View Full Version : Need a little final advice on AR build.

August 19, 2012, 11:40 PM
I had this over on AR15... but I like this forum better. :D Just looking to make sure my thinking is straight, and I am not way off base.

I am looking to build an A2/rifle (flat top) and a 16 inch mid length gas system carbine.

Been out of the AR game for several years, and now its time to come back... The new fiance and her new found love of shooting is a big factor for this. :cool:

The A2 will be for longer distance type shooting with a 4X scope (but I am not looking for match grade MOA accuracy, just good accuracy.)
The Carbine, for normal carbine uses.

I will be building the lowers, but not settled on if I will build the uppers. I am leaning toward not building the uppers.

I am looking at staying around $800 or less for the carbine build. The rifle build is looking to be around $100-150 more from the parts prices I have seen. The price is not set in stone, I am willing to pay a little more if it means much better quality in the end. I am looking at an overall budget of $2500 max to build the ARs, get several spare magazines and some ammo... So build the two rifles, (less spent here means more for ammo) plus at least 14 magazines, and some bulk brass cased .223. (for reloading... but I will need to look at the economics of reloading .223, it may not be worth it, making steel cased ammo a better choice)

Everyone seems to feel Colt is the standard, and a few companies like BCM and Noveske meet or exceed that quality standard. (or so is claimed) I am looking to meet or at least be near "Colt" quality/reliability if possible. Sure, I can use BCM uppers, lowers and parts kits, but I won't save very much from just buying a complete rifle in the end... and I am sure I will be well over $1000 total for each rifle when all is said and done. I don't need name brands, just good quality that I don't have to worry flaking out on me.

Things I am looking for:

Receivers... 7075 forged mil spec (seems most respectable brands meet this)
Barrels... Mil spec or better steel, chrome lined. I want a heavy profile barrel on the rifle, but an A2 profile is not out of the question. Same with the carbine, but profile is not as important. Hammer forged would be nice as well, but not required.
Receiver extensions/buffer tube... 7075 forged, but extruded is not out of the question. The use of 7075 is the important part. (some say extruding is a forging process, may be, but most labeled as such are cheaper aluminum)
Parts kit... A quality kit, I do not need adjustable triggers or even a two stage. Standard is fine.
Furniture... Magpul MOE all around
Bolt... Standard Mil spec is good, but any bolt with features that increase reliability and ease cleaning is welcome, if the price is right. I believe shot peening is mil spec. (definitely not a AR-15 civilian style bolt, from what I understand, they stress the firing pin more during cycling, plus the weight of the Mil spec aids proper cycling)
Sights... A good BUIS, probably Magpul. The front sight will be a standard A2 FSP and Carbine F marked FSP (unless middies use A2) Also a decent scope and red dot/holo sight, but not top of the line like Trijicon, that is coming later.
Few extra bits of consideration... Nitrided barrels like LWRC and Sig 550's would be nice, but I would bet hard to find and more costly as aftermarket, same goes with the treated bolts. Also, not sure if using a fixed stock on the A2 or a carbine style. Leaning toward fixed, as the fiance liked the feel of it fine. (the A2 will be hers)

Why these specifics... I want a quality built and reliable rifle. I want it to last, and these will not be "babied" at static ranges. We have a practical shooting club near by that does shooting at several stations, running to each stage... The rifles will be bumped and banged around, braced against barriers, you know, the usual... and trips and tumbles are not unheard of at those kinds of events. So being built tough is a good idea. Its all informal, but no point half hearting it when doing the stages.

Also, we are looking at the Magpul gear in Foliage green and OD green. Mostly just to be different from standard black. The Foliage green looks grey'ish in my opinion. Several A2 fixed stocks look grey, so I was wondering how they looked together. Either that or I will go with the Magpul fixed stock. Feel free to post pics of the Foliage green gear on your rifle, as I do not see it often. Seeing the gear on a rifle with a grey A2 stock would be a big help. (if you know of a pic out there, you can point me to it as well, thanks)

As far as the Red dot/holo sight and scope, I would like some suggestions... remember, I am not looking at high end models yet, that will be later. (currently the plan is to eventually end up with a Trijicon 4X, possibly the fiber optic illumination version, and an Aimpoint or Eotech)

I am currently looking at the Burris AR-536 as a scope option, but it is a little expensive. I am not sure about the red dot/holo sight. Reasonable suggestions are welcome... keep in mind the cost of an Aimpoint and Eotech, as I want to be at a third or less in cost, if not, I may as well just get an Aimpoint or Eotech now and not wait. (unless you can convince me that your suggestion is just as good as them and therefor makes me not need to get a new sight later) Also, the scope/red dot may be waiting until a few months after the build.

And I don't much care for rails other than the upper receiver. I am not one who likes to hang a bunch of crap off my rifle. The Magpull foregrips allow me to attach things should I ever choose to anyway.

Things as I understand them Feel free to correct/educate.

7075 aluminum is better/stronger than 6075. (I have known this from other pursuits)

Forged vs billet... given identical specs/design/shape and identical alloys... billet is not stronger than forged, and in fact forged can be stronger due to work/tool hardening during the manufacturing process. So spending extra for billet is not really necessary.

Heavier barrel profiles tend to be more accurate (not really a big deal in non-match barrels) or handle faster rates of fire better. (heat dissipation/absorption) The cost is added weight.

Barrel steel... there is 4140, and 4150... plus a mil spec standard. I am not 100% sure if 4150 is the same as the mil spec, I don't think it is. Some manufacturers refer to a "machine gun barrel steel"... not 100% on where it fits in, it may refer to the 4150. Info on this would be helpful.

Buffers... the carbine needs a heavier buffer to help get cycling timing/dwell time correct. I am not sure where the mid length fits into the buffer weights. I would think it needs lower weight than the carbine length system. I believe the carbine length uses either the H, or H2 buffer and I do not know of a lighter carbine style buffer than the H... If I did choose to go with a carbine style stock on the A2, what buffer do I need there?

I am looking hard at PSA receivers. The price isn't too bad, and they have sales on occasion. They have many options for barreled uppers with barrels by FN, and with or without a BCG. They also have FN made CHF barrels made to M249 specs, like Noveske uses. People seem to like PSA... I noticed that if you want 7075 receiver extensions you must be sure to get the more expensive kits that includes it... People have recommended their parts kits as well.

So any suggestions on which manufacturers to go with or avoid, would be helpful. As well as any general suggestions and answers to my questions I posed above. Feel free to point me in the right direction if there are other posts/threads with the info I need... or just answer directly, your call.

I really like nitrided barrels over chrome lined. Seems better for the 20" rifle as far as accuracy. The fiance likes shooting with a scope, but she isn't out to be competition accurate, just to be competent and for fun.

Like I said, I am leaning toward buying the upper assembled. So, finding a nitrided barrel on a complete upper at a good price may be hard. I am willing to build the upper if all the ducks line up though.

Also, my fiance is almost as tall as I am... so she isn't some tiny short thing, she can handle the larger rifle. She tried holding one at the shop and she liked how it felt. She likes the MOE grip as well... I was leaning toward the MIAD version so I could use the small backstrap on both our ARs, but getting a feel of the MOE, we like it.

Thanks in advance guys.

August 20, 2012, 12:15 AM
If I were to build more (one rifle and two more under way) I would go with PSA for the lower receiver and the lower parts kit to include the buttstock that you want (fixed or adjustable).

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/firearms/receivers/psa-ar15-lower.html $100
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/ar-15-05/lower-parts/moe-lower-build-kit.html $139
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/ar-15-05/lower-parts/build-kits/a2-rifle-build-kit.html $125

Then I would go with a BCM rifle upper $439


and middy upper $519


and complete it with the MOE hand guards.

I would buy the BCM bolts for each one. $159


Middy would cost around $920+ and rifle would be $830+.

Extra cost would be the charging handles, rear sights, handguards plus whatever shipping, LGS fee and any tools you may have to buy.

Good luck with your build.

August 20, 2012, 02:04 AM
Not too bad on pricing... But I am not sure if the parts kit includes a 7075 extension. It looks like it would be over 1000 after its said and done if I go that route.

If I was to get the PSA CHF barreled uppers, I can get them with the BCG for around $550... Is BCM's quality worth the extra money?

August 20, 2012, 02:21 AM
I'm not sure either but you could call PSA and find out. They do sell a separate tube for $30.


What I gave you was just a sample of what I would build. BCM comes with a premium due to their popularity. However, the PSA uppers would be great for your build too.

August 20, 2012, 03:13 AM
Yeah... from the reading I did on their site, I think the 7075 tube is an upgrade part. I did see one parts kit with it, but it did not have the other stuff I wanted.

Also, I have no clue what the extension is for the rifle stock... they do not have an upgraded version, but I have found no info on the material offered.

I plan on calling tomorrow.

August 20, 2012, 03:57 AM
Definitely get the PSA lower parts to save money, then buy a complete BCM upper. If you want these AR's to last, BCM would be a good route to go with and worth the extra $$.

Whats gonna push you off the budget are accessories and the Magpul furniture (sling, BUIS, etc). You can go with cheaper parts for your stock like a standard M4 stock, in the case of UTG Pro's complete Milspec stock kit for $45 (www.vtsupply.com) for your Middy AR. Its all USA-made, comes with the buffer, spring, tube, castle nut, and end plate. I have this stock kit on my Spikes lower and it is a quality Stock and buffer assembly.

I do highly recommend the Magpul MIAD grip for the option of interchangeability of front/backstraps, and the MOE handguard. They have a much better feel than stock and some aftermarket grips from other brands. Everything else is up to you, and based on your budget and preference.

August 20, 2012, 01:15 PM
Get a CHF melonite (nitrided/tennifer) treated barrel.
ARperformance.com specializes in these.

I would also suggest a JP meloite QPQ BCG with an ARPerf bolt.

If you plan on buying a suppressor ever, I would suggest a Sirac Ord melonite AGB.



August 20, 2012, 02:19 PM
I based my "around" $800 budget looking at prices at several places and giving a estimate of parts cost. Not including shipping and taxes. I did include the Magpul parts in that estimate. I found several kits that included them for a good price. PSA bundled them in, $20 over standard parts kit gave you the MOE grip and trigger guard. They also included the foregrips as a $20 add on to barreled uppers and the buttstock was in a kit as well.

@Justice06RR: Do you not feel PSA uppers would be a good choice? Maybe not BCM good, but at least approaching...

@thesheepdog: I will look into those barrels, I took a quick glance... polygonal rifling... those should last a long time.

arperformance.com is a automotive thing.

August 20, 2012, 05:11 PM
BTW, the price of the 20" and 16" PSA uppers are $309 and $269 without the BCG and CH.

August 20, 2012, 05:34 PM
I bought a PSA receiver extension kit and it was 7075. Not quite as nicely finished as the BCMs that I usually buy but plenty good. Can't beat it for the price.

August 20, 2012, 08:31 PM
PSA uppers are a decent choice and value for the money, but you mentioned you need these AR's to last and will be throwing them around during use. BCM is proven and well known to be a top-tier high quality brand that can stand some abuse. PSA is good too but from what I've been seeing is just "up and coming" -- meaning their quality has been getting better and better. Not sure if it has been used by Military or LEO's in the past.

I do own a PSA 300Blackout complete upper with Midwest Ind 12-inch rail, so I like them. But comparing PSA to BCM, BCM is better based on my research and reading.

August 20, 2012, 10:20 PM
Yeah, I was hoping someone that has put the PSA rifles/receivers through a good test could enlighten me a little.

From what I gather, they are good quality... maybe even up there with the better brands... They just haven't been proven.

There is also Spikes tactical... they are a bit more expensive but have been around longer.

August 21, 2012, 12:03 AM
I just built up another carbine for around $900, pics coming soon.

I got a good deal on a Zombie themed lower... yea i know... but I am a sucker for zombie movies and The Walking Dead so I said why not I have other AR's.

CMMG Lower Parts kit.

Armalite Buffer tube, castle nut, spring and buffer if I remember correctly.

Magpul Trigger guard and ASAP plate.

Magpul MOE OD green furniture.

Upper... I was lazy and didn't want to build.. but I almost exclusively use BCM for my upper needs anymore... such great experiences with them, top grade gear, I can't be any more pleased.

I ordered a 14.5 carbine length upper with the flash hider pin and welded for $450

Their BCM BCG for $150.

A BCM Gun Fighter large charging handle.

I am not 100% done with the build yet, but the core component parts for a functioning gun came in around $900.

I still have more corny Zombie things to add, and a magpul BAD lever on the way.

I did check out the EOtech and Leupold Zombie themed optics for this sucker to keep the joke running, but I have a Trijicon Reflex on its way for it. Figured I needed quick acquisition and a illuminated sight that works when batteries may be scarce!

August 21, 2012, 04:56 AM
It should be this link. Poster left out the 15.


August 21, 2012, 08:28 AM
I do not need adjustable triggers or even a two stage. Standard is fine.

Not necessarily advocating 'adjustable' or '2-stage' triggers, but...

... a light crisp trigger was the crown jewel on my otherwise excellent rifle. Huge difference in shooting enjoyment and group size.

August 21, 2012, 05:11 PM
Lots of good info, but I am not going to be buying so soon that I can't do a little more looking around.

I'm sure someone out there has put the PSA stuff through a little abuse, and can tall us how they do.

If not... I may go for it. I may not be able to put it through the ringer quickly, or as hard as a carbine course, but a little beating would be useful.

August 21, 2012, 07:05 PM
I have built four AR's in the last couple of years. One was a gift to my brother, another I sold because I wanted to build something different and the other two I am keeping.

I have used Colt, DPMS, Olympic Arms, Bushmaster, DPMS and maybe a few others. I keep coming back to Del-Ton when I think about building another.

Through the Reserves I have been through the Air Force Combat Arms School so I think I know what I am doing but I have never really liked barreling uppers. One of the reasons I like Del-Ton is that you can buy a number of kits and they uppers have the barrel already mounted and headspaced. You just have to buy the lower.

As a Police Officer I have never had a problem with the carbine I put together using a Del-Ton kit and it has had thousands of rounds through it. I wont say they are the best but I haven't had any problems with mine.

August 21, 2012, 07:51 PM
The A2 will be for longer distance type shooting with a 4X scope (but I am not looking for match grade MOA accuracy, just good accuracy.)

First, for an A2, I would use a larger scope. I think it would be a better match, if 4x is great if I'm shooting 300 yards max at big game, but for an A2, I'm thinking 4-12 or 5-20 and no BUIS.

Yea sure, all your high end parts are fine, but a real designer knows how to mix and match for a better end product. That said, in a carbine, I see no reason to not go lightweight barrel. AVOID WEIGHT, especially up front.

Things like 4150 barrel steel, billet uppers, non-std bolt carriers add lots of money for what. Always ask what you are buying when looking at best parts over a lower cost alternative.

7075 aluminum is better/stronger than 6075. (I have known this from other pursuits)

Forgive me. What is 6075 aluminum? Did you mean 6061? Also, where does this apply? With good parts, materials are mostly a non-issue IMHO.

Mistakes of mine you can learn from. . .

- Plan to spend lots of money on optics. Optics will usually define a civilian's rifle performance.

- Find a "best buy" stock. Stock trends come and go. The trendiest or highest speed stock is not always the best for you. IMHO, the basic Magpul or VLTOR is probably ideal for most.

- What front grip will work best for you. I did OK in the end, but many are a pain to QD or use with a rest.

- Slings should not be overly complicated. Really think this one through. I did OK in the end, but it cost me precious optics money.

- Weight. Manage it. Balance it. More in a prone, bench, BR or long range gun. Less in a short range CQB rifle. Under 500 yards non-FA, all barrel profiles are about the same performance.

- Triggers - These are worth their weight in gold for a good AR experience. Also, there are guys tuning GI triggers into good CQB type triggers. Save money for this.

- Front sight - Always use a tapered pin FSB. Don't mess with some set screw POS. Even non-tapered pins could shoot loose.

- "machine gun barrel" - Is a way of saying we don't use 4150. 4140 would be just as good in a semi, most likely. SS would probably be most accurate. Not sure what a nitrided barrel is, but my chrome lined Armalite works for me.

Timing - Timing is gas system length + port size + buffer weight + round pressure. If you are going to shoot crap ammo, a large port may keep your AR running. For a 16" AR, mid length gas is probably best.

mags - use mags which work. Trash the rest!

IMHO, BCM, Armalite, Yankee Hill Machine, Magpul, VLTOR all make good parts.

August 21, 2012, 08:42 PM
Apparently it double posted... hours after the fact. Odd

So... Edit:
I may talk to the fiance and ask if she really wants a 20 inch or not.