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Building my first AR

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by wags_01, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. wags_01

    wags_01 Monkey+

    Hi all,

    So I bought a stripped DPMS lower recently on a whim from a local private seller. I've been doing my homework as to what exactly I want out of it, which is a bit tough as I haven't really handled AR-15s before. Think of this as an urban E&E weapon, relatively short & quick handling, not a range queen or precision weapon. So far, this is what I think I want out of the build:

    * 16" barrel, carbine length gas system
    * moderate accuracy w/ iron sights - I'm not taking 500m shots with this (will add a red dot sight down the road)
    * chrome-lined barrel
    * 5.56 chambering rather than .223
    * gov't profile barrel, not bull/heavy or superlight
    * collapsible stock
    * 1/7 or 1/8 twist
    * M4 'extended' feed ramps ideally
    * F marked front sight post
    * flattop upper

    I've done a little digging and found this kit which seems to meet most or all of my wants: Palmetto State Armory 16" M4 Standard Rifle Kit

    I figured I'd go with a complete kit for my first build. Anyone have experience with kits like this, or other thoughts in general?
  2. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    I think PSA has a good reputation for ammo. I haven't heard anything about their ARs, but, I don't really keep up with that stuff.

    I have assumed you have done research on AR-15.com..... There is a how-to pdf there on building kits

    This kits seems to have some important ingredients, namely MIL-SPEC components and M4 feed ramps. It would be a sweet deal if the barrel were 4150. But, for the money........ (There was a barrel post on here a few days ago) it beats having a baseball bat.

    I went this route after I read OSA and bought a Stag kit and later found out some of the parts were not MIL-SPEC. Not a big deal...but, I would rather have everything MIL-SPEC....just my preference.
  3. wags_01

    wags_01 Monkey+

    Yes, I would prefer a 4150 barrel, but I think for the price, chrome lined 4140 will be just fine. I can always upgrade down the road.

    And yeah, it seems that all or most of the parts in this kit are mil-spec, which I like.

    I've only just started digging through AR-15.com...
  4. ISplatU

    ISplatU Monkey+

  5. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    That sounds like you have done some research. That is the minimum in specs IMHO.

    There are some other, more picky, details to think about-

    - Barrel steel- not all are created equal and not all are Mil-Spec
    - MPI Testing- lessens you chances of a dud
    - Consider a Mid-Length gas system- while not mi-spec, it has been tuned perfection in terms of reliability and softening the wear on the carbine
    - Mil-Spec diameter buffer tubes- gives the greatest selection of after-market stocks
    - H-buffer- currently the standard for buffer weight- maybe consider an H1
    - Don't dis the superlights. I have a Super-light barrel that will shoot into 1" all day with an ACOG and 69 gn HPBT projectiles. Weight is a delicate balance.
  6. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    Look here at the BCM brand components:

    They are doing something right over at BCM.
    Opinionated likes this.
  7. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Hispeedal2 likes this.
  8. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    Good looking upper. Seems to be built right (specs anyways).

    In my builds, I am more of a parts scrounger. I look for good deals on the heart of the system (barrel and BCG). Lowers of good manufacture are, generally, GTG (watch for tight mag wells). LPKs can be tricky- I say go with any brand name that isn't DPMS or Oly. If you compare DPMS next to any other brand (Colt, Bushmaster, Armalite, Stag, RRA, etc) you can see the difference. Unfortunately, DPMS is the cheapest and most plentiful. Oly LPKs appear to be hand ground by a monkey (I used to live down the road from them and have some other experiences with them for another time, btw). Uppers are generally ok from any major manufacturer (I prefer CMT/Stag). Just be sure to match the upper with the feed ramps you have on your barrel extension. M4 feed ramps aren't a deal breaker on a barrel IMHO. We got along fine without them for some 30+ years. Utilizing serviceable magazines completely eliminates the need. Just be sure to match whichever with the correct upper.
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Wahchit, bub --- [beat](y)
  10. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    Uh... I mean..... a chimpanzee?? [dunno](y)
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Keep diggin', chimps are our brothers, too. [beat] [beat]
  12. wags_01

    wags_01 Monkey+

    Well, now I'm reconsidering the whole kit approach. With money being as tight as it is, I may buy parts as cash becomes available and build the rifle over a period of a few months. This wouldn't necessarily be cheaper, but it would allow me to really customize it to the specs I want.
  13. NVBeav

    NVBeav Monkey+++

    That's what I did.

    The biggest part of the learning for me was assembling the Lower Receiver Parts. [I bought a complete upper so I don't know if that might have been a bigger learning experience.]

    After assembling the lower receiver, I now know there are springs and retaining pins in the "oddest of places". It seems real important to know those places and learn how to not lose the tiny springs and retaining pins. Just recently, I was real lucky my daughter was helping me add a sling mount on the buffer tube... she found the tiny spring in just a few seconds :^) -- I might have been ordering new parts w/o her help.
    Hispeedal2 likes this.
  14. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    I'd look into a Barnes Precision Machine (BPM) upper. A new kid on the block offering a very accurate rifle.
  15. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    "Education" is an important bi-product of DIY. The knowledge to know you can replace / fix anything on it is reassuring.
  16. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    I've assembled 2 lowers now, using complete uppers. My next task is to build the upper (and since I'll have an extra upper, I'm gonna need a new lower right???)
    Hispeedal2 and NVBeav like this.
  17. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Here's a tip to save money. If you have a Facebook account, 'Like' your favorite dealers. They post sales on their Facebook page or have discount codes.

    I just picked this up to go behind my Aimpoint Comp M4s. When I saw it on FB, it was $25 cheaper.

    Aimpoint 3x Magnifier w/ Twist Mount
    NVBeav likes this.
  18. NVBeav

    NVBeav Monkey+++

    Yes. Yes you will.

    Like they say: "It's better to receive positive permission beforehand than to seek forgiveness afterwards." (Ben Hur 5:56)

    I may be needing forgiveness myself [beat]
    Hispeedal2 likes this.
  19. STANGF150

    STANGF150 Knowledge Seeker

    Dang You Guit!!! I got lost on there!!! Ended up finding a rail to go on carry handle of my new AR, as well as what I think I want for sights since its gonna be a cqb weapon!!!

    EOTech 512 Holosight
  20. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Stang--better do a comparison of battery life among ACOG, EOTech, and AimPoint. That's the #1 reason I went with Aimpoint...battery life. Actually, it was #1.5. Price was in there as well. I couldn't afford an ACOG...you can buy two STAGs for just one ACOG setup.
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