Building an AR

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    VIP Member Array 357and40's Avatar
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    Building an AR

    Well, I am about to order a lower. This will be a long process but as I put it all together I will be posting pictures. I am not focusing on having the end-all, be-all AR.
    I really want this one to be my learning-curve. This will be my first long gun (other than my Mossberg 500c).

    The lower will likely be a locally manufactured piece. I have it narrowed down to three.

    The things I am pretty well set on are: FAIRLY light, 16" floating barrel with quad rail, flat-top. The rest I am still researching and debating.


    I certainly will not turn my nose up at the AR15 oriented folks providing input on their favorite things they may encourage me to do or links for items they feel are must-haves, but I do want to point out that I am not looking to build a $2500 firearm. I am building my own so I can get more bang for my buck so to speak.

    Looking forward to the process and the learning that will come with rolling my own rather than buying a pre-assembled.
    oneshot and gottabkiddin like this.
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array airslot's Avatar
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    I would suggest building the lower and then research a complete upper. BCM, LMT or similar.
    EdJean likes this.
    The situation will NEVER BE THE WAY YOU WANT, it WILL BE THE WAY IT IS. You must be FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO ADAPT and just "DEAL WITH IT".

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    Distinguished Member Array Nmuskier's Avatar
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    What do you want this to do? Most beginners say, "everything". Like the new pistol buyer who wants a lightweight, powerful, low recoil, accurate, reliable, small/concealable, easy to shoot gun that can do home defense, cc, and is fun at the range. Oh, make it cheap too.

    Is your rifle for range fun, but might get pulled for a bump in the night? Long range target shooter? TEOTWAWKI? It sounds like you are in the middle like most of us. Never going to have X rings scored past 100m, never going to clear buildings with 5 other guys in the same navy blue outfit. Just want quality parts that hold up and put rounds on target every time.

    Start with the internals. It is the part nobody sees, and where a company can cut costs, but how poor of a trigger and hammer can you stomach? I have a CMMG, which is well regarded for quality and durability, but has a mil spec feel. You can upgrade for hunting quality for under $100, but probably don't need to spend the money on a match grade trigger.

    Next is barrel. These wear, and do need replacing- after tens of thousands of rounds. Most people won't shoot that much in their life. FHN "machine gun steel" is the bar. It is more than most people need, but you will be hard pressed to overheat this. Accuracy is better than most people can shoot. Pencil barrels are lighter, and can withstand the rate of fire that most casual shooters will produce. Just make sure it is chrome lined. Also- make sure your feed ramps match! If you have M4 ramps cut into your barrel/chamber, it is good to have a receiver with M4 feed ramps. You will probably avoid problems with a 16" barrel.
    image.jpg

    Barrel length. Unless you want to pay for the SBR stamp, stay with +16". A 14.5" has to be pinned to 16 anyway. You just lose 1.5" of rifling. I really liked my 20" barrel, but the 16" doesn't give up much performance that most people will notice. (A little muzzle velocity, and minute of angle past 300m).
    Gas port. Carbine length system will work fine with your 16" barrel. If I do it again, I will put my own barrel in a blank upper with a mid length gas port. It just makes more sense to me to keep a similar gas tube/dwell time ratio (the distance and volume of the tube from the port back to the bolt, vs. the distance the bullet continues to travel from the port to the end of the barrel, thus relieving pressure on the system). Bolt recoil speed can be adjusted with weights in the buffer.

    Furniture. This is the sexy stuff that has zero impact on the function of the gun. I like it simple. I like free float hand guards, but most of us won't torque 2 piece guards enough to notice. I like the look of hand guards going near the end of the barrel, but this adds weight way out front where you will notice it most. The mil M4 stock isn't bad, but I prefer a little more solid cheek weld. That adds a bit of weight as well. Ounces add up.

    A staked A2 front sight/gas block is considered the most stable. I like a fixed front sight. I've only ever used iron sights on an AR (M16), so having the sight post in my sight picture doesn't other me. Others like a clean front end with no front sight, or flip up front sight. Low profile gas block is just fine, and will open up free float hand guard options. You will have to be aware of rail options at the muzzle end. You may want to mount back up sights, light, fore grip...

    I believe in back up iron sights, unless this is a target or hunting rifle. I don't use flip up front sights. I do like flip up rear sights if you are using an optic. I want the most unobstructed view into the glass. I also have a personal preference for metal back up sights, not plastic. I would have (have had) a rifle with iron sights only. I have 2 with red dots. If I wanted to hunt or shoot X rings past 100m, I would have a scope. I think a magnifier adds weight and magnifies the size of the dot. I may change my opinion when my eyes get older. I consider 500m a long shot with iron sights.

    Add on's. it is probably apparent that I prefer simple. Weapon lights have their place, but they add weight. I don't get the vertical fore grip, or mag well grip. Basically, I want the front of my rifle clean. I want to minimize stuff to operate, snag, fail, or hold on target. This is a tactical decision for guys operating in squads or teams, but for the rest of us, it is a tacti cool preference.

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    VIP Member Array 357and40's Avatar
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    Ok, I have a question. I have the ability to get a Del-Ton Lower for about $100. I am finding decent reviews on them. Anyone have any info to the contrary?

    Del-Ton, Inc. AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
    - Roy Batty

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    Member Array Smilinswordsman's Avatar
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    Most stripped lowers are just fine. I would look into Palmetto State Armory, Aero Precision (a major lower manufacturer) or check aimsurplus.com for a stripped lower. Most lowers are made by the same few companies that put different roll marks on them.

    I just bought a lower parts kit from Aim Surplus for $89 and to pair with a blemished PSA lower that I got for $49 + $20 shipping back before Christmas.

    That Del-ton should serve you well.
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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nmuskier View Post


    Add on's. it is probably apparent that I prefer simple. Weapon lights have their place, but they add weight. I don't get the vertical fore grip, or mag well grip. Basically, I want the front of my rifle clean. I want to minimize stuff to operate, snag, fail, or hold on target. This is a tactical decision for guys operating in squads or teams, but for the rest of us, it is a tacti cool preference.
    Just a little info here.... For some people, things like a vertical grip are just because they've seen them in photos and want that look.

    For me, it allows my hand to call in the same place everytime, no matter how quick or sloppy I grab my rifle. This is important for me because I use my lights regularly. I still grip partially around the rail, but usually my little finger and ring finger contact the vert grip. The grip allows me to put a lot of rearward pressure on the rifle, pulling it right to my shoulder yet I don't have to maintain a constant high pressure grip around the handguard.

    My 9" 300blk with 8" URX 3 handguard currently does not have a vert grip or handstop and I can clearly feel the difference in target transition and recoil control. Something as simple as a handstop will fix this for me. It's not a major issue and I can handle the rifle fine as it is, but the added control is a good thing that I like to have when possible.

    With accessories, especially control accessories, they need to be used correctly to see the value in them. Many write them off as "tacticool" (a term I hate almost as much as a misplaced "tactical" comment!) but quite often, they haven't been used to their full potential then compared to see what verifiable advantage they offer.
    357and40 likes this.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 357and40 View Post
    Ok, I have a question. I have the ability to get a Del-Ton Lower for about $100. I am finding decent reviews on them. Anyone have any info to the contrary?

    Del-Ton, Inc. AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver
    Del-Ton is not one of the better manufacturers. While many lowers come from the same forge, they're often finished by the company who's rollmark is on it or at least finished to their specs then passes their QC. Companies like del-ton are not known for adhering to extreme quality control and the likelihood of getting a lower out of spec is considerably higher than from a company like BCM.

    Chances are it will work fine, but you're much more likely to find issues later like out of spec hammer/trigger holes, slightly misaligned take down, etc.
    357and40 likes this.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

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    Distinguished Member Array ErnieNWillis's Avatar
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    My gunsmith just charged me $20 to blind pin and tig weld an extended muzzle brake on my 14.5" barrel. That also included the barrel install and checking headspace. He felt bad because he was a day late. If anyone is in the Conroe, TX area and is looking to build an AR IM me and I'll give you his number.

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    Distinguished Member Array Nmuskier's Avatar
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    ^^^good advice

    Quote Originally Posted by 357and40 View Post
    Ok, I have a question. I have the ability to get a Del-Ton Lower for about $100. I am finding decent reviews on them. Anyone have any info to the contrary?

    Del-Ton, Inc. AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver
    Pay less than $100 -to your door- for a stripped lower. Contact a local FFL. They probably have some, or a line on one at cost. Otherwise you are paying shipping and a transfer fee.
    357and40 likes this.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array 357and40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nmuskier View Post
    ^^^good advice


    Pay less than $100 -to your door- for a stripped lower. Contact a local FFL. They probably have some, or a line on one at cost. Otherwise you are paying shipping and a transfer fee.
    MY FFL is also my gunsmith & also a friend of 20+ years. He won't up-charge me.

    We have switched over to looking toward Palmetto. Will update as I go. THANK YOU ALL for the feedback!
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
    - Roy Batty

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    VIP Member Array 357and40's Avatar
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    Ok, the Lower is ordered. I am one step closer.

    PSA AR-15 Complete Blem Lower - Classic Edition - No Magazine - Receivers - Firearms


    jonconsiglio, thanks for the caution on DT. I did more digging and found a few more statements like yours on Delton and it made me hold up. That made me look at a few other suggestions about other manufacturers and to Smilinswordsman's post about PSA and blems.

    Smilinswordsman, you got me thinking about blems and I did a little more research and stumbled onto the above. I appreciate the suggestion. The video feedback I found on youtube about PSA blems show a host of VERY minor imperfections. I can live with that!

    Nmuskier, I will likely shoot an email as I progress toward the upper. You got me thinking about the horse while still ordering the cart. Thanks!

    I know I was looking at building one from the ground up to start off with, but this really was too good to pass up.
    Smilinswordsman likes this.
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
    - Roy Batty

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    VIP Member Array Smitty901's Avatar
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    Have you given any though to going Gas piston for your upper?
    Keep in mind your not building it you are assembling it.
    Pick the parts that fit your need and budget. Chances are it
    will cost about the same or a bit more than shopping for the same thing in one package.
    357and40 likes this.

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    VIP Member Array 357and40's Avatar
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    True Smitty re: assembly versus building semantically speaking. I originally was going to assemble it from the ground up, but then I encountered the PSA lower and that changed the game a bit.

    As for the upper, I did look at the piston versus stoner system. I think piston may add an ounce or two but not substantial to the weight of the weapon. From what I read the piston adds a minute amount of recoil, but with the 223/556, recoil is not a factor. The advantage of piston (from my reading) is less cleaning time but at a cost of a few hundred extra it seemed. With the additional cash I can buy a few items of higher quality like optics. I did sincerely consider it and have not ruled it out entirely, but am likely going to go stoner/impingement.
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
    - Roy Batty

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    VIP Member Array Smitty901's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 357and40 View Post
    True Smitty re: assembly versus building semantically speaking. I originally was going to assemble it from the ground up, but then I encountered the PSA lower and that changed the game a bit.

    As for the upper, I did look at the piston versus stoner system. I think piston may add an ounce or two but not substantial to the weight of the weapon. From what I read the piston adds a minute amount of recoil, but with the 223/556, recoil is not a factor. The advantage of piston (from my reading) is less cleaning time but at a cost of a few hundred extra it seemed. With the additional cash I can buy a few items of higher quality like optics. I did sincerely consider it and have not ruled it out entirely, but am likely going to go stoner/impingement.
    It is always your call in the end.
    There are a few different Gas piston system out there. I have 4 that use the Adams Arms system and have been flawless.
    Regardless of what some may say they do run cooler and require far less cleaning and lube. Also a GP can be converted back to a DI with a few parts with ease by just about anyone. I am not against the DI , but will not be adding anymore to the vault GP has won me over.
    If you do get into removing the barrel get the proper blocks to use before ever trying it the results of not doing so can be expensive

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    If you are not using matched upper and lower receivers, Install a spring ball type plunger in the lower receiver. It takes all of the slop from the upper and lower receiver. I tried this on a Colt 6920 and group size shrunk 50%.
    5lima30ret likes this.
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