PDA

View Full Version : My first AR build - Need advice on lower & Upper


IEShooter
03-03-2010, 8:24 PM
Looking to buy a lower soon to begin my first AR build. Actually, this will be my first AR rifle.

Am going the build route to save money as I want a particular, collapsable butt stock in OD green as well as an ergo grip (also ODG) and some other things. It's cheaper to just build it myself versus buying a rifle and changing out these parts.

I'm leaning towards a hammer forged barrel, but could go with a typical chrome lined "standard" one if I was to get a smokin' deal.

Wife put me on a budget, so I'm giong to get the lower first, then buy the upper in a few months along with the stock, etc.

I had intended to go buy a lower this weekend at my local Ammo brothers or Cold War Shooters, but was just reading some reviews where people had discovered problems mating uppers to lowers that are mismatched brands. It seemed that this was not necessarily typical, but are there brands that don't go together?

I don't much care if they are of the same brand, but if this is a concern, I'll stop and research some more.

I was leaning towards a Daniel Defense upper. What lower would you recommned for this? DD would be good I'm sure, but I can't locate one locally.

Any other approaches or brands I should consider?

I'm in SoCal (Inland Empire) if that makes any difference. I'd prefer to buy the lower locally and support the local shops, but would consider the interweb for everything else if there are smoking deals.

Any advice?

Regards,

John

Jerry X
03-03-2010, 8:35 PM
Stick with CMMG, Stag, Rock River Arms, DPMS, etc.

Shawn L
03-03-2010, 8:40 PM
I got a Mega lower over at Bright Spot Pawn in Riverside. Chris is a good guy.

IEShooter
03-03-2010, 9:03 PM
Thanks for the replies. Any advice on online resources to buy parts? I'm familiar with Midway, Bravo company, and a few others. Uppers seem to be in short supply and highly priced.

That's got me leaning to just buying a stripped lower (or two) and waiting on everything else.

LasVegasTaxMan
03-03-2010, 9:11 PM
Mega and never look back.

tortoisethunder
03-03-2010, 9:29 PM
Welcome to the wonderful and expensive world of the evil black rifle. I am new also...I have built 2 1/2, and is very addicting. I have a mega lower with a rock river upper, a roggio lower with a bushmaster upper, and a lonely spikes lower.

I would recommend buying parts and putting together one yourself. I would get a carbine length as opposed to a mid length or full size. 16" barrel with a 1/7 or a 1/9 twist, chrome lined would be best for the average shooter.

I would buy the lower first then the bullet button and then the parts kit. Then the buffer tube and butt stock, and watch closely for an upper. Spend the money on the upper, it is the most critical portion of the AR. Most people will tell you a lower is a "lower"...not much difference between most of them.

I agree with the post above, cmmg, stag, rock river, mega, are all good quality stuff.

REMEMBER WHEN MAKING THIS AR: If you are making this rifle with a pistol grip, telescoping stock, and muzzle break...you must, MUST, put the magazine lock on when installing the parts kit. Also it is a very good idea to then install a TEN round magazine and lock it into place. NEVER EVER install a more than 10 round magazine in this rifle and NEVER release the magazine without a tool...always remember this is a locked magazine gun and only the magazine should be removed with a tool and you will be fine.

Shoot safe and ENJOY my friend and don't horde all the .223 ammo. hahaha.

IEShooter
03-03-2010, 9:45 PM
Welcome to the wonderful and expensive world of the evil black rifle. I am new also...I have built 2 1/2, and is very addicting. I have a mega lower with a rock river upper, a roggio lower with a bushmaster upper, and a lonely spikes lower.

I would recommend buying parts and putting together one yourself. I would get a carbine length as opposed to a mid length or full size. 16" barrel with a 1/7 or a 1/9 twist, chrome lined would be best for the average shooter.

I would buy the lower first then the bullet button and then the parts kit. Then the buffer tube and butt stock, and watch closely for an upper. Spend the money on the upper, it is the most critical portion of the AR. Most people will tell you a lower is a "lower"...not much difference between most of them.

I agree with the post above, cmmg, stag, rock river, mega, are all good quality stuff.

REMEMBER WHEN MAKING THIS AR: If you are making this rifle with a pistol grip, telescoping stock, and muzzle break...you must, MUST, put the magazine lock on when installing the parts kit. Also it is a very good idea to then install a TEN round magazine and lock it into place. NEVER EVER install a more than 10 round magazine in this rifle and NEVER release the magazine without a tool...always remember this is a locked magazine gun and only the magazine should be removed with a tool and you will be fine.

Shoot safe and ENJOY my friend and don't horde all the .223 ammo. hahaha.

Thanks for the excellent advice and good informaton!!

Yeah, I'm wanting a 16" carbine model and haven't decided on the twist. May just settle for a 1/8, though I'm not too picky.

Rifle will be used to terrorize paper targets, 40 pound bags of potatoes from Costco and assorted other stuff that is fun to shoot.

I'm well aware of the need for a bullet button and to stay with 10 round mags. I have an M1A Scout. I don't have any mags at all, so I'd just buy a dozen or so, 10 round mags for it.

One question? I've seen deals on uppers online. Most of them come with flash hiders. How difficult (or legal) is it to remove these and install the California required muzzle brake? Is this feasible, or should I confine my searches to vendors who sale uppers with muzzle brake's already installed?

I REALLY like the muzzle brake on my Scout as it works well to hold the front end down. I assume they work the same on an AR-15 type rifle?

I'm also a lefty, but am leaning towards a right handed rifle. I've shot that way for years and it doesn't bother me.

One final question. I've seen Gas Piston uppers for not much more money than "standard" ones. Some say they will become the new standard while others say, not so much. Thoughts?

Regards,

John

6172crew
03-03-2010, 9:50 PM
Dont go cheap on the upper. I played that game with a upper that shot 6 inch groups at 100. Id step up for a good upper once and dont look back.

Used stuff is a way to save $$ if thats your deal.

paladin4415
03-03-2010, 9:53 PM
I would buy this lower now,
http://www.gandrtactical.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=LWR-BCM&reference=/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi%3Fsearch%3Daction%26keywords%3D%26sea rchstart%3D9%26template%3DPDGCommTemplates/FullNav/SearchResult.html%26category%3DBCOM
and then this upper when you can afford it. The 16" carbine and 16" middy are both in stock.
http://www.gandrtactical.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=UPR-BCM&reference=/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi%3Fsearch%3Daction%26keywords%3Dupper% 26searchstart%3D0%26template%3DPDGCommTemplates/FullNav/SearchResult.html

telcolineman
03-03-2010, 10:01 PM
I have had 2 CMMG 1 Stag and 1 Kaiser Defense, all well made and no issues. Mated to Stag and bushmaster uppers

telcolineman
03-03-2010, 10:05 PM
Thanks for the excellent advice and good informaton!!

Yeah, I'm wanting a 16" carbine model and haven't decided on the twist. May just settle for a 1/8, though I'm not too picky.

Rifle will be used to terrorize paper targets, 40 pound bags of potatoes from Costco and assorted other stuff that is fun to shoot.

I'm well aware of the need for a bullet button and to stay with 10 round mags. I have an M1A Scout. I don't have any mags at all, so I'd just buy a dozen or so, 10 round mags for it.

One question? I've seen deals on uppers online. Most of them come with flash hiders. How difficult (or legal) is it to remove these and install the California required muzzle brake? Is this feasible, or should I confine my searches to vendors who sale uppers with muzzle brake's already installed?

I REALLY like the muzzle brake on my Scout as it works well to hold the front end down. I assume they work the same on an AR-15 type rifle?

I'm also a lefty, but am leaning towards a right handed rifle. I've shot that way for years and it doesn't bother me.

One final question. I've seen Gas Piston uppers for not much more money than "standard" ones. Some say they will become the new standard while others say, not so much. Thoughts?

Regards,

John

As long as you buy a 16" or longer, You can just unscrew the Fh and install a brake. 5.56-.223's don't have much of a kick, I have a brake in my parts. But I keep the FH's on it mostly

jtyner
03-03-2010, 10:07 PM
A flash hider is legal with the 10 round "fixed" magazine.

Check out riflegear.com as well. They're out in Orange County and very friendly/helpful if you decide to visit them.

IEShooter
03-03-2010, 10:09 PM
I thought muzzle brakes were required in California? I'm not too educated in these things, so please bear with me.

My 5 year old son likes to go shooting with me, so I take him on occasion. Right now, he's using a small framed, .22 semi-auto pistol (Walther P22) with lots of help and supervision from dad.

He's tried my 10/22, but it is "standard" and the stock is too long for him. I like the idea of a .223 with collapsible stock as it will actually work for him in the forward position.

I'm aware that they don't kick much at all, and that is of course good for a 38pound kid. :)

Regards,

John

IEShooter
03-03-2010, 10:11 PM
A flash hider is legal with the 10 round "fixed" magazine.

Check out riflegear.com as well. They're out in Orange County and very friendly/helpful if you decide to visit them.

I did not know that.

Thanks!!! Makes purchasing an upper off the interweb much easier.

Regards,

John

Josh3239
03-03-2010, 10:21 PM
I thought muzzle brakes were required in California? I'm not too educated in these things, so please bear with me.


12276.1 (a) Notwithstanding Section 12276, "assault weapon" shall also mean any of the following:
1.A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
A.A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
B.A thumbhole stock.
C.A folding or telescoping stock.
D.A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
E.A flash suppressor.
F.A forward pistol grip.
2.A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
3.A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.


How difficult (or legal) is it to remove these and install the California required muzzle brake?

Unless your barrel is less than 16'' they just screw right off.


I'm also a lefty, but am leaning towards a right handed rifle. I've shot that way for years and it doesn't bother me.

Lefty is an easy build. You need a left handed bolt and you can go with a side charger upper (left or right side) or a lefty upper.


I've seen Gas Piston uppers for not much more money than "standard" ones. Some say they will become the new standard while others say, not so much. Thoughts?

Long story short, it is a waste of money.

aplinker
03-03-2010, 11:09 PM
Have you read through the link in my signature?

IEShooter
03-03-2010, 11:22 PM
Have you read through the link in my signature?


Nope, but I thank you for the information!!! I'm looking at it now!!!!!

Regards,

John

tortoisethunder
03-04-2010, 9:28 AM
Stag makes a left handed lower. If you keep the AR clean you really don't need a piston system. From what I've heard some gas systems are great...others are not so great. They are an extra expense.

In my personal opinion...keep your ar simple. Go with a basic flat top set up, low profile gas block (no triangular front site), flip up front and rear battle sights (you could add a red dot later), telescoping buttstock, free float front quad rail front hand guard. This is a light and simple rifle, your child should be able to shoot fine.

I see way too many build these rifles with way too many accessories! Accessories are cool but heavy, expensive, and usually not needed. Iron sights on the AR is good to 100 yards on paper. You will be able to hit targets to 300 yards with practice. You can always add stuff later, build a basic adaptable ar and you will have a rifle for life.

Remember have fun and be safe with your kid...keep every shooting experience a positive one.

Josh3239
03-04-2010, 1:36 PM
If you keep the AR clean you really don't need a piston system.

You don't need a piston system anyway. AR doesn't need to be cleaned it needs to be lubricated.

For the life of me I can't find the thread, one ARFcom member put 7,000 rounds of Wolf through his AR without cleaning. The carbon was so thick it looked like his BCG and upper were rusted, not one malfunction.

Small Arms Review did a 3,000 round test with Wolf on an auto AR with beta C mags, no cleaning. According to the interweb that AR should have blown up. Yet it experienced 0 failures.

Pat Rogers rounds counts as of December 2009 with no cleaning:
BCM #14 - 29,000 rounds - still running
LWRC - 11,000 rounds - dead

(according to this board the BCM should be a single shot and the LWRC should be still running)

Pat Rogers rounds counts as of November 2009 with no cleaning:
BCM #13 - 24,000 rounds - still running
Colt 6940 #20 - 17,635rds - still running

killshot44
03-04-2010, 2:09 PM
My 5 year old son likes to go shooting with me, so I take him on occasion. Right now, he's using a small framed, .22 semi-auto pistol (Walther P22) with lots of help and supervision from dad.

He's tried my 10/22, but it is "standard" and the stock is too long for him. I like the idea of a .223 with collapsible stock as it will actually work for him in the forward position.

I'm aware that they don't kick much at all, and that is of course good for a 38pound kid.


My son is 7 and weighs 70lbs and no way can he handle my 16" with the stock collapsed. Might I recommend you check out the "Crickett"? It is made for kids. :thumbsup:

To the thread-starter, I can say you should not have problems with Rock River or Stag. Got both.

IEShooter
03-04-2010, 7:59 PM
My son is 7 and weighs 70lbs and no way can he handle my 16" with the stock collapsed. Might I recommend you check out the "Crickett"? It is made for kids. :thumbsup:

To the thread-starter, I can say you should not have problems with Rock River or Stag. Got both.

I am the thread starter.. :D

Actually, he's held an AR with the stock all the way forward and he's fine with it. He can actually shoulder it and look down the sights, which he can't do with the 10/22.

Having said that, he' won't be shooting it by himself. I'll be right there with my arms wrapped around him, helping him do it.

I agree that a .22 single shot is a better starter rifle and will buy him one, but he also wants to shoot what dad is shooting. You know how kids are. His hand is too small for the large framed pistols, which is why I bought the P22. They are also too heavy. He is a little afraid of my M1A, and frankly, it kicks enough to knock him over.

I was at a local range and the RO had his 4.5 y/o grandson out shooting his AR. Kid did just fine with it.

Obviously, lots of instruction on how-to and safety and supervision.

Thanks for the advice. I'm taking the day off tomorrow to go shooting and will buy a lower in the afternoon.

Regards,

John

nosmatt
03-04-2010, 8:15 PM
M&P 15/22


AR, .22, bad ***.
fine for 38lb kid

:)
everyone is happy.

tomd1584
03-04-2010, 8:24 PM
Stag makes a left handed lower. If you keep the AR clean you really don't need a piston system. From what I've heard some gas systems are great...others are not so great. They are an extra expense.

In my personal opinion...keep your ar simple. Go with a basic flat top set up, low profile gas block (no triangular front site), flip up front and rear battle sights (you could add a red dot later), telescoping buttstock, free float front quad rail front hand guard. This is a light and simple rifle, your child should be able to shoot fine.

I see way too many build these rifles with way too many accessories! Accessories are cool but heavy, expensive, and usually not needed. Iron sights on the AR is good to 100 yards on paper. You will be able to hit targets to 300 yards with practice. You can always add stuff later, build a basic adaptable ar and you will have a rifle for life.

Remember have fun and be safe with your kid...keep every shooting experience a positive one.


you say keep it simple. but then say to add quad rail, and front and rear flip up sights.

there is really nothing more simple than the FSB and standard handguards.

Kinda contradictory.

Game Time
03-04-2010, 9:28 PM
I got a Mega lower over at Bright Spot Pawn in Riverside. Chris is a good guy.

+1. They had some Spike's Tactical lowers in last time I was there. Talk to them and see if they can work a deal with you since Spike's is having a nice sale going on. If not, it might make sense to order online and just have them do the FFL transfer.

Kerplow
03-04-2010, 10:47 PM
if you go the DYI method and buy it piece by piece you can have a stripped lower and upper from JD machine for under $200

here is a breakdown of what i have started:

KD lower from JD machine $90 on clearance (plus DROS)
JD machine upper $60
JD machine Charging handle $20
WOA SDM 20" fluted SS barrel + headspaced bolt +front sight $465
forward assist $12
bolt carrier group $~70?
RRA national match Lower parts kit $180
A2 buttstock assembly $85
bullet button $25
muzzle brake/flash supressor $30
ejection port cover $6
rear sight ~$120
Floating handgaurd ~$150
magzines and accessories ~$75
assemble lower yourself $0
upper assembly as per: http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=266174&highlight=services $40

total: ~$1428 +tax/dros

I may have missed something, but i went conservative on some of those prices.

when i'm done the rifle should shoot far above my current skill level. That being said, one could save about $300 by getting a lower priced barrel (but still good) and a LPK with single stage trigger.

the price isnt too bad considering it should far outshoot the Colt my buddy just spent $1800+ on

If you decide to go the complete upper route i would wait for another smokin' deal on the DD uppers for right around $600. i cant speak from experience but i've read nothing but good about them.

tortoisethunder
03-05-2010, 7:43 AM
Mega and never look back.

I agree, I like the Mega finish the best, plus the extra grip on the front of the mag well is nice...hence the name "gator"

tortoisethunder
03-05-2010, 7:48 AM
you say keep it simple. but then say to add quad rail, and front and rear flip up sights.

there is really nothing more simple than the FSB and standard handguards.

Kinda contradictory.

It's my simple...sorry you disagree. I like the flip up sights and low profile gas block because you can change front and rear sites later IF you don't like the sight picture. I also think the free float quad rail is "extra" but the rifle MAY be a bit more accurate with the free float and the quad rail and you can add accessories at a later date.

tortoisethunder
03-05-2010, 7:58 AM
if you go the DYI method and buy it piece by piece you can have a stripped lower and upper from JD machine for under $200

here is a breakdown of what i have started:

KD lower from JD machine $90 on clearance (plus DROS)
JD machine upper $60
JD machine Charging handle $20
WOA SDM 20" fluted SS barrel + headspaced bolt +front sight $465
forward assist $12
bolt carrier group $~70?
RRA national match Lower parts kit $180
A2 buttstock assembly $85
bullet button $25
muzzle brake/flash supressor $30
ejection port cover $6
rear sight ~$120
Floating handgaurd ~$150
magzines and accessories ~$75
assemble lower yourself $0
upper assembly as per: http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=266174&highlight=services $40

total: ~$1428 +tax/dros

I may have missed something, but i went conservative on some of those prices.

when i'm done the rifle should shoot far above my current skill level. That being said, one could save about $300 by getting a lower priced barrel (but still good) and a LPK with single stage trigger.

the price isnt too bad considering it should far outshoot the Colt my buddy just spent $1800+ on

If you decide to go the complete upper route i would wait for another smokin' deal on the DD uppers for right around $600. i cant speak from experience but i've read nothing but good about them.

You are doing great! The only thing I would do is buy a complete upper, that way you know all the upper parts will be a "match". As a first time buyer/assembly you will know you will have a reliable functioning rifle you first time on the range. I have heard from some that some parts from different manufactures don't work well in others. For example some manufactures bolt carrier groups don't work as well as the "matching" bolt carrier groups? I can't remember exactly which ones don't match and this might not be true...I have never tried switching bolt carrier groups...my rifles function flawlessly.

aplinker
03-05-2010, 8:57 AM
you say keep it simple. but then say to add quad rail, and front and rear flip up sights.

there is really nothing more simple than the FSB and standard handguards.

Kinda contradictory.

The standard FSB is a good choice, but plastic handguards suck.

They move, they **** with accuracy, and a DD Lite rail weighs less.

KISS is the simplest for the mission. I'd suggest your idea is "basic rifle" rather than KISS.

IEShooter
03-05-2010, 9:09 AM
You are doing great! The only thing I would do is buy a complete upper, that way you know all the upper parts will be a "match". As a first time buyer/assembly you will know you will have a reliable functioning rifle you first time on the range. I have heard from some that some parts from different manufactures don't work well in others. For example some manufactures bolt carrier groups don't work as well as the "matching" bolt carrier groups? I can't remember exactly which ones don't match and this might not be true...I have never tried switching bolt carrier groups...my rifles function flawlessly.


Newbie question time. Is a complete upper actually complete? In other words, if I buy one online, which is my intent, does it just bolt directly to the lower and away we go?

I've also seen the barrel's for sale without a hand guard. I'm sorta liking that as I can then add a nice OD green hand guard of whatever type I want. Are these easy to install?

I heard the same thing about parts not fitting correctly and requiring a little filing or other work. Specifically, the review section on Midway.com where people review some of the DPMS and other lowers. There were a few comments that it didn't match up perfectly with X brand upper without some work.

What's a high quality lower parts kit and bullet button to buy?

Regards,

JOhn

civilsnake
03-05-2010, 9:45 AM
Newbie question time. Is a complete upper actually complete? In other words, if I buy one online, which is my intent, does it just bolt directly to the lower and away we go?

I've also seen the barrel's for sale without a hand guard. I'm sorta liking that as I can then add a nice OD green hand guard of whatever type I want. Are these easy to install?

I heard the same thing about parts not fitting correctly and requiring a little filing or other work. Specifically, the review section on Midway.com where people review some of the DPMS and other lowers. There were a few comments that it didn't match up perfectly with X brand upper without some work.

What's a high quality lower parts kit and bullet button to buy?

Regards,

JOhn

A "complete" upper should include a BCG and charging handle. If it does, then yes, you can just pin it into a lower and you're ready to rock and roll. If not, then you buy them and put them in, which isn't an issue.

BCM (which is very highly recommended by pretty much everyone around here) sells their uppers in the configuration you're describing: no handguards, no BCG and no CH. This is, IMO, the way to go. You can get whatever handguard you want, slap in the BCG/CH and you're ready to rock. Go to the Bravo Company website and check them out.

I don't often hear about uppers and lowers not fitting. You'll hear about them being a bit loose/wobbly, but that's not a problem because the sights are all on the upper.

I think Stag is getting the nod right now for quality LPK.

aplinker
03-05-2010, 3:01 PM
Isntalling a BCG and CH is trivial. You'll do this whenever you clean (takes 10 seconds).

Installing handguards isn't hard, it's just a huge pain in the *** without the tool. It's a technical nothing.

stan
03-05-2010, 3:09 PM
as a fellow lefty and fellow AR owner - there are a *few* times where i have actually noticed my rifle was right handed. the only one that comes to mind is firing from the hip where i had brass hitting my jacket. the brass deflector on your upper and the way the upper / BCG function means that you won't really have a problem with brass as a lefty shooting a right-handed ar-15. you can get an ambi safety selector, but i don't have one and i've never really had a problem using my left index finger on it. a bonus that right handers dont get is that us lefties can reach the slide stop release with the left index finger. depending on the rifle i've seen ones where the sling wont attach the correct way for a lefty, but my DTI upper and has the ring on the bottom so its fine for my 2-point.

i personally have a stag lower, del ton upper, and whatever the cheapest LPK and collapsible stock was in OC armory at the time. if you are budget minded Del-Ton (aka DTI) is fine for us average joes, and you can get their rifle kit (everything other than stripped lower) for $500 or so - i think someone had some for sale on here in fact. if you decide to drop by OC armory they are VERY helpful and will help you accomplish whatever you are trying to do.

IEShooter
03-05-2010, 5:45 PM
Thanks for all the good advice. Went by Cold War Shooters in Highland this afternoon and bought a Mega, forged lower and a Rock River national match trigger and a bullet button.

Now, I need to save money for the upper, stock, and whatever sights I want on it. Mostly, I'll use the gray market Eotech I bought at a gun show. It works pretty well, but I'll want some folding sights too I think.

I like the Troy Industries ones, but they're pretty spendy.

Any advice on some that fold that are as close as possible to Natonal Match sites like I have on my Springfield M1A? I really like those sights a lot.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Regards,

John

tortoisethunder
03-05-2010, 6:14 PM
Thanks for all the good advice. Went by Cold War Shooters in Highland this afternoon and bought a Mega, forged lower and a Rock River national match trigger and a bullet button.

Now, I need to save money for the upper, stock, and whatever sights I want on it. Mostly, I'll use the gray market Eotech I bought at a gun show. It works pretty well, but I'll want some folding sights too I think.

I like the Troy Industries ones, but they're pretty spendy.

Any advice on some that fold that are as close as possible to Natonal Match sites like I have on my Springfield M1A? I really like those sights a lot.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Regards,

John

Nice! I like the Troy sights...iron sights ALWAYS a backup do to battery failure. Batteries will always be dead when you need the weapon...always be prepared for the worst. It takes ALOT longer to change batteries than flip up the sights.