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Rschierb
02-28-2012, 10:34 PM
I own a few shotguns and handguns but am about to get my first AR. I wanted to hear peoples thoughts about whether to build or buy one. I have heard if I buy a complete lower it is pretty simple and will be a good learning tool as well. That being said, I am not sure which lowers and uppers are good quality and reasonably priced.

I was initially looking at the S&W M&P 15T with the quad rail if I bought a finished gun but I have heard good things about the Rifle Gear complete lowers.

Any thoughts would be helpful for this AR noob!

Thank you

Ziggy91
02-28-2012, 10:51 PM
Your first ever AR?

If you have no prior training/experience with the AR platform, I'd buy a complete rifle. Building your own usually comes after you're familiar with the basics and want to get more into and do your own build.

The M&P 15 is a great starter. I've heard nothing but good things.

I hope this helps.

SFgiants105
02-28-2012, 11:04 PM
Your first ever AR?

If you have no prior training/experience with the AR platform, I'd buy a complete rifle. Building your own usually comes after you're familiar with the basics and want to get more into and do your own build.

The M&P 15 is a great starter. I've heard nothing but good things.

I hope this helps.

Yeah, I don't know if I'd build one from scratch without having owned one before. However, it is a pretty simple weapon. If you have a buddy who owns one (and knows how to take it apart, not just field strip) and is willing to show you how, I would go for it.

As far as the M&P, my buddy just got one of these with a 16" barrel and loves it. I have a Remington R-15 that is fully stock and puts surplus bullets through the same hole at 100yd. At the end of the day, it really depends how much you want to spend and what you are using it for.

Do you want a hunting rifle, precision rifle, tactical carbine?
Do you want to spend more or less than $1000?
Do you want a traditional direct impingement system, or do you want a piston system?

Colt-45
02-28-2012, 11:07 PM
OP,

If you want piston, buy complete.

If you want DI, build it yourself. Even if you're a n00b it's pretty easy. Might wanna skip building an upper from scratch until you know more about the AR platform but definitely build the lower and accessorize the rifle yourself.

adrenalinejunkie
02-28-2012, 11:10 PM
I own an AR and built it with very little hands on knowledge of the AR platform (had only shot one a couple times previously). IMO, building one is more satisfying, and helps you know your rifle much better than just buying one would. I bought a Del-Ton 16" mid length rifle kit for mine and after 1000 rounds it's preformed flawlessly. Just youtube how to build a stripped lower and you'll be good. You'll also need a set of roll pin punches, stock wrench, and a rubber/plastic hammer. Where are you located? I have the tools so if you need help building it I'd be happy to help (the tools will be like another $25 or $30).

Ziggy91
02-28-2012, 11:12 PM
OP,

If you want piston, buy complete.

If you want DI, build it yourself. Even if you're a n00b it's pretty easy. Might wanna skip building an upper from scratch but definitely build the lower and accessorize the rifle yourself.

I think it's safe to say the OP doesn't know the difference between gas piston and direct impingement.

TheHammerOfTruth
02-28-2012, 11:15 PM
Buy your first on complete and then if you like it and want to experience more...build one.

Rschierb
02-28-2012, 11:17 PM
I am in south orange county. Would it be a better idea to buy a stripped or completed lower? I was thinking of buying the completed and going from there. I'm planning on setting it up as a tactical rifle and for fun basically. I want quality and understand its going to cost more and that is fine.

Rschierb
02-28-2012, 11:21 PM
Ziggy, am planning to go direct impingement as it seems like a much simpler platform for a noob.

adrenalinejunkie
02-28-2012, 11:21 PM
I am in south orange county. Would it be a better idea to buy a stripped or completed lower? I was thinking of buying the completed and going from there. I'm planning on setting it up as a tactical rifle and for fun basically. I want quality and understand its going to cost more and that is fine.

I bought a stripped lower and used the parts in the kit I bought to assemble mine. The process was pretty simple. You can also buy a stripped lower and completed upper and just mate them. What's your price range?

nitroxdiver
02-28-2012, 11:22 PM
Personally, I would buy a complete rifle for your first. Like most hobbies, you don't know what you don't know. There are so many options and choices available today that it ca be a bit overwhelming to new comers. The M&P would be a fine first carbine. It's covered by a great warranty from a very reputable company. Watch some YouTube videos on field stripping and cleaning it, getto the range and start shooting it, getting familiar with the iron sights. Make friends at the range. See what other people have. I always share my rifles with others at the range. After some time you may decide you really like that midlength, rifle length, gas piston, acog, aimpoint, LMT sopmod whatever. Just my .02

SOCAL INFIDEL
02-28-2012, 11:30 PM
I'd buy one new... Then I'd build one once you've handled it, familiarized yourself with it, torn it down and built it up over and over. That's what I did. I didn't know a thing about AR's until I bought one. My first AR was bought shortly after the election from Cold War Shooters. I got a stag 2t for $1300...... OUCH. But hey, I built a DD 1:7 chf upper with a stag lower and magpul furniture for 800 dollars when I built my next one ;)

greent
02-28-2012, 11:33 PM
OP,

If you want piston, buy complete.

If you want DI, build it yourself. Even if you're a n00b it's pretty easy. Might wanna skip building an upper from scratch but definitely build the lower and accessorize the rifle yourself.

+1, Colt-45 nailed it. I just finished building my first ar 15 a few months ago. Build it, it is way easy if you are at least a little bit mechanical. You could call me up if you want and I could talk to you about the process.
I just don't recommend building the upper assembly, buy a complete upper assembly from one of the very popular companies. I got mine from bravo company. One more thing is, if you buy a complete gun, you probably wont be able to find one in California in a mid length gas system. I recommend the mid length 16" barrel upper assembly myself. Also, building one allows you to not waist money on the cheap accessories that most complete ar-15s come with, you only spend money on the grips, stocks, handguards etc. that you want.

Capybara
02-28-2012, 11:36 PM
I was in your same boat a month ago. Here are some things you may or may not be aware of...

1. Built rifle = warranty, lifetime on the S&W and lifetime fully transferable on the Windham SRC that I bought for a few bucks more
Build your own = no warranty

If you are experienced or a gunsmith, no problem, strip your rifle down and troubleshoot it, find what broke, whip out your credit card and order a new part. If you are a newbie and are not that familiar with how an AR works inside and out, a pre-built rifle with a warranty makes more sense to me.

2. It is myth that you save money in building your own. Most Calgunners that have will confess that in the beginning, if it was their first build, they might have thought that building it would save $$$ over a pre-built rifle. In reality, most people who build one begin ordering the top or at least middle of the line stuff, which, while slightly better built, can easily add up to a lot more than you thought it would. Nothing wrong with that, it is fun but it is not a way to save a lot of money over an off the shelf rifle.

3. I can tell you that I have had my Windham for just a few weeks and ARs are addicting, I am already eyeing two stripped lowers that I can get for a killer deal, I will just put a couple of them into my gun safe and I can build them later. That means I will have three AR type rifles by this time next year. I will make one with BUIS only with Tan and or OD stocks and I will build one with the best components but in the meantime, I am having fun with my off the shelf Windham. The good news is that used guns still retain their value pretty well so if you buy the S&W and shoot it a while and take decent care of it, you will not lose that much when you decide to build or buy your next AR. It is a sickness. ;-)

Good luck, the S&W is a good, solid and inexpensive rifle built by a very reputable company. You'll love it.

Dan

SOCAL INFIDEL
02-29-2012, 12:00 AM
My goal is to always have at least 2 stripped lowers waiting for a build after the one I'm currently on. I say get all the OLL's you can!

Exposed
02-29-2012, 12:03 AM
Build. And preferably, from an 80% lower. :punk:

SOCAL INFIDEL
02-29-2012, 12:12 AM
So something I never got was the 80% thing. someone enlighten me

Exposed
02-29-2012, 12:42 AM
So something I never got was the 80% thing. someone enlighten me

An 80% lower is just that, a lower that is only 80% done. Since its not complete, its not considered a rifle lower reciever, just a hunk of metal. It can be shipped right to your door without an FFL. Only thing is, you have to complete it yourself. That is, mill out the mag well and parkerize it. The law states, if you build a "home made gun" from scratch, DOJ doesnt have to know about it (no serial number) so long as it still meets all federal and state laws (30 inches, bullet button if it has evil features, 10 round mag. Or, if its a pistol, all pistol laws which are pretty much the same as rifle laws minus the ability to add a stock) and its for personal use. If you choose to sell or transfer it later, then you would have to engrave a serial number on to it and DOJ would know of its existence at the time of dros to receiving party, but if its built by you for you, no serial number is required. Its a HUGE legal middle finger to the DOJ and liberal law makers that run our state. ;)

This is an 80% lower.
http://quentin-laser.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=159

Psykoasn
02-29-2012, 1:04 AM
I'm in the same boat as you, I was about to buy a complete AR but one of my friends made me an offer on a used complete upper, and I decided to build one

TDL2024
02-29-2012, 1:49 AM
I was recently in the same boat as you: buy complete, build lower and buy upper, or build everything. I'm adventurous (and somewhat mechanically inclined) so after reading and reading and reading (and watching a lot of youtube) I decided to just build the whole thing, upper and lower. I should technically say "assemble" though, since it's not really building...just putting parts together.

Picked up the lower monday and luckily the LPK arrived from Palmetto State Armory the same evening and I was able to completely assemble it in 45 minutes. Would've taken about 15-20 less but my roommate "borrowed" my flat head screw driver and conveniently lost it, so I had to run back to Home Depot down the street and get another.

Upper receiver so far wasn't hard (forward assist and dust/ejection port cover/bolt/BCG) but I haven't bought a barrel or rail yet so that might change things.....still fairly confident it should go pretty easy though.

All in all, I'll save a good bit of money compared to similar production rifles and I'll be certain that only parts I like are in my rifle, so that's the reason I decided to build it myself. At the very least I'd recommend someone assemble their own lower. Save a little money and have some fun learning about your rifle and how it works that way :)

Brassthief
02-29-2012, 1:58 AM
Ordering a DVD or two on building AR15 type rifles before you decide could help. Either way you end up going you will have more education and a visual reference for your build or future mods and maintenance. Thats how I decided to build my own first AR15, and no regrets. DIY and you'll enjoy it more when you're done IMHO.

Bulleh
02-29-2012, 4:47 AM
I was going to build my first AR...

Then some absolute jerk here on Calguns offered me an INCREDIBLE deal on an complete LMT that I could not say no to. Real jerk, I tell ya... lol

I still plan on building myself an AR though cause it's something I've want to do for a while.

The War Wagon
02-29-2012, 4:48 AM
BUY! Colt 6920 or better, then rest easy & shoot. :oji:

Arkangel
02-29-2012, 6:38 AM
I vote build.

Take the road most traveled and build your lower and buy a complete upper. With YouTube and Calguns building one is simple. I had so much fun building mine, and like others have said, it's addictive.

Kalderis40
02-29-2012, 6:49 AM
I am new the the AR as well and built mine. Ibought a complete upper and built the lower. Its pretty easy. I saved a little as well to where I bought 500 rounds to hit the range. Building, you can get what you want and you can always piece it together a little at a time. You also get knowledge of how the AR functions and know what the parts do and how they fit together. However, buying a complete rifle you get some kind of warranty. I have heard a lot of good things about the S&W MP so you can't really go wrong there. And yes, it it Addictive. I keep finding things that I "need" :)

ZX-10R
02-29-2012, 7:03 AM
You assemble ARs. Unless you are fabing stuff or bending sheetmetal like an AK it is just someone putting a lego set together.

SnowStorm
02-29-2012, 10:46 AM
Hi War Wagon,

am considering the Colt 6920CMP-B. Don't know much about AR's, this would be my first carbine rifle. Own a few shotguns and handguns. The local shop has this gun listed with an $1199 price tag. Is that a good deal?

Crowesnest
02-29-2012, 3:58 PM
There is some satisfaction in building your own rifle. You can customize it however you want and it'll be YOUR rifle, not some generic thing someone else slapped together for you. Once you build your own, you'll be hooked. For me, it was not enough just to build my own, but I even took a chance and painted it.

Johnnyfres
02-29-2012, 4:12 PM
Research! Research! Research! Buy lower. Buy Lower Parts Kit. Buy complete upper. Deck out with your favorite accessories. In my opinion, this is a great way to get to know your rifle and learn all about the parts.

This is what I am doing. Two week away from getting my complete upper. Can't wait.

SURVIVOR619
02-29-2012, 5:42 PM
OP, I just plunged for my first AR, as a build... Got my JD Machine CALGUNS lower in jail right now! I've converted a few Saigas and now wanna try out the AR. Some people have commented about skills. From what I've learned from the good folks on these boards, my biggest worry would be headspacing, so for my first build I'll get a complete upper that been h-spaced and test fired. Not a "full" build, but pretty close! Enjoy!

DrunkN_MastR
02-29-2012, 6:03 PM
I decided to take the build route, gonna pick myself up a spike's lower and then gradually go from there. It will be my first AR, but after seeing a buddy of mine take his apart, I realized it can't be that hard :)

JNunez23
02-29-2012, 6:24 PM
Just build it. There will always be things you will want to change on the one you purchase, or will spend forever just looking for one that suits your needs. Therefore, BUILD YOUR OWN!

It was my first AR, and it literally took me an hour to complete my stripped lower. After that, I purchased my buffer tube kit, stock, ect.. Even color filled it.

You'll have more fun man, just build it.

Agent 0range
02-29-2012, 10:28 PM
Definitely build it. I just put my first AR together a couple weeks ago with a stripped Spikes lower, complete Spikes 16" mid length, and Spikes LPK. Took me about an hour to put the lower together and slap the upper on it. Didn't save a whole lot of money since I keep adding to it and have a long list of things I still want. But knowing that I chose every part individually and the only extra parts I have are the hand guards and end plate makes it all worth it. I also gained more appreciation and a better understanding of how everything works. Whichever way you go, just be sure to save some money to feed it ammo because you'll find it to be very hungry!! Good luck.

Kalderis40
03-01-2012, 7:50 AM
I did a Spikes lower and complete Spikes upper as well. RRA LPK. It went together easy. The quality of the Spikes seem good and so far I have no complaints. I agree with Agent Orange about finding things that I still want to add. Build it, Its fun.

MultiCaliber
03-01-2012, 11:32 AM
I have heard if I buy a complete lower it is pretty simple and will be a good learning tool as well.



The "complete" is the key difference. If you're talking about an assembled lower, well, you're probably just buying your rifle in two halves. I vote "Buy!".

If you really like the platform, you'll be building one soon enough. And your complete rifle will be your template while trying to figure out which side is up on the trigger/hammer springs, etc.

Good luck and welcome to your very own case of BRD. :D

ns209
03-01-2012, 7:29 PM
Just build one, there so much info on here it will be a piece of cake. Plus when you build it you will have the accesories you want on it.

Horta
03-02-2012, 12:24 AM
Unless you have experience working on firearms, I would recommend buying a complete rifle rather than building a lower. You can get a CA legal Ar-15 for a reasonable price and then consider building your dream AR.

Nookieaki
03-02-2012, 12:35 AM
Build it.

duckman1
03-02-2012, 7:46 AM
I am currently building my first. I started with a stripped lower and I have a parts kit in route. I will buy a complete upper as my mechanical ability is pretty much limited to R&R skills.

M_Trinidad88
03-02-2012, 1:18 PM
If you build one please make sure to buy American Made products! Well that's just me, if its not American Made i wont even buy it! Especially for AR's! American Made weapon should get American Made parts. Can i get a AMEN!? lol