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It's easy to find complete AR's for sale at any gun store or website. It's pretty easy to find individual parts to build an AR 15 too.

But here's what I find a bit confusing..... If I wanted a new car or truck, and I compared the price of a complete car or truck to the price of the same car or truck put together from parts, the parts vehicle would probably cost 2-3-4 times more than the complete vehicle. Thats usually true of most products.

But I regularly hear people say that you can build an AR 15 from parts for the same price as a complete one or even cheaper.... That's probably pretty unusual compared to most products.

But anyway, 2 questions:

**1. Which way is cheaper to acquire an AR, complete or built from parts?

**2. How cheaply can you build a decent quality, reliable, long lasting AR that wont have all sorts of issues and be pretty accurate? I know there are many different AR setups, so for this question, lets say it is a basic 16" barrel sport/tactical type model with iron sights, but with a few rails for optional optics that you're trying to build....

**3. Name some of the brands of the more substantial parts that you'd use? Like upper and lower receiver, barrel, stock, etc.
 

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Some mfgs. will offer the basic AR platform for short money. It is what you do to the firearm after that will incur the cost. In its basic DI, stock, configuration, the issue of function is moot. However, the addition of after market components is costly. The majority of uppers and lowers (assuming they are mil-spec.) are not hard to obtain and with some effort could be had somewhat cheaply. I would strongly consider the purpose of the platform and then revisit the neeed for certain components. I would safely say using new parts (brand name products), that it would cost around $700-$775 to build. This is without labor or optics factored in.
 

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Palmetto lower $50
Palmetto LPK $45
Aero complete upper (W/BCG) $170
MOE Stock, grip, handguard, & stock components (buffer, spring, buffer spirng, castle nut, locking nut, $100
16" barrel 1:7 heavy barrel $110 or medium 1:7 barrel $230 (Surplus Ammo or PSA)
YHM low pro gas block $25
Gas tube $15
YHM phantom flash hider $23
Magpul BUIS set $65
TOTAL- $603 or $723

The good thing about building an AR yourself is you get exactly the rifle you want, not something close to it. You can pick the parts and decide how much it will cost, not some other company. This is just a quick calculation based on your criteria, but within your criteria there are hundreds of options.

The quality of the build depends on you, your components and ability to assemble the rifle. Personally, I would rather build than purchase assembled. I have built 3 ARs and won't purchase assembled again.

TG
 

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I just purchased everything I need to build an AR in 6.8 for right at $700 but that was with free floated barrel, custom trigger and a few other extras. I could easily shave $150 or so from that for a standard M4 carbine in military dress. I would say $550 to $600 for a well built gun with quality parts.
Edit: I should add that I already have optics and don't intend to use buis, and already had a bolt carrier so just bought a bolt to fit it.
 

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Federal Excise Taxes are included on the purchase price of either a complete rifle or a bare receiver. So your build starts with a 10% reduction in price. Buy Internet/mail-order and most AR parts sellers don't collect your state sales tax. Buy your parts over a period of time as they go on sale, and try to take advantage of free shipping offers and/or coupons.

I know a guy that built a DPMS AP4 Panther Carbine 223, 16 Inch, A3 Upper, M4 Barrel for a $175 savings off the complete rifle price.
 

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The S&W M&P 15 Sport is a great rifle for the money. They can be had for $550-$600. They do have some things "Missing"
1. No Dust cover
2. No forward assist
3. The Trigger guard is a part of the lower not pinned in.
4. The barrel does not have the M203 cutout on it.

But for the money the thing is very accurate and I have yet to have one FTF or malfunction with mine.

Building a rifle is always a low cost option as well you need to include the cost of the specialty tools you will need to buy as well.
 

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Federal Excise Taxes are included on the purchase price of either a complete rifle or a bare receiver.
Not exactly. If you buy a completer lower or buy a stripped lower and a lower parts kit in the same order you will pay 11% federal excise tax. You can save a good bit by buying the LPK from a different dealer (you could probably order them on separate days from the same dealer and still get around the excise tax).. Just have to pay shipping but, LPK shouldn't be more than about $6-$8 for shipping.
 

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I was close, but the main point is, saving with a build your own AR is easy. The bare lower was bought at a local gun show, no shipping and no FFL fee. All the small parts and a fully assembled upper were bought from Midway or Brownell's either on sale, or with a discount coupon, and everything was with free shipping and no state/local sales taxes.
 

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But I regularly hear people say that you can build an AR 15 from parts for the same price as a complete one or even cheaper....
It's all relative. Yes. You can build an AR-15 cheaper, but that AR-15 is gonna essentially be crap. Not at durable, not as reliable, not as accurate - crap.

**1. Which way is cheaper to acquire an AR, complete or built from parts?
It's cheaper to buy a reasonable quality AR-15 than it is to build one of even similar quality. Why? Because chances are extremely good that you'll order a lot of stuff off the internet, and you'll have to pay shipping. What you buy locally will cost you in taxes. Then there are the tools you're going to have to buy. It all adds up. If you're lucky and don't booger up one or more parts, and manage to buy all the RIGHT parts the first time, it will run you a few hundred dollars more than just buying one outright.

**2. How cheaply can you build a decent quality, reliable, long lasting AR that wont have all sorts of issues and be pretty accurate? I know there are many different AR setups, so for this question, lets say it is a basic 16" barrel sport/tactical type model with iron sights, but with a few rails for optional optics that you're trying to build....

**3. Name some of the brands of the more substantial parts that you'd use? Like upper and lower receiver, barrel, stock, etc.
Just go to Spikes or Bravo Company, and order a rifle. I would recommend the following:

16-inch 1:8 twist mid-length gas system barrel
Full-auto BCG (you can't get this in a Colt, S&W, or RRA cookie-cutter gun)
Sprinco Blue Spring kit
H2 buffer
Milspec trigger
Floated hand guard
Magpul CTR Stock
CAA UPG-16 pistol grip
Troy folding rear sight
Folding front sight
Decent flash suppressor
 

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...... You can build an AR-15 cheaper, but that AR-15 is gonna essentially be crap. Not at durable, not as reliable, not as accurate - crap.
Interesting theory, but how are you going to prove it ?

My cousin was a helicopter mechanic and did several tours in Iraq, and all 5 of the AR's he has built are accurate and reliable.

It can maybe slightly agree that if you buy the cheapest possible AR upper receiver parts, you may have a less reliable or less accurate AR than if you buy top quality parts. Durability is relative, and most people will never shoot enough to wear out any of the fully replaceable AR parts such as a barrel or bolt carrier.

Both Spike and Bravo will sell you a fully assembled upper receiver.

For most people, a reasonably accurate AR is accurate enough.
 
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It can maybe slightly agree that if you buy the cheapest possible AR upper receiver parts, you may have a less reliable or less accurate AR than if you buy top quality parts. Durability is relative, and most people will never shoot enough to wear out any of the fully replaceable AR parts such as a barrel or bolt carrier.

Both Spike and Bravo will sell you a fully assembled upper receiver.

For most people, a reasonably accurate AR is accurate enough.
Like everything else, AR parts are subject to the quality whims of the manufacturer. Substandard parts are often sold "on sale" because they have a bad rep for one reason or another. Lowers, uppers, barrels, sights, bolts, carriers, triggers, and furniture - it runs the gamut of the the AR parts tree. Budget parts will probably result in a crap gun.

If you're buying pre-built uppers and/or lowers from Spikes, the gun will cost as much as a cookie-cutter gun, and you're not really "building" the gun yourself.

You're right, *most* people will probably never have to worry about wobbled-out trigger pin holes, or a shot-out barrel, or a stock that doesn't take a decent lock on the buffer tube for a consistent cheek weld, or a hand guard that shimmies every time you position for or take a shot, or a barrel that will shoot anything you care to chamber (steel or brass). Personally, I demand more from my weapons because I use the hell out of them, and I don't want them to fail at the least opportune time.

Of course, that's just me (and all standard warnings and caveats apply - your mileage may vary, batteries not included, don't run with scissors, and the biggie - but you're NOT everyone else). :)
 

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You Usually Get What You $Pay$ For

If you want an excellent AR15, then usually you must be prepared to pay the price. An example would be purchasing a law enforcement Colt made AR15 vs paying perhaps half as much for the questionable parts to build your own questionable AR15.

Franking speaking and from personal experience here, it might be best to bite the bullet and buy something from a major military spec provider. There is a difference. Again, I think (maybe not currently) that the Colt would be the best. HB of CJ (old coot)

(hundreds of builds, but long ago and far away and nobody cares today anyway including me soosss there you have it in a nutshell). :)
 

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I've been debating this too - stock vs build-ur-own. I'm looking to convert from a Mini-14 to AR, and price is an issue. Hoping to break close to even from the Mini sale. One thing I've wondered, if you build it, is it best to get the upper and lower from the same MFG? I've heard some issues of fit for "this" one connecting to "that" one. Any other known things to look out for when building?

I am only going to use mine for plinking and home/self-defense. I may eventually get an AR-10 upper for hunting so I could use my same lower and optics. At least I think I can do that...still learning about AR's.
 

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I have to disagree with those who say that if you build it yourself it will be crap, or you are better off to bite the bullet and buy one off the rack. There are only a hand full of manufacturers out there. The rest of them buy parts and put them together. There is no difference if you buy the parts and put them together or some "Armory" does it. As long as you buy quality parts and assemble them correctly, you will have a quality Rifle. And putting it together is not hard. I have said before if you can read directions well enough to put together a desk from Wal-Mart, you can build an AR. One thing I would recommend is buying a matched barrel and bolt so that you don't have to worry about headspacing.
Other than that, you can pretty much use whoever's parts you want, mix or match. The only thing you may run into occasionally is an upper and lower with a slightly different shade of black if they come from different vendors. If you are concerned about that, I would buy a matched upper and lower. I would also buy a lower parts kit without a trigger. Buy your trigger separately if you want a nice trigger.
 

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Put your money into a barrel and BCG. That is the heart of the AR.
The rest, just find the best price from a reputable dealer.
 

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That sounds legit to me, thanks shadow1 and woodstock. And I've been looking at that same LPK from Surplus Ammo. And their Grim Reaper lower.

What do you think of their Upper, it seems worthy (chrome lined, MOE handguard, 1:9 twist, etc.). I think I'd prefer 1:9 twist since it can handle more bullet sizes (if I'm understanding it right)?
Upper:*Surplus Ammo & Arms Chrome Lined AR-15 M4 16" Upper Receiver 1:9 Twist - Surplus Ammo
Lower:*Surplus Ammo & Arms "Grim Reaper" AR15 Stripped Lower Receiver - Surplus Ammo

Though I may just go with this complete lower for now:http://www.surplusammo.com/surplus-ammo-arms-grim-reaper-ar15-complete-lower-with-collapsing-stock/
 

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I believe that the 4140 steel barrel in your link would be ok but, you would probably be better going with something in the 4150 steel, that is what is required for Mil-spec barrels. The upper is easier to assemble then the lower is, I would find a good barrel with matched headspaced bolt and buy the carrier, receiver, forward assist and dust cover separately. Of course you will need a gas block and gas tube as well, you will probably still end up cheaper than buying a complete upper.
 

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Accessories

I agree the most important part of the gun would be the barrel. The key to a successful build is to build the gun you want/can afford then upgrade it as you find necessary or as the cash comes available. You don't have to have the best at first but know what you want to accomplish.

For great prices on AR accessories check out Uintahs Edge |
 
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