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Posted: 6/15/2015 11:03:08 AM EDT
I've been lurking for a few weeks doing research. I'm looking to build my first AR15. I am a Veteran and am familiar with the M16A2, M16A4, and M4 but I have never owned one. I was also a unit level armorer for a  few years, so I have some training in replacing parts and more disassembly than the user level. I've never put a barrel on or replaced a compensator, but I have replaced springs in the firing mechanism and done that sort of work on them; so I think between my past experience and youtube videos I should be set in assembling one. (My arms room had 60 M16A4's with assorted Trijicon ACOGs, Aimpoint M68s, and other sights, 5 M2 .50 machine guns, 7 M249 5.56 machine guns, 5 M240B 7.62 machine guns, 5 M19 40mm grenade machine guns, 2 M9 9mm pistols, 8 M203 40mm grenade launchers, a bunch of thermal sights, night vision scopes, a few sniper rifles for about a year, a couple of shotguns, and all kinds of other cool stuff I took for granted.)

I'm planning on doing this build over time, so I wont be posting updates every day. I really have no idea how long this will take me at the moment. It depends on funding availability.

Link Posted: 6/15/2015 11:03:47 AM EDT
Purpose of build:
My intended use for this weapon is for hunting and plinking, as well as using as a platform to help my wife gain familiarity with firearms. I have a Mosin Nagant with about 6 inches cut off the barrel, and my small framed wife doesn't like to shoot it for some reason. I can't say I blame her, the steal butt plate isn't particularly gentile when it recoils.

I live in South Dakota, and I have a cousin who lives several hours away on a farm. We shoot when we visit there, and we will probably be joining a local range as well. Coyotes, Prairie Dogs, and Deer are the intended targets. I know a lot of people don't suggest a 5.56 for deer, and I was contemplating going with a 300 blackout instead, but it is legal here to use 5.56 on them and ammo is less expensive. I could also just use the Mosin Nagant for them if its too much of a problem.

We also have a problem here with cats. I don't mean house cats. I also don't mean cougars, though we have those as well. We get these really mangy wild cats all around our back yard. I'm not sure if they are lynx or bobcat, or mixed breeds with house cats, but they are quite a bit larger than a house cat. We've lost pets to them in the past and our dog got a paw full of claw from one of them. I don't particularly care if the 5.56 isn't powerful enough a round for them to have a humane death after having to explain to my 8 year old autistic daughter that her pet cat wouldn't ever come back because it got eaten by one of these.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 11:04:28 AM EDT
I ordered a lower from TN Arms Co, I got the basic polymer lower in OD Green. This was approximately $38, and I think my FFL transfer fee will be $35. (I will post pics when after I pick it up)

I ordered a collapsible stock from Amazon, by signing up for an Amazon credit card I got a $40 e-gift card. With shipping I went about $3 over that for the stock, buffer tube, and buffer. I will cancel the credit card as soon as the paperwork arrives, I don't really use them and I have really good credit. I figured I may as well make it work for me. Here is the link for the stock I ordered, none of them have any reviews, so I hope they don't suck. I figure I'm out $3 if it does. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Y586LHY?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00

Link Posted: 6/15/2015 11:05:00 AM EDT
I'm still trying to decide on a barrel and upper. I'm not opposed to installing a barrel but I have never done it before. I was thinking about this one from brownells, the 20 inch model with target crown.

There are also some .300 blackouts I've been looking at. I'm also still tempted to go 6.5 Grendel, but I know it will cost a lot more both in parts and ammo.

I understand the differences in barrel length and their impact on velocity. I understand that 24 exceeds the point of diminishing returns. I deployed to combat once upon a time with a M16A4 which had a 20 inch barrel, and I didn't have any problems with that length. I was also a 240B gunner for a long time while deployed, so the extra weight of a 20 inch barrel over a 16 inch barrel will probably not bother me too much. Also, most of my shooting currently is done from a bench.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 11:05:33 AM EDT
What I still need to do:
I'm still looking for a lower parts kit, I don't really see a lot of difference between the various kits other than a few dollars here and there. Are there any lower parts kits that stand out as being a good value or are worth paying extra for?

I still need to source a charging handle. Honestly the military spec one never gave me any problems in 14 years of service, so I see little reason to upgrade beyond that; on the other hand, my father visits frequently and is left handed; so I am tempted to go for an ambidextrous build to ease shooting for him. He has never fired an AR15 that I am aware of. The raptor charging handle looks really cool, but I don't see its benefits being $60 more than a basic charging handle that works.

I need a bolt carrier group, and I really want to spend some money here and get a good quality coated bolt carrier group. Really, the bolt carrier is the only part that "needs" to be coated, but I've seen a lot of weapons fail in the past with issues related to lubrication in this area.

I need to figure out what I'm going to do for sights. Quite honestly I prefer to use iron sights as much as possible. Don't get me wrong, I really like Aimpoint M68s, but they take a lot of work to properly zero and my experience in combat has been that people's batteries die at inopportune moments. I love the Trijicon ACOGs, but those will definitely be out of my budget. (I used to have like 40 of them just lying around my office, I kind of miss those days :) ) I'm thinking I need a good set of BUIS and probably a really bright front sight post to mount in them.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 11:06:05 AM EDT
I have no idea how long this build will take, so I apologize in advance if it takes forever or if updates are slow in coming. Thanks for any help in advance.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 11:06:34 AM EDT
Good luck and have fun. You're certainly in the right place.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 8:05:58 PM EDT
I'm a FNG in the AR world I assembled my first a year ago. I suggest PSA and AIM. PSA has a deal on some complete uppers right now and free shipping.  If you wants to build the upper in my opinion there isn't much to it. What's your budget? You can always buy a 5.56 complete upper and then build a 300 black out upper. I would start with 5.56 cost of ammo is significantly lower. They Beauty of the 300 is that the bolt and mags interchange with 5.56.
  For you LPK what do you want in a trigger? "Mil spec" or target.  I'm happy with my mil spec but then again I have never shot a match trigger maybe one day. But for now as long as it goes bang when I pull the trigger that's all I need.

Welcome to the forum and thank you for your service to this country. If I can be any assistance I'm no expert but will offer what I can.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 8:07:24 PM EDT
One other thing I have no experience with poly lowers but you can get aluminum for the same price.
Link Posted: 6/15/2015 9:40:33 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
One other thing I have no experience with poly lowers but you can get aluminum for the same price.
View Quote

Yeah, unless you're looking for an ultra light weight gun, I'd stick with standard aluminum alloy.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:05:08 PM EDT
I know a lot of people don't like the polymer lowers, but I didn't know this very well until after I placed an order. It is what it is. As far as it matters, TN Arms has great customer service. They handle all the arrangements with the FFL dealer. They called because my FFL dealer fell through and they found me another one about a mile from my house that is going to charge less for the transfer. I asked about a military discount and they have those as well, which they applied to my order after I placed it. The receiver hasn't arrived yet but it has a lifetime warranty and so far the company has good customer service.

As far as budget, I don't really have one. By that I mean I would like to keep the price down but I am at a point in life where I am starting to realize that you shouldn't cheap out on things that are important, and I'm trying to develop a "if its worth doing its worth doing right" mentality about things because I have had problems with that in the past.

Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:05:40 PM EDT
Here are some parts I am thinking about using.
Lower parts kit

It comes with a milspec trigger, I will test it and if it needs some work I will do some work to it. I've worked on the trigger for my Mosin Nagant and it has a great trigger now using nothing than a modified stock trigger group. If the trigger is really bad I will add one of these: Trigger adjuster screw
They recommend using their lighter spring set with this as well, and if the pull is still too rough I will add the springs too, or more likely, look into modifying the stock springs a bit. They are cheap, so if they break I will just buy the upgraded ones.

Bolt Carrier GroupThis seems to be the best bang for the buck that I have been able to find. MPI, Nitride coating, and 9310 steel bolt. They offer the same thing without the nitride coating for $10 less, or a "300 blackout" version that's identical for $10 more.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:06:13 PM EDT
Charging handle
Inexpensive and functional. The other option is to go all out with a raptor, but the basic charging handle has never given me any problems in 14 years of military service, so why quit now?

Free floated hand guard
Free floated and inexpensive, + Olympic arms is near my original home town and I like to help local businesses when it doesn't inconvenience me too much. Includes the barrel nut.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:06:45 PM EDT
Upper receiver
No dustcover or forward assist. I have needed a forward assist exactly 1 time in 14 years of military service. From reading a lot of threads this seems to be a lot more often than most people. It's not a bad thing to have in case you need it, but 99% of the time pulling the charging handle out and putting the bolt back into battery will fix whatever problem you have. Dustcover, eh. I don't feel particularly attached to them and I like cleaning weapons. I know that it does help, but I'm not losing sleep by not having it. As another option I could get this: Upper 2
and just leave off the forward assist and dust cover until such a time as I think I need it or can casually afford to get them.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:07:18 PM EDT
Pistol grip: Either a magpul in OD green or something with a shelf, trying to decide which but haven't really made a decision yet.

Barrel, gas tube, gas block: All currently up in the air for the moment. I'm still thinking I would prefer a 20 inch barrel, but 16 will realistically meet all of my goals and tends to be a lot less expensive. I know that I shouldn't cheep out on a barrel so I am trying to figure out exactly how much I want to spend here.

Any thoughts on these items or ideas for my build? Thanks in advance.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:13:42 PM EDT
Edit: Never mind, figured it out.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:21:21 PM EDT
What type of performance are you expecting from your barrel?  Will 1.5" to 2" groups be good enough? Lot's of good barrels that should produce around 2 MOA with FGMM and aren't too expensive.  If you want to guarantee better performance than that it starts getting expensive quickly.

I like Green Mountain Rifle barrel for good quality general use barrels without a premium price.

Integrity Arms has had some good looking budget barrels, but I haven't used one yet.

I like the Rainier Ultramatch for a good match grade barrel.  I've seen some great groups from my buddies ultramatch.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:23:50 PM EDT
Question: What is the purpose of a shelved pistol grip on an AR15? I see them on weapons marketed as long range platforms and I assume you can use the shelf kind of like a rear mono pod for the weapon while shooting? Are they worth the extra expense? The most inexpensive one I have found is about $40, but I can get a magpul pistol grip locally for $24 or about $20 if I order it with my other parts. If my goal is focused primarily on long range shooting, should I spend extra for the shelf? Thanks.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:25:05 PM EDT
It's a personal preference issue. I prefer the MOE+ grips.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 12:33:59 PM EDT
I looked into the integrity arms barrels and I saw a few I liked. They seem to be well liked on some forums and the price is certainly right. Even if my rifle could consistently hit sub MOA could I shoot sub MOA consistently? I'm not planning at the moment to enter into any competition shooting, but the idea does have some attraction for a future pursuit. Of course I could always build an upper specifically for that.

I've seen a lot of people recommending Noveske, A barrel and matching bolt from them would cost as much as the rest of my build. Budget isn't so much of a consideration as is time, if I want to spend more money the build will take me longer to finish.

This barrel has all the features I want, 20 inch bull barrel with a target crown and free floated tube hand guard
brownells barrel

Problem is I looked it up on this forum and others and the brand is not particularly well regarded; however, the price and features are right. It will get me most of what I want for a reasonable price, and it will get me shooting. I can always upgrade the barrel later, which I will probably end up doing anyway because eventually I will want a 6.5 Grendel, a .300 blackout, a .22 conversion, etc.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 1:16:44 PM EDT
I purchased this barrel, I think it meets all my needs.

1/7 twist rate, stainless steel barrel with a SOCOM profile, threaded for a muzzle device, 18 inches long. This build will be a hybrid between a carbine and a full sized rifle, which I think will work out really well for me personally. I've shot M16s and M4s, I like the adjustable length of pull on the M4 but never saw the point in reducing the barrel length so much. This build will have the adjustable stock of the M4, and a slightly shorter barrel than a M16.

Link Posted: 6/18/2015 2:16:15 PM EDT
Looks nice! Let us know how it performs.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 2:40:00 PM EDT
On the advice of my chaplain assistant (who is a competitive M4 shooter as a hobby), I called integrity arms and paid an extra $15 for their gas block dimpling service, total cost with free shipping is $135 and they said they can probably have it in the mail by tonight.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 2:52:52 PM EDT
If you are going with the free float hand guard you linked to, make sure you get either a front sight block for your gas block or a railed block. Otherwise you won't have anywhere to mount a front sight. Just don't use polymer sights on a railed gas block or they will melt.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 3:00:17 PM EDT
Thank you for that, I hadn't thought about the sight melting. I'm thinking about finding one of the m4 style gas blocks with the integrated front sight.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 3:24:32 PM EDT
Wow. Integrity just emailed me the tracking information for my barrel that I ordered about an hour ago. It's already on its way. Shipping was free and its three day shipping. Have to say I am impressed with the customer service.
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 5:16:23 PM EDT
New question. I'm using an 18 inch barrel with a mid length gas tube. What length hand guards do I need if I want to have a free floated tube or free floated rail system?
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 10:08:53 PM EDT
I still learning the different parts of AR15 but I hope to be doing this sometime this summer!
Link Posted: 6/18/2015 10:16:10 PM EDT

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History

New question. I'm using an 18 inch barrel with a mid length gas tube. What length hand guards do I need if I want to have a free floated tube or free floated rail system?
View Quote
I like to cover the gas block so I would use a rifle length rail with a low profile gas block.

Link Posted: 6/18/2015 10:40:13 PM EDT

Stock arrived today. It's not a brand I have ever heard of and I got it off amazon for a grand total of $3. They gave me a $40 gift card and I used it and then spent $3 on shipping. The threads on the buffer tube where a little rough in places, but I just threaded and unthreaded the nut a few times and now it goes on fine. Also there is some flash left on from the casting process but that will be easy to remove with a razor blade if I feel the need to do so. The sling point is on a quick release and it can be inserted into either side of the stock. The stock has 4 positions to adjust length of pull.

I was worried that it would be a bit flimsy but it feels really solid and is actually quite a bit heavier than I expected. The buffer has some kind of weight in it that you can feel moving as you move the buffer, I'm not sure if thats a bug or a feature. This is the stock I ordered: Stock
Link Posted: 6/19/2015 11:36:46 AM EDT
Okay, I just looked at some stuff on JSE surplus. Reddit's "gun deals" sub reddit directed me to their site.

I ordered a mid length gas tube w/ pin $10
Anderson MFG M4 flat top receiver $40
Anderson AR15 lower parts kit $40
Rail height gas block .750 1 rail on closeout for $16
Mid length section free float tube on closeout for $32
10$ flat rate shipping, total cost $148.

Total cost of build so far: $324
Stock $3
Lower receiver $38 + FFL charge TBD
Barrel $135
Parts from JSE $148

Still need:
BCG Aim Surplus $89.95
Charging Handle Aim Surplus $14.95
Total: $104.90 + shipping which will be approximately $15

Total after these: Approximately $445 + the following

Sights and/or optics
Armorers wrench
vice blocks
Link Posted: 6/19/2015 11:43:43 AM EDT
Is there a specific recommended armorers wrench for assembling an AR15? There are cheap ones on amazon for $20 or so, and locally the Magpul ones are available for $70. Do you "need" an armorers wrench or can you get away with other tools? Same question about vice blocks.
Link Posted: 6/19/2015 12:08:52 PM EDT
So my total before included my BCG from aim surplus; however, adkarms is having a father's day sale, they offer a military discount and free shipping. So I picked up a coated BCG for $76.45 with free shipping. My new total is $401 but I still need a charging handle. I will probably pick one up from cabelas when I get my lower receiver. They are also having a magazine sale right now, so I will probably get one or two while I am there.
Link Posted: 6/19/2015 12:32:57 PM EDT
I figured I would just pick up a charging handle locally since I didn't want to pay extra shipping; however, locally the only ones available are $80. So I bit the bullet and ordered a charging handle and a 5 round magazine for $39.82 shipped. I have not seen any 5 round mags locally, but I see 30 rounders here for $6-8 in multiple locations. I will eventually need a 5 round if I want to hunt, so I picked it up for now and I will probably get a couple of 30 round mags when I pick up my receiver. They are on sale right now anyway.

Total cost so far: $440

Link Posted: 6/19/2015 12:45:26 PM EDT
Ordered the compensator and armorers wrench from Cabelas for about $60. I will pick them up in store when I get my receiver. Total cost approximately $500
Link Posted: 6/20/2015 10:42:13 AM EDT
I spent a lot of time with my stock last night. I used a razor blade to scrape or cut away all the flash lines left over from casting. I then hit up all these areas and the cheek weld with some 600 grit sand paper to smooth everything out. I originally wanted my build to be in OD green and black, but because I bought a lot of things with price in mind I ended up mostly with black parts ordered. This being said, I'm probably going to paint everything. I've done miniature war gaming for decades and I've refinished several guitars in the past, so I don't think I will have any problems painting a weapon. I have a compressor and paint gun available and about 100 different paint colors available.
Link Posted: 6/22/2015 10:23:57 AM EDT
My bolt is scheduled for delivery today, which is impressive to me. My lower is scheduled for delivery tomorrow, everything else should be here this week some time.

I have a friend who is moving next week. He is selling me an old vise that was in his garage for $15. We don't know how old it is since it came with the house, but its an old house and the vise looks like its quite a bit older than I am.

Total cost with tools: $515

Still need a set of punches and some receiver blocks for the vise. I also need optics of some kind still.
Link Posted: 6/22/2015 3:06:36 PM EDT
Ordered a Nikon Buckmaster with BDC in 3-9x for $135 from cabelas with free shipping. I ordered a Nikon p233 mount from amazon and an inexpensive set of off set BUIS for $60. Total cost = $710
Link Posted: 6/23/2015 9:09:32 AM EDT
I ordered my barrel on Friday and it arrived Monday with free shipping.

Link Posted: 6/23/2015 10:21:17 PM EDT
My $76 MPI tested bolt carrier group from ADK arms: http://i.imgur.com/OV6KkiM.jpg

The entire thing as it is right now: http://i.imgur.com/CQt83W7.jpg
Link Posted: 6/24/2015 8:39:19 PM EDT
More stuff came today.

Upper, gas block, gas tube, free float rail, and lower parts kit arrived today. Upper and lower parts kit are Anderson Arms. Pistol grip is pretty solid feeling. The free float tube and gas block where both on clearance. The rails on the gas tube match the height for the rails on the upper, which I am pretty excited about because I was worried they wouldn't
http://i.imgur.com/p7ZV3iL.jpg" />
http://i.imgur.com/ANQhvos.jpg" />
http://i.imgur.com/ladUH0C.jpg" />
http://i.imgur.com/isNEGcC.jpg" />

My armorers wrench is still undelivered, so the upper parts are just in place for looks right now, nothing is actually torqued down yet.
Link Posted: 6/26/2015 2:24:11 PM EDT
After lots of drama with Cabelas losing my lower receiver I am about done with my build. I've dubbed this build "Purgatory" due to Cabelas losing my lower receiver for almost three days while I had most of the other parts ready to go.


Final build is as follows

Model 4/15 competition short brake from Amazon (Arrives tomorrow in mail)
18" stainless steel barrel from Integrity Arms, 1/7 twist, wylde chamber
Anderson Arms upper receiver
DPMS Forward Assist (In mail)
DPMS Dust Cover (In mail)
TN Arms Company lower receiver, OD Green
JP Enterprises Reduce Power spring kit (Arrives tomorrow)
JoeBobs AR15 Grip Screw trigger adjuster (Arrives tomorrow)
Anderson Arms lower part kit with pistol grip (No grit so far, but really heavy pull required)
Anderson Arms charging handle
Mid length gas tube
Clearance gas block with upper receiver height rails from JSE surplus
Clearance Mid length free float tube and barrel nut from JSE surplus
ADK Arms bolt carrier group, Nitride, QPQ, MPI tested bolt
ADE Advanced Optics adjustable stock (Replacing with a Magpul fixed carbine stock which will arrive tomorrow)
Military spec buffer and buffer tube
5 round magazine

Nikon Buck Master 3-9X scope mounted with Nikon P233 Scope mount (arrives tomorrow in mail) OR TruGlo red dot sight

Nylon rifle case from Walmart
.223 bore snake from Walmart

Lubed with Synthetic 10w30
Link Posted: 6/26/2015 5:39:28 PM EDT
I found a magpul pistol grip for 25% off so I ordered it as well. JoeBob's Outfitters called me and let me know they had an inventory error, they where short a black stock and had a flat dark earth stock that they where not supposed to have. They asked what I wanted them to do, so I asked if they could just ship me the flat dark earth stock. I got the pistol grip in flat dark earth as well because it was on sale and they didn't have it in OD green.

So, I will have an OD green lower, flat dark earth stock and pistol grip, black upper and free float tube, and a stainless steel barrel for now. I will paint this eventually.

I'm planning on trying the MOA All Day Long challenge. I printed off 5 sets of targets today. I will probably try to get zeroed this weekend and make my first attempt some time next week. My family is going out of town and I will be going to my Army annual training, but there will be a few days where my family is gone before I leave. I will probably make an initial try for the MOA all day long challenge then. Still waiting on some parts, but everything should be here by Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

I was never able to score Expert with a M16/M4 in the Army and I attribute this to a combination of not enough range time and lack of good vision. I had LASIK about 5 years ago and I think I will have a much easier time seeing. I scored expert with every other weapon system I shot, so I'm hoping that trying the MOA all day long challenge will motivate me to become a better shot.
Link Posted: 6/30/2015 10:31:36 PM EDT
I swapped the stock for a Magpul MOE Carbine length fixed stock. It's much more solid. The old one moved around a lot and wouldn't stay on my shoulder very well. The Magpul is much better. I also have a Magpul MOE+ grip in the mail. I got the trigger adjuster screw from JoeBob's Outfitters, but the reduced tension trigger springs where not in the package. I have emailed them but haven't gotten a reply back yet. Still, even with just the Anderson lower parts kit and the JoeBob trigger adjuster screw the pull is great. Its not gritty at all and this is easily better than any M16 or M4 trigger I ever fired in service.

My dust cover and forward assist are en route as well. Other than that I am done for now.

I will try to zero tomorrow night, and eventually I plan on trying for the MOA all day long challenge.

Edit: I forgot the pic!
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