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Basic
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Posted: 5/23/2012 10:40:00 AM EST
Hello all. Been lurking here for awhile and finally decided to join and get your advice firsthand.

my goal is to build a 5.556mm 16" barreled rifle with a 4-rail picatinny system, railed gas block, A3 style upper, and a MAGPUL ACS stock. I was going to use an assembled CMMG upper and partially assembled lower and add the buffer tube and stock myself.

I then noticed most people here fully assemble their lower themselves. Is there really a savings in this? I was also looking at any other ways to trim the fat, since all in all, tax, shipping and whatnot, this was looking at costing me about $1200, and as a college student, that's not a kind figure.

The rifle would mostly be a plinker to be honest, but I would like to be able to use it to hunt and/or SHTF, should either become applicable. Any advice is helpful, and thank you for your patience with my noob-ness.


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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 11:29:58 AM EST
It's not too difficult to assemble a lower.
Some people with poor mechanical skills have found ways to screw them up, however.
Take a looks at these videos and see if you want to try it....

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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 11:34:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/23/2012 11:39:33 AM EST by RandyStacyE]
You really have to compare the cost in order to know if there is any significant cost savings between assembling the lower and buying a fully assembled lower. Personally I always assemble mine. Don't be worried about assembling a stripped lower. As long as you have a head on your shoulders and can follow simple instructions, you'll do a fine job. There are MANY YouTube videos on Assembling an AR-15 Stripped Lower. It's a piece of cake.

The most important parts in my opinion are the barrel and a decent BCG (which I buy from the same vendor and they check head space for me before they ship it out). Rainier Arms does this I kinda like using Rock River Arms lower parts. They are nice quality, but there are other brands that also produce nice quality parts too. A decent trigger is ideal. Shop, shop, shop and keep shopping to find the best deals you can find, but sometimes your time ends up being not worth the savings if you are shopping way too much.

I personally do not use a railed gas block. I attach my front sight to the front of the hand guard. If you choose to do that too then you can use a low profile gas block which would likely cost less (and look nicer in my opinion too).

I am a big fan of Magpul stocks. Magpul makes excellent products and it took quite a while before they finally won me over. I was always trying to cut costs, but I truly appreciate quality because I've suffered a LOT of junk before realizing.

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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 12:04:03 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/23/2012 12:38:14 PM EST by Direct-Drive]
Originally Posted By RandyStacyE:
http://youtu.be/iA_Vkb2UB1w

I wouldn't recommend this video.
The guy's a rank amateur. He butchers the bolt catch roll pin....looks like he took out a few excruciating-to-watch frames since I viewed it last.
You can still see him lose control of it and you could clearly see that the roll pin was folded over in the original.


There are some questionable Youtube AR assembly videos around, so be careful.
The Brownells series that I posted above is the most correct AR build video(s) that I've seen.


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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 12:26:25 PM EST
im a college kid too... though I worked very hard in High school to purchase My first AR when I turned 18 I even Had money left over and I put it away for college. Now a year after my freshman year I have several rifles including another AR I my opinion like I have said in other posts like this BUY FIRST that warrenty is there for a reason. If you are set on building again from a fellow college kid ask around here first gain knowledge before building from your post I know you have little experiance with this stuff. also IF building check the EE for stuff very trustable guys for quality parts cheap... another big thing that gets in college kids way is lowers. ARE you 21? if not it will be problematic for you to accquire one of these. and FINALLY if you are gonna build its gonna be harder to get parts for your build with election coming up and panic buying RAGING although if you keep your head you will find stuff in stock. well theres my 2 cents if you need help or any questions these people are awesome with knowledge and I know quite a bit too if you need help IM
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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 12:30:47 PM EST
skip the railed gas block, they are heavy and pointless with a railed handguard.

you're better off going with a low profile gas block and covering it with an extended free float handguard
longer grip length
longer sight radius
covered gas block
more front sight options (such as polymer MBUS)
plus the benefits of a free floated barrel
Sure, I've been called a xenophobe, but the truth is, I'm not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and the other countries aren't as good. That used to be called patriotism.
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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 3:24:36 PM EST
I'm an ASE certified technician and an engineering student, so I'm quite mechanically inclined and not concerned about difficulties in the assembly process. As for the recommendation of videos, I discovered them awhile ago and have watched the entire series, a few in multiples, and do intend on referencing them when I do the work in the future.

The tip on the low-pro gas block and free floating the rails for the sight mount is exactly the kind of thing I knew you guys would catch and help me on. Like I said, I understand most of what's involved but I am far from knowing everything, or even enough to feel comfortable on doing this without consulting people like yourselves.

On the note of a lower, no, I am not 21 yet. I had been wondering if buying one at a local expo would circumvent this. If not, my brother is 29 and a US Army veteran, so I could have him or my father pick one up for me and 'gift' it to me.

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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 6:17:17 PM EST
I know this is something that will be debated until the end of time, but I was wondering if there were any suggestions as far as other manufacturers that might be a little more cost effective. I know I don't need a Rock River Arms or Noveske (as much as I'd love one!), but I'm not going to buy something that I can't trust myself to in two or three years just to save a buck.

I was also wondering if people have had any luck finding better deals at gun expos than what you normally see online? I've heard of it, but I was wondering if anyone had any experience shopping for rifle parts at these expos.

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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 6:35:17 PM EST
it depends who is at the expos... if you want a complete rifle look at PSA, Spikes tactical, BCM, Colt etc.. if a more thrifty approach or local S&W Bushmaster RRA and DPMS alright alright but as I said in my pervious post with the election year coming up it gonna be difficult to find parts you want in stock examples Springs, gas tubes, barrel nuts, front sight posts, BCGs even stock mounting kits.... but I understand you thinking of saving money if you built but you have to think of tools and a shop to build in.... unless you buying a complete upper your gonna need a torque wrench, ar 15 wrench, gun punches, hammer. AR 15 vise block, a good vice, grease for the parts, tape, screwdriver , etc....... you get my point unless you can find someone who will lend you tools be prepared to spend an extra 100 to 150 or so on tools
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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 7:36:11 PM EST
as far as tools and a shop go, I would only need AR specific tools like the gun punches and AR wrench. I have a collection of hand, pneumatic and power tools that would rival any professional auto shop, hence my ASE status.

like I said, tools and skills don't concern me. it's making sure that i get quality parts (while attempting not to spend all my money) and double check myself (like the low-pro gas block advice earlier) that I'm more concerned about.

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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 7:52:26 PM EST
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
as far as tools and a shop go, I would only need AR specific tools like the gun punches and AR wrench. I have a collection of hand, pneumatic and power tools that would rival any professional auto shop, hence my ASE status.

like I said, tools and skills don't concern me. it's making sure that i get quality parts (while attempting not to spend all my money) and double check myself (like the low-pro gas block advice earlier) that I'm more concerned about.

Study......here.
Put your preferred parts list together as you get a handle on what you want.
If any questions, ask here.

Many of us here chase the price-performance sweet spot and will be able to point you to the right places.


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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 7:55:32 PM EST
Originally Posted By Direct-Drive:
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
as far as tools and a shop go, I would only need AR specific tools like the gun punches and AR wrench. I have a collection of hand, pneumatic and power tools that would rival any professional auto shop, hence my ASE status.

like I said, tools and skills don't concern me. it's making sure that i get quality parts (while attempting not to spend all my money) and double check myself (like the low-pro gas block advice earlier) that I'm more concerned about.

Study......here.
Put your preferred parts list together as you get a handle on what you want.
If any questions, ask here.

Many of us here chase the price-performance sweet spot and will be able to point you to the right places.



+1
"Stupid is as Stupid does" -Forrest Gump
"Courage is grace under pressure" - Ernest Hemingway
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Link Posted: 5/23/2012 8:42:21 PM EST
Originally Posted By Direct-Drive:

Many of us here chase the price-performance sweet spot and will be able to point you to the right places.

this is a large part of what I am looking for. like I said earlier, I don't want to break the bank on something that's much more expensive than my desires warrant, but I'm not looking to buy anything twice because I bought crap either.

one of the original questions I had was whether people thought CMMG does well with price/performance, or if people prefer to go with something like an R guns stripped lower because of their good price and assemble it, which would put me well ahead of using CMMG parts to build the lower. that sort of thing. I have been looking through other posts, as well as other sites.

I'm not set on CMMG, they're just where I ended up in my own searching, and now I'm curious if people have any preferences of their own for a reliable, good starter rifle.

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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 12:19:50 AM EST
Check out the rifle kits at Palmetto State Armory. Great prices and decent quality. If you buy a kit you just pair it with a stripped lower and you good to go.

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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 4:35:02 AM EST
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
Originally Posted By Direct-Drive:

Many of us here chase the price-performance sweet spot and will be able to point you to the right places.

this is a large part of what I am looking for. like I said earlier, I don't want to break the bank on something that's much more expensive than my desires warrant, but I'm not looking to buy anything twice because I bought crap either.

one of the original questions I had was whether people thought CMMG does well with price/performance, or if people prefer to go with something like an R guns stripped lower because of their good price and assemble it, which would put me well ahead of using CMMG parts to build the lower. that sort of thing. I have been looking through other posts, as well as other sites.

I'm not set on CMMG, they're just where I ended up in my own searching, and now I'm curious if people have any preferences of their own for a reliable, good starter rifle.

No and no.
Personal experience no, but formed my opinions from a friends experience (CMMG) and performance reports here (R Guns).

Good advice to cruise Palmetto State Armory...no-nonsense, quality parts at prices that other vendors seem to find hard to match.

One more thing.....
Stop saying "Like I said"
I hate that.




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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 5:18:53 AM EST
I bought mine from PSA

I had only owned 1 other AR (a Rock River Elite Operator II) and I bought complete and I never detail stripped it.

I bought a Ultimate lower kit from PSA and put it together (with out a scratch or ding or peening any parts) in 30 minutes and it is very rock solid and Im very happy with it

I recommend the special punch for the pins and the $5 dollar buffer tube wrench, also if you are gonna use magpul trigger guard you'll need a very smalle allen wrench set



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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 10:20:56 AM EST
CMMG is alright but way overpriced especially with PSA being higher quality for cheaper prices even BCM is cheaper than most of there uppers Again read this site a lot a see the deals and companies that are worth your money. also check out the EE ( the orange tab up in the right hand side) can be some really good deals on uppers as well as lower parts etc.....
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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 2:19:28 PM EST
So, following the advice you guys gave me, I went ahead and checked out PSA. I found an upper that I am actually quite fond of.

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/ar-15-05/complete-uppers/16/psa-16-mid-length-light-profile-cl-mp-premium-upper.html

What I was wondering though, is they say they are currently out of stock if BCG's. After a search, I landed on this

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/sid=53787/pid=27448/Product/AR-15-BOLT-CARRIER-GROUP?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&mc_id=10000&gdftrk=gdfV21820_a_7c187_a_7c3466_a_7c100004476_d_100004449_d_10940&sa=X&ei=xL6-T4afCZLLsQLZyLDfCQ&ved=0CF0QgwgwAA

Is the $220 version they list what I would require? I would definitley keep searching before buying the first I see, but i want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction.

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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 3:02:12 PM EST
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
So, following the advice you guys gave me, I went ahead and checked out PSA. I found an upper that I am actually quite fond of.

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/ar-15-05/complete-uppers/16/psa-16-mid-length-light-profile-cl-mp-premium-upper.html

What I was wondering though, is they say they are currently out of stock if BCG's. After a search, I landed on this

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/sid=53787/pid=27448/Product/AR-15-BOLT-CARRIER-GROUP?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&mc_id=10000&gdftrk=gdfV21820_a_7c187_a_7c3466_a_7c100004476_d_100004449_d_10940&sa=X&ei=xL6-T4afCZLLsQLZyLDfCQ&ved=0CF0QgwgwAA

Is the $220 version they list what I would require? I would definitley keep searching before buying the first I see, but i want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction.

That's a nice upper.
Buying it built with save you from having to buy some tools.
I am totally not onboard with that high-priced Fail Zero product.

The two best deals on fully tested BCG's are PSA and Spikes.
Then for a little more $, there's LMT, BCM and Daniel Defense.

People are starting to hoard parts, this being an election year, so it's going to be like fishing to get all your parts rounded up.
Diligence an patience will be required.

On that PSA upper...contact PSA and see how far out BCG deliveries will be.
I think these are by FN (Fabrique Nationale), the famous Belgian weapons maker. They have their USA plant physically close to PSA, so I would expect that the wait won't be long for a BCG.

FN and Colt have made the majority of M16's and M4's.


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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 3:22:53 PM EST
Yeah, I'm definitely not on board with it either, I just wanted to make sure I was on the right track. I appreciate the tip on the BCG from PSA, I forgot to ask them that

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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 4:36:39 PM EST
If you want a BCG right now BCM has there world famous one in stock!!!! hurry though they sell like hot cakes
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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 7:00:31 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/24/2012 7:09:59 PM EST by RandyStacyE]
Originally Posted By Direct-Drive:
Originally Posted By RandyStacyE:
http://youtu.be/iA_Vkb2UB1w

I wouldn't recommend this video.
The guy's a rank amateur. He butchers the bolt catch roll pin....looks like he took out a few excruciating-to-watch frames since I viewed it last.
You can still see him lose control of it and you could clearly see that the roll pin was folded over in the original.


There are some questionable Youtube AR assembly videos around, so be careful.
The Brownells series that I posted above is the most correct AR build video(s) that I've seen.



Yeah that guy did do a number on the instillation of the bolt catch, but that doesn't mean that we all have to be as careless as he was. The point is that there are videos out there that show you how to install the parts and if you use your brain you can easily do it because it is not a complicated project. If you look it up you'll find all you need to know. You'll find tools that are not necessary yet make it more convenient to use. All you really need is a cheapo punch set and a hammer.

The Brownell videos are excellent, but just know that you don't require any special tools in order to get the job done if you take your time and be cautious.

Don't hold much stock in a so called "warranty". They usually only cover material defects, the coverage is typically weak and the wait time on action/customer satisfaction can be very long. You get what you pay for, assemble it yourself and EVERYTHING you buy using a credit card is covered. If the product fails and the vendor gives you the run-a-round or refuses to respond to your calls/messages then you can easily do a charge-back because the sale was "fraudulent". You'll get your money back with the quickness (as long as you used a real credit card not a bank card/debit card). The vendor has to prove their case and they will lose because you tried to contact them.


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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 7:48:26 PM EST


Yeah that guy did do a number on the instillation of the bolt catch, but that doesn't mean that we all have to be as careless as he was. The point is that there are videos out there that show you how to install the parts and if you use your brain you can easily do it because it is not a complicated project. If you look it up you'll find all you need to know. You'll find tools that are not necessary yet make it more convenient to use. All you really need is a cheapo punch set and a hammer.

The Brownell videos are excellent, but just know that you don't require any special tools in order to get the job done if you take your time and be cautious.

Don't hold much stock in a so called "warranty". They usually only cover material defects, the coverage is typically weak and the wait time on action/customer satisfaction can be very long. You get what you pay for, assemble it yourself and EVERYTHING you buy using a credit card is covered.
If the product fails and the vendor gives you the run-a-round or refuses to respond to your calls/messages then you can easily do a charge-back because the sale was "fraudulent". You'll get your money back with the quickness (as long as you used a real credit card not a bank card/debit card). The vendor has to prove their case and they will lose because you tried to contact them.


yeah I had thought the same thing myself, but I didn't wanna make a debate over it or anything. I'm confident enough in my skills that, with quality parts, I believe I can assemble a rifle that will perform well. Just trying to get direction on said quality parts.

Just making it up as I go.
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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 7:48:31 PM EST
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
On the note of a lower, no, I am not 21 yet. I had been wondering if buying one at a local expo would circumvent this. If not, my brother is 29 and a US Army veteran, so I could have him or my father pick one up for me and 'gift' it to me.


You could focus on building the upper receiver now. When that part is done, start buying lower receiver parts as funds allow. Buy yourself a stripped lower on your 21st birthday.

I've heard of people under 21 buying all the parts and assembling the rifle around lower at their FFL. I'm not sure if that would really work, as it might raise some fed's eyebrows during an audit that a stripped lower left as a rifle.

Nothing horrible was ever sold as a bad idea.
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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 8:27:09 PM EST
Originally Posted By Gingerbreadman:
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
On the note of a lower, no, I am not 21 yet. I had been wondering if buying one at a local expo would circumvent this. If not, my brother is 29 and a US Army veteran, so I could have him or my father pick one up for me and 'gift' it to me.


You could focus on building the upper receiver now. When that part is done, start buying lower receiver parts as funds allow. Buy yourself a stripped lower on your 21st birthday.

I've heard of people under 21 buying all the parts and assembling the rifle around lower at their FFL. I'm not sure if that would really work, as it might raise some fed's eyebrows during an audit that a stripped lower left as a rifle.



highly unlike but It could happen on the other hand your family bought it giving you right to it if they gifted you a lower plus once assembled as a rifle the Feds have no say in it being illegal on possesion of someone under 21......
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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 8:28:20 PM EST
Originally Posted By Gingerbreadman:
You could focus on building the upper receiver now. When that part is done, start buying lower receiver parts as funds allow. Buy yourself a stripped lower on your 21st birthday.

I've heard of people under 21 buying all the parts and assembling the rifle around lower at their FFL. I'm not sure if that would really work, as it might raise some fed's eyebrows during an audit that a stripped lower left as a rifle.


well I'm hoping I can acquire enough funds to purchase it this summer (gotta start actually getting paid lol), otherwise the first idea is actually a really good one.

yeah, I can see how that could pose a problem with the feds lol. Couldn't having someone else purchase it and gift it to me work, or did I misread that somewhere else on the site?

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Link Posted: 5/24/2012 8:31:22 PM EST
Originally Posted By bhouse1545:
highly unlike but It could happen on the other hand your family bought it giving you right to it if they gifted you a lower plus once assembled as a rifle the Feds have no say in it being illegal on possesion of someone under 21......


yeah that's what I was thinking. can't they just gift the lower? I read somewhere that the restriction on pistols is buying at 21, and that they can be given to anyone over 18. That may have been restricted to them being passed on thru a will or something though.

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Link Posted: 5/25/2012 3:52:56 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/25/2012 4:23:00 AM EST by RANDOMS]
If you have your heart set on building your 1st AR/M4gery I would suggest you look up Del-Ton and M&A Parts. Hell maybe roll the dice om Model 1 Sales. PSA makes good quality kits at a fair price. But as a young guy you will and I emphesize WILL change tastes in your rig before long. In my case anything other than an A2 was just plain wrong when I bought my 1st. Now I have a hankering for a 16 with a colapsable stock etc. Not that I'll be selling the A2 anytime soon as it's a Colt and shoots straight. I digress but I say go for a K.I.S.S. And for what you save on not adding do-dads you can spend on ammo. Plus what you'll learn by building (building is NOT just pressing in two takedown pins) you will thank yourself for in the long run. Like my once WORSHIPING 4 rail hand guards. I now prefer smoothies with rails only where I need them (MI SS Gen 2. Troy VTAC Alpha) you will cover the exposed rails anyways as they get caught up on everything if it ever leaves the range, cut into your paws like a cheese grater. And though 4 rail guards are tacticool they are also fat like Obama's ego. Either way good luck brother, and post some picks with whatever you come up with!

-RANDOMS-

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Link Posted: 5/25/2012 5:51:06 AM EST
Yeah. I hear you there. That's why my current plan (lest it change again ;)) is to go A3 style upper with a mapul BUIS rear, fixed front and smooth handguards that are a little different from the standard M4 style, which are too plain for me. This gives me a rifle I'd be more than happy with right now, but I could still install a low-pro gas block and atleast single railed guard later, should i desire. But, that's the great thing about at AR. If you don't like a certain detail, it's never too hard to change it!

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Link Posted: 5/25/2012 8:15:29 AM EST
Originally Posted By 94383Z71:
Originally Posted By bhouse1545:
highly unlike but It could happen on the other hand your family bought it giving you right to it if they gifted you a lower plus once assembled as a rifle the Feds have no say in it being illegal on possesion of someone under 21......


yeah that's what I was thinking. can't they just gift the lower? I read somewhere that the restriction on pistols is buying at 21, and that they can be given to anyone over 18. That may have been restricted to them being passed on thru a will or something though.


thats how I accquired a lower you gotta watch out though and not blast this all around this form the ATF does watch these fourms
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Link Posted: 5/27/2012 2:10:55 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/27/2012 2:21:24 PM EST by 94383Z71]
well, within the next week or so I hope to acquire a LPK, MOE stock and milspec tube assembly, and my father is going to order his lower receiver (when PSA gets them back in stock). After that, it's a matter of saving for a few weeks for the upper I want.

EDIT:

I was just on the website for PSA after I posted this, and they say their lowers are sent to CA as "long guns only". Is this the same type of marking someone mentioned earlier that would allow me to purchase my own? If so, it'd probably be possible for them to send me one marked as such even though I'm in MI, right?

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Link Posted: 5/30/2012 11:46:58 AM EST
Well, I just placed my order for their 16" Midlength Premium upper, complete with magpul MOE black handguards, BCG and a charging handle. Now I just gotta save up a bit for a lower, LPK and MOE stock & buffer assembly. It may be a little but, because I bought this a little sooner than planned. They finally got BCG's in stock and they've already had upper going out of stock in one day, so I decided to jump on it when possible.

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Link Posted: 6/7/2012 10:22:31 AM EST
I tell you what, I'm really glad you all pointed me towards PSA. I know one or two posts have surfaced lately about bad customer service from them, but they've been great to me. When I ordered my upper on may 30th, there was free shipping on certain items. when I went back a few days ago there was free shipping on everything. I sent them an email about it and they actually refunded my $15 that I paid in shipping, even though it was my own fault and they could have told me to eat it. Needless to say I put that $15 towards a lower build kit that was already on sale

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