Is building an AR 15 difficult?

Is building an AR 15 difficult?

This is a discussion on Is building an AR 15 difficult? within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I am interested in buying or building an AR 15. I cant justify paying a ton for it so my LGS pointed me towards a ...

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Thread: Is building an AR 15 difficult?

  1. #1
    Member Array DukeoftheD's Avatar
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    Is building an AR 15 difficult?

    I am interested in buying or building an AR 15. I cant justify paying a ton for it so my LGS pointed me towards a DPMS for about $700. But with sights its around $800. Im contemplating building one but i have no idea where to start. Will i need a lot of specialized tools i may never use again? Will i need expertise past general handiness and experience with common hand tools? Where can i find good instructions online? What kind of rifle can i build for +/- $700-$800 compared to a $700 DPMS or similar priced gun? What pitfalls/problems could a rookie run into building an AR? I appreciate the advice!
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    I've not done one from scratch on my own, yet, but I have assisted with a few. It's not difficult at all, beyond a couple of must-do steps and needing a small set of quality tools.

    The most important aspect I've learned: get quality tools. You'll have them for awhile, and they'll basically be a one-time purchase. Nothing fouls a build quicker than tools that aren't up to the job.


    Some resources that can help introduce you to the process:




    Check over in the sponsor forum, for SlickGuns (for example). Some choices on stripped lowers, partially-assembled parts, etc.
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    Member Array ZOMBIEvs42's Avatar
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    what ccw9mm says.

    tons of youtubes as well.

    i have all the tools, just need to get the familys chief financial officer to sign off on the purchase.
    take lots of pictures!
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    VIP Member Array Richard58's Avatar
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    The hardest part is getting the barrel on correctly if that's considered hard. Need a set of barrel vise clamps with a torque wrench attached to a ar wrench to do the job correctly. Next would be driving in pins while not damaging or scratching ur parts. To me in building one the hardest part is parting with the money...
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  5. #5
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    Most people start by assembling a lower and purchasing a full upper. The only tools needed are a good set of roll pin punches, a couple screw drivers and an armorers tool or spanner wrench. Be sure to stake the castle nut on the lower extension.

    It's possible to save a good bit on a high quality rifle by buying your components when they are on sale but you will be hard pressed to "build" for $700.00 or less.

    If you just want an AR to plink with at the range then any of the lower tier(Bushy, DPMS, Del Ton, etc.) will do the job and can even be improved a good bit with only a little effort.

    If you want a rifle that you can depend on in a bad situation or for hard use in hunting or competition then spend a bit more and get quality. I regularly see Colt 6920s for just under $1000.00 and sometimes for around $900.00. For $1,200.00-$1,500.00 you can build a true top notch stick with high quality parts. For relatively little more you can buy complete rifle and be assured of the craftsmanship in assembly.

    Look at G&R Tactical and Bravo Company(BCM)

    I've had good luck with Palmetto State Armory but they are fast gaining a reputation for poor customer service. I chalk this up to growing too fast but only time will tell.

    Unfortunately, most everyone is out of stock or low on stock these days.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Array munch520's Avatar
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    Building your own lower and buying an assembled upper, as recommended above, is a great idea.

    A couple things that are not always mentioned but are (IMO) good advice:

    General
    -grab a small bottle of Alumablack for easy touch up
    -buy the proper tools, assembling is much easier with them and you'll be tearing the gun down again for maintenance or changing of parts

    Lower
    -when installing the receiver extension, use moly grease (graphite free) on the threads
    -don't use locktite, just stake the endplate
    -after assembling the receiver extension, test fit. With the pivot pin installed, ensure that the buffer/spring tension is taken up by the rear of the bolt carrier group as you drop the upper into place on the lower. You should see the buffer contact that rear of the BCG and move rearward into the extension by about 1/16". If this does not happen, the buffer pin retaining hole is drilled too far aft in your lower receiver. This will shear off at some point courtesy of the cycling buffer. Return your lower receiver for a refund, it is out of spec.
    -support the trigger guard when installing roll pin punches

    Upper
    -use a quality vise and block (Geissele reaction rod, no mar block, etc.)
    -confirm gas port diameter with calipers before installing barrel:
    11.5" barrel with .625 width at GB, port range of .081-.089
    11.5" barrel with .750 width at GB, port range of .086-.094
    14.5" barrel with .625 width at GB, port range of .063-.078
    14.5" barrel with .750 width at GB, port range of .070-.086
    16" barrel with .625 width at GB, port range of .063-.078
    16" barrel with .750 width at GB, port range of .070-.086
    -when installing the barrel, use moly grease (graphite free) on the threads
    -confirm gas tube alignment in upper by installing a bolt carrier group and ensuring it moves freely. Do this before rocksetting gas block or torquing barrel
    -torque/loosen 3x before tightening a final time
    -get a 5.56 FIELD gauge to confirm head-space on your barrel. it's a $10 tool that ensures you keep your face/fingers. there is really no argument against confirming 5.56-labeled barrels have spec chambers
    -use rocksett on gas block set screws and muzzle devices that will have suppressor mounted
    -use a crush washer + torque on all other muzzle devices
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  7. #7
    Ex Member Array Longstreet's Avatar
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    Difficult? No.

    Addictive? Definitely.
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  8. #8
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    Like an oversized Mattel toy! Easy-peasie
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  9. #9
    Distinguished Member Array Lotus222's Avatar
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    +1 on the assembled upper. Other than that, get the specific wrench to install the buffer tube, nails instead of punches if you don't have them (it's what I used and it worked well), and your usual tools that anyone should already own. You can do it based on youtube videos, alone. I'm a testament to it. An extra set of hands comes in handy for a few things like the foregrip. I'm glad I built instead of just buying assembled. It helps diagnose potential issues, and you will know how to swap out any part with ease. Plus, you can save some $$ if it is your first build and get some quality parts. ...Unless you get all expensive stuff to begin with, of course. I'm a fan of PSA, but don't be in a rush if you go that route. Expect to get your stuff in half a month or so.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Array munch520's Avatar
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    Keep in mind, YT is free advice from strangers. There's great info out there, but you have to sift through the BS. Not unlike forums haha!

    "Now watch YouTubers as I stagger the gas rings on the bolt prior to install to ensure perfect function"
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    it is not hard to do. i have done several over the years. at one time you could save money doing it yourself. it would take me months buying the parts that i need to build one. one small part at a time off different gun/rifle forums. mix and match parts, but all in all they make good shooters. the last one i did i think i got around $450.00 in it. but that was a year ago and it took me about a year to get all the parts. you need some special tools to do it right and they will cost some. but now parts have gone sky high in price. i started collecting parts for another build last year and found that i can buy the gun cheaper than i can build it. the basic ar price has come down. if you still want to build one check your area for someone that has done one and ask him to show you how. i trained two friends and now they are ar and ak building fools. it gets into your blood.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by munch520 View Post
    Keep in mind, YT is free advice from strangers. There's great info out there, but you have to sift through the BS. Not unlike forums haha!

    "Now watch YouTubers as I stagger the gas rings on the bolt prior to install to ensure perfect function"
    Hey if it makes you feel better! Right…hehehehehehehehe
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  13. #13
    Member Array Gatling's Avatar
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    I really wish it were!

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