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Old 07-29-2008, 04:15 PM   #11
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Default Putting Your $$ Where My Mouth is..

Okay, so having started this thread, I got to thinking last night what I should do is see HOW LOW of a price I can put together, with commonly found parts, on a working AR-15 Lower Receiver for you guys who think you can’t get a quality piece of kit for less than $1,000.

Here’s my goal – For you to purchase all the parts necessary for a working AR Lower, and have the final bill come in under $400. That will leave you, realistically, $400 to $600 for a working upper that you can buy anywhere, to any spec and caliber, which you might want too.

Can it be done?!

First, you are going to need a stripped Lower Receiver. This is the only piece of the project that will require FFL involvement unless you purchase it used, person to person. Check the laws in your state and don’t do anything stupid.

Recently I came across a stripped Upper and Lower Receiver for $200. That was a bit of a fluke, as I work in a gunshop, but realistically, you should be able to find one for around $125, plus an FFL charge sent to a gunshop near you.

Here’s a perfectly good stripped lower at an online site that will send to an FFL near you for $110. Tack on $35 for a “processing charge”, maybe $10 for shipping and you are off to the races.

So, I am going to say you spend $200 TOTAL to get yourself a stripped lower. Can I still get you a good quality working lower and come in under the price of $400?! Surely I can’t – AR’s are expensive toys….. Or are they?

Brownell’s is a wonderful tool to have at your disposal. Membership is free, and once you order from them, you get the unpublished prices on a lot of their products. Sign in, take a look at the same parts, but see that you will be getting them for a bit cheaper. Easily enough to offset shipping on a decent sized order.

From Brownell’s I found this handy pre-packaged piece of kit.

DPMS , I am sure you have heard of them if you are in the AR market, also offers complete parts kits for lower AR receivers. You are getting everything you need to assemble the main body of the lower AR. Springs? Check. Detents? Check. Trigger? Check. Fire Control Selector? Check. Handle? Check. Pivot Pin? Check. Take Down Pin? Check. It’s all their, in one kit.

That’s got to be pricey – It’s all mil-spec and it’s all in one package from a company like DPMS. Right?

How about $44? That’s a member price. $44, plus shipping, and you can assemble all the components to a working lower. Granted, you need a stock though… Hmmm…..

Like the A2 solid stock?

Also at Brownells: Here’s the DPMS version complete with everything you need to assemble it and have a complete lower assembly, ready to go with any upper you desire.

Price? How about $66.60, plus shipping, direct from Brownell’s to your door?

So, you order them together, save on shipping, let’s call it $20 to be safe…

Lower Receiver...:$200
DPMS Parts Kit..:$ 44
DPMS A2 Stock.:$ 67
Shipping.............: $ 20
Total..................: $331

Wow. For like $335 bucks, on the high end, you can have a complete, working AR-15 lower assembly that is Mil-Spec and target ready? Well, that and $12 for membership to the Firearm’s Talk Forum with access to the Knowledge Base for a complete How To Guide.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:17 PM   #12
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Default Wait. I want a Collapsible Stock.

Wait. You don’t want an A2 Solid Stock. ****. Well, I could be totally screwed now…

Still at Brownell’s – and in the interest of keeping things fair, I am still only shopping the DPMS parts….

Here’s a Mil-Spec 5 position stock tube for $31.95. Now, I don’t think that comes with the buffer spring and other equipment, so just to be sure, let’s add that price in.

DPMS only offers the Buffer Retainer. It’s $1.29. I am betting there is a package deal that’s a better bargain.

High Standard makes a complete Buffer Assembly, which would be fine. It’s $15.89

You might not like High Standard. I personally have no opinion, but I know others do, so let’s keep shopping….

Rock River Arms makes a complete 6 position collapsible stock with all the gear needed to assemble it. It’s probably a better over all deal. $75 if you want Black. $80 if you want Green.

So, doing the math:

Lower Receiver..........:$200
DPMS Parts Kit.........:$ 44
Rock River Stock.......:$ 75
Shipping.....................:$ 20
TOTAL....................: $339

So there you have it guys. This is all Mil-Spec parts. This is all stuff you can buy and assemble yourselves to have a complete, working lower AR Receiver. This receiver will match up to any upper you choose to buy ( with very few exceptions ) and you are in at less than $350.

Now, take that extra $450 or $650 you were going to drop on a “package” AR and do some shopping for a complete upper. You will find some very nice eye opening surprises in how much true product you can get when you don’t by the “package” deal.

JD
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:08 PM   #13
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JD-
I see you fielding a lot of questions about AR's. Accuracy vs. price etc. I don't have the manufacturers resources that you do, but I have a significant amount of time building them and more shooting them. To reinforce your Brownells plug, they discount their FFL items too. DPMS lower advertised now at $184, is $114 with the discount which the FFL holder will get. So the mark up from the FFL ishould be based on a % of $114 not $184, unless the FFL holder charges a flat fee.
I am a huge advocate and fan of Model 1 Sales as I have stated before. There parts are "mil spec" (which I will mention in a second) and they use Shaw barrels. The kits they offer include everything except the lower. Pistol grip, stock, lower parts, complete upper, bolt, carrier,charging handle, everything. Head spaced and timed, ready to go. A standard CAR kit is $460 with A2 sights and 4 position stock. You can change options which affects price.
Mil spec means the tolerances meet military specifications for that part. Variances plus or minus are allowed, as I am sure you know. If someone's looking to build an AR with a super clean crisp trigger, those parts will no longer be within "mil spec" most likely since the tolerance has been modified to plus or minus that specified. A military trigger feels the way it does because the tolerances have to fall into a certain range. Mess with it till it breaks like a glass rod and it is, at best, at the upper or lower end of the range, but most likely outside the range.
Lowers? In the last couple of years it is no longer a secret that many big companies contracted their manufacturing to smaller companies, but stamped a recognized logo on the item before sale. AR lowers are no different. DPMS, Stag, Rock River, and some others like Mega and Double Star didn't buy the tooling equipment and facilities to make AR lowers, set up, manufacture and successfully market them in the span of 8 years. They splintered from their contract manufacturer and went out on their own with their own brand name. I would venture that a rifle built on a Rock River lower will not out shoot one built on a DPMS, Mega or other lower priced lower. The lower has so little to do with accuracy, as long as it meets industry standards, it's almost moot. Final finish may be better, darker, deeper, smoother etc., but functionally they are the same. Same goes for the upper receiver itself. Accuracy stems primarily from the barrel. A lighter crisper trigger doesn't help accuracy, only limits the time the shooter has to make a mistake in trigger squeeze before it goes off so the sight picture is still correct when it goes off. Another common thing I hear is a tighter fit between the lower and upper means better accuracy. That is not true, to a point. Obviously if you can slide a finger in there it will be detrimental, but that leads back to one or the other or both being out of spec.
I love building AR rifles, but I also have a family so hunting for the best deal has been a priority. Lower of choice plus Model 1's "kit" has been the best compromise I have found. I have three kits from them, a 16" ss fluted, a lightweight CAR, and a 10.25 SBR on STAG, CAV Arms and DPMS lowers, respectively. The 16" barrels both shoot as accurately as the full Rock River 16" I have, and all are 100% reliable.
Cheap price does not always mean you sacrifice quality. No, I can't say I own a Les Baer, but mine cost a fraction and function just as well. And I can't afford four Les Baer rifles.
Your input and knowledge is awesome, I really appreciate your posts as I know a lot of others do. Keep it up man.

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Old 07-29-2008, 09:22 PM   #14
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Jeep - Really great post man, thanks for including those bargains. Really cool of you to take the time to do that.

I used the "Mil-Spec" nomenclature because that is what people are asking for. They want a Mil-Spec Rifle that shoots. I totally agree with almost every point. Mil Spec isn't the best, but it's what people are looking to build for a "Minute of Bad Guy" type of AR.

Those packages above will allow them to do that without breaking the bank. That was my goal. Here is an AR on a budget. I hate all the talk that you can't shoot a good group with an AR if you don't spend big bucks. You could take one of those lowers, & parts above, do an easy 15 minute trigger job on a "mil-spec" trigger like I have e-mailed to Matt G, buy yourself a nice upper and get Minute of Angle groups, maybe better, all day long.

My big deal is, you don't need to spend $1200 on an AR to have a quality product. They are so easy to build, and so easy to maintain, that some people just read one post on a forum about dude who got a Colt for $1600, which was a screaming bargain, and it shoots cloverleafs all day long. Well, that's great. For $1600, I can probably build you one that will bug hole all day long, leaving enough money left over for some optics, and maybe some reloading gear.

If you can afford a Les Baer, or a Dave Lauck, or a Sabre Defence - Great. They make an awesome product. But, a lot of the guys here on this site work for a living, have kids, bills and responsibilities to take care of first. That doesn't mean they can't build themselves a hell of a shooting AR with somewhat less money and be just as proud of it.

Plus, how cool is it, really, to be able to say you built that AR? Tell the truth, it's pretty cool to unpack that at the range with your buddies and when they ask "Who makes it?" you can tell them you did it. Bragging rights anyone?

JD

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Old 07-29-2008, 09:55 PM   #15
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JD-
Exactly what I was trying to say, I was a little long winded. "Normal" budgets and guys (or girls) with a little know how and mechanical aptitude can do pretty well for pretty cheap.
Could I ask you to send me your trigger tweaking tips? Thanks.

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Old 07-29-2008, 10:33 PM   #16
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We seem to be on the same page jeep - I knew I liked you for a reason.


I sent you the same tips I sent Matt. The 15 minute tune up isn't mine, but it's very similar to one we do in the shop on GI Triggers. I also included a spring kit from Brownell's that is a good, cheap way to take some of the trouble out of a factory trigger.

Let me know how it works for you, and you Matt, as I am interested in the average joe's ability to fine tune a factory trigger. If it is successful, and you don't have to much in the way of headaches, I will put our shop procedure into writing and publish it here for the guys.

The most important thing - you DO NOT need a $279 Giselle Custom Trigger to shoot tight groups.

JD

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Old 07-30-2008, 01:03 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
We seem to be on the same page jeep - I knew I liked you for a reason.


I sent you the same tips I sent Matt. The 15 minute tune up isn't mine, but it's very similar to one we do in the shop on GI Triggers. I also included a spring kit from Brownell's that is a good, cheap way to take some of the trouble out of a factory trigger.

Let me know how it works for you, and you Matt, as I am interested in the average joe's ability to fine tune a factory trigger. If it is successful, and you don't have to much in the way of headaches, I will put our shop procedure into writing and publish it here for the guys.

The most important thing - you DO NOT need a $279 Giselle Custom Trigger to shoot tight groups.

JD
Any idea how much that trigger job lightens the hammer impact?
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Old 07-30-2008, 01:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt g View Post
Any idea how much that trigger job lightens the hammer impact?
Matt - The one that Brett did on his AR, which reminds me I need to get pictures when he gets back from vaca, he has yet to have any failure to ignite either with Military surplus or his handloads.

According to the write up, this drops the hammer impact around 20%-25%. If you have a problem with the results, it's about $2 or $3 bucks worth of two springs that need to be replaced.

For about $13, you can buy the replacement springs that are drop in and take about 10% to 15% off the creep of the stock trigger.

It's worth a try in my mind...

JD
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Old 07-30-2008, 01:25 AM   #19
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slowryde45 - That is another great point. MidwayUSA is another great resource for the do it yourselfer. I have ordered from them frequently as well, I just didn't reference them today because I was focused on the ease of buying all the parts you need from one source and making it easy for the new guys.

ar15sales sounds like a good site. I have not shopped there yet, but you can bet I will be checking out their home page tonight when I am done posting here.

Thanks for putting that good info out there for all the guys. It sounds like they have some great prices!

As for location, I am North of Tacoma and a little bit to the East. Bonney Lake.

Nice to meet your acquaintance, neighbor.

JD

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Old 07-30-2008, 02:13 AM   #20
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This thread has had something like 471 views. I love it!

Let's get the word out there and dispel some of these myths about the "expensive" AR Platform....

JD

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