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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've decided I want to get an AR. Yay! That's the easy part. I am now wrestling with a series of questions that I'm hoping you fine folks can help me clear up.

Off the shelf vs. Building
Both of these appeal to me. On one hand, if I buy an off the shelf rifle (would likely be a Stag 3), I'm done, and I got away for less than $1,000. But on the other hand, I completely appreciate the viewpoint that building your own lets you understand how the rifle works, how to fix it, etc. I also believe I would have a sense of pride and accomplishment, and even a connection to the rifle, knowing that I took a bunch of parts and turned it into a rifle. So that's a powerful argument for building my own.

How hard IS it to build an AR-15?
I always read that its soooooo easy to build an AR. But when I start watching a video, or reading a guide, I see twelve thousand parts all laid out neatly on a table and I immediately soil myself and go do something else. I am the guy that puts the Ikea table together backwards. The first time I removed the striker from my SR9c, I put the striker cover on backwards and it had to be literally CUT OFF the gun to be removed, but that's another story. The point is, I am not mechanically inclined, and things that will be obvious to you will be challenging to me. And I get really frustrated when the f$#%ing piece of $%&* won't f$#%ing work!

I'm not stupid by any means, but something about figuring out how pieces go together just does not go well with how my brain is set up. I'd need some pretty good guides to help me through.

Parts
I read some of the builds people post on here, and its like another language. Some of the parts I've seen referenced are literally just a random string of letters and numbers, but everyone seems to know exactly what it is. It's overwhelming to say the least. On top of that, I have NO IDEA what kind of trigger I want, or why this widget is better than that widget, or what fits and doesn't fit. I have zero experience. I know I like the looks of what Magpul sells, that's about it.

Compromise Build
This brings me to a compromise. Buy an assembled lower, and an assembled upper, and put those together (I'm pretty sure I can handle THAT). I still get to pick out my stock, mags, optics, and accessories. I've also heard there's some 11-15% tax on a complete rifle off the shelf, but you can get around it by doing the above. True?

Allstar Tactical
I still have not been into Allstar, because I know my dollars will begin a mass exodus from my bank account as soon as I do. But I admire the work they've done, and strongly like the idea of keeping my business local, and with companies that support me. That said, I'm not sure how to work Allstar into everything I said above. I kind of want to just walk into Allstar and have them build me a rifle, but I predict a LOT of questions that I will have absolutely no idea how to answer.

tl;dr (Too long; didn't read)
I want an AR and I have no freakin' idea what to do about it.
 

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I just built my first lower on my own with no help from anyone and it was quite fun, although it didn't last long as it's a relatively quick process. The big thing with building is proper tools. You'd wanna get all the proper punches you need and what not. Plus, it's always nice to learn exactly how something works.

There's no problem with buying anything off the shelf, and have no idea if the tax is legit or not, but I know if you buy all of the parts to completely build an AR from Palmetto in the same order, they do charge a tax on it. I order from different places, as that's the best way to get the best prices (although shipping needs to be taken into account as well).

I'd head on down to Allstar and get their advice on the matter. I'm sure they have at least one or two ARs there for you to play around with while you decide, and of course you'd be working with a great local company with good experience on the matter.
 

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Another point to consider is that building it yourself will save you some $$ (depending on what tools you already have versus what you need) in that you can build a higher quality gun that fits your wants and needs better than an off the shelf could. Sure, you can go out and buy one for $600-$1000, or you could build one for $1000 that would cost you $1500 if you bought it from a retailer.
 

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I really think to build in lieu of buying off the shelf is to decide what you want the gun to do, (hunting, targets, defense, etc.) and then write some specs and research to set a budget. Otherwise you tend to fall into the "ordering a new car mode" and check off a lot of unneeded options for the use the rifle will be used for. You don't need that Geiselle SSA-E, (letters again,) trigger for 200 bucks plus when you're just going to do some plinking. All the bells and whistles add up fast.
 

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Another point to consider is that building it yourself will save you some $$ (depending on what tools you already have versus what you need) in that you can build a higher quality gun that fits your wants and needs better than an off the shelf could. Sure, you can go out and buy one for $600-$1000, or you could build one for $1000 that would cost you $1500 if you bought it from a retailer.
Colt SP 6920CA, AR6720 and a couple others can be had for under $1000 while a SP 6920MP and a couple others can be had for just over $1000 (like $1080 in the case of the one I dug up)

If you think you can do a better job putting one together than Colt, knock yourself out, otherwise a complete rifle or mating a complete upper to a complete lower is going to be the most cost effective way to go about it, especially if one has to aquire tools first.

Places like Bravo Company offer cosmetic blem fully assembled lowers at discount (though anyone who's gotten one hasn't been able to find the blemish, or it was so insignificant it was meaningless) for under $200 complete. Drop on a brand new Colt 6920 upper for around $470, add in $150~$170 for a bolt carrier group and charging handle and you're in at $830 (saying 200 for lower, 160 for bolt) before taxes and transfer fees.
You are not going to bulild a parts gun of that quality for that price, I gaurentee it.

As of the past few years its gotten to the point where its the same price or even cheaper to buy quailty stuff than it is to buy a few bags full of parts and wrench them together.

In the OP's situation I would highly recommend getting a complete rifle or complete upper and mate it to a complete lower.
No tools to buy, at most two shipping charges, high quality, AND customer support should somethng go awry.
Who's gonna help with that Model1 barrel stuck to a DelTon upper running a bought on sale Sportsmans Guide carrier group that's been plopped onto a Rock River Arms receiver that has Bushmaster guts in it?
Yes, such could be had quite cheap comparatively, but its also comparatively a POS overall.

Now if the goal is to shoot 2 boxes of ammo a year then econobox parts making up frankengun variant 973 will likely work just fine, but if the intent is for something relative to retension of life and limb, a couple bucks here or there is not the way to go. (is your life really worth as little as that $50~$100 you saved?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have no tools specific to building guns, so I would need that. What are we looking at there cost-wise?

I'm not super concerned with cost if I am getting something for my money, but I'd like to keep it around $1,000 total. That seems like it opens a lot of options that people consider to be very good (Colt, Stag, etc).

This all kind of reminds me of building computers. I built my own computer for a long time, saving money in the process. Now you can't build a quality computer for less than you can buy one off the shelf.
 

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The most expensive tools you'd need are a heavy vice and a torque wrench. You'll also need a hammer and roll pin punches.

The only gun specific tools you'd need are vice blocks to hold the receivers while you're working on them.
 

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Torque wrenches, one in in/lb one in ft/lb.
And barrel wrench, castle nut wrench (if working carbine extensions), high temp grease, drill press and welder. (to drill, pin and weld over said hole and pin after installing the muzzle device)
 

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IThis all kind of reminds me of building computers. I built my own computer for a long time, saving money in the process. Now you can't build a quality computer for less than you can buy one off the shelf.
That is what it should remind you of and for roughly the same reasons.
Though parts being made cheaper overseas isn't generally part of the AR construction process.
(cheap wrenches that ruin parts, crap optics and low grade furniture notwithstanding)
 

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Torque wrenches, one in in/lb one in ft/lb.
And barrel wrench, castle nut wrench (if working carbine extensions), high temp grease, drill press and welder. (to drill, pin and weld over said hole and pin after installing the muzzle device)
Or for $45, Allstar Tactical will pin and weld the muzzle device. A lot cheaper than buying a drill press and welder, and learning to weld.
 

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And shipping both ways along with wait times....

Farming pieces out to be completed wasn't mentioned as part of the process AFA I saw above.

If that's the case then most LGS' can knock together a upper or lower for folks too for some fee or another.
But again, farming stuff out wasn't mentioned as part of the process.
 

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He could drive to Allstar. Shipping's not an issue there.

And shipping both ways along with wait times....

Farming pieces out to be completed wasn't mentioned as part of the process AFA I saw above.

If that's the case then most LGS' can knock together a upper or lower for folks too for some fee or another.
But again, farming stuff out wasn't mentioned as part of the process.
 

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Wow, OK, you win.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do ScotchMan.
 

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How hard IS it to build an AR-15?
Can you build legos? Get some advice on some of the sticky areas and a decent BCG and anyone can do it.
I mean if you do not know how to hold and screwdriver then not good.
Make sure you have the right tools too.
Do not try to improvise for a barrel nut wrench using granpa's pliers.

 

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I vote for building an ar over buying one... they are very easy to build and you can have it however you want with whatever quality parts fit into your budget..

Honestly they are so easy to build that if you cant do it your probably incapable of field stripping the thing to clean it to
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, and I don't mean this defensively, I hope to learn a little more. But, in field stripping it, are more than two or three parts going to be sitting on my bench? The parts diagrams I've seen for assembling a lower have tons of tiny screws and springs. Like around 50 parts. Maybe I am just unnecessarily intimidated, but it looks a lot harder than holding a screwdriver or field stripping.
 

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Well, and I don't mean this defensively, I hope to learn a little more. But, in field stripping it, are more than two or three parts going to be sitting on my bench? The parts diagrams I've seen for assembling a lower have tons of tiny screws and springs. Like around 50 parts. Maybe I am just unnecessarily intimidated, but it looks a lot harder than holding a screwdriver or field stripping.
I know it seems intimidating (I was too when I started my build) but the intimidation factor went away in about 5 minutes when I started assembling my lower

BTW comparing assembling the entire rifle to field stripping may have been an exaggeration on my part :wacko: heres a better comparison... I have put together tv stands a crap from big lots that where more of a headache than assembling an ar
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I know it seems intimidating (I was too when I started my build) but the intimidation factor went away in about 5 minutes when I started assembling my lower

BTW comparing assembling the entire rifle to field stripping may have been an exaggeration on my part :wacko: heres a better comparison... I have put together tv stands a crap from big lots that where more of a headache than assembling an ar
Ok. While reassuring, I'd like to ask one more thing. How is that possible if there are so many parts? Do they go together in some kind of logical way that anyone could figure out? Are there fewer parts than I'm thinking?

This is the kind of thing that is scaring me:

 

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Well, and I don't mean this defensively, I hope to learn a little more. But, in field stripping it, are more than two or three parts going to be sitting on my bench? The parts diagrams I've seen for assembling a lower have tons of tiny screws and springs. Like around 50 parts. Maybe I am just unnecessarily intimidated, but it looks a lot harder than holding a screwdriver or field stripping.
Don't worry about it. Everything fits into place. Just google and go to youtube and you have dozens of videos, turorias, DIY instructions for all the different components. Watch a good bunch of them. This platform is probably one of the best documented and with richer content of all times like the AK. So don't rush anything. Inform yourself and considering what you need you will soon identify what you want and the people here and maybe other forums will give you some advice. If you can connect locally with someone with years of experience that would be ideal. They might be able to bring a sistem to the range to show you and mentor you for a while. The most critical part of the AR is going to be a good carrier group. Of course if your firing group is not functioning properly then this needs to be addressed first. The advantage of building one is that you can choose very specific parts that otherwise might not come together. But for a starter you might be better with one simple build and take it from there slowly.
Consider a midlegth barrel and you might save some headaches. The M4 carbines are popular but not ideal.
Brand is not important as soon a they are up to spec. Good quality internals is the important part.
If you like firearms might find interesting some of the books about the history of the AR and how it was conceived, developed and has been evolving.
 
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