Building an AR-15.... maybe?

Discussion in 'General Firearms Discussion' started by lcback, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. I'm looking into building an ar-15.

    I had planned in other guns first, but my wife seems okay with the idea of slow building and buying.

    I am seeing all kinds of lowers for $40-$70 stripped.
    Are these cheap cheap options a good place to start?
    Are there some with LPK already installed in that price range?

    I have a friend that would help with the tools etc. To build.

    Final question if I start with a normal 5.56 build can I throw a 22lr upper on it and switch back and forth?
  2. MaryB

    MaryB Supporting Member

    Get an aluminum lower and not a plastic one for starters. And I would go name brand, dpms makes good lowers that show up for sale cheap. I paid $100 for mine and it was complete. I picked up an extra lower parts kit for spares in case I ever lose anything.

    There are several types of uppers, traditional military with the handle, flat top, and flat top slick side with no forward assist. Go with what build style you want. Flat top is popular and can handle a wide variety of optics.

    Make sure the BCG you get is mil spec and everything is properly staked. Watch the sales from AIM for these, and others.

    The barrel is where I spent the most cash. I went with a match grade barrel from DEZ that set me back $200 but I was building for long range accuracy.

    Free float versus standard hand guards. Free float aids accuracy.

    I collected parts over the span of 1 1/2 years, bartered for a large part of it. DPMS complete lower, no name slick side upper, del ton BCG, DEZ barrel, Midwest industries free float hand guard. Cash price to build it would be around $600 not counting the scope and rings which cost me $200 more for an AR Optics 3-9x40 and Nikon P223 rings


  3. Why do you say aluminum over poly?

    $100 complete is a great price.
  4. Many times the NAME means more to some people. For others, it's the Logo design.

    You'll find that BCM, Spike's, Stag, Noveske, LMT and few others bring a premium price over DPMS, Del-Ton, Anderson, Bushmaster and others, while being made out of same materials and from same forgers. There's a stamp mark on receivers to say who forged them.

    Some differences will/could be coatings. I know DPMS uses Teflon treatment which makes it shinier, while Anderson uses Mil-Spec coatings. There will be a very noticeable differences of coloring when mating upper to lower, so be careful when ordering to be sure to read carefully for good color matches.

    Also, Billet is a form of alloy and is NOT forged like 7075 T-6 which is what you want.

    I've built 2 AR's using Anderson Lowers and PSA(Palmetto State Armory) Uppers. Great color matches and good fits w/no slop between the two halves. Cost was around $550-650 for each to build(assemble). Both have Chrome Lined, FN M4A1 barrels, but the more expensive Upper has CHF(cold hammer forged) M4A1 barrel.

    Yes, you can get the Lower as stripped(just receiver) or completed(LPK installed, stock assembly installed).
    You'll pay premium(2-3 times over building yourself) for someone else assembling lower, and not have much choice in what type/color/maker of Stock or LPK manufacturer used. This is why building an AR is so rewarding. You get to choose what Lower's NAME/LOGO(pirate, animal, business) you want, who's LPK to install and what color/maker of Furniture and type(M4, MOE, B5, A2,etc) for the price you want to spend.

    For LPK, one rifle I used PSA "classic", and other I used CMMG. Both are top notch and trigger pull is just a little smoother with the CMMG, but with mil-spec, it was just luck of draw.

    It's good to have a friend to help. You'll get to see how easy to build and gain knowledge. I would probably order a complete Upper Assembly as they'll be test fired and you'll have manufacturer backing if you run into trouble with it. PSA, BCM, Spikes and many others are top notch, and don't cheap out on the BCG either.

    Yes, after building Lower, you can swap for 22LR Upper Assembly and 22LR conversion Bolt/Magazine.

    Here's something also. Some Lowers can be purchased saying, "multi-caliber", but I don't know if there's any difference in the milling process. I think it's just fancy selling lingo. Maybe someone else knows.
  5. Johnny_B_Goode

    Johnny_B_Goode Member

    Or you can buy a Colt LE6820. When the prices of guns went nuts I got just under $5k for my colt. I have a DPMS with a 20" barrel and a forged lower I built that is a better rifle than the Colt. No one bid on it.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  6. That is not going to happen. Instead of $180 ruger 10/22 for my birthday today. I had order propane to heat my house.(talk about 1st world problems )
    This will be slow if it happens. Especially with the prices of uppers and BCG's I'm seeing.
  7. Delbert:

    Thabks for the in depth information. You say buy forged? Any reason?

    Any one reading this thread shot polymer/aluminum/forged and can give me an unbiased opinion. Right now I'm leaning towards the 49.99 bushmaster aluminum
  8. Back2School

    Back2School Member

    Sorry for going off topic, but your post made me laugh in a good way and not at you.

    I grew up in a nice suburb of DC. We could afford to live there because my family built our own house (it appraises now on Zillow for about $750,000) My dad was too frugal to pay for oil so my dad somehow ordered a combo wood/oil burning furnace - he always claimed it was illegal and we passed inspection because my grandmother made doughnuts for the inspector.

    From about 8-18 my brother and I would spend our summers taking our little garden tractor, a chainsaw and some hand saws into the woods not far away and cut wood to heat the house. Spend those 10 years taking turns keep the fire going at night through MD winters. It may seem normal to someone who grew up rural, but in that area we lived, it was weird. Other people in the neighborhood thought we were the Beverly Hillbillies.

    Thanks, you brought back some good memories of me and my brother.
  9. YES. Forged is way to go(7075 T-6) is the Mil-Spec rating for an M16/M4/AR15. Again some manufacturers use a different coating, which won't hurt function of gun in any way, but Teflon/Cerekote/Paint isn't mil-spec. I don't remember, but B-???? Type III coating is mil-spec. Some people also purchase what is "uncoated"(bare/raw) Receivers, which can still be 7075 T-6 hardness and have a professional do custom gun coatings on them for a truly unique look.

    When you say "aluminum", this IS what's used for the forged Receivers, but it requires to meet a certain rating for hardness/coating for military usage, thus 7075 T-6.

    There is also what is called "Billet" aluminum that is used as Receivers. It makes for a more fancy AR, and is used by many enthusiast, but the prices start around the $200 mark and go up for a striped Receiver.

    I have shot and worked on, what is called a Carbon Fiber or Poly Receiver type AR. Bushmaster makes one. My best friend has one, and while the barrel and internal parts are mil-spec, the Receivers/Rails are plastic and just won't hold up to abuse or SHTF situations when it's really needed.

    Many folks do have the Bushmaster "Carbon15". They love them for their lighter weight, and some have shot hundreds or thousands of rounds through some with no (visible) problems, but with the prices of good 7075 Receivers being so low costing($50-$150) a person is nuts for choosing a plastic or non mil-spec Receiver at this time.

    For a dedicated 22LR rifle, a plastic Lower Receiver is very capable, but over the long haul I WOULD NOT use for any centerfire.

    I'm sure once the companies that make poly receivers work out the weak, known flaws in them, they'll be all the rage for a good, dependable light weight that can take abuse, but until then, I'll never own one.
  10. greg_r

    greg_r Lifetime Supporter

    I don't know anyone who has actually had a problem, but polymer lowers have a reputation of breaking at the buffer tube.
  11. Thank you. I was confused between aluminum and forged. With aluminum being so close to the price of poly. I'd be crazy not to get metal.

    Hopefully next week I'll order it. Have to find an FFL to ship to. Never bought offline before.
  12. No problems going off topic it is the HPFF way.

    I grew up with my parents always using a wood stove. I just got a wood stove from my uncle but I have not yet built a chimney. Probably a summer project.

    Out here most people use wood to heat. My Co workers from Pittsburgh think I'm nuts. And should just spend $3000 for a heat pump. But they also think I don't need more than one gun. Freaking city slickers.
  13. And the Upper Receiver neck(barrels breaking away from receiver) and front take-down hinges.

    I've also heard and seen that some problems with polymer is a lot of mil-spec LPK's won't work due to out of spec hammer/trigger holes and interior widths. They have to make the pin hole area thicker to not wallow out as bad and jam up the trigger/hammer from canting.

    I understand one popular polymer manufacturer(don't remember name) is starting to sandwich into the plastic, a thin steel framework to help eliminate most of the known problems. If true, and it works over time, it might be a good viable option for those wanting to shed some heavy ounces over the typical AR weight---along with using a pencil barrel. Still, it would only be a weekend plinker.
  14. USMC_VET

    USMC_VET Supporting Member

    ATI Omni has really nice lowers and they're polymer construction and the high stress areas are reinforced with aluminum . One area in particular and is a high stress area is the buffer tube area and the frame work is aluminum but sandwiched in polymer . A friend of mine has a ATI lower and delton upper and has 4k rds thru it with no issues

    Myself I've got a ATI Omni M4 carbine with the polymer lower and it is a really nice AR , haven't put any rounds thru it yet but have been putting a lot od nice components into it such as from Troy industries
  15. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    The prices have dropped on ARs get one already done. Bushmaster DPMS and Remington are made by the same company. Warranty sucks. Look for one that has a life time warranty. I got a Black Forge for $600 on sale with it. Email them and they send out parts like HP or Kel Tec.
  16. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    In AR armors class today and instructor showed us several carbon and poly ARs that broke some by droppings others by being assembled and some after being fired. He said never buy one to fragile for what its used for.
  17. bscar

    bscar Supporting Member


  18. MaryB

    MaryB Supporting Member

    My LGS has a box with 8 broken poly lowers in it, as mentioned buffer tube and take down pins wallow out then break
  19. This is why i have put off building one for so long. But $600 at once isn't going to happen. OR even over a 3 month lay away period.