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help me make some final AR-15 build choices

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by Kevinkris, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    so i know ive hit you guys up in the past with some of my questions about buying an AR but i have finally made the decision to invest in the big bad black rifle. because i like to work with my hands and i wont be able to just pick one up and run out to the range every weekend for some target shooting, ive decided to build one. this way i get to enjoy building it and allow the anticipation to build as well. as a plus i can spend small amounts at a time, which always makes my wallet happier:thumbup:. i'll try to keep my thoughts organized, i tend to jumble them up a bit sometimes. this is also something ill be buying pieces for once a month to reward myself for keeping up with the more pressing stuff. cant go wrong giving yourself some incentive to keep things in order.

    so what ive decided so far:
    -stripped lower and a stag arms kit to fill it. i chose the stag arms kit because it has great reviews as well as being noted to have a couple extra pieces known to be lost in the build process. material and producer still to be chosen(i'll get back to that). i may look for a more ergonomic grip later on.
    -complete upper. though i would like to put everything together myself, i understand there are some safety concerns when it comes to proper torque and matching the bolt assembly to the barrel. this will give me peace of mind and save me a trip to a gunsmith. i have a couple choices in mind as far as producers but i havent made any hard choices, other than 16.5" barrel to keep weight down. i also want to have the M4 feed ramps on it but i understand it to be unnecessary. free floating, quad rail, flat top, 5.56/.223.

    minor notes: flip up sights, adjustable stock, and a mounted flashlight as it will be built for both range trips and home defense. all to be chosen as i go.

    now the guys i need help from will know what im missing from those notes but to keep it simple i'll list the things i need direction on.
    -twist, because i find it difficult to get any consistent info on what is best. i'm near the point of just taking what is is most available because its mostly a small difference to begin with, though because im choosing a shorter barrel i may stay a bit closer to the tighter side.
    -barrel type, i see that forged barrels are the most expensive but also have some unique qualities on top of being the most robust. on the other hand its also the heaviest, which is counter to what i want. i think i would prefer the most practical (balanced cost and function) barrel with the least weight.
    -- these 2 ^^^^ may also be subject to the manufacturer i buy from, which will make more sense as i continue.
    -i also would like to get poly upper and lower receivers to keep weight down and i really like the way poly feels while im shooting over steel or aluminum. many companies do not carry poly(which may dictate a couple of my previous choice concerns) nor can i find reviews that dont show bias when it comes to the amount of force it can take compared to the metal counter parts. a positive note is that i have found just as many complaints about poly as aluminum lowers failing.
    -quad rail, im also temped to get a poly quad rail but it may be a bit more practical to get it in aluminum to help with accuracy, as the weight will help stabilize. (i could be wrong about that)
    -threaded barrel? im not sure if this is the best choice but in the distant future i may choose to purchase a suppressor. as far as i can tell, this will double the cost of the rifle and has only a small effect on sound. i think it could help me with resale value but this is low on my list.

    now for some concerns. (not counting my girlfriend complaining about me heading to the range more often)
    -i want to keep total costs below $1500, which as far as i can tell is more than reasonable but some accessories can make some big differences.
    -(in case you didnt notice before) light weight is also very important. i want to use it for home defense so walking through my home scared, naked and half awake with a rifle is bad enough (should the unlikely need arise), i wouldnt want it to feel like a ton of bricks in my hands to boot. i encourage my friends to learn more about guns and often invite them to the range. it would be nice if i could hand them a rifle that also feels good in their hands.
    -it goes without saying i want it to look good too. it bugs me when i see one at the range looking confused about what color it wants to be. maybe its just me and my peeves though, any suggestions would be welcome but this one was mostly said for fun.
    -tools, i have found many, many videos showing how to put them together but none that give a good list of tools needed to do this properly. anyone that can point me in the right direction gets and extra thumbs up for being super awesome.

    sorry about making it so long but i just wanted to be thorough.
    Thanks in advance for reading all of this and hooking me up with some direction.
     
  2. usagi

    usagi Redmond Well-Known Member

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    based on the questions you're asking, it's clear you'd be better off buying a cheap starter AR to become familiar with the platform first.

    building one from scratch without experience with the platform first is a guaranteed way to waste a lot of money and time and end up with a rifle poorly matched to you.

    you're not going to be running the gun in the jungle or desert for months on end so fancy expensive parts will matter not at all.

    worrying about polymer this and that won't really matter much when the bulk of the weight is the barrel.

    if you want something that feels good in the hand and is light, quad rail is almost never the answer.

    suppressor only having a small effect on sound? might want to try one first before making that claim.

    almost all AR barrels are threaded, if only for mounting muzzle brakes or flash hiders. it's harder to find barrels which aren't theaded.


    if you want recommendations for inexpensive starter ARs, that's easy.
     
  3. bellarum

    bellarum beaverton Well-Known Member

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    I'm a little confused as to why you are so concerned about almost everything in your build and then throw in the part where you are considering a plastic upper/lower. Those are junk period. Your barrel length and twist rate will depend entirely on what you plan to use your rifle for. Next you can start looking at bullet weights to get you there from here. If you plan to shoot at any max distance that the .223/5.56 is capable of I would forget all about weight. You will end up floating a long heavy barrel and adding a scope. Entry level AR can mean ANYTHING. Plastic? Don't do that.
     
  4. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    well i know that i can get an exceptional rifle for under $1,000 from a few different places, which would be new but i would like to have a rifle that is a bit more personal. i have assembled much more complicated things with far fewer instructional resources, so im not too concerned with making mistakes while building it for the most part. sure a couple of the choices i would like to make are a bit more aesthetic than functional but it also go toward the personal touch. when it comes to the quad rail, i understand its a bit heavier than the standard fore grip but it feels better when i grasp it and has the feature of not needing to worry about adding rails later if i decide to add a grip or laser sight to the already decided flashlight. as far as poly, this is mostly just a preference because i like how it feels. i have seen some (seemingly reliable) articles that tell me they are not quite as robust but reading about complaints posted online, it doesnt seem any worse for wear that aluminum. the weight difference is very small still but is noticeable. my biggest concern with poly is that only small companies carry them and i would prefer to buy from a producer with a long history and know it was made here in the US. because of this, i doubt i will actually buy poly. i just wanted to see if anyone here can tell me a bit more about their experiences with them. i see that most have threaded barrels but i guess i could have pointed more to not having a pinned muzzle break.

    i have fired many AR-15s so far and i know pretty close to how i want to make it but i dont want to pick up some parts that are lower quality compared to like priced others with better quality. though i listed specifics of what i would like, im more interested in hearing praise for parts others have chosen, so that i will have a better idea of what is good and what is not.
     
  5. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    So everything I read says you want this, Bushmaster - Carbon 15 Carbines It meets every requirement other then you are not going to have to build it. I am sure you can order one with a rail.
     
    numbnutz likes this.
  6. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    its pretty damn close, kinda bums me out because i was looking forward to building it lol. i dont know that i could pass that up, nor do i know how i completely omitted bushmaster when i was looking through all the choices.
     
  7. Marine Airedale

    Marine Airedale Central Oregon Coast Member

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    While I too am not a big fan of composite uppers and lowers a buddy I work with has a Bushmaster Carbon 15. It has been dependable and it is VERY light.

    I concur with the other guys in that first decision is what purpose the little black rifle is to perform. I built mine as a purpose built AR and chose allot of the components and furnature so it feels in hand similar to other larger caliber rifles in the stable.

    Good luck on your adventure into the 'lil black rifle!
     
  8. usagi

    usagi Redmond Well-Known Member

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    6.25 lbs is ridiculously light for an AR.

    if a quad rails feels better than a slim rail when you grasp it, then you must be built like andre the giant. it's not the weight, its the fact a typical quadrail is huge and bulky.

    quadrail is the old and tired now anyway. everyone is going keymod.
     
  9. GunRightsCoalition

    GunRightsCoalition Vancouver Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Keymod is still bulky and heavy, LOL.

    Is there a reason everyone seems set against the idea of him building his own? It seems to me that it would be better to help him with the specifics for his first build and work through the details using the knowledge of those here that know what will work. That seems like what he was asking in the first place and he is keen on building it himself anyway. I can understand that as he will both learn the firearm from the ground up and additionally can take some pride in having done so.
     
    inkedgenius and (deleted member) like this.
  10. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    I am not against him building at all. But for a rifle that retails at $850, that is exactly what he wants, why build?

    There are a few things to consider on build vs buy. If you are just after a "basic/stock" rifle there are so many companies out there that have affordable options sometimes it is hard to build cheeper. Like many other things in life if you want a lot of "upgrades" or specific items it is usually cheeper to build it yourself.

    Then there there is the question of what is considered building one, and what tools are needed. Some consider "building" as putting the parts in the lower, then adding a complete upper. Other consider it also assembling the upper. If you are just doing the lower all you really need is a punch and a hammer, most people have those laying around if they have any tools. Probably a stock wrench also but you can get one for a few $. But if you are going to do the upper too you are looking at about $100 worth of tools assuming you have a torque wrench and a vice already. So if you are only going to have 1 AR make sure you add that to the price of your build.

    Also if you build you have no warranty if you have a problem, that may be an issue for some people. Along with that if you ever need to sell it being "home built" will decrease the value of the gun.

    For me it is not one is good and one is bad. You just need to find the best option for your situation. I have all the tools, have built several AR's and have spare parts. If I was in the OP's situation with what he has listed as his "wants" I would buy the BM as I could probably not build it that cheep, and it would not carry the "name" if I needed/wanted to sell it.
     
    tacticalgunner likes this.
  11. PigNorton91

    PigNorton91 Washington Active Member

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    Since you are using this rifle primarily for sporting purposes I would pick your barrel twist rate based off of what type of ammo you intend to shoot/can afford/is available.

    If you will be shooting lighter projectiles go with 1:9, heavier go with 1:7

    Most people I know tend to favor the 1:7 (based off of my observations of their builds)
     
  12. GunRightsCoalition

    GunRightsCoalition Vancouver Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Understood, it just looked to me from the responses that he was really interested in building his own. I personally went the "I found what I think I want" route and am not unhappy at this point however the warranty was shot within two weeks when I swapped the barrel for the .300 AAC Blackout. I bought it knowing that I would do so though and discussed it with the dealer (who is also a friend of mine).
     
  13. usagi

    usagi Redmond Well-Known Member

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    not against a build, i just think it is an exceedingly bad idea for someone completely unfamiliar with the platform.

    just like i'd say it's an exceedingly bad idea for someone completely unfamiliar with precision rifle and remington 700s to go building a fancy remington 700 with aftermarket barrel, replacement stock, custom bolt, etc etc.

    the next question i sense coming is "do i need any special tools to do a build". the answer is "no, but it is an exceedingly bad idea to do a build without the proper tools. especially installation of the new barrel, unless you don't value your face and have no problem with reconstructive surgery".
     
  14. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    Thanks gunrights, im glad someone took notice. i have to admit nwcid did point out a rifle that does fit near what i had in mind and i will most likely be investing in the bushmaster carbon-15 91037 (second one down the list in the link). it does take a bit away from actually building it but i had planned to steer clear of assembling the upper for safety reasons, not that was was concerned about over looking such details. i made sure to save the page for future reference. i may see if i can get a couple different features on it when i order but i still may take the time to find a way to build my own. thanks for the help guys and if i have more questions, ill be sure to post here to keep the section a bit more clean.
     
  15. Papercidal

    Papercidal Vancouver ,Wa Active Member

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    I think you would save far more weight in going with a modular or Keymod rail rather than a quadrail than you would with a poly receiver set colt 6920 6.9 lb vs carbon 15 at 6.75lb and as a bonus the modular or keymod rails are much nicer to shoot.
     
  16. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    hey guys, so ive been doing a bit of looking around google to see some of the parts that have been mentioned and i think i will be building my ar lower after all. i still cant seem to find a stripped lower in poly that comes from a company with any sort of reliable history so it seems i will be going aluminum anyway, which is still okay with me. i have decided my first purchase will be tools for setting pins, vise and a rifle block for the vise. then the following month a lower and possibly a lower parts kit. at first i had decided to pick up a stag arms parts kit because it has great reviews but i wanted to see what you guys thought other kits for better performance.
     
  17. usagi

    usagi Redmond Well-Known Member

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    absolutely nothing matters in the lower parts kit except the trigger. most OEM and parts kit triggers are 'milspec' eg gritty creepy piles of crap.

    decent triggers are almost always sold individually and not in a parts kit.
     
  18. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    yea i noticed that a lot of the triggers advertised as high performance doesnt come with anything but the trigger mechanism. ive used just under 10 different ar-15s at the range and they all seem to feel a bit different. some feel a lot like a pistol trigger and few much more like a rifle trigger with no play. i dont know that i really have much of a preference but it may be a good idea for me to keep it consistent with the feel of my pistol. would it really make a big difference with accuracy 100 yards or less?

    anyone have experience with these triggers? http://tacfirecon.com/products.php
     
  19. Doc In UPlace

    Doc In UPlace Tacoma-ish Well-Known Member

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    I put a Geissele SSA trigger into my Colt 6920, and it turned a very reliable rifle into one that is a pleasure to shoot.

    Accuracy was increased dramatically and with that, the whole experience changed. It's the best single thing I've ever done with it.

    The second best thing was adding an Aimpoint PRO optic on a LaRue mount.

    Get a great trigger and a rugged optic on there, and pretty much everything else is negotiable in my experience.
     
  20. Kevinkris

    Kevinkris Aloha Well-Known Member

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    at this point i wont be planning to add optics to the rifle but i do plan to choose parts that will give me the option in the future. this is mostly because the rifle will be primarily meant for home defense and i wont need to fire more than a few yards in that unlikely circumstance. i would like to be sure that i have built a quality rifle though, which is why i would like to put the higher performing parts on it as i go. as far as i can tell, the SSA trigger you mentioned looks like a good idea and is a far cry cheaper than the one i linked above. it definitely is winning my heart over the tacfirecon trigger in price.