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Old August 4, 2009, 11:09 PM   #1
Kurbsky
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AR-15: Build vs. Buy - what will cost less?

A lot of people kept telling me that buying parts and building an AR-15 on my own would cost me less than buying a complete rifle. I have serious doubts about this. I tried to look at the QUALITY components from which a good brand AR-15 is made and attach price tag to them and it looks to me that actually it is cheaper to buy a complete weapon. I am only talking about costs, not other benefits that "building it the way you want it" would bring. Also, I only am talking about DI rifles because with gas piston AR-15s it is very obvious by now that the new Ruger beats any price at $1,500+ a piece fully assembled with all nice things included.

Doing it yourself may still be slightly cheaper if you are using the cheapest and lowest quality parts but then the question is - do you really want such a rifle in your arsenal? What do you think?
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Old August 4, 2009, 11:55 PM   #2
sholling
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I just built two and you'd think that it would be cheaper to by a complete rifle but a complete rifle is subject to an 11% federal excise tax. In my case I wanted the absolutely most bullet proof AR15 that I could afford. I think you'd have to buy a Noveske or a Colt to top this and that's without the Geissele trigger.

Here is my build list minus the EOTech:
Bravo Company 16" middy upper $480
Bravo Company M16 bolt carrier group $160
Daniel Defense Omega 9" rails $260
Troy folding rear sight $140
DoubleStar Stripped lower $120
G&R lower parts kit $40
Geissele SSA trigger group $170
Magpul MIAD grip $35
Vltor EMOD stock $180
Total $1585

Now realistically you can shave $140 off that by buying cheaper rails, and shave another $150 off by buying a DPMS lower parts kit with a GI trigger and a GI pistol grip. And you can shave another $100 off by getting a Bravo Company carbine stock kit. Total for a rock solid AR but without the deluxe add-ons $1200. More than it would cost you for a basic Smith & Wesson M&P15 and about the same as a nearly comparable Smith.

Sources: G&R Tactical

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Last edited by sholling; August 5, 2009 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old August 5, 2009, 01:13 AM   #3
AMX
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That's a nice looking setup you have there, sholling. To bad you had to "California" it.

I don't think I've ever saved any money building AR's, but I still prefer to do it that way. I've noticed a lot of AR's in stock now at gun shops and some pretty decent prices too.
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Old August 5, 2009, 01:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
To bad you had to "California" it.
The B15 bullet button can be removed in about 30 seconds.
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Old August 5, 2009, 04:28 AM   #5
eclipsetactical
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Nice

yeah nice gun schooling =)
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Old August 5, 2009, 07:13 AM   #6
RT
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I agree with sholling. If you want simple, quality, and inexpensive try: BCM M4 upper on a LMT complete lower, BCM BCG and carry handle. Magpul MOE handguards, stock and grip.
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Old August 5, 2009, 09:29 AM   #7
kokopelli
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I built a complete Rock River Arms A3 for $640 bucks. -RRA stripped lower for $120, RRA upper complete kit for $520.

In contrast, my factory Bushmaster cost me right at a Grand. The roll marks on it were horrible, the fit and finish were a joke, but it did come with a cheap plastic case and one magazine!

Check out mapartsinc.com, they sell complete kits minus the stripped lower for $500 bucks. Their parts are made by LMT. Barrels are Wilson or Shaw finished by LMT- same as Bushy, DPMS, Colt, etc...Add a $100 stripped lower and you have an AR.
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Old August 5, 2009, 10:16 AM   #8
lockedcj7
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I didn't do a full build. I just bought a lower from one guy and an upper from another and slapped them together. It's a K.I.S.S. carbine with a DPMS upper on an Olympic lower. It's chrome-lined, 1:9, and you can see the rest. I'm not an AR expert so I can't rattle off the specs for each part but I do know this much:

I only have $605 in the whole package and it shoots great. It's as accurate as I am with peep sights and I've never had a malfunction with it. I know people bad-mouth Olympic sometimes but I've had nothing but good luck with this one.

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Old August 5, 2009, 10:43 AM   #9
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Thanks for that, lockedcj7! That's an honest and loyal friend you have there and it's all most of us need. I'm thinking of building one with an A2 upper or maybe A3 but with the carry handle. Something that looks more like what I carried in Vietnam. Excellent job and excellent price!
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Old August 5, 2009, 10:50 AM   #10
flight954
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Rock River Complete lower $325
YHM complete upper $750
Daniel Defese extended free float rail (changed the YHM that came w/ the upper) $280
Total $1355 w/ an extra YHM free float rail


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Old August 5, 2009, 11:41 AM   #11
tkcomer
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This is my take on this. If you're only going to build one gun, try and find what you like and buy it. By the time you get the barrel wrench and vise blocks for the upper to assemble, you don't save much money. If you want, you can put the lower together yourself without special tools. Be prepared for some scratch marks as most first time builders do scratch the lower just a tad. Stick a good trigger in it if you go that route. Then buy a complete upper to stick on it. Be aware the upper may take some fitting to mate with the lower if you go with different manufacturers. Some may require a little sanding here and there to get the two halves to go together. Makes for a tight gun. Others may be a little on the loose side. Not a bad thing either as it doesn't affect accuracy one bit.
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Old August 5, 2009, 11:42 AM   #12
greyson97
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you can buy a complete a3 ar from delton at buds for $713.

http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/p...ducts_id/55441
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Old August 5, 2009, 02:56 PM   #13
az_imuth
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I wanted a mid-length rifle so I purchased a kit and Stag lower receiver from Del-Ton for $620 before shipping and FFL. Quality is great and the assembly was a no-brainer. I like it much better than the Bushmaster that cost me significantly more.
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Old August 5, 2009, 03:18 PM   #14
CortJestir
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Quote:
A lot of people kept telling me that buying parts and building an AR-15 on my own would cost me less than buying a complete rifle. I have serious doubts about this. I tried to look at the QUALITY components from which a good brand AR-15 is made and attach price tag to them and it looks to me that actually it is cheaper to buy a complete weapon. I am only talking about costs, not other benefits that "building it the way you want it" would bring. Also, I only am talking about DI rifles because with gas piston AR-15s it is very obvious by now that the new Ruger beats any price at $1,500+ a piece fully assembled with all nice things included.

Doing it yourself may still be slightly cheaper if you are using the cheapest and lowest quality parts but then the question is - do you really want such a rifle in your arsenal? What do you think?
Consider the following (all prices MSRP):

Option 1
Fully Assembled Stag Model 2: $935

Option 2
Complete Stag Lower Half Tactical: $290
Complete Stag Upper 2H: $530

These two options are the same exact rifle. Only difference is you have to snap option #2 together and you save $115 - more than 10% off the cost of the complete.

Of course, you may not get the lifetime warranty going the separates route, but you hardly ever do when building your own anyway so it's a moot point.

Now, these prices are for complete lowers and upper assemblies. Imagine how it can get even less expensive if you build each lower and upper assembly from the ground up and you shop around for good deals. This is the beauty of the AR platform - get exactly what you want, know what you put into your rifle, and save some money.
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Old August 5, 2009, 07:24 PM   #15
Kurbsky
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I actually just bought a new Stag 2T assembled and I don't mind paying 10% more for a lifetime warranty. However, it looks like most people who assemble their own AR-15s are having a lot of fun in doing that. That is also worth something.
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Old August 25, 2009, 05:49 PM   #16
bcarver
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my cost

lower 125
kit 495
total 620
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Old August 25, 2009, 08:04 PM   #17
ThreeStepsAhead
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I forgot that about 3 months ago I bought an entire lower receiver parts kit... TRUST ME, there's been a lot on my plate. I'm going to get it put together this week!
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Old August 25, 2009, 10:40 PM   #18
Kurbsky
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How long does it take to assemble a lower receiver?
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Old August 26, 2009, 04:34 AM   #19
bumnote
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[PHP]How long does it take to assemble a lower receiver? [/PHP]

Not long, I think most people could do it in under an hour. I had planned on doing it and found this YT video to be a big help.
Assembling an AR-15 Stripped Lower 1 of 2

I had planned on building the lower and buying a complete upper, I wasn't going to build the upper because being new to that I'd likely would have had to have it double checked by a pro. But when I was at a gunshow I saw a RRA Varmit A4 for a good price and bought that instead. I saved some money, but still in the future the next one I'll assemble myself lower [I]and[I] upper. My desire to assemble it was more for my own satisfaction than saving money....and then saving money won out. I still ended up w/ exactly what I wanted and that's the most important thing.
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Old August 26, 2009, 10:00 AM   #20
ustc instructor
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there is a place i found called tactical machining out of Florida. lower receivers for $155 complete or $105 stripped. Build it yourself you will appreciate it more as well as get a sense for how the gun operates and fuctions. I build all of mine and have fun doing it everytime. I even have my 10 y/o helping me build now and it is cool for him to love it as much as he does.
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Old August 26, 2009, 10:01 AM   #21
ustc instructor
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Sorry website for tactical machining is www.tacticalmachining.com. Del ton has great deal also.
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Old August 26, 2009, 09:48 PM   #22
Longdayjake
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I have built 3 lowers and I can say that it takes less than half an hour if you can figure out the first detent pin and spring. It pays to get the bent needlenose pliers. It is one tough mothah. Also you need to find a way to tighten the castlenut enough that it doesnt come loose. I just did mine by hand and it keeps coming loose.
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Old August 26, 2009, 10:47 PM   #23
ranger dave
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cj7

you have built the best looking ar on here a1 sights simple clean and a true work horse of a firearm i bet you took the $3000 you saved and bought ammo
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Old August 27, 2009, 07:41 AM   #24
jaymce
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It really depends on how you approach it.

If you want a daily shooter and do not want to fuss around then grab a Stag etc. as suggested and put them together and out the door.

If you plan on using the low $ rifle for a base then you might be paying for additional parts you might not use. As pointed out by flight954.

The good thing about buying is that you can walk out the door ready to shoot.

Building will get you exactly what you want but sometimes at a cost.

My intent was to go the LMT route. Bottom $ lower + Standard BCG + 16in upper. Good plan. What I ended up with due to availability and no restraint on my part was an LMT Sopmod 2 stage trigger upper, enhanced BCG, and 16in upper. Add to that the free float grip and mags and I ended up way beyond my original budget of 1K +-, and I have yet to add buis. Not complaining as I am very happy. My point being that had I started with the bottom $ build planned it would have cost me a bunch of $ more in the end swapping out the parts not used.

As CortJestir points out the 2 parts (completer upper and lower) will save $ but also do not forget that when you purchase a complete rifle it usually comes with mag/mags, often a case and some kind of sighting system which are often not included in upper and lower components.

Good luck with your search. You might also want to check out www.M4carbine.net. Tons of info over there.
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Old August 27, 2009, 09:02 AM   #25
Evyl Robot
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To me, building an AR is like building a computer. If you could find that one magical one out there that was exactly like you wanted it to be, it might be cheaper to buy complete, though fitment may not be what it could be with a custom build. But, there are so many options, so many variations, that if you want something specific, you are unlikely to find it pre-built that way.

That being said, I've pieced computers together out of crap (although not guns). I'm like a tightwad nerd!
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