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Old August 9, 2013, 10:27 PM   #1
wolfe 21
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AR partial build or just buy?

Ok, so I finally decided I need an ar platform and the crazies with the Escalades and black am-exs have cleared out of my LGS and they've pretty much got their black rifle wall back as of now....

So, this being my first center fire, semi-auto rifle (pistol guy), do you recommend I buy a complete ar or build or partial build?
I am leaning to a partial build, me doing the lower and then buying a complete upper... is this reasonable for the first time out? 16" carbine style m4 flattop will be my most likely starting point.. may build an accuracy ar if I like the platform, but bolt guns are hard to beat for this type of work in my opinion..
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Old August 9, 2013, 10:55 PM   #2
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In all honesty, I'm in the process of building my first AR, and it really isn't that hard. There are a lot of videos on the internet about how to do it properly, and there aren't very many tools that you need for it. The other plus to building your own is the endless amount of customization you can have. You can build your rifle exactly how you want it, assuming you have the money.
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Old August 9, 2013, 11:53 PM   #3
Quentin2
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Building up a stripped lower is easy and a great way to go if you are handy with tools. Topping it with a quality factory upper is smart, too. My first AR started with a stripped lower and it went well, as have four more lowers.

My last lower is a Quentin Defense US Army edition billet. (No affiliation with them but nice to have my name on the lower along with my branch of service!) They have USMC, USN, USAF and USCG lowers too, for a great custom look if you're military/vet. Anyway, a custom build with parts of your choosing can truly become YOUR rifle where one off the rack is just one off the rack.

The other side of the story, a build can turn out bad if you don't do your homework and don't choose quality parts.
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Old August 10, 2013, 02:33 AM   #4
Metal god
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I would buy complete or build lower and then buy complete upper . I bought my first complete then built on exactly the way I wanted it . Heres the thing the first one I built is really cool but to heavy . My point is when your new to the AR even when you build exactly what you want . When your done it may not be what you want . My two big mistakes with that rifle were the HBAR and the YHM Todd Jerret free float rail .

I don't have a bunch a stuff hanging off of it either . The rifle is just heavy . Here are the rifles side by side . The black one was the build for $1160 , the MOE-FDE was a complete rifle I bought for $850 out the door .


I would not put a ton of money in to your first because when your done you will still be putting more money in to it . I'd work at it slow and buy stuff as you come to realize you need it . Rather then install stuff till you realize you don't need it .
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Last edited by Metal god; August 10, 2013 at 02:39 AM.
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Old August 10, 2013, 04:49 AM   #5
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When I was facing this dilemma I decided to just buy a whole rifle. I figured that would be able to familiarize myself with the components and figure out what I would like for a ground up build in the future. I'm personally glad with my decision.
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Old August 10, 2013, 08:43 AM   #6
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Purchasing a complete rifle will provide you with a shooting platform to test all the goodies available while gaining experience as you shoot. Maybe then you will not even like the platform and will go to something more conventional but in all likelihood it will fuel your desire to empty the bank account on new goodies. Get an M4 configuration for light weight easy shooting fun while you contemplate that heavy barrel scope sighted long range shooter, or the SBR or whatever YOU desire.
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Old August 10, 2013, 09:10 AM   #7
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For the first one, at least, buying one from a well known manufacturer might be best.
If, for any reason, you would want to resell it, it's so much easier to do so, rather than for a home built.
Factory warranties and support are as important to guns as they are to cars.
Especially for resale.
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Old August 10, 2013, 09:34 AM   #8
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In most cases I would avoid building uppers. They are easy to build, however really hard to get right. Plus right now I feel like the market is flooded with inexpensive, quality uppers.
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Old August 10, 2013, 11:40 AM   #9
johnwilliamson062
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I would(did) buy an entire rifle. I went with a CMMG bargain bin rifle and had absolutely no regrets. I never found the cosmetic flaw and several buddies couldn't either. I searched to see if there was an offering currently and couldn't find one on their site. Might be one soon if they get caught with inventory though. I bought mine in 2010 when everything slowed down and there was a period of significant overproduction of black rifles. Be patient
I sold it for more than I paid a year or two ago.

Assembling one seems to be easy enough though. I think I will mill a lower next time around.
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Old August 10, 2013, 09:06 PM   #10
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If you're open to assembling a lower, it's easy to do with basic tools. It can be pretty satisfying also. I bought my first AR complete so when it was time to build my lower, I had something next to me I could use as a reference. That gave me all the confidence I needed. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't hesitate to assemble my first lower and buy a complete upper to slap on it. By doing so, you have A LOT more options with different configured uppers. You can get pretty much anything from BCM alone.
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Old August 10, 2013, 09:30 PM   #11
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AR partial build or just buy?

Buying/having a quality, factory-assembled AR will give you the experience and familiarity you'll need to know if what you're going to put together yourself is actually good quality. Alternatively, if you feel you already have enough familiarity with the platform, you can just go ahead and build one.

The lower is the easy part. It may seem daunting when you first look at it, but a few hours of research and half a dozen YouTube videos later, and you'll feel like Eugene Stone (AR designer) yourself.

The upper, while mentally easy to understand, is a precision job and requires more skill and experience to attain a safe and consistent machine.

I would suggest that when and if you decide to build your own AR, build the entire thing yourself. But get help. Get a second/third/tenth opinion on parts, techniques, and procedures, and make sure you have a good professional (or at least a proven semi-professional) supervise your work. Finally, safely test your product.

Either way, welcome to the Armalite Rifle club
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Old August 11, 2013, 03:11 AM   #12
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I just got done putting mine together. I got a RRA LAR-15 complete lower for $300, and an Armalite 20" upper with 1/7 twist barrel for $550, both brand new. With all the extras, I'm into it $2100-$2200. But, the complete rifle, just upper and lower, cost me $850 for a fully functioning rifle. I got the setup I wanted, and saved money by buying the upper and lower separately.

I never really buy complete rifles, because I know that I can get a quality lower and a quality upper, put them together, and have a perfectly functioning rifle. All the while saving a couple hundred bucks.

Here is a pic of my latest rifle-
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Old August 14, 2013, 03:28 PM   #13
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Buy a complete BCM, Colt or Daniel Defense and there will be no regrets. You will have the best quality and warranty.
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Old August 15, 2013, 10:02 PM   #14
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I am kicking the same idea around. From what I have gathered go whichever route will get you a better deal. There are so many AR rifle and parts makers to choose from the the task is tedious at times. Just do your homework before you buy and don't settle. I almost bought a rifle I would have regretted.
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Old August 15, 2013, 10:26 PM   #15
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I usually always suggest buying a complete rifle from a quality manufacturer if you are not familiar with AR15's. Anything from Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense, etc.

Now if you really have the urge to build one, then its also a good way to go if you want to save money and learn the platform along the way. A good place to start is by building the lower and buying a complete upper receiver.

Take a good look at Palmetto's website. They offer the best deals for the $
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Old August 17, 2013, 10:52 AM   #16
tank1949
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Barrel Twist

What every you buy or put together, be sure you get a fast twist barrel and it will safely shoot NATO 5.56 (hotter then 223) loads. RR Wylde chambers handle both and I am sure there are others.
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Old August 17, 2013, 12:29 PM   #17
4V50 Gary
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The advantage of assembling your own is you really learn the system. Build it.
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