help me build my AR-15

Discussion in 'Large-Bore/Small-Bore Rifle/Shotgun' started by focusmaniaczx3, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. focusmaniaczx3

    focusmaniaczx3 Member

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    okay guys. ive decided to buckle down and finally build my AR but since ive never owned one or messed with one very much for that matter i dont quite know what is good and what is not or where to start. i want to piece together my own from the ground up though. here is a list of things that i want from my AR-15
    i want the ability to change the calibers that the gun shoots by changing the upper using different mags. ive been told that you can shoot 223/5.56, 7.62x39, .308, .50 beowulf, .338 lapua, .22lr and probably lots of other calibers through it. i will personally only be interested in the 5.56, .308, and possibly .338 (bad news sniper or whatever it was called) the reason is for cheap fun shooting with the .223/5.56, hunting medium-large game at distance with the .308, and shooting way down range with the .338 and/or hunting very large game like bears. the .338 may not ever happen but you never know

    i want a 6 position stock with pistol grip, non folding.

    i want to be able to have pretty decent accuracy without breaking the bank if that is even possible.

    and iron sights are a must for the 5.56 upper.

    i know thats alot of i wants in there but i can compromise on any point if given a reason.

    so help me out here guys! what are all the bits and pieces i should get to make the best AR-15 possible and where should i order them from?
  2. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    I suggest that you pick up a copy of Shotgun News. They usually have 20 to 30 different companies selling AR parts and pieces.
  3. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver New Member

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    Your request covers a lot of ground. A recent post on another AR related site indicated that there are over 140 different companies that are putting out AR's. Some are good and some are not so good. It's always safe to go with the major name brands like Colt, Smith & Wesson and such, but you'll spend top dollar to do that.

    There are AR-15's (5.56mm NATO /.223 Rem.) and there are AR-10's (7.62mm /.308 Win.), but I don't think anyone makes one that likewise will be both. Same with the 7.62 X 39 and the 9mm AR's. They require dedicated uppers since they require different caliber barrels. However, a .22 LR conversion kit will work with a 5.56mm AR-15 very nicely. Not sure how well the sights work between the two though. Most folks have dedicated .22 uppers that they use for that reason I think.

    I recently decided to build an AR-15 too and started with an Armalite stripped lower that my local gun shop had for $130 out the door. The lower is the only part considered a firearm by the ATF and requires a FFL to do the deal. The rest of the parts you can buy online from whoever has the best price.

    I decided that Rock River Arms AR-15's had a good reputation for reliability and very good accuracy, so I based my AR build on Rock River Parts. Other than the Armalite brand stripped lower all my parts are going to be RRA. Most mil-spec. forged aluminum lowers you'll find to buy are pretty much the same, the parts that go in them really make the difference in performance.

    Here's my built-out lower, I have $265 in it as it is:

    [​IMG]

    For my upper, I decided to buy one complete rather than trying to assemble all the parts and decided to go with a RRA 16" mid-length A4 flat top and use a scope with back-up rear iron sights. If you want a fixed carry handle version with fixed sights you can go with the A2 version of the mid-length. This part is going to be around $525 with the rear sight, but not the optics:

    http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=266

    Optics and mounts will come later. All told my AR will land somewhere right around the $800 mark, which is what my budget was and if RRA's reputation holds up I'll have a reliable weapon with sub-MOA accuracy for a budget price.

    Good luck with your build, I hope you find it to be an enjoyable experience. :cool:

    ETA: I should add that the only bad thing about RRA is the long wait to get one. Current delivery is about 12 weeks after the order. Apparently they are still dealing with all the increased demand following the last Presidential election, but that's another story.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  4. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    It's a great project. I just finished building my AR back in August (also my first), and it was a great experience. I'll list a link or two here at the bottom of this reply that I found especially helpful for my understanding of which parts are highest quality.

    There are two different sizes of AR lowers, one for the shorter cartridges (5.56, 6.8 SPC, .458 SOCOM, etc.) and one for the longer cartridges (.308, etc.). To switch between cartridges in the same size range, all that is needed is switching the upper (or just the barrel & bolt if you want to do it that way) and the magazine--and sometimes not even the magazine! But switching from a 5.56 to a .308 requires a completely different lower (a completely different "gun").

    I went with the Tapco 6 position stock, but there are other companies that make great stuff, too. Around my area, everyone seems to be in love with Magpul furniture.
    You need to know that there are two sizes ("mil-spec" and "commercial") of receiver extensions (buffer tubes), and your stock has to match that size. If you just buy the extension with your stock, no problem. If you think there is a chance that you will be changing the stock at some point, then it's better to get the mil-spec size, as there are more options there.

    I have a Hogue grip on mine, and I love it. I won't have anything else on any AR I ever own (at least not anything I've ever felt to date). Lots of people I know really like the Ergo grip, and many are happy with just the standard A2 grip. Usually, the grip comes as part of a lower parts kit. I'd suggest that you order a parts kit with one of the fancier grips in it and also PM me your address. I have an A2 grip that came with my lower parts kit that I will send to you.

    Accuracy potential in an AR is all in the barrel. That said, I don't know of any AR barrel that isn't capable of 3-4 MOA (which I've been told by a knowledgeable source is the norm for military carbines). Some of the varmint barrels are easily capable of groups under 1 MOA, but that's really only necessary if you're using it for varmints. Heavy barrels will remain accurate for more shots together, since the heating up of the barrel affects accuracy. I didn't choose a heavy barrel simply because I built a rather lightweight gun all around, but it's something you have to consider for yourself.

    For practical accuracy, though, the trigger makes a big difference. I have a Rock River Arms two-stage trigger, and I love it. There is a little take up, a clear point where tension increases, and just the slightest additional pull fires the gun. I'm interested in trying other triggers, too, though. I've heard good things about lots of different aftermarket triggers, and even the standard trigger kit isn't bad.

    For the sights, you need to decided the type of upper you will use. The integrated carry handle (A2) style upper has iron sights built in. The flat top uppers (A3/A4) allow you to mount sights onto the rail. I have an A4 upper with the standard A2 front sight base, but you can choose what you want for both front and rear sights.

    Here is a picture of my upper: [​IMG]

    I've since mounted an EOTech holographic sight on it, but I haven't taken new photos of the "finished" rifle... I'll need to do that. :D

    Even if you choose the flat top upper, you can still choose between fixed iron sights and folding iron sights that make using an optic of some kind easier. I wanted an optic, but I still kept the fixed front sight. Preferences vary; the best part of the AR is that it can always be changed until it fits you.

    This particular link helped me understand the differences between the various parts offered. I hope you find it helpful, too.

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pwswheghNQsEuEhjFwPrgTA&single=true&gid=5&output=html

    Keep us updated on your progress. As I said, it's a great project for any gun owner, and it was definitely rewarding for me.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  5. joncutt87

    joncutt87 Active Member

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    I really like the vltor uppers
  6. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    Oh, one major thing I forgot to mention. A forged mil-spec stripped lower is a forged mil-spec stripped lower. They're all the same. You can spend anywhere from $80 (if you find a great deal at the right time) up to $200. It will be identical. (Within each of the two sizes, that is.)

    If I were starting a build today, I'd buy this one. But I happen to be fond of that flag, and that's not a bad price. They do have the same thing without the Gadsden printing for $10 less, so that's not a bad choice, either. That site sells tons of AR parts & accessories, so it's one worth looking over as you're learning.

    If you can't tell, I'm excited for you. Keep us informed as you go along, and ask any questions you have. I'm not an "experienced" builder by any means, but I've done one, and I'll help out in any way I can.
  7. focusmaniaczx3

    focusmaniaczx3 Member

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    omg guys thank you so much for all the input! please if anybody has another $.02 that they would like to throw in im all ears! im probably going to order a lower next week with my bonus check so i want all the input that i can get right up until that point!
  8. joncutt87

    joncutt87 Active Member

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    Don't forget to look at palmetto state arm armory for lowers and parts kits since they're a sponsor
  9. evan03

    evan03 New Member

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    If I was to build one it would look like this wearing a 3-9 leupold PR possibly a fixed 6 power.

    This is bushmaster with Remington's name on it. Its a 223 and will kill mice to deer with a well placed shot and the right bullet.
    [​IMG]
  10. focusmaniaczx3

    focusmaniaczx3 Member

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    the more i look the more im settling on the .308 size range. i know i can take deer with a .223 since ive done it before but i would rather have the larger round. is the 7.62x39 in the same size range as the .308? meaning can i change between those two calibers by changing just the upper and using the same lower? i dont think so but i just want to check.
  11. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

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    There are plenty of options in either size, especially if you reload.

    For an AR-15 (and this is a short list):
    5.56 NATO (.223 Remington)
    7.62x39
    .204 Ruger
    .243 WSSM (Winchester Super Short Magnum--not the .243 you normally think of)
    6.8 Remington SPC
    .458 SOCOM (a very popular deer cartridge here in Indiana)
    .50 Beowulf
    .22 LR
    9mm NATO

    For the AR-10 (again, short list):
    .308 Winchester
    .243 Winchester
    .338 Federal

    Pretty much, any cartridge based on the .308 Win can be chambered in an AR-10.

    Each size has advantages in certain areas. I'd recommend reading up on each cartridge, picking one that you think sounds fun, and going with it first. You can always add the others sometime down the road. ;):D
  12. focusmaniaczx3

    focusmaniaczx3 Member

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    for some reason or another ive had my head in the clouds the last few days thinking somehow im going to find the round to get the AR chambered in that has enough mass to take down large game, enough velocity to blow up tannerite at distances of 300-500 yards (2200fps minimum impact velocity to detonate tannerite), and cheap enough that i wont cry about how thin my wallet is after blowing 500 rounds down range in a day.

    like i said my head was in the clouds. 7.62x39 is cheap, and has enough mass to take down large game, but not enough velocity. .223 is cheap, and has enough velocity, but not enough mass, .338 has the mass and velocity but is very expensive. .308 seems like the best compromise but it still isnt very cheap especially since i dont reload. im thinking perhaps i will have to make 2 separate AR's. one AR-10 and one AR-15. the Mrs isnt gonna like this LOL
  13. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver New Member

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    Many of the new AR-15 brand's have a fast twist 1:7 barrell that will stabilize 70-80 grain 5.56 / .223 rounds with great accuracy at the longer ranges you mention. I wouldn't discount this as a real possibility for your build, it's been working for our military for many years without the need to go to a larger caliber round. As the wars wind down, 5.56 / .223 ammunition has dropped again to around $0.30 per round if you watch for the sales. That cost shouldn't break your bank. :cool:
  14. 6x6pinz

    6x6pinz New Member

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    While I am more of an AK fan the AR's have a place in my collection for their versatility in caliber changes. A very easy rifle to put together with oh so many options.
    After putting together a measly 16 rifles my favorite caliber in the AR platform is the 5.7x28. A real eye catcher at the range and with a 20round magazine inserted after the top has been cut and the guts removed, there is no moving parts on the outside and the empty mag acts as a brass catcher. The real problem is I keep thinking I am going to set up an upper but find myself building it into a complete rifle before it is all over.
  15. focusmaniaczx3

    focusmaniaczx3 Member

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    why on earth do you like the 5.7x28? it has less mass than the 223 and less velocity than the 7.62x39 and is more expensive and harder to find than either of the two. in an AR platform there are much better cheaper calibers to have them in.

    snakedriver i wasnt putting down the accuracy of the 223/556. i was remarking about it having very low mass which makes it less suitable for taking down large game.
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