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Posted: 4/12/2010 5:30:48 AM EDT
Hi guys, been checking out your forum for the last year or so this is my first post. My question is if you had a $1000 dollars (just for comparison) to spend on a AR could you get more gun by buying the parts and building the gun yourself or is the cost of labor the manufacturers figure in the the price so low that it doesn't make a much of a difference.
Thanks, Steve
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 5:37:48 AM EDT
Too many variable to say for sure one way or the other. Just depends on what you want, what you start with, how good you are with finding deals, etc., etc., etc...

In generally I would say saving money is not the best reason to build your own AR. In some cases it is possible, especially if you want something not very common but in general you won't save much. Right now it's a buyers market out there so if you are just looking for a standard AR, I'm sure you can find a deal on a complete weapon for the same or less $ then it would cost you to build one.

The good reasons for building your own is A. If you like to work on your own stuff. B. If you know the AR system well enough to want to make sure your rifle is built "right" and C. if you are looking for a custom, non-standard setup.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 5:44:14 AM EDT
Spend more time here. If you are at all handy, build it yourself.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 5:57:39 AM EDT
Like the first responder said. It depends on what deals you can find. I was able to build a 16" M4 profile and a 20" rifle using all Stag parts. I saved a couple of hundred on each rifle compared to Stags retail prices on the complete rifles.

4X4SC
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 5:59:36 AM EDT
You can build a basic AR for under a grand or buy a basic AR for under a grand

when you build you can spec out the kind of configuration you want that may not be avaible from the factory

if you just want to put rounds downrange buy it
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:04:53 AM EDT
Dont save money, just end up with more/better for the same money in most cases.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:15:02 AM EDT
It's all about what "you" want...

You can probably find acceptable configuratons built by others, or you can build it your way... It's not about saving money for most, but it can be. I built my first from a box of parts and it felt great, and shot great. Mostly I'll buy the assemblies anymore, but sometimes I'll build one "my way". It will cost a little more sometimes to build one.

As far as assembling one yourself from a upper, lower, and BCG, right up front you can save the 11% fed tax and possibly your local sales tax. That 20% can add up to a better rifle also

And then there is a feeling of satisfaction knowing it's your way...
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:19:32 AM EDT
Most times yes. I am saving around 300 building my NM rifle plus I am building it with extras that I would not get on a manufacture rifle. Plus I am getting high quality parts no compromising!
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:19:56 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/12/2010 7:11:30 AM EDT by Jeep297]
Originally Posted By airgunner:
Too many variable to say for sure one way or the other. Just depends on what you want, what you start with, how good you are with finding deals, etc., etc., etc...

In generally I would say saving money is not the best reason to build your own AR. In some cases it is possible, especially if you want something not very common but in general you won't save much. Right now it's a buyers market out there so if you are just looking for a standard AR, I'm sure you can find a deal on a complete weapon for the same or less $ then it would cost you to build one.

The good reasons for building your own is A. If you like to work on your own stuff. B. If you know the AR system well enough to want to make sure your rifle is built "right" and C. if you are looking for a custom, non-standard setup.


This.

Right now I don't think you could build a better rifle than the Spikes for $760. The only rifle I've built so far is everything I wanted but cost me about $3000. It's more fun though and you learn a lot more about your rifle.

[ETA] The other advantage of buying an off the shelf AR like Spikes is that you get a lifetime warranty and great customer service which you obviously wouldn't have with a build.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:22:33 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:25:22 AM EDT
If you want to customize your rifle, you save money in the sense that you won't have a shoebox full of parts you paid for with your complete rifle and removed.

For instance, I have a set of M4 handguards laying around because I took them off my first AR when I installled a free float rail.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:46:10 AM EDT
The only advantage over building versus buying a rifle outright really is do you want something not available on a stock gun? Do you want to be able to say I built this myself? If you know it well enough to do it go ahead. Other wise only advantage is buying a seperate upper and lower will save you the 11% fed excise tax. Good luck.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:52:00 AM EDT
depends on what you want, for a standard m4, i think the spikes would be your best bet. For a custom/precision rig, BYO will the the ticket in most cases.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 6:52:43 AM EDT


Nope.

But it allows me to buy expensive components over time, giving my wallet time to recover between parts.

Also allows me do do my own work and become proficient at depot level maintenance. I have rebarreling down to about 20 minutes per change. (the gas tube removal/alignment/replacement actully takes longer than anything else).
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 7:05:46 AM EDT
I agree with Texkaw .But if i had a $1000 to spend i would buy a Colt 6920 i think.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 7:24:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By steveak:
Hi guys, been checking out your forum for the last year or so this is my first post. My question is if you had a $1000 dollars (just for comparison) to spend on a AR could you get more gun by buying the parts and building the gun yourself or is the cost of labor the manufacturers figure in the the price so low that it doesn't make a much of a difference.
Thanks, Steve

I came in at $530 ready to shoot recently....patience, flexibility and much research and scouring the internet for deals were required....I'll know Friday whether it works or not....
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 7:46:50 AM EDT
building it yourself takes time and paitence. if you have both then build, you will get a much better rifle. and if you don't then just buy one. it may be better to buy a bare bones ar and learn the platform with it and then build your second. you can't have just one ar...
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 7:48:11 AM EDT
No, because I'm never satisfied and keep adding and changing stuff and before I know my cheap build costs me 2K.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 8:13:05 AM EDT
I have built some specialty rifles for amazing prices but patience is the key.

I built a heavy barrel target AR for $667, based on a DPMS NM upper bought on the EE. By the time I was done, only the barrel and bolt were used from the original upper so I had the rest of the parts for 'free' for the next rifle.

The leftover 'free' parts allowed me to build a KISS carbine with a Del-Ton barrel kit for for under $500.

My most recent build is a dedicated .22rf A2 20" w/ a 1-12" twist barrel off an early M-16. With a non-freefloat YHM quadrail and Ceiner kit with 6 Black Dog Magazines I only have $620 in this rifle. In this case all parts were used except the assembled lower.

Link Posted: 4/12/2010 8:35:25 AM EDT
A lot of the advantages to BYO is asking questions here, finding deals, ordering, WAITING FOR FUN GUN STUFF TO ARRIVE , and learning about ar's and how they work.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 8:36:49 AM EDT
yes
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 8:53:10 AM EDT
Well, if you know what you want, and aren't in any rush to have one built, yeah, you could save some money. I can get stuff off the EE for less then retail, as long as you don't mind lightly used. Which I don't. So that is usually what I do when I'm buiding a new rifle. If you want it sooner then later, you can have a nice rifle for a good bit under $1k and have it tomorrow.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 9:01:52 AM EDT
For me.. I did and did not "Save" money.

I wanted a very special to me AR. I wanted it built to my likings. Buying a stock bushy or RRA then putting on everything I wanted was not the right way to go. I instead chose to buy a stripped lower and start from there.

Rifle:
$89 spike's stripped lower
$115 spike's stripped upper
$50 armalite LPK
$35 MIAD grip
$200 UBR
$225 spike's NiB BCG
$33 spike's billet CH
$30 spike's ST-T2 buffer
$60 spike's muzzle brake
$200 Troy BUIS
$280 WOA SS barrel
$200 Troy TRX extreme
$40 Troy lo pro gas block
$12 gas tube
=$1569

Optics:
$200 LaRue SPR-E
($200 Millett DMS-1) sold, looking for Trijicon TR24
$980 ACOG TA33G-H in LaRue LT105 mount (on its way, hopefully)
=$1180 with out MIllett & TR24

$151 Surefire G2 LED in LaRue LT606 mount
$100 BAD lever and Pmags
$infinity Ammo


=$2229 as pictured there.
$2964 when the ACOG gets here.

Damn I hate adding all that up. FML. I started it over a year ago and its "done" now.... I've said that about 5 times before. Spreading it out over a year wasn't all that painful. Not bad for a poor college kid . This is my rifle and I will NEVER be letting it go. I sold my stock Bushmaster to fund this project, really only to fund the ACOG. Everything else was bought a few pieces at a time.

If you want to buy something and go shoot, buy a production rifle. If you want something you're own and with you're own "flavor", by all means BUILD!!
I have seen a couple rifles with my "style", but this one is mine.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 9:29:03 AM EDT
Just build it!

If you don't build one now you will soon enough. You can never have just one!
Also you may not like how the one you buy is set up then you will want to chnage it up.

If I could go back. I would have built my first AR.

Go to the "build it yourself" section under AR-15. Read up, there's a great step by step.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 9:33:47 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/12/2010 9:34:18 AM EDT by PaBambiKiller]
Originally Posted By ag04blast:
Dont save money, just end up with more/better for the same money in most cases.


+1 when building it yourself you buy parts that have been reviewed by other forum members, and you can customize your rifle to your likes and needs. Plus it makes you feel godlike after your 1st build. When you go to the range you can proudly say when people ask about your rifle, stating I built it.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 9:39:20 AM EDT
Originally Posted By PaBambiKiller:
Originally Posted By ag04blast:
Dont save money, just end up with more/better for the same money in most cases.


+1 when building it yourself you buy parts that have been reviewed by other forum members, and you can customize your rifle to your likes and needs. Plus it makes you feel godlike after your 1st build. When you go to the range you can proudly say when people ask about your rifle, stating I built it.


+100
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 10:32:03 AM EDT
minimum you save is the tax on complete rifles which i believe is 13%. I just recently put together a M&A parts kit with lightweight 1 in 7 chromelined barrel and ramps for $550. Sweet little AR too.
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 11:08:59 AM EDT
Having just gone thru this with my first AR, the starting point should be what you want and what you want to use it for. I spent a lot of time here doing research (thanks guys) and then putting down all the stuff that I wanted to have on my rifle.

I put together a spreadsheet to compare what it would cost to build vs. what I could buy a lower and upper assembly for. It worked out that I was able to find the lower I was looking for in an upper and lower assembly-RRA lower with Magpul PRS and two stage trigger and the upper was a DPMS 204 with the free float tube....When I added up the numbers, factored in the shipping for the parts and the time I would take to build it, it made more sense to buy the complete upper and lower.

I was itching to get this ASAP, so I didn't feel like waiting around for deals and doing it piecemeal.


Link Posted: 4/12/2010 11:57:09 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/12/2010 11:57:51 AM EDT by Nakanokalronin]
I think I saved money. I bought a Model 1 parts kit and got the chrome lined barrel and bolt assy., A3 with only the options I wanted for $500 and a DSA lower for $100. For $600 I got exactly what I wanted. Now as far as other things you want to hang from your AR, they don't count, only the initial purchase of said rifle. Its been 100% reliable so no complaints!
Link Posted: 4/12/2010 12:00:22 PM EDT
Depends on how simple a rifle you want or how customized a rifle you want.

Simple = buy off the rack.

Customized = build it yourself...
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 10:44:11 AM EDT
I don't think I ever sat down and priced out if I actually saved money.

The main thing for me was the fact that I would have everything I wanted, from the get-go. Instead of buying complete, and having to swap out parts for parts I actually wanted. Then you're left with leftover parts...........and that's never a good thing. Because 1 of 2 things will happen; either you have to bother to sell the stuff, or those extra parts turn into another gun, which of course costs more money!
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 10:48:52 AM EDT
Originally Posted By NY_Shooter:
I don't think I ever sat down and priced out if I actually saved money.

The main thing for me was the fact that I would have everything I wanted, from the get-go. Instead of buying complete, and having to swap out parts for parts I actually wanted. Then you're left with leftover parts...........and that's never a good thing. Because 1 of 2 things will happen; either you have to bother to sell the stuff, or those extra parts turn into another gun, which of course costs more money!


I have a box of parts which wouldl turn into 5 or 6 guns if I decided that I should go that way.
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 11:14:04 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/13/2010 11:21:44 AM EDT by LedZeppelin]
I will never buy a complete AR15. I built my first from the ground up and said to myself, "that was easy", and it only cost me $500 in 2007 and I said to myself, "that was cheap".

The only thing I hate is the 5.56 caliber. So now I've moved on to the 6.5 Grendel and things are looking good. My rifle,

upper- $110
charging handle- $15
Bolt carrier- $80
BCG parts- $15
FF tube- $150
Gas block- $35
Gas tube & pin- $15
bolt/barrel- $325
QD mount- $150
Rings- $35
Scope- $750
lower- $125
lower parts- $50
trigger- $150
stock- $250
BUIS- $200

so I'm at like $2450 into my rifle, optics and accessories included. No "factory" rifle like it exists, and had I bought similarly constructed uppers and lowers seperately and the same optics/sights I have, I would've spent way over $3000.

ETA: Alexander Arms does make a rifle very similar to mine (must be a semi-new offering), and mine has more customizable options and is $1000 less (theirs is $3650).
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 12:05:44 PM EDT
It's easy to assemble one, hard to build one. To simply assemble one, start with a decent lower which is easy to put together with a lower parts kit and the stock of your choice. Then you're ready to pop a complete upper on it. 'Complete' A3 uppers usually don't have the charging handle or carry handle. The carry handle is not a problem if you don't plan on using it, but if you do, it's hard to find a new one for less than $50, and the charging handle is about $20. To build one, you need to be able to assemble the upper, which involves specialized tools and some knowledge. What you save on buying all the upper parts and barrel you will spend on the tools. I recommend buying the upper you want from one of the major manufacturers so it carries a warranty. Either way, the bulk of your money will be in the upper and any optical sight you use. The last one I put together is something that's not really offered by a manufacturer, although a couple of them said they'd build it for $1100 to $1200. I did it for $870 - not a major difference, but it was a lot more satisfying than just waiting for it to get to the FFL's house.
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 12:55:22 PM EDT
I saved around $230 building a Model 2 Stag rifle. Around where I live a complete rifle goes for $990.
I paid $250 for a complete Stag lower, and another $511 for a complete Stag upper. Grand total of $761
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 1:06:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By BigJ80:
I saved around $230 building a Model 2 Stag rifle. Around where I live a complete rifle goes for $990.
I paid $250 for a complete Stag lower, and another $511 for a complete Stag upper. Grand total of $761


Same situation here.

Even if you match the gunshop rifles "part for part", building will come out cheaper. If you plan to modify the rifle later on, you are paying for handguards/stocks/sights/grips/etc that will get thrown into your parts bin or sold for half the price on EE.
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 1:08:18 PM EDT
KISS kind of rifle, after a lot of scouring the net for deals, yeah, you can save money.

But if you go full custom with the best parts, then spend another $100 to have ADCO fix your fuck ups like I did (), then no, Dumped about $1500 into my last build.
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 1:35:38 PM EDT
Shipping costs can be a huge factor.
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 4:30:13 PM EDT
I got into building in a very conservative manner; on my first build, I basically took two complete rifles and swapped some parts between the two. . . taking all the parts I wanted from both and selling the one I didn't think i needed to keep.

I saved NO money in that deal, but since then, I've gone to lots of gunshows, bought stuff off the EE here, and found really good deals at pawn shops and local gun stores, and in the process I've gotten really comfortable with my AR knowledge and my ability to build a complete rifle. After my first experience, I decided that I wanted to keep a few rifles around, and its been great having Black Rifle Disease since then. The last rifle I built I had a little over $2500 in and if you'd have ordered that rifle from one of the custom manufacturers, it would have cost well over $3000. There is a lot of potential to save money, but the biggest thing is that you get your bang for the buck, because you don't wind up with a lot of stuff you don't need or want. Upgrades are inevitable if you like the ar platform.

I say build your first. You can easily do it with the folks around here helping you, plus there is so much information on this site that its almost a crime to say you haven't built at least one.

DO IT.
Link Posted: 4/13/2010 5:07:39 PM EDT
u can build a basic carbine for cheaper, especially considering some of the deals out there right now on components..
u can always add the better accessories later, rails, grips, etc.
Link Posted: 4/14/2010 5:57:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/14/2010 5:59:15 PM EDT by karlb]
As stated, unless you want something unique, you are probably better off buying a complete rifle. It makes no sense to build an M4 style rifle with the prices the way they are now on complete rifles. I just finished building a 16" lightweight, and it cost about $800. But, it's the exact rifle I wanted.

Bushmaster Superlight barrel. $239
BCM upper $92.10
BCM bolt carrier group $139
DPMS stripped lower $119
Palmetto State Armory MOE lower kit w/CMMG parts kit $149
MOE handguards $26
BCM charging handle $22

So I've got roughly $782 in this rifle, which is exactly what I wanted. It's light, points good, shoots, good, and I feel it has pretty decent parts.
Link Posted: 4/14/2010 5:58:43 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/14/2010 5:59:19 PM EDT by UGA02]
Originally Posted By Wormydog1724:
Originally Posted By PaBambiKiller:
Originally Posted By ag04blast:
Dont save money, just end up with more/better for the same money in most cases.


+1 when building it yourself you buy parts that have been reviewed by other forum members, and you can customize your rifle to your likes and needs. Plus it makes you feel godlike after your 1st build. When you go to the range you can proudly say when people ask about your rifle, stating I built it.


+100


Exactly. It may or may not save you money, but your rifle will be to your specs and needs.

eta: spelling
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 6:34:45 AM EDT
While all the tools needed for a build are listed, what do you builders think you have in the required tools for a build. I decided not to build, as I have already modified two of my AR's. Yes the carrying handles and forends are gathering dust. I'd like one more lower, but my local can build it for me at about $550+ tax and that includes a PRS stock. That sound pretty cheap to me.

I figure a build is the same as reloading. You don't save money reloading, but you shoot a lot more for the same money, and you taper the load to the stick. Isn't that about right??
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 7:05:58 AM EDT
Yes and you can do it for under $1000 with top quality parts equal or better than Colt..actually somme of my choices in parts when I rebuild include Colt.
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 7:12:33 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/17/2010 7:13:49 AM EDT by Bushmaster1984]
this has been said before...build your own! I have been building ever since I got on arfcom...i own one production gun, all the rest are builds. my newest bulid

I like the stag comp so much that I think one is going to go on my BCM 20in...when I have to neuter it
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 9:25:40 AM EDT
I saved money by not having to replace parts that I didn't really like (replacing the stock for example).
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 2:28:16 PM EDT
I saved money buying the parts I wanted the first time, not replacing them later. And the savings of excise tax only on a $100 lower vs. a $1000 rifle.

Love the Arizona avatars up above!
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 3:58:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/17/2010 4:11:50 PM EDT by Alaskacajun]
There is a guy at work that can't really afford to just buy an AR.... he currently has a stripped lower, a RRA NM LPK, a 6 position telestock, and an LMT BCG.

Slowly but surely... ....one paycheck at a time!

ETA: Family Photo


- Clint
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 4:09:07 PM EDT
Well... I'm fairly new to ARs, but I can say I spent about 6 months researching various sites including this one trying to answer that questions - buy or build? I finally decided that buy a standard RRA AR would get me my rifle faster and save me money. I was absolutely right until I started customizing my new AR just 3 days later. Less than a month after buying the RRA I've since dropped cash to add a 12" quad rail, light mount, optic (though be it a cheap one), two different types of rail covers, pmags, ASAP plate, Magpul MS2 sling, Magpul AFG, Magpul MBUS sites (front and rear), etc.

I think that I could have taken all the money spent so far and build the "bad ass" rifle of my dream and still saved a few bucks. I could probably have even bought a top notch rifle by now too.

Oh well... Live and learn! I figure that as I continue to replace parts with better ones, I'll have enough parts left over for another riffle.
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 4:44:52 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/17/2010 4:50:16 PM EDT by MJL]
I've built a few now. What many people will fail to tell you about your first build is that the cost of the most basic tools to get started will add around $80 (unless you buy a completely assembled upper). The cost of shipping the various parts from multiple online sources, plus the transfer fee for a lower can easily add up to near $100.

Those two extra costs alone will wipe out any savings you might see from a basic AR build.

If you just want a decent basic AR then buy a whole one. I think Spikes has a pretty good deal going on right now. I think you can get a decent deal from DSA by buying the two halves separately as well. Some of the places that offer kits also have good deals and those don't require any specialized tools.

Once you get a solid idea of what exactly you want out of every part then you might consider building your own.

Build because you want something you can't buy off the rack or because you're the type of guy who likes to build stuff. Don't bother building just to save money.
Link Posted: 4/17/2010 4:55:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By robplumm:
Depends on how simple a rifle you want or how customized a rifle you want.

Simple = buy off the rack.

Customized = build it yourself...


i agree totally, building is fun and you learn about your rifle, but simplicity is in buying one, i just bought a nib bushy on sale and with a coupon from dunham sports for $749.00, could really pass it up for the money and its just for the kids to fire some down range. but i love my customs as they are what i want just wish i would have kept them. if you can find a deal on one of the shelf you can still add a few upgrades and stay at a $1000.00.
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