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Old November 6, 2019, 04:03 AM   #1
idek
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novice questions about budget AR build

I don't own an AR, but am interested in trying out a basic build kit. It may be used for HD, but my intention is more for fun and possibly medium game hunting.

At this point, I'm leaning toward a PSA 6.5 Grendel kit with a 20" barrel. Specifically, this kit. I'd consider other suggestions as well, but keeping price down is a priority.

My understanding is that I'd just need a stripped lower to be able to complete the rifle. Is that correct, and, if so, can someone recommend an entry-level lower? PSA has a lot listed, but I don't know the differences between them. And can someone clarify "high shelf" vs. "low shelf"?

Finally, any suggestions for good Grendel magazines? I'd prefer lower capacity options when hunting or shooting for fun.
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Old November 6, 2019, 04:53 AM   #2
rickyrick
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My lowers cost between 29-40$ for Anderson lowers, bought them at various times is why the price variety. No issues what so ever. You will need some type of sight system as well, which could cost quite a bit.
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Old November 6, 2019, 06:24 AM   #3
jetinteriorguy
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Why not just buy a PSA stripped lower? Be never had any issues with the ones I have. I'm not sure if 7.62x39 mags would work, but if they do the C Products Defencee mags or AR Stoner mags work great. Maybe someone with more knowledge on this subject could verify this, I'm just going off my fuzzy memory from when I was thinking about a 6.5 Grendel upper a number of years ago.

I just looked up the part# for the C Products Defense mags and the 7.62x39 is a different part# than the 6.5 Grendel.

Last edited by jetinteriorguy; November 6, 2019 at 06:31 AM.
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Old November 6, 2019, 09:36 AM   #4
Ed4032
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All lowers are the generally the same. It depends on what logo you want on the side of it.
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Old November 6, 2019, 02:20 PM   #5
raimius
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6.5 Grendel and "budget" don't go very well together. New, brass ammo is nearly 3x the price of .223.

Unless you need it to be 6.5 for a specific reason, I'd go with .223.
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Old November 6, 2019, 02:54 PM   #6
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"...don't go very well together..." Neither does 'budget' and building a rifle. Loaded ammo seems to be kind of scarce too. Of the 15 loads Midway lists, some of which are on Backorder OK, only 6 are currently available. Starting at $23.99 per 20. Limited in available bullet weights too. Reloading will fix that though. Hornady brass runs $109.99 per 250. $38.99 per 100 at Graf's.
European brands like Lapua and Norma are stupid expensive at or above a buck each.
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Old November 6, 2019, 03:20 PM   #7
TrueBlue711
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Quote:
6.5 Grendel and "budget" don't go very well together. New, brass ammo is nearly 3x the price of .223.

Unless you need it to be 6.5 for a specific reason, I'd go with .223.
For your main purpose of fun shooting and being on budget, I agree with this comment. You can have a fully built 223 AR from PSA for less than $400. Since this is your first one, I would go with this route. My favorite thing about ARs is you can build a separate upper for a different purpose down the road. You can buy/build a 6.5 Gren upper and swap it out in a few seconds when you want to go hunting with it. One of my ARs has 3 different uppers I swap around with: 5.56/223, 22LR and 300 Blackout.

To answer your questions though, yes, you need an empty lower to finish that kit. Putting it together can be done with just hammer + punch, but that castle nut needs a castle nut wrench. You can find a basic one for maybe $10. Or you can use a non-marring wrench to tighten it or just finger tighten it, but I would just get the wrench for $10 to avoid regrets (unless you know a buddy who has one to borrow).

My belief is empty lowers are all pretty much the same. 2x of my ARs use $35 lowers and I have no issues. PSA sells them pretty cheap, so they're not a bad option. Plus you have the comfort of keeping the upper and the lower receiver from the same company.

I just built a 6.5 Grendel AR myself and I just got 2x 6.5 Gren specific 10 rounder magazines for starters. Both are made by AR Stoner, which is the brand name on Midwayusa.com. Only one range session so far, but the magazines worked fine.

Be warned: You may get hooked! I started out with just a kit like you're looking at years ago and now I have built many ARs. It's fun and I get a little bit more reward when shooting guns I put together.
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Old November 6, 2019, 03:59 PM   #8
Fishbed77
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Quote:
All lowers are the generally the same. It depends on what logo you want on the side of it.
This is not true. Some are forged, some billet. Some are in spec. Some are not (Anderson had a particular problem with this a few years back). Some are high-shelf, some low-shelf (only an issue if you have a RDIAS). Some have added features like flared mag wells. Finishes may vary (my BCM receiver has a smoother, more even and nicer-looking finish than my PSAs).

That said, for the budget-conscious, I've had very good luck with PSA lowers (run $40-$50). I particularly like the "Stealth" versions, which feature no silly logos.
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Old November 6, 2019, 04:55 PM   #9
idek
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Thanks for the replies. The comments about the lowers were helpful. PSA's "Stealth" version sounds about right for me. I'll check out some of the magazine suggestions as well. Thanks also for the tip about the wrench.

rickyrick mentioned sights. I was thinking low-power variable (I already have some extra scopes at home). It seems the trend is the 30mm tubes, but they seem to add a lot of extra weight and cost over 1" tubes. Is there any reason the Leupold VX-2 1-4x20 I already have wouldn't work?

As to the .223 suggestions, I understand what people are saying about cost and availability of ammo, and I did say cost is a priority, but .223 would be lighter than I'd like to use for hunting medium game. I realize 6.5 Grendel isn't exactly the hammer of Thor either, but I would feel better about using it on deer or hogs a little farther away than I would with a .223. (I do own a .223 bolt rifle, by the way). Maybe my listed purpose of "fun" was misleading too. I wouldn't blow through a bunch of magazines at a single outing--I've got .22 rifles and handguns for that. It would be shot more in moderation.

Last edited by idek; November 7, 2019 at 02:16 AM.
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Old November 6, 2019, 08:41 PM   #10
rickyrick
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I find that the 3-9x40 scopes to be just fine for hunting, because they are widely available, they tend to be a good value.
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Old November 6, 2019, 09:31 PM   #11
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I’ll add that the biggest mistake people make when selecting a scope and mount would be not getting the right ring height for the individual.
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Old November 7, 2019, 09:41 AM   #12
TrueBlue711
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Quote:
As to the .223 suggestions, I understand what people are saying about cost and availability of ammo, and I did say cost is a priority, but .223 would be lighter than I'd like to use for hunting medium game. I realize 6.5 Grendel isn't exactly the hammer of Thor either, but I would feel better about using it on deer or hogs a little farther away than I would with a .223. (I do own a .223 bolt rifle, by the way). Maybe my listed purpose of "fun" was misleading too. I wouldn't blow through a bunch of magazines at a single outing--I've got .22 rifles and handguns for that. It would be shot more in moderation.
Thanks for clarifying. Then yes, that 6.5 Gren would be great for what you're wanting. I'm loving the round so far with my newest build, it's quite the tack driver. It'll be a great deer/boar/antelope rifle.
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Old November 7, 2019, 11:23 AM   #13
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My only comment is that for HD and recreational shooting, I would typically go with a 16", possibly an 18" barrel, but nothing as long as 20".
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Old November 7, 2019, 10:17 PM   #14
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To go along with the PSA build kits, you will also need magazines. The kits include everything but the lower receiver, magazines, and sometimes iron sights. I used an Anderson lower receiver for my PSA build. It cost me $50 + tax locally (no transfer where I bought it). It has been trouble free for 3000+ rounds. It's personal preference, but my BIL got a kit with the lightweight m-lok handguard and wished he would have gotten the Magpul version. I think its because he was in the Marines and was more comfortable with a bulkier handguard. Either way, 2 of my family members bought a PSA kit after seeing and experiencing mine. They offer a lot of "bang for the buck".
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Old November 8, 2019, 03:09 PM   #15
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Anderson lowers are very good, but occasionally you may run into an issue with one, so buy more than one at a time.

I bought 3 of them a couple years ago, two of them are perfectly fine, one tho has an issue with the front pivot pin being very tight when I try to put an upper on. Doesn't look like there are any burrs, it may be that the holes aren't perfectly aligned.

I should call Anderson to get it sent in, but that lower is a spare in case I want to do another build in the future and I've got other things to do.
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Old November 9, 2019, 12:26 PM   #16
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I've built three guns on PSA lowers with no issues.
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Old November 9, 2019, 09:24 PM   #17
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The reviews from your link sure look promising.

I'd give it a whirl , I have had very good results with PSA products.
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Old November 9, 2019, 11:49 PM   #18
rickyrick
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Why not just get the whole PSA rifle then? It would retain a little value.
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Old November 10, 2019, 10:24 AM   #19
dahermit
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I have built (assembled from PSA lower kit, complete PSA 16" Freedom upper, and the additional accoutrements as seen in the photo) for under $500 total.
It shoots 1" five shot groups @ 100 yards. My only complaint is the trigger is creepy and heavy...but then I have not attempted any smoothing/stoning. It is not so heavy that I cannot live with it at the time being.
Car15wbipod.jpg

Last edited by dahermit; November 10, 2019 at 10:42 AM.
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Old November 10, 2019, 12:35 PM   #20
rickyrick
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The best standard/cheap trigger set is the CMMG stock trigger. Better than the various “enhanced” milspec type triggers out there. It’s worth it even if you have to purchase an LPK to get one.
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Old November 10, 2019, 03:59 PM   #21
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the guys at the local "tactical" gunshop consider PSA to be the bottom end of acceptable quality, but then, they are in business to sell stuff...

I've seen threads here about people having issues with PSA components and I've also seen a lot of people say "I have PSA "X" and its fine."

I don't have any personal experience with them, so I guess its just roll the dice, and see what comes up.

I will say that in a HUNTING rifle, there is little benefit to a very short barrel, and in some places 18" is required legal minimum for big game hunting.

16" is the Fed minimum length for rifles, but state game laws can be different. Check and see what is allowed where you live/are going to hunt.

There's no question an 18" gets you through thick brush better than a 26", but if you aren't doing house clearing or climbing in and out of APC all day, going to a shorter barrel doesn't get you much practical advantage and might cost you some velocity you might wish to have in the game fields.

Good Luck, and let us know what you decide and how well it works out for you.
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Old November 10, 2019, 04:09 PM   #22
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6.5 Grendel is a good cartridge in the AR platform. It is not nearly as cheap to shoot, but much better hunting cartridge. Elander mags work good in mine.
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Old November 11, 2019, 08:54 AM   #23
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
And can someone clarify "high shelf" vs. "low shelf"?
In the rear of the AR15 lower is a “shelf.” A low shelf has the same height as the original AR15 and M16. A high shelf lower has a taller shelf that blocks the installation of a drop-in auto sear. There is no legal requirement to do this but some manufacturers build ARs this way just to better distinguish their rifles from M16s.

If you aren’t planning to use full-auto, it makes no difference. If you buy a high shelf and later want to convert to full auto, shelf height is a minor problem/cost to overcome compared to the other costs and issues.

Last edited by Bartholomew Roberts; November 11, 2019 at 09:00 AM.
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Old November 12, 2019, 12:01 AM   #24
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I've used a lot of PSA parts included their lowers. All have worked and function fine. The first 6.8 I built back in 2012 has one of PSA's FN barrels installed on it. It shoots .5 MOA with my roads. That rifle is more accurate than the Colt, Bushmaster, DPMS and LWRC ARs I've purchased over the years. So quality (ie: expensive) don't always translate to most accurate.
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Old Yesterday, 09:42 AM   #25
Fishbed77
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Quote:
Why not just get the whole PSA rifle then? It would retain a little value.
One reason would be to avoid the federal excise tax on complete rifles.
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