We are at an interesting point in AR history.
So many to choose from.. unending availability . . . and prices are down.
Unless you buy all of your parts on sale (which could take a while), you may exceed the low end, low price AR's, such as the DPMS Oracle. . . .
I prefer to build because it's fun and it's part of the hobby. Yes, I tie my own flies for fishing also. . .
Go back and read the stickies, but be assured that there is very few junk AR's out there. Some will avoid certain brands for different reasons.
* Get a forged receiver, not poly. You can try poly later on build number 42 or so....
* be happy with mil-spec.
* try for a 5.56 or Wylde chamber to allow the fearful to rest.
* avoid the low front site block, but you can live with it.
If you decide to build, watch PSA's deals. I snagged a complete upper for $289, fine for me.
SlickGuns.com is also a good place to watch.
The kits usually are
LowerPartsKit (LPK) $49 all that trigger and hammer stuff with a grip! woohoo! it has all the parts!
Stock Kit: $49 Stock, tube, buffer, spring
Add that to your blemished receiver $69 and you have a completed lower.
If assembling the upper, you have your barrel and nut ($129)
then add gas block ($9) tube ($7) and a handguard .....yeeeeeee .... $39 for the global
You will need a dust door and forward assist ... ($??).
All of this should fill out a nice blemished upper ($49)...
You don't need no stinking sights BSA Red Dot ($29).
Edited to add: Bolt Carrier $89 and Charging Handle (free... ask someone)
So.. I have seen these prices online. I would to to the LGS has see what they have for a lower receiver. could be cheaper than FFL and shipping. Your Gun show may have a lot of these parts, cheap, used, etc... but buyer beware.
You may not find these prices, certainly not at the same time, but a lowend build can be cheap.
You will need to beg, borrow or build a wrench. more money, but use it on build number 44 an 45
You can get by without vise blocks for the upper and lower if you are careful with a wood faced vise. (I use my woodworking vise).
So, my advice is be happy. If you can swing the bucks for the store built, you can be happy in a day.
If you want to build, you can be happy if you spend time researching and waiting.....
If you want an AK, get one .
I like http://www.surplusammo.com/
Watch both them and http://aeroprecisionusa.com/
Others have great sites that they use.
Several forums have a thread for Deals of the Day. . . . ..