How easy is it to build an AR15?

Discussion in 'The Pre-Ban Forum' started by Albtraum, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. Albtraum

    Albtraum Well-Known Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Like, if I buy a lower receiver (stock, grip, etc). Then the upper assembly (barrel, gas tube, hand guard, etc). WHat else do I need to complete it? I have disassembled many .22LRs, shotguns, and a .223 bolt action. But never a center fire semi-auto, or fired one, but I am pretty mechanically inclined, and am interested in building an AR15 on a budget. I am also in CA, if that matters with what I can and cannot have in this silly state.
  2. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver Active Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    SW. Florida
    Mechanically, it's very easy to put together an AR-15 lower. You start with a stripped lower that can be obtained at your local gun store. This is the only part the the ATF considers a "firearm" and must be transfered to you via a licensed gun dealer. You can also buy them on-line and have your local gun dealer transfer it to you for a fee after it is shipped to him. You'll have to talk to your local FFL dealer about whether he will do this and for how much. $25-65 is a common transfer fee cost.

    The stripped Lower:


    Then you need a obtain a LPK (Lower Parts Kit) and a Stock kit to complete the lower half. Getting it on-line is the best way. Getting it shipped to California may be a problem, but the are many places that sell California compliant stock kits. I know nothing about bullet buttons, pistol grips fixed stocks and such that are required in California. The standard grip typically comes with the LPK.

    The LPK:

    Lower Parts Kit.jpg

    Simple common tools are all you need, but a lower vice block and a AR-15 stock wrench will be needed to do the job.

    The Completed AR-15 Lower Half:


    The best way to finish your AR-15 for the beginner is to obtain a "Complete Upper", California compliance is common, and then just attach it to the lower half via the two pivot pins in the lower. This takes about 15 seconds. Then your rifle is ready to shoot. There are many instructional videos available on-line about putting together an AR-15.

    The Complete Upper:

    Complete Upper Half.jpg

    I built mine last year around Thanksgiving using all Rock River Arms parts and an Armalite stripped lower I got at my local gun store. The basic gun with iron sights and 1-30 round magazine came to $815 complete.

    The worst thing you are going to have to deal with now is the pre-election panic going on right now. Wait times for parts currently are running 3-9 months depending on what you want. If you can find a fully assembled rifle at any of your local sources, I'd jump on it if you want an AR-15 anytime soon.

    Good luck and enjoy your AR-15.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012

  3. medalguy

    medalguy Member

    Feb 20, 2009
    New Mexico
    I've built I think 6 over the years. It's not too difficult, providing you buy decent parts and don't just buy the cheapest junk you can find. You pretty much do get what you pay for.

    I'd strongly suggest buying a set of roll pin punches and a teflon receiver block to mount the lower into when you drive the pins into it. Saves a lot of scratches. I'd also suggest buying this book, one of the easiest to read and follow. Step by step instructions:

    There are a few other tools you might want to buy, and if you only do the one build, you can sell the tools on this forum for about what you paid for them.

    I would comment that you may not save any money building your own rifle, unless you get an exceptional deal on a barrel or complete upper, sorta like buying a car one piece at a time vs buying a car and driving it out. But you can put together exactly what you want in a rifle this way and that's worth something. Plus you will gain an understanding of how it all works together. Good luck.
  4. aa1911

    aa1911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    took me 2 years to build my first one but I did it for $300 including an Eotech optic! 10.5" shorty (oly arms) and a mega arms lower with DPMS guts. (the eotech was free, so doesn't count...)

    lowers are stupid easy, roll pin punch set, a nice size brass hammer and a block will do it.

    Uppers are a different story; much more tools required, you need an upper vice block, wrench, chamber reamer, go/no-go gauges and preferably a torque wrench (inch pounds) as well as a little gunsmithing know how to get correct headspace. It's fairly easy though, I learned from a guy that did it for a living so I never had any good references/books/DVD's to recommend.

    I would buy a completed upper as said above and build your own lower, too easy.

    happy buildin' to ya!
  5. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver Active Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    SW. Florida

    Did you pay the $200 for the SBR stamp from the ATF, or was that included already in the $300? :confused:
  6. aa1911

    aa1911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    paid $0 for the stamp, I 'stretched' it to 16.5" with a barrel stretcher so it's legal now, hahaha

    no, but seriously, it 'belongs' to my unit's arms room...

    upper I built from parts supplied by a friend of a friend who got a good deal on 'defective' parts, so paid $120 for a complete upper including front sight and free float handrail.

    paid $100 for a lower receiver from another friend (private sale)

    and filled her in with DPMS parts ($50) and a $45 buttstock from Midway

    The optic was free and sling I made myself, the taclight and mount are from work so did not add those in there.

    So all said with taxes and shipping added in I would say closer to $350 to error on the high side. but for certain no more than that.

    remember, it also took 2 years of waiting and hunting for the best deals to be had locally. To build this exact one today within a week would cost 3-4 times this.

    Working on another right now, going to try a gas piston upper I think. Really want to build a 300 whisper/300 fireball/300 AAC Blackout or whatever they're calling it this month...
  7. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver Active Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    SW. Florida
    Seriously, you're the man! I love hearing stories like that. You're way more patient than I am. Nice work!
  8. aa1911

    aa1911 Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    thanks Snakedriver! I'm usually not hurting for $$ too bad but with a family, gotta do stuff like this slowly for the most part, priorities ya know? But as long as it took, sure hard to beat the price. Lowers are up to $140 now and the gas system upper I want is also a mega arms/adams arms that will set me back about $600 I'm guessing depending on what I go with for barrel/handguard. That will be down the road a bit!

    I still don't have all the tools I need for AR's either, slowly aquiring those thru brownells and midway and anywhere I can scrounge 'em. Found a combo AR wrench on sale for $22 from midway not too long ago. The chamber reamer is next, don't like to borrow tools.
  9. Bobitis

    Bobitis Guest

    Buy the upper already assembled.

    The lower requires a set of brass punches, rawhide/wood/brass hammer, and the rest you should have in yer collection.

    There are a couple springs that can be quite pesky to get put in. Make sure yer in a 'controlled area'. They can be a b*tch to find when they launch back at ya. :eek: ;)

    A couple tries, and you'll get it.
  10. mckenney810

    mckenney810 New Member

    Jul 12, 2012
    youtube has a lot of vids on assemblies
  11. medalguy

    medalguy Member

    Feb 20, 2009
    New Mexico
    Bobitis is right. Do the assembly in a small closet with the door closed and the space around the door sealed up good with duct tape. That way when one of the springs takes off, especially the pivot pin spring, just shut your eyes and wait for it to stop bouncing then pick it up off the floor. :eek: :D
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  12. zkovach

    zkovach Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2009
    I am mechanically retarded and I put one together. The lower is easy to build and just buy an upper. Yes I lost a spring on my first one too!!
  13. zkovach

    zkovach Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2009
    May I also add its a lot of fun
  14. Big Shrek

    Big Shrek Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2009
    NorthWest Florida
    Join the Army, by the end of your first hitch you'll be able to break one down with a paperclip ;)

    B'sides, given the state of the economy, might as well hook into Uncle Sugar while you can...
    bad times are a-comin...especially if we end up with Obutthead again...
  15. TCoggins

    TCoggins Active Member

    Sep 5, 2008
    Traverse City, MI
    My 13 year old son and I put one together recently. I purchased all the stuff locally, TNW stripped lower, DPMS lower parts kit, Tapco collapsable stock, and a DS Arms complete upper. I have somewhere north of $650 (probably closer to $700) into it, plus a few tools I bought. Other than the pivot pin (the one that could launch the spring into oblivion), my son did all the work on the lower.

    My intent was not to build a 300 yard tack driver, but to assemble a rifle with my son and take him out shooting. Mission accomplished. The only downside is, I may have to build another one so I have one to shoot.

    Here is a photo of him shooting it yesterday.


    Attached Files:

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