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Building an AR - what's important?

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by Kevatc, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    My wife wants an AR ... her own AR .... in the worst way. She even got on the Bownell's website today and started messing around with builds. She asked me tons of questions and while I could tell her you need this and that for parts I got to wondering what is important in terms of not skimping and what can you do to keep costs down?

    Since this a gun she will love to shoot and call her own she probably isn't going to be putting tons of lead downrange nor is she going to be shooting it more than 200 yards. I've thought about buying used but she has a bee under her saddle blanket to build her own (I've got a great wife :cool::thumbup:).

    So, I came to the conclusion that a good barrel and a good bolt/BCG are probably areas not to skimp on, a free float forearm is nice but not necessary, and grips and stocks can go on the value side of the equation.

    Thoughts? Other than the Brownells website what other websites are out there for looking over parts and making comparisons?

    Also, if you build your own how do you make sure it's headspaced correctly?
     
  2. .40cal EMT

    .40cal EMT Portland, OR Member

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    Important items, since I just built my own AR, barrel, trigger group, bolt carrier group, and acuracy can come the adition of a free float tube, but unless she is really got her sling tight she may not notice the slightly tighter group, I've a precision aero upper and lower, a PWS bolt group, DD free float 12in rail and a reneer arms barrel 1:8 barrel and a mid length gas system. I am into mine 1100 including all magpul furnature cause well its what was available inexpensive, all though some of my magpul stuff isn't needed, like my sling mount, the angled foregrip rail covers. But the few things I mentioned first are where to spend money, in my opinion

    And my upper and lower have less wobble then the Rock river I looked over
     
  3. civilian75

    civilian75 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Brownells quality and service is excellent. But can also be a bit pricy. I buy a lot from MidwayUSA, more variety and a bit more affordable, great service, but seems like always out-of-stock, which I see as a sign of the huge demand they have for their goods. There are many other out there, but I do not buy as frequently from any of them as Brownells and Midway.

    IMHO, from what you said, I think she will appreciate a 16" light profile (v. HBAR) barrel. Total cost of plastic non-floated handguards (i.e. Magpul) can also be lighter and more affordable than floated railed handguards (plus vertical grip and covers), she might not care for. One cool thing about the Magpul is that you can add rails alter if you want them.
     
  4. jonn5335

    jonn5335 Longview Active Member

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    To check the headspace you'll need a set of go/no go gauges. It usually is'nt cost effective to build an AR the main reason people build them is customize them but if you still decide to build look into midway
     
  5. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Ardenwald, OR Well-Known Member

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    Head space, I've never seen a new barrel and bolt that did not meet spec.

    Some people well tell you a 4150 barrel is needed, but I don't see the 4140 barrels wearing out. Accuracy is from the quality of the machine work (rifling) more than the material.

    Most all upper/lowers today are well made and forged 7075 that meets mil-spec in most areas. Pick your poison.

    BCG's are an area not to skimp on as the price differences are insignificant. A mil-spec BCG means the carrier is 8620, shot peened and heat treated, chrome lined, the bolt is C158 steel. The carrier key should be chrome lined.

    Receiver extensions, "mil-spec diameter" is a buzz word I see a lot. That does not mean the RE is mil-spec, just mil-spec diameter. A true mil-spec RE is forged 7075. I've asked a few manufacturers if there product is forged 7075 and only one answered, Vltor claimed there A5 is true mil-spec. Colt and LMT RE's are true mil-spec. Unless you plan on a lot of butt strokes and beating the butt on the ground it does not make a lot of difference.

    Triggers, a regular LPK trigger can be made to feel smooth but well have some travel. You can buy aftermarket triggers, can cost up to $250+. I like two stage triggers and always go with a ArmaLite two stage LPK, these are $120 and have one of the best triggers you can buy. Plus I like the full serrated face of the ArmaLite bolt release.

    Before you buy check out rainierarms.com, good prices and service. Parts arrive in two days here in pdx.

    Check out Apexcncmachine.com for hand guards, Oregon company that makes a great product. Some careful shopping you can build a all 'made in Oregon' AR except the LPK.
     
    Mister_E and (deleted member) like this.
  6. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    To repeat what's been said- BCG and Barrel. You can save some $$ in a way going with a quality LPK up front and running that trigger. It won't be a match trigger but will work. Stocks add looks but they also can help the gun fit you better.
     
  7. eldbillbo

    eldbillbo clackamas New world samurai and a redneck none the less Bronze Supporter

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  8. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    Just don't let her go to AR 15 forum and start looking at all the ads on top of the page.Then you really get confused as to what you want!
    SO many goodies!
    I have 2 ARs with medium tier barrels that shoot very well.Three of us were holding MOA at 250 easily,this weekend. One is a Stag upper and I'd have to look at the other's brand

    But as I always say in these threads, if you aren't going to shoot 1k rounds a weekend most any components will work.
    But a higher tier barrel is where I would put most my money in.The rest of the parts seem to get change over the years anyway.
     
  9. eldbillbo

    eldbillbo clackamas New world samurai and a redneck none the less Bronze Supporter

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    If my wife were to want to build one which would probably make me fall in love with her all over again this is what i would build i would use the following parts if i was budget minded but still wanted the something good.

    a 1/9 light weight barrel chrome moly if i am really budget minded i/she could always swop it out for chrome later if she shoots a lot.

    a YHM light weight FF quad rail or Briley or dpms carbon fiber tube very light (not the armalite one its heavy) and i would add the rails as needed.

    a MP tested bolt built with quality parts

    a quality carrier built with quality parts

    Random upper and lower receiver . Milspec such as colt may have better heat treating for stronger receivers however you may never know the difference .

    a enidine hydrolic buffer because it does smooth out the recoil without adding weight like a extra heavy buffer ,however i have read they can spring leaks so keep that in mind but i like them.

    Maybe a PWS muzzle break but really helps with recoil. But but its very loud.

    Jp yellow hammer/trigger springs these do help with trigger pull and are only $10 unless you want to fork over $160 for a geiselle (sp?)

    Let her pick out the stock and furniture.
     
    Mister_E and (deleted member) like this.
  10. tomcat mv

    tomcat mv Maple Valley WA Member

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    Just buy her a Smith&Wesson Mp-15 Sport. Great gun, can be "barbied-up" if you want.
     
  11. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    I built my AR. If I were to do it over again I would buy a factory gun, mainly for warranty reasons. I would go with the S&W M&P MOE.
     
  12. coop44

    coop44 Tacoma ,WA Well-Known Member

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    Build a standard m4, you ought to be able to do so for around the 600 dollar range and not skimp on anything. From that point she can decide what to change. It's not that hard, let her do most of the work and she will develop an appreciation for the gun and have pride in the accomplishment.

    Don't let the statements of a lot of anal retentive AR "experts" (elsewhere, certainly not here!) determine what you do.
     
  13. Mister_E

    Mister_E Oregon Active Member

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    My wife built her's...and I'm still smiling over how it came out.

    She went with a lightweight barrel (actually had one on hand, then she ordered a couple more to decide what she liked best.) If I remember right, she ended up going with a RRA mid-length, lightweight in 1:9.

    I had a few LPK's in the bin, she used a CMT kit (pretty much same as Stag). For FCG, she tried the RRA NM, but ended up spending a few bucks and picked up a Geissele. BCG is a Rainier Arms Thunder Bolt.

    Furniture she went with Magpul MOE, with a CTR stock. (Note: Receiver extension on her's is a Commercial tube, because I had a few extras, and like stated previously - I have yet to experience a real difference between those and the so-called 'Mil-Spec' variety).

    BUI are also Magpul, but she may switch them out to Troy. Total price came in under anything we saw at the LGS, of course I had several of the parts, so that cut the price down.

    A 1:8 or 1:7 barrel would be nice, but for a plinking/target/close to last option for HD - her's works just fine ;)

    By the way...that was her FIRST build. Second one came not too long afterwards :laugh:

    That one is ALOT more accurate, but was built specifically for that, too. :thumbup:

    PS - I can't remember EVER having to check head-space on a NEW barrel and NEW BCG. But I would if I was putting on a new barrel with a old BCG that had some usage on it. Or maybe a used barrel with a new BCG.
     
  14. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for addressing this. I didn't think a new build would be an issue but thought perhaps an "old with a new" might be an issue.
     
  15. DirectDrive

    DirectDrive Vancouver, WA Member

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    Here's a vendor that has quality parts and great prices...
    M4 Madness - 16'' CMV Chrome-Lined Stripped Upper - without BCG or charging handle - Complete Uppers - AR-15
    The above is a good deal on a light upper.
    Most of their barrels (and other parts) have been reported to be FN whose facilities are physically close to PSA.

    It is better to go with a "mil-spec" receiver extension if you have a choice.
    There are more buttstocks built to the mil spec OD.....more stock choices.
    Commercial tubes can vary in OD sometimes causing stock fitment issues.....personal experience with that.
    Buy your stock as a kit if possible for a better price. PSA and DSG are two of the best places for those.
    MOE or CTR are good choices for a light carbine.

    I would budget for a good trigger.
    PSA has some great LPK's that offer many different upgrades....probably the best place to buy a LPK, from a stripped for 29.95 to various upgraded combos.

    Other good vendors are Rainier Arms and PK Firearms.
    Avoid junk parts.
     
  16. Garg

    Garg east of portland metro Hold my beer..... watch this Bronze Supporter

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    My wife just built her first upper. She is very proud of it. Now she has 2 AR's. She also wants to re-build her older one, with a newer float tube, to match the other one. It's a disease. I also had my son build his own. I have built all of mine. If you need a hand on tools, and such PM me.

    Life is good :thumbup:
     
  17. Brordo

    Brordo WA New Member

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    When I built my wifes AR the thing that mattered the most to her was the trigger. She was looking for something smooth with a clean break. Ended up putting in a Geissele SSA-E and she couldn't be happier. However, I also didn't skimp on the barrel or other parts. Lots of good stuff can be had at PSA (as others have said) and Spikes Tactical (but man they seem backordered).
     
  18. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Ardenwald, OR Well-Known Member

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    If you dig through the Army 23&P manual and read the 'notes' you well find that this is addressed. New bolt-new barrel GTG. New bolt-used barrel GTG. New barrel-used bolt GTG. Used bolt-used barrel, not acceptable, even if it head spaces OK it may still have a problem with correct lug contact and cause lugs to break.

    In the real world I have run used-used and not had any issues but it's not a full auto severe duty gun. If it breaks a lug off I well know why.
     
  19. jdubl

    jdubl Oregon Member

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    My brother is trying to get his hands on an AR, but jeez, the options seem endless, and the prices extremely widely varied. Thats the biggest issue shopping around, trusting someone enough to believe you get your monies worth. Reading into perspectives from military or leo's would have you believe you have to spend over $1500 to get ahold of a decent AR, and my brother wants a reliable plinker for $800 or a little less, so its hard to know if his hopes are reasonable. Might have to stick with the SKS...;)
     
  20. eldbillbo

    eldbillbo clackamas New world samurai and a redneck none the less Bronze Supporter

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    many times people compare shopping for ar15s to cars they both will get you from point A to point B maybe one will give you a better ride or higher performance .

    for $800 he should be able to buy a decent ar rifle, it won't go to 11 but he'll enjoy it.