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View Full Version : Ready to beat a dead horse?


erik_26
02-19-2011, 8:34 PM
I am thinking of building my first AR15.

The reason I am building it is because I don't have tons of extra cash to buy a complete one right now. I donít want to wait too long in case they get banned completely. Plus it should make for a fun project.

I figure I can get the lower now and then buy parts for it every couple months or so.


I should mention I don't know anything about them. I have held one and checked it out. But that is about all the experience I have.

I have read all the laws for California. So I know about evil features and featureless. I also know about the OLL. I read the Calguns flow chart. I checked out a few places to go shop for them from the Calguns map. I read the how to not get arrested with your OLL.


I do know how to use google. I know how to search Calguns. I have done a little bit of research but don't have a lot of extra time to read through everything there is to read. So I am counting on my fellow Calgunners with lots of experience to help me out.

"Throw me a freakin' bone," as Dr. Evil would say.:D


What are a couple good quality CA legal AR 15 lowers? I was thinking of getting a 5.56 (as from what I understand can shoot 223, but a 223 canít shoot 5.56?).

What are the brands to avoid like the plague?


Any help is greatly appreciated. Sorry to bring up a question that has probably been asked a billion times.:beatdeadhorse5:

Ub3rDorK
02-19-2011, 8:40 PM
have you gone to a local gunshop? Thats where I would go first before to see what they offer then go from there. No one wants to pay extra for transfer fees etc when buying from an outside source.

freonr22
02-19-2011, 8:42 PM
If I had to do over I would do a 18" 1/eight twist. But you did not say what u want to do....

aybyman
02-19-2011, 8:44 PM
Check out your local gun store..its usually cheaper than getting a lower shipped in

Ak707
02-19-2011, 8:48 PM
If your in the Sacramento area go see rob at www.goldenstatetactical.com he has spikes tactical stripped lowers for $128 out the door if you go pick it up.

Noah3683
02-19-2011, 8:49 PM
Lowers are lowers for the most part. Pick your favorite finish and logo. Many have had issues with DPMS lower parts kits, so you may want to avoid them. I stick to Stag/CMT, Rock River Arms, Daniel Defense, or Armalite for those. The upper is where the real fun begins. Tons of reputable companies out there that you can get pretty good, to extremely good within a fairly small price upgrade. First thing is to decide what you want to use it for? If it will be a range toy/defense weapon go with standard trigger, 14.5-18 inch barrels.... 16" barrel with midlength gas system is usually the best compromise . If you are looking for a precision setup you will obviously go a completely different route. Good uppers in the $500-$600 range are BCM, Daniel Defense, LMT, Spikes Tactical, and as you go down the list and still in the same money ballpark you will find CMMG, Stag.... etc. So yeah the first thing is find out what your needs will be.

Omega13device
02-19-2011, 8:50 PM
The lower doesn't shoot anything. The issue of 5.56 vs. .223 only matters when you buy your upper and at that point, yes, you'll want a 5.56 upper.

Reductio
02-19-2011, 8:51 PM
A lower is a lower is a lower.

Basically, it should cost you around a ben franklin before tax / dros. I like JD Machine myself, support a CA stand-up company.

Ak707
02-19-2011, 8:58 PM
I've heard of people having issues with DPMS lower parts kits also.
I've heard no complaints of Rock River Arms lower parts kits. I will be using RRA lpk on my next build.

pacifico23
02-19-2011, 9:00 PM
Go with JD lower, Zombie defense or Spikes. Zombie defense lowers are just cool. I'm gonna use one for my next build. But one of the zombie not their ugly logo.

All these lowers are good and fairly priced. But like everyone says, a lower is a lower.

Don29palms
02-19-2011, 9:05 PM
A lower is a lower is a lower.

Basically, it should cost you around a ben franklin before tax / dros. I like JD Machine myself, support a CA stand-up company.

I agree on the JD Machine lowers. I also agree on the RRA LPK. The DPMS LPKs have oversized roll pins and the triggers are terrible. I'm somewhat OCD so I like my upper and lower brands to match but it is not a requirement.I also agree that an 16" or 18" mid length gas system is a great all around rifle.

cutty01
02-19-2011, 9:06 PM
I too am embarking on my first build. I am using the write-up in this link as a guide -> http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=5175703&postcount=1

Within the post is a link to the Brownell's build videos. Very, very helpful.

I have just ordered my Lower and now I have to wait for the 10d cooling off period. I too was told that there is not much difference to the Lowers unless you go high end such as Noveske, LWRC, etc. Many of the more common ones in CA are supposidly manufactured by JD Machine in San Deigo.

From what I have read, save your money for the Upper.

Ak707
02-19-2011, 9:07 PM
Spikes and JD are both good quality with a decent price tag. I just bought one of each a few days ago

Standard
02-19-2011, 9:09 PM
Like has been said, all lowers are basically the same. Most are around $100. I have a guy in Manteca who does DROS for $50, or $35 for PPT.
Step 1: Figure out what kind of AR you want to build (barrel length, profile, fixed/collapsible, etc)
Step 2: Find a decently priced lower and have it shipped to your FFL. Do the paperwork and wait 10 days.
Step 3: Buy a lower parts kit (if you bought a stripped lower). It's cheap and you can take your time putting it together.
From there, it depends on what kind of setup you want before you start buying uppers and stocks, etc.
I recommend buying a complete upper in the config you want (except maybe handguards).

Don29palms
02-19-2011, 9:11 PM
I have just ordered my Lower and now I have to wait for the 10d cooling off period. I too was told that there is not much difference to the Lowers unless you go high end such as Noveske, LWRC, etc. Many of the more common ones in CA are supposidly manufactured by JD Machine in San Deigo.

From what I have read, save your money for the Upper.

Some Noveske lowers are made by JD Machine.

Ak707
02-19-2011, 9:12 PM
Rob at goldenstate tactical does dros for $25
Sacramento area

Just saying.!

evidens83
02-19-2011, 9:13 PM
Which rollmark do you like? You're thinking way too hard on this one...

erik_26
02-19-2011, 9:17 PM
Yeah, I guess I forgot to mention my intentions.

Mainly a toy. I will take it to the range or out to BLM and shoot. Maybe home protection if I could fight my way back to it with my pistols. I don't hunt so I don't need it for that. And if I do take up hunting I would use a different rifle.

And I guess if the Zombies attack then it would be nice if it could function in a SHTF.


Great info so far.

So as so many have mentioned earlier, the upper is the more important component. I keep reading and hearing River Rock Arms. Any other great brands? Any setups to stay clear of?


Any common first build mistakes? If you could do it over.... Anything to avoid doing.

Standard
02-19-2011, 9:19 PM
BCM uppers are excellent, and very competitively priced.
Figure out if you want an M4 clone (14.5" with pinned flash hider), 16" carbine, 16" midlength, 18", 20" M16 clone, etc. This can change which stock you get, or which LPK you'll want to order.
What worked best FOR ME is to decide exactly what I want, and then build towards that goal, as opposed to just buying parts and ending up with whatever.

IntoForever
02-19-2011, 9:19 PM
Any help is greatly appreciated. Sorry to bring up a question that has probably been asked a billion times.:beatdeadhorse5:

No worries, this is a discussion forum, not a database. Research your parts options and have fun with your new legos.. I mean rifle.

dmendoza1779
02-19-2011, 9:21 PM
+1 on this. Robbie's place is the way to go if you're from the north bay. I live in Vallejo and I have a gun shop here, but they're way too over priced for their lowers and transfer fees.

If your in the Sacramento area go see rob at www.goldenstatetactical.com he has spikes tactical stripped lowers for $128 out the door if you go pick it up.

Noah3683
02-19-2011, 9:27 PM
I too am embarking on my first build. I am using the write-up in this link as a guide -> http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=5175703&postcount=1

Within the post is a link to the Brownell's build videos. Very, very helpful.

I have just ordered my Lower and now I have to wait for the 10d cooling off period. I too was told that there is not much difference to the Lowers unless you go high end such as Noveske, LWRC, etc. Many of the more common ones in CA are supposidly manufactured by JD Machine in San Deigo.

From what I have read, save your money for the Upper.
Still no difference. You are simply buying the name and rollmark unless you buy one of the billet lowers. POF now that's a different story but again, they are billet. Now Noveske, and LWRC uppers is a whole different story. I just built a Noveske and posted pics of it yesterday. Quite honestly, I wasn't overly impressed with the finish. The detailing is superb, but the anodizing doesn't seem as nice as the $99 Mega I was contemplating. I bought it simply to keep the build matching. The upper has a much higher quality finish than their lower does (at least this lower).

Noah3683
02-19-2011, 9:35 PM
Yeah, I guess I forgot to mention my intentions.

Mainly a toy. I will take it to the range or out to BLM and shoot. Maybe home protection if I could fight my way back to it with my pistols. I don't hunt so I don't need it for that. And if I do take up hunting I would use a different rifle.

And I guess if the Zombies attack then it would be nice if it could function in a SHTF.


Great info so far.

So as so many have mentioned earlier, the upper is the more important component. I keep reading and hearing River Rock Arms. Any other great brands? Any setups to stay clear of?


Any common first build mistakes? If you could do it over.... Anything to avoid doing.

RRA uppers are on the lower end of the totem pole. Like I said earlier within $100 price increase you can go from the cellar to one of the top tier brands. There is a difference in components used and QC efforts that are well worth the increase. Sounds like overall you will want a pretty standard lower setup, and for best reliability I would recommend a 16" midlength upper. For solid quality/value Spikes uppers use good components right at about $500. BCM is one of the very best you can buy and that will run about $550. I will PM you a few pics and details of where I went with builds, it can give you an idea.

Don29palms
02-19-2011, 9:40 PM
Here's an example of a nice upper for a great price. CLICK HERE! (http://newfrontierarmory.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=93_100_158_169&products_id=392)

http://newfrontierarmory.com/catalog/images/gtac.jpg

erik_26
02-19-2011, 9:48 PM
I will PM you a few pics and details of where I went with builds, it can give you an idea.

Please do send pictures or a link to your posted pictures. Thanks.

ElvenSoul
02-19-2011, 9:58 PM
For the money can't beat Plum Crazy Lowers. After that all you have to do is add a upper.

DocSkinner
02-19-2011, 10:20 PM
Moving to uppers - Direct gas V piston? I have to say I like keeping all the gas/residue/etc out of the action. But also a newbie to this, and still not sure about all the pros and cons and everyone claims.

ElvenSoul
02-19-2011, 10:25 PM
A DI with chrome bolt and bore is farily easy to maintain.

gmcal
02-19-2011, 10:39 PM
Moving to uppers - Direct gas V piston? I have to say I like keeping all the gas/residue/etc out of the action. But also a newbie to this, and still not sure about all the pros and cons and everyone claims.

From what I've read, gas piston systems are good when doing at least 2 of the following: shooting suppressed, shooting full auto, short barrelled rifle (SBR). If you're not at least 2 of those then you don't gain anything over DI.

DI rifles do not need to be clean to run. They need to be well lubed.

DI rifles are generally more accurate than a comparable GP rifle.

In addition, GP rifles will be slightly heavier towards the muzzle than a DI rifle.

With all that said a LWRC is sexy as can be and I would like to own 1 1 day, but thats for reasons other than its a GP rifle.

gmcal
02-19-2011, 10:47 PM
Yeah, I guess I forgot to mention my intentions.

Mainly a toy. I will take it to the range or out to BLM and shoot. Maybe home protection if I could fight my way back to it with my pistols. I don't hunt so I don't need it for that. And if I do take up hunting I would use a different rifle.

And I guess if the Zombies attack then it would be nice if it could function in a SHTF.


Great info so far.

So as so many have mentioned earlier, the upper is the more important component. I keep reading and hearing River Rock Arms. Any other great brands? Any setups to stay clear of?


Any common first build mistakes? If you could do it over.... Anything to avoid doing.

Lots of choices to choose from. How many rounds per month will you shoot? What bullet are you most likely to shoot (bulk 55gr ammo or 75gr match ammo or somewhere in between)? How far do you want to be able to shoot out to? Do you want to use optics? If so, what type? Be as specific as possible.

Often times pinning down what you want to do with the rifle will narrow down what manufacturers you should consider.

Dreaded Claymore
02-19-2011, 10:50 PM
Lowers are lowers for the most part. Pick your favorite finish and logo.

Pretty much this. Spikes lowers are all the rage here on Calguns, but personally I can't stand the spider logo (it looks like Darth Vader to me), so I bought a Double Star lower (which has a dragon, but some of the flash isn't trimmed off, which sort of bugs me). I'm pretty much doing the same thing you're doing, buying a different part every few months.

erik_26
02-20-2011, 12:39 PM
Lots of choices to choose from. How many rounds per month will you shoot? What bullet are you most likely to shoot (bulk 55gr ammo or 75gr match ammo or somewhere in between)? How far do you want to be able to shoot out to? Do you want to use optics? If so, what type? Be as specific as possible.

Often times pinning down what you want to do with the rifle will narrow down what manufacturers you should consider.

For the most part I would be shooting cheap ammo (not garbage ammo). I will either be out shooting up water jugs, cans, old fruit.... etc.

Or I will be at the range shooting 50-200 yards.

I don't think I will be shooting more then 200 yards very often. Maybe once in a blue moon.

If I really wanted to get into long range shooting I would probably be getting a different gun.

I just want to have fun.

How much I shoot will depend on the price of ammo (and free time).

Right now with my pistols I shoot 300-400 rounds of both .45 and 9mm every month.


With my .22 I shoot 500+. But .22 is cheap.

I don't trash my stuff. I keep everything clean and oiled. This will be a weapon that I plan on keeping for a very long time. I don't see myself building and selling a bunch of ARs. I would like to do it right the first time and have a nice fun reliable weapon. I would like to avoid the 'I wish I would have done this instead of that.'

Of course I want it to look cool. But not over the top tacticool.

Noah3683
02-20-2011, 7:21 PM
Pretty much this. Spikes lowers are all the rage here on Calguns, but personally I can't stand the spider logo (it looks like Darth Vader to me), so I bought a Double Star lower (which has a dragon, but some of the flash isn't trimmed off, which sort of bugs me). I'm pretty much doing the same thing you're doing, buying a different part every few months.

Holy crap I thought I was the only one that sees that when looking at the spider lol! I also went the doublestar route on my first lower and ultimately couldn't stand the machining work. Especially in the trigger area