Effective cost of DIY builds vs Quality

This is a discussion on Effective cost of DIY builds vs Quality within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; First, I did a quick search and didn't see a topic quite on track with my question. So I apologize if this is a dead ...

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Thread: Effective cost of DIY builds vs Quality

  1. #1
    Member Array Maso's Avatar
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    Effective cost of DIY builds vs Quality

    First, I did a quick search and didn't see a topic quite on track with my question. So I apologize if this is a dead horse.

    I'm thinking about building an AR, not solely for cost sake, but as an engineer I love understanding how things work internally. However, it appears that one can build a no frills AR for about $700 from places like PSA. I know S&W sells a cheaper model for fun. My question is, on a good, respectable kit like one from PSA, what would the gun retail for if it was a normal stock model? Meaning, is the quality of these DIY kits the same as the S&W sport or are they better parts? As I am an electrical engineer, some of these mechanical parts escape me, such as, what makes a higher quality gun? Is it just the quality of the materials, or is there a better fundamental design in the more expensive ones?

    Sorry for the long post, but I would appreciate some insight, and any tips that you may have for a feller contemplating a DIY build.

    Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array AKsrule's Avatar
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    Generally speaking , a rifle built to military standards will be of higher overall quality than one built strictly as a cost effective commercial offering.

    There ARE differences in material and quality control between the cheapest and the most expensive.

    That said - Colt , Armalite , LMT and S&W stand above all others.

    If you need to save some money it's perfectly alright to match a High End upper assembly with a less expensive lower.

    IMHO I would budget for $800 -$900 so as not to end up with compromises.
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    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    i have build several over the years. end up with more money in them than i wanted. put to much stuff on them, drove the price up. i am on a build now. but this one i am trying to to it on the cheap. been buying up parts for about a year, one cheap priced part at a time. this is a mix and match ar. psa barrel, rra upper, lmt lower, unknown trigger group, tapco butt stock, colt bcg, bushmaster front sight, unknown/military small parts, etc... i hope to come in just around $450.00 on this build. so you can build one on the cheap if you take your time on finding parts.
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    Senior Member Array CDW4ME's Avatar
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    As a reference, I've seen the Windham SRC (built ny former Bushmaster employees) at Wal-Mart for $799 ($800)
    Lifetime warranty, chrome bore, forward assist, dust cover, 6 position stock, 1/9 twist.
    No internal lock or magazine disconnect on my pistols!

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    I would suggest that anybody planning a AR build call Brownell's in Iowa and request their latest catalog. There is a HUGE AR section where you can read the specs of all parts (AKA Is it cast? - is it forged? - What is the hardness?) - see everything that is available - see examples of builds with the components listed for those builds - AND IF you goof anything up - every Brownells item purchase can be returned - no questions asked.

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    VIP Member Array sgb's Avatar
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    PSA parts are of high quality which can't be said of outfits like M&A, Model 1 sales etc .......... Often quality parts can be had at the same price as lower quality parts when you know the difference. If one researches what makes a quality part it's easy to build it your way and save $100-$200 in the process.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    You will find that the quality builds have Key parts that are Magnetic particle tested and that the gas key on the bolt carrier is properly staked,I have a bolt on a 7.62x39 upper I'm guessing the bolt wasn't MPI tested and with less than 1000 rounds thru it one of the locking lugs on the bolt sheared off,those things are around $65,00 to replace.Rifle Kits are usually cheaper to build,but if you want specific parts on your gun then it may be more economical to buy each piece.I built a varmint gun around a barrel I bought,and then bought the rest of the parts
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    Member Array Retiredonce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    I would suggest that anybody planning a AR build call Brownell's in Iowa and request their latest catalog. There is a HUGE AR section where you can read the specs of all parts (AKA Is it cast? - is it forged? - What is the hardness?) - see everything that is available - see examples of builds with the components listed for those builds - AND IF you goof anything up - every Brownells item purchase can be returned - no questions asked.
    Or save a forest's worth of trees and go to World's Largest Supplier of Gun Parts, Gunsmith Tools & Shooting Accessories - Brownells and download the entire 676 page(!) catalog to your computer. Other than the fact you can't read it in the porcelain library, it's all there. Same goes for their specialty catalogs.
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    Distinguished Member Array Rexster's Avatar
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    One solution is to buy a "tier one" complete upper unit from Bravo Company Manufacturing, and build the lower unit from reputable parts. Our household AR is a Bravo Company "Lightweight Middy" upper unit on an S&W lower receiver, with a Rock River Arms lower receiver parts kit, Magpul handguards, and a Colt A2 stock assembly. It cost little more than a budget AR, but the parts are all really good, and the upper unit, the really important thing, being tier one.

    "Top tier" or "tier one" are terms used to refer to manufacturers who perform such tests as MPRI testing of each barrel before AND after test-firing, and properly stake the staked parts.
    Last edited by Rexster; April 28th, 2012 at 10:53 AM. Reason: Typos

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