View Full Version : Ar - build vs buy

Cheese & Bacon
05-17-2011, 11:22 AM
I see some posts about 80% builds and I'm wondering if there is really any benefit to building vs buying a lower.

05-17-2011, 11:27 AM
yes and no... if you can find a lower with the stock you want for cheap get it... many of us are also hobbiest who like to tinker, and assembling a lower is a good tinkering day.

however i am finding that at the gunshows I can put together one hell of a ar for CHEAP. Buddy of mine wanted a stag arms ar with the diamond head hand grip... look them up its about 1K to get one... we walked in to two different tables, bought a diamond head upper 425 cash... walked down the way, and he started his dros on a stag lower with the stock he wanted for 325... two more tables down he had his optics and everything was good to go for 1K... do your research, it can work in your favor!!

05-17-2011, 11:29 AM
First.. lets be clear. "Building your own" and "80% lowers" are not the same thing. "building your own" as you seem to imply it and seem to likely mean it means buying a lower and the LPK and all of the parts and building it yourself. Whereas 80% lower typically means a lower that has been partially milled and you finish off the milling and THEN still need to build it. So, for an 80% lower, I hope you have a machine shop and skills.

So, since I suspect your talking about the former example, my opinions is:

If cost is the # 1 issue, buy one that is done and ready to fire as you typically can cheaper than a custom build.

If cost is less of an issue i like to build all of my own as that way, you learn the ins and outs of the weapon, how to better maintain it and work on it AND you get to pick and choose every single piece. But I find this does cost a little more and takes a little more time as you have to research and order the parts.

Lead Waster
05-17-2011, 11:30 AM
It depends on your point of view! If you build it, you don't have to DROS it! So no paperwork! On the other hand, it's a lot of work and may require some tools you don't have. If you find a 'build party' then that's all cool.

I bought one because I never knew about 80% lowers before I bought. Then after spending all the cash on the upper and everything, it will be a long time before I buy/build another one.

The cost savings ... well, DROS is $25 or so. THe 80% are usually about 20-40 bucks cheaper than 100% lowers. You really need to join a build party I think, or else you'll need tools and templates. So ... MAYBE you can save money, but you'll have to spend time.

So I guess it all boils down to paperwork!

Lead Waster
05-17-2011, 11:32 AM
I assumed he meant "Build" as in "Mill" because he said "80%". I consider a stripped lower and LPK more as "assembling", like a kid's toy or a bicycle.

05-17-2011, 11:37 AM
yeah, I look at "building" as buying all of the parts and assembling. Given his # of posts, I am "assuming" he is not following what an 80% lower is. Plus, look at his title. So I assumed he meant buy a lower and build it up or buy a complete rifle as those are typically the combined questions.

until he pipes in and confirms, we wont know.

That being said, it does seem like the time, skill, cost, tool needs, effort in buying an 80% lower and milling it out versus just buying a nice $100 lower does not compute to me. But if your a machinist and have the tools, then maybe I would give it a whirl.

05-17-2011, 11:41 AM
I agree that you might be confusing the 80% lower versus buying stripped lower. If this is wrong on my part, sorry. Im going on the assumption that you meant stripped lower.

I agree with glock_this. Building your own is indeed fun and educational but it tends to wind up more expensive when you get to pick and choose your own parts there is a strong push towards upgrading parts, etc. A "cheap" build can get expensive very fast, especially if you hang around here and look at the gallery. If you can be disciplined and stick to your budget then build your own.

05-17-2011, 12:06 PM
Buy the lower completed, but unassembled. Buy your upper assembled. Makes life so much easier.

Cheese & Bacon
05-17-2011, 12:35 PM
I'm talking about buying an 80% lower and milling it vs buying a finished stripped lower. Obviously I have to assemble either one.

05-17-2011, 12:37 PM
Buy the lower completed, but unassembled. Buy your upper assembled. Makes life so much easier.

This + a billion.

05-17-2011, 12:40 PM
okay then.. well, you settled the confusion we had

BUT, your still providing vague info. Do you have milling ability, the skill, the proper diagrams and instructions, time, etc? Since your interested in an 80% lower it kind of implies you must have some of this... but to what extent is unknown. If you do this stuff every day all day, maybe getting an 80% and finishing it off is no big deal.

But really.. unless it is something that would be really easy for you to do, I cant se the value doing it when you can buy them so cheap and be done with it. Even more so if it was my first one to own.

My .02 cents.

05-17-2011, 1:06 PM
I suggest going the assemble route

05-17-2011, 1:27 PM
the benefits are you can build it into a legal pistol without paying the california premium. all the pistols offered here in cali cost an arm and a leg. downside is it does take a while and alot of fitting to complete. it can be done. in the end you can be proud of your handy work. if you want anything other then a pistol , just buy a finished lower.

05-17-2011, 4:07 PM
The words assemble and build are synonyms. They mean the same thing.


05-17-2011, 5:35 PM
Assemble your AR and get exactly what you want.

05-17-2011, 5:40 PM
Good for you if you have the know-how and machinery to finish an 80% lower. It just doesn't seem worth it when you can get a finished stripped upper for $80 any day of the week.

If you want some inspiration there was a thread here showing the progress of someone who machined his own upper receiver with side charging handle. It's cool as hell but not something that can be done with a drill and Dremel. He has a full CNC machine setup.

05-17-2011, 6:04 PM
If you want to save some money remember that the only "forced" taxable item is the registered lower itself (paid during the registration process). All other components including full upper assemblies can be purchased on line with no sales tax and sometimes free shipping.

For me either way on the lower: piece parts or assembled. If you want a SOPMOD stock then buying an assembled lower from LMT will save you some money in the long run. For the upper, no question, buy assembled from whomever you prefer.