5 Reasons You Should Build Your Own AR-15 Rifle

AR-15 rifle build your own

Courtesy Build Explore Learn and YouTube

By Key Stone Scout

This past Christmas I wanted to get my two LEO brothers gifts without draining my bank account. This was mostly because I love them, but I also wanted to fill up the good will bucket in case my foot feels gets too heavy.

After a little online research, I found a set of three consecutive Spike’s Tactical lowers and scooped them up. I thought it would be fun for each of us to build one from the ground up.  As luck would have it one of the lowers matched one of their badge numbers so that made it feel even more like a home run.

I immediately got impatient and started buying components almost daily. (No honey, I swear this was on back order from months ago – and yes of course I’m still contributing to Junior’s college fund!). As the parts trickled in I got even more excited.

What I ended up with is a rifle that will give me some serious utility. This certainly isn’t a rifle with “top-end” components. It lacks precision tuning by a skilled gunsmith. It lacks prestige because because it doesn’t have a famous name on it.

I don’t really want to show it off to anyone, especially my gunsmith who might want to beat me senseless with it. It’s also not the most attractive rifle I’ve ever seen. But let’s get into some very good reasons why you too should build an AR-15 regardless of your skill level.

1.  I made it. There are many like it and this one is mine. There’s a lot of pride involved in assembly followed by punching accurate, consistent holes at 100 yards. My little project also has never hiccupped after nearly 2,000 rounds through the thing. All of this stuff builds confidence and fluffs the ego.

2.  Customized is the way to go. This AR-15 platform is so ubiquitous that there are scores of component manufacturers out there, making it a great first gun build. Also, being that I shoot most comfortably as a southpaw, I ensured the rifle I built is fully ambidextrous.

Topped off with a little JV rattle can action this weapon turned into my truck gun, ready for any situation, good or bad. At first I was hesitant to spray paint my AR. But I weighted the options (black rifles stick out like a sore thumb) and went for it. I was also comforted to know how easily the spray paint can come off.

3.  You will learn a lot. I am a life-long learner. It was a good experience to look up articles and how-to videos on the topic. Besides learning to build your rifle, you’ll learn about the laws involved. You will learn about what’s important to you personally for attributes and usage. You will also learn how deep your passion for self-defense and/or shooting sports can go.

Even if you end up buying a complete upper as I did, you inevitably will be researching things such as barrel length laws and pistol vs. carbine compliance. I’d even go out on a limb and say building an AR-15 is the responsible thing to do.

4.  You’ll save money. Get the parts you want and leave the rest of the junk out. I realized that I’ve had five AR-15s in the brief time I’ve been a Second Amendment enthusiast. Every single one I owned and sold had been slightly customized by yours truly.

These were always small changes, but the costs added up. I ended up selling each of them because they just weren’t quite right.

I will keep this one. Lowers are very inexpensive right now. Even if you don’t have the means to build the whole rifle now, buy that lower (or three) and stash it in the back of your safe for when the time is right.

You can start your build slowly. Next time you go to the gun shop, buy two boxes of ammo instead of five. Now you probably have the funds for that upgraded grip.

5.  The times in which we find ourselves make this a valuable piece of equipment.  Let’s face it, this is an important piece of hardware to have at hand as an option no matter what the situation. While the national crime rate is low, there are always those out there who would do you harm.

My LEO brothers couldn’t agree more. Police simply can’t be everywhere, and when seconds count, a cop is only minutes away. At best. Having the means to provide your own effective self defense and protect your family is a must.

My next goal with this rifle doesn’t have anything to do with hardware. Instead, I want to select a quality training outfit and take a carbine training course.

It’s been some great fun building America’s rifle. It’s yet another piece of equipment in my inventory that my father-in-law will probably ridicule. Then again, he won’t be seeing this little guy any time soon.



  1. avatar TruthTellers says:

    IMO, it’s only worth doing if you want a high end AR and even then, it’s still a PITA at times. If you’re looking for a plain jane, plastic handguard/non free float railed AR, build the lower (that’s easy) and buy the upper on sale.

    1. avatar Tom T says:

      Agree 100%

    2. avatar Craig in IA says:

      I started building ARs back when the original semi-auto ban went into effect back ca 1993. Had connections w/Eagle Arms (now Armalite) at the time and a little bro with an FFL. Picked up 9 “pre-ban” (remember those) receivers and got to work building little shorties with the long flash hider, using 40 round mags just to really rub it in. Eventually built an accurate flat top and several other 20″ bbl models, in later years have built a .300 Blk and more recently an AR10-type in 7.62×51. Doubt I’ve saved a dime but for me it was more like climbing Mt Everest.

      Actually, the only reason I ever built an AR in the first place was because some in my own gov’t didn’t want me to. ARs are not my “go-to” for much of anything but are easy and fun to shoot. I like .30 cal or larger if I’m being serious.

    3. avatar Texheim says:

      It’s fun to build them. That’s all that matters to me.

      1. avatar Someone says:

        Same here. It’s mostly about the fun of doing it myself and being able to pick what I like. Good barrels and drop in triggers are what counts for me and no name free floating handguard. I don’t see any sense in paying premium for “billet” uppers.
        My ARs don’t have serial numbers, they all started as 80 perceners. I like to give my friends presents of 80% lower. So far 5 of them started their first build that way. Some of them didn’t even recognize what it was. I tell them it’s a “rifle seed”. Then we spend some time together figuring out proper parts for each gun’s intended use. While we wait for parts to arrive, we finish milling of the lower with router on my jig. Good times for everyone!

      2. avatar Lost Down South says:

        Oh yeah. Gotta loves me some shop time.

        The whole Barbie accessory thing, moving FCGs, FHGs, stocks, painting this one (color code the wacky calibers), altering that one. OOOOOO! There’s a new (insert item here) I don’t have!

        I really enjoy it. Gettin’ pretty good at it. So much so that it doesn’t take much time. That’s a down side. Gets expensive when you need to keep buying stuff to fill your shop time.

    4. avatar Larry says:

      100% agree.

      Build you lower, I personally like the Aero M4E1, and you can pick the parts you want price vs quality. I would spend extra on a trigger, big fan of the Geissele SSE. It is a great experience doing this and helps you understand what might be going on when you have an issue. The lower also does not require any specialized tools, maybe a AR wrench for the castle nut.

      Once the lower is done I would definitely pickup a pre-built upper from one of many places. You can go cheap and get one from PA, Aero, etc or step up the price and get something from Bravo Company, DD or Larue. Uppers require more skill and possibly tools, especially when installing gas blocks or the barrel into the receiver. Mess up a gas block install and you have a bolt action AR.

      1. avatar Merle says:

        It’s easier to assemble an upper than a lower.

    5. avatar arsh says:

      Building, IMO, is only worth it if the prices are so high and the parts are so cheap. I bought all of my stuff before the 2017 election, at a time when prices were awful but fear was real. I finally took it all out and assembled my A2 lower this weekend. let me tell you, while not impossible, it was NOT worth the amount of effort. In reality you save $20, maybe $30 by building. Really the only benefit is if you’re wanting such a customized build that “modding” wouldn’t be worth it, but for your average tack driver, not worth it, those pins are a biotch and a half to get installed.

  2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    You’ll save money.

    Maybe, but probably not. You’ll want upgraded components (eg, a nicer trigger) and better barrel.

    The two things I tell AR newbie builders to not scrimp on are

    1. The barrel (with barrel extension already installed)
    2. The trigger.

    Nearly everything else, you can spend as much or little on as you want, and you can have a rifle that functions and puts rounds on target.

    Where lots of people get hung up and end up spending as much or more is that you need tools to assemble an AR properly. Those tools cost money. Wrenches, punches, etc. It all adds up.

    1. avatar Phil LA says:

      Tools do cost money. My gunsmith options are 1) local guy but hes booked for up to 6 months out and 2) guy with availability that is 1 hr away. Both charge $50-75 for standard work. I figured if I just spend $100 on tools I’ll get most of what I’d need for standard stuff. So I did. Now my turn-around time is one Friday/Saturday night in the garage!

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Tools cost money. Exactly. And gunsmiths charge money. All well deserved.
        This is why I have friends bring over stuff and “we” work on it together. They learn, I keep my knowledge and skills up, and they save money. I don’t charge friends for stuff like that, it’s just good times. And that’s invaluable.

        I’m in the process of building my new shop, and I’m tickled beyond reason. Everything is brand new, customized to my personal preferences.
        Sometimes divorces end well!

        1. avatar TomC says:

          Yes, tools cost money. The tools to perform my first AR build cost me less than $10 total, including tools that weren’t truly needed but did make the job easier.

          No I will admit that I built the lower but bought a complete upper (as the article even suggests)

          A kit consisting of all the parts for the lower, minus the stripped receiver, and a fully assembled upper complete with CH and BCG cost about $200 less than the best price I could find for a similar configuration AR even after adding in the price of the stripped lower on sale at my almost-local gun shop. (This isn’t the LOCAL gun shop where I stop by just to chat on my way to or from the grocery; instead it was a gun shop about 30 minutes drive that has a major online presence and prices their stuff accordingly. So $24.95 for a lower on sale, instead of the everyday price $34.95 or the $49.95 MSRP)

        2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Your choice of building the lower and putting a completed upper on it is a good starting point for people wanting to actually save some money.

          It is the tools for cranking together an upper properly that cost the most. To put together a lower, you don’t need much of a vise, or wrenches, etc. I think you could do it with a punch to drive the roll pins, a small hammer and a screwdriver. You could use the screwdriver to tighten the castellated nut for the buffer tube.

          When you get into putting together an upper, then you need a torque wrench, a barrel nut wrench (which varies according to the type of foreend you’re putting on the upper), a vise, a vise block for the upper, punches or allen wrenches for the gas block, headspace gages, etc, etc.

    2. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Great advice. I built my first lower with 1 brass punch and a razor blade. I bought a $200 tool kit and I could still use a better torque wrench and barrel nut wrench, and my mag block broke on its second use.

      1. avatar Perry says:

        Harbor Freight. When close enough is close enough.

        1. avatar Erotic Vulture says:

          WRONG! I made that mistake and bought a $20 torque wrench from Harbor Freight. Ended up breaking off a bolt in a really bad place the first time I used it.

          I won’t make that mistake again.

    3. avatar DrewN says:

      I mean, I like tools more than guns. I’ll buy tools I have zero use for even, I won’t pass up cool woodworking stuff even though I am the worst woodworker that’s ever lived. I even have a couple full sets of British Standard Whitworth although I haven’t owned a Triumph or Norton in forever.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        I too like buying tools. I now have enough tools I think I need to buy a fourth roll-around toolbox.

        I like it even more when I can scheme to buy tools to get something done off the “honey-do” list, altho I think after a couple of decades, my wife has gotten wise to my gratuitous tool-buying schemes..

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Yup, I have tools to fix tools.
          And my ex figured out way too quick that I was rolling new tools into the projected cost of her projects.

        2. avatar Perry says:

          I think my wife is onto my scheme as well. I hate when that happens.

        3. avatar Leslie says:

          Probably why she married you, to take things off of Her To Do List and add them onto yours…

      2. avatar MLee says:

        While it’s fun to do, I got building guns out of my system decades ago with a Mac 10
        Nobody needs to ask if it was………….. because the answer is NATURALLY.

        For some of us, *having* is the most important thing and having an AR was just a good way to piss off the leftist snowflakes! I have one if for no other reason.

        1. avatar Perry says:

          Re: “naturally”

          To understand the difference between men and women, let me draw your attention to “car bowling”. It involves an airplane, a bowling ball, a runway, and ten junked cars.

          A woman asks, “why would you do that?” A man says, “I need to do that.”

    4. avatar TruthTellers says:

      Don’t scrimp on the barrel or the upper receiver, the trigger you can upgrade over time or when there’s a sale.

    5. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      This has always been an amusing aspect of it to me; I’ve asked people what the difference is between a forged lower and a billet one (say an Aero) in terms of accuracy. I always get the answer “it’s more rigid” then nothing in the way of quantifiable difference.

      1. avatar Evan says:

        Billet receivers are not as strong as forged receivers but they look cool.

    6. avatar Perry says:

      This. The trigger and the barrel.

      I bought a Ruger AR-556 (cheeeeep!), and I replaced the trigger and the barrel.

      And a red-dot sight. And a cheep Walmart 3-9x scope. Good to 1 MOA, if I do my part.

  3. avatar Phil LA says:

    Learning how it works is huge. I’m a tinkerer and just love taking things apart. When you know how something works youre more able to diagnose/repair/avoid problems on it (or your buddies guns) in the future.

  4. avatar Mark says:

    I know I can’t build something better than an SR-15 so I just bought an SR-15. It is my favorite. Overpriced? Absolutely. I don’t care.

  5. avatar Don from CT says:

    All my “toy” ARs are home made.

    But my SHTF are Colt and LMT. Factory made.

    One thing. You should NOT build your first AR. Your first AR should be something quality but inexpensive like a M&P 15 Sport. For $600 plus $85 for a rock river arms trigger, you are in the game with a gun that is more accurate than you are and is warranted forever.

    With this gun, you will figure out what you like and don’t like.

    Once you know what you want you can sell it for no more than $150 less than you paid for it. Or keep it.

    1. avatar Tom T says:

      I tell people the same thing. Get a good basic mass produced rifle for your first. You will putgrow it in a year or so, but you will learn what options you like and what to look for in the future. Plus you can easily sell it when you no longer want it. Not too many people want to buy a home build.

    2. avatar Mike says:

      I don’t know if I agree with that. I didn’t only BUILD my first AR, it was a Polymer80. AND I chambered it in 300BLK. Little bastard is a tack driver, (at 300blk ranges) and I paid about $600. I wouldn’t carry a Poly80 pistol, because I wouldn’t care to explain it to the prosecutor, but my rifle is MY rifle.

  6. avatar Hank says:

    Buying lowers now is a good idea. They’re a dime a dozen. That won’t be the case in a few years.

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      I agree 100%. I saw the writing in the wall in CT several years ago. I bought many lifetimes worth of quality lowers for less than $50 ea. (Aeroprecision)

      Now new semi-auto, detachable magazine fed ARs are essentially illegal in CT. But I’ve got all I’ll ever need and its all legal.

  7. avatar former water walker says:

    Mebbe I’ll build an AR someday…I’ve fixed a net ton of antique furniture & stuff for the past 25 years. I’m 65 and tired. For my needs I’ll just keep my M&P Sport and modify it. Besides I don’t any buddies closer than 50 miles who’d help…

    1. avatar Bitter says:

      If you’re anywhere near me in New Mexico I’d help you out,
      never built one but I will someday.

    2. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      If you refinish furniture, I have a (1951) pecan dining room table that’s scratched-up. Do you have a shop?

  8. avatar Tom T says:

    A home build will teach you things that you didn’t even realize you didn’t know. But that is the only benefit. You can’t build one cheaper and more reliable than the manufacturer. This is true for a basic no-name gun all the way up to your designer boutique tacticool toys.

    If you insist on doing it, get a complete kit from suppliers like PSA or Bear Creek. That lets you get it out of your system without breaking the bank.

    1. avatar Jedi Wombat says:

      Buying from Bear Creek may be your issue with reliability. I have home builds that shoot .5 MOA. I have builds that have 10k plus round though them with no gun related malfunctions. I can definitely build them for less than I would have paid for a LaRue, HK, or BRO AR. Can I get them faster than buying one off the rack? No, but I have enough that I’m never in a hurry and can wait for sales. Ymmv.

      1. avatar Tom T says:

        I only say those examples because they offer full kits super cheap. A kit also ensures you have correct parts. No matter how much you spend on your own build, it will never have the same resale value. The discussion was on first time owners/builders. Their first build wil likely be a headache so why spend more?

    2. avatar Hydguy says:

      So wrong, it’s not even funny.
      If you know how to shop, you can build a quality AR, using top tier parts, and come out ahead.
      First, when you build from a stripped lower, you don’t pay the Excise Tax like in a completer lower or complete rifle/pistol.
      Second, you can pick up new parts on various forums for less than retail from guys who have parts sitting around from previous years.
      3rd, you can build it exactly how you want it, without having to waste money on parts you don’t want, like stocks, grips and hand guards.
      I have a Noveske 10.5” switchblock build that cost WAY less than the factory build.
      If you know how to shop, you can save a bunch.

    3. avatar Don from CT says:

      This is why I build my target, competition, and toy guns.

      But anythiing that I may need to depend on for my life is factory built. I have to assume that LMT and Colt know something I don’t.

      For what its worth, I wouldn’t really consider a home built lower combined with a factory upper to be home built. The upper is where the magic happens in an AR. There are lots of ways to screw up an upper build.

      But a lower is easy as long as you attach the buffer tube properly.

      1. avatar Leslie says:

        If you’re looking for Military Quality in an M4 Carbine Package, buy a Colt LE6920 made before 2007. After 2007 all US Small Arms Manufactures that produced the M4 Carbine style went from Mil-Std. to Mil-Spec. to cut production cost…

  9. avatar usnr says:

    Recently added a tap, threading screws in s.s. and qpq for those pesky detents my dexterity and patience leaves lacking. Rogers locking stocks, like Wilson Combat, Sota Arms billed lowers, best buck for bangin…bought three .308 bbls. from BCA, PURE CRAP, have ongING discussions now with their non-existent “warranty dept.”
    LPK’s, from AR STONER, MISSING PIECES, AVOID ALL STONER and MIDWAY, Skull n Cross bones alert on an thing from Mid-Way, esp. AR Stoner, ( a reloading bench utube chnnl has similar experience with AR Stoner, be advised, eschew.)
    Usually build uppers, but a on line builder now serves up Aero Precision uppers, “extreme” quality not only in Lr-308, but .243, 6.5 Creed, and other calibers for the AR 10 type platforms, .210 tangs, high profile.
    Right now, is the time for all good men to come to the aid of reducing excess inventories. ADK triggers from DO armorers, hand tuned, and I buy only closed ear forged lowers or billet, no mil-spec open eared weakies, no matter whose name is lazered on it.
    May your cart running over.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I tend to use Colt LPK’s. Yes, they cost more. Never had a hassle with one yet. I’ve used other LPK’s, sometimes with excellent results, sometimes with hassles (pins/detents that wouldn’t fit). I buy LPK’s without the GI-style trigger, because I used to just toss those GI triggers into my “spare parts I’ll never use” drawer.

  10. avatar Rodney Cooke says:

    The challenge I have in building is time! Work, family, home, me too. When I purchase a quality firearm, it comes with a warranty. Building a firearm, whether an AR or Glock 19 comes with s price.

    However, I admire all builders!

  11. avatar Chris Christianson says:

    I built my first AR from a stripped lower that I bought locally and a rifle kit from PSA. $420 for a complete basic carbine. That got the bug started. Then a friend introduced me to 80% lower machining and I went hog wild from there. Multiple rifles, pistols, and LR-308s later, I build about 2 rifles a year. I actually have almost as much fun building them as I do shooting them.

    ARs are Legos for men.

  12. avatar Tim U says:

    Save money? What is this, 2015?

    The way online sales are these days, there’s almost no way you’re actually saving money building your own unless you’re specifically doing a bunch of high end components that don’t come in some factory configuration.

    I get it – I did a build in the day. I just don’t necessarily think it’s a cost saver in 2019.

    1. avatar Cletus says:

      Even with low end rifles from PSA you can save up to $100 by buying a complete kit with a barreled upper and a $29 PSA lower on sale.

      I don’t recommend having to barrel an upper for beginners. It’s not hard, but the tools cost $$. It’s also too easy now to find an assembled upper in any configuration you could want. Just build a lower with the trigger, grip and stock you want.

      A public service announcement:

      Geissele still has their URG-I on sale for 20% off ($1000) and they include a free SSA trigger. It also comes with their Super 42 recoil spring and buffer. It wouldn’t take much $$ to finish a rifle after buying one and you would save hundreds compared to similar high end offerings. I’m probably not going to get one and I know I’ll be kicking myself later.

    2. avatar Don from CT says:

      Anyone who thinks you can save money is an idiot.

      You can get a M&P 15 sport for $499. With and $85 rock river arms match trigger in it, the gun is more accurate than you are.

      And it comes with a LIFETIME service policy. So if you ever break or wear it out, S&W will take care of it.

      I’ve helped a number of first time builders work through reliability issues. This is fine if its your 3rd rifle. But its very frustrating if its your first.

    3. avatar Daniel L Michlig says:

      PSA has complete rifle kits with assembled uppers for $279 with free shipping. Just bought 4 black anodized fire/safe marked lowers for $219 delivered ( 55 ea). Mags are $10 ea, or less. Two hours or less to machine and assemble. So for $279 + $55 + $10 = $344. Do the math ! Oh and the government doesn’t know about it and I don’t have to take a training course ( now required in Washington State ) no FFL fees and I learn more about my weapons every time I build another. Keep an eye out for the big sales, I’ve bought complete rifle kits for as low as $229 with free shipping. My first build was under $300.

  13. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

    Someone at TTAG must be reading my mind. I’ve been thinking about getting my first AR, and have been considering building one just so I can really learn the ins and outs of the design.

  14. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I’ve built a couple of ARs just because I see the projects as fun. I’ve always been a wrench turner and as a kid I put together lots of model plane and car kits. So I enjoy starting turning a pile of parts into something that’s good looing and/or useful. Am I saving money? Probably not – although I did pick up a PSA pistol upper last year that I mated up with a gun show Anderson lower and a junk box red dot. I ended up with a pretty nice range toy for about $325.

    Depending on your level of paranoia a build it yourself rifle on an 80% lower might be a good project if you pay cash for everything. I’m sure that I’m on a bunch of lists and will be on more if things go really bad in 2020. I’m a disabled (and therefore moonbat crazy) veteran, a churchman, and a gun owner. My credit card has enough Midway, Brownell’s and Academy Sports purchases on it to label me as dangerous. I’ve even taken my Discover Cashback bonus out in Bass Pro gift cards.

    I usually pay cash for my AR lowers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody from an alphabet agency is running a license plate reader at the gun shows. Oh well I’m too old to run.

    1. avatar Draven says:

      I have a Cabela’s/Bass Pro card… does that put me higher on The List?

      1. avatar doesky2 says:

        Cabelas sucks since Bass Pro takeover.
        I have $300 in Cabelas giftcards that I got at a 20% discount a year ago that I haven’t been able to spend because there hasn’t been anything approaching a “deal” in the past year.
        In the meantime I’ve probably spent 5K$+ from other vendors so it’s not like there wasn’t plenty of opportunity.

  15. avatar Draven says:

    in the ‘you’ll save money’ category… so your own time has no value?

    1. avatar MMurcek says:

      The satisfaction one might get from doing it is what economists call an “intangible benefit.” You can look it up. And show me the person who does not waste 2-4 hours in the average week while you are at it.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        There’s a scarcity factor, too. I built my own AR because money was very scarce and time much less so. I had very little money on hand, but I did have time to look for parts and wait for sales.

        Triple win: I now have a serviceable AR-15, I saved money, and I enjoyed the time spent finding parts and putting them together.

    2. avatar Perry says:

      I occasionally tear down my AR for cleaning. Like a colonoscopy, it’s occasionally required.

      I bill my personal time at $25/hr. YMMV. It’s important to put a price on your personal time, whatever it may be. Decisions are easier after that.

    3. avatar Daniel L Michlig says:

      Never read a book ? Never paid a softball league fee ? Never golfed ? Never gone bowling ? Obviously never been to the range . Hobbies cost time and money. Try marriage !

  16. avatar Bill bob says:

    Spend the $10 for a Creep adjusting screw, fix your standard triggers.

  17. avatar barnbwt says:

    “Even if you end up buying a complete upper as I did, you inevitably will be researching things such as barrel length laws and pistol vs. carbine compliance. I’d even go out on a limb and say building an AR-15 is the responsible thing to do.”

    Nothing will turn someone against gun control faster than learning what laws must be abided in order to build one. It goes doubly for NFA items like a short barrel rifle. The NRA should be hosting build classes along with their hunting & carry training to educate gun owners about the Byzantine NFA/FOPA/LEOSA/etc rules…but their big industry partners in crime would probably shriek to the heavens. That, or they really don’t want folks learning too much about their beloved NFA specifically.

  18. avatar MMurcek says:

    Well, of course some people can screw up taking toilet paper off a roll, so saying “your only AR should be factory built” is good advice for such people. I’ve built Estes rockets that were more difficult so I also think some of the advice givers just don’t like to see anyone have fun or achieve a sense of accomplishment. You meet a lot of that type at any firearms range. It’s like a magnet.

  19. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    With the price lately of sale lowers at 29.99,build,build and build besides it’s fun.

  20. avatar billy-bob says:

    6. Because ‘Murica.

    1. avatar Baldwin says:

      Totally agree. But, it should be number one of six!

  21. avatar SZ939 says:

    I built my first AR as a competition with a work colleague who lived 250 miles away. As each section was completed, we would exchange pictures of our respective builds. The only part we were allowed to buy pre-assembled was the trigger. My buddy finished his about 1 week before I completed mine, but his was pretty much stock in appearance whereas mine was all customed up to look classy. I agree with the article in that you should put top dollar on the barrel and the trigger, but I also suggest that the BCG should be top quality as well. The only problem that developed took a gunsmith weeks to locate – the rifle had a tendency to fail to lock on the last shot. Nothing reliably repeatable and different ammo seemed to make no difference. The solution was to change the gas block to a variable gas block and once tuned to my arrangement of parts the rifle was built from, I have never had a failure to lock ever again. Until such time as I move to gas piston builds, I will always use a variable gas block to more precisely tune the action of my builds.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Same reasons why my son who’s just turned 11 has built his PC. 1. Because he built it he has a sense of pride in the machine so he will look after it. 2. He chose the aesthetic parts and went for a subdued and subtle approach. But he has learned what the parts are and how they work. 3. We used quality and best value parts. 4. Saving money, not so much, but he has a PC he wants. 5. Father and son bonding over a shared project.

  22. avatar former water walker says:

    This is for BITTER(my phone sux). Thanks but I live a mile west of Indiana. Near Chicago. I gotta very old friend who “may” help me out but didn’t answer my last phone call(on his birthday!). Really don’t want to invest in a bunch of tools I may never need either…

  23. avatar Mark N. says:

    I built my first from a polymer 80% lower that I bought because California Senator Deleon was intent on banning 80% lowers. Since it was sitting around, I ended up finishing it just for shits and grins. But then I just couldn’t stop, buying one or two items at a time as spare cash allowed. The only issues I had were the stock ALG trigger (I should have spent a few more bucks, but I’ve fixed that since) and that the barrel was only reamed deep enough for 55 grain pills. When California insisted that I implant a 3.5 oz of metal and get a serial number (with a bgc), I chucked the polymer and bought an aluminum one. Eventually I had to swap out the A2 birdcage with a muzzle brake when another law change meant it was an “assault weapon” that had to be registered unless modified. I also was forced to buy one of those crappy fin grips and pin the stock, and haven’t shot it since. Eventually I will buy a Thordsen stock.

    I would have saved money buying a PSA, but I had fun and learned a lot too.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Please don’t tell me you registered your new aluminum 80% by building after July 1, 2018 and requesting the CADOJ’s assigned serial number.

      Some people here in CA have 80 percenters for the specific reason of having “off the radar” guns the CADOJ and/or ATF won’t know about in a SHTF event (earthquake, civil collapse, pandemic, riots, et al), and therefore won’t have any reason to show up at your door with their own guns…to take yours. That’s exactly what happened during both the 2005 Katrina Hurricane and the 1992 L.A. riots.

  24. avatar C.S. says:

    Slaves do not carry weapons, free men do.

    1. avatar burley says:

      yeah, about that: there have been literally millions of conscripts who died with weapons in their hands, while fully enslaved to the government.

  25. avatar Scott says:

    I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Building an AR-15 from parts is about as complicated as building a reliable picnic table from lumber and takes a few specialized tools, much like the picnic table. You can customize either, or not. I used to build my own bicycle wheels. That’s a lot harder and I’ve not had one fail. You just have to pay careful attention to detail.

    Modern CNC manufacture means everything you build fits together as well as if some fairly low skill factory assembler at Colt or Bushmaster did the work. I sincerely doubt their expensive gunsmiths do any more than sampling production occasionally. Being left handed I first bought one of Stag Arms 15L varmint models with the stainless bull barrel. Soon I decided to buy some spare parts on sale from Stag. Eventually I had all the parts I needed for a second AR with a more conventional barrel, so I built it! I’ve done a few other AR projects since and will probably do some 80% receivers eventually.

    Genuine Ruger 10/22 receivers and, of course clones, are often available on Gunbroker and elsewhere so I have built up a couple of those too, exactly the way I want them. No fitting problems or reliability issues. I also have a single SIG P229 receiver, purchased separately, with barrels and magazines in 40 S&W, 357 SIG, 22lr, and a 9mm with a red dot. My 40/357 SIG magazines are all really high quality lightly used German police surplus and, as I recall, everything else is from SIG USA. All are interchangeable and all are reliable due to modern precision standards and CNC tooling.

    The big caveat is to be careful you don’t run afoul of any laws or bureaucratic ATF regulations so be sure to do your research as some are quirky. One example is NEVER put a rifle barrel on a pistol receiver, even only partially built, as that act magically converts the pistol to a rifle forever in the eyes of ATF.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      Your caveat is simply not true. There is no maximum length for a pistol, so you can put a 6′ barrel on it if you want. Furthermore, you are allowed to convert a pistol receiver to a rifle (and back), but not a rifle receiver to a pistol. You need to make sure you don’t put a pistol barrel on a receiver with a stock, or a VFG on a pistol, since those would be considered SBRs. You need to take off the upper, or install a rifle length barrel, when adding or removing the stock to prevent the momentary transition to an SBR.

  26. avatar Whyat says:

    I have been parting together AR’s since the 80’s when Olympic Arms was the only choice, 1st CAR barrel assy was $90 . In my experience , most if not all shoot better than the shooter, mo matter where the barrel is from. My old Oly Arms guns would do 5 shots covered by a quarter at 100 yards, then Military ammo was hard to come buy, unless you happened to be in the NG or on Active Duty. Never had or saw anything out of order from them.
    Barrel wrench is the only special tool that is needed [ actually I have seen the barrel nut tightened with Channel Lock’s] and not so bad, it shot well and once the handguards were installed, no one was the wiser.
    Everyone inclined should go for it, it is a very basic and simple design, lubrication a must however.
    The hard coated receivers and named barrels are great, and there is alot of good guidance now available, alot of bad as well but is surely worth a try.
    A 300 AAC Carbine is hard to beat for shooting [ low buzzle blast ] and perfect for defense and reasonable range Deer hunting.

  27. avatar Leslie says:

    “Scavenger Hunt”! I remember a few years ago one the “The Firearms Blog” someone wanting to rebuild an Old Vintage Combat Rifle. But lacking any knowledge of Parts Manufacturers that still manufacture parts for the rifle. I suggested a Scavenger Hunt to find the parts and establish a Supply Line Pipeline of possible manufacturers for the rebuild. Time consuming yes, but well worth it in the end, because it makes you a more resourceful person being able to track down leads of possible suppliers. As well as making friendships along the way…

  28. avatar anarchyst says:

    One thing missing is the necessity to check “headspace”. Although tolerances are such that many people do not see the need to check headspace on their AR builds, I strongly recommend purchasing a set of 5.56 headspace gauges and perform headspace checks. In my experience, I have had a few upper receiver builds with “short” chambers–not good. If you plan on doing any builds, I recommend purchasing 5.56 “go”, “no-go”, and “field” headspace gauges. Stay safe.

    1. avatar Muhmawser says:

      Short isnt a problem that requirs a guage as it normally wouldn’t chamber a round in that case. It being long and having excessive headspace would be the real issue.

  29. avatar Chuck says:

    I’d add a benefit and question one. Money saved is marginal and very subjective. With the entry level AR’s hovering under $500, it’s going to be a negligible savings at best. What money you do save usually ends up upgrading a component or three, so I’d be hesitant to say it saves shekels at least with the first build. The other advantage if you’re buying an 80% lower and completing it yourself is having a gun that’s not on the books. That’s not against the law to own a gun that has never had a Federal or State authoritarian eyeballing it. I have six off the book guns sitting in my gun cabinet as I write. Each one preceded the 1968 GCA that required serialization and FFL record keeping requirements by at least a decade. Nothing wrong with owning them and shooting them. If you believe that the State or Federal government doesn’t have record of each serial numbers first disposition owner’s name and address somewhere in a database since at least 1990, I have some Ocean Front property in Colorado for sale. The fact that FFL holders are required to hold on to ATF form 4473 long past when it’s really necessary speaks volumes. Once your name and number are out there, it’s out there period. So having something the local antigun club and Arsholes Toting Firearms knows nothing about is a YUUGE Plus. I’m an advocate for building your own. It gives you an insight into the AR platform that buying one never grants. Having the tooling and machinery on hand to do this is a big savings, as I have been involved in welding and machining for over 40 years, but for a first builder without that tool access, you’ll need to invest a little bit of dough getting set up, or make friends with someone that has at least some basic tools like a drill press, jigs, pin punches, torque wrenches and so on. So for your first build you’re probably not going to save a lot of money, it may actually cost you a bit more than an entry level AR. The satisfaction you feel after your success is immeasurable monetarily. If nothing else, that alone is the biggest reason to build your own AR.

  30. avatar Philip Twiss says:

    You gotta see this … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nen5iNNzVXE&list=LLFaJKhGczKXo6fS2MlfbPaQ&index=2&t=0s

    For those of us that don’t want to spend as much in an armorer’s tool kit just to build the lower…

  31. avatar Wiregrass says:

    The only specialty tools I bought to build my first lower were a mag block to support the lower on my bench vise, some punches and a castle nut wrench. I didn’t even need the castle nut wrench on the second one because I went with a fixed rifle buffer tube

  32. avatar LampofDiogenes says:

    Why build my own?

    1. Because I CAN (thank you, T. Jefferson and J. Madison!);
    2. Because you don’t really know your gun until you build one from scratch;
    3. Because every experienced shooter I know has personal quirks they like/need to accommodate; and
    4. Because I don’t want ANYONE to know what the hell I own/possess.

    I agree that most people who build won’t “save money” – because they will upgrade, and they will end up spending what they would have spent for a higher-end AR. They may, or may not, bet a better product, depending on their skills. I’m sure there are people out there who built and AR and learned little or nothing from the process, but most people who do a build come away with a MUCH broader, deeper and more functional knowledge of their firearms, both generally and specifically to their build. And its FUN! (And it pisses off the libs, and that’s fun, too!) I would recommend that everyone who wants and AR do a home build, just for the peripheral benefits it affords, but I realize that many can’t/won’t put in the time, work and money to do it right. But for anyone who wants to, and is willing to, invest the time and money, it will return benefits to you. Good luck, and HAVE FUN!!

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Agreed on all points.

  33. avatar burley says:

    Reason 6: to bribe local law enforcement?!

  34. avatar Efrain Burgos says:

    That video is the best to put together a ar15 thanks

  35. avatar DJ says:

    The best part about building is when installing a vertical grip on an AR pistol.

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