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Discussion Starter #1
So I picked up an Anderson arms stripped lower yesterday for $45 + tax. Been wanting an AR for awhile now and have really enjoyed the idea of building my own (since when I buy a new facotory gun I would mod it anyway). It's a .223/5.56 "multicaliber" receiver, my plans are for a .223/5.56 upper and a middle of the road (cost wise) build. Would like an adjustable stock, thinking 16.5" barrel, and would plan on mount a low power fixed powered optic (probably a 3x fixed power scope).

Now as I said this is my first AR anything. I am complete new to them and do not claim to know jack about them. I do have decent mechanical skill a variety of hand/power tools, bench, vice, ect. Been around guns for awhile and have a good general knowledge of all my weapons inner workings.

So, after that longwindedness, now to what I'm asking for help with. What should I be looking for when I go to purchase 1) my fire control group. 2) bolt carrier. 3) barrel, ect.

Again, I am completely new to ARs. My verbiage will probably be wrong and again I am an AR idiot. Ive watched countless YouTube videos, and read a lot about assembly which I believe I could manage easily. But still not sure what to look for in the rest of the parts needed to build a quality weapon. It will be a plinker my get taken out hunting once in awhile, but mainly I have my deer rifles, home defense, ect covered by different weapons. This is purely entertainment. I typically hold on to the weapons I buy so I want durability out of this .

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
 

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The easiest solution is to buy a complete rifle kit from somewhere like Palmeto and assemble the lower receiver. No assembly required for the upper.
 

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FCG: Single or double stage. If you've never shot a double stage trigger you might want to stay with single stage 'cause it might feel more familiar to you. Some like the double stage because you can take up the slack in the first stage and then send the shot when ready with just a little more pressure on the trigger.
BCG: An M16 carrier is recommended many times because of the added mass; smooths out recoil a bit, but not necessary.
Barrel: Consider the weight of your bullets. Around 55-62 grains and 1:9 is good. If you want to shoot heavier, 1:8 or 1:7. You can also get chrome lined barrels. You'll hear they aren't as accurate as a normal barrel, but if you are going to shoot .223 and 5.56 it's a wash and the ease of cleaning might be worth it. Keep an eye on outside diameter 'cause that will determine the bore of your gas block. IMO, 16 inches is a good length when you consider you'll add another 2-3 with the flash hider.
You mentioned a scope, so I'll add this. Get one that is made to handle more recoil than you think your .223/5.56 rounds will produce. Reason: you get two shocks to the scope; when the rifle fires, and when the BCG comes back home.
In the end, AR15s are erector set guns and you can find so many parts and do-dads it'll be hard to decide, and could lead to another AR :biggrin:
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah the "so many parts and do dads" thing is what gets me. Just trying to decide between all the different options... As far as another AR... that's already planned. Just making sure I can get through the build first then more will come.
 

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I'm in the same boat. My cousin has me convinced to build from parts but he waffles when I ask what parts.
So I got a New Frontiers Armory LW-15 polymer lower for several reasons but mostly weight and the trigger group is good out of the box.
I'm building a 300 Blackout pistol which I'm planning to attach a Sig brace on in lieu of a stock. I lucked into a deal on a gen-u-wine AAC 300 BLK 9" pistol barrel.
So now all I need is the upper receiver BCG and the fixin's to make it functional.
BCG specs are confusing as to Nickle Boron and chrome and Lord knows what else with nothing definitive on what difference it makes and why there options.
Then why is the type charging handle important? I mean is teher a reason for a $120 forged charging handle?
I had some questions on the buffer tube - I'm a little confused by how all that works and supposedly my lower has a "commercial" size vs carbine vs pistol.
Folks have a whole lotta assumptions that everyone knows this stuff. I'm with the OP in that I could use some schooling or a pointer where to get it.
We live in a time when there seems to be too much information - or I should say a lotta opinion mixed in with genuine knowledge.
 

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If you are going to assemble uppers yourself an Giesslle reaction rod is a good investment.

The barrel is where you want to put your money if accuracy is a great concern. If you are only plinking or shooting unsupported any barrel will do. If you are a high volume shooter hammer forged is worth the money for longevity.

Some of the triggers included in the lower part kits are great, some are terrible, most are fair. It is the luck of the draw. A nice trigger like the good ones made by Gieselle are unbelievably good but are around $200. These are very important for me but may not be for you.

Stay way from the nickel boron stuff. It is just eye candy. Get a bolt and carrier from a reputable company and you will be fine. Read up on the different steels used in the bolt and buy one of the better quality ones. They do not cost much more than the cheaper steels.

You can put the lower together with a basic punch set. One of the dedicated tools for installing he pivot pin is a good investment as well as it is not easy without them.
 

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How deep do you want to DIY ...... My first was a Rock River 20 HBAR (heavy barrel) Flat top upper with a A-1 stock,grip with buffer tube (Just a normal stock) a Aero Precision lower, Palmetto Stainless trigger group...... about $1000 ........ I have stripped the RR down to the bones SO...... My second is a scratch built ....... (I am stiil searching for cheap(er) stuff to put this together) Going for under $400 bucks (LIKE TO BE UNDER $300 used parts )to build it with new lower ($40), trigger group ($20), barrel 16" Chrome lined ($80) bolt and carrier ($80), receiver ($60), gas block($20), six position stock w/buffer tube ($70) ....... I am no expert ..... But putting one together is not rocket science ....... I will tell you the first time you squeeze the trigger and it goes BANG ...... I's all fun there after ......
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Looking to build this thing ground up. Build the lower, build an upper and put 'em together. I am not overly concerned about accuracy maybe 2" groups at 100 yds with a 3x scope. Not looking for a sub min gun. This is basically me wanting to cut out the middle man, get past the entry level AR, add some things I know that would add later up front and learn the platform as much as possible in the process. Basically, I need an education in what to upgrade and why, because I don't want an entry level gun that I then tweak and end up spending more on in the long run. I want to do this from scratch because hopefully this won't be my first and last build.
 
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You're going to need an armorer's wrench to assemble it with and a set of fixtures to mount the upper receiver in your vice when you install the barrel. Do not try to assemble it without those 2 items. The last AR I assembled, I bought an AR Stoner 16" lightweight contour from midway. Can't remember the price, but it was quite a bit less expensive than the more popular brands. It shoots pretty good. Not the most accurate barrel out there, but well within your stated accuracy goal. One thing I recommend for all new builds is to lap the upper receiver to square the mating surface of the barrel/receiver. Most receivers will be pretty good, but some will be out by a bunch. The tool only costs about $20 and it only takes a few minutes to do the job.
 

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Beemer has the right idea. Several folks have AR upper kits. An assembled upper, fire control group and stock pieces. Add your favorite lower and 3 hours later you have a fully functional AR. Most of these companies offer you a laundry list of options. Couple reasons to think about going this way.

Most of the specialty tools in AR's are for the upper. Vice blocks, armorer's wrenches, headspace adjustment, gas block alignment, gas tube adjustment ect. You can fake some, but you're still looking at some investment to acquire what you need.

As to specific parts and pieces, most everything works pretty good nowadays. There are plenty of AR specific forums/boards that will tell you what accessories are absolutely MUST HAVE (at least this week), what ones are problem children, which ones they settled with and what to just outright avoid. 2 stage triggers are very nice, but can be amongst the priciest parts you'll put in. So review them carefully.

Note about BubbaJon's build. If you build a pistol, MAKE SURE YOUR RECEIVER IS MARKED AS A PISTOL RECEIVER. (No physical difference, but Mfr is taxed and recorded differently by the ATF). If you build a pistol on a rifle's receiver, you actually just made a Short Barreled Rifle which needs to be registered and tax stamped ($200) as such...assuming they are legal in your state to begin with. If not properly registered and taxes paid, these SBR's are a Federal violation. Kiss your freedom, savings, and any firearms related hobby goodbye.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks to all for the responses and advice. Thinking about ordering a lower kit so I could possibly get the lower done then decide how to procede with the upper.
 

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AR's are a whole lot of fun to build from scratch, all of the above advise is pretty much spot on.

heres my 2cents for what its worth..

honestly theres so many options out there that it can get very overwhelming very fast. but there are some very basic fundamental parameters that, if you stick to, you really cant go wrong.

heres what ive learned in my experience over the years.

Tools you will need : armors AR wrench, upper vise blocks, roll pin punches, allen wrenches, and a receiver vise block, electrical tape, small hammer, razor blade, torque wrench Foot LBS, and torque wrench, Inch LBS. those are the major tools..

Basics on parts, and do's and Dont's..
If at all possible, try and get everything "mil-spec" as parts for "commercial are not as easy to find/get, and absolutely will not intermix will mil spec.
I try and explain things as 4 different categories of gun, Pistol, Carbine, mid-length, and Rifle.. basically that dictates alot of the build, and what parts to get, and narrows down your search, and will help with making an "off the bench shooter" and help avoid alot of potential troubleshooting issues if they come up, and to help NOT accidentally building in potential problems later..
Carbine: short gas tube, a hair more recoil, but generally overall more reliable functioning with a variety of power ammo, generally my "go-to builds for short barrel, 16 inch guns, mid length, and rifle, longer gas tubes, less recoil, but potentials for cycling issues if running softer or weak loads.

Starting from the front...
Barrel: weight is a factor there, for general shooting, and durability, a chrome line barrel is fine, but chrome lined are not as accurate as other barrels, so its not a must have, and sometimes more expensive, pretty much have to decide if youre gonna be carrying it all day, then a standard profile M4 barrel will be lighter than an HBAR.. HBAR will add at least a pound to the front end, and that can be significant on a 6 lb gun.

Gas block: tons of choices.. Ive only ever had to use an adjustable block on one of my setups, they are ABSOLUTELY NOT NECESSARRY for your average rifle, no matter how much people brag about them... standard 10-20$ blocks work perfectly,and will for many years.
I personally prefer low profile STEEL blocks with clamp on mounting, probably the hardest to screw up, and or strip out, I hate the aluminum ones with the small allen set screws that screw in from the bottom, they always seem to wear out after about 1000 rounds'ish' (lots of hot gasses going thru there, and it eroded the aluminum on the inside, so Steel holds up much longer.. Low profile work for shaving a few grams of weight , and will leave you with another perk of being able to mount a larger variety of hand guards in the end. low profile hand guards, or "slim" ..

Hand guards: the sky is the limit, you have to make the "cosmetic/function decision there. There is no right or wrong there...
only recommendation is that you have 2-3 barrel shims on hand just in case, probably wont need them, but when you do, it is a nightmare having your build stalled by not being able to get your barrel nut torqued/clocked correctly.

BCG's: I kinda love the Nickel Borons myself, just a heck of a lot slicker, and easier to clean, dont have to run the gun so wet all the time, and theyre right at 100$ if you shop around... ARES armory, and AIM surplus are perfectly fine... but the average everyday phosphate ones will run forever without issues...if theyre good enough for our troops, then it will work perfect for you and me, ive got 3 in some of my guns, never had the first problem after 1000's of rounds, but more to the cleaning procedure...but get the "full auto groups.. m16 profile" they are heavier, and help a bit with recoil, and will cycle everything just fine... other styles... not so much... and that has to do with buffers and springs discussed later...

Triggers: theyre all good for mil-spec, just stay away from the P-Tac series from Palmetto, I have seen some pretty shoddy and rough triggers in that line... the regular Palmetto's work great, and are easily tuneable to get to about 4 lbs.... they come stock at an average of around 8-9lbs, but thats about standard for an AR.. any good comp trigger group is always the best and easiest upgrade, I personally love my Elftmann triggers over the Geiselle, or the Timneys,,, Best triggers Ive ever used... and adjustable to 2lbs without having to remove from the gun...

Buffers, and buffer tubes:.. Simplest and most confusing parts all at the same time... 3 options for buffers, 1, 2, or 3's,, light medium or heavy... think of it as a shock absorber... and if you stick with "carbine length gas tubes, stay with carbine buffer tube, and buffer kit, and you cannot go wrong) simple... but it is always a good idea to have extra buffers on hand to help cycling if youre really into "messing around" with different power loads.
Cycling/Clocking
Bolt cycles too fast and causes powerful loads to fail to feed, then move up to the heavier buffer, to slow it down.
Bolt Cycles too slow, Fail to eject or stovepipe, go to a lighter buffer, to speed it up..
Buffers are about 12-15 dollars, and they will last for 100 years or so, good little investments...
(this is also where different longer length gas systems can also effect cycling, but the buffers can fix those issues in seconds....)
when troubleshootint an issue with friends guns, the first thing i do is fire it with all three different buffers, 50/50 that it is just a buffer switch to fix cycling...

well, Ive rambled enough, hope this gets you pointed in the right direction....

there are a million little tricks for little things and issues that can arise, but take it slow, make sure your torque settings are correct, and take your time with the roll pins.

of all my years.... I can say that the little tiny roll pin for setting the gas tube into the gas block is the hardest part to do!!!! make a wood block with a little "half round" that your gas block can rest in, then hammer away! if not, youll need 3 hands to get it... they suck to install..

Ive kinda over simplified everything, because it really is that simple :) but if you have questions on specific areas, and parts, I can elaborate more... Good luck, and have fun with it!

watch the youtube videos, theyre all very good, (except for the guy that uses vice grips to install his roll pins, and a hammer to beat things into place.....
 

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Note about BubbaJon's build. If you build a pistol, MAKE SURE YOUR RECEIVER IS MARKED AS A PISTOL RECEIVER. (No physical difference, but Mfr is taxed and recorded differently by the ATF). If you build a pistol on a rifle's receiver, you actually just made a Short Barreled Rifle which needs to be registered and tax stamped ($200) as such...assuming they are legal in your state to begin with. If not properly registered and taxes paid, these SBR's are a Federal violation. Kiss your freedom, savings, and any firearms related hobby goodbye.

True, but look at the paperwork.. that may clear up a potential issue... all receiver only purchases i have made have it listed as "Parts Other"
or just "other" which eliminates the ATF nightmare , so once you get the "other" part and build as a pistol first, youre fine as long as you never turn it into a rifle, or mount on a "rifle stocked lower".
The only time ive ever seen one listed as Rifle is on a "complete assembled lower with adjustable stock installed, which is how it is supposed to be..thats where the SBR issue will bite you...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you so much! That clears up a lot. I am excited to start getting this project up and going. But really I get excited anytime a new gun is involved...
 

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Note about BubbaJon's build. If you build a pistol, MAKE SURE YOUR RECEIVER IS MARKED AS A PISTOL RECEIVER. (No physical difference, but Mfr is taxed and recorded differently by the ATF). If you build a pistol on a rifle's receiver, you actually just made a Short Barreled Rifle which needs to be registered and tax stamped ($200) as such...assuming they are legal in your state to begin with. If not properly registered and taxes paid, these SBR's are a Federal violation. Kiss your freedom, savings, and any firearms related hobby goodbye.
My understanding is that you want the lower receiver to be stamped as "other" so it can be built either way without a tax. It's my understanding the only no-no then is a stock - you can use a brace such as the SB-15 which is my plan.
 

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BubbaJon, see my above post, youre absolutely correct, Receiver Only are sold, listed as "OTHER" on the ATF paperwork, so you are free to build as a pistol with a SIG brace, youre in the clear. Love the 300blk platform also by the way!

the only way it is an issue is if youre caught with the short barrel upper on a conventional stocked lower...
Then it is a SBR...
keep it as a pistol, and youre good to go!

Dumbest rules ever if you ask me....

if you buy a legal, registered pistol, then put a 16 inch barrel on it, and stock, to convert to legal rifle, youre fine, but if you ever mash up all the parts, and turn it BACK to a pistol, youre in trouble... and if you start out as a legal rifle, you have to SBR it to turn it into a pistol.
 

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Dumb rules? Definitely. However it's something that the end user (us) needs to make sure we are in compliance with. Btw, don't take my, BubbaJon's, or Flatneck's word on any of this. If you consider building a pistol AR, call your local BATF office and get their opinion on it....preferably in writing. They also have a pretty good FAQ section.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well... Was checking palmettos web site and they had thier premium classic lower build kit on sale for $85. So it should be in the mail now! Talked to a buddy of mine who has all necassary tools to build an upper and he offered to let me borrow them. So I am on my way to actually building my very own evil black rifle... It feels good. Now time to look for upper parts! So far $140 into the game.
 
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Well... Was checking palmettos web site and they had thier premium classic lower build kit on sale for $85. So it should be in the mail now! Talked to a buddy of mine who has all necassary tools to build an upper and he offered to let me borrow them. So I am on my way to actually building my very own evil black rifle... It feels good. Now time to look for upper parts! So far $140 into the game.
My AAC 9" barrel came in today. My NFA lower should be at GT Distributors soon. The barrel was a "splurge" as AAC makes supposedly outstanding barrels. It certainly looks well-made. Came unassembled with the low profile gas block , gas tube and flash suppressor. Guess I get to find out about that roll pin mentioned...
Next on the list is an upper with BCG and kit. After that the SIG brace and likely an extender tube since I have "long" arms.
Anybody have advice on tools necessary and a good price on them? For example I hear everyone say to get an upper vise block. When I look at them it doesn't really look like much - would a couple of pieces of heavy leather protect the upper receiver in the vise?
Next question - with a 9" barrel how long should the barrel shroud be? I've decided on a key mod and seems like they're either 7" or 10". I'm guessing 7" but I hear people talking about the supressor fitting inside... School me.
 

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Ordered my upper and handguard today from Aero Precision. They have a great sale on their enhanced upper which removes some of the grief associated with mounting a floating handguard.
BTW - they offer free shipping and a military/vet discount of 10% on non-sale items.
Ordered the Lee 300 BLK mold, dies and trimming die and tools yesterday.
All I need now are the SB-15, mags and a BCG.
 
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