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Old August 11, 2017, 01:33 PM   #1
kevra1983
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Building AR-15 suggestion.

Looking into building my first AR-15. Or perhaps getting my first one. I just don't want to drop the whole $1,400 - $1,700 at once. I guess because of the tax purposes too. But my big question is, would be purchasing a BCM complete lower for about $350 - $400.00 be worth it? I mean my budget is about $1,500.00. But in all, it seems like you can mix and match and complete lower and uppers. But is it worth doing is the question? But not sure whether swapping different brand upper and lower from each other is a good idea. So far I know I'd rather go with a 16" barrel. I mean I got a Burris 536 scope for a present last Christmas. I just been lazy to put anything together to use. Why they got me that, beats me. Since they knew I like pistols, I might as well get an AR-15. The tough decision I'm having is deciding whether to buy the complete upper first or buy the complete lower first? Suggestions please. Thanks!
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Old August 11, 2017, 02:15 PM   #2
Leaveammoforme
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BCM complete lower is an excellent place to start. Uppers and lowers that are in spec , regardless of brand, swap around just fine.

You can assemble a solid rifle with your budget. A person can easily find quality uppers for sale on many gun forums.
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Old August 11, 2017, 02:35 PM   #3
hdwhit
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There is something to be said for assembling something yourself so that you know what went into it and how it works (at a macro level), but just as you would not want to build a car by ordered pieces from the dealer's parts counter, piece-mealing an AR is not always the best value. You could be better off in terms of price as well as support down the line by buying an assembled rifle since they're pretty much all selling at significant discounts today.

If you still want to do the assemble-it-yourself route, I would start with a lower and work up.

BCM has a good reputation, so you would probably be fine with it.

Good luck.
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Old August 11, 2017, 02:37 PM   #4
zukiphile
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Quote:
Looking into building my first AR-15. Or perhaps getting my first one. I just don't want to drop the whole $1,400 - $1,700 at once. I guess because of the tax purposes too. But my big question is, would be purchasing a BCM complete lower for about $350 - $400.00 be worth it?
Not to me. BCM makes a good product, but so do a lot of places.

A basic Anderson lower is $40 or less now. Palmetto State runs sales on lower parts kits and lower build kits. If you watch a video of someone building a lower you can sit with your hammer, pliers and tape and follow it.

The upper is the part that takes some specific tools to make, and there is an internet brimming with discounted complete uppers. Your budget quite easily would allow for building two rifles that way.
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Old August 11, 2017, 04:30 PM   #5
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I like BCM, they make things right. And if you get the lower that has their enhanced trigger, and their stock and grip, it's a good way to go.

But on the whole, lowers are all really similar, when it comes to a standard forged version. You can get one that is made right, stripped, for under $100. Now there can be a range of quality in the finish, but aero and PSA are gtg... Anderson are decent but not as nice, but cost the least.

Be careful with small local brands, they can be out of spec, and most out of spec issues I read about are from some small brand.

I can get into some more details on builds later this evening... But short answer, you can build a very nice rifle for under $1000 easily. But if you do go with the higher end brands like BCM, it will creep up the cost.
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Old August 11, 2017, 05:18 PM   #6
243winxb
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Best to buy some headspace gauges.

Quote:
Go Gauge:

Ascertains correct headspace dimensions by duplicating the minimum allowable distance, from the case head (or boltface) to the datum line of the cartridge's shoulder, allowed within the chamber to secure a loaded cartridge and allow the breech to be closed in a safe manner for firing.
If the firearm locks up in battery when the gauge is inserted, then it is within acceptable minimum headspace dimensions and may be used.

No-Go Gauge:

Duplicates the distance over the maximum allowable, from the case head (or boltface) to the datum line of the cartridge's shoulder, allowed within the chamber to secure a loaded cartridge and allow the breech to be closed in a safe manner for firing.
If the firearm locks up in battery when the gauge is inserted, then it is not within acceptable maximum headspace dimensions. The firearm should not be used and should be examined further by a knowledgeable gunsmith.

Field Gauge

Duplicates the maximum allowable distance, from the case head (or boltface) to the datum line of the cartridge's shoulder, allowed within the chamber to secure a loaded cartridge and allow the breech to be closed in a safe manner for firing.
If the firearm locks up in battery when the gauge is inserted, then it is at the maximum acceptable headspace and should be examined further by a knowledgeable gunsmith.
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/15...gauge-556x45mm

Or get the bolt and barrel for same company.
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Old August 11, 2017, 10:02 PM   #7
marine6680
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Some questions...

WHat kind of build do you want?

Standard Carbine...
Upgraded Carbine...
Precision Rifle...

That matters.

Most people just want a standard carbine, or one that has some upgrades like free float rails. Its the most common variant, and can be pretty versatile in how you set it up.

Then what kind of sighting options do you want?
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Old August 12, 2017, 05:51 AM   #8
Mobuck
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A "good enough" AR is in the $400-450 range now. Most will achieve decent accuracy and functionality.
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Old August 12, 2017, 06:48 AM   #9
Prndll
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I've always built all my own computers. Building your own from the ground up is the perfect way to go to ensure you end up with exactly what you want. It's isn't necessarily cheaper but it is better. It is the process of actually doing it where your likely to learn the most and get the most out of it.

Upto this point, my main interests have been handguns. I'll be moving into rifles and shotguns before too long. Building AR's is certainly where I'm likely to gravitate.
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Old August 12, 2017, 08:41 AM   #10
rickyrick
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It is harder to build an upper for less money than just buying one. I still
Prefer to source the parts separately for the fun of it. BCM is well respected in the AR community.
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Old August 12, 2017, 09:57 AM   #11
Skadoosh
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Just don't buy a polymer lower. Milled lowers are just stupidly priced and unnecessarily heavy. Stick with a forged lower from any reputable manufacturer.
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Old August 12, 2017, 10:26 AM   #12
bfoosh006
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With the Labor Day sales just around the corner... I would save my money and see what is gonna be available.

That said.. A BCM Lower or upper will last a lifetime, their QC is excellent. Places like PSA, while bargains.. have ( for me ) lacked certain QC.... all issues were easily fixed by me... but you need to check PSA's work. ( Loose barrel nuts, loose flash suppressors, gas block to gas tube interference, FF tube loose... that kinda stuff, anyone can readily fix PSA stuff. )

PSA is a great deal... I own many uppers and blemished lowers etc... so I am not slamming them.

And Sakdoosh is right ... no polymer lowers, they can easily break at the buttstock threads.
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Old August 12, 2017, 10:32 AM   #13
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PRNDII
Building your own from the ground up is the perfect way to go to ensure you end up with exactly what you want. It's isn't necessarily cheaper but it is better. It is the process of actually doing it where your likely to learn the most and get the most out of it.
Indeed. For someone like me (not very handy), it makes sense to buy an assembled upper if:

1. You want fixed front sight and delta ring. I can use a pair of snap ring pliers, but I wouldn't have the first idea about how to drill a barrel for the pins that secure the front sight, or

2. Someone makes an upper with exactly the barrel, handguard and receiver you want at a great price, and you aren't going to build a second.

For the vise, vise block and wrench, I spent something like $70, but the real cost came in indulging my building habit. You may end up with a few rifles that perfectly reflect a goal you had in mind, but are not saleable for the cost of the parts you bought.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skadoosh
Just don't buy a polymer lower. Milled lowers are just stupidly priced and unnecessarily heavy. Stick with a forged lower from any reputable manufacturer.
Forged lowers are great and they are affordable. Yet a couple of my favorite items have polymer lowers. They fit more tightly, feel nicer in the hand, and make for a forgiving first lower build.
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Old August 12, 2017, 10:33 AM   #14
rickyrick
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I have lots of PSA parts lots of Aero Precision and a smattering of parts from other companies. The finish on Aero is one step above regular milspec'ish stuff. But I do like PSA products in many cases. Their FN barrels are pretty good.
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Old August 12, 2017, 10:56 AM   #15
zukiphile
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I've purchased a few PSA "premium" uppers with fixed sights. Each of them was accurate and flawless,...and took about a month to get to me.

PSA has different grades for parts. I think Premium fits between "Freedom" and whatever their best items are.

I still have my PSA 16 inch pencil barrel with magpul handguards. It has a mark in the finish under the handguard and was marketed as a blem.
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Old August 12, 2017, 03:12 PM   #16
kevra1983
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You guys been very helpful. @Marine6680, I was probabaly thinking of maybe standard or upgraded. Not 100% sure of the difference. But yeah the lower I'm looking at has the enhanced trigger. For example I was looking at BCM KMR upper with DD rail. @Skadoosh, I'm glad you mentioned that about milled versus forged. I was about to bring that question up. So for sure I know now I'm staying with forged.

Now, not to jump ship and change the subject too much. But I was hearing from a coupe other threads and YouTube videos about people getting wiggle and play between BCM upper and lower. Is that true? Or is it more hearsay? I was noticing a lot of people using Spike Tactical lowers with BCM uppers. I mean they seem right within same price range. I just didn't like the trigger feel on the Spike Tactical, though. But has any of you had that wiggle issue with combined branded builds? I'm guessing it can be easily fixed...

Thank you!
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Old August 12, 2017, 03:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
But I was hearing from a coupe other threads and YouTube videos about people getting wiggle and play between BCM upper and lower. Is that true?
Wiggle between the upper and lower affects absolutely nothing in terms of accuracy and reliability of an AR-15. All of my ARs have a fair amount of wiggle....including my match rifle.

And I highly recommend BCM.
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Old August 12, 2017, 04:52 PM   #18
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I just didn't like the trigger feel on the Spike Tactical, though. But has any of you had that wiggle issue with combined branded builds? I'm guessing it can be easily fixed...

Don't worry about the wiggle. Usually doesn't affect accuracy. And many lowers sold also have a screw that can reduce the wiggle. Regarding triggers, LaRue's MBT two stage trigger is hard to beat at $125. It's as good as a $300 triggers. Most AR triggers are not good. And even if Milspec, they'll be sloppy.
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Old August 12, 2017, 08:33 PM   #19
Mobuck
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"Building your own from the ground up is the perfect way to go to ensure you end up with exactly what you want. It's isn't necessarily cheaper but it is better."

Only if you already know what you want/need which is not necessarily the situation with an uninformed newbie.
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Old August 12, 2017, 09:13 PM   #20
kevra1983
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Okay, you guys got me convinced. I'm getting my BCM complete lower on Monday. Then invest my money for a nice upper. Just got to decide which one.
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Old August 12, 2017, 10:20 PM   #21
marine6680
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Are you going to buy a complete upper?

What I mean by a standard carbine, is one that is very much like a standard M4 you would see used by the military. The prototypical AR... GI style handguards and buttstock, standard front sight post. Maybe using aftermarket plastic handguards, grips, and stocks from Magpul or others.

The biggest thing, is that the barrel is not free floated, and you are not adding much in the way of accessories or fancy parts. Using only irons or a red dot optic.

An enhanced carbine starts getting into things like free float handguards, and maybe even enhanced parts like ambi controls, or higher end components.

Something like THIS would be a standard carbine upper.

And THIS would be an enhanced type upper.


When it comes to a 16in barrel AR, I think the midlength gas system is the best option, over the "carbine" length system. The shorter "carbine" length system was designed for 14.5in barrels.

Also, for BCM, I like their cold hammer forged CHF (what they call BFH) barrels.

I usually get their BCGs with their uppers, and I like the "small" gunfighter charging handle if I am using a red dot, But a medium size is good for magnified optics, and not too big for most setups, even a red dot.
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Old August 13, 2017, 07:01 AM   #22
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This is my BCM duty rifle, which has the 16" BFH government profile barrel and midlength gas system. The 13" KMR is very lightweight. The trigger is a Wilson Combat single-stage (TR-TTU-MIL). Right now it's wearing a 1-4x variable, but usually it wears an Aimpoint Micro.

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Old August 13, 2017, 10:35 AM   #23
kevra1983
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Yes, I may be getting a complete upper. I just don't want to feel that I want to upgrade so fast. So almost seems like an enhanced set up is a better option. Yeah, I was looking primarily at Upper with KMR Alpa mid. Nice looking build Skadoosh. It's sort me like building my road bicycles up....
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Old August 13, 2017, 03:28 PM   #24
O4L
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I just don't see where BCM is worth twice as much as Aero Precision.

If it is would someone explain why.
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Old August 13, 2017, 05:12 PM   #25
rickyrick
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Quote:
I just don't see where BCM is worth twice as much as Aero Precision.
I've asked that question before and got flamed.
The only thing that I've ever seen answered for sure is BCM has good QA. I'm an aero fan myself. Aero parts and guns are great and look great. I've never felt compelled to give BCM any money because no one has demonstrated a legitimate reason to pay the extra money. I would if the answer was something meaningful. These days we have to be our own QA anyway.
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