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Old January 25, 2020, 10:36 AM   #1
giggitygiggity
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AR-15 Buy vs Build

This is not a question as to whether I should buy or build an AR15 as I have about a dozen AR15s, some of which I have put together from parts, others that I have pinned a complete upper to a lower, and others that I have bought as complete rifles. I am curious to hear everyone's point of view. I've seen some prominent people talk about how you should always buy complete rifles because putting your own together will result in unreliable rifles and issues. While I agree that there are advantages to buying complete rifles (no tools required, warranty, etc), I think there are just as many, if not more, advantages to putting your own AR together. For instance, you have the ability to select each and every part and design and put together a rifle that you want from ground up. Whether you want the cheapest rifle possible, a super fancy rifle, or something in between, you can make it happen. I tend to believe that most unreliability in builds come from poor assembly processes vice out-of-spec parts. I've had excellent reliability and accuracy with builds that I made from super inexpensive parts (total cost under $350). However, when putting them together, I ensured that I assembled the parts properly (used Aeroshell grease when installing the barrel, torqued the barrel to spec, ensured the gas block was centered over the gas hole, used Locktite on screws, etc). It is often the little things that will cause problems in ARs... didn't use Locktite on the gas block screws so they backed out and the gas block shifted on the barrel so the gas port is now blocked and gases cannot enter the gas block and gas tube. A buffer is too heavy so the bolt carrier group cannot move far enough back in order to pickup a new round from the magazine. Etc, etc. It is my belief that, in most cases, even with super cheap parts, you can build a reliable and accurate rifle so long as you maintain good technique when assembling. Just my thoughts. I'd love to hear your's.
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Old January 25, 2020, 12:14 PM   #2
MarkCO
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The only AR pattern I own that I bought complete is the Daniel Defense .308. I built my first AR with the help of a friend and have built all of the others I own. Both my boys, at 13, got a box of parts and built their own ARs. If one knows what they are doing and how to tune the gas and buffer system for whatever type of use, a built AR is every bit as reliable as a factory, and in most cases, better overall.
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Old January 25, 2020, 01:05 PM   #3
tahunua001
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I have done all three acquisitions as well. due to time, tool availability, and laziness, I tend to go for the middle ground option, complete upper and build your own lower. I dislike the plain-jane cookie cutter ar ergonomics which makes it hard for me to find a factory rifle that agrees with me without customization. as a result there is only a single one I've owned that has not had the pistol grip, buttstock and handguard replaced, and even then, I am tempted at times.

I also dislike the idea of having multiple guns that are the same (or near same) configuration and application. I have a 9mm carbine with iron sights for varminting and plinking (and on one occasion deer hunting), a fully ambidextrous, scoped 223 wylde billet carbine for long range steel shooting and light deer hunting(that bugger's heavy to have to pack), a scoped 6.5 grendel rifle that is my preferred open field deer rifle and has even been used for Elk (don't recommend btw), and a scoped 7.62x39 carbine for medium range plinking and close range deer hunting.

going with a complete upper means someone has already done the assembly work for the barrel and gas block so all I have to do is swap out handguards with one I like and then I can assemble the lower as I see fit (trigger, pistol grip, butt stock, what have you). I don't shoot enough to need fancy barrel linings, and I'm not a good enough marksman to need a $500+ precision barrel that is guaranteed 1/4 MOA accuracy so a 100% DIY build is just not a requirement for my needs and skill sets.
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Old January 25, 2020, 01:07 PM   #4
stephen426
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I think this might be similar to cars. Some people like to work on their cars and will modify it (not as extreme as actually building a car, but you get my point). Others just want a car that is reliable and don't like to tinker. There are others who are somewhere in between and may modify some parts.

This most likely vary based on the purpose of the gun. There is obviously a range of people who are casual shooters/racers all the way to the hard core top of the pack guys.For a competition shooting, many will either go for a custom build or heavily mod their guns. Just like people who actually race their cars will often mod their cars. The casual shooter will most likely leave their gun stock just as regular drivers often leave their car totally stock. The guys in the middle will likely do some mods like air filters, intakes, exhaust, maybe even an ECU flash. When it comes to guns, they might upgrade triggers, upgrade sights, extend mag releases, polish feed ramps, etc.

For competition, maximum performance is the goal, sometimes at the expense of reliability and longevity. For carry or other self- defense, reliability is key, just like daily drivers should be reliable.
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Old January 25, 2020, 09:21 PM   #5
rickyrick
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Building used to be cheaper, but I still do it because I like to assemble them.
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Old January 26, 2020, 06:51 AM   #6
Nathan
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I build my own, never from super cheap parts.

Honestly trying out the AR15 should be done with a new factory rifle. They are remarkably good, have a warranty and have way better resale value.

Building your rifle can be incredibly exciting and yield you a better rifle. That said, people put stuff together that doesn’t run 100% everyday. It is caused generally by poor assembly or poor design. In every factory gun the gas port size will be designed as part of the system. In all home builds, it will be spec’d how the barrel maker thinks you will run your rifle. This is not a huge issue, but ask 300 blk owners with 16” carbine gas If this is an issue....it is for them and the solution is buying a new barrel.....ouch.

Then I see way too many low dollar bolts/barrels under $300 handguards that it just scares me.

I mean, even your post about locktite on gas blocks brings your knowledge into question. Locktite cannot hold a gas block at any reasonable rate of fire. It gets too hot and melts away. Pinnng a gas block still works as well today as it did in the 60’s!
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Old January 26, 2020, 06:36 PM   #7
GarandTd
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My 1st (and only) AR was a kit. I sourced my own stripped lower receiver and magazines locally and the pre-assembled upper and parts for the lower were shipped to my door. I am a mechanically inclined individual and thought assembly would be a great way to get familiar with the design and how it works. Buying parts and assembling also offered me significant savings over a complete rifle. My rifle is a basic 16" carbine with gray Magpul furniture. I like it's simplicity. It has been 100% reliable. That's more than I can say for a buddy's Ruger 5.56 carbine. With the knowledge I gained from my home built AR, I was able to fix his Ruger. It had a misalligned spring that was causing the trigger pin to walk, doubletaps, and sometimes the trigger would lock up. A factory built rifle can have all the same potential problems as a home built rifle.
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