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Old January 7, 2014, 10:19 PM   #1
markm_04
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Contemplating an AR build

I will start off by saying that I am not extremely familiar with nor do I currently own an AR.

I am very interested in building and AR for myself. I think it would be a fun and interesting project. I have a fairly good idea of where to start but am looking for any tips or recommendations from anyone who has taken up such a task before. I am not looking to get the gun completed right away and see this being a project to complete over the course of the next 4-5 months possibly.

Is it best to start from a parts kit or buy part separately along the way? Start with a stripped lower or a completed lower? Recommendations on manufacturers? I want to build something mainly for recreational use chambered in 5.56/.223 and don't want to spend gobs of money but want to end up with a good, quality product.

Is there anything to be cautious of or real concerned about along the way other than safety of course? I look forward to your advice and am looking forward to getting this project started and learning a lot along the way.
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Old January 7, 2014, 10:37 PM   #2
Jim243
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Go to Midway USA, they have a bunch of video's on AR building many for free or just purchase the DVD.

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Old January 8, 2014, 06:42 PM   #3
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Start here...

http://www.midwayusa.com/general.mvc...ld-ar-15-rifle

Then go here...

http://thearmsguide.com/2905/how-to-...uide-part-one/

Then here...

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_4/226...ructions_.html

You might want to go over here...

http://www.thenewrifleman.com/how-to...ower-receiver/
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Old January 8, 2014, 07:17 PM   #4
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Parts kit would probably be cheaper do to the shipping on each part unless you found one place that had everything you wanted.

Buying it one piece at a time lets you spread the cost out over a longer time period. Now is a good time to build one as a lot of dealers over bought after the last run on them and some of the parts are a cheap as I have ever seen them. Might want to build two to help split up the cost of shipping.

Lately I have seen $79 Bolt carrier groups, $49 lowers and $89 barrels. 6 months ago they were 3 times this if you could find them.


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Old January 8, 2014, 07:18 PM   #5
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I'm going to subscribe to this as I want to build an ar soon!
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Old January 8, 2014, 07:33 PM   #6
coalroller
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This is some good info!
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Old January 8, 2014, 08:34 PM   #7
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I built a lower with a parts kit and didn't want to build an upper because I didn't have any headspace gauges. I know that it's supposed to headspace on its own, but I'd rather have that part done by someone else. I have built 2 lowers now and I can say that the only part that was difficult for me was putting in the dang roll pins. On the first I scratched through the scotch tape I put on it for when the punch walks. On the second I got smart and used a small clamp to push the pins in, and the only hairy part was wondering if I'd bend the ears that hold the trigger guard, which I didn't. I don't know how this sight feels about linking to other forums but do a google search about building them and there are some free instructions with pictures on other sites that were extremely helpful. Brownells also has YouTube vids.
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Old January 8, 2014, 09:50 PM   #8
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I am leaning towards a blank PSA lower with a RRA parts kit and a completed RRA upper. I as well do not have any head space gauges and from what I gether there are some special tools needed to assemble the upper. I think it would be a bit easier and quicker just to buy the completed upper. I have been looking at the PSA lowers that they have currently in stock, and maybe I am missing something, but what is the difference in all of them other than being Mil-spec or just manufactured by someone other than PSA themselves? Are any of them better than the others they have listed or should I just get any one of them that is Mil-spec and go from there?
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Old January 8, 2014, 09:52 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info blacksky. There is alot of good information on those sights, especially for a first time AR builder!
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Old January 8, 2014, 10:52 PM   #10
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I'm looking to do same. Found the ar15 website through brownels and let's you build one virtually. Pretty cool.

Few questions.
Triger group has large pin or small pin. I thought all receivers were same.

And if I do a slightly longer 18" barrel is that mid length and not carbine which is 16"??

And along that, some lowers have trigger guards separate. Which way is preferred.

Ill know more after I watch some videos.
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Old January 8, 2014, 11:26 PM   #11
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The AR Builder website though Brownells will let you pick and choose the parts and see what they would look like put together. Not to mention how much it would cost (not including shipping) but will give you an idea.

http://www.ar15builder.com/
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Old January 8, 2014, 11:29 PM   #12
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I played around with that for a little while tonight. That is a neat feature and I do like being able to virtually build your gun there and save different projects, but they dont have all the options available by far. I wouldnt expect them to have every part from every manylufacturer but it does help to give you an idea of what to expect it to look like and cost.
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Old January 8, 2014, 11:41 PM   #13
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Everyone else beat me to the links.

The next best advice I can give since this is your first one is sit down and write out what purpose you want this rifle to fill. By doing that, you can narrow down the options and keep from getting lost like a kid in the candy store with a pocket full of quarters.

There are just so many AR options out there... There is a reason they are called Legos for men!
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Old January 8, 2014, 11:53 PM   #14
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To answer your questions bitttorrent,

Colt is the only receiver to use large pins. All the other manufacturers use small pins for their FCG (so far as I know).

Carbine (short), Mid (mid-size?), and Rifle (long), describe the type/length of gas systems not barrel length. Some prefer to use a Mid length gas system for a 16" barrel instead of the Carbine length since it isn't as hard on the brass.

Usually Billet receivers have the triggerguard as part of the receiver while Forged usually do not (IIRC). Obviously you can't use a particular brand or style triggerguard (ie: Magpul) if one is already provided on the receiver.
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Old January 9, 2014, 01:31 AM   #15
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Winner. These links will get you started on the right direction.
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Old January 9, 2014, 02:55 AM   #16
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I just finished my first AR build this morning. Do it!!! For me it was significantly more satisfying than just buying an AR from somewhere. I was originally concerned about it being a frankengun, but after going through the build process I'm much more confident in it, even more so than most stock rifles from the major manufacturers. Also, the knowledge I've gained from building my own helped me solve a problem with my other AR that would have been easily "ship back to manufacturer" worthy if I didn't know anything about it and have the tools to fix it.

Mine's a myriad of makers - Spike's lower - Windham lower parts kit - Magpul furniture - DSG buffer kit - Palmetto 20" upper. I can't wait to shoot it.

I was a little hesitant at first about building one - now I'll never buy a complete one again. Plus, it's fun making your own unique rifle and you're at the range you'll never say, "like my rifle? It's a Colt 6920!" and nineteen other guys yell, "nice, so is mine!!"
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Old January 9, 2014, 10:14 PM   #17
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The sites mentioned are pretty good. I've used the instructions from AR15.com for all my lowers.

http://www.ar15.com/content/guides/assembly/lower/

You don't need the pivot pin installation tool. I use a thin putty knife to hold the pivot pin spring and detent down.

Also I just use a needle nose pliers instead of roll pin holders.

Take it slow. No need to go hammering hard on anything.

Good luck with your builds.
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Old January 10, 2014, 03:09 AM   #18
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Colt used to use the large pin lower receivers so people couldn't insert full auto fire control groups into there lowers, but now they have gone back to regular small pin lower receivers again.
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Old January 10, 2014, 08:59 AM   #19
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MagnumWill & Markam, Now thatyou have a 5.56 you need to buy a good barrel wrench, order a Rainier (or other brand) .300 AAC Blackout barrel and build a really fun AR that will add versitility to your shooting experience. Except for the barrel and hider all parts are the same and converted .223 brass is readily available, really fun gun with supersonic loads...can be made suppressed with subsonic loads. :-) aha! the saga continues.
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:15 PM   #20
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IMHO....

Frankly, if its your first build you should buy as many of the individual parts as you can.

I did this. I learned what each and every single part does. I learned how they all all come together. And, perhaps most importantly, I learned A LOT about where to shop and find deals.

I also learned what I could and could not do "on my own" (for instance, I do not have a torque wrench and I don't want to buy something I am going to use maybe once a year, so I had a local shop attach the barrel).
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:29 PM   #21
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Quote:
Now thatyou have a 5.56 you need to buy a good barrel wrench, order a Rainier (or other brand) .300 AAC Blackout barrel and build a really fun AR that will add versitility to your shooting experience.
I completely agree about having a good wrench. I've got the cheap NCStar multitool for the AR, and that's why I just bought the barreled upper complete. I wasn't confident enough that I could get the barrel tight enough with it (and then I saw the PSA upper and thought hmmm ) I just got the lower vice block in the mail, so now I need the better wrench and the upper vice blocks and I'm good to go. So far, my AR's are going to be specifically 5.56 and .300BLK, since I don't want to buy a lower that can ony take bastardized magazines (In CO, I have 20+ 5.56 mags).
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:48 PM   #22
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Take you time and watch for sales and free shipping.
I just finished another AR build for under $800.00 and have a $1,000.00+ rifle.
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Old January 10, 2014, 08:01 PM   #23
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I've built out two stripped lowers, using PSA stripped lowers that I bought on sale for $50. I purchased the lower parts kits, buttstocks, etc. over time as funds allowed and often was able to find these parts on sale. There are some specialized tools that make assembling the lower easier but there are also "work arounds" for most of the steps.

I purchased a barreled upper receiver from PSA for my first build, added the bolt carrier group, charging handle and a rear sight and was ready to go. I did replace the "GI" trigger on my first build with a Geissele; that was a mistake. Now I am spoiled.

For my second build I have not been able to find a complete upper with exactly the configuration I want. I may build it myself by borrowing the tools or maybe paying a gunsmith to do the parts that I am not comfortable doing.
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Old January 10, 2014, 09:15 PM   #24
Marquezj16
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Tools for an upper:

Vise - $50

Torque Wrench - $70 (Could buy cheap set from Harbor Freight $10)

Upper Receiver Action Block - $37

Armorers Tool - $30

Go Gauge - $31 (this is if you want to be safer)

No-Go Gauge - $31 (I have never used it.)
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Old January 10, 2014, 09:20 PM   #25
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Let me simplify this for you.

Really spend time designing what you are going to build. Buy good parts which people will like, should you sell or reconfigure at a later date.

Optics: I just heard 3 marines say over and over. . .irons, EO Tech, Aimpoint, ACOG. That's it. Don't buy a mega scope on a working gun. 5.56 is a 600 yd max round.
Don't buy cheap untrustworthy optics. One guy said he broke EVERY SINGLE Leupold Mark 4 optic his unit was issued! Amongst the 3, they said the ACOG's were never broken. . .I think they thought they saw maybe 3 broken out of hundreds.
I'm a little less harsh. I really value that advice, but since I never bang my optic on an armored vehicle exiting or purposefully throw my AR around, I feel I can get away with good optics like the Nikon Monarch low power scopes, etc. Frankly, I really like a low power variable with a BDC and no turrets out to 600 yards.
I run a Vortex Strikefire on the other AR.

Optic mount: Don't buy a great optic and mount it in some POS you found on POSmounts.com. Buy a real Larue, ADM, A.R.M.S. mount.

Overall, my point is optics and mount should be job 1 in your design process. Nothing else matters half as much.


Gas system length:
Really think this through. Would you be happier with a more accurate, less tacticool 18, 24 or 24" AR? They might be easier to find a use for in your life. . .hunting, varmints, etc. If HD is the main purpose, a 16" middy is nice in a light gun. Gas length has big impact on the harshness of the guns recoil stroke.

Barrel Profiles: Think about your use. Most people, IMHO would be best serve with a pencil profile barrel or other lightweight profiles. Remember the main reason for the M4 profile is high rates of machine gun fire and the ability to attach an M203. Is that in your image?

Gas Blocks: My basic advice is buy a barrel with a std taper pinned FSB attached. If you want it under the rail, grind the sight off. This is really the best gas block. Everything else is taking a sizable rish that one day you will want your gun and the gas block will be loose, broke, leaking, etc. If you insist on having some wizbang gas block, pay someone to fit it and pin it on.

Rails: Rails are great, if your hands are oversized, weight doesn't matter and you are willing to buy $15 each rail covers. Handguards and tubes make better forends often. I run a YHM lightweight rail and a Magpul MOE forend.

Buttstock: Why build your dream rifle and put a std M4 collapsible on it?. . .or worse a POS airsoft grade collapsible? MOE is pretty nice, but I really like my VLTOR. Don't follow me, pick one mission specific for you.

Lowers, Uppers: Find one, google it. If you don't see, "this lower is a POS and now I have to throw X, Y and Z parts away because of it," it is probably a good lower/upper. Make sure the color is right.

Triggers: Learn to shoot! Yeea, std AR triggers are rough, but not unshootable. If you want better, several folks will upgrade you for like $50. I run a 2 stage RRA customized and a stock PSA. One is better, but at 25 yards, who cares.

Barrel Twist Rate: Milspec 1:7 is a bit of an over twist, IMHO. 1:9 would be ideal for most. When 55 gr and 62 gr ammo are like $8 a box and 75 gr is $20 a box, how tacticool will you be? Personally, I will be getting a 1:9, 1:8 when I have the choice.

Barrel Materials: SS, 4140, 4150. . .all are OK. For a non-machine gun, even CL is an option. This is lower on my OCD list.

Lights, Lasers, Addons, Doohickies, night vision, thermal sights, BUIS, etc. This stuff is all great, but mounting a 1000 lumen light on the end of your gun really slows your target to target speed, where a smaller light like a Surefire G2 in a plastic or AL mount might improve that feeling.

I've written too much, but my point is design a purpose built gun and it will be a value to you. Buying scrap from the gunshow and building from what you have will often result in picking up $1200 in scrap and making a gun worth about $500 and less in your hands.
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