When buying parts, are you economical or expensive?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by TheBruce, Jun 19, 2021.

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  1. TheBruce

    TheBruce Member

    Jun 26, 2019
    Foreword: this thread is not about berating anybody for how much (or how little, as it were) they spend when buying AR parts. I'm a firm believer in the freedom to spend your own money as you like. I'm just genuinely curious about others' motivation when deciding what parts to buy.

    For me, I generally opt for known quality parts, while trying to spend as little as possible to attain those parts. I will be as economical as possible while feeling good about the reliability of my guns and parts.

    Some parts I have a hard time justifying why I should spend more for certain brands or styles. For example, handguards, it's an aluminum tube with attachment points for accessories. From my perspective, not much can go wrong there, outside of obvious manufacturing defects. Of all the handguards I have and have handled, none of them have felt low quality to me, and they've mostly cost around $100 or less. Why would somebody choose say a JP handguard which costs 3 times the price and effectively does the same thing? Again not being critical, I'm legitimately curious if there's a good reason to pay that much more for a handguard, as I don't have a JP handhuard. In my mind, I'd rather get a cheaper handguard and other parts for the same $.

    Same with triggers. I do own a few Geissele triggers, all of which I've bought on sale, and they're great. Very high quality. However I also have a few ALG ACT triggers with JP springs and wow that setup is money, and speaking of money, the whole setup is about $80, a fraction of the cost of a Geissele. I don't know if I'll buy any more Geissele triggers for future builds, when the ALG is so good, with the exception of the adjustable DMR for a high precision rifle.

    I get that some people are more into appearances than others, hence the market for red and blue anodized parts and such. I'm just not into that. I prefer function over form. Anyway, that aside, just curious what others consider when buying parts. Overall the way I look at it, I can build one rifle with all premium parts, or a couple rifles with cheaper yet just as reliable parts, for the same cost. Maybe I'm just cheap. :eek:
    Demi-human, ontarget and LoonWulf like this.
  2. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    Since I don’t buy guns or gun parts with future resale value in mind, I’ll gauge the cost/benefit to me when choosing parts over what something with a premium name may be worth to someone else later.

    Will I really shoot $140 dollars better with a Gisselle SSA at $240.00 compared to a Rise Super Sporting for $99.00? Is a YHM Phantom really 40 bucks better than a standard A2 flash hider? etc.

    Sometimes it is worth the extra cost for premium or higher cost parts to me, sometimes not. :)

    Stay safe.
    bfoosh006, frogfurr, Speedo66 and 4 others like this.
  3. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

    Jul 3, 2010

    'Cept sometimes i just gotta test a theory......then ill spend as little or as much as needed to get there.
    Demi-human, bfoosh006, mokin and 3 others like this.
  4. giggitygiggity

    giggitygiggity Member

    Mar 18, 2009
    It completely depends for me. How much I spend on parts depends on the overall gun and what I am trying to do. Generally, the price in parts is in line with the price of the gun so as not to have a “confused” gun.

    What I mean by this is that I am not going to buy a $300 Savage Axis and then put a $3k Swarovski scope on it, add a Timney trigger, etc. To me, that would be a confused gun because it was designed to be an economical gun and now, through the addition of expensive parts and accessories, I am attempting to turn it into something that it’s not.

    On the other hand, I put together my 6.5 Grendel AR using what I consider to be high quality and fairly expensive parts/accessories. I went with an Aero upper and lower, Faxon barrel and BCG, Geissele SSA-E trigger, 6.5 Gamma muzzle brake, Vortex Viper PST, etc. Of course, there are probably better parts and one can argue whether the parts I used were the best. However, I think that the parts were generally of the same quality and expense.

    Lastly, this is just how I tend to think. I am not saying it is the only or best way and I am not faulting anyone for mixing expensive and economical parts. In fact, I could see using an economical stripped AR upper and lower, but filling them with a quality barrel, BCG, and trigger to make a rifle who, on the surface might look rough, but whose key parts are solid and make it shoot reliably and accurately.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
  5. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    Denham Springs LA
    I’ve got a few ARs . I’ve built super cheap ones and high cost ones. I haven’t had one that gave me any issues other then needing a few adjustments.
    Now when it comes to handrails. You can tell the difference when you hold a rifle with one that cost under $100, compared to one that cost over $150. The higher cost handrails are smoother, no sharp edges. And some have much nicer barrel nuts. But I’ve spent as little as $40 and as much as $160 on handrails.
    When it comes to BCGs, you can spend a lot for the fancy ones that have extra cuts and slight design changes, but I’ve never really seen the need for such. You biggest advantage on a BCG is the coating. Nitride gives a smoother finish, Nickel Boron is better, and EXO Coat is a dream. Fail Zero makes the BCG I like the most, but I don’t put one in every rifle I own. Oh! Watch out on the Nickel Boron BCGs. There have been some on the market that were poorly coated and started flaking after a few hundred rounds.
    Now sometimes I will spend extra money for a certain look I want.
    I wanted a pirate AR and I spent close to $1000 to build one. It has a Diamondhead rail, Lantec Dragoon muzzle break, Jack lower, Blackhole Weaponry and a few other high end parts.
    Just the muzzle break sales for over $100. But they have a cool video and the break works better then any other break I have tried.

    Now when it comes to color, my youngest son, Isaac, wanted red. I thought it would be cool to build a red AR so we did. It only cost about $300 more to build then a standard AR.

    I’ve used different types of lowers, milspec billet, billet and synthetic. The lower we’re picking depending on the build. I have spent as little as $35 and as much as $320.
    So when it comes to choosing the parts for a build, it all depends on what I want to build.
  6. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    When it comes to triggers and barrels, I get what I consider top quality.

    I do not buy cheap components but I'll buy what I consider average quality for uppers, lowers, forearms, bolt- carrier groups, stocks and so forth. But I have no problems buying better quality if it fills the need I am looking for.
    d2wing, Chuck R. and LoonWulf like this.
  7. marksman13

    marksman13 Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    I spend top dollar on barrels, triggers and BCGs. Everything else I spend middle of the pack money. I only buy what I deem to be quality components though and avoid the cheapest options.
    Chuck R. and LoonWulf like this.
  8. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    I’m in the process of building a 350 Legend and 450 Bushmaster AR.

    The process has been long to acquire the parts. Some are nice and some are not. Some are specific to a certain look and those had limited ability to compromise on or wait for the right deal.

    I shop sales and the used market whether it is GB, here, or other local gun forums. I just put in an order at Midway for some parts as they had a few of the parts I wanted for what I would consider great prices compared to regular.

    None of it was higher end or expensive even when not on sale.

    I tend to buy my triggers second hand. Rise Armament or LaRue MBTs work great. I know I should buy better barrels but I don’t and haven’t regretted it so far. I am picky about stocks as my LOP seems to be between short and long and I don’t like the adjustable stocks like the M4 styles.

    I will usually spend a fair amount more than average on BCGs. Back when a BCG was typically $120, I would usually be spending around $160.

    To conclude, I am economical. I also am not really an AR enthusiast so I have little motivation to invest too much into them.

    I once bought a JP factory rifle on GB for $600 dollars after some diligent searching. I would not have bought it for what I sold it for a year later. Not even close.
    Demi-human and LoonWulf like this.
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    I have bought things just for looks without any regard to any actual usefulness, Mrs. Morris’s wedding ring being one of them. Although she might, rightfully so, dispute the return on investment.

    I am also a function over form guy and have lots of stuff that I have built that is ugly. That is coming from a point of view of what it takes for something to work great vs what it takes to make something sell. Lots of emphasis is put onto products to make them look great even if they are turds. Look at a photo of any food or beverage item side by side to what they bring to you.

    As I get older, I consider how easy it’s going to be for me to return an item I am not satisfied with once I can see what it has to offer. In the old days you could see and handle things before you decided to buy, it’s a bit more difficult these days.

    For example optics planet, is often cursed by folks that don’t like their drop shipped “in stock” website (me too) but they are one of few that allow returns on NVD’s. That means a lot to a guy that has to buy something before being able to see what it can do.
    LoonWulf and ECVMatt like this.
  10. ECVMatt
    • Contributing Member

    ECVMatt Contributing Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    When I was a kid, there used to be an ad in all the gun magazines for a jungle survival knife, with a handle packed full of survival needs, for only 5.99 plus shipping and handling. I couldn’t send my money fast enough and eagerly waited for the knife to come so I could let my adventures begin. On that glorious day, when the knife finally arrived, it took me about a half hour to break the blade and give myself a nice deep cut (nothing in the handle for that).

    So from that experience I am sort of a buy once, cry once person. I have a friend on the other hand who buys the cheapest things he can find. He thinks I’m a fool for buying expensive/quality things with his argument being he could buy a similar cheap item 10 times over before he reaches the price of my single item. If it breaks, throw it away and buy another he reasons.

    While there is some truth to that, he is the first one on a hunting or camping trip to start borrowing things when his bargains break. It drives me crazy and is sometimes dangerous or could have trip ending in tragedy consequences.

    One time we were up in the White Mountains for a late fall hunt. He brought a tent that looked like it was made from glad trash bags. He had a good time making fun of us until a storm came in and shredded his tent. We were able to salvage enough to make him a basic shelter for the rest of the trip but if definitely changed the vibe of the hunt.

    So I apply the same philosophy to gear, guns, and knives. I would rather have less things of better quality than more things that are crappy/dangerous. If I have to be patient and save, that is ok because I know I will get a better return on long term use and durability.

    I still get suckered from time to time but overall I have no problem spending on quality.

    Edit to add this:

    That just made my scar itch! And….just thinking that if my buddy had this Survivor knife he might have been able to sew his trash bag tent back together.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
  11. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Leavenworth, KS
    For me, it depends on the intended use.

    I've built a couple that have gone into the $2500 range, due to barrels, triggers, gas blocks and LT BCGs. I've yet to do a "budget" build. Normally I put my money into: barrel, BCG, and trigger in that order. I generally exercise patience and catch the sales, honestly planning a build is just about as much fun as actually putting the gun together. So far, I've been sticking with a couple brands that I've had success with:

    Geiselle (triggers)
    SLR (AGBs and FF rails)
    Aero Precision (uppers and lowers)
    Toolcraft (BCGs)
    White Oak Armory (barrels)
    Larue Tactical (barrel)
    Faxon (barrels)
    Magpul (furniture)
    cfullgraf likes this.
  12. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    I'll buy inexpensive parts, but I don't buy cheap parts.

    I don't shop a price range, I shop for what works. For example, I buy the more expensive carbon fiber handguards because they work better for me than aluminum. Sometimes, I use MagPul Slimline drop in handguards because they work just as well as free float tubes for the intended purpose and saves me a few bucks.
    cfullgraf and Chuck R. like this.
  13. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Administrator Staff Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    DFW Area
    Some things that go into the consideration when I make a parts purchase:

    How many am I going to buy? I'm not manufacturing guns or trying to make money on lots of repairs. So saving a little on a part when I'm only going to buy one of them doesn't make nearly as much sense as it would if I were buying them in volume.

    Does the cost difference buy me something I care about? Will I get a part that lasts longer, feels better, works better? Will I get better customer service? In some cases, I might even be willing to spend a lot for a cosmetic benefit if I care enough about that particular benefit although that's not usually a major factor. I remember in one case buying some premium grip screws because I could not stand the appearance of the factory screws. It wasn't typical, but the factory screws really bothered me--the cost of the replacements didn't bother me a bit--I don't recall even looking to see how much they were going to cost.

    Does the cost difference warrant the benefit that I care about? When I'm dealing with a range toy, if a part will last 50% longer but I can buy two of the cheaper version for less, that's not really a benefit. If a part lasts 10% longer but costs 20% more, that's an unwarranted cost for most of recreational firearms.

    What is the cost of the part failing or failing to work as I want it to? When a range toy breaks down, that costs me next to nothing plus some inconvenience. If my carry gun breaks down when I need it, that's a bit more than inconvenient. So I might be willing to skimp on a part for a range toy whereas trying to save a bit on a similar part for a self-defense firearm wouldn't ever even be on the table as an option. Similarly, a gun that I'm going to use for competition might get nicer parts than a plinker. Blowing an entry fee and ammunition/travel costs for a match because a part broke or failed to operate correctly in the middle of it warrants (to me) spending a bit more.
    taliv and Walkalong like this.
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 20, 2006
    As with any application, it depends on the use of the rifle.
  15. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    Denham Springs LA
    When it comes to AR parts, not every manufacturer makes all of the parts. Hell, some of them don’t make any of their own parts. I remember when Red Jacket Firearms had their TV show and we’re build and selling ARs. There was some guy on a local forum that was trashing them, and saying how this other company made better quality lowers. Little did this guy know, the company he said made better quality lowers was one of the three top end companies that supplied Red Jacket with lowers and other parts.
    You must also know that just because you are paying more doesn’t mean that you’re getting better. Few people know that Anderson was the company that made the lowers with the built in trigger guards that Colt used on their Sporter model ARs.

    There are companies have a great track record on the parts they sell like Fail Zero, Aero Precision and others.
    If you’re not sure of the quality, it’s up to you if you take the chance.
    I’ve bought buffer tubes at great prices in the past. Some were not so great. Some had a shorter threaded area and some had finishes that were not so great.
    But like @Chuck R. said, planing a build is just about as much fun as building the rifle.
  16. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

    Oct 23, 2004
    Even on budget builds I buy quality barrel and BCG. I’m also particular about handguards and often buy the more expensive ones because they are stronger lighter weight better balanced lower profile and have anti rotation features and modular without snagging.

    I used to buy expensive stocks but past few years I really like one that’s only $30 or so.

    I tend to put expensive triggers in my guns. But on the budget builds I like the mil spec with coating. It’s no SD3G but Works great for the money.
    ECVMatt, d2wing and earlthegoat2 like this.
  17. d2wing

    d2wing Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    I try to buy from reputable vendors and manufacturers that are reputable. Price isn't as important to me but I don't spend money I don't have to. But it also depend on the goal of the build. If a part isn't in spec or is flawed I won't buy from that manufacturer again unless the service is very good.
    GunnyUSMC likes this.
  18. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    Denham Springs LA
    I agree. Buying from a reputable vender or manufacturer is very important. I’ve gotten super good deals from CDNN Sports. I picked up several buffer tubes for $5 each. The only problem with the tubes was that the finish was uneven. I did have a problem with one tube. It was not completely finished on the inside and the buffer would get stuck in the tube when I fired the rifle I put it on. The tube had a tapper on the inside. I contacted CDNN and they said no problem and shipped me a replacement buffer tube. They told me to do whatever I wanted with the bad tube.
    I had one company ship 11 lowers when I only ordered 10. My FFL transferred all the lowers to me. I contacted the company to let the know about the mistake. They were so happy that I called. I was told to keep the lower at no charge. I ended up giving the lower away as a Christmas gift to a friend.
    I’ve had a vender that sent me the wrong items. All it took was one phone call to get thing straight.
    So sometimes buying from a good vender is just as important as the parts you buy.
    stillquietvoice and d2wing like this.
  19. Glenn Berryhill

    Glenn Berryhill Member

    Jul 25, 2020
    This is a very good thread for newbies like myself. I'm sure it will help me spend my money more wisely on future builds.
    stillquietvoice and GunnyUSMC like this.
  20. bfoosh006

    bfoosh006 Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I tend to buy quality, respected parts... however, I always buy on sale. Saving what money I can.

    I never buy the lowest priced products... I question the quality of those parts... We tend to take an AR15 for granted , that it will work when needed, everytime... and those cheaper parts may work, but for how long ?
    Buying a "lower parts kit" ( or something like that ) from a respected manufacturer, is money well spent.

    I have kind of turned into a barrel snob. FN, Colt, for durability and Criterion, and Krieger for those accuracy minded builds.

    I have said this before, and will say it again, Given the current cost of ammo, a great barrel is a bargain. Both in cost and meeting your accuracy expectations.
    A better made barrel will increase your odds in being happy with the overall accuracy of your AR.

    I have tried less expensive barrels, and feel like most can be a "hit or miss" accuracy wise.

    As an example.... Some people have had no issues with ProMags working for them.... but , sometimes there is more then meets the eye. Not everything is "as good as another brand" ...
    Buy a quality well proven product ( on sale ) and don't look back.

    Saw this over the weekend... And I am going to let a fully loaded 30rd Magpul roast on the roof tomorrow, just to see if a Magpul will do it in the heat

    Watch the whole 30 seconds...
  21. GunnyUSMC

    GunnyUSMC Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    Denham Springs LA
    You do realize that the ProMag in the video is broken, or was modified. Look close at the top of the magazine’s spine and the back of the feed lips. There’s martial missing. Stupid people make BS videos just hoping to get attention. 8E6184DA-0C6A-4F8A-B231-AE125A8BD832.jpeg
    I have a couple of 20 round ProMag AR mage that I picked up new for $5 each. They have been great mags for shooting from the bench.
    Here’s a pic of what the back of the magazine should look like. Notice how much more of the case head is exposed on the magazine in the video.
    stillquietvoice likes this.
  22. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

    Oct 20, 2011
    Quality in quality Out that’s my motto by the best parts you can afford!
    Dale Alan, ECVMatt and Demi-human like this.
  23. Dale Alan

    Dale Alan member

    Jul 25, 2017
    horsemen61 said it well, I feel the same way . I buy the best components I can afford , I also realize the most expensive is not always the best quality so research and experience come into play when making a purchase .
    South Prairie Jim and GunnyUSMC like this.
  24. mavracer

    mavracer Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    I try to not spend any more than I have to to get what I want, but I usually get what I want.
    And I dang sure will look for clearance sales and shop around for the best price.
  25. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    I tend to take a “Lean Six Sigma-ish” approach to how I buy parts. Spend the money where the money gets made - if a part is critical to the performance of the firearm, then I’ll spend what it costs. If a part is required but ultimately not critical, or even not contributory to performance, I’ll buy something inexpensive.

    I’m not averse to spending a little extra for aesthetics, and I expect all of my firearms to look good, but I don’t typically spend a lot of money just for aesthetics. Pattern milled slides, high cost lowers with magwell masks, super intricate cerakote or hydro dipping, custom anodizing or PVD... only on the most rare occasions will I lay out that money. Simply because I typically have some other project which needs that money towards a functional component, so the most frivolous aesthetics take a back seat.
    Demi-human likes this.
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