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Posted: 5/17/2005 10:36:30 PM EDT
Hello,

I always thought AR-15's / M4's were out of my financial range and went for around $1000, but then I read that I could build a quality AR for around $600.

So, what are the prices of quality AR's? If I decide to build one, from where should I buy my parts (and how much will that cost)? What tools are required?

According to AR15.com:


How to Go About Building Your Own AR-15 and Why

www.ar15.com/content/articles/primer/

A. The Savings Most people build their own AR-15’s in order to save money. Some build their own for the knowledge and experience. A combination of both is the best reason in my opinion.

In California, a newly manufactured, basic AR-15 model from any manufacturer, will have a retail sticker price in excess $900.00 (base price). Then do not forget to include California Sales Tax (8.25%) and DROS Fee (California Dept. of Justice’s $14 processing fee). This brings your total to $988.25, quite a chunk of change.

Now, let’s compare this to building your own rifle. Without getting into the intricate details, yet, it suffices to say that the Federally-regulated, "serialized" (numbered) component, called the lower receiver, will cost you about $150.00 from your local gun dealer (maybe less if he is kind). Your local gun dealer is the only source for this part, as only the lower receiver is considered the actual firearm under the law. The rest of the AR-15, in the form of a "kit", will cost about $380.00 delivered to your door—with no middle man. That brings your total cost to just $530.00. Even adding in the carrying strap and 1 magazine—usually included on retail versions—your cost is only $550.00. That’s a $438.25 savings—or 44%! The savings is equivalent to roughly 2000 rounds of .223 Remington ammunition! Moral to the story, build your own!

B. What To Order

The ordering process will require that you order the parts from 2 different companies in order to save the most money. The "stripped" lower receiver—devoid of all other parts—will have to be ordered through your local FFL holder. I suggest using Bushmaster lower receivers—which have a good reputation in the business, and manufactures their parts with top-quality materials. And though Bushmaster sells kits too, they cost too much in my opinion. The rest of the "kit" should be purchased from one of the plethora of parts suppliers. I suggest Model "1" Sales in Illinois. So do as follows:

i. Step 1: The Lower Receiver. Through local gun dealer/FFL holder, or Dept. Armorer if you are Law Enforcement, the following (as appeared in Bushmaster’s Catalog Volume XIV, page 16, Tel. 1-800-998-SWAT):

Part No. 9349102-S

BUSHMASTER XM15-E2 Lower Receiver - STRIPPED....$ 89.95

The wait will be about 2-3 weeks, shorter for Law Enforcement.

(Note: It has been brought to my attention that as of early August 1997, Bushmaster has raised their price for stripped lower receivers by $30.00, making the base price now $119.95. It has also been brought to my attention that Olympic Arms will not be undersold on lower receivers, so it may behoove you to research their product.)

ii. Step 2: The Kit (less Lower Receiver). Call Model "1" Sales, Inc. at 1-847-639-3192. Ask for "Bill" or "Cindy". Order the following:

If you want a FULL-SIZED 20" rifle: POST-BAN, E2 20" KIT ...... $390.00

If you want a CARBINE-SIZED 16" rifle: POST-BAN, CAR 16" KIT .... $380.00

You will receive a complete "kit" with all parts except the lower receiver. The barrel will come pre-assembled—saving you the time, effort, and critical part of test-firing! There may be some minor cosmetic non-matches of color, but who cares. You’re building a rifle not a doll house. Expect to pay about $5.00 in shipping & handling, for a total of $385.00 delivered to your door.

C. Necessary Tools. Although opinions vary as to the number of "proper tools" you need. In my experience, only the following was necessary:


1. (1) long screwdriver.

2. (1) set of drift punches, from about 1/32" though ¼".

3. (1) 16 oz. brass hammer (a regular hammer will do in a pinch, but use lightly!)

4. (1) set of maintenance materials: gun cleaner (i.e. Hoppes No. 9), gun oil, patches

5. (1) pr. needlenose pliers

6. (1) USMC Technical Manual (TM 9-1005-319-23&P). A must-have reference guide

on assembly, disassembly, and cleaning. About $7-10 depending on where you buy it.

Model "1" will have them, as will Bushmaster.

7. (Optional) AR-15 Assembly/Disassembly Video. $19.95. Available from Bushmaster.

D. Accessories and Options. As previously discussed, there are options and extras which you should know are available to you for more money of course. Some you need, some you don’t. These are matters of personal preference, and I don’t even know the charges many of them:

i. Heatshields. These are about $5.00 extra, and are worth it! They keep your front handguards much cooler in extended shooting sessions. Order them while ordering the "Kit" from Model "1" Sales.

ii. Flat-Top. This option gives you a detachable carrying handle. This way you can take the carrying handle off and mount very low to the bore-line any type of scope on your rifle—full sized, compact, reflex, etc. Very cool in either 20" or 16" versions with red-dot or reflex/holographic type sights. This option is between $0.00 from Model "1" Sales to $50.00 extra on assembled retail models. Note: you can also mount scopes to the carrying handle, so a flat-top is not a necessity for scoping purposes.

iii. Carrying Sling. $5.00 to $40.00. Self-explanatory, available in cheap but functional nylon form or high-quality leather. Buy at least the inexpensive nylon one, you will need it. Order from Model "1" Sales.

iv. Repair Kit & Extra Detent Pins. About $30.00. Get one. Any AR-15 owner needs to have these parts on hand. Not that parts break too often, but normal wear and tear will occur. You should have 2 or 3 extra detent pins ($0.50/piece), because in the assembly process you may lose one or two for reasons that are too long to explain here—and if you don’t have a spare on hand then the whole assembly will be stalled until a $0.50 piece arrives by mail-order.

v. Free-Floated Barrel. About $25.00 extra. Free-floating the barrel does exactly that. It "floats" the handguards off the barrel, making your rifle like a hunting rifle where no "pressure" from the handguard can be transferred to your barrel. Most people report that "free-floating the barrel" decreases their groups at 100 yards from something like 1.25" to .75". Note that should you opt for the free-floated barrel, the aluminum free-float tube is going to get hot in extended shooting sessions.

vi. Fluting. Usually about $50.00 extra. "Fluting" is a process whereby multiple parallel grooves are actually cut into the barrel for its entire length. This process makes the barrel cool faster, makes it stiffer, and makes it more accurate.

vii. Magazines. $10-30 each. Well, there are an endless variety of magazine manufacturers out there. And though the Brady Bill has limited newly-manufactured magazines to 10-rounds, there are plenty of 20-, 30-, and 40- round magazines in circulation (new and used) manufactured prior to the Brady Bill. The 30-rd Israeli-made, polymer "Orlite" magazines are about $15-20 and work great. The same can be said for the polymer Canadian "Thermold" magazines. (Note: It has come to my attention that the polymer magazines, i.e. "Orlite" and "Thermold" do not always positively lock into place in Bushmaster lower receivers. So, it is my recommendation to buy your magazines directly from Bushmaster, or buy G.I. surplus magazines, or even Colt’s magazines.)




Now then, the prices are off since the article seems to have been written back in 1997. Now, it would actually cost a total of roughly $650 for the listed parts from the mentioned companies.

What are your recommendations regarding building a quality AR or buying a ready-to-go quality AR?

I already own an AK-47 and I demand excellent reliability out of my firearms. How reliable will the AR be compared to the AK-47, specifically, regarding its tolerances for dirt and particles?

What ammo should I use, and what is the approximate cost?

What is the difference between a barrel in .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO?

Any other issues you feel important for a total AR newb... Enlighten me!

Finally-- it seems the price of a new FAL .308 battle rifle and an AR-15 are about the same. Which gun would you rather have, and why?

Thanks everyone.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 10:45:41 PM EDT
A lot of your questions will need a lot more information before we can answer them properly.

Mainly what do you want/what application are you looking at for your AR.

I'll start by saying that there is a whole forum for building ar's and another forum for just ammo discussions, but you will still need to know what you want to do with the gun.

Some questions and/or answers:

1) long range or short range
2) how much are you willing/wanting to build (just assemble the lower and pop on a complete upper, or build a upper from the ground up)
3) in terms of reliability vs AK... arguable, I would say imo the AK can probably be abused more, but with a properly maintained AR, it is as reliable or more than any other.
4) for your ammo questions, go to the ammo forum and or the ammo oracle.
5) FAL or AR, it is a personal choice. Since this is an AR site, you will probably get AR more, but then again the AR15.com motto is get both.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 10:57:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Vector_Joe:
1) long range or short range



Medium, I guess. I may end up putting a scope on it in the future, but right now, I'll stick with irons. That leads to another question-- what should I do with regards to the carrying handle? I've heard it's better to get a solid one instead of the detachable one.


2) how much are you willing/wanting to build (just assemble the lower and pop on a complete upper, or build a upper from the ground up)


Well, I don't want to do anything that requires tooling or smithing. The most I'd want to do would involve a screw driver, a wrench, and punching in a few pins with a hammer. I would definitely want the barrel preinstalled to the upper, at least. What do you recommend? I'm a newb, remember. :)


3) in terms of reliability vs AK... arguable, I would say imo the AK can probably be abused more, but with a properly maintained AR, it is as reliable or more than any other.


Excellent.


4) for your ammo questions, go to the ammo forum and or the ammo oracle.
5) FAL or AR, it is a personal choice. Since this is an AR site, you will probably get AR more, but then again the AR15.com motto is get both.



Yeah, I sort of expected that, but I just wanted to throw it out there. Thanks for your prompt responses.
Link Posted: 5/17/2005 11:58:48 PM EDT
Uh... Nobody else want to help me out here? hinking.gif
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 12:42:09 AM EDT
Your questions are kind of broad, but since I am not an ARFCOM elitist who remembers when I was an "AR NOOB", I will take a stab at some of your questions.*feel free to IM me any specific q's*

AR's are perfectly reliable when properly maintained. The AR doesn't have the loose tolerances that the AK has giving it precision, but less room to function with funk in the weapon. No firearms are immune to institutional abuse. Keep your AR relatively clean and you should have no problems.

The difference between a .223 and 5.56 is the chamber. A .223 will be much tighter and more accurate, primarily used in "match guns". .223 chambers will typically not allow for the safe shooting of 5.56 ammo as the Milspec ammo creates a dangerous amount of chamber pressure.
You can shoot .223 in a 5.56, though. Stick with 5.56, unless you are building a long range match/varmit gun. A 5.56 chamber will be plenty accurate.

Ammo selection depends on barrel twist. Stick with 1 in 9 and you can shoot anywhere from 40 to 75 grains accurately. I primarily shoot some form of M193 or other domestic ammo of around 60 grains. Ammo choice varies widely depending on what you are doing and your budget. Personally,
I don't shoot any imported, non-NATO ammo in my ARs, but some people shoot Wolf and others and do just fine....its personal preference. Its silly to buy a nice weapon and shoot garbage ammo in it, though...

If you truly are a NOOB, I would reccomend buying an AR as opposed to building one. The process of building an AR looks a lot easier than it is. You can easily find a complete AR in the 700.00 price range. A flat top adds versititliy, but isn't necessary. You can add just about any optic to an A2 upper, if you so desire. If you don't have the money or the intent to use an optic 100 percent of the time, the flat top is a wast of money. If you are going to stick to iron sights, get an A2, and worry about mounting an optic later, if you decide to. I bought my AR before my FAL.
The Ar is cheaper and more fun to shoot, I think...Get a nice, used A2 from your local gun store, take care of it, feed it healthy ammo and have a great time. Hope this helped!


Link Posted: 5/18/2005 1:27:23 AM EDT
you can get quality, already built ARs from the top companies for ~$850 or so--up to $1000+, depending on the model and style

check here:www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=4 on easy to build AR instructions

read around

check out the Industry and EE boards for great dealers and deals on parts (bravocompanyusa, eaglefirearms.net, ADCO, and bushmaster are some of the best dealers imo)

for a basic, easy to build built AR: get a stripped lower -forged-(stag, MEGA, rra, lar, cmt, etc) for ~$89--dont pay more than $115; have it shipped to a local FFL
then get an AR kit from JTD or del-ton--5.56 chambered and chrome-LINED bbl

there are other ways, including geting lower part kits, stripped lowers, stocks, uppers etc--tools will depend on how basic the parts you are building from

mostly, a leatherman, some tape, brass hammer, pliers, punches, and AR aromory tool are all you really need

read this:www.ammo-oracle.com for most questions on ammo

best, affordable ammo imo is federal xm-193 in bulk; win qc is also good, most quality ammo runs well in ARs--
www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=16

as to which (FAL vs. AR) i would rather have, it would depend on the situation and use--whats it for: H? urban? rural? truck gun? range time? plinking? precision?

the AR has cheaper ammo (wolf, .09 cents in bulk) while .308 surplus ammo is ~.16 cents or so

personally, i like the punch and range of the .308 over the 5.56--that would be the only reason why i would probably take the FAL

h/w, the AR just FEELS right in the hand; its got great sights, great handling, speed reloading friendly, and recoil is less noticible--great CQB weapon

my BUSHMASTER is still 100% in reliablitiy, except for a few FTFs due to new mags

ARs are just as reliable (in most situations ) than AKs; regular cleaning helps as well as quality ammo and USGI mags

fwiw: i have seen more AKs with ammo/mag problems and jamming at the range than ARs--but it just might be that more folks usually take better care of thier ARs than AKs

get the AR
FAL later
AK for bumpin and truck/trunk
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 2:21:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Ryno_the_wyno:
If you truly are a NOOB, I would reccomend buying an AR as opposed to building one. The process of building an AR looks a lot easier than it is. You can easily find a complete AR in the 700.00 price range. A flat top adds versititliy, but isn't necessary. You can add just about any optic to an A2 upper, if you so desire. If you don't have the money or the intent to use an optic 100 percent of the time, the flat top is a wast of money. If you are going to stick to iron sights, get an A2, and worry about mounting an optic later, if you decide to. I bought my AR before my FAL.
The Ar is cheaper and more fun to shoot, I think...Get a nice, used A2 from your local gun store, take care of it, feed it healthy ammo and have a great time. Hope this helped!





Yeah, that's what a few others recommended. Any particular companies you recommend? How's RRA? Also, what prices should I expect for quality ARs?
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 2:46:41 AM EDT
I built several ARs using used RRA parts bought off EE board. I have aroung 500.00 to 550.00 in each one of them. For fit finish, and $$$ you cant go wrong with RRA,

welcome to the boards, and good luck with you build
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 3:34:43 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 4:19:30 AM EDT
Thanks everyone! If anyone else has comments or suggestions, please feel free to jump in.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 6:39:25 AM EDT
I bought my first AR as a complete Bushmaster rifle and didn't spend a lot of cash on it. However this was a rifle I had saved up to buy and put on layaway at a local gun shop. I ran into some financial trouble and sold the damned thing a few years later.

My next AR was a build from J&T and I had M4 fever so that's the kit I got from them. I built it off of a DPMS lower reciver. Total cost was about $650.00 and this was in 2003 during the ban. I didn't get a chrome lined barrel which I kind of regret but it still functioned great. I didn't pay any more or less for that Bushmaster when I bought it years before (shouldn't have sold it either

Like many have said you have to look at what you want to do with your rifle. I wanted a carbine and that's what I got. I don't plan on doing any serious long range precision shooting or hunting with it so a M4 type carbine fit my needs.

With regards to the detachable carry handle versus the fixed A2 handle I have never had a problem with mine and run one on another AR15 I have. If you want to add optics down the road a flattop upper is a must because it will give you the largest number of options when it comes to mounting optics.

Read the forums here and suck up the information before you decide to buy/build. BTW my first build took less than 45 minutes to do following the instructions on this site (lower reciver construnction) and I did it wil less than $9.00 worth of tools in my hotel room while I was on a business trip.

RRA makes excellent products IMHO but I have not bought any of their rifles just lower parts kits and a bolt and bolt carrier. How much you pay for a "quality" AR depends on what you are looking for. Look at the equipment exchange on this site under complete rifles and lower receivers to see what the going price is for various makes and models of ARs. I bought a Colt 6920 for over $1,000 and I like it a lot but I still like to shoot my cheapo J&T kit build. Its all based off of what you want to do with your AR and what you feel comfortable with.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 7:22:42 AM EDT
stag lower 100
model 1 kit 450
total starting cost 550
ending cost, never ending
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 7:28:51 AM EDT

For a very first AR, I would recommend the halfway self-built route. That is, buy a lower receiver with the lower parts kit already installed in it, buy a pre-assembled upper receiver, and buy the stock and pistol grip of your choice. Assembling from those four parts is relatively trivial, and it will at least give you a little taste of how things go together in an AR, and how they like to use little spring-loaded pins everywhere. The next step up from that would be to buy the lower stripped and install the lower parts kit yourself. The final and most error/damage-prone step is to contruct an upper from parts (stripped upper, barrel, receiver, front sight post, etc).
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 4:29:54 PM EDT
There's no real trick to puting the lower together. Any baboon with a hammer can do it...he just has to worry about getting a detent in his eye.
Follow the instructions here and you won't have any problem. It can be done by a first timer in about a half hour. Just study the parts, study the instructions, and think about it.

Go with a vendor that sells the upper pre-assembled and you won't have any problems.
Jump in and DO IT!

I like Model1Sales, though others have had problems with them. I like them because they are cheap, they have a great variety (much better than J&T and some of the others), and I have always had good luck with their quality and customer service, which seems to be the areas where most people fault them.

Save your money, spend another month reading posts here, and then order what you feel comfortable with.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 8:17:45 AM EDT
Thanks, everyone, for the advice so far.

Now here's what I'm looking at:

I'm thinking of building an M4 from a complete upper and either a complete lower OR a stripped lower + lower kit.

Now you guys have said that RRA is a good, quality manufacturer, so I'll probably do that for my upper. Any other comments or suggestions with regards to the upper?

As for the lower, I'm not sure. A few guys recommended getting a stripped Stag Arms lower for $85. What's the quality of Stag Arms? If I get the stripped lower, what is a good quality kit for the lower?

Then, where is a cheap place to buy a buttstock (preferably M4 type, not sure on which is best though).

Also, what type of mags should I get and what price is good? I was looking around on the Eagle Arms website:

http://www.eaglefirearms.net/ar15_magazines.htm

Now if I decide to get a flat-top (the detachable carrying handle is about $100), where can I get a good flip rear sight? Quality, of course. What do you guys suggest with regards to the whole flat top vs detachable carrying handle?

That's all of my questions so far. I'm narrowing down the search, thanks to your help!

PS: Model 1 Sales was suggested, but others noted it was on the lower end of quality and customer service, so if anyone could recommend some other quality places for kits and parts, I'd appreciate it.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 9:09:14 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2005 9:11:34 AM EDT by Melvinator2k0]

What is the difference between a barrel in .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO?


5.56 and .223 are almost the same however you cannot shoot 5.56 in a .223 marked barrel for it to be %100 safe. You can shoot both .223 and 5.56 in a barrel marked 5.56

I built my AR for $550 (w/out optics) using a model 1 kit and a stag lower. If you want to build a quailty AR for cheap, definetly use Stag becasue they are built by LMT(they run from $85 to $99 depending where you look). Also I heard that Dpms sells AR kits for $415 (cheaper than any other I have seen). So if you buy a dpms kit and a stag lower, you can have an AR15 for $515.

kits usually come with buttstocks, you can choose what kind.
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