So you have decided you want to build your own AR. You have watched a ton of YouTube videos and decided that it doesn’t look too difficult and you’re ready to take the plunge. But where do you start? What components do you buy? How do I know I have everything I need?
First you need to answer some questions.
- What is the intended purpose of your build? Hunting, target shooting, home defense, competition shooting? Let the purpose drive the build.
- What tools will I need? I recommend a decent AR building set of tools. You will spend $150+ on these, but you will use them for general maintenance and upgrades. Also lets be honest, nobody ever builds just one AR….LOL
- What is my budget. Set a budget but expect to go over it, I did with my first just, by a couple hundred but it will happen.
- What are all of the parts I need to buy? This is the million dollar question. Nobody wants to get started on a build and realize you forgot to buy a gas tube and have to wait a week for one to be delivered to you. Or trudge around trying to find one in stock at a gun store.
Here is a list of all components you will need at a minimum:
Upper Receiver Assembly
- Upper Receiver: You have some choices here. Forged vs. Billet. Stripped vs. Complete. $50-250+
- Upper Parts Kit: Forward Assist and Dust Cover. Don’t need if you buy a complete upper. $20-50
- Charging handle: Mil-Spec to Ambidextrous. $15 to 80+
- Bolt carrier group: Choices, Coatings, Steel Grades, Calibers, and Weights. $80-250+
- Barrel: Choices, Steel Grades, Calibers, Twist Rates, Lengths and Gas Lengths. $100-500+
- Handguards: Choices, Materials, Lengths, Mounting Systems, Styles. $80-300+ ( mounting hardware)
- Muzzle Devices: Choices, Flash Hiders, Compensators, Brakes. Materials, styles, $30-200+ (crush washer)
- Gas Block: Choices, Standard or Adjustable. Materials, Coatings, Mounting Styles. $20-100+
- Gas Tube: Matched to Gas Length System on Barrel. Stainless or Nitrided. $10-25+ ( roll pin )
Lower Receiver Assembly
- Lower Receiver: Choices, Billet vs. Forged $50-250+
- Lower Parts Kit: Choices, Coatings, Grades of Steel. This is all the small components you will need to complete the lower receiver. $50-150+
- Butt Stock Kit. Butt Stock, Buffer Tube, Buffer, Buffer Spring, Back Plate, Castle Nut. Choices are too numerous to list. Can vary based on state law. Do your research. $50-200+
- Magazines based on caliber chosen and capacity of cartridges it holds. This can vary by state law. Again do your research. $15-30+
- Ammo. Based on caliber chosen. Ammo prices are crazy right now and availability is limited. Good luck is all I can say…
- Gun Case, Range Bag. Tons of options and styles, have fun making a decision LOL. They are typically $50-200+, and I don’t know of a single range that will let you walk in with an un-cased weapon.
- Sights: Iron Sights to Red Dots to Scopes. You have more choices here than any other category. Let the purpose decide the choice again. Research is your friend. $50-1,000s
This is by no means a complete list of all available options or upgrades but this checklist will get you everything you need to build a rifle and start shooting… As you can see from pricing you can spend $600 or you can spend $1,000s it’s up to you. Typically as with most things the more you pay the better quality you get. There are still a few companies out there making quality American products at affordable prices. If your build comes in under $500 I wouldn’t bet your life on it. That is range toy prices. The top 4 places to spend your money in my opinion are 1. Barrel 2. Bolt carrier group. 3. Lower parts kit. 4. Receivers.
As always shoot straight, be safe, and have fun.