Building an AR


85_Ranger4x4

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A few years ago I priced one out in 6.8 for deer hunting... decided it was a waste of money for that and went a different route and they since killed the rifle season anyway.

Then a few weeks ago I was strolling through a gun show and found a stripped lower for cheap, I think it was about $65. I didn't look at it that close at the time but the more I thought about it the more it got the wheels turning for a slow moving plinker project.

That is pretty stinking cheap... but I know all things are not created equal. Didn't know if it was junk or what, I see Brownelles has a "mil-spec" lower for $65 so it should be fairly plausible to get a decent stripped lower for that kind of money.

What should I look for in one? Mil-spec good? If nothing else I think it would mean it isn't a freak and that this mil-spec part will fit with that mil-spec part without someone getting their proprietary ideas in the mix. Not looking to build anything extravagant here either.
 
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shortzt

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I know you're talking about lowers but check palmetto state armory's website they have a good price on uppers on clearance and I am very very pleased with mine I'll dig out some receipts the last one I built from scratch cost like $450 ish
 

85_Ranger4x4

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Yeah, I have heard good things from them before and there are a couple barreled receivers that have potential. Deciding what all I want for the barrel length, bolt carrier/charging handle and rifle twist though.

They don't have much in stock at the moment though, especially for barrels longer than 16".

I may get braver about checking headspace between here and there and put the upper together too, got awhile to turn that over though.
 
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shortzt

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Make sure you get the chrome lined barrel they have some uppers that's aren't,
 

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shortzt

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Out of all the lowers all I have to say is stay away from polymer ones, also a full auto bolt will shoot just fine and operate like a semi auto bolt but usually you can find them cheaper,
 

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Yeah, the plastic lowers have "bad idea" written all over them. Didn't know if some brands of metal were worth avoiding as I shop at gun shows though.
 
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JoshT

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A few years ago I priced one out in 6.8 for deer hunting... decided it was a waste of money for that
How so? I built a 6.8 upper for mine just before this last season and it did great. First year taking more than one deer, and all three were taken with a 6.8 SPC AR. They weren't bang-drop, but I blame that on my shot placement and none went more than 30 yards.


What should I look for in one? Mil-spec good? If nothing else I think it would mean it isn't a freak and that this mil-spec part will fit with that mil-spec part without someone getting their proprietary ideas in the mix. Not looking to build anything extravagant here either.
For the most part mil-spec just means that it meets the military minimum spec standards, which are almost 50 years old. There is nothing wrong with mil-spec parts, but that doesn't mean that there isn't better for your purposes. The biggest place that mil-spec comes into play is for the buffer tube and stock. Better to go with mil-spec stock and buffer tube if you want interchangeable and largest selection of stocks available.


I know you're talking about lowers but check palmetto state armory's website they have a good price on uppers on clearance and I am very very pleased with mine I'll dig out some receipts the last one I built from scratch cost like $450 ish
PSA has good stuff at good prices, but even they can be beat at times. Recently the best price Ive seen on a stripped lower was at Cheaper than Dirt. Andersen stripped lower for $45. Joeboboutfitters has Andersen blems for the same price.

Deciding what all I want for the barrel length, bolt carrier/charging handle and rifle twist though.

They don't have much in stock at the moment though, especially for barrels longer than 16".

I may get braver about checking headspace between here and there and put the upper together too, got awhile to turn that over though.

If you buy you barrel from a good manufacturer with the bolt assembly, they will come set for the correct head space already. Optimal barrel length for a 6.8 is 16". For .223/5.56 I think you can pretty much take your pick. Twist rate on the .223/5.56 really needs to be matched to the bullet, so it'll depends on what you plan to do with it. On a 6.8 spc 1-10 or 1-11 is pretty much ideal.

Honestly depending on what you want to do with the rifle you may not want longer than 16". I have a 20" barrel on my 5.56 upper. While that extra length can be good for accuracy, I hate it for walking around in the woods, it snags on everything. The longest practical I ever have is about 150 yards so the extra length is really a waste, so I have good mind to replace the barrel with a 16".

While shopping for small parts, also check out ebay. Many of you small non critical parts can be found there for really good prices. Things like ejection port cover assembly, forward assist assembly, and charging handle are perfectly fine to go cheap e-bay. I'm also using a NiB bolt carrier, firing pin, cam, and retaining pin from e-bay and they are working great.

Your shopping list would be nice, but I recommend changing a few things. Free float handguard would be the first change. If you were going to run a scope I would replace the gas block with a low profile.
 

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Aside from getting an AR platform legal to hunt deer in Iowa cheaper than an AR-10 I couldn't find many merits for the 6.8 vs other calibers with a bolt action.

I got a new Ruger 30-06 for a little over half the cost of a 6.8 upper at the time. I got that two years ago and last year I got a nice scope for it... and as of 2014 hunting season I have no more rifle deer season anyway. :annoyed:

.223/5.56 is something cheap to go shoot with for fun, that is about the end of it.

For the lower I was just going to troll gunshows. I would rather pay a guy $65 outright and look it over in person than pay $45 somewhere, then freight, then transfer fees...

I don't need a vertical grip, flashlight or any of that other stuff to require a rail. I like the look of that forearm, I might change it between here and there. The other ones are supposed to be better for heat but I don't like to really shoot fast anyway.

For the barrel/twist while I don't really intend to hunt with it I don't want to be hobbled to light bullets should I want to use it as a varmint gun. From what I have read the 1:7 should be ok with that.

Kinda toying with the idea of going open sights actually, I always liked the looks of the carry handle sight... that might change and I realize the front gas block/sight would have to change accordingly.

It took me a year to get a scope on my Ruger, this thing won't be built in a day either :icon_thumby:
 
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JoshT

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I think I've got a little over 500 in my 6.8 spc upper, but I splurged on components. I could have gone with a cheaper barrel, bolt, and hand guard and had just as accurate of a rifle for under $400.

Free float guard does a lot more than heat, and having one doesn't mean that you have to have a rail.

Anything touching the barrel puts pressure on the barrel, any pressure on the barrel affects POI and accuracy. Hand guards that touch the barrel affect this a lot. Anything you attach to or touch with those hand guards affect it a a lot as well. I'm not just talking about lights, grips, and other rail mounted accessories. regular hunting and shooting accessories like bi-pods, slings, shooting rest bags, and your hands can also affect it. Using a free float hand guard (with or without rails) disconnects most of these factors from the barrel, but still gives you a place to attach them.

My first AR upper was a 5.56 20" military style upper with the two piece hand guard. my only attachment was a short rail section to attach a bi-pod. That eventually came off and was replaced with a swivel stud. I thought that rifle was an accurate shooter. When I installed a free float hand guard it became apparent that it originally shot like shit. On the current hand guard the only attachments I have are a sling stud, and a 3" section of rail so I can attach a light for hog hunting.

If you are going to try the carry handle with sights, get a flat top upper with removable hand guard. I can guarantee that you will decide to go with different sights, and the options suck with a carry handle upper. I'd also recommend a railed gas block with removable front sight. With iron sights you probably won't notice the difference between attached and free float hand guards as much, but it's still there.
 
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85_Ranger4x4

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Picked up an Anderson lower last night at a gunshow. :D

Definitely going with the flat top upper so I don't paint myself in a corner down the road for other options.

I have been looking around to piece it out to maybe get an upper housing to match my lower. Not really locked into anything for sure yet, probably won't get too serious until I get to that point and see what is available then.

I haven't found much for floating handguards that I really like the price, most start at $150 and go up from there. My brother's off the shelf DPMS Oracle is MOA with the split handguards so I don't know if it is really that big of a deal.

I have three scoped rifles, kinda think it would be fun to have one with iron sights, I like the look of the A2 style sights so far... dunno about the whole taper pin install if I build my own upper though.
 
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shortzt

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Just along the ar15 line I thought it was really neat and pretty cheap for a CNC that will take g code, look up the "ghost gunner" its $1200
 

JoshT

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Andersen's are nice, we recently got two of them from CTD for $45 each.

I don't know what you'd be looking for in free float guard, but there are several nice options for $100 or less. Cheap one with a top rail that I've heard a lot of good things about is the UTG Pro series, it's a nice hand guard that's made in the USA, not in China like a lot of their stuff.

I personally run Nordic Components hand guards because I like the looks, and the ability to add rail sections later. The hand guards run less than a hundred, but the rail sections do add to it.

Don't get a taper pin gas block. Many of the aftermarket gas blocks don't use taper pins, in fact most either clamp on or use set screws. One of mine clamps on, the other uses set screws, never had a problem with either and never heard of problems from people that properly clean and maintain their firearms. They even make A2 front sights that clamp on.

I think I'd go for a railed gas block and a removable A2 style sight. I know I've seen them before, but I'd have to do some hunting to find it again.
 

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The problem with the upper is I haven't really decided what I want yet. The gas block with a rail has potential. I have concerns of the clamp on staying put. If I go with sights on the forearm cheap may not be the best route. If I go with a sight on the gas block or change my mind on the scope cheap would probably be fine.
 

85_Ranger4x4

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Anyone know of good place to shop for barrels?

I do like the looks of the FN barrels Palmetto sells but when they are not in stock there is no pricing...

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/10141/category/3379/

I would like an Anderson upper to go with my lower but it doesn't seem very feasible with what I am finding.

With a $170 Anderson barrel I am $130 more piecing the upper out at the moment over just going with a Palmetto upper already put together. That is a lot of leeway to upgrade the forearm. I can find no reviews good bad or ugly on the Anderson barrel either. I don't know how much closer I can get it because really $170 isn't really a ton of money for a barrel either...

Edit: They must have gotten barrels in, really puts the kibosh on building the upper:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/10141/category/3379/

vs

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/psa-16-mid-length-premium-stripped-upper-no-bcg-ch.html

Basically I pay for the stripped upper ($60) and then everything else is free by buying a complete upper.
 
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