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Old October 26, 2012, 03:52 AM   #1
Dr Big Bird PhD
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AR 15 from Scratch

Over the past couple of months I've talked to a couple friends and a colleague about purchasing my first rifle. I have experience with shotguns, and killed my first deer with a 30-6. I'm still pretty new to the world of rifles though. After saving up some from work, xmas, college, etc. I decided I wanted to learn more about guns. My colleague's dad is a defense contractor and recommended to build an AR15 to get the "jist" of it really.

Ive done some research and have come up with a list of things I'd need to get since I aim to build one from scratch. I wanna do it well, and I wanna do it right. My price range is about $900-$1200, and I want to focus on defense, shooting ranges, and basic hunting up to 300m.

I'd prefer not to get huge kits, as I want to put some personal touch into the weapon. Below is a list of everything I assume I'd need, and things I have questions regarding. Some general recommendations for individual, cheap, and reliable parts would be great. Even if it is just brands. I apologize if I come off as poorly in this post.

Also, 16, 18 or 20in? I was thinking 16 since I wont need that long distance accuracy for the most part.


-Kind of stripped flat top upper and lower receiver?
-Small or large pin trigger?
-Trigger guard (I'm sure I can just pick my own)
-Pistol grip (Is this just personal preference?) Also should I get a foregrip?
-Upper/lower receiver parts kit rec?
-Threaded vs Crown barrel
-Do i need to spend the extra on a free-float vs a two piece hand guard for my uses? I understand recoil and accuracy differences
-Flash hiding compensator rec?
-Gas block (with rail, with sight, etc?)
-Bolt carrier group?
-Should I just get a stock set? If so, ss a milspec moe the way to go, and would anyone hate me if said i was toying with the idea of a maple wood stock set
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Old October 26, 2012, 04:06 AM   #2
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Bravo company, lmt, vltor, and Daniel defense are some high quality brands that don't break the bank. Check out ranier arms we site its some good quality parts and great cs.
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:11 AM   #3
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Keep your local laws in mind.

If you are in Kommiefornia (like your location says), you will not be able to build a "standard" AR because many of the "cool" options won't be legal in your state.

So take a look at some California legal rifles 1st and make sure that is what you want.

If you are really wanting a wood stock, you might want to take a look at the Mini-14. It isn't as badly neutered in Kali and it is designed to have a wood stock.
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:14 AM   #4
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You are behind enemy lines in CA. Go here and read about what is needed for a CA legal AR.

www.calguns.net
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:36 AM   #5
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If you are planning on hunting with your AR, you may need to jump up in caliber from 223

I went with a 6.8 from Bison Armory

This round is great for deer and boar.

I also looked at 308 ar types and decided against the added weight.

Going with a AR15 platform also allows you to use 22 uppers, 300 blk uppers, and in my case, if i wanted i could also go back to 223

Call ben at Bison...... Awesome guy
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:44 AM   #6
zukiphile
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Quote:
After saving up some from work, xmas, college, etc. I decided I wanted to learn more about guns. My colleague's dad is a defense contractor and recommended to build an AR15 to get the "jist" of it really.

Ive done some research and have come up with a list of things I'd need to get since I aim to build one from scratch. I wanna do it well, and I wanna do it right. My price range is about $900-$1200, and I want to focus on defense, shooting ranges, and basic hunting up to 300m.
This makes lots of sense, but let me make a few observations as someone who has put together a few lowers (which can be done with screw driver and pliers), but may know no more about ARs than you.

If you are in school and haven't piles of spare cash, it would be wise to establish a budget, make a parts list within that budget, and stick with that list. There are roughly a million expensive do-dads you can buy and at some point during your parts shopping many of them will look like a fine idea.

You can save some money with blemished parts and periodic sales, but that takes a bit of patience.

If you are going to build just one, I would just get the upper receiver, barrel, gas tube, front sight base, maybe even the handguard already assembled as one unit. Without a vice, upper block, torque wrench and a specialty wrench or two, building your own upper looks more expensive than buying assembled. On the other hand, if you have a friend with the tools who will help, the experience should be worth the price of the parts.

My two cents. Good luck.
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Old October 26, 2012, 07:54 AM   #7
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I would just get the upper receiver, barrel, gas tube, front sight base, maybe even the handguard already assembled as one unit. Without a vice, upper block, torque wrench and a specialty wrench or two, building your own upper looks more expensive than buying assembled.
I agree with this but for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons AR's "KABOOM" is improper head space. If you don't have the gauges to properly headspace the barrel; I highly recommend just buying a barreled upper.
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:46 AM   #8
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I agree with this but for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons AR's "KABOOM" is improper head space. If you don't have the gauges to properly headspace the barrel; I highly recommend just buying a barreled upper.
Simple question for you. . .When/Who headspaces and AR assembly?

ANSWER: The guy who puts the barrel extension on.

Since 99% of people building an AR are not putting the extension on, the headspace is a matter of how well was your bolt machined. Surely there are bad ones, but I think they are rare. Surely, some combinations of bolts and barrels are NG.

If you want, a headspace gage is a good spend.

Last, I cannot imagine an AR which is soooooo out of spec to KABOOM built from basically good parts. It may not close reliably or stretch the headspace datum line .01" too far. Some quick case measurements would tell you that you are NG.

I would bet most KABOOMS are related to bad bolt material or super bad extension mounting.
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Old October 26, 2012, 09:08 AM   #9
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If you're building it from scratch as the OP said, then he'd be the 1%.

I agree case splitting is more likely than a kaboom but I believe it's a possibility. That possibility certainly goes down if you buy a barreled upper; that's all I was getting at.
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Old October 26, 2012, 06:36 PM   #10
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I just built my first one. If you watch sales and have patience to can do an AR and save money.

Upper- $75.00
Lower- $55.00
LPK w grip with out trigger group-$38.00
Upper parts w/ charging handle - $70.00
CMMG .300 AAC BLK barrel - $200.00
YHM Carbine Lightweight Upper w barrel nut FF- $127.00 ( I made a trade for this)
Buffer Tube Brownells- $16.00
Carbine Buffer Spring Brownells- $12.00
Spike ST-T2 Buffer - $29.99 ( I had it left over from an upper buy)
6 Point Stock 29.99 ( I had that left over from a build)
BCG - $150.00
Dragons' Head muzzle brake$ 59.00
That is about $772 + shipping that it would cost me if I bought all the parts. It took me 8 months of buying a part then saving for the next part.

Might be cheaper to catch an upper sale w/ bcg at Palmetto State Armory for a basic upper then get a stripped lower and finish it off.
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Old October 26, 2012, 08:03 PM   #11
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I built my AR from scratch. It was fine until I got to the upper receiver. You get to experience the "joy" of trying to get the gas block, gas tube, flash suppressor, and barrel nut lined up properly. You pretty much have to eyeball them and torque on them until you get them right. Or, you could just buy the parts and have those parts assembled by ADCO (like some wonderful members of this forum suggested to me).

The lower receiver is definitely doable yourself. But, if you don't line up the gas block correctly the rifle will be a single shot and/or it will be difficult to line up the gas tube.

If you don't line up the barrel nut correctly it also makes it harder to line up the gas tube

If you don't line up the gas tube correctly it will bind and cause failures when the gas key attempts to mate with the tube when the rifle cycles.

If you don't line up the flash suppressor/muzzle brake the muzzle device won't push the barrel straight down (but off to one side instead). You can get away with installing the muzzle device yourself because they don't interfere with the operation of the rifle and as long as you are fairly close you won't have a problem with it.

Its pretty easy to do it yourself. But, its pretty hard to get everything perfectly lined up. Maybe I'm missing something or I'm a noob or whatever, but its just easier and cheaper to have a company like ADCO do it.
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Old October 27, 2012, 06:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plouffedaddy
Quote:
Quote:
I would just get the upper receiver, barrel, gas tube, front sight base, maybe even the handguard already assembled as one unit. Without a vice, upper block, torque wrench and a specialty wrench or two, building your own upper looks more expensive than buying assembled.
I agree with this but for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons AR's "KABOOM" is improper head space. If you don't have the gauges to properly headspace the barrel; I highly recommend just buying a barreled upper.
Can you point out a single documented failure of a new or even used 5.56 AR due to head space?

All the head space hype on AR's is so over stated it's mind boggling.

In all my years of shooting these things I have only encountered a single AR that closed on a field gauge, a Colt with 25-30 years of shooting on it. It still shot just fine, but a field gauge said it was worn out.
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Old October 27, 2012, 07:00 AM   #13
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Can you point out a single documented failure of a new or even used 5.56 AR due to head space?
I'm not sure anyone could. Take this as an example. Did it fire out of battery? Maybe. Did it have excessive headspace? Maybe. Was it a bad (hot) round? Maybe.
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Old October 27, 2012, 10:07 AM   #14
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When I read the title of the thread I thought, "Holy crap, someone's going to mill their own receivers and fabricate their own parts! Wow that's an undertaking!"

Then I read the post and realized its just a build. Building them isn't hard so long as you have the right tools. Its getting the right tools that will make the investment expensive.

You'll need a good work bench/table, armorer's tool, castle nut wrench, a bench vice, blocks to put your receivers on when using your vice (its not advisable to put your receiver (upper or lower) directly into the vice, a barrel clamp and a torque wrench (for proper torquing of critical parts like the barrel).

All of that can add up pretty quickly (especially the tools like bench, vice and torque wrench) and makes the actual initial investment far greater than simply purchasing say a Colt 9620.

Of course once you have the tools you can then proceed to build more ARs for the cost of the parts alone.
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Old October 27, 2012, 11:21 AM   #15
Nathan
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Quote:
I agree case splitting is more likely than a kaboom but I believe it's a possibility. That possibility certainly goes down if you buy a barreled upper; that's all I was getting at.
It SHOULD go down with a professional assembling an Upper. Then of course we have all these small one guy built an AR and now he has taught 5 other guys with no special skill how to build uppers in his shop. If nobody in the shop has any quality engineering know how, what do they have? They have a quality problem waiting to happen.

Always, one guy can build one thing, but adding volume and people to a stable production process is a recipe for disaster.

Does anyone watch Red Jacket? At one time, I think their gun builders were building their AR's. Now, it looks like they hire whoever will build AR's for minimum wage. They did a show introducing viewers to the "sweat shop" side of their operations. I think they had to fire a guy for something on his background check.

I think I'll build my own.

The reason I say KABOOM's aren't really a headspace issue is that most gunpowder increases in burn rate as pressure increases. A long headspaced chamber will expand and possibly split. Splits will cause a high pressure gas jet. It should vent out the ejection port mostly.

Short headspace won't feed and allow the bolt to close. If it does close, it should be OK, but with over max loads, the primer would pierce and jet gas down the bolt and out the ejection port.

My image of a KABOOM is a high pressure situation which breaks parts like the bolt lugs which allows catistrophic failure of the internals. This is usually an issue where chamber pressure breaks bolt lugs and causes bolt damage.

Case splitting happens to some rifle reloaders regularly with minimal gun damage. Hmmm.
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Old October 27, 2012, 06:36 PM   #16
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There are a limited number of places to get a stripped lower receiver in the greater Los Angeles area. Turners.com, Ammo Brothers.com, RifleGear.com, Fort Courage Armory.com, American Gun Works.net, High Desert Storm Sporting Arms, and maybe a couple others I missed. Some may have stripped upper receivers and parts, but more will have complete pre-built uppers.

You need to use a bullet button. A bullet button build and 10 round magazines allows you to add any features that would be otherwise forbidden by CA law (flash hider, collapsible stock, foregrip, Etc.). Just make sure your barrel is at least 16" and the overall length of the rifle is at least 30".

AR-15 parts are scarce due to the fear of Obama being re-elected and instituting another gun ban. If you have questions, send me a message and I'll answer what I can. Good luck.
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Old October 29, 2012, 05:19 AM   #17
Dr Big Bird PhD
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Dean 1818: Thanks, that was the advice I was looking for. After looking at bison armory I am definitely interested in the 6.8 for hunting purposes. However, is a 6.8 caliber rifle a good idea in a SHTF situation? Will it be as readily available as .223 or 5.56nato rounds? Im guessing no, but will there be a large enough discrepancy for it to matter?

This is probably a dumb question, but would all the parts of a standard 5.56 ar upper be compatible with a 6.8 barrel? Do i need to get different upper/lower parts for this caliber or not? I know i need a different magazine, but is that just because of the feeder

Im gonna build each piece along the way. I played around with buying a completed upper, but ill probably only do it if i find a good one for super cheap.

DnPRK: How could I manually install a bullet button (im already familiar with the laws and the absurdity of it)

Edit I: Recon vs Recon subsonic barrel?

Edit II: opinions on mil-spec vs commerical?
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Last edited by Dr Big Bird PhD; October 29, 2012 at 05:33 AM.
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Old October 29, 2012, 09:29 AM   #18
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eghad
That is about $772 + shipping that it would cost me if I bought all the parts. It took me 8 months of buying a part then saving for the next part.
That's great consider what you put together. I wanted to have something around and wanted it for less than $600, but didn't quite make it.

349 - Palmetto State upper with MBUS (Arrived w/o MBUS, but they said it is coming)
140 - BCG
15 - CH
72 - New Frontier Lower with LPK
12 - receiver ext
6 - buffer
4 - rifle buffer spring
59 - ARFX stock
2.50 - gun show sling

That's almost $660, but shopping for the parts was a hobby in itself, so there is some entertainment value there as well.
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Old October 29, 2012, 11:18 PM   #19
DnPRK
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DnPRK: How could I manually install a bullet button (im already familiar with the laws and the absurdity of it)
Bullet button installation video at the link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPgzL0kCgMc
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Old October 31, 2012, 05:17 AM   #20
Justice06RR
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Quote:
If you are in school and haven't piles of spare cash, it would be wise to establish a budget, make a parts list within that budget, and stick with that list. There are roughly a million expensive do-dads you can buy and at some point during your parts shopping many of them will look like a fine idea.

You can save some money with blemished parts and periodic sales, but that takes a bit of patience.

If you are going to build just one, I would just get the upper receiver, barrel, gas tube, front sight base, maybe even the handguard already assembled as one unit. Without a vice, upper block, torque wrench and a specialty wrench or two, building your own upper looks more expensive than buying assembled. On the other hand, if you have a friend with the tools who will help, the experience should be worth the price of the parts.

My two cents. Good luck.
Good advice here ^ . I would heed the suggestion of other experienced AR guys.

Keep your build simple and stick to quality parts. There are so many brands and so many upgrades that can cloud your build. Don't go crazy with too many things all at once.

My advice:

- Get a good lower and upper receiver to start with. This is your basic starting point. Familiarize yourself with good manufacturers like BCM, Spikes, or PSA (depending on your budget)

- Get a good barrel that works for your purposes. A 16-inch carbine is standard, but a Midlength barrel is even better. Get Chrome-lined with M4 feed ramps.

- Choose your accesories wisely. There are countless manufactures out there that you really have unlimited choices. Pick a few and stick with them. MAGPUL is one of the best and most commonly known for reliability and quality. There are many others so pick wisely.
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Old October 31, 2012, 12:54 PM   #21
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Hey guys, on further review of my budget and information yall gave me, I'm just gonna go with a straight 5.56 build. I'll start out by buying a spikes lower reciever and then go from there and buy each part of the build at a time. Build my lower, then stock set, then upper reciever and onward. For some of the less obvious stuff like barrel and bolts, im going to talk to my friend's dad (defense contractor).

Ill just get a straight bolt action .308 or 30-06 seperately after my AR is built. When SHTF i'll need a separate weapon for the level's boss anyway.

EDIT: Okay lets say that I would want a "slightly larger/normal magazine" for reserves in california (not to use at the range obvious). Is online buying going to filter this or is there no regulation until i go to the range/public?
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Last edited by Dr Big Bird PhD; October 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM.
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Old October 31, 2012, 01:24 PM   #22
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Quote:
EDIT: Okay lets say that I would want a "slightly larger/normal magazine" for reserves in california (not to use at the range obvious). Is online buying going to filter this or is there no regulation until i go to the range/public?
What you are asking/advocating is probably illegal, if it is even possible.

Not something you want to do.

Your best bet would be to move to a free state or get a vacation home/relatives out of state that can keep these items for you.
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Old October 31, 2012, 01:28 PM   #23
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I am not an attorney in CA and offer you no legal advice. I will note that I dislike 30 round magazines and find the 20 round and thermold 20 round ones much more comfortable.

Maybe I would feel differently about it if I were performing entries in Kabul, but for me this is just a piece of sporting equipment that's gets less fun if I am not comfortable.
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