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First AR: Buy or Build?

Discussion in 'Black Rifle Forum' started by NewGlocker28, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. NewGlocker28


    Nov 26, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Hey guys.

    Hoping to get my first AR sometime in 2011. To be honest I don't know a ton about them but will probably be looking to acquire a "mid level" rifle.

    In theory I like the idea of building my AR. I like that I can space out the cost and order parts here and there until I have everything and then really understand the rifle inside and out by putting it together myself. Sounds pretty good right? Unfortunately I'm not much of a handyman and didn't earn an "A" in shop class. I have very few tools and no garage or workbench, vice grips, etc.

    So my question to you guys is, what would I need tool wise to build an AR and how difficult is it? Or am I better off just buying a fully assembled rifle from one of the mid level companies (Stag, Bushmaster, etc). I know there's the option of buying a complete lower and complete upper and putting those together.

    Also, if I decided to go with something prebuilt, how easy it is to change things such as the buttstock, handguards, pitsol grib. Basically if I get bored with all black and want to throw some OD Green on, is that a fairly easy process.

    I know there's a lot in this post and thanks for reading. Appreciate any and all comments and suggestions as I look to get more knowledgable on the AR this year.

  2. boomhower


    Feb 14, 2010
    North Carolina
    Building a lower isn't rocket science and just takes a few handtools. Take a look at some videos on youtube and see if it's something your interested in. Building an upper is a whole different ballgame and not likely something you want to jump into right away.

    I'm lazy and just bought a complete upper and lower, both DD. It was cheaper than just buying the rifle in whole.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010

  3. raven11


    Jan 27, 2009
    I would buy your first AR, something backed with a lifetime warranty. most people that live in my area they end up tricking out their one AR then realize a year later that they have enough parts to build their own AR

    it is not hard to build one but if you aren't very mechanically adapt or already have some experience with them then I would buy my first rifle just to see how everything works
  4. mac66

    mac66 Huge Member Millennium Member

    Oct 28, 1999
    Blue Planet
    Good time to build IMO. Prices are pretty favorable right now.

    A build generally involves putting together a lower receiver and then connecting an already assembled upper to the lower. Lower receivers are easy to assemble. All parts pretty much just fall into place. Swapping parts, stocks, hand guards etc it equally easy.

    I say, go for it. Be warned however that once you do it is addicting. I've put 8 rifles together and just itch to build more.
  5. NeverMore1701

    NeverMore1701 Fear no Evil Platinum Member

    Jun 25, 2004
    Amarillo, Tx
    For your first, I'd say buy a complete upper and lower and put them together. Save a little that way, but don't have to worry about messing anything up. Get to know the system, and build your next one if you want to.
  6. Alcoy


    Jul 13, 2006
    ^^^ This. Check
  7. FatBoy

    FatBoy Millennium Member

    Sep 2, 1999
  8. TedG

    TedG Infidel USA

    If you want to save a lot of time, there's a brand new BCM mid-length for less than a grand on GB. You'll want one eventually, so you might as well do it now. Good luck.

  9. AFPD118

    AFPD118 NRA Memeber CLM

    Jun 28, 2001
    Burlington, NY, USA
    Take a good look at Stag Arms, very good ARs and parts incl complete uppers and lowers for the money.
  10. nastytrigger

    nastytrigger Mediocre Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Build. Or just assemble. Assembling a stripped lower is pretty easy. Buy the upper of your choice and your good-to-go. That's the easiest way. It's how I did my Bushmaster/LMT/BCM SBR.
  11. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    No way I would attempt to build my first. Without any experience at all with ARs I really didn't know what I wanted. Now that I've owned one I have some better ideas of what I really want long-term.
  12. alexanderg23


    May 13, 2009
    NW AR Get a complete lower and complete upper from them if you think you like them you can get the upper anyway you want it.
  13. Being I am new to the AR world, I bought my first AR. A S&W M&P15TS.


    Although now that I have become familiar with the AR platform, I will certainly built my next AR.
  14. boomhower


    Feb 14, 2010
    North Carolina
    Forgot a suggestion.

    Go to and order 16" Lightweight midlength upper with your choice of Lite or Omega X rail, add a BCG, CH, and rear site. Next go to and order a blem lower. Top flight AR for midtier money.
  15. dlupini

    dlupini Capt

    Buy a complete upper and build the lower.

    this is what I did:

    I got the Stag 2H Rifle Kit Less Stripped Lower and bought a stripped lower at the local shop. (BTW if you mention that your are an member you will get a discount)
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  16. to echo some of what's been said, i'd buy an upper and build the lower. i got all my parts and watched the videos and built my lower -- disappointingly easy. the upper however has some tricky things to adjust/fit correctly. if you have all the tools and someone to call on it's not that hard, but for the first shot out of the box i'd by the upper.

    cost was a big consideration for me, so i bought a good barrel and Bolt Carrier Group (i bought a Bravo Company BCG). All said and done it turned out very well, but i could have bought cheaper if i had the money for a complete upper at the time.

    P.S. i'm a fan of Plum Crazy (polymer) complete lower. i have three now, one is a dedicated .22lr AR. they are a great way to get started and save, and you can upgrade as you feel the need (and have the funds). go to "" and check out their price.
  17. BBJones


    Mar 2, 2010
    +1. Get quality for your first build and these are great parts for great prices.'s deal on DD uppers is outstanding.

    Only things you need to decide is:
    gas system - I recommend mid-length over carbine
    rail length - depends on your use and if you get a FSB
    FSB - yes or no
    barrel profile
    sight setup - if you get a FSB only need a rear. If you go lo-pro gas block, need both front and rear.
  18. 1811guy

    1811guy Formerly1811guy2

    May 1, 2001
    Buy. Preferably a Colt or other high quality AR. It will make your first shooting experience very positive. After shooting and handling one for a while you will get a better idea of what you would want for a custom build and can get one. Assembling an AR is a piece of cake provided you use quality parts and the proper tools.
  19. 1811guy

    1811guy Formerly1811guy2

    May 1, 2001
    Yes I said it, buy a COLT. They really are that damned good. Those who say otherwise obviously do not own one.:supergrin:
  20. screaminbeagle


    Dec 20, 2008
    build the lower.....i thought it would be a fun challenge but i was's so easy a blind caveman can do was fun,though....don't forget the disconnector spring...
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010