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Discussion Starter #1
I went to my local gun store today which turned out to be a very very bad idea... I now have in mind to start my own AR build. I've thought about it a couple of times, but now it's so close to being a reality (I actually handled the stripped lower I want to buy for $125) that I've got the bug.

I want to know from all of you that have built your own AR everything you feel you can tell me. PM me if you must. I want to know about components, who made your lower, which type of barrell made by whom chambered for which round... Let's just discuss it. Comprehensively.

Secondly, how old were you when you got started on your first build? How about when you finally got your first AR (bought complete or finished a build)? I'm 24, a gun nut with a tight budget, and I don't want to push my luck too much. My lovely bride is WONDERFUL about my hobby (even considering her recent family tragedy) but I don't NEED to have everything I've ever wanted in an AR now. So, input on this, too, please.

I am a little too excited about the "build" so if you guys can help calm me, that'd be great. :)

joe

PS--the lower is a Stag and I was thinking of trying to find a used RRA upper (16 in. barrell, standard foregrip). A guy at the store said that if I keep my eye open, I could get a good deal. HELP! I'M SICK!!
 
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Discussion Starter #2
now that the disease has struck you need to decide how deep your pockets are. and then decide a primary roll for the weapon i.e. plinker, hunter, competition or zombie killer(my personal choice) I've built a couple of these babies and i have a preferred format. as far as actually putting one together if you can read a schematic there all over the web. the cheapest route(although still god quality) is a model one kit for your lower. comes with everything to make you a mil-spec ar. the high end routes are many and generally very very very expensive. the next upper I'm going to purchase is 2300 dollars. since its your first one id go with a model1sales.com parts kit build a ebr and then as you get to know her mold her into your rifle.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
You may read mixed reviews on Model 1 Sales components. However, I'll take leeindy's side on that issue, as a friend of mine has a Model 1 upper that has worked perfectly.

That said, realize that there are 'favorite' brands out there, and then there are the 'brands everyone loves to hate.' Try not to get caught up in the positive or negative hype for any brand. Do your own research and come up with your own conclusions.

I have had the AR bug for years, but thanks to my lovely wife, I am currently putting the finishing touches on making my AR a reality as we speak. leeindy is right when he says to decide how deep your pockets are and what you are really going to use the weapon for. After months of research on rifles and my own shooting habits, I decided to assemble a 9mm because 1) its relatively cheap to shoot right now, 2) I can shoot it at the indoor range I frequent, and 3) It'll run the same ammo as my XD - convenience.

Regarding the tight budget, that was my case, too. Obviously, the advantage to a stripped lower build is that you can spread the costs over time; stripped lower here, LPK a little later, etc. This is a great idea - if you have the patience and a controlled case of BRD. But be warned: Once you get started, you are going to want to keep going until your project is completed.

So there you go, a little bit about my experience thus far. Probably more blah-blah than useful info. Sorry.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Id stay away from Model1sales. Your on a roll with the Stag lower. Only use a stag or RRA lower parts kit. There are a couple more expensive LKPs that are good as well. Your also on the right track with the RRA upper. To make it bullet proof, swap out the upper BCG for a Bravo Company or LMT BCG. They are Magnetic particle tested, and the Bolts have the beefed up extractor assemblies. Go with an "AUTO" BCG if your state allows it. They are a little more beefy.

If you do go Model1sales, the upper should be fine, just swap out the BCG. However, definately stay away from the LPKs from model1.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
I did my first build about 8 months ago, and I was 22. It's really not that tough; I've since also built an AK from a parts kit and receiver flat, and found the AR much easier.

I used a Stag Arms lower because of 1) the good reviews I've read about their products, and 2) it's illegal in NJ to have an AR-15 that actually says AR-15 on it and Stag Arms is one of the few that don't call thier rifles AR's. Overall, I am very happy with my selection.

After that all you need is a parts kit. I would highly suggest checking out the forums at AR15.com for reviews of retailers of parts kits. I got my kit from J&T distributing, mostly because they accept AMEX and everything I read about them gave them decent reviews. That said, I'm mostly happy with their product, it has functioned mostly flawlessly for a couple thousand rounds now and I have no complaints.

I feel for the first build, a parts kit is the way to go as it ensures you get everything you need. For all my future builds, I think I'm going to buy each piece individually to give me more flexiblitiy in getting exactly what I want.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
I want to know from all of you that have built your own AR everything you feel you can tell me. PM me if you must. I want to know about components, who made your lower, which type of barrell made by whom chambered for which round... Let's just discuss it. Comprehensively.
Spike's Tactical Lower, Model 1 Sales LPK, Hogue Grip (you can get them from MidwayUSA for cheaper), and Magpul Enhanced Trigger Guard (Non-folding version) make up the lower assembly. The upper assmbly is going to be a 16" Del-Ton Midlength Flattop. I would think that it's chambered for 5.56 instead of .223, but I need to contact del-ton and check.

Secondly, how old were you when you got started on your first build? How about when you finally got your first AR (bought complete or finished a build)? I'm 24, a gun nut with a tight budget, and I don't want to push my luck too much. My lovely bride is WONDERFUL about my hobby (even considering her recent family tragedy) but I don't NEED to have everything I've ever wanted in an AR now. So, input on this, too, please.
I'm 21 and started getting parts for my first build/first AR during the school year. I just get parts as I have the money. I still need a sling setup, rear sight, upper. Optics will wait until after school probably. This build is really just for the experience and I wanted to have an AR and plenty of high-cap mags before 2008 election season. My next build (I wanna build about three more:grin:) will have everything I want in a carbine, then an A2 variant and a flat-top 20" bull-barreled variant (think varmint killer).

Only thing I'd do differently is to have ordered everything at once. I probably would have just ordered the complete Del-Ton kit and Spike's lower instead of piecing it together as I go along.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I was 18 when I built my first one, I have over 13 to my credit now.

Any forged or better lower that is in spec will be fine, it doesn't matter what name is on it or what have you. Avoid Cast lowers, they have weak areas due to the casting process, and while some work it is not worth the effort. Some Lowers are made from a solid billet and cut completely to shape such as Sun Devil, and POF, they are good but not necessary.

Lower receiver parts such as the firring control parts should be of good quality, I use COLT or FN. These parts decide how your trigger functions and how the trigger pull feels so it worth a few extra bucks to be sure. I will not use MATCH, or custom triggers in anything but a target rifle. While these match type triggers feel good they are more prone to malfunction under heavy field use, they have less contact areas that are more temperamental then the standard trigger group.

Barrel should be of the best quality you can afford. Again here I use COLT,FN (if you can find one), LMT(Though not the new one as they no longer park under the front sight base, a huge step back wards) CMMG. There is a difference in steel quality between a good barrel and say a stag, Model 1 , Double star, JT, DPMS, RRA, and so on. I only buy and use 1/7 twist as it is the only mil spec barrel and the only barrel that can shoot the MK262 MOD1 ammo out past 100 yards with accuracy. If the barrel is anything but a target barrel I must have chrome lined. The chamber if anything but a target rifle must be 5.56mm chamber, NOT 223 or WYDEL, this aids in reliability and allows one to use all mill spec ammo. Bushmater dose make a good barrel but I have not seen them offer one in 1/7 twist so until they do they are out IMO.

The bolt and carrier, Again the best quality you can afford is a good idea. Here though I don't care if it is chrome or if it is parked as long as that area of the carrier that the bolt rides in is chrome lined(I have never seen a new one that is not) The gas key on top of the carrier must be staked well, I have had a model 1 carrier loose its gas key and scare the crap out my upper receiver, to be fair I have also seen a loose key on a bushmaster so it can happen.

The rest is flash, its a good idea if the gun is a combat type gun to make sure that the front sight base is pinned on in the mill spec fashion or that your free float covers the gas block if it is not. The set screws and clamps though work are not as durable and more prone to failure from say a blow to the gas block, the result would be a weapon that did not cycle.

Personal opinions.... Buy the best you can....... RRA,M&P,STAG,DOUBLE STAR,JT,DPMS,M&A, are all the same so buy the cheapest as not one of these is worth more then the other. There are only a few factories that make AR15 parts and they sell them to the companies that stamp there name on them, so if your going to spend more make sure you are getting something for your money, such as the better steel of high end barrels, the parking under the flash hider, and so on.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
You all have given me much to think about... thanks. I am gonna' make some notes and hopefully get started within the month. Need to find the funds, of course.

Now, I hate to be a simpleton, but if you would all please spell out the acronyms at least once for me, I would appreciate it muchly. I can almost figure all of them out, but some I can't. Like BCG... I'm assuming that's "bolt carrier group" but I don't know... and CMMG... No idea. My brain just isn't clever enough.

The reason I asked about age is because I want to know if I should feel like I'm behind the curve or if I can cool my jets about the whole thing. In short, do I need to do this now or can I take some time? Now, with the new regime coming in in '08, I think I should at least get started... Buy a lower and sufficient high cap mags for the future. What do you all think? I'm 24, married with a daughter so by no means is the project going to be my priority. But should this be the first project I do?

joe
 
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Discussion Starter #10
I built my first AR about 3 years ago at the age of 49. I've since built 8 more.

The last three of mine have been on Stag lowers but I've used a number of others including Olympic, RRA, Century. In terms of uppers, I have a couple of Model 1s, a couple Olympics, Bushmasters, Colts and whatever else I could find. Some I bought used, some I built using new barrels and various kinds upper receivers.

My favorite is a basic CAR 15. Stag lower, A1 upper with 16" pencil thin bbl, telestock. Basic, practical, light, no doodads or gizmos.





My 17 year old daughter's favorite is a A2 upper (but only cause I couldn't find another A1) with a pencil thin bbl on a Cavalry Arms plastic one piece lower. Real light weight an more comfortable to shoot according to her.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Now, I hate to be a simpleton, but if you would all please spell out the acronyms at least once for me, I would appreciate it muchly. I can almost figure all of them out, but some I can't. Like BCG... I'm assuming that's "bolt carrier group" but I don't know... and CMMG... No idea. My brain just isn't clever enough.
joe
  1. BCG - bolt carrier group
  2. LPK - lower parts kit
  3. CMMG - is just a brand name
  4. BC - bolt carrier
 
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Discussion Starter #12
and CMMG... No idea.
Company that builds semi-custom uppers with exclusively 1-7" (one rotation every 7 inches) twist barrels:
http://www.cmmginc.com/

I wanted to shoot the cheaper ammo (which is almost all in the 50-60 grain weight range), so I looked around and snagged a new-in-box Rock River Arms complete 16" midlength upper which was a 1-9" twist rate with a GG&G flip-up rear sight for $510. Lower half (High Standard) cost me $237. Built it when I was 18.

For the lower, pretty much any company's lower will work... just depends on how much you like the logo and the pricetag. Stag lowers have a good reputation, although i must say I have no personal experience with them. For the lower parts kit, stick with a well known brand (Stag/CMT, RRA, DPMS). Add stock/buffer/buffer tube of your choice. If you want the standard 6-position (M4-style) stock, again, stick with the common brands... you'll get a better stock-to-buffer tube fit. As for uppers, the best deal in complete upper halves is the Stag 2H upper:
http://ar15sa.fatcow.com/store/page2.html
(Just an example, first site i found searching on ar15.com)

That will get you a chrome-lined (easy to clean, long barrel life), 1-9" barrel and a damn good flip-up rear sight.

If you're willing to be patient and look around a little, you'll find deals from time to time. I was originally going to get the Stag 2H upper, but I really wanted an upper with a midlength gas system (softer recoil impulse, easier on the BCG). Watch the Equipment Exchange on AR15.com like a hawk :)

ETA: Just noticed they have a complete rifle kit on that link. That would work as a one-stop-shop if you so desired.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
What's EBR stand for? Read it a couple of places, and I think it's important... Help!

joe
 
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Discussion Starter #14
What's EBR stand for? Read it a couple of places, and I think it's important... Help!

joe
EBR = Evil Black Rifle...it is important. It's a disease. Unfortunately I suffer from it as well. I must build more rifles!
 
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Discussion Starter #15
'nother question... What's the difference between A1 upper and A2 upper?

I know I want no longer than a 16" bbl, standard handguard...mid-length gas tube for reasons stated earlier (something about less wear on the BCG)... Which upper is right for me? And is 16" the right length? What lengths do you all prefer... if you can post pics with labels that would help.

joe
 
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Discussion Starter #17
thanks, beaterar. Of course, more questions... I am very interested to know what lengths you guys are going with? I read in that article that the m4 is using a 14.5" bbl... It's my understanding that rifle bbls need to be 18" or longer... I figured I was pushing it with 16" so how does the 14.5" bbl come into play?

I have a lot to figure out and I hope you guys don't mind all the questions.

Last one for now: where might I come by a bbl and gas tube assembly? I'm finding that I will have better luck taking this project in stages if I do it like this:

Step 1: buy stripped lower
Step 2: buy LPK
Step 3: buy upper without bolt and barrell (but everything else)
Step 4: buy bolt/bolt carrier/charging handle
Step 5: buy barrell/handguards/gas tube.
Step 6: buy carry handle/collapsible stock

Each step will run about $100-$150 (roughly).

Does this sound like a good plan?

joe
 
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Discussion Starter #18
Sounds good... dont forget the tools you will need to assemble it (action block and what not).

As for the barrel length, 16" is the legal limit without having to send a nice bit of paperwork and $200 dollars to the ATF and then wait six months :)

In your case, go for a 16"

Also, I'd recommend substituting the detachable carry handle with a decent detachable or folding rear sight... They end up costing about the same, and it makes it a tad easier if you ever decide to mount an optic ;)
 
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Discussion Starter #19
thanks, beaterar. Of course, more questions... I am very interested to know what lengths you guys are going with? I read in that article that the m4 is using a 14.5" bbl... It's my understanding that rifle bbls need to be 18" or longer... I figured I was pushing it with 16" so how does the 14.5" bbl come into play?

I have a lot to figure out and I hope you guys don't mind all the questions.

Last one for now: where might I come by a bbl and gas tube assembly? I'm finding that I will have better luck taking this project in stages if I do it like this:

Step 1: buy stripped lower
Step 2: buy LPK
Step 3: buy upper without bolt and barrell (but everything else)
Step 4: buy bolt/bolt carrier/charging handle
Step 5: buy barrell/handguards/gas tube.
Step 6: buy carry handle/collapsible stock

Each step will run about $100-$150 (roughly).

Does this sound like a good plan?

joe
Your better off buying a complete upper assembly.
 
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Discussion Starter #20
Lowers: Aimsurplus.com has lowers for $88.00. If live close, you can save shipping (like me).

Del-Ton has lower parts kits for about $50.00.

Uppers can be had from a lot of different palces.
 
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