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View Full Version : Starting an AR build, any words of wisdom?


toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 12:24 PM
So I plan on starting an AR build very soon(hopefully a few things I have for sale will sell soon). Just looking for any words of wisdom from those of you who have done it before. Any advice would be great. This will be my first rifle build so I'm pretty excited. I want to go with a Yankee Hill Black Diamond Specter upper any reasons why I shouldn't?
Thanks for any words of wisdom guys.

abutler72
05-17-2010, 12:32 PM
do your homework on legal aspects first

Wildhawk66
05-17-2010, 12:34 PM
Welcome to the club.

The best advice I can give you about AR building is to set a budget and at least try to stay close to it. AR building is addictive and there is always something new/better to add or tryout. It doesn't take much for an $800 build to suddenly become a $1500 one.

Good luck and good shooting.

Barabas
05-17-2010, 12:37 PM
Make sure you have read more than one build diary, get ALL of your tools together before hand, lay everything out in an orderly fashion, preferably in a magnetic tool tray, have a tube of lube at the ready and don't lose patience. If things aren't going together smoothly, take a deep breath and chill for a minute before you get frustrated and try to force it.

The biggest tip I can give is to use the proper tools. Improvising can turn things ugly real quick.

Edit: That being said, I did my first build on my lap, with the exception of using a bench vise and a set of nylon jaws to press my split pins in, and an allen wrench for the grip.

Richie Caketown
05-17-2010, 12:39 PM
dont trust anyone on calguns that just randomly PMs you , make sure they have a post count or feedback behind them or else things will get interesting if they help you build.

my only advice to you is that if you plan on getting a true free float rail do it now that you are building your AR instead of going back to do it later

look into the DD Omega FSP 12 , literally the best rail you can buy for the price

stitchnicklas
05-17-2010, 12:40 PM
patients !!take your time with selecting parts and shop around,if you want a part that is hard to get but you want,wait for it and don't settle for something else.i waited 4 weeks to get my stag 3h upper...

the oll assembly guide and video's are pretty good,take a laptop to the work area as a reference,that what i did and had no problems

first thing to install on a stripped lower is always a bullet button......never leave the tool piece in the mag lock either..

and have fun with it...:D

tacticalniko
05-17-2010, 12:41 PM
Welcome to the club.

The best advice I can give you about AR building is to set a budget and at least try to stay close to it. AR building is addictive and there is always something new/better to add or tryout. It doesn't take much for an $800 build to suddenly become a $1500 one.

Good luck and good shooting.

So true...so true

Josh3239
05-17-2010, 12:41 PM
May I ask what interested you about YHM? I'd take a giant step up and look at Daniel Defense, LMT, or Bravo Company.

bigian
05-17-2010, 12:41 PM
Make sure you're going to be happy wiu the parts you're buying. Some good advise I read here...

"buy once, cry once" :D

fullspeed1
05-17-2010, 12:52 PM
Look into Spikes tactical, They have great prices on complete builds, Uppers and complete lowers. BCM, Spikes, Riflegear and even Stag arms are all great choices for quality uppers. All their prices are very reasonable compared to 2 years ago.

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 12:58 PM
I've looked at LMTs Daniel Defense and Bravo Company uppers and I prefer the YHM. Price is one thing that draws me to the YHM, also I want a full flat top. And the YHM is just the one I find most appealing. I did look at some nice Bushmaster uppers, but not a real fan of them. Don't worry about the build. I play paintball and have built several custom guns from the ground up so when things start to get frustrating I just step back and clam down for a bit. I do plan on taking my time to accumulate all the parts needed. If I could afford to just buy everything today I wouldn't need to sell off a few things. ;)
Thanks for all the info guys.

Josh3239
05-17-2010, 1:04 PM
Price? The price I saw on the Black Diamond Specter on YHM's website was eight or nine hundred. Was I looking at the wrong one because that is much more expensive that a complete BCM upper.

pacrimguru
05-17-2010, 1:13 PM
buy quality parts.

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 1:16 PM
Price? The price I saw on the Black Diamond Specter on YHM's website was eight or nine hundred. Was I looking at the wrong one because that is much more expensive that a complete BCM upper.

Yes thats how much they are on their site. All the BCMs I've seen(and liked) are ~$800. I've seen the YHM uppers I want on gunbroker go for pretty cheap.

Josh3239
05-17-2010, 1:21 PM
BCM does make a better upper but it does sounds like you know what you want. :thumbsup:

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 1:24 PM
BCM does make a better upper but it does sounds like you know what you want. :thumbsup:

At least until I see something else I want :rolleyes:

GM_77
05-17-2010, 1:33 PM
The YHM looks pretty good. Can't think of a reason why you shouldn't. If you one day want to go featureless you might want to check and make sure the flash hider on the YHM is not permanetly attached. The rear and front irons look a bit goofy but hey I'm sure they are functionaly going to be the same as any iron sight.

Or you could get this sexy beast (http://www.riflegear.com/p-597-daniel-defense-m4-carbine-upper.aspx) for nearly the same price :D

TannerBoyl
05-17-2010, 1:44 PM
My advice would be to understand your requirements. If you understand what you want/need, then you'll have a much easier time setting out a budget and working towards a build that falls in line with that budget.

I would also recommend that you buy the highest quality parts that you can afford. I'm not saying the most expensive parts, but I tend to follow the philosophy of buy once, cry once.

I'll also echo the lines of understanding the laws before you build.

Good luck and have a blast!

cqbdude
05-17-2010, 2:29 PM
Don't do it..

You might get the dreaded Black Rifle Disease...:D

aermotor
05-17-2010, 2:31 PM
You don't need to break it in. Just shoot it when you're done.

Heavy_Grinder
05-17-2010, 2:42 PM
Here's some advice.....

Just have fun building. You're never going to be happy with it the first time.

I would say the evolution process will never stop. Always new **** coming out that you just have to have. You buy, sell, buy, trade.....and so on.

That is the life of a Calgunner.:) Peace.

nmerced
05-17-2010, 2:44 PM
A hammer is not necessary. :D

MechEng
05-17-2010, 2:57 PM
I'm a nubie as well to the AR, and just finished my first one (Stag lower, DTI 5.56 upper w/ mid-length grip), and though I am but the learner, here's one bit that I noticed.

CLEAN EVERYTHING!! To prevent rust, lots of the parts come from the factory coated in cosmoline. Its great so that you don't get rusty parts, but can cause somewhat of a sticky, dirty mess if not cleaned up. It definitely requires a bit of scrubbing to get it off (I had to strip my upper and thoroughly clean it before reassembly.)

IMO, the little extra work in the upfront makes for a much cleaner build.

Enjoy!

ZOMBIEHUNTER
05-17-2010, 3:02 PM
There are alot of people here with knowledge and some even are willing to help you out.Build whatever you like you dont have to stick to the trends.

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 3:21 PM
I'm a nubie as well to the AR, and just finished my first one (Stag lower, DTI 5.56 upper w/ mid-length grip), and though I am but the learner, here's one bit that I noticed.

CLEAN EVERYTHING!! To prevent rust, lots of the parts come from the factory coated in cosmoline. Its great so that you don't get rusty parts, but can cause somewhat of a sticky, dirty mess if not cleaned up. It definitely requires a bit of scrubbing to get it off (I had to strip my upper and thoroughly clean it before reassembly.)

IMO, the little extra work in the upfront makes for a much cleaner build.

Enjoy!
I'm a WW2 rifle collector so I'm used to dealing with cosmo cleaning.
There are alot of people here with knowledge and some even are willing to help you out.Build whatever you like you dont have to stick to the trends.

I don't even pay attention to the trends. My brother has an AR, and 1 of my goals is to build a better AR then he has. And that is going to be the easy part :D

Jason_2111
05-17-2010, 3:28 PM
...

The biggest tip I can give is to use the proper tools. Improvising can turn things ugly real quick.



+1, big time.

bender152
05-17-2010, 3:39 PM
"buy once, cry once" :D

buy quality parts.

These people speak the truth.

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 3:42 PM
OK, so I've checked out YHM, LMT, Double Star, Daniel Defense, Bushmaster, DTI, BCM, Stags, Riflegear, and Spikes uppers. Any others I should look at?

EWILKE
05-17-2010, 4:51 PM
[QUOTE=Wildhawk66;4302081]Welcome to the club.

The best advice I can give you about AR building is to set a budget It doesn't take much for an $800 build to suddenly become a $1500 one.
And them some started a 6.8 SPC build and have over $2000 and still don't have optics yet.

Jeffu
05-17-2010, 5:00 PM
buy quality parts.

This

Kerplow
05-17-2010, 5:09 PM
I've looked at LMTs Daniel Defense and Bravo Company uppers and I prefer the YHM. Price is one thing that draws me to the YHM, also I want a full flat top. And the YHM is just the one I find most appealing. I did look at some nice Bushmaster uppers, but not a real fan of them. Don't worry about the build. I play paintball and have built several custom guns from the ground up so when things start to get frustrating I just step back and clam down for a bit. I do plan on taking my time to accumulate all the parts needed. If I could afford to just buy everything today I wouldn't need to sell off a few things. ;)
Thanks for all the info guys.

if time is on your side and you dont mind building the gun then why not just piece together your own upper assembly?

you can build a better upper that is exactly what you want and you may even be able to do it for less money too.

that being said, make sure you look at ALL of your options before you go headlong into buying a complete upper. there are so many different options it will make your head spin!

here is my build so far:

JD machine stripped upper and lower ~$180
RRA NM 2 stage trigger and LPK ~$170
A2 buttstock assembly ~$60
bullet button ~$30
JD machine charging handle ~$20
WOA 20" SDM barrel w/headspaced bolt and BCG ~$490 (well over the top ;))
Forward assist kit ~$12
YHM phantom muzzle break ~$30

need to buy:

troy TRX 13" battle rail ~$180
low profile gas block + rifle length tube ~$50
Troy BUIS ~$190

Total ~ $1412 +magazines

this rifle should be well over to top for my first high quality piece.

one could easily knock $300 off of this build and still have a very nice rifle.

just spend lots of time playing with your options!

pointedstick
05-17-2010, 5:33 PM
"buy once, cry once"

buy quality parts.

...Within reason. With some parts, it's really important to get good ones. The Bolt Carrier Group and barrel are two examples. Good sights are important too. Then there are all sorts of parts you'll be tempted to buy because they look cool. Most of these are Magpul: the CTR stock, the awesome-looking trigger guard, and the MIAD grip. heck, a lot of grips fall into this category. This isn't to say they're bad products; far from it. But admit that you want it because it looks totally awesome if you lean that way.

Know why you're buying a free float if you go that route. Is it to hang things off the front? You can actually do a lot of that without free-floating rails; there are zillions of adapters that attach to standard handguards or the gas block. Is it to keep pressure off the barrel for accuracy? That's only a big deal if you have a skinny barrel and a sling attached to the gas block. Keep in mind that most free floats are heavier than standard handguards, especially those that clamp onto the existing barrel nut. Here's a table of handguard weights (http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ajl2UPK0UHPscHdzd2hlZ2hOUXNGblVaTWtaTkYyR FE&hl=en). I'm partial to the Midwest Industries SS series, which is quite a bit lighter than standard handguards (and everyone's favorite Daniel Defense quad rail too).

Anyone can assemble a lower with basic tools, but the upper is harder. People will tell you that it's cheaper to build the upper yourself, but do you have a vise that can open wider than 2.5"? Do you have an armorer's wrench? How about an upper receiver action block? A strap wrench? Moly grease? Unless you have these tools, mechanical aptitude, and patience, stick to pre-assembled uppers. It's easy to destroy expensive parts if you lack the proper tools and attitude. Unless of course you really like that kind of stuff, then by all means buy the tools and do it yourself. But don't tell yourself it's to save money.

If your budget for an assembled upper is near $500, get something from Spike's tactical's LE line. Coupons (MIDLEUP & M4LEUP) drop the price on those uppers to around $475, and their products are far superior to the Bushmaster, RRA, Stag, and CMMG offerings near that price point, and worlds above the cheaper $375 uppers from DSA, Del-Ton, Model1Sales and the like.

For every part, know why you're buying it; don't waste your money on snazzy toys unless you're sure the cool factor is worth it, and don't buy expensive hardware without being able to explain what it gets you and why you need it.

If don't need your AR to be the talk of the range, you'll save significant amounts of money by sticking with a regular telestock, a flat trigger guard, a standard A2 grip, normal handguards, a stock charging handle, and the included trigger. Such a rifle will easily cost under $900, and you can accessorize later when you understand your needs and desires better.

jman
05-17-2010, 5:55 PM
I've assembled a couple lowers but have bought complete uppers. As someone said above, you will save yourself a ton of grief if you have the proper tools. I bought a set of roll pin punches and holders (from Brownells I think...) and those make life easier. A rubber/plastic hammer also comes in handy and are available at most hardware stores. You can also find several sets of instructions online for assembling your lower, preferably one that has a layout or photos of what each spring and part looks like. Assembling a function lower you can have fun with isn't difficult, you should find it quite straightforward after you assemble a couple.

I found the biggest thing to watch for is not crossing up any of the springs! Some of them are also capable of launching themselves into orbit if they escape during installation, so wearing safety glasses is advisable.

Good luck and enjoy the EBR addiction! There are plenty of fellow enablers here!

SJgunguy24
05-17-2010, 6:06 PM
jman's got it right Safety glasses !!!!! It's easy to launch a dedent and spring. Masking tape, use it. It helps to keep the finish from getting messed up when the bolt catch roll pin is going in. Also, the trigger guard, use a block to support the ear on the other side while installing the roll pin. If not you can break your new toy before a shot is fired. DO NOT DRY FIRE YOUR LOWER WITHOUT AN UPPER ATTACHED!!!!!!!!
If you do and the receiver cracks, i'll say I told you so.

pointedstick
05-17-2010, 6:18 PM
DO NOT DRY FIRE YOUR LOWER WITHOUT AN UPPER ATTACHED!!!!!!!!
If you do and the receiver cracks, i'll say I told you so.

Just put your finger in front of the hammer before it falls and you should be fine. The thing you're looking to avoid is having all the kinetic energy in the hammer get dumped into the receiver or the bolt catch, which, logically enough, won't be very good for them.

anniepoks
05-17-2010, 7:30 PM
... as others have well said before, avoid Hesse, Vulcan Brand OLLs.
i think there is one more brand i forgot... can somebody refresh my memory?
good luck with the build.

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 8:33 PM
I've got no problems with having this build take a while. Like I've said I've looked at tons of uppers, and for what I want most are around the same price. Quite of bit of thought has gone into building an upper to, but IDK as of yet if I want to take the time to do that or just save up and buy complete.

SJgunguy24
05-17-2010, 8:37 PM
I've got no problems with having this build take a while. Like I've said I've looked at tons of uppers, and for what I want most are around the same price. Quite of bit of thought has gone into building an upper to, but IDK as of yet if I want to take the time to do that or just save up and buy complete.

If the lower takes more then 1 hour to assemble, put the beer down and sober up. The upper is a completly different animal altogether. You need a bench vice and a whole slew of specialized tools that are AR specific. Buy a complete upper and your GTG.

Kerplow
05-17-2010, 8:42 PM
Or you can pay someone a nominal fee to assemble the upper for you

anniepoks
05-17-2010, 8:46 PM
or, have you ever thought of this? instead of building.....
http://www.spikestactical.com/z/index.php

toolittletoolate
05-17-2010, 8:54 PM
I did, not for very long. Whats the fun in that? I want to get my hands dirty.

anniepoks
05-17-2010, 9:11 PM
i hear you, making your hands dirty will get you the "disease" though.
WELCOME! :44:

stitchnicklas
05-17-2010, 9:20 PM
if you build the lower your self here is a hint,for the front take down pin buy a extra pin for 3 bucks ,insert from the left side insert spring and detent and use that pin to hold it in place.then using the regular pin slowly push that pin out it will avoid the damn frustration with that part of the assembly and you will have a spare pin .

FMJBT
05-17-2010, 10:08 PM
For a nice lightweight and well balanced rifle that will do just about everything from CQB to 700 yards, I think the 16" mid length Sabre Defense barreled uppers from PK Firearms are hard to beat. Overall weight is similar to an M-4 carbine, but extended range performance is much better due to the fluted stainless 1-8" twist barrel. Out of my 4 builds that are 14.5", 16", 18", and 20", the Sabre Defense 16" is easily the most versatile.

Just checked and they only have the 16" stainless with a DD 10" M4 rail with is not full length across the top. They do have an 18" stainless fluted upper with Troy rail though....... For $695 with BCG :eek:

http://www.pkfirearms.com/content/1/20/59/79

http://www.pkfirearms.com/product_images/0000/6561/18Saborwtroy_12.jpg

Noah3683
05-17-2010, 10:21 PM
Just my $.02, but the yhm uppers are pretty damn expensive and you are much better off going BCM, DD, LMT or riflegear, and adding the rail, or buying it already installed. Most YHM uppers i've seen are in the $850 range. You can get a bcm, with DD, or troy rail for about that, and it will be much greater quality and all mil-spec components

toolittletoolate
05-18-2010, 9:37 AM
Thanks for the info guys.

fullspeed1
05-18-2010, 9:43 AM
if you build the lower your self here is a hint,for the front take down pin buy a extra pin for 3 bucks ,insert from the left side insert spring and detent and use that pin to hold it in place.then using the regular pin slowly push that pin out it will avoid the damn frustration with that part of the assembly and you will have a spare pin .

A box cutting blade also works well.

GutPunch
05-18-2010, 9:44 AM
1) Research the legalities.
2) Research components.
3) You do get what you pay for. And its for little things like different mags working and barrel twists. Sometimes its better to accept that you can purchase a $800 AR but you would get a better over all product if you double it.

Nookieaki
05-18-2010, 9:47 AM
Here's some advice.....

Just have fun building. You're never going to be happy with it the first time.

I would say the evolution process will never stop. Always new **** coming out that you just have to have. You buy, sell, buy, trade.....and so on.

That is the life of a Calgunner.:) Peace.

So true, I have replaced my pistol grip(twice), my handguards(twice), trigger(once), BUIS(twice).

Like Heavy Grinder said, there is ALWAYS new stuff coming out that you just have to have/try. It's an ongoing process, AR15's are barbie dolls for guys seriously.

haywood
05-18-2010, 10:14 AM
OK, so I've checked out YHM, LMT, Double Star, Daniel Defense, Bushmaster, DTI, BCM, Stags, Riflegear, and Spikes uppers. Any others I should look at?

You may want to look at these if you have not yet decided.

http://www.careycustomrifleco.com/pricing.html

This guy has many years doing this and he will make you a complete upper with a Shilen barrel (profiled any way you want for no extra charge) and RRA or Stag receiver, for $695.

And just to repeat what others here have already said: take your time, use proper tools, and have fun!

Good luck.