Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:58 pm

LJ126 wrote:Many police departments issue and authorize entry-level AR-15 carbines and rifles, and these serve the role just fine. There are a lot of Bushmasters, Stags and DPMS rifles in the hands of the thin blue line, and while they're nothing special, they work just fine.

What I've found is that in most cases, when you buy a lower cost AR-15, you're only skipping out on all of the nicer features associated with higher-priced rifles. The difference in reliability and dependability between low-cost and high-cost AR-15 rifles is greater on the internet than it is on the firing range, and these falsities are often perpetuated by people with neither the judgement or experience to speak on the matter.

My DPMS 5.56 Oracle has a lot of rounds through it (more than most of you would believe if I posted the count) and many more left before she's done ticking. Regular maintenance and swapped gas rings is all I've done (other than the handguards) and it's never given me any issues, despite fairly rough treatment. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one to another person interested in getting an entry-level rifle.
Just because many departments are authorizing and issuing entry level guns, does not mean they are right for everyone. The amount of use a carbine sees in the hands of an LEO is usually fairly small. With the exception of specialized teams, the majority of LEOs will rarely touch their patrol carbines except for the minimal training and qualifications needed. In fact, many officers rarely put in extra time with their primary weapon, their duty pistol, unless they are avid recreational shooters.

I'm glad your DPMS is shooting well. The problem is, any company can put out a "lemon". Some companies just put out a much higher percentage, and do not back up their products as well as others.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by mr_slappy75 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:42 pm

Bookmarked the topic for near future reference.

Glad to be able to peek into the thought process of experienced builders with an eye on maximum dollar value = quality of build.
I know we have the 'help me build my AR' thread but one it is already pretty big and with that amount of material it has gotten to be a chore to wade through the whole thing. Greatly appreciate the shopping list, Gingerbread Man.

Personally, as someone who has never owned or operated an AR (but has the ambition of getting to do both soon) this thread has been very informative.
I too often waver -or more appropriately at this point fantasize- between buying or building. I am a tinkerer, but in all fairness, I've always started out tinkering on something that was already functional before i took it upon myself to go on ahead and build something from scratch be it a PC or a bike for example. Then again when I started doing those things, there was not a lot of easily accessible internet assistance.

Should a person in a budget also consider whenever there are a few specialized hand tools to buy before considering assembly from stripped components?

That is another reason why I keep leaning towards buying vs. building my 1st AR, would increasing the starting budget to $800.00 for an off-the-shelf rifle by S&W or "_____________" and "_____________" be a better choice/starting point to get a feel for what a quality HD AR should behave like?
My thinking is that at that point you can go in and develop an understanding as to how and why a quality, reliable factory built weapon works...like Doc said, thus not having to experience the bad taste from a bottom of the barrel product that may or may not be a properly built weapon.

I know I am rambling but does my rationale make sense? I do not have experience building a firearm from even partly assembled component modules, nor to I have any friends or acquaintances in my AO who do, I have yet to build a relationship with folks in my LGS so in that sense I find myself in a bit of a meat world bubble when it comes to this.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by AS556 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:46 pm

Go BCM or go home!

Just kidding, buy whatever you want. Run Pmags and M193 and I bet you $1 dollar it will run.

To answer the original question, its cheaper to build it.

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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:05 pm

I dropped more coin than I needed to on my first AR. I figured it was a buy once, cry once sort of purchase.

I absolutely love the gun (it's a Daniel Defense), but knowing what I know now, I would have rather gone on a the build route. I helped my Dad with his first build a year or two ago, and it came out great. I'm working on my first build right now, but I'm biding my time looking for good deals since I'm not in much of a hurry.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by AS556 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:54 pm

Slappy,

Buying a complete to reference off is no doubt helpful, but if you possess any mechanical insight at all (seems like you do) you can turn a pile of parts into a functional lower in 30 minutes with a little youtube guidance. Trust me on this. Building a lower is the first real mechanical task I had ever really undertaken and in hindsight it really is childs play. No special tools required. I used a Tapco AR wrench to torque the castle nut but a punch and mallet could be used to really crank it down as well. I dont have a vice, just used my knees, to be honest. Have built or torn down/reassembled lowers probably 6-7 times since then. As I said, childs play.

The key here is to use brass punches on the roll pins, remember judicious use of blue loctite is your friend, and put a GOOD QUALITY upper and BCG in it.

All of this is very much IMO and YMMV and all that. Im sure some of the uber experienced will be along to verify or dispute my post, but to be honest theres not much to disagree with. This is all commonly accepted info.

TL:DR, I wouldn't recommend building an upper until you figure out the platform. That is where a lot of home builds fuck up. Not much to mess up on the lower.

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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by crypto » Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:13 pm

Gingerbread Man wrote: Only real issue I've had is with AR-10s (They just don't run)
That one I bought from you runs like a top ever since I swapped out the buffer and spring.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Gingerbread Man » Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:27 pm

crypto wrote:
Gingerbread Man wrote: Only real issue I've had is with AR-10s (They just don't run)
That one I bought from you runs like a top ever since I swapped out the buffer and spring.
That's awesome. I wonder every once and awhile about that. Looks like CMMG is a contender.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by LJ126 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:17 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote: They've done classes in MO for the past couple of years, mostly serving the ZS crew. I fully intend to go to the next one with a $800 home-build.

Edit: AAR for last year's class viewtopic.php?f=111&t=107505
If I can make room on my schedule, I'll be there. Provided I have enough of a heads-up, there shouldn't be any issues. The thing is, I work two jobs, because I love money. Go figure!

My DPMS is basically stock too; I've switched out the fat DPMS "AP4 GlacierGuards" for a set of the slimmer, shielded CAR-15 hand guards, and the front sight post was switched out for a Trijicon unit. Oh, and I added a Condor Speedy sling after playing with one at work.
Last edited by LJ126 on Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by LJ126 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:44 pm

Sworbeyegib wrote:
1)Just because many departments are authorizing and issuing entry level guns, does not mean they are right for everyone.

2)The amount of use a carbine sees in the hands of an LEO is usually fairly small. With the exception of specialized teams, the majority of LEOs will rarely touch their patrol carbines except for the minimal training and qualifications needed.

3)In fact, many officers rarely put in extra time with their primary weapon, their duty pistol, unless they are avid recreational shooters.
1) This is true. I don't necessarily believe that an entry-level carbine is the right tool for the competitive shooter. They're sending a whole lot more lead downrange, and functioning in a realm where fractions of a second mean the difference between winning and losing. Nobody else shoots as much as the professional competitive shooters: hobbyists, military, or LE.

However, for the hobbyist, survivalist, hunter, or even someone looking for a halfway decent rifle, an entry-level AR15 is probably adequate.

2) You might be surprised how much shooting the average LEP does in the span of a year. In my division, I'd be willing to say that only one-in-ten is not a recreational shooter. It helps when your department issues ammunition at no cost for practice, and places a premium on qualification scores. Also, we're quite aware that we can claim our ammunition and other training expenses in our taxes.

3) I touched on this above: a lot of LEP shoot A LOT. Let me assure you of that. There are some that don't, but I'd be willing to say that the average officer/deputy/ranger shoots considerably more than the average shooter does.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by WutsFrequencyKeneth » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:47 pm

LJ126 wrote:
2) You might be surprised how much shooting the average LEP does in the span of a year. In my division, I'd be willing to say that only one-in-ten is not a recreational shooter. It helps when your department issues ammunition at no cost for practice, and places a premium on qualification scores. Also, we're quite aware that we can claim our ammunition and other training expenses in our taxes.
You have it a hell of a lot better than any departments (States, Parishes, and Counties from deep south to midwest) I've ever been in, trained with, visited, or worked beside. A lot better.

That's very good to hear for someone in my area :)

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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by LJ126 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:11 pm

WutsFrequencyKeneth wrote:
LJ126 wrote:
2) You might be surprised how much shooting the average LEP does in the span of a year. In my division, I'd be willing to say that only one-in-ten is not a recreational shooter. It helps when your department issues ammunition at no cost for practice, and places a premium on qualification scores. Also, we're quite aware that we can claim our ammunition and other training expenses in our taxes.
You have it a hell of a lot better than any departments (States, Parishes, and Counties from deep south to midwest) I've ever been in, trained with, visited, or worked beside. A lot better.

That's very good to hear for someone in my area :)
That sucks man. I wouldn't want to work for a department that doesn't place a premium on officer marksmanship. To quote Chuck Yeager from an old EA flight sim that bears his name, "It's the man, not the machine." Which oddly enough applies to this thread as a whole.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by crypto » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:02 pm

Gingerbread Man wrote:
That's awesome. I wonder every once and awhile about that. Looks like CMMG is a contender.

Okay, full disclosure, I /also/ switched out the buffer tube, so I could put a rifle stock on it. It's pretty happy now, out of both the metal mags and the pmags.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by JeeperCreeper » Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:39 am

So at work the other night, I pieced together some parts kits from online to see roughly what I would be paying in comparison to a new rifle... at today's prices, of course:

Here are my potential builds:

Spikes stripped lower + FFL transfer fee = $130
Magpul PTAC lower kit from PSA = $130
PSA premium upper (mid length) + BCG = $420
Total = $680

Spikes stripped lower + FFL transfer fee = $130
PSA stainless complete rifle kit = $440
Total = $570

PSA complete lower + FFL transfer fee = $200
PSA premium upper (mid length) + BCG = $420
Total = $620

Here are the links from the PSA stuff that I found:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... andle.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... dle-1.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... e-kit.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... gory/4282/
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... egory/388/
http://www.spikestactical.com/lower-mul ... 81e8b96570
(Spikes MSRP pricing is not what I would pay at the LGS)

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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Redeyes » Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:48 am

You are doing fine. Throw an AR-15 castle nut wrench in the order if you don't have one and don't be afraid of PSA blemished stuff if you can find it for sale. I have bought blemished lowers and I can't find the blemish. They get scratched up at the range anyway.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Brotherbadger » Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:45 am

JeeperCreeper wrote:So at work the other night, I pieced together some parts kits from online to see roughly what I would be paying in comparison to a new rifle... at today's prices, of course:

Here are my potential builds:

Spikes stripped lower + FFL transfer fee = $130
Magpul PTAC lower kit from PSA = $130
PSA premium upper (mid length) + BCG = $420
Total = $680

Spikes stripped lower + FFL transfer fee = $130
PSA stainless complete rifle kit = $440
Total = $570

PSA complete lower + FFL transfer fee = $200
PSA premium upper (mid length) + BCG = $420
Total = $620

Here are the links from the PSA stuff that I found:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... andle.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... dle-1.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... e-kit.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... gory/4282/
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... egory/388/
http://www.spikestactical.com/lower-mul ... 81e8b96570
(Spikes MSRP pricing is not what I would pay at the LGS)

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Looks good. I'd wait till black friday and save a bit more.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by DannusMaximus » Sun Nov 09, 2014 8:14 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:Dannus's Bushmaster? The one he sent back to the factory to be unfucked? He had several parts replaced as well, IIRC.
My ears are burnin'...

I did indeed have that carbine sent back to deal with a barrel cant issue, and had a buddy of mine who knows such things swap out some parts, upgrade some parts, and do general AR tunings that I had no idea mattered at the time (Ex: The Bushy did not have an 'F' marked front sight - - no idea what a pain in the ass NOT having one would cause me, but it prevented me from being able to sight in using the back up rear sights I purchased. My buddy had me order one of the extended FSP's, which solved the problem, but I shouldn't have had to solve that problem to begin with!). Since then, I really have used and abused that carbine, and it has performed really well. Without Arch, though, I wouldn't have even known what potential problems might occur with the original carbine, much less how to fix and/or prevent them ahead of time. I got lucky.

That said, I would NOT recommend BM to a person today, because now I know what I didn't know then. There are a lot of good guns out there that won't set you back much more than a BM, and some that are better and won't even cost you as much as one. I bought mine when the amount of general knowledge out there about AR's was much lower (I had never even heard of 'staking' or using upgraded extractor springs), and the number of manufacturer's was also much lower. I didn't have $1300 to spend on a Colt, and the only other rifle available for me locally was the BM. Now you can go to any sporting goods department and there are racks of AR's from a dozen different manufacturers, plus the plethora of online offers.

To summarize, you really can take a lower tier rifle and tinker with it enough to make it run like a champ, but when you can instead buy one that runs like a champ WITHOUT having to tinker with it...
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by DannusMaximus » Sun Nov 09, 2014 8:27 pm

LJ126 wrote:
Sworbeyegib wrote:
1)Just because many departments are authorizing and issuing entry level guns, does not mean they are right for everyone.

2)The amount of use a carbine sees in the hands of an LEO is usually fairly small. With the exception of specialized teams, the majority of LEOs will rarely touch their patrol carbines except for the minimal training and qualifications needed.

3)In fact, many officers rarely put in extra time with their primary weapon, their duty pistol, unless they are avid recreational shooters.
1) This is true. I don't necessarily believe that an entry-level carbine is the right tool for the competitive shooter. They're sending a whole lot more lead downrange, and functioning in a realm where fractions of a second mean the difference between winning and losing. Nobody else shoots as much as the professional competitive shooters: hobbyists, military, or LE.

However, for the hobbyist, survivalist, hunter, or even someone looking for a halfway decent rifle, an entry-level AR15 is probably adequate.

2) You might be surprised how much shooting the average LEP does in the span of a year. In my division, I'd be willing to say that only one-in-ten is not a recreational shooter. It helps when your department issues ammunition at no cost for practice, and places a premium on qualification scores. Also, we're quite aware that we can claim our ammunition and other training expenses in our taxes.

3) I touched on this above: a lot of LEP shoot A LOT. Let me assure you of that. There are some that don't, but I'd be willing to say that the average officer/deputy/ranger shoots considerably more than the average shooter does.
Concur with LJ126. I think the well-known internet fact that most LEO's can't shoot very well and don't give a damn anyway is NOT, in fact, a fact. There are certainly officers that neglect their weapons training, just like there are officers that are fat, don't keep up on local codes or statute changes, yadda yadda. I have personal and professional interactions with dozens and dozens of local LE personnel in my AO, however, and I would fully describe 75% or them as 'gun guys' who regularly shoot. At a minimum, every officer on my local department does biannual qualificiations on their sidearm and shotgun, and, if they want to keep carrying one, their patrol rifle.

FWIW, I don't know what patrol rifle brands or manufacturer's are authorized by my wife's department, but we bought her a Colt LE6920 for her cruiser gun. Mostly because it was not that much more, it can indeed be written off as a job-related expense, and buying a Colt mostly means you don't have to worry about QA/QC or performance issues that other brands might tend to have.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by ashwednesday » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:52 am

Brotherbadger wrote:
JeeperCreeper wrote:So at work the other night, I pieced together some parts kits from online to see roughly what I would be paying in comparison to a new rifle... at today's prices, of course:

Here are my potential builds:

Spikes stripped lower + FFL transfer fee = $130
Magpul PTAC lower kit from PSA = $130
PSA premium upper (mid length) + BCG = $420
Total = $680

Spikes stripped lower + FFL transfer fee = $130
PSA stainless complete rifle kit = $440
Total = $570

PSA complete lower + FFL transfer fee = $200
PSA premium upper (mid length) + BCG = $420
Total = $620

Here are the links from the PSA stuff that I found:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... andle.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... dle-1.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... e-kit.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... gory/4282/
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... egory/388/
http://www.spikestactical.com/lower-mul ... 81e8b96570

(Spikes MSRP pricing is not what I would pay at the LGS)

AM I LOOKING AT GOOD STUFF OR SHOULD I START OVER??
Looks good. I'd wait till black friday and save a bit more.
Yeah, looks like right now PSA has the cold hammer forged options on the table for not that much more.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Slugg » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:04 am

What is the general opinion on the Armalite ARs in the $500-$700 range I have been seeing?
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Halfapint » Wed Dec 31, 2014 3:53 am

For what its worth I bought (thanks Doc Fab) and built mine. In total I paid about $800 for everything. I stripped it after the upper was shipped to me because it was all put together, and I wanted to see how it works. I then bought a stripped lower that was on sale at my LGS, and put the internals in it myself. I took it to a gunsmith to make sure everything was proper, and to get him to tighten down my buffer tube nut. Well if you follow the firearms chat you'll know I asked him about something and he said "naw don't worry about it". Well.... That, naw don't worry about it has been the reason my bolt carrier has been jamming and destroying my buffer tube retention pin spring.

I came into this project with very very limited build experience, and by limited I mean I read it on the internetz. It took me maybe an hour to get all the internals in the lower, and that was because I had shot the dent pin and spring out of the rear take down hole, and spent nearly 20 minutes on my hands and knees looking for the damn dent pin. Nothing on an AR build is hard, if you have questions refer to youtube. If you have something obscure, like, why is my buffer tube retention pin always getting jammed into my bolt carrier even after I took it to a gunsmith. Refer to the hive mind, they will help you.
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Bearcat » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:24 pm

PSA is having a daily deal today for a complete rifle sans rear sights for 500 bucks and it's not PTAC parts. http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.ph ... dom-rifle/
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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by mr_slappy75 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:05 pm

Snip
For what its worth I bought (thanks Doc Fab) and built mine. In total I paid about $800 for everything. I stripped it after the upper was shipped to me because it was all put together, and I wanted to see how it works. I then bought a stripped lower that was on sale at my LGS, and put the internals in it myself. I took it to a gunsmith to make sure everything was proper, and to get him to tighten down my buffer tube nut. Well if you follow the firearms chat you'll know I asked him about something and he said "naw don't worry about it". Well.... That, naw don't worry about it has been the reason my bolt carrier has been jamming and destroying my buffer tube retention pin spring.
snip

Yeah, Halfapint, I see myself doing the same thing if I do go on ahead and decide to build from a stripped lower & complete upper...well maybe after putting it all together and learning to operate and field strip...then go for a full upper strip. Both you and AS556 make a very good argument for someone building vs. buying a first AR. Too bad I do not have a DocFab analog nearby to have on the spot assistance...yeah, yeah he is only 1 state away but the Mizzus would frown upon me road-tripping with a baby at home.

Ugh Bearcat, that really stings. Well, I can't do anything about it right now because A) I do not have my FOID card yet (it's an Illinois thing-don't ask) I am expecting it within the next 2 weeks though and B) I just started my "Slappy's rifle build slush fund" on the 31st and wouldn't you know it? I am $450.00 short of that figure.
I see the pot getting to $500 in 4 to 5 months (much earlier if my employer's client would stop dragging their feet and finally approved my transfer, to the tune of a nice raise in pay.
Maybe I will have enough by the Memorial Day sale? Is that a thing with firearms? I am serious, it is not something I've ever thought about. I guess if big screen TVs and cars go on sale it no different with guns, right?
colinz wrote:
ZS - Where having livestock, land and a good attitude is more desirable than being Size <6, 'ripped', or rich.

I <3 ZS!

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Re: Built or bought: AR rifle in late 2014

Post by Tobias05 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:48 am

439- BCM upper with free BCG
060- PSA blem lower
045- PSA Classic LPK
045- BCM gunfighter charging handle
027- NOS eBay A2 carry handle
067- BCM M4 stock kit
035- Magpul MOE handguards

Total

718 bucks, build it yourself.

PSA also has complete rifle kits for 449. Add a stripped lower and you're looking at a quality rifle for a hair over 500 dollars, minus sights.
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