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Building a Budget AR-15 Rifle At Home

How Cheap Can You Build An AR-15

Building your own AR-15 rifle based on your preferences could be a good option if you want to own a dependable rifle. But, how cheap can you build an AR-15 rifle? 

Fortunately, our team gathered helpful information on how low you can build your AR-15 without a hassle.

AR-15 is America’s famous rifle because it is a lightweight semi-loading rifle that is very customizable and affordable. It will entirely depend on your choice and comfort if you plan on building an AR-15 because it may take effort and time to build one.

Purchasing a ready-to-use rifle can be easier yet expensive compared to building your own. You can spend thousands of dollars from buying an AR-15, but you can build one for yourself with only a few hundred.

Building An AR-15

3 Things To Consider For Your AR-15 Build

1. Tools & Their Cost 

One of the things you must consider when building your AR-15 is the tools you will need. You must be mindful when buying tools because spending too much on the kit may blow your cost. 

You can spend a total cost of almost $150 for the tools if you want to build the rifle from scratch. Here are the specialized tools you should need to avoid possible damages:

  • Small Hammer $10 – $30
  • AR Armor Tool $20 – $50
  • Vice Block $13 – $15
  • Roll Pin Punches $5 – $7
  • Roll Pin Holders $17 – $20 
  • Pivot Pin Detent Installation Tool $17 – $20 
  • Catch Pin Punch $18 – $20

2. Build Parts & Their Cost 

It would be challenging to score parts for AR at a great value, but it is possible by patiently researching and shopping around a bit. The parts play the biggest role in the cost savings, but you can score all the parts on the average price of $500. 

There is an upper build kit and a lower build kit that you can get at a low price. Listed here are the parts you may need if you want a budget build:

  • PTAC M4- Style Carbine Kit $380 – $420
  • Blemished lower receiver $48 – $52
  • EPT Trigger upgrade $28 – $30

3. Overall Time Spent

The time invested in building the project rifle does not have any monetary value, but it is a consideration if you want budget-minded firearms. You can check the Palmetto State Armory or Brownells to score for the cheapest tools and parts you will need to complete your build. 

The overall time includes research and ordering parts, studying the process, preparing the space, and building it. 

6 AR-15 Essentials

6 AR-15 Essentials

1. Gas System Length

  • Direct Impingement System 

Most standard AR-15 models have a direct impingement system because it is lightweight and has pinpoint precision. It is a system that operates using the power produced by high-pressure gas from your cartridge. It excretes the spent rounds and chamber a new one.

A direct impingement system costs around $180 and is more affordable than a piston system. 

  • Piston System

The piston system is another essential that you will need for your AR build. The piston is fixed in the bolt group, which circulates the operating system of the AR. 

Compared to Direct Impingement systems, they are cooler, cleaner, and more universal with adjustable length. However, piston system prices start around $220, making it more expensive than DIS.

2. Lower Receiver

Cast-Aluminum

Cast aluminum is the most basic lower receiver made from casted aluminum. Once the aluminum is poured into the cast, the final product will produce a loose crystalline structure. You can get a cast aluminum lower at roughly $50. 

It is a good receiver, but we don’t recommend this type because it is not durable

Lower Receiver
  • Forged Aluminum

If you are looking for the most common and the strongest stripped lower receiver and mil-spec trigger, the forged aluminum can be the best option. The forging process for the lower consists of raw aluminum forces the lower to be in the desired shape. 

We strongly recommend a forged aluminum lower because it is durable, and you can purchase one for roughly $90.

  • Polymer 

Polymer is another type of cheap lowers that can be a good option for building rifles. Before, polymer lower had been neglected by many shooters, but polymer became a good option as innovation took place. 

Polymer is a lightweight plastic that is easy to work with and durable. Polymer lower ranges from $60 to $80, which is way cheaper than aluminum.

3. Upper Receiver

Upper receivers include a barrel, system, handguards, ejection port cover, sight block, dust cover, and forward assist. This upper receiver is easier to install than a stripped receiver that needs tools, components, time, and effort.  

An upper receiver costs around $500, but with the right research, you can score one at a very good deal. 

4. Barrel

The barrel is also to consider because the bullet needs an appropriate barrel length to work efficiently. Getting a chrome-lined barrel is prone to gas leakage at the gas block that can damage the system’s functionality. 

On the other hand, a too-short overall length of the barrel has a shoulder stock and may not be enough to force the bolt. For a carbine gas system, get a 16″ barrel for less recoil and smooth cycling that starts from $250.

5. BCG (Bolt Carrier Group)

As your bullet passes the barrel’s gas port, part of the hot gasses will start to flow in the gas tube and head for the bolt carrier group. The bolt carrier is the heart of the AR, so it must work properly. BCGs with high quality can be bought for between $70 to $100. 

There are no specific bolt carriers to use; however, make sure to get the gas block with grade eight fasteners. It will keep the hex bolts on the BCG to keep in place as the pressure passes through.

As your bullet passes the barrel's gas port, part of the hot gasses will start to flow in the gas tube and head for the bolt carrier group. The bolt carrier is the heart of the AR, so it must work properly. BCGs with high quality can be bought for between $70 to $100. There are no specific bolt carriers to use; however, make sure to get the gas block with grade eight fasteners. It will keep the hex bolts on the BCG to keep in place as the pressure passes through.

6. Handguard

There are upper receivers with a nickel finish that come with handguards, but some do not have a complete upper. In that case, there are mil-spec handguards that are cheaper, but there are some accessory-friendly handguards that can serve as your mounting hardware for the rear sight and a muzzle device. 

The handguard price starts roughly at $150, and you can save money instead of buying a pre-built charging handle.

Is It Really Wise To Stay On The Cheap Side?

Is It Really Wise To Stay On The Cheap Side?

It is important to have a clear and wise decision when it comes to building a gun. Not all expensive components guarantee a high-quality rifle. It is why it is important to research, canvass, and prioritize the components that will significantly improve your AR game. 

Staying on the cheap side varies, especially if you wanna build a budget-friendly and reliable complete rifle. There are forward assist, ejection port cover, pistol grip, buffer tube that can stick on the cheap side. However, upper and lower parts kit, barrels, chrome lining, and other components that can affect the gun’s reliability at some point should be at good prices. 

AR owners must consider the reliability and durability of the gun aside from the cost.

FAQS

Yes, it is safe to DIY an AR-15 build. An AR-15 is a customizable and practical rifle [1], and building one is completely safe and doable. Just be reminded to follow safety precautions when dealing with guns.

Yes, it is legal to build and sell an AR-15, given that you secured a license to sell firearms. Building the rifle does not require a license, especially if it is solely for personal use. However, when selling one, you must secure a license to manufacture firearms for distribution.

The cheapest complete AR-15 built on the market is the ATI Omni Maxx P3, which starts at $420. The semi-automatic rifle build consists of stock black, ready optic rifle, and polymer receivers. It is a lightweight and reliable AR-15 but can be pretty standard.

So, Is a Budget AR-15 Build Worth It?

Building an AR-15 can cost around $500 – $900. A DIY AR-15 can be built with affordable, unique, and custom-fitted components making it cheaper than buying one. Building an AR-15 is way cheaper than buying one. Since a standard AR is customizable, you will consider upgrading it in the long run, and building a rifle can help you lessen the cost by hundreds of dollars.

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you had a better idea of how to lower the cost of building other rifles without sacrificing their reliability. Aside from getting a good deal with building your AR-15, assembling your gun will help you fully understand how the gun works. 

Don’t bother getting a standard pistol for home defense if you can save money, build a rifle and customize it simultaneously.

References:

  1. https://www.wired.com/2013/02/ar-15/

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