$600 AR - Fact or Fiction

Discussion in 'AR-15 Discussion' started by Jpyle, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Jpyle

    Jpyle New Member

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    I often see these questions asked on the forum...I want to build my first AR, can I do it cheaper than buying a complete rifle? I am planning a build but my budget is around $600, can I do it?

    The answer to both questions is, it depends. Yes, it can be done but often the quality of the parts suffers. For example, I have seen 16" heavy profile barrels for sale at $89. Would I buy one...no. Would putting one in your build help you get to that magic $600, absolutely...question is do you want a rifle built around a $89 piece of no-name steel? So putting my money where my mouth is I will attempt to construct a virtual rifle using parts that I consider to be the bare minimum in terms of quality. Obviously the result isn't going to be a totally custom, fully tricked-out rifle with all the latest tacticool bells and whistles but it will be a servicable AR with a solid core group of parts.

    So lets get started:

    Lower receiver - $59.95 - free shipping - Surplus Arms and Ammo - AimSurplus.com

    Perhaps the easiest piece to find at a reasonable price. A quick search through Slickguns.com turned up 2 at $79.95 and 59.95...a Spikes Tactical and a Surplus Arms and Ammo. Similar deals can be found at many of the vendors right here on FTF.

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    Lower Parts Kit - $79.95 - free shipping - Daniel Defense LPK - AimSurplus.com, joeboboutfitters.com

    The lower parts kit contains one of the most critical components to a smooth operating system, the trigger group. At $79.95 the DD kit is a good bargain. Unless you are planning a National Match build or looking for a two stage setup, the DD milspec trigger is all you really need.

    [​IMG]

    Stock and Buffer Assembly - $83.95 - Spikes Tactical M4 with T2 buffer - joeboboutfitters.com

    Options abound here, you can choose a standard A2 style to capture the traditional look or go with one of literally hundreds of different styles, options, specs, etc. Problem is some of the higher end stocks themselves go for $300-$400 so we will have to be a bit more frugal on this build. Good thing is that a stock is basically a drop in upgrade when that spare $300 is burning a hole in your pocket later on. For this project I am going with a basic Mil-Spec 6 position collapsible from Spikes Tactical. This kit even comes with the T2 buffer so we may have saved a few bucks as most carbines will require a heavier buffer to absord the added shock of the shorter gas system.

    [​IMG]

    To recap so far we have a lower, all the parts needed to build it and a complete stock assembly for a total before tax, shipping and FFL transfer fees of $223.85. Not to bad, we still have $376.15 left for the upper and a mag.

    Upper receiver group - Palmetto State Armory

    Again we have a few options here, buy a kit that includes the LPK, buy a complete upper with BCG or buy the upper receiver, barrel, BCG and charging handle as components and assemble. Generally it is recommended that novice builders purchase as much preassembly as they can afford. Lets look at a few option.

    Option 1 at $449.00 is a complete 16" PSA upper including BCG and charging handle, carbine length gas system with basic A2 FSP and M4 style handguards. Couple of things to note here, the sights, gas block, foreend, BCG and charging handle are all fairly simple drop in replacement parts. Although the PSA supplied parts may be all that you ever need, future upgrades as funds allow are not that difficult and only take a few minutes. Similar deals can be found on comparable uppers.

    [​IMG]

    Now here's the problem we are about $75 over budget. Lets check out a kit.

    Option 2 - A rifle kit from Palmetto State Armory for $489.00, a bit pricier than the complete upper but we save $163.90 on the LPK ($79.95) and the stock assembly ($83.95)

    [​IMG]

    Checking the new total we are now at $548.95. Throw on a Magpul MBUS for about $50, a NC Star flip-up for $30.00 or an A2 carry handle with rear sight for $40, plus a 20 round mag for $15 and we are ready for the range with a total build cost of between $613.95 and $593.95.

    As stated, the finished build is not a blinged out $2,000 rifle that was built for $600.00 but it is a damn good, reliable rifle with a solid core of critical parts. Foreend and optics can be easily upgraded as can the stock. The trigger can even be swapped out with a drop in two stage. Point is, the guts of the rifle are solid. Adding another $100-$150 gets a step up to Daniel Defense or Bravo Company upper, just to name a few "upscale" names.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  2. AgentTikki

    AgentTikki New Member

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    ......I vote fiction......
     

  3. mjkeat

    mjkeat New Member

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  4. JeffSSig

    JeffSSig New Member

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    For 614$ shipped: is this not a good deal? Minus the stripped lower.
    STAG 2H M-4 16" UPPER Complete Chrome lined
    MI Flip-Up Rear Site,
    side sling adapter,
    STAG 6 POS TAC STOCK KIT,
    STAG LOWER PARTS KIT.

    So just add a stripped lower and you have a flat top with sights and your ready to go.
    I know a few overlook Stag But I feel they are very well made.
    yes its over 600$ but buy a cheap lower and have a good FFL to deal with and your under 700$ for a gun thats well worth the extra 100$
     
  5. AgentTikki

    AgentTikki New Member

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    I've been shown up...........
     
  6. AgentTikki

    AgentTikki New Member

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    Thx for taking the time and compiling all the info Jplye! For folks like me trapped in the USSK we need to add a minimum $75 to the cost of the bill to account for dros fees.
     
  7. Jpyle

    Jpyle New Member

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    I was curious myself to see if it could be done without having to rely on junk e-bay parts. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to locate several different options to get a decent build done for around $600. Naturally some shipping costs, taxes and FFL fees are going to add to the final costs but that's no different than buying a complete gun.
     
  8. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    Thanks for putting that together, JPyle. You hear a lot of bragging about $600 ARs of high quality but a few things are usually left out of the story.
     
  9. pagj17

    pagj17 New Member

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    What part of Komiefornia are you in?
     
  10. dog2000tj

    dog2000tj New Member

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    Excellent write up Pyle ... now if most of the newbs would read this thread before posting "where can I find a $600?" ;)
     
  11. purehavoc

    purehavoc New Member

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    I just finished up a M4 build . Shipping and MOE furniture worked out to roughly $586 and some change.
    I picked every thing from PSA . however they seem to be out of complete rifles . My other M4 cost me $629 standard furniture plus a $55 buis all from PSA also
     
  12. mjkeat

    mjkeat New Member

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  13. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    :D....I knew that was comin'. :D
     
  14. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Midway has several DPMS uppers for sale at $400. Sometimes less on sale. CDDN has some good buys on mags.
     
  15. hardluk1

    hardluk1 Active Member

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    I bought a M&P15 sport for $595 bucks at my local general store.
     
  16. mjkeat

    mjkeat New Member

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    And the beat goes on.
     
  17. tigerstyle

    tigerstyle New Member

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    What's your general store Name, City, and State?
     
  18. willfully armed

    willfully armed New Member

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  19. purehavoc

    purehavoc New Member

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    If you dont mind building a lower " its really not hard to do " you could buy any one of PSA's rifle kits and a stripped lower and have right around $700 or less in a complete gun from a 16" carbine , 16" mid to a 16" hammer forged dissipator or there 20" hammer forged A2 From $499 to $619 plus a $79 stripped lower will pretty much build you one hell of a nice gun