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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,
I've recently been considering building an AR-15 chambered in 5.56 (to accompany my Mini 14 to the range :D). I have done a fair amount of research and it appears that the upper requires some torquing tools and what not so I thought that I might want to purchase a completed upper and build my lower from a stripped lower. I thought this might give me some good gunsmithing practice as well as help me familiarize myself with the AR build and operation. I'm considering something from Palmetto State Armory for the stripped lower as they're local to me (I only live an hour away or so) and maybe a Stag Arms or DPMS Lower kit and Magpul grip, trigger guard and stock. Are there any other brands that you would recommend? Any parts specifically that I should consider? I was looking at Spike's Tactical for a lower, but they're back-ordered until sometime in the next millennium so I'm going to try and source some parts elsewhere.

I have the necessary tools to build the lower, but the upper would require a little more workspace than I currently have and a handful of tools that I don't have on-hand and that I can't easily obtain. I'd prefer to have something pre-torqued to spec that I can drop on to my completed lower.

Any advice on this?
 

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Building your own lower is a great start. The upper does take the right tools to get it right but it's not as hard as you think. Having said that, if you build your own lower Palmetto will work just fine as well as Spikes, Stag, Adcor etc. As for the parts kit, I'm quite fond of the Spike's LPK but a DPMS will work as well.
For the upper the answer is: How much do you want to spend?

You can't go wrong with the following: (There are tons of other reputable companies but here is a small list)

Daniel Defense
LaRue
Noveske
Spike's
Stag Arms
CMMG

The ones listed above can vary in price from $350 - $1,5K.
Another thing you want to consider is barrel twist rate. If you are going to shoot a variety of 5.56/.223, I would recommend an upper with a 1:7 twist rate. Let me know if you have additional questions. I've built a few AR's and have learned many things the hard way. If I can help anyone else avoid the same mistakes, I'll happily give my time to do it.

Good luck.
 

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Research Rock River Arms. They have every part you need and they are in my opinion the best when it comes AR-15's. I just finished my build and I love it.

I must say I enjoyed my build but now that the market is flooded with AR's you can buy one cheaper than you can build one. Check out Wyndham Arms for complete AR's they are the former owners of Bushmaster.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Building your own lower is a great start. The upper does take the right tools to get it right but it's not as hard as you think. Having said that, if you build your own lower Palmetto will work just fine as well as Spikes, Stag, Adcor etc. As for the parts kit, I'm quite fond of the Spike's LPK but a DPMS will work as well.
For the upper the answer is: How much do you want to spend?

You can't go wrong with the following: (There are tons of other reputable companies but here is a small list)

Daniel Defense
LaRue
Noveske
Spike's
Stag Arms
CMMG

The ones listed above can vary in price from $350 - $1,5K.
Another thing you want to consider is barrel twist rate. If you are going to shoot a variety of 5.56/.223, I would recommend an upper with a 1:7 twist rate. Let me know if you have additional questions. I've built a few AR's and have learned many things the hard way. If I can help anyone else avoid the same mistakes, I'll happily give my time to do it.

Good luck.
Thank you very much for the information. Be careful on that offer, though. I may just start messaging you! :)

I'd really like to keep the build simple to start with and then expand as I gain more knowledge and experience. I've only shot an AR a couple of times, but I'm very interested in working on my own guns. I've installed VQ internals on my 22/45, swapped stocks, barrels, trigger groups, etc. on my 10/22 and I installed a Ghost Ultimate kit on a Glock 17 I had and when I traded it for a CZ75 SP01, I swapped out my mainspring and recoil spring as well as my sights. I'm new to all of this (just over a year as a gun owner), but dad is an engineer and I've always been a tinkerer so I'd really love to build my own lower.

I haven't really looked at too many uppers, but Palmetto has some complete 16" and 14.5" (with a 1.5" compensator on the front) for a decent price. I'm thinking something around $300-600 for the completed upper. I realize that's a small budget, but it's about what I can do in the next few months.

I'll look at the brands you mentioned though and give all of them some thorough research and thought. And in the meantime, I'll save my pennies. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Research Rock River Arms. They have every part you need and they are in my opinion the best when it comes AR-15's. I just finished my build and I love it.

I must say I enjoyed my build but now that the market is flooded with AR's you can buy one cheaper than you can build one. Check out Wyndham Arms for complete AR's they are the former owners of Bushmaster.
I appreciate your input! I'll definitely check out Rock River and Wyndham Arms. I have seen some decent ARs in the $700-1000 range, but I'd really like to build my own (really just the lower) as a project. I've run out of guns to tinker with and I figure this will give me another learning experience and will be something I can be proud of when it's done. If it doesn't work out though, I'll fall back on a complete AR from the likes of Wyndham. :)

Thanks again buddy!
 

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I appreciate your input! I'll definitely check out Rock River and Wyndham Arms. I have seen some decent ARs in the $700-1000 range, but I'd really like to build my own (really just the lower) as a project. I've run out of guns to tinker with and I figure this will give me another learning experience and will be something I can be proud of when it's done. If it doesn't work out though, I'll fall back on a complete AR from the likes of Wyndham. :)

Thanks again buddy!
Understandable that's why I built mine and paid a little more. It was nice doing it a bit at a time and making it exactly what I wanted. I also enjoy research so it was fun doing research on all the parts. Took my two years to build mine. Mostly because the birth of my kids slowed up funds.
 

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Thank you very much for the information. Be careful on that offer, though. I may just start messaging you! :)

I'd really like to keep the build simple to start with and then expand as I gain more knowledge and experience. I've only shot an AR a couple of times, but I'm very interested in working on my own guns. I've installed VQ internals on my 22/45, swapped stocks, barrels, trigger groups, etc. on my 10/22 and I installed a Ghost Ultimate kit on a Glock 17 I had and when I traded it for a CZ75 SP01, I swapped out my mainspring and recoil spring as well as my sights. I'm new to all of this (just over a year as a gun owner), but dad is an engineer and I've always been a tinkerer so I'd really love to build my own lower.

I haven't really looked at too many uppers, but Palmetto has some complete 16" and 14.5" (with a 1.5" compensator on the front) for a decent price. I'm thinking something around $300-600 for the completed upper. I realize that's a small budget, but it's about what I can do in the next few months.

I'll look at the brands you mentioned though and give all of them some thorough research and thought. And in the meantime, I'll save my pennies. :D
You are quite welcome and feel free to message me with any questions. I had someone do the same thing for me when I was starting out.

My first AR I built on a budget of $575. Simple and taught me a lot about the AR platform.



For my 2nd build, I decided to spend a bit more and build it exactly the way I wanted from the start. The parts list is too long to list but I'll be happy to send it to you. To give you an idea, I spent $250 on the trigger alone so you can imagine I took my time with this one.




Keep us posted on your build and I'm sure Rivers2k and I and a few others will be happy to help.
 

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To some including myself, a lower is a lower is a lower except for those crappy polymer ones. I have some from Stag, PSA, RRA, Spikes, and S&W to name a few. If your close to PSA they usually have lowers for about $89 and sometimes offer blems for $20-30 less. They actually have a fairly decent lower parts kit for under $100 as well. AR15sales.com has Stag uppers for about $400 and they are as good as anyone elses and offer a lifetime warranty. So for about $600 you can piece together a quality ar that would run $900-1000 if purchased assembled.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You are quite welcome and feel free to message me with any questions. I had someone do the same thing for me when I was starting out.

My first AR I built on a budget of $575. Simple and taught me a lot about the AR platform.

For my 2nd build, I decided to spend a bit more and build it exactly the way I wanted from the start. The parts list is too long to list but I'll be happy to send it to you. To give you an idea, I spent $250 on the trigger alone so you can imagine I took my time with this one.

Keep us posted on your build and I'm sure Rivers2k and I and a few others will be happy to help.
Both are excellent builds but you did an exceptional job on the second one. Well done, friend!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
To some including myself, a lower is a lower is a lower except for those crappy polymer ones. I have some from Stag, PSA, RRA, Spikes, and S&W to name a few. If your close to PSA they usually have lowers for about $89 and sometimes offer blems for $20-30 less. They actually have a fairly decent lower parts kit for under $100 as well. AR15sales.com has Stag uppers for about $400 and they are as good as anyone elses and offer a lifetime warranty. So for about $600 you can piece together a quality ar that would run $900-1000 if purchased assembled.
This is great information. Thank you for providing the sources. I'll definitely check them out. I live about an hour from PSA so I'm thinking of riding over one Saturday to see what they have in-store. Their website has limited stock, but I'm going to check out their operation in-person and see what I can dig up.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you guys for your help so far.
 

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I am not the outstanding photographer HappilyAddicted is but here are some cell phone pics of mine. The great thing about ARs is that you can go many different directions. I decided to make a simple range gun, so I had no need for rails. I want to see if I can get some distance out of this gun. All I have left to get is a nice Bipod and may be a new trigger.

As Happily said I would be more than willing to help as well. Someone else mention already a stripped lower is a stripped lower doesn't really matter who makes it. The components and the upper is what really matters

Ps my wife would kill me if I didn't mention this. That's not a stain on the carpet it is the way the carpet is matted. And sorry my funky toe is in the shot.




 

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Discussion Starter #13
I am not the outstanding photographer HappilyAddicted is but here are some cell phone pics of mine. The great thing about ARs is that you can go many different directions. I decided to make a simple range gun. I had no need for rails. All I have left to get is a nice Bipod.

Ps my wife would kill me if I didn't mention this. That's not a stain on the carpet it is the way the carpet is matted. And sorry my funky toe is in the shot.




Great-looking build. Weird toes, but the gun is cool... LOL! Nah, I'm kidding. Thanks for sharing! I'm going to try and get over to PSA this Saturday and see about picking up a stripped lower. Nowhere in town carries them and I'm not having a lot of luck online. I'd rather pick it up in person to save the transfer and shipping fees. A $99 lower can turn into a $160 lower really quickly with shipping and transfer fees (my LGS charges $35 for those).
 

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I am not the outstanding photographer HappilyAddicted is but here are some cell phone pics of mine. The great thing about ARs is that you can go many different directions. I decided to make a simple range gun, so I had no need for rails. I want to see if I can get some distance out of this gun. All I have left to get is a nice Bipod and may be a new trigger.

As Happily said I would be more than willing to help as well. Someone else mention already a stripped lower is a stripped lower doesn't really matter who makes it. The components and the upper is what really matters

Ps my wife would kill me if I didn't mention this. That's not a stain on the carpet it is the way the carpet is matted. And sorry my funky toe is in the shot.




Great looking rifle Rivers. Is that a Nikon scope? If so, which model?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Okay guys... Today was payday so I picked up a lower from my LGS. I ended up with a Surplus Ammo & Arms stripped lower. It was a couple bucks cheaper than some of the other offerings and seems to have a great fit and finish. I didn't see any weird machining marks or seams. All of the edges have a nice finish and are rounded evenly and cleanly. After getting it home I did notice one small blemish in the finish, which is slightly annoying, but it's my first build so I think I'll just let it be and work on it as-is. I had briefly expressed some interest in having it cerakoted when I was in the shop as I was undecided about colors on the build (thinking of adding some OD green components and considered cerakoting the receiver green) and he said he'd media blast it and cerakote it for $35. If the blemish bothers me enough, I may just have that done. Otherwise, the rollmarks are high quality and I can't find any reason to dislike it.

I'm ordering an LPK from Palmetto State Armory next week and am excited to get started on my build.

Here are a few photos of the lower. I'll try and post my progress as I get it completed. I appreciate all of the help and insight from you guys so far! Keep the info coming! Just FYI, any white specks in the photos are just dust and debris from the styrofoam wrap that was around the lower. You can see the blemish just to the left of the word "Multi". It looks much worse in the photo than it does in person. I'm not too worried about it at this point.





 

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My next build. I know its a file photo but didn't feel like digging mine out of the safe and taking pic.
 

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Discussion Starter #17


My next build. I know its a file photo but didn't feel like digging mine out of the safe and taking pic.
That is absolutely hilarious. Love it man!
 

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I don't know what I'm going to do with this one. I already have a 16" flattop carbine, a 16" piston carbine, a 6.8 SPC, a .300 ACC Blackout, a 24" stainless bullbarrel 5.56, a .22lr, and a .40S&W.
 

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Discussion Starter #20


Here's my AR starter kit. Its only 6 of my 7 and my 2 spare lowers. My son has my other one. :D
Good grief... You guys have all the fun! Just send me that third one from the right and I'll be good to go.
 
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