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pnolans 12-04-2012 12:37 AM

My first DIY AR-15
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First , thanks to Quentin for the pointer to PSA, Palmetto State Armory; and his encouragement.

Second, thanks to "Building Your AR-15 from scratch" , by Lenny Magill, from This video is very clear and understandable. I THINK I bought the video at Sportsmans WH.

Also, AgentTikki has a great write-up in the AR15 subforum ... it has a sticky, so it should be on the first page. I didn't read until I was almost done. But it is very well-written and clear.

I started off with a stripped lower receiver from PSA. That had to be sent to an FFL dealer. I used my gun club, Whistling Pines , in Colorado Springs.

I paid $46.99 for it , including shipping. It is an ATI Omni. It's fine, at the time I bought it, that was all they had in stock. I will probably replace it at some point, but maybe not.

I bought that on 10/2/12.

pnolans 12-04-2012 12:42 AM

step 2
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Next payday, I bought a Lower Parts Kit from PSA , stock number 6983. It was on sale for 49.99.

Here's the description, from PSA
Palmetto State Armory Classic LPK


A high quality lower parts kit needed to assemble your AR-15 lower. Parts are 100% made in USA! Assembly takes place right here at our new facility in Columbia, SC.

New Gen 2 Kit!! Features black oxide coated, coiled spring pins for the bolt catch, and black oxide coated hammer and trigger springs.

  • Trigger
  • Trigger Spring
  • Hammer
  • Hammer Spring
  • A2 Grip
  • Buffer Retainer Pin
  • Buffer Retainer Spring
  • Trigger Guard
  • Safety Selector
  • Bolt Catch Spring
  • Detent Spring
  • Bolt Catch Plunger
  • Bolt Catch
  • Disconnecter
  • Disconnecter Spring
  • Magazine Catch Spring
  • Bolt Catch Roll Pin
  • Magazine Release Button
  • Magazine Catch
  • Pivot Pin
  • Selector Spring
  • Safety Selector Detent
  • Rear Take Down Pin
  • Takedown Pin Detent

Here's a picture of what it includes:

pnolans 12-04-2012 12:49 AM

step 3
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At the same time, I ordered a Bolt Carrier Group from PSA..This cost $149, made by PSA. Again, it was the only one in stock:

M-16 Bolt Carrier Group
  1. Milspec Carpenter No. 158 steel bolt
  2. Chrome Lined Carrier (AUTO)
  3. Chrome Lined Gas Key
  4. Gas Key Hardened to USGI Specifications
  5. Gas Key Grade 8 Hardened Fasteners
  6. Gas Key Staked Per Mil-Spec
  7. Tool Steel Extractor
  8. Extractor Spring
  9. Black Extractor Insert

I bought this 1. When it was still legal and 2. Because I had the money at the time. Also, I noticed that most upper assemblies DON'T come with BCG and charging handle... at least from PSA. So I knew I would have to buy this.

pnolans 12-04-2012 12:59 AM

step 4 ... assemble the lower receiver
I opened the Lower Parts kit and started watching the video on my PC while I worked at my desk ... I was at home, btw! I work for a large corporation where it was cause immediate termination to be doing this in the office! :)

It was surprisingly easy, till I got to the part where I needed a "roll pin starter punch"... hmmm...

I don't recommend doing what I did.... I searched YouTube and found where guys install a roll pin in a brake shoe. They pinched it a little, and then used a soft hammer to pound it through.

I did just that. Instead of a hammer, I used the handle of a screwdriver I had that was soft and plastic. There were more roll-pins, so I decided I would be more prepared. I went to Sportsman's WH , and asked. They didn't know what I was talking about. They DID have some gunsmithing tools. But they were
1. From China
2. did NOT say it had the tool I needed.

I DID find some roll pin punches , and a brass hammer. They were made in the US, so I bought them ... for later on this gun, or the next... if I still can do another! :)

Also, I ordered some roll pin punches , and a stock wrench from Amazon.

I got this put together in an afternoon.

Now I had a lower.

I'm sorry , I did NOT take a picture at that point. I will take it apart and post one later.

pnolans 12-04-2012 01:45 AM

step 5 ... upper
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I cheated a little on my first build... I bought the upper assembly.
As I mentioned earlier, that did NOT come with a BCG or charging handle.
The BCG I had ordered earlier is going to come in handy at this point.

What I got from PSA:

PSA M4 Premium Madness - 16'' CMV CL Stripped Upper - Without BCG or Charging Handle SKU 29079
  • 16" Barrel length
  • Chrome moly vanadium barrel
  • 5.56 Nato Chamber
  • 1 in 7" twist rate
  • Chrome-lined bore
  • HPT/MPI Barrel
  • M4 Feed ramps
  • F-Marked Front sight post
  • A2 Flash Hider
  • Sling Loop
  • Standard Hand Guards w/ heat shields
  • Forged upper receiver
  • T-Marks
  • No logo

I got this on sale for $279... I got a charging handle from PSA for $25 at the same time.

I attached it to the lower in about an hour. That was because I was watching the video on how to do it and checking it out before doing anything.

After I put in the BCG and the charging handle, I realized I needed a buffer tube and spring!!!! DUH. I'm still waiting for those.

Also, I needed a REAR sight because it didn't come with it. I had already ordered one. THIS I ordered from Amazon. It's a Magpul folding rear sight, and cost about $50.

I also bought some mags and 223 snap caps, figuring they would be invaluable. These I got locally. Sportsman's , I think.

The first photo is from PSA ..
The 2nd is the upper and lower connected at the pivot point, but open
The 3rd is with it closed. Right now, I'm using a punch sitting in the hole.

I'm waiting now for the stock and the extender tube kits. I got those from PSA also.

I'm pretty close to being through.

God , this has been and still is fun.

Next build, I'll do the upper from scratch as well.

Quentin 12-04-2012 01:46 AM

Thanks for the build thread, pnolans! Looks great so far.

Which upper receiver are you considering? Hopefully PSA will have another sale soon.

Now if you just can find a friend who will let you fire his upper on your new lower as a test! :D

Oh, one reminder just in case. If you dry fire without an upper or BCG, make sure you catch the hammer with your thumb so it doesn't slam into the receiver. Many people make that mistake when they don't have an upper yet.

Quentin 12-04-2012 01:48 AM

Ah, I was posting when you posted about the upper!

Quentin 12-04-2012 02:01 AM

Looks good and you're almost done! Since it's a 16" barrel with carbine length gas I recommend at least an H buffer. An H2 should be even better. If you already ordered a standard weight carbine buffer then an H2 is a safe buy since if it's too heavy you can convert it and the standard buffer both to H buffers by pressing out the roll pins and swapping one weight. But it won't be too heavy.

pnolans 12-04-2012 02:18 AM

Thanks Quentin.. I'll look into that H or H2 buffer. You've been very helpful.

btw, I already dry-fired it without the upper. And I didn't catch the hammer. What kind of damage might I have done?

another BTW, my Dad retired from the army in 1965 , after fighting in WW2 and the Korean War. Did you end up slogging through SE Asia? Or would you prefer not to talk about it?

I'm a "still working" Geek. :)

Quentin 12-04-2012 04:55 AM

I hope you didn't dry fire much, Pat. A couple times shouldn't matter but repeated hits will damage the receiver and bolt catch. I'd get a good light and inspect that area closely.

Yeah, Vietnam, 1968. Long, long time ago but I'm still thankful to be one of the lucky ones.

No longer a working geek but once a geek, always a geek! :D

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