View Full Version : Advice on AR-15 lower receiver choice

July 20, 2010, 04:01 PM
Thinking of buying an AR-15, with a view to maybe eventually having multiple upper receivers in different calibers...I know very little about them though. My local gun store is very overpriced, so I thought what I'd do is, just buy the lower from them, since that's legally the firearm (is that correct?) and then I can browse on the net and buy an upper through the mail when I find a deal I like.

Can you do that - buy upper receivers over the net and have it sent to your door?

Also, can anyone recommend a good low priced lower-receiver brand? Does it matter much, or is the quality of the upper receiver & barrel more important?

July 20, 2010, 04:15 PM
Yes, you can get an upper right to your door.

and Spikes tactical makes nice lowers.


you can find parts kits there too.

July 20, 2010, 04:17 PM
Everything you seek is right here..

July 20, 2010, 05:53 PM
If I was to buy a stripped lower receiver, is it difficult to build a rifle from this? I just went to my local store, and the guys there were trying to convince me I should not go down this route, that I should just buy a complete rifle.

They said I'd have to get them to put the rifle together for me if I bought separate components because you need special tools etc...is that true? I was under the impression that anyone could do this...

The only complete rifle they had near my price range was an Olympic Arms with for 799. Does that sound like a good price? I have my doubts because most of their stuff is overpriced normally. Don't know much about this rifle but it had a relatively short stainless steel barrel, it was a .223. No carry handle on top.

But they have stripped lowers for 180-200 dollars. Would I be better off buying one of those and then building my own rifle?

July 20, 2010, 06:10 PM
$799 is not exactly a bargain, but not outrageous either for a complete AR. If you are assembling one only to save money, you might want to simply shop around for a better price. You can order rifles on-line if you have a local FFL to take delivery and handle the transfer--a shop near me will happily do it for $20. I could be wrong, but most folks buying components are doing so to get their rifle just like they want it, and likely with premium components.

July 20, 2010, 06:16 PM
It's not hard to build up a stripped lower receiver if you are fairly good with tools and can follow directions. There's plenty of help online, sticky threads, PDFs and videos at Brownells, Youtube, etc. As far as tools I used what I had in my garage, nothing else was necessary for a lower but specialized tools do make the job easier. All I needed were vise grips, electrical tape, a couple of punches, drill bits to use as guides and to hand turn to remove flash from holes and a small hammer.

$180-200 is very high for a run of the mill stripped lower. I'd keep looking. If you can't find someone local with a better deal you can buy one online and have it sent to a local FFL for maybe $25. Check around and see the going rate for transfers locally. As far as brand, most lowers are fine but if you find a good deal on one that strikes your fancy go ahead and pay a little more if you want. I found a DoubleStar and S&W locally and paid $10 more for to have my rifle have the M&P-15 logo.

I'd say there are two strikes against your local shop, the price is too high and they are scaring you off from building. Now if you aren't mechanically inclined then maybe it is worth buying a complete rifle but again it can be sent to a local FFL like the stripped lower.

July 20, 2010, 10:38 PM
Just watched this...http://www.hk94.com/hk/topic/24717-video-how-to-build-an-ar15-lower-receiver/

I could definitely do that! I would be slower than that guy but there is nothing tricky in that.

I know shopping around elsewhere makes sense but for reasons I won't go into in detail, this store is the only show in town for me (read this (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=416237) thread if you need to know why)

I also really want to get the lower receiver very soon (also to do with what's explained in that other thread) so I cannot order one from another place and collect it through the local store. I've got to take whatever they've got.

I am tempted to just buy the Olympic Arms one for 799. Wish I had checked the model to see exactly what it was. It had a flat top, no handle, a silver-coloured barrel and an M4-style stock.

Since these guys are charging about twice the normal price for a stripped receiver, I probably won't save much by building myself.

Anyone have an opinion on Olympic Arms AR-15s? Any ideas which model it might have been?

July 21, 2010, 01:31 AM
Oly is ok but I would keep looking. There's a lot of negative reports on Oly but I think most of that isn't current. Really it would be good right now to pin yourself down and figure out what this rifle will be used for and what brands and models are best suited for you. The more research you do the better choice you'll make. Almost everyone says they wished they researched their first AR better.

I didn't read why you're buying from this store but even if you overpaid $80 on the lower you could end up with a great AR in the $800 range if the rest of the parts are bought at good prices online and mailed to your house.

July 21, 2010, 08:49 AM
Well I am interested only in target shooting, I will not be hunting with this rifle or using it for anything else. So I'm interested in having a good trigger, an adjustable stock would be nice too.

I had a look at prices in a few online stores, looks like I'd be paying around 500 for an upper, 100-200 for a trigger and another 80-100 for a stock. With 180 for the stripped lower, it still comes to a fair bit more than the Olympic Arms one they have. Maybe it would be better quality though?

I did some searching and it seems OA are getting good reviews everywhere nowadays, most people seem to think they're quality problems are a thing of the past. Everyone says their accuracy seems to be particularly good which is my main concern.

Anyway, I might as well explain the whole thing with the store: I am an alien living here on a visa...this means that although I am resident in the country and can buy firearms no problem, any time I leave, even on vacation, when I come back I have to wait 90 days before NICS will do a background check on me - within the fist 90 days, the NICS will simply cancel the transaction. I happen to be going on vacation overseas at the end of the week - so if I want my AR within the next 3 months (which I do) I must do the background check very soon - therefore, no time to order stuff from another store.

July 21, 2010, 09:12 AM
Check out AR15.com and look at the Build it Yourself forum. They have complete instructions on assembling everything. I would suggest buying a stripped lower (Spikes has them for $99) and buying a complete upper. That way you get to pick certain components (Stock, trigger) and you dont need specialized tools to assemble the upper.

July 21, 2010, 10:26 AM
Yep I would definitely be going down the route of getting a complete pre assembled upper.

Been looking at Del-Ton, these (http://www.del-ton.com/Rifle_Kit_p/rkt100.htm)kits look like good value

Even with the 180 dollar stripped lower I saw in the store this would still give me a complete rifle for a good price. Everyone seems to think they're very good quality too judging by reviews on their site and elsewhere.

I think that might be my best option, this way I can take my time,research and pick the exact kit I want. Thanks for the input everyone!

July 21, 2010, 10:41 AM
If your going to buy a Delton kit, you might as well buy a M&P15 from CDNN. I know a few weeks ago they were selling for $599 after rebate.

July 21, 2010, 11:38 AM
Check out www.ar15.com and you will find a world of information (sometimes too much) on AR15's (building them, fixing them, variants, etc.). I am in the middle of my first build right now and it is not difficult if you have any mechanical skills at all and some basic tools. I recommend the route of building it yourself. You will learn ALOT about AR's, you will have the exact AR you want, and the satisfaction of building it yourself. Spend a couple of hours reading over at ar15.com and you will be well on our way towards starting your first build. Good Luck!!

July 21, 2010, 01:41 PM


July 21, 2010, 04:49 PM
Well I took the plunge...I just bought the stripped lower. It's a Rock River Arms, 180 dollars before tax...I know it's a crazy price but at least now I can take my time and research the hell out of the other parts.

July 21, 2010, 06:15 PM
RRA is a good lower and by the time you come back from vacation you'll have moved on regarding the extra cost. Sometimes you just have to go with the bird in the hand... And nothing to be ashamed of with that logo on your build.

Now your research can begin in earnest and you can buy the rest after you get back knowing the lower you already have will not limit you and that you have the FFL part out of the way. Definitely let us know how it goes when you get back. I would bet that your final build will be much different from the Oly on the rack and that you'll be happier with it. Most of us want a custom rifle not something off the rack.

That's what I did, I bought my lower first face to face because I liked one the shop had and wanted to get the federal paperwork out of the way. Then soon after bought the lower parts kit then the stock kit. All the while I kept researching uppers and sights until I felt good about a nice midlength. Then got sights, sling and magazines. I took two months after buying the lower before having a functioning rifle.

BTW, have a great time overseas!

July 21, 2010, 08:13 PM
I have a matched lower with flatop upper and three other lowers from Essential Arms. The fit, finish and workmanship is just as good if not better than any of the other AR manufacturers.

Their prices are low and they were great people to do business with.


July 22, 2010, 05:46 PM
delton uppers are really good and you can catch them on sale directly from delton. they just had a sale, and you missed it.

or just build up an upper on your own. the tool (armorers tool) is real cheap and makes building the upper and lower a cinch and most of the quailty ones (look at brownells) are around $20. Yankee Hill, delton, etc... for an upper. Also, a guy on glock talk forum is selling Rock River complete BCG's (bolt carrier group) for around $90 (i picked up a couple as spares) and they are properly staked.