mount a flash light
    - The ability to mount and easily swap a red dot sight and scope
    - Good iron sights (just for fun at the range)
    - It looks like they don't use chrome lined barrels, so is SS or nitride better ?

    I would like to stay in the $600 range, since there seems to be plenty of fully assembled guns in the $700 range

    TIA !
     
  16. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    If you can line up a couple of holes and pins and push them in you can put an upper on a lower!

    Since I'm betting you can field strip and clean a firearm, I KNOW this is something you can do easily.

    Really it's that easy. Check out some videos on YouTube!

    Plus field stripping an AR is pretty easy too.

    I wish I got a referral fee from PSA but check out the video if the PSA toruture test. After seeing that I'm proud of my inexpensive upper and lower.

    With your $700 I'd get their cheapest complete lower. That should set you back about $125 to $150. Pick an upper for another $300 to $400. Then use the rest for sights and/or optics, and some mags.

    You'll have a nice basic AR learn about it and have fun. Then curse us as you start planning your next build. I'm at this stage as I get ready to get a stripped lower to start my build. Right now that looks like an Anderson lower, PSA LPK and an upgraded trigger.
     
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  17. Wanderling

    Wanderling Member

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    Thank you sir !

    Yes I can field strip and clean a firearm. It's just my complete lack of experience with maintaining a properly functioning semi-auto that doesn't say "Glock" on it :)

    Any particular features to be looking for ?
     
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  18. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I figured you could. So you'll find the AR not much harder just a little different.

    Wow what to get is a function of what you want to do and how much to spend.

    For your budget and just plinking home defense and learning about the AR I personally would (and have) just started with a basic lower and inexpensive 16" upper. Unless you enjoy long range shooting. Then I'd spend a bit more.

    Otherwise get your gun get a bunch of ammo and go shoot it. Then shoot some more. Have fun with it and buy more ammo

    You'll find that it's a blast and then you can decide what things to add.

    In my case my current AR is the general all purpose rifle. The next one will be built for learning and for 3 gun in mind. So it'll have a nicer upper hand guard, different stock, better trigger and a muzzle brake instead of a flash suppressor.

    It'll be designed to have less recoil ( the carbine doesn't have much but I want to see how little I can get) and more towards an inexpensive competition gun. So basically a starting point to see what I really want and need.

    I'd use my current one but as I've said I really want to learn how to build a complete AR from parts
     
  19. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    First I'd suggest this book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NB1BSC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Yeah the writing style leaves a fair bit to be dealt with. But the book is packed with photos of parts and pieces and how they fit together. And all sorts of hints on what works well, and what does not.

    For 80% lower's - You can buy the Easy Jig from: https://www.80-lower.com/80-lower-easy-jig-with-tooling/ Now they talk about doing this with a router - yeah sure. I feel much more confident with a decent drill press and an X-Y cross slide vise. But either way, the machine work is hours in duration, not minutes.

    Or, you can get a poly lower from: http://www.tnarmsco.com/receivers/ A poly receiver will be easier to machine. Especially with a router. They have a one-time use jig that should get you through just fine if you are careful and go slow. The poly receiver is beefed up to handle the stresses so the attachment point for the buffer tube/rear stock is thicker than aluminum lowers and you may need to be cautions on which stock you fit. A standard USGI A2 buttstock will not fit w/o fiddling. Any collapsible or adjustable stock will work fine.

    You can get a standard Mil-Spec lower parts kit with everything needed to install trigger and controls in your home finished lower for somewhere around $75. Buttstocks can be $99 Chinese made to $300 USGI grade combat grade units.

    Decent uppers complete are usually $400~$600 ish. Really good uppers with fine barrels and premium bolt carriers are more of course.

    So for a little over $1,000 dollars you can have a fully functional unregistered AR15.

    There are laws about who can legally do this - felons may not continue to own one in many jurisdictions and making one for sale is a no-no, so think about what you are doing. Join some 80% lower threads on some web sites and you'll see many pictures of home shop set-ups, ways folks have done theirs, etc.

    And if you ask around, someone may have a jig and be willing to assist you in finishing yours :D

    The thing about a project like this is you can spread the costs out over many months. Start with your unfinished lower receiver for a few hundred with jig. If it comes out well, get a parts kit and finish it. Once that's done install the pistol grip, buttstock, and buffer assembly. Then budget for the upper - either as another project, or complete. No need to hit your wallet all-up on day one like buying a complete rifle ... :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  20. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    I bought my non-22 upper from Rock River Arms (RRA). They have been in this AR business for decades. Nice folks and they have built rifles for Gov't Agencies and low budget civilian shooters. They have a full gamut of parts from cost effective to top dollar USGI, and better stuff (Nat'l Match). Their web site is not that pretty, but they have an extensive list of options. Typical page with options: http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=267 This one is for rifle uppers.

    And that is where I'd start. I'd build an A2 style rifle. Sure you can build a folding stock carbine (M4-gery), but the rifle is very forgiving as far as tuning, they shoot well and are a good way into AR'hood.

    After you've shot one for a while, you may decide that you need a quicker handling (?) shorter configuration ... It makes sense for guys kicking down doors and maneuvering in tight rooms with furniture... But may not do much for civilians in the forest, or at the range ...
     
  21. Clark

    Clark Member

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    PSA 16in M4 Nitride 7in MOE BLK Freedom Upper 2-11-2017.jpg

    Someone sent me a long list of things about building AR15s.... it always involves Daniel Defense and lots of money.
    I should spend money, but I'm still stuck in the 60s and cheap.
    So I put together this rifle last week. It is really terrible per what I have been told.
    PSE
     
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  22. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    Too funny

    A couple of weeks ago I looked at a Daniel Defense AR for 3 Gun at a LGS.

    It was really nice but like you I'm a bit frugality so I look for value. I just didn't see the extra value in it. Maybe I'm missing something but for a gun that's going to be used hard and "abused" in 3 gun for a lot less putting one together makes more sense to me as resale value isn't s factor.
     
  23. kimberkid

    kimberkid Member

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    I never really understood the "ghost gun" thing ... If you want a gun ... any gun, without paper, just go to a gunshow an buy one from an individual walking around with one for sale. I know there are some states that have laws against individual sale, and I'm not suggesting you break the law; but I think those states are in the minority ... I'm in Kansas and I don't know of any or our surrounding states that prohibit face-to-face sales for long guns. I think pistols are supposed to go through a dealer, however several years ago I bought a beautiful Beretta 92 INOX from a cop at a show in KCMO so if there is such a law he wasn't aware of it ... I do feel sorry for you folks in states like California, I don't see much of a possibility of you getting your laws changed so your only option is to move.
     
  24. Clark

    Clark Member

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  25. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    It's about that weird here ... :(
     
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