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This! Years ago I was shooting High Power in Phx, AZ and a new 'just out of the box' shooter game up to the gunsmith that was there* and asked what he should spend money on to make it a better shooter. The smith didn't even look at the rifle, just told the guy "Buy a bunch of ammo and when you can out shoot the rifle come back and tell me what to do to make it better"


*Whish I could remember his name, kind of well known, worked on Garand's and with Robar on their rifles
I had a similar experience as a kid. One of the kids asked our tennis coach what kind of racket was the best. She said you already have a good racket. Wear it out practicing and ask me again.

I've also seen folks with 10 year old golf clubs beat the pants off of guys with $400 drivers, golf bags with no stains on them and $200 shirts.
 
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After seeing everyone’s answers I agree with most of it. For people buying cheap rifles and PSA specials, they’ll be good at low round counts and shooting a couple of times a year, and some will even make it through classes. And I also think there is a point where you can buy a cheaper rifle and have it work just as good as a high end name rifle that you pay twice as much for. I’m trying to land in the sweet spot of reliability and affordability. When I think of a $1k rifle, I think it has to be freefloated, with the barrel either pinned OR dimpled for the gas block. The barrel needs to be capable of sub MOA. I’d expect a good BCG that is properly staked, and will last made by a reputable company. The rifle should absolutely be timed properly with no more than a 3 o’clock ejection, preferably a 330 ejection. And being a lefty, I’m particular about what should be ambi on it and I truly believe that having an ambi charging handle is a must for anyone. It just makes life so easy. I also have longer fingers so I can use the bolt catch without changing my grip like a right handed person can with the mag release. And the safety isn’t a huge deal to be mil spec. Also at this price point, I would expect the trigger to be polished. Still a milspec trigger, but anyone who is building ARs should be able to reliably polish a milspec trigger to make it a smooth pull. The places that you can save the money on are the LPK (as long as it’s not a stupid cheap kit made by a questionable source) and the A2 flash hider.

Once you start getting into the $1300 price range, you should have at least an ambi safety, and either a bad lever, or ambi mag release depending on left or right handed shooter. With a tuned gas system, and a suppressor ready muzzle device, or the option for just an A2 if you don’t have a suppressor but you want to get one and you just don’t know yet.
 

Tony617

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I did buy two complete ARs but now I am started building them years later.

I spent about $1000 or so when I building my AR but you can build one cheaper is you want:

Aero lowers and uppers receivers
Troy hand guards with Troy flip-up battle sights
BCM BCG have few Toolcraft BCGs for spares.
BCM lower parts have also the Sons Of Liberty Gun Works Blaster Starter Kit.
Magpul or BCM trigger guard
Magpul ,pistol grip and buttstock.
BCM PNT FCG
Spike's Tactical for their chromed lined barrels basically because they where cheaper at the time I was ordering.
Magpul MLOK OD sling mount on upper
Magpul MLOK light mount
Magpul QD - Ambidextrous Sling Attachment Point QD
Magpul MS4 Dual QD Generation 2 sling
I am using Protac rail mount light. I uses a CR123A but in an emergency I uses one one AA alkaline. I suppose it can use one AA lithium too.

https://www.streamlight.com/products/detail/index/protac-rail-mount-1

I have few spare firing pins, spare cams, firing pin retainers, and extra extractors and spare springs, etc. I have put one Toolcraft BCG into one of my home built ARs it runs well but I have only shot about 400 rounds with it so far.
 
Last Edited:
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After seeing everyone’s answers I agree with most of it. For people buying cheap rifles and PSA specials, they’ll be good at low round counts and shooting a couple of times a year, and some will even make it through classes. And I also think there is a point where you can buy a cheaper rifle and have it work just as good as a high end name rifle that you pay twice as much for. I’m trying to land in the sweet spot of reliability and affordability. When I think of a $1k rifle, I think it has to be freefloated, with the barrel either pinned OR dimpled for the gas block. The barrel needs to be capable of sub MOA. I’d expect a good BCG that is properly staked, and will last made by a reputable company. The rifle should absolutely be timed properly with no more than a 3 o’clock ejection, preferably a 330 ejection. And being a lefty, I’m particular about what should be ambi on it and I truly believe that having an ambi charging handle is a must for anyone. It just makes life so easy. I also have longer fingers so I can use the bolt catch without changing my grip like a right handed person can with the mag release. And the safety isn’t a huge deal to be mil spec. Also at this price point, I would expect the trigger to be polished. Still a milspec trigger, but anyone who is building ARs should be able to reliably polish a milspec trigger to make it a smooth pull. The places that you can save the money on are the LPK (as long as it’s not a stupid cheap kit made by a questionable source) and the A2 flash hider.

Once you start getting into the $1300 price range, you should have at least an ambi safety, and either a bad lever, or ambi mag release depending on left or right handed shooter. With a tuned gas system, and a suppressor ready muzzle device, or the option for just an A2 if you don’t have a suppressor but you want to get one and you just don’t know yet.

I did buy two complete ARs but now I am started building them years later.

I spent about $1000 or so when I building my AR but you can build one cheaper is you want:

Aero lowers and uppers receivers
Troy hand guards with Troy flip-up battle sights
BCM BCG have few Toolcraft BCGs for spares.
BCM lower parts have also the Sons Of Liberty Gun Works Blaster Starter Kit.
Magpul or BCM trigger guard
Magpul ,pistol grip and buttstock.
BCM PNT FCG
Spike's Tactical for their chromed lined barrels basically because they where cheaper at the time I was ordering.
Magpul MLOK OD sling mount on upper
Magpul MLOK light mount
Magpul QD - Ambidextrous Sling Attachment Point QD
Magpul MS4 Dual QD Generation 2 sling
I am using Protac rail mount light. I uses a CR123A but in an emergency I uses one one AA alkaline. I suppose it can use one AA lithium too.

https://www.streamlight.com/products/detail/index/protac-rail-mount-1

I have few spare firing pins, spare cams, firing pin retainers, and extra extractors and spare springs, etc. I have put one Toolcraft BCG into one of my home built ARs it runs well but I have only shot about 400 rounds with it so far.
If you buy the CMMG Enhanced LPK you get a very decent trigger with it. Much better than polishing a lower end one. No need to polish it. Just put grease on it instead of oil. I use AeroShell Grease #6 because that's what came with the Geissele triggers I bought for some of my better guns. It makes a noticeable difference. Those Streamlight lights are great and the Magpul slings are unbeatable at their price point. Aero lowers are better than average but I've built a really nice pistol on an Anderson using pretty close to what you guys just listed (upscale trigger though) and everyone who shoots it thinks it's a high end build. I usually replace the hand grip with a Hogue grip because you get a lot for your money there. I've got other, higher end grips on some of my nicer ARs.
 

Tony617

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If you buy the CMMG Enhanced LPK you get a very decent trigger with it. Much better than polishing a lower end one. No need to polish it. Just put grease on it instead of oil. I use AeroShell Grease #6 because that's what came with the Geissele triggers I bought for some of my better guns. It makes a noticeable difference. Those Streamlight lights are great and the Magpul slings are unbeatable at their price point. Aero lowers are better than average but I've built a really nice pistol on an Anderson using pretty close to what you guys just listed (upscale trigger though) and everyone who shoots it thinks it's a high end build. I usually replace the hand grip with a Hogue grip because you get a lot for your money there. I've got other, higher end grips on some of my nicer ARs.
I did build a few Anderson Lowers and then bought a fully assembled upper receivers from Troy. Not chromed lined and used melonmite instead. The Troy uppers included a BCG but I replaced them with a BCM BCG instead. Now I am assemble bother lower and uppers myself. I did buy a few CMC 3.5lb triggers. I did not mean to buy but they cost less than a $100 since they were in sale in black Friday years ago now.
 

DizzyJ

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Really all depends on what you’re looking for in the AR. You can get a pretty damned nice AR for $1,000.

$350 would be a hard pass for me. Too many things would be sub par on something like that.
 

WOT Triggers

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My most recent AR is a pistol build with the sole purpose of "whats the best you can get for under $1000"
So I got a PWS MK111 PRO upper. Adjustable gas black rifle length piston system, stays cool and clean inside.. nitride 11.5" barrel. Mlok handguard. 6061 construction. Comes with Radian ambi charging handle. Nice.

The lower ended up being a Sharps Livewire. A fully ambidextrous 7071 forged lower with wide feed ramps, ambi bolt release, and threaded retaining pins. Nice touch. You never loose or damage small springs.
Grips and brace by Magpul. The brace is Adjustable length and uses a milspec buffer tube instead of a pistol buffer tube and an Allen set screw like the Shockwave blade.
Optic is a old use Burris LPVO 1-4x30mm with etched reticles and illumination.
WML is an old Milsurp Surefire M961 with Lumens Factory LED conversion and Chrystal lens.
Take a guess what trigger I used.

20211115_160258.jpg
 
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If you want a good rifle you have to have a good barrel, bolt and trigger and use decent parts for the rest of it. You won't find those parts on budget builds or lowest cost on sales. You can build a top quality shooting rifle in most configurations for $1000.

Buying parts I have come across some really bad stuff, like barrels near max headpsace, bolts carriers with oversized piston bores and undersized bolt tails, poorly cast lower receiver parts, canted pinned front sight bases and short buffer tubes. I have seen enough of it that I have started being pretty picky what I buy and don't shop by low cost.
 
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All lower and upper receivers come from one of 5 forges and get stamped with A name. As long as it is milspec, run it, lube it, and feed it.
It is not what happens at the those 5 forges that make a diffence with receivers, it is what happens to them after they leave that matters and there is a difference. The term "milspec" in the civilian world is just as overused and meaningless as the word "racist".
 
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It is not what happens at the those 5 forges that make a diffence with receivers, it is what happens to them after they leave that matters and there is a difference. The term "milspec" in the civilian world is just as overused and meaningless as the word "racist".
I think of "milspec" as just barely good enough. I don't know for sure what you would call a high quality receiver cut to far stricter standards. "High end" or "top tier" come to mind.
 

fstdraw

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I bought a slightly used BCM RECCE from a large Sporting establishment last year. Of my 5 AR's, this is heads and shoulders above ANY I've owned or shot. On a thousand dollar gun you can feel the difference in every part. I don't mean just cocking the thing, but even the take down pins function smoothly and effortlessly, yet are firmly in place. Accuracy can be achieved in most guns, but the feeling of dependability and superior function time after time, priceless!
 
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I don't know about that, I wouldn't pay two bits for a home cobbled frankenrifle.
I don’t mean resale value (I personally think buying or building any firearms based off of resale value is foolish unless you are dealer); I am referring to the value of the rifle from a components perspective. By skipping the premium paid for everything being assembled for you, you can put together an AR for significantly less money without sacrificing quality.

Of course the caveat there is that you use the proper tools and follow the proper procedures to assemble it all correctly.
 
I don't know about that, I wouldn't pay two bits for a home cobbled frankenrifle.

I don’t mean resale value (I personally think buying or building any firearms based off of resale value is foolish unless you are dealer); I am referring to the value of the rifle from a components perspective. By skipping the premium paid for everything being assembled for you, you can put together an AR for significantly less money without sacrificing quality.

Of course the caveat there is that you use the proper tools and follow the proper procedures to assemble it all correctly.
I completely understand @Certaindeaf 's quote. There's no guarantee the gun's put together very well and it would be very difficult to pony up the cash compared to a brand new, known quality gun.
But I also know @mhayd93 has a valid point. Especially if building it is part of the fun, why not invest to do it yourself and do it correctly? This isn't done for profit, but for perceived value. "I built this for x, not bought it for y", kinda thing.
Then there's guys like me that bought an AR that had been assembled by a known to me "builder" using good quality parts purchased at great pricing. When safe cleanout time came for that guy, I snapped it up for a song. :D He had a Noveske that was similar for three times the cost. Hmmm, that's "perceived value" right there!
 

3MTA3

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I completely understand @Certaindeaf 's quote. There's no guarantee the gun's put together very well and it would be very difficult to pony up the cash compared to a brand new, known quality gun.
But I also know @mhayd93 has a valid point. Especially if building it is part of the fun, why not invest to do it yourself and do it correctly? This isn't done for profit, but for perceived value. "I built this for x, not bought it for y", kinda thing.
Then there's guys like me that bought an AR that had been assembled by a known to me "builder" using good quality parts purchased at great pricing. When safe cleanout time came for that guy, I snapped it up for a song. :D He had a Noveske that was similar for three times the cost. Hmmm, that's "perceived value" right there!
IMO a big advantage of assembling it yourself is understanding what every part does and how it works with the others. If you ever have to fix or replace something you already know what to do it and you have the tools.

I also have to say that you will gain some admiration for the design and how certain parts to multiple things.
 
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