First AR-15. Build or Buy?

Discussion in 'AR-15 Discussion' started by fa35jsf, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. fa35jsf

    fa35jsf New Member

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    I really want an AR-15 and have for a long time. I have decided that I am going to start lobbying my soon to be wife to support me buying/building one.

    So as a first timer to the AR-15, should I build one or buy one? I am pretty particular in what I want and don't want to, for lack of a better word, raped in todays market. I am extremely competent in mechanical items and building an AR-15 does not scare me so long as I find a barrel already attached to an upper receiver (don't want to worry about headspacing).

    I want a M4 style, 1x7" twist chrome lined, quad rail up front, most everything else standard. I have found most of the parts online in stock if I look hard enough and it looks like I could build one for ~$1000.

    So suggestions?
     
  2. AgentTikki

    AgentTikki New Member

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    Headspacing is already done for you as the barrel extention is already put on the barrel. Don't be afraid of boltiong on a barrel all by your lonesome but getting a upper prebuild saves you from having to buy a receiver block , barrel wrench, and torque wrench. Also saves you the pain of having to futz around with the gas block. But if you think you'll build another (and 99% of people do), having all the tools will save you money on all subsequent builds.

    I vote build it. Far more satisfying.
     

  3. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    my suggestion would be to build the lower and buy the upper. the upper would be thehardest part to build, but even that's not that difficult if you have the proper tools.

    i did purchase mine complete, (older Bushmaster M4A2 Carbine) but my next one will definately be built by me. i thought about building mine, but decided that i wanted to learn more about the basics of the platform first before jumping into building at that time.

    in light of current events, i have postponed building mine until parts become more reasonable in price.
     
  4. fa35jsf

    fa35jsf New Member

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    Thats what I was suggesting is buy a completed or mostly completed upper and build out the lower.

    I have been wanting to build a Del-Ton from their rifle kits for almost 2 years now but they have never been in stock. I e-mailed them this mornin and they said that they have no ETA and can't backorder :(

    Is there any other sites like Del-Ton where you can go through and pick out exactly what you want on your completed upper, thats not too expensive?
     
  5. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    Being particular myself, I'd suggest looking beyond DTI and go south of the NC state line. PSA offers high quality at great prices. BCM is a top notch source too as is Daniel Defense. I have uppers from all three and recommend them highly. Building a lower and buying a barreled upper to your specs is a smart way to go. Take a long look at the AR Primer sticky and think about a 16" pencil profile midlength upper.
     
  6. fa35jsf

    fa35jsf New Member

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    I have thought about the mid length gas system; it's a possibility in my book. I have heard some cons about getting a pencil profile barrel.
     
  7. eastby

    eastby New Member

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    +1 on PSA. If budget is a concern, but you still want quality, PSA has some of the least expensive MILSPEC-compliant AR parts available. BCM and DD are undoubtedly top notch, but those builds will probably put you over $1000. Also consider parts availability overall. Barrel assemblies used to routinely cone with BCGs and charging handles. Not any more. MILSPEC BCGa are hard to find anywhere -- especially under $200. Colt, DD, Spikes, and LMT BCGs have vanished; and BCM is only available for a few minutes at a time before they immediately sell out. If you want a Colt BCG, buy a used one (overpriced) or buy the whole rifle. Or you can just wait until the "panic" blows over -- which could be awhile. Very frustrating.
     
  8. fa35jsf

    fa35jsf New Member

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    Yeah I hear ya. I think it is blowing over though. I was gonna look at a shop down in the Ft Worth area when I'm down there in a few weeks to see what they have in stock. Called them and they said they had a ton of rifles in stock and just about every config I could think of. Their prices were MSRP or just above. I kind of hate paying MSRP.
     
  9. eastby

    eastby New Member

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    You probably already know of the Slickguns Web site below, but it's a good resource to check out for both AR parts and complete rifles -- and it's updated often.

    http://www.slickguns.com/ar-deals
     
  10. carnestopher

    carnestopher New Member

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    Currently building two and there are still pre-scare deals to be had out there. Just have to be very fast when something is in stock from a reputable company, it'll sell within minutes sometimes. Ammo should be the only thing difficult to grab up.
     
  11. kbd512

    kbd512 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    If you're not going to do a lot of mag dumps or shoot at distances past 200 yards, the pencil or lightweight profile barrels work just fine.

    I recently assembled a Colt lower with a mix of Colt and aftermarket parts just for fun. The cost of purchasing the individual components that I wanted didn't save any money per se, I just put together the parts that I really wanted.

    Assembling an upper requires a number of tools, fixtures, and gauges, some of them specific to AR assembly, and it may not be worth it if you're only going to assemble 1 AR or you're not into tinkering.

    In a few months when everybody finally realizes that the new gun legislation is much ado about nothing, prices will drop. Ammo prices are a different story.
     
  12. string1946

    string1946 New Member

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    Rolling your own

    I have never put together an AR upper but have been thinking about it just to say I've done it. I have put together 5 lowers and its a piece of cake and takes all of an hour to finish. It took me a little longer the first time cause I had to go back and as they say... lick my calf over again. In my experence you won't really save much money but I did enjoy the process and it helps understand how the thing works which makes troubleshooting easier if that is ever necessary. If you haven't watch the instruction videos at Brownells, they are a big help understand the process and what special tool you might want or need. www.howtobuildanar15.com Best of all their free and I'll take an operation if its free. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  13. TacticalPrecision

    TacticalPrecision New Member

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    I don't know about everyone elses opinion, I made a decision when I was constructing mine and I think my decision was valid is something everyone should consider, especially when you think about the current climate of our world political situation. I think more than just building a gun you take to the range on weekends of what you'll need or as one poster mentioned will "work fine" I think you need to consider multiple facets of use. What will achieve the greatest flexibility if you're only able to build one rifle.

    I know that etches on the borders of paranoia suggesting that you build an all around rifle based on the idea of multiple scenarios which I would include but not limit to government oppression, invasion of a foreign power, or total worldwide economic collapse, but I think the bleakest of futures is something to consider when you construct what could be your only rifle.

    I went with a "heavy" barrel option, it's fluted however and is a 16" barrel with a phantom 2 on the end instead of a 14 or an 18. I went with a free float quad rail also, a bit of extra weight but it allows me to use the maximum accuracy and range capabilities of my weapon system. These options aren't for everyone, and if you're building a range weapon and have no considerations for use, most peoples ideas of building something that will "work fine" are all good ideas.

    As far as manufacturers go there are a handful of avoidable brands and most generally everything you find listed by anyone is worth looking into, I prefere a Daniel Defense rail, they are smoother and have better lines to keep things from snagging on edges than most manufacturers but not everyone wants to spend the extra money for some of them, the other thing to consider is any rail system you use aside from a quick drop in system that replaces the handguards is probably going to require special tools, I'd buy every special tool you could ever need personally and always vote for assembly over purchasing because it allows you to get all the things you want for your weapon system.

    lastly - Availability

    I think this is the most crucial thing to think about right now. I have seen some Lowers hanging around here and there, but actually get that one perfect one you've always wanted might be a bit of an issue. Most manufacturers are reserving their production for completed rifles and have stopped taking orders for parts because of that reason. When big names like daniel defense stops taking orders because they are backlogged for a year it could influence your choices on what you CAN get compared to what you wanted.
     
  14. AgentTikki

    AgentTikki New Member

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    As for companies, Palmetto State Armory for a lower priced but quality option. Spike's is reasonably priced.

    BCM and Daniel Defense are a bit more but very nice. The nxt step up will be LMT, Noveske, LaRue, KAC, LWRC.
     
  15. ScottA

    ScottA FAA licensed bugsmasher Lifetime Supporter

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    If you are mechanically inclined, build it. I do not consider myself a figure out how to build it kind of guy. When something needs done around my house, my first instinct is to call a contractor. So here's my story about AR builds.

    My first "semi-build" was a Plum Crazy lower and a PSA 1:7 upper. The PC poly lower was an interesting first experiment, but I bought a stripped Stag lower about 6 months later. I sat on the stripped lower until Sandy Hook, then purchased a Daniel Defense lower kit and a Magpul stock and buffer tube. It took me all of 3 hours to build out the lower. I'm sure Quentin can probably do it in 10 minutes, blind folded, in his sleep; but refer to my first paragraph.

    Between the stickies here on this forum and several YouTube videos, I had all the information I needed to feel very comfortable completing the lower build. I'll probably try an upper build some day, but I'm in no hurry.

    Go for it.
     
  16. sweeper22

    sweeper22 New Member

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    Your furniture choice and optics will figure heavy into the final cost, but you can build a really solid platform for $1K or so. Some stuff that's been commonly available of late, that might result in a 'most awesomeness for your $' type of build:

    Lower: PSA $160 (after xfer + fees)
    LBK: PSA/Magpul kit, $200 give or take
    Barreled Upper: BCM $500, PSA $400...both good options
    M16 BCG, CH, Magpul rear BUS, MOE hguard: $300

    This is just a rough blueprint. It ends up between $1050 and $1200, but leaves out ammo, mags, optics, accessories. So hopefully this is a reference point where you can consider each part and figure out if (or where) you might want to make some concessions. I consider MagPul MOE gear a minimum must upgrade..hate the cheapo stocks and handguards that rattle around. And the Magpul gear is only a little more and considerably more ergonomic.

    There are other options. If you're not concerned with your gun being super pretty, PSA often sells slightly "blemished" uppers and lowers that are perfectly excellent. There is also a place called M&A Parts Inc that sells complete uppers (with cheap hguard, BCG (often M16..no guarantees though), CH, and a basic flip rear sight) for like $510. I've generally heard good things about them.
     
  17. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    I agree, Scott, building is a great way to go. But in my case I'm in no hurry, you hear of guys bragging they can slap together a lower in 30 minutes but we're not in a race, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 ... Who cares how long, as long as it's done right!
     
  18. okdonk

    okdonk New Member

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    Bought my first AR, the rest i built them. So my answer... build! You get the better parts for about the same or lil more $$.
     
  19. firemonkey150

    firemonkey150 New Member

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    Build it. Something that you put a little elbow grease into means a lot more. I bought my first and sold it to start a build. Waste of money =P
     
  20. Jake86

    Jake86 New Member

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    I bought my first two. Now I am building my third. Having never built one before, it's been a learning experience. I will never buy another rifle. I will only build from here on out....