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Old December 4, 2012, 01:05 PM   #1
wlkalong
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Questiong for AR Experts

Let me first state, I have never been and AR guy. My go to rifle is a DSA 16 FAL Para, and though I love the gun, it and especially the ammo are heavy and it is not possible to carry a lot of it. I have been thinking I might want a smaller, lighter weapon in .223 or 6.8 SPC to add to my collection for emergency situations. Also, something firing a smaller round for urban situations, like 55 grain TAP, with a much lower risk of over penetration.

I have been looking at building an AR. From what I have read, the lower has little impact on the reliability and accuracy of the weapon, if decent parts are used. Accuracy and Reliability are influenced by the bolt carrier group and the barrel and chamber. Is this information accurate?

If so, is it possible to build an AR, with a basic lower and a basic upper with a Bravo Company/Daniels bolt carrier and barrel that would rival the reliability and accuracy of top of the line weapons, such as Colt, DD, or BCM? I looked at just buying an upper from one of those companies, but they are expensive. Would a PSA upper with a updated bolt carrier group give good results, or are their other parts which would also need to be changed?

Bottom line, is it possible to build a very accurate and reliable AR rivaling at top tier AR for a lot less money?
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Old December 4, 2012, 01:20 PM   #2
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Bottom line, yes. PSA everything will do everything a BCM will at significantly less cost.
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Old December 4, 2012, 01:48 PM   #3
MarkCO
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M&P Sport is about $620 street, Delton Sport is about $605 street and the DPMS Sportical is about $595 street. Those are the only three cheapies I would consider on a true AR-15 platform. You will be hard pressed to build them for those prices, especially if you have to buy the tools.

Accuracy comes from the barrel, upper to barrel extension fit and barrel nut. Reliability comes from putting decent parts together correctly. You can certainly get reliablity inexpensively. Accuracy is a gray area term. If you want sub MOA, you won't get it inexpensively. If 2 to 4 MOA is okay, you can get that.

Don't get hung up on the Mil-Spec mumbo jumbo, but don't buy unproven parts either. There is so much trash talk and marketing in this area that it makes it hard for the average guy to figure it out.

Bottom line, PSA makes decent quality stuff. If you want a very accurate AR, then you are going to be looking at $250 to $400 for a barrel.
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Old December 4, 2012, 02:45 PM   #4
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... and also understand that yes, most lower receivers are going to work for you and some are significantly less than others. However, as we all know, trigger pull can impact accuracy as well.

If you build your own upper, you'll need a decent set of tools. This doesn't have to be overly expensive but it is an added cost. Proper torquing of the barrel nut is going to also impact accuracy.

As mentioned above, it's hard to beat PSA complete uppers. Throw in a BCM BCG (if you can get one, they sold out yesterday in 10 minutes) or any other FA BCG that's been HP/MP tested (I'm a Spike's Tactical fan) and you should be in good shape.

Grab a PSA blem lower and LPK and you're GTG.
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Old December 4, 2012, 03:07 PM   #5
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Have a hard look at the Sport. If you have about $650 to spend, you'd be hard pressed to find a similar quality rifle at the same price. It's really more of an $850 gun with a few unnecessary features deleted.

With proper handloads it has proven to be at least a 1MOA rifle, if not less.

Mine has been very reliable, 3000 rounds downrange. Plus you don't have to wait for parts to come in the mail and deal with shipping costs.
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Old December 4, 2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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This has been stated 100,000 times before, BUT buying a completed upper in the caliber you want and then building your own lower makes a lot of first time builders happy.
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Old December 4, 2012, 04:23 PM   #7
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This has been stated 100,000 times before, BUT buying a completed upper in the caliber you want and then building your own lower makes a lot of first time builders happy.
It did for me.

Built a lower with a PSA stripped lower reciever and parts kit and slapped on complete Spikes upper (with a nice 1:7 twist hammer-forged chrome-lined barrel and HP/MPI tested BCG).

Couldn't be happier.
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Old December 4, 2012, 05:49 PM   #8
wlkalong
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So far, I have been looking at a PSA blem lower, a DD or BCM lower parts kit, a PSA upper with 1-7 twist and a DD or BCM bolt carrier group. Spikes seems to be out of the question right now, everything on a long back order.
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Old December 4, 2012, 11:15 PM   #9
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Spikes seems to be out of the question right now, everything on a long back order.
Your best bet on getting Spikes uppers would be to look for internet vendors that have them in stock. Joebob's and Aim Surplus (among others) occasionally have them.
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Old December 5, 2012, 07:24 AM   #10
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Check CORE15 for BCG's. They have NiB coated mil-spec in stock, just like BCM without the buttstock ugly logo.

PSA (FN) hammer forged, CL, 1-7, 16" mid length upper, on sale, $280
CORE15 Nib coated charging handle, mil-spec bcg and hammer, $199

$479 for a complete NiB coated mil-spec upper is hard to beat.
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Old December 5, 2012, 09:13 AM   #11
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If it helps in your decision I just built by first PSA lower kit. I purchased the Magpul CTR lower parts kit that includes the standard psa lower parts with magpul stock. I had originally purchased the standard psa lower as well and it looked very nice.

I decided go go the sbr route and since I am paying a stamp I wanted to buy a lower with a few more bells and whistles.I feel the psa lower would have been perfectly sufficient and would not think twice about using it for a non NFA build.

The PSA parts went together smoothly and arrived well packaged and oiled. I was a little disappointed in the stock trigger at first but after a few dry fires it is already smoothing out. I expect after a bit of range time it will be as smooth as any millspec trigger can be. I don't think you can go wrong with PSA parts.

Last edited by jclayto; December 5, 2012 at 09:25 AM.
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Old December 5, 2012, 10:38 AM   #12
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I have read the sport pricing for months but in my area no such cheap prices..I paid $699 for my Sport...I love it so much that it has made me decide to build my own AR!


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Old December 5, 2012, 11:05 AM   #13
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PSA everything will do everything a BCM will at significantly less cost.
I know that I am in the minority on this forum... but I can not recommend against PSA strongly enough.

I have orderd several lowers and uppers from them and while... if you actually get what you ordered...and get one that works... it has no issues... but if you have any problems, you are left completely on your own.

I have had 2 different orders where I was sent the wrong items... and then they expected me to pay return shipping... they sent a label after I told them there was no way that was going to happen.

I also had one of my uppers come in and the right side feed ramp was badly out of spec. It jammed every single round. There was an obvious lip/burr where the upper receiver and barrel met. I emailed 5 times and called 3 times, leaving voicemails... because they never answer the phone. This was over the course of a full month and after the 5th week of no response, I finally took the rifle in to the guys at ASA(American Spirit Arms) as their shop is right across the street from my office and I know them pretty well. They saw exactly what was wrong and were able to fix it and have it ready for pick up the following day. Cost me an additional $50 out of pocket for the gun smithing work... but at least it's a usable rifle now.



So with that said... I can personally vouch for Daniel Defense and BCM as top quality manufacturers with both excellent quality control AND excellent customer service. Both of which are lacking in PSA's production. If you want to go super cheap, and don't mind a bit of hassle if you have to return things and get them replaced... maybe PSA is the way to go. Personally, I'd rather spend a little more money and have the piece of mind that my gun is going to work when I need it to.

I can also recommend any of the S&W M&P rifles. They are a bit cheaper, but have a good track record... and I have had nothing but superb customer service from S&W in the past.


By the way... I never did hear back from PSA about the faulty upper. Not a word.. they just ignored the entire incident. What a shame....
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Last edited by Uncle Malice; December 5, 2012 at 11:34 AM.
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Old December 5, 2012, 12:01 PM   #14
wlkalong
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I should have been a little more specific. I am not looking to make a super cheap AR, I am looking to create a rifle as accurate and reliable as a Colt/BCM/Daniel Defense or $300-$500 less then they charge, because like anything, I know name/price/reputation drive up prices significantly and in almost everything, you can find less well known items, that are just as good, but significantly less expensive. If I can build an AR for $800, that is every bit as good as a top tier AR, I am fine with that. If it will cost me $1100, then I might as well just buy a top tier for another $100 or so.

Of course I am willing to make small sacrifices to do this. So if I can get a cheaper rail, then a DD Omega, which weighs an extra 1/2 an ounce, I am willing to do that. It's all about getting the best bang for my buck.

I could just buy one, but I really want to build one. I want to learn how it functions, so I can repair it myself if needed.
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Old December 5, 2012, 02:40 PM   #15
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You can use a lower from wherever. Aero Precision makes more than 50% of other manufacturers lowers today... they are a good option and can usually be had less than $100.

I would suggest buying a prebuilt upper and building out your lower as you see fit. It's easy and requires very little tools. The upper requires specialized tools so you won't save any money there - at least on yoru first build. You won't beat a Daniel Defense cold hammer forged barrel... so if you don't want to get a standard DD upper... you can get one of the uppers from AIM Surplus that include DD barrels. Definitely a good option.
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Old December 5, 2012, 02:54 PM   #16
Fishbed77
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I know that I am in the minority on this forum... but I can not recommend against PSA strongly enough.
Not my experience at all.

Everything I've ever purchased from PSA has been top notch, and their service has always been good as well, especially considering how busy they are (most of my business with them has been in one of their brick & mortar stores).
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Old December 6, 2012, 11:52 AM   #17
wlkalong
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Thanks for the suggestion on Aim surplus. Their uppers with Daniel Defense barrels or Spikes components look like exactly what I am looking for. I read a number of reviews and it appears they are excellent and reasonably priced.

Their stripped lowers look well priced as well, though I am going to try to find a private seller in the Denver area if I can. I have bought three guns in the last year and a fair amount of ammo online, so I think I want to stay off the RADAR for the lower if I can. Living in Denver after the Theater shooting, I think the local officials are keeping a very close eye on things.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:01 PM   #18
Uncle Malice
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Great! I think you'll do very well with a set up like that. You can get lowers from anywhere and as long as it's a decent forged aluminum one, you should do just fine. Remember that we always want pics!
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:42 PM   #19
AKsRul.e
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I am not an EXPERT

I am an Army Vet and have been shooting commercially sold
AR15s for about 30 years.

You can mate any AR Lower and Upper from a major MFG and
you will have a very serviceable and quite acurrate rifle.

I will say the barrel quality is 90 percent of the accuracy.

Don't expect to build a better rifle than the factory for LESS
money though.
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Old December 6, 2012, 04:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
... I have been looking at building an AR. From what I have read, the lower has little impact on the reliability and accuracy of the weapon, if decent parts are used. Accuracy and Reliability are influenced by the bolt carrier group and the barrel and chamber. Is this information accurate?

If so, is it possible to build an AR, with a basic lower and a basic upper with a Bravo Company/Daniels bolt carrier and barrel that would rival the reliability and accuracy of top of the line weapons, such as Colt, DD, or BCM? I looked at just buying an upper from one of those companies, but they are expensive. Would a PSA upper with a updated bolt carrier group give good results, or are their other parts which would also need to be changed?

Bottom line, is it possible to build a very accurate and reliable AR rivaling at top tier AR for a lot less money?

I would say you can save some money on a top tier AR by doing what you suggest. Whether you can save a lot of money yet retain high quality depends on your components selection.

I recently bought a PSA barreled upper receiver, added a BCM BCG (as PSA was out of stock) and put the upper on a stripped ArmaLite lower built up with an ArmaLite LPK and PSA receiver extension/H buffer/CTR stock.

Over the last couple years I also bought a BCM upper and Daniel Defense upper then mounted them on good stripped lowers (S&W and JD Machine Tech/Valkyrie) built up with DD LPKs and BCM receiver extensions/H buffers/CTRs.

All three happen to be midlength gas and all perform roughly the same although I have to give a slight nod to the DD upper. All are reliable and should perform the same as a complete factory DD or BCM.
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Old December 7, 2012, 07:43 PM   #21
wlkalong
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One other question. Is there much difference between a mid length AR15 or M4 carbine length weapon besides weights? Is there really any reason to go with one over the other if both have a 16 inch barrel?
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Old December 7, 2012, 08:14 PM   #22
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Bottom line, is it possible to build a very accurate and reliable AR rivaling at top tier AR for a lot less money?
It is.

I assembled a rifle from PSA (lower parts kit, stripped lower, barreled upper) that works well and had everything I wanted, for just over $700. Shipping was FREE (Father's Day Promotion).

I had to be patient for the stuff I wanted to be in stock, but as they say: "You can have quality, low price, and have it now...... pick 2."
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Old December 8, 2012, 01:21 AM   #23
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One other question. Is there much difference between a mid length AR15 or M4 carbine length weapon besides weights? Is there really any reason to go with one over the other if both have a 16 inch barrel?
Within the same barrel profile there's little difference in weight between the midlength and carbine length gas system. Midlength is ideal for a 16" barrel, carbine length was designed for 14.5" and shorter barrels. Rifle length gas was designed for 20" barrels.

If you look at the three gas lengths matched with their optimal barrel length you have about 7" of barrel after the gas port. When you deviate too much from optimal you can have problems.

Carbine length is very common on the 16" barrel but not necessarily the best choice. Midlength lately has become very popular.
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Old December 9, 2012, 11:32 PM   #24
jackpine
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building an AR will give you a hobby gun if you want a fighting rifle buy a finished unit.
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Old December 10, 2012, 01:22 AM   #25
djcantr
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Originally Posted by jackpine
building an AR will give you a hobby gun if you want a fighting rifle buy a finished unit.
I have no qualms about building a fighting gun using quality parts. Just throwing together whatever parts you found in stock with no thought would be a different story.
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