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Posted: 6/17/2014 5:36:58 AM EDT

I'd like to build an AR, problem is that I have never tried to tackle a project like that.  How difficult would it be for the "average" person to build one?  I have worked on cars and other stuff and am good with tools, but knowing where to put little springs and stuff has me worried.  Is the documentation out there good enough for the average Joe to do it.   Would I save almost as much money as if I just bought a fully assembled lower, as that seems like it would be the hard part after field stripping my existing ARs?   What could I build a mid-level AR for, or isn't it a money saving venture?
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 5:58:04 AM EDT
[#1]
I don't do complete builds to save money, I do it because I can build exactly what I want. What I consider a mid-level AR might not be the same as what you consider it to be. Giving us a budget and telling us what you plan to use the rifle for would help us help you.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:09:53 AM EDT
[#2]
The lower is very easy to build, there are great instructins on this site and videos on youtube.  You can also get great complate lowers for less then self-builds.



The upper is a different story and not recommended for beginers, headspace and other factors play an important role.  Also you will need a vice, upper vice bloc, armorers tool, torgue wrench, etc..




You can great great deals, for less than self-builds anyway.  PSA Premium and CHF barrels are made by FN and are among the best uppers for under $300.  Slickguns.com is also a great source for deals.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:18:39 AM EDT
[#3]
Building an AR is extremely easy... knocking in roll pins is the biggest PITA of the whole process.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:28:48 AM EDT
[#4]
I just completed my first build with a stripped lower last weekend.  I can tell you that the lower is pretty easy and as mentioned there a ton of easy to follow youtube videos.  Took me about 35 minutes to complete.  I would not build an upper if i were you.  

You will need:
Tube Wrench (armorers wrench)
Rubber Mallet
Brass Punch
Box Cutters (helps with the front pin assembly)

Thats pretty much it.  One more thing.. The little pins and springs can take off like a rocket, pretty much just the front pin.... work somewhere that you can find them if they do that
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:29:06 AM EDT
[#5]
What the other replies have said is true. It is easy and simple and there are lots of instructions on this site that will guide you. I would suggest posting in your hometown forum and asking for build help. I'm sure there will be someone in your local area that would offer to help. I have done it several times for folks local to me and it has always been fun and interesting to meet with another AR fan. Most of the long term members here have the proper tools and fixtures to do AR assembly work and are happy to help.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:29:19 AM EDT
[#6]
It's all about having the right tools, and the right knowledge.

As others have posted, there's plenty of tutorials online in both text and video for your how-to.  

As for tools, you'll want the following:

A vice on a sturdy bench
an upper block (dpms claw will work with billet and non billet, clamshell blocks with forged/milspec only)
a lower block (not necessary but it frees a hand when assembling the lower)
a torque wrench
an ar15 armorers wrench (DPMS makes a great one)
a roll pin punch*
a roll pin starter punch*

*these are not necessary with some billet lowers.  The only roll pins you have to deal with are for the trigger guard and bolt catch.  Billet lowers usually have an integrated trigger guard, some of those have threaded bolt catch pins.  edit: forgot the gas block pin...but that can be done with a pair of needle nose pliers and a set of channel locks.  

just be careful when assembling the lower...the detents have a tendency to fly out while you're trying to get them in place, never to be found again.  If you can work on a car, an AR is a peice of cake.  
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:32:24 AM EDT
[#7]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
The lower is very easy to build, there are great instructins on this site and videos on youtube.  You can also get great complate lowers for less then self-builds.
The upper is a different story and not recommended for beginers, headspace and other factors play an important role.  Also you will need a vice, upper vice bloc, armorers tool, torgue wrench, etc..

You can great great deals, for less than self-builds anyway.  PSA Premium and CHF barrels are made by FN and are among the best uppers for under $300.  Slickguns.com is also a great source for deals.

View Quote

+ 1
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:54:43 AM EDT
[#8]
I don't even use roll pin punches and/or a hammer anymore. Needle nose vice grip (small)  to hold the pin and a pair of channel locks to push it in. Get it started and remove the vice grips, push till the pins flush. Tape over the jaws to prevent scratching the lower.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:02:28 AM EDT
[#9]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I don't even use roll pin punches and/or a hammer anymore. Needle nose vice grip (small)  to hold the pin and a pair of channel locks to push it in. Get it started and remove the vice grips, push till the pins flush. Tape over the jaws to prevent scratching the lower.
View Quote



Yep, I've used the taped  channel lock trick on the last four lowers I built.  It makes  it so much quicker, easier, and keeps you from scratching the lower.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:05:04 AM EDT
[#10]
Go with a stripped lower and lower parts kit. It's easy to put together and you'll learn about your rifle. I found it fun too!

As for the upper, go with a complete upper assembly. Sure, you would learn more by assembling an upper, but buying the individual parts of an upper is expensive compared to the deals you get with completes.

For me, I also had to get the muzzle brake pinned and welded, and I wasn't going to do that myself. I ended up finding a complete upper with a pinned and welded brake on it already which saved me trouble too.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:11:49 AM EDT
[#11]
Rainier Arms will assemble an upper for $100.00, and a lower for $25.00.

That's pretty good value, imo, if you want to pick each of the parts but don't want the hassle of assembly.


Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:14:18 AM EDT
[#12]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:



Yep, I've used the taped  channel lock trick on the last four lowers I built.  It makes  it so much quicker, easier, and keeps you from scratching the lower.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
I don't even use roll pin punches and/or a hammer anymore. Needle nose vice grip (small)  to hold the pin and a pair of channel locks to push it in. Get it started and remove the vice grips, push till the pins flush. Tape over the jaws to prevent scratching the lower.



Yep, I've used the taped  channel lock trick on the last four lowers I built.  It makes  it so much quicker, easier, and keeps you from scratching the lower.


+1.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:18:41 AM EDT
[#13]
Watch a good You-tube video of one being put together a few times.  It really is pretty easy if you take your time and have the right tools.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:35:36 AM EDT
[#14]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


+1.
View Quote View All Quotes
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Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
I don't even use roll pin punches and/or a hammer anymore. Needle nose vice grip (small)  to hold the pin and a pair of channel locks to push it in. Get it started and remove the vice grips, push till the pins flush. Tape over the jaws to prevent scratching the lower.



Yep, I've used the taped  channel lock trick on the last four lowers I built.  It makes  it so much quicker, easier, and keeps you from scratching the lower.


+1.

I use the pin that comes with a Gisselle trigger when assembling all triggers now too. It's friggin awesome. Almost as awesome as Bill's triggers.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 8:19:36 AM EDT
[#15]

Thanks for all the help guys.  If I want an entry level Colt AR quality and bought a comparable lower and upper assembled, how much money could I expect to save?  Would $600 be enough dough?
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 8:40:20 AM EDT
[#16]
If you're good with tools, it's not that hard building an upper. There's tons of videos on YouTube on how to build both uppers and lowers. You will need more tools to assemble an upper as mentioned in previous posts.

With the prices of fully assembled rifles where they are, it's not cost effective to build your own unless you go with really cheap (in both sense, inexpensive and flimsy) parts.

If this is your first AR, I'd suggest looking for a fully built in your price range. Shoot it and see what you like and don't like. Then in a few weeks or months () start building your dream AR.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 9:00:58 AM EDT
[#17]
This guy will make ANYTHING easier.

NSZ85 YouTube Channel
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 9:37:38 AM EDT
[#18]
Build a lower first.
Very simple.
Building promotes familiarity with the parts and creates a better understanding of the inner workings.  
That knowledge aids in troubleshooting and clearing.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 10:03:12 AM EDT
[#19]
Watch as many Youtube videos as you can find. It is a very easy and rewarding hobby.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 10:43:08 AM EDT
[#20]
Its easy...with the proper tools.

How to build an AR
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 10:47:31 AM EDT
[#21]

Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


Its easy...with the proper tools.



How to build an AR
View Quote
Yep, there's a whole build it yourself forum.

 
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 11:05:57 AM EDT
[#22]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:

Thanks for all the help guys.  If I want an entry level Colt AR quality and bought a comparable lower and upper assembled, how much money could I expect to save?  Would $600 be enough dough?
View Quote


To assemble an entry level AR with quality comparable to a Colt, and a few others, you are going to invest at least around $800. You can save some money sometimes by buying slightly used upper assemblies off the EE. For example, I recently bought a complete Colt 6920 MAGPUL upper assembly off the EE for $550 shipped. It even came with a BCM Gunfighter charging handle which was a nice upgrade. I bought a complete "blem" MAGPUL lower assembly from Palmetto State Armory on sale for $159. I then bought a VORTEX Strikefire optic from PSA on sale for $99.99. My total  build cost came to $880.





It just takes patience and some research, but a good quality AR can be had for less than $1000. The important thing is to make sure you get a good quality upper with good parts.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 11:54:54 AM EDT
[#23]
Quoted:

I'd like to build an AR, problem is that I have never tried to tackle a project like that.  How difficult would it be for the "average" person to build one?  I have worked on cars and other stuff and am good with tools, but knowing where to put little springs and stuff has me worried.  Is the documentation out there good enough for the average Joe to do it.   Would I save almost as much money as if I just bought a fully assembled lower, as that seems like it would be the hard part after field stripping my existing ARs?   What could I build a mid-level AR for, or isn't it a money saving venture?
View Quote



Was kind of surprised nobody mentioned the fantastic Brownells AR assembly videos.  I watched them over and over and over well before I drove my first pin.  After that when I started the build it felt like I'd done it many times.

What's really nice about the Brownells vids is they break the AR down into it's subsystems, so each vid is only a couple of minutes long but only covers one topic, like the safety, the mag catch, etc.  Work your way through the vids and by the time you're done the rifle is range ready.

Do it, you'll be shocked at just how simple it is, and greatly appreciate the genius that Eugene Stoner was.  

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/lid=11004/learn/
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 12:10:03 PM EDT
[#24]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I don't do complete builds to save money, I do it because I can build exactly what I want. What I consider a mid-level AR might not be the same as what you consider it to be. Giving us a budget and telling us what you plan to use the rifle for would help us help you.
View Quote


Haha your comment is completely irrelevent. He simply asked if it was hard to build an AR for the average guy. His budget is a moot point or what he wants the gun for. He didnt ask you what brand or barrel to buy or any specifics for that matter. Feeling moody today ?
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 1:55:27 PM EDT
[#25]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


Haha your comment is completely irrelevent. He simply asked if it was hard to build an AR for the average guy. His budget is a moot point or what he wants the gun for. He didnt ask you what brand or barrel to buy or any specifics for that matter. Feeling moody today ?
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
I don't do complete builds to save money, I do it because I can build exactly what I want. What I consider a mid-level AR might not be the same as what you consider it to be. Giving us a budget and telling us what you plan to use the rifle for would help us help you.


Haha your comment is completely irrelevent. He simply asked if it was hard to build an AR for the average guy. His budget is a moot point or what he wants the gun for. He didnt ask you what brand or barrel to buy or any specifics for that matter. Feeling moody today ?



Actually, his reply was on point. Re-read the first post again. I think your post was completely irrelevent. Maybe a grudge with HS?
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 2:09:46 PM EDT
[#26]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:



Was kind of surprised nobody mentioned the fantastic Brownells AR assembly videos.  I watched them over and over and over well before I drove my first pin.  After that when I started the build it felt like I'd done it many times.

What's really nice about the Brownells vids is they break the AR down into it's subsystems, so each vid is only a couple of minutes long but only covers one topic, like the safety, the mag catch, etc.  Work your way through the vids and by the time you're done the rifle is range ready.

Do it, you'll be shocked at just how simple it is, and greatly appreciate the genius that Eugene Stoner was.  

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/lid=11004/learn/
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:

I'd like to build an AR, problem is that I have never tried to tackle a project like that.  How difficult would it be for the "average" person to build one?  I have worked on cars and other stuff and am good with tools, but knowing where to put little springs and stuff has me worried.  Is the documentation out there good enough for the average Joe to do it.   Would I save almost as much money as if I just bought a fully assembled lower, as that seems like it would be the hard part after field stripping my existing ARs?   What could I build a mid-level AR for, or isn't it a money saving venture?



Was kind of surprised nobody mentioned the fantastic Brownells AR assembly videos.  I watched them over and over and over well before I drove my first pin.  After that when I started the build it felt like I'd done it many times.

What's really nice about the Brownells vids is they break the AR down into it's subsystems, so each vid is only a couple of minutes long but only covers one topic, like the safety, the mag catch, etc.  Work your way through the vids and by the time you're done the rifle is range ready.

Do it, you'll be shocked at just how simple it is, and greatly appreciate the genius that Eugene Stoner was.  

http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/lid=11004/learn/


Thanks for the link/advice.  I may give building one a try.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 2:12:25 PM EDT
[#27]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:


To assemble an entry level AR with quality comparable to a Colt, and a few others, you are going to invest at least around $800. You can save some money sometimes by buying slightly used upper assemblies off the EE. For example, I recently bought a complete Colt 6920 MAGPUL upper assembly off the EE for $550 shipped. It even came with a BCM Gunfighter charging handle which was a nice upgrade. I bought a complete "blem" MAGPUL lower assembly from Palmetto State Armory on sale for $159. I then bought a VORTEX Strikefire optic from PSA on sale for $99.99. My total  build cost came to $880.

<a href="http://s100.photobucket.com/user/jamesrea_2006/media/Weapons%202014/003_zps79255d26.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m8/jamesrea_2006/Weapons%202014/003_zps79255d26.jpg</a>

<a href="http://s100.photobucket.com/user/jamesrea_2006/media/Weapons%202014/001_zps589f6b84.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m8/jamesrea_2006/Weapons%202014/001_zps589f6b84.jpg</a>

It just takes patience and some research, but a good quality AR can be had for less than $1000. The important thing is to make sure you get a good quality upper with good parts.
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:

Thanks for all the help guys.  If I want an entry level Colt AR quality and bought a comparable lower and upper assembled, how much money could I expect to save?  Would $600 be enough dough?


To assemble an entry level AR with quality comparable to a Colt, and a few others, you are going to invest at least around $800. You can save some money sometimes by buying slightly used upper assemblies off the EE. For example, I recently bought a complete Colt 6920 MAGPUL upper assembly off the EE for $550 shipped. It even came with a BCM Gunfighter charging handle which was a nice upgrade. I bought a complete "blem" MAGPUL lower assembly from Palmetto State Armory on sale for $159. I then bought a VORTEX Strikefire optic from PSA on sale for $99.99. My total  build cost came to $880.

<a href="http://s100.photobucket.com/user/jamesrea_2006/media/Weapons%202014/003_zps79255d26.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m8/jamesrea_2006/Weapons%202014/003_zps79255d26.jpg</a>

<a href="http://s100.photobucket.com/user/jamesrea_2006/media/Weapons%202014/001_zps589f6b84.jpg.html" target="_blank">http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m8/jamesrea_2006/Weapons%202014/001_zps589f6b84.jpg</a>

It just takes patience and some research, but a good quality AR can be had for less than $1000. The important thing is to make sure you get a good quality upper with good parts.


Okay thanks.  I thought it was a major money saving endeavor as well but from what I am reading, you don't save all that much.  I guess it is a labor of love.  I may give it a try.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 4:44:55 PM EDT
[#28]
I had this same question about 3 years ago when I was looking at getitng in my first AR and at the time they convinced me to DIY.   Not sorry I did it at all.  Does the first upper and lower I built have a few 'beauty marks' on them?  Of course.   They add character.  And I gave my DW that one.  ;)

Lower = easy.  Upper = moderate.  The trickiest part for building an upper is that %O!%!)@&$)* roll pin for the gas tube.  I hate that damn thing.   A sanity saving trick if you don't have a tubed roll pin starter is just tape the roll pin to your punch.  Works a treat. My first gas block also has 'character'.

Will you save a 'ton' of money?  Not at the moment.  Will you get a better result?  I personally believe so but others can just as validly argue otherwise.  A PSA CHF barrel by FN is probably unarguably a better quality barrel than an off the shelf entry level.   Mine are consistent sub MOA shooters with reloads.

Will you know everything about your rifle?  Yes.

Putting an upper together can have some theoretical risks but I believe they're fairly small if you buy quality parts.   You can have a gunsmith do a go/nogo/field gauge test on the headspace to be sure, or buy the gauges yourself if you don't want to run those risks.

You 'should' have a torque wrench to build an upper but a rough rule of thumb for the barrel nut is at least 1.5 holes tighter after hand tightening it.  But a torque wrench is better.

I've built several and enjoy it.   YMMV

But a rifle you put together out of boxes of little baggies of weird little parts does have a different feel, subjective as it might be, than one you pulled off a rack.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 5:25:32 PM EDT
[#29]
Do the lower first.  The upper is going to require some time and some tools.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 5:54:12 PM EDT
[#30]
The lower is easy; just buy roll pin punches and holders - Brownells and Midway USA (and other places) sell them. The upper can be a little tougher when using a standard barrel nut or any nut that requires indexing. Otherwise, not hard at all. Make sure you use the right tools and watch enough instructional videos.

You don't need to spend a ton on tools. Here is what I bought aside from roll pin punches / holders:

- squirrel daddy lower vise block (~$10)
- Wheeler upper clamshell (~$25)
- Gem State Armorers tool (~$45). Some rails include a proprietary barrel nut wrench, so this one may be overkill. In that case, you would just need a castle nut wrench which costs around $10.
- Harbor Freight Torque wrench (~$11 on sale)


The rest of the tools are common and you may have already. If not, you can pick up at Home Depot, etc.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:01:13 PM EDT
[#31]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
This guy will make ANYTHING easier.

NSZ85 YouTube Channel
View Quote


His videos are good but he's also a big spender which can be misleading. You don't need to spend hardly as much on components or tools, especially for your first AR. The ITS Tactical videos are more practical IMO.


http://www.itstactical.com/warcom/firearms/diy-ar-15-build-introduction-parts-and-tools-required/
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 6:13:38 PM EDT
[#32]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Building an AR is extremely easy... knocking in roll pins is the biggest PITA of the whole process.
View Quote



There are youtube videos for EVERY step.
Link Posted: 6/17/2014 7:14:08 PM EDT
[#33]
Nope, upper or lower is stupid easy.  I was very intimidated by the thought of it too at first, but eventually said fuck it, I'm gonna try anyways.  It couldn't be any easier to build a gun, if you have some general tools around, screwdrivers, channel locks, etc...You really only need a few specific AR tools, I have an armorers wrench, mag and action block, roll pin punches and a reaction rod.  The reaction rod is very nice, but not necessary unless you plan on building a lot of uppers.  I just watched some YouTube videos while I built them.  Seriously, if you have even just a little basic mechanical skill, it can be done easily.
Link Posted: 6/18/2014 3:25:45 AM EDT
[#34]
Topic Moved
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