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Centerfire Rifles - Semiautomatic or Gas Operated Centerfire rifles, carbines and other gas operated rifles.

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  #1  
Old 11-04-2011, 7:53 AM
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Default $500 AR budget

Is it possible to build an AR for $500 out the door? (Shipping costs and DROS included in the $500 budget)

I'm completely new to the AR world and have never picked one up, much less built one. I'm primarily a recreational pistol shooter and just started shotgunning this August (guns, not beers), so the platform is completely foreign to me.

I've been debating whether to attempt to build one or buy a used Mini-14 as my first .223/5.56 rifle.



UPDATE #1 (Nov. 20, 2011)
-----------------------------------

I thought I'd consolidate some of the knowledge I've gained from this thread, and from my own market research, for all the other new AR builders who might stumble on this thread and don't want to read it all.

1) It IS possible to build an AR for just over $500, but it'll take you a LOT of footwork and patience. I've done 16 days of solid market research as of this update and have come upon used parts in the Marketplace section that would get me a working AR in $500. It won't be the best AR build, or even exactly what you wanted, but it's possible. Here's what I recommend you do if you're dead set on a $500 AR:

-- Give yourself a minimum expectation of two months to scrounge all the parts together. You're at the market's mercy when you're on a tight budget.

--
Pore through the CalGuns Marketplace EVERY day. Do it two or three times a day, if you can. Great deals show up and can be had. This will also help you learn market value for each part. I tabulated a spreadsheet of asking prices and sold prices for two weeks of every complete upper, AR magazine, LPK, BUIS etc. that was posted. I didn't PM a single person until I had a large sampling of data to work with. Knowing fair market value will help you hit your budget and give you the best bang for your buck.

-- Be prepared to settle for some more heavily used parts. Don't skimp on your barrel and bolt carrier group. Skimp on furniture, if you have to cut curners, and go with used mil-surp mags. You'll end up upgrading at a later date anyway. I can almost guarantee it.

-- Sign up for the email list of Midway, Natchez, Turner's and other major retailers of shooting supplies, particularly those focused on the AR community. I can't tell you how many good deals I've seen on new parts over the last 16 days. It helps me that it's leading into Black Friday and the Christmas season.

-- Visit gun shows for cheap deals. Again, make sure you understand market value to get best bang for your buck. Troysland posted a pretty good budget template below that most people can meet if they're patient and industrious about shopping:
Lower on sale = $99
LPK. = $50
DROS. = $30
Upper on sale =$350
Gun show Stock =$25
Bullet button = $25
10 round mag = $10
Rough estimate = $580


-- Find a LOCAL seller for your lower, whether stripped or complete. The FFL to FFL transfer fees are outrageous at most places and will bust your budget. You can save yourself $50 or more by finding a local shop where you'll pay for just the lower and the DROS fee. Turner's had an Xtreme Machining entry-level stripped lower for sale just last week for $70 (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...d.php?t=498656).

2) If you're intent on buying all-new parts, bump your budget up to $600 and you can still get into a pretty decent starter AR buy visiting these retailers (as recommended by other users in this thread):

-- Palmetto State Armory (http://palmettostatearmory.com/)
* $15 shipping on complete rifle kits and complete uppers.
* Make sure you compare prices on complete rifle kits vs. separate complete uppers and the lower build kits. I managed to price one of their rifle kits at a cheaper price by finding the components separately. Probably just a fluke because of a sale, but it will still save me money.

-- Del-Ton (http://www.del-ton.com/)
* ~$25 for ground shipping to California on rifle kits.

-- 44mag.com (http://www.44mag.com/)
* $14 Magpul 20-rd. PMags, plus $0.99 to ship them as rebuild kits. Shipping on Magpul items is currently free. Buy a three-pack of Magpul 10-rd. limiters to convert them into CA-compliant mags.

-- JSE Surplus (http://www.jsesurplus.com/)
* Lots of good prices on parts. They have quite a few complete uppers for under $400.

-- will post other vendors as I find them...

Last edited by Wombats Are Dangerous; 11-22-2011 at 10:27 AM.. Reason: Updated progress for other new builders
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2011, 8:00 AM
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Lower on sale = $99
LPK. = $50
DROS. = $30
Upper on sale =$350
Gun show Stock =$25
Bullet button = $25
10 round mag = $10
Rough estimate = $580

Building your first AR = PRICELESS!
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  #3  
Old 11-04-2011, 8:03 AM
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Don't forget to add sales tax!
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Old 11-04-2011, 8:10 AM
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It is very possible I just finished mine final tally was $540 but I had some extras

Here is the build http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...d.php?t=448183
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  #5  
Old 11-04-2011, 8:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedpower View Post
Don't forget to add sales tax!
Aaahhh, so $600 would be the lowest possible budget I could work with?

I'm debating a crowd-sourced AR build project here on CalGuns. I'll post something about it in this forum and the general discussion forum once I figure out the logistics. That's really the hardest part.

Since I have no idea what I'm buying, and the selection is overwhelming, I could use the help, but I don't want to put anyone out. I think it would be a fun experiment to have CalGunners decide what parts I buy. I set the budget guidelines, give the entire forum a week to vote on the parts decision and then I go buy it. I'd document the whole process for the forum.

Call it a social exercise for you and an educational experience for me.
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  #6  
Old 11-04-2011, 8:17 AM
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Well you figure you have dros,shipping, and taxes
put the budget to $600 and use the left over for ammo
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Old 11-04-2011, 8:19 AM
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For that budget you won't get anything you'll be happy with and YOU WILL be spending more down the road. A good build is at least $700 plus if not easily more. My budgets builds cost $800 and up with finished prices over $1000.

Here - its all done. Good parts too. Just pay shipping and your DROS. I have the lower and lpks, very nice tight trigger group. For the price you get a chrome-lined 1:7 twist barrel too. You won't get that for most cheapy uppers.
http://palmettostatearmory.com/8923.php

Last edited by ejhc11; 11-04-2011 at 8:22 AM..
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  #8  
Old 11-04-2011, 8:21 AM
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nothing wrong with a mini14

plus they're a lot easier to clean and disassemble if you are new to the rifle scene. normal field strip is like 5 parts (ok maybe a little more) and really no tools are required at all.

i understand they have a bad rep for accuracy, but if you are ok with having a 2-3 moa rifle then the durability and reliability (and price) of a mini is hard to beat.
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Old 11-04-2011, 8:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejhc11 View Post
Here - its all done. Good parts too. Just pay shipping and your DROS. I have the lower and lpks, very nice tight trigger group. For the price you get a chrome-lined 1:7 twist barrel too. You won't get that for most cheapy uppers.
http://palmettostatearmory.com/8923.php
~$673 with tax/dros @ 8%

not a bad price for a full package. but don't forget you'll need a rear sight of some sort so that's at least another $50
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Old 11-04-2011, 8:31 AM
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I would suggest a S&W M&P 15 sports for $700.00 and change, you also get the nice warranty, but you don't get to put one together thou.
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Old 11-04-2011, 8:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedpower View Post
I would suggest a S&W M&P 15 sports for $700.00 and change, you also get the nice warranty, but you don't get to put one together thou.
yeah, you can get these for $649 near where i live

http://www.cordovashootingcenter.com/SACRAMENTOGUNS.pdf

~$730 with tax/dros

i have heard good reports of its accuracy with the melonite barrel
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  #12  
Old 11-04-2011, 9:06 AM
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If you just want a cheap AR, look into a Plum Crazy lower and a Blackthorne upper...at least I think that's what they're called now.

Blackthorne is crap, but super cheap and you can plink around with it at the range. Plum Crazy lowers are under 150 with the lpk and stock already installed. Could probably get both for right at $500.
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Old 11-04-2011, 9:11 AM
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Is it possible...Yes; however, you'll probably exceed your budget. Since you are new I would suggest you save up to increase your budget, then take the leap. I wouldn't risk quality/safety for the sake of my budget. Some guys here have built ARs at low cost but most of them take their time and find quality parts for good prices. I'm not saying "the more $$$ it cost the better it is" but I'll go out on the limb and say "the less you spend the bigger the chances of something going wrong".
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Last edited by 1forall; 11-04-2011 at 10:18 AM..
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Old 11-04-2011, 9:48 AM
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Geezus, just save a few more dollars and buy quality parts & you're set for good.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troysland View Post
Lower on sale = $99
LPK. = $50
DROS. = $30
Upper on sale =$350
Gun show Stock =$25
Bullet button = $25
10 round mag = $10
Rough estimate = $580

Building your first AR = PRICELESS!

Also may need sights, and but you're definately gonna need a buffer tube with spring, buffer, end plate, and castlenut. (about $50 shipped).
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:09 AM
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On black friday? You bectha!
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  #17  
Old 11-04-2011, 10:14 AM
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If I were to buy a new rifle, I'd try and source a local shop with an cheap lower, you can sometimes find them on sale for only $80, with tax and dros your at about $120

Then get this:
http://palmettostatearmory.com/2520.php
It has everything you need to turn your stripped lower into a carbine. You get a quality barrel and bolt. $520 + shipping.

Then you will need a rear sight, Magpul being the cheapest I believe about $50, a bullet button $20, couple $10 gi mags.

That puts you up at about, $720.

Now you can save a few bucks and get a chrome moly barrel upper but honestly I don't think you'd be saving all that much. The FN made barrel is worth the price premium.

Now if you aren't adverse to using gently used parts, and have a lot of time and patience, I'm pretty sure you can come under budget, but you'd still prolly have to go with at least a new stripped lower, lower parts kit, and bullet button (about $200), actually a complete stock kit and complete upper for $300 seems kinda tough, but where there's a will there's a way.....
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:22 AM
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My FFL dealer does not charge me sales tax - you order it online then pass your info to Palmetto and let them sort it out. Just the $80 transfer fee including DROS plus Plametto's shipping.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejhc11 View Post
My FFL dealer does not charge me sales tax - you order it online then pass your info to Palmetto and let them sort it out. Just the $80 transfer fee including DROS plus Plametto's shipping.

I was refering to buying the lower at your local brick and mortor shop, $80 + tax + dros = $120ish. If you bought PSA's lower $80 + shipping + $80 dros, that is a bit more than $120. Even when PSA had that crazy sale on stripped lower for like $50 i think it was, $50 + shipping + $80 dross still comes out to more than getting it locally.

I think I remember seeing a local shop here in la selling an Aeroprecision Lower for $80 a couple months back.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:28 AM
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Built mine for 520 out the door minus mags I got a used upper of this site for cheap
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wombats Are Dangerous View Post
Aaahhh, so $600 would be the lowest possible budget I could work with?

I'm debating a crowd-sourced AR build project here on CalGuns. I'll post something about it in this forum and the general discussion forum once I figure out the logistics. That's really the hardest part.

Since I have no idea what I'm buying, and the selection is overwhelming, I could use the help, but I don't want to put anyone out. I think it would be a fun experiment to have CalGunners decide what parts I buy. I set the budget guidelines, give the entire forum a week to vote on the parts decision and then I go buy it. I'd document the whole process for the forum.

Call it a social exercise for you and an educational experience for me.
Interesting idea, but everyone has their favorite or perceived need in a rifle. If you asked a large group of people what their favorite farm animal was for eating you would end up trying to farm a cow/chicken/turkey/salmon/pig and it wouldn't work. Same thing with your rifle. I would suggest deciding on a rough idea of what kind of AR you want to build and it's general qualities i.e.: collapsable stock or fixed, ligh barrel or heavy, carbine or rifle. Then, ask about brand reccomendations or specific qualities within your outline. Just my .02$

Last edited by chicoredneck; 11-04-2011 at 10:30 AM..
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:34 AM
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What started as a budget build for me ($600-800 range) quickly became a $2k rifle for me...
Then I tried it again making a .22lr AR and here I am out another $1k..

If I really had to have a "budget" build, I'd go with one of those PSA sets and just purchase with the Magpul MOE for extra style points. I think with everything it comes out to ~$600-700, which is okay for a new KISS rifle. You can always get parts here and there in the marketplace and piece it together for $500-600, but I personally don't have the patience for it.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:44 AM
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I'm gonna try this when the next gun show comes around haha I just want a classic looking ar with the carry handle iron sights
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:46 AM
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I think it's possible to get some nice lightly used parts here on calguns along with a used upper and get an $80 stripped lower with a PSA parts kit you can get to a budget of around $600 to $700 for a pretty decent rifle. Finding a decent upper that is durable, shoots straight, and at a good price is half the battle.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:56 AM
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Can u put one together for $600, yes but what are u going to be using the rifle for.

Plinkin is about all a 5-600 dollar ar gets ya Ya can't even get a new mini14 for that kinda cash. As others have said save another $2-300 an get a gun you'll be happy with.

Ya I know there is prolly some chepo's out there that work great, but keep in mind a guns main job is housing explosions real close to yer head...personally I naw trust no cheepy gun with no cheepy ammo...naw wannit ta go boom in mi face!

Just my .02!
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Tikki View Post
I was refering to buying the lower at your local brick and mortor shop, $80 + tax + dros = $120ish. If you bought PSA's lower $80 + shipping + $80 dros, that is a bit more than $120. Even when PSA had that crazy sale on stripped lower for like $50 i think it was, $50 + shipping + $80 dross still comes out to more than getting it locally.

I think I remember seeing a local shop here in la selling an Aeroprecision Lower for $80 a couple months back.
Areo percision was on sale for $55 but went up to $60 now at http://www.karrisguns.com/new-ar15-s...lower-receiver
I thought about a budget build with this lower (same make as the spikes Tact.) but the fees that the local FFL charge will put it at same price or more than buying local. So now I have a new plan.....wait for black friday then hit the local shops for deals and order a upper/parts kit/etc. Or if all else fails, I could just pick up one through a buddy's co-worker for ~$620.
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:27 AM
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Delton has kits for 400 minus the lower
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:46 AM
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http://www.slickguns.com/product/del...ifle-kit-41850
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:47 AM
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delton upper and plum crazy lower. i have seen plum crazy lowers for 100$
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:28 PM
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Calguns marketplace and Gunshows are your friends...
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
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Delton has kits for 400 minus the lower
WOW, that's damn cheap! For some reason I've never looked at Deltons.....
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:41 PM
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+1 for CGN Market place. I picked up a complete Stag AR for a nice price.
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:55 PM
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Save and get something you'll actually keep.
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Old 11-04-2011, 1:03 PM
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When pricing this out, don't forget that the tools you need are not free (unless you already have them). Furthermore, ask yourself what your time is worth.
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Old 11-04-2011, 1:21 PM
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I'm working on this:

$150 used Krieger 26" match barrel with bolt

$90-140 side charger upper

$125 side charger bolt carrier

$10 used charging handle

$40 cheapo free float tube

$130 80% lower and machining costs

$120 RRA LPK with two stage match trigger

$40 used carbine stock setup

$20 carbine buffer and spring

$20 bullet button

That's damn near a match rifle for less than $800.

I'm actually just building the upper because I already have a lower I can use with it.

If you skip the match trigger and side charging upper, get a cheapo carbine barrel with standard hand guards, you can go real cheap.

Good quality used parts are the way to beat the budget. They already worked once and the AR platform is pretty modular so chances are it will work again. Just make sure your parts are not worn out and were at least decent quality when they were new.

A little searching and waiting will let you find good deals. If you want it new and you want it now, you won't get a very nice AR for $500.
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Old 11-04-2011, 1:29 PM
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Try buying a complete lower used to save on tax. Its possible to find one for under 200 + 35 dros and transfer. That leaves you with 265 to find a complete upper which isn't going to be easy. I just sold a complete AR for 600. There are still deals like that in the marketplace if you dig around.
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Old 11-04-2011, 1:40 PM
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Most complete lowers will cost you more when it comes to tax. The Feds charge 10% on firearm sales I think.

10% of $100 is less than 10% of $265 or 10% of $700.

I like paying 0% to the Feds and the state can kiss my *** so I like 80% lowers but that might be too much trouble for some people.
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  #38  
Old 11-04-2011, 1:52 PM
BBB114 BBB114 is offline
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Default Under $500 Ar

I put one together from scrounged, used, replaced parts for under $300. Yes, it took alot of scrounging, but you never know what stuff your friends have and they just want to get rid of it. Its not pretty, but it shoots and functions awesome.

I would just look for used stuff or maybe a complete upper. I think for $500 you should have no problem, but stuff will need to be used.
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  #39  
Old 11-04-2011, 2:50 PM
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hnoppenberger hnoppenberger is offline
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+ on used parts on this forum.

you can get GI issue carry handles for 30-40 bucks.

fn barrels in the 100 buck range. just know the parts you need and assemble everything, you can get gi quality with knowledge and patience.
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  #40  
Old 11-04-2011, 3:04 PM
comblock comblock is offline
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The closest is probably a delton. They are like the AKs of ARs. Cheap, reliable, can shoot brass or steel all day long without a hiccup.
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