Thursday, August 25, 2016

AR Build Tips

When I was a kid I liked to build models. The more parts and detail the better. I had models of cars, planes, spacecraft, and even an aircraft carrier. I loved to build with my Toggel set, my Lincoln log set, and an erector set. You’d think I’d be an engineer but that doesn’t interest me. Naturally I built an AR-15. In 1955 when Eugene Stoner first built an infantry rifle for the Army, I’m sure he did not envision that his gun would be the most prolific civilian sporting rifle in modern firearm history.
The design is a natural for being customized. With so many manufacturers of parts and accessories, it is so easy to build a one-of-a-kind firearm. Remember "AR15s are like LEGOs for grownups."
Here are some tips for your first rebuild.
First, why are you building the gun? What will it be used for? Competition? Plinking? Self-defense? Will it be multi-purpose? Making these decisions will help you to start your first step.
Next pick a realistic budget. You can build a good quality AR for little money or you can get very detailed and spend $2,000! Once you decide your budget keep to it as best you can. Your first gun should be what you want, but you shouldn’t wonder how you will pay for it while you’re building it. Beside the parts specialty tools should be considered in your budget.
“The right tool for the right job” is a saying that is worth minding when building AR’s. Along with standard tooling such as brass punches and hammers, a bench vise and a torque wrench, you’ll need AR specific tools and equipment including a takedown wrench and receiver action blocks. A clutter free work area with a gun maintenance mat is highly recommended. Keeping the work area floor space clean will prevent long stoppages in the build process as you search for a single spring that rolled off the bench.
Experimenting with uncommon parts from specialty manufacturers should be kept to a minimum in your first build. Save that for your fifth gun.
Consider buying only “Mil-Spec” parts from a reputable retailer. Mil-Spec designated parts are in compliance with the dimensional and material requirements of the military, ensuring compatibility across manufacturers. Avoid custom variations; these parts might need extra fine tuning for proper fitting.
On your first build don’t go nuts. The aftermarket parts and accessories are very tempting. There are some parts that are works of art. You can also have lasers, flashlights, optics, tripods, and grips hanging off your gun. Remember not only your budget, but the role you want for your rifle.
Another thing to consider is how important accuracy is. AR15s vary in accuracy by quite a bit. They can range anywhere from ¼ MOA to 3 MOA. A lot of the accuracy obviously has a lot to do with the barrel you choose. A barrel does not have to cost $500.00 to be a good, accurate barrel. You can achieve a sub 1 MOA with a mid range cost barrel. And contrary to popular belief, a longer barrel is not a whole lot more accurate than a shorter barrel in most cases. What you may gain in accuracy will be lost in mobility and weight.
When thinking about how accurate you weapon needs to be, remember again the role of the weapon.
Reliable feed is another area that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of low cost lower receivers on the market that are very good. There are a few that are only good for paper weights. A good lower should either be forged or billet. Never use a cast lower receiver. They can be unreliable and weak. Polymer is a good alternative. You can get an 80% lower, which you would have to finish (they send the jig and tools) or build from scratch.
Remember, you can always build another one!
When I built my first AR it was in a fully stocked armorers shop. He had machine shop tools and everything a gunsmith would want or need. It was sooooo easy. It was not reality. Be careful that you don’t get sucked into a build. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, on the contrary, I encourage building guns! Just don’t get in over your head. Building rifles is a hobby within a hobby. It can take a lot of your money and a load of your time. Be sure you’re in a position to do this. On the other hand, if are ready for it, it is a rewarding and money saving project if done right. Start off slow, ask a lot of questions from people who know, watch You tube, and check out websites… like this one.
Semper Paratus
Check 6