View Full Version : Building an AR15

March 12, 2009, 11:06 PM
I am trying to build personalized AR15. I have never done this and I want to know how much would it cost in tools? and what kind of tools would I need?

Round about how much money could I save by making my own versus buying one complete?

These are my specs- A 5.56 flatop upper with a 20 inch match grade barrel and flip up sights, Lower -2 stage trigger, a full stock and ergo pistol grip.

Not worried about optics at this point.

March 12, 2009, 11:25 PM
I haven't built one myself, but have done a lot of reading in making my dream AR-15. I don't think you will save any money and possibly might spend more buying all the tools. They only savings would be if you planned to continue building AR-15s.

I believe you would need a multi-tool for barrel, stock, etc. ~$29
Action block (for holding upper) ~$40
Lower receiver vice block ~$34
Head spacing gage (up to three) ~$18-25 each
Punch/mallet set $???
Torque wrench $???

Those are the basics. I'm sure others will have opinions, but the bottom line is you likely won't save much. Though you will have the fun of putting it together and the knowledge you gain of your rifle's inner workings.

Edit: Where you will save money is by buying a kit gun which has everything you need except a stripped lower (sold separately). Since the lower is considered the firearm, you won't pay the federal tax on the rest of the parts if purchased separately. The upper kits are delivered assembled. All you need to do (as I understand it) is insert a couple of pins and bam! You've got an AR-15.


March 13, 2009, 12:11 AM
Yeah I will have to check out the kit, do you know of any reputable web sights that have these? I am just getting into this so I don't want to spend a bunch of money on tools and then never use them.

March 13, 2009, 12:30 AM
Unless you're planning on buying completely stripped parts and installing your own barrel, the only tools you should need are a free-float handguard wrench, a few punches (std and roll pin punches), a non-marring hammer, and a roll of duct tape. Other tools can be handy, but the project can be done without them.

Most people buy an upper with the barrel already assembled (and headspaced). Then you just need to assemble the lower. There are some tricks to this, its not just a few pins. There are definitely some sticky points. Buy one of the good books or videos on AR-15 building. Its a very approachable project for garage/kitchen table gunsmiths.

March 13, 2009, 11:40 AM
Yeah I will have to check out the kit, do you know of any reputable web sights that have these? I am just getting into this so I don't want to spend a bunch of money on tools and then never use them.

A lot of the major manufacturers offer some kind of kit.

I've read good reports about Del-Ton, Inc. (http://www.del-ton.com/AR_15_Rifle_Kits_s/1.htm) and J & T Distributing (http://jtdistributing.net/index.html).

Rock River Arms (http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=199) has kits, as does Bushmaster (http://www.dpmsinc.com/search/?s=rifle+kit).

Too many to list. Like MountainBear said, you can also look at buying a complete upper from a reputable manufacturer and then buying the lower (LPK), buttstock, and lower parts kit separately. Also, the lowers can be bought assembled with LPK and buttstock assembled. This way you are closer to the two pin benefit I mentioned.

There are some tricks to this, its not just a few pins.

Ok...an over exaggeration, but it has to be considerably more simple than constructing the whole thing. I've heard more reports of people putting the upper and lower together without issues and with little time invested than I have read otherwise.


March 13, 2009, 11:43 AM
Forgot to mention...If you haven't already checked out the website, go to http://www.ar15.com. There is a ton of useful information there and you might find some forum members that are helpful too. I would do a lot of reading BEFORE you post a question, because they are quite brutal when noobs ask questions that have already been answered multiple times.


March 14, 2009, 09:35 AM
Here is a link at Brownells that will provide video instructions to the entire process of building an AR-15. You can choose to view whatever sections you want, as applicable to the work you are about to perform.

Brownell's AR-15 Build Video Library (http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/GunTech/NewsletterArchive.aspx?x=v&p=0&t=1&i=1103)

If you purchase a complete upper, you should still watch the video regarding it's assembly just so you know how everything fits together.

As to necessary tools, having the correct tools greatly helps. If you have a complete upper and will only install the LPK and stock kit, it can be done with a carpenter's hammer, nail punch, 3p finishing nail (for centering), water pump pliers (better known as Channel Lock brand pliers), appropriate allen wrench/screwdriver for the pistol grip and duct tape. Put two layers of duct tape on the jaws of the pliers and use them to squeeze pins into place. Be sure to place protective tape on the receiver so that you do not scratch it. You will need a castle nut wrench to tighten the buffer tube, but that's about it. If you are assembling an upper, you will need other tools.

I've built two this way and have no scratches on the receiver. Uppers were purchased as a whole unit.

Hope this helps a bit.

March 14, 2009, 07:55 PM
I had great luck with J&T distributing. I've used DPMS lowers and parts kits. I have a lower from Mega that is useless (apparently they can't drill holes straight) , so I would stay away from them.

March 14, 2009, 11:24 PM
All you really need is the multi-tool if you are halfway handy with things.