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Has any one built an AR from one of these? Seems to be making a resurgence, but the ones I have found are more than a finished lower so the only gain for the extra labor and money is the lack of paper work? Any input or experience?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Nobdy likes AR's huh! Or its the thought of building one that scares most folks?
 

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Not really sure what you are asking with your original question. There is paperwork with any AR lower. The lower is the registered part of the AR. There is little to save in purchasing all the parts to build the lower separately. They are easy enough to put together and no special tools needed like there are with the upper. I have built two lowers using Stag lower receivers, DPMS internal parts, and various makes of stocks. The only reason I can see to build a lower yourself is if you want something different than what is offered by one of the major manufacturers. If you want a lower with a collapsible stock or a standard A2 stock you might as well buy it complete, unless you want the experience of putting the puzzle together. Either way you will have the same $$ involved. It used to be cheaper to build it yourself, but that is not true anymore.

Uppers are a different story and I have decided to just buy the complete upper in lieu of buying the tools necessary to put it together. I would much rather trust an upper assembled by a competent manufacturer than to build one without the knowledge necessary to get it right. Not saying I couldn't do it, but by the time I buy the tools needed I will have as much if not more in the build.
 

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Don't know what special tools your referring to in assembling AR uppers. First couple of uppers I assembles used common tools found in my shop. Finally bought one of the special wrenches to remove the barrel nut/delta ring assembly from another rifle. After seeing how its made realize I wasted my money on the tool. I use free float handquards and one spanner wrench for a power tool is same size as the barrel nuts for free fload handguards. Couple scrap pieces of 2x4's and bench vise hold the flat top upper receiver for barrel nut torquing. Some of the tools do make jobs easier but there not absolutely necessary if you use yankee ingenunity.
 

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"Yankee ingenuity" is what can get a southerner killed. Especially when dealing with firearms. Not saying that you have to have armorer's tools to put together an upper, but there are tools made to do this job correctly without damaging the firearm or the shooter. What about "go" and "no go" gauges? How did you check headspace? Lowers are much simpler to assemble and are less likely to kill you if you don't have them assembled correctly. Assemble the gas block/tube incorrectly or have the headspace wrong and you could have a lot of heat, gas, and shrapnel coming back at you. This is why I said there are tools needed to assemble and upper. There will be $100 or less in savings from a factory assembled upper and one hodgepodged together in a basement. The warranty alone is enough reason for me to spend the extra $$ to make sure it is safe and will function as designed.

I build my own target 10/22's from aftermarket parts but I don't consider the risk worth the savings to build an AR upper.
 

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80% lowers are not a firearm so they do not require any paperwork to buy or to finish. However, you do need to read up on the ATFE requirements for making once you complete the firearm, but there is no paperwork that needs to be filed unless you sell it. But you do need some pretty specific skills and equipment. To build just one or two is going to cost you more in the long run than buying a stripped lower and just throwing the parts in. Of course, with the stripped lower you do have paperwork to complete.
The 80% lowers are cheap enough that if you mess one up you won't be out much money, but check the price of the buffer tube tap and that eats up much of the savings there, for just one lower. You need a milling machine and various end mills to finish the lower so unless you have all that, you won't have much success. I suppose you could finish one with a file and a drill press but my time counts for something. And then if you want a hard shell on the aluminum you have to pay to have it anodized. And that is not cheap on a per unit basis.
If you are really interested in pursuing this, go over to AR15.com. There are a lot of people over here who have gone the 80% and even the 0% route so there is a lot of information there for you to read up on.

Building up an AR-15 from parts is very easy and safe. That is total BS about it being dangerous and spoken by someone who has no experience at all with building an AR rifle, that I guarantee you. I have built over 20 for person use and while you do need some tools to do it right, there is nothing dangerous about it. Either the gas tube is right or it won't work. It sure as heck will not blow up. If you use the wrong gas tube, then it won't work. It won't blow up and you would have to be a total idiot to use the wrong gas tube and not know long before you got to the shooting stage. The headspacing is set with the barrel extension and bolt and is it very rare that if you buy a new barrel and bolt, even if from different makers, that they will not headspace correctly. I did buy the headspace gauges and every one of mine checked out perfectly. The only time you are even remotely likely to encounter headspace problems is if you use a used barrel and used bolt. Building the AR-15 from parts is one of the easiest and safest builds you can do. Uppers and lowers are very safe to build and assembly. The only thing you really have to watch is the fire control group. With any set of instructions or FCG you buy, you will get instructions for doing the safety checks. The biggest mistake made is putting the disconnector spring in upside down and the gun doubling. That is not good. So make sure you put it in correctly. The other area is not so much a safety thing, but a function concern. Know what the devil you are doing before you do it. A CAR length barrel does not have a thing to do with the buffer and buffer tube you use. If you use a CAR stock then you must use a CAR buffer tube, buffer, and spring. A rifle length stock then you must use a rifle length buffer, tube, and spring. Putting a CAR barreled upper on a lower with a rifle stock is not a problem nor is putting a rifle length barreled upper on a CAR stocked lower an issue, except it looks funny.
If you are interested in doing an AR build, check out AR15.com in the build it yourself section. It is great but you do tend to catch the black rifle disease easily. I figured I would build one, and that was 20 builds ago. There is just so much you can do, from .17 to .50 caliber, and all on the AR-15 platform. And the accuracy you can get out of the AR-15 will rival most bolt action rifles, all but the highest grade match guns and if you compare a match grade AR to a match grade bolt, you will be in for the run of your life. They are incredibly accurate if you do the tricks and use a quality barrel. But don't expect 1/4 MOA from a $150 barrel. It might to MOA at best, and for 99% of us, that is plenty good enough.

And you do save a ton of money doing your own builds. However, out of pocket price is about the same. Where you save the money is you build the rifle the way you want it from the get-go. If you buy a factory rifle it will be no time at all before you want to start changing things, stock, forend, grips, charging handles... and that is where you spend your extra money buying factory.
To build a lower all you need is a three or four roll pin holders, three or four roll pin punches, and two or three steel punches. If using a CAR Stock you need a CAR wrench to tighten the castle nut, about $10 or less. That is all you need to build a lower.
On an upper you need an upper fixture, about $40 from DPMS. The same roll pin punches and holders work for it as well. You need a barrel wrench for whatever forend you use and that runs about $20 on average. A torque wrench is good for the anal but you really don't need one. The most expensive item I can think of that I recommend you getting is a lapping tool to true up the front of the uppers receiver's threads so they will be perfectly square to the upper. That tool is about $35-40. That makes sure that when you put on your barrel and forend, the barrel will be centered and your sights don't have to be cranked way over to get the rifle to zero. I have used this tool on every upper I have done and found all of them not to be perfectly true from the maker, be it an $80 DPMS upper or the $225 VLTOR billet machined upper. ALL of them needed some truing so brand doesn't mean squat. Square up the front of the threads that the barrel extension butts up against and your sights will zero centered and your barrel will be centered in the forend. Don't square it up and you will probably be OK, but if not, that is where your problem is. It is not a dangerous condition though, just aggravating.
 

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Ok you can probably do it with a hand drill if your good. But anyone with a drill press and a medium size vise can do it in an hour. I saw an ad in shotgun New last week for a carbon fiber lower that was good to go. just have it sent to you FFL. $65.00 The cheapest I have seen an 80% lower is like $80 dollars from ARES and they said there prices are going up. Looks kinda like a big loop hole for the bad guys. or the good guys who knows. FYI I now have ten of them but I got them way cheaper that the 80 I bought mine for less than 50 each. plus I own a big mill a 9x42 jet. all but three of those are in one of those plastic storage containers under the dirt. FYI I did not even bury them on my land. go find them Barbra and diane.PS you can still get those in CA CA land dray
 

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Hail stone when they talk about an 80% lower they mean the lower part of an AR that has not been finished. you have to drill it out and mill it some or take a file to it to finish it up. Go to your favorite search engine and do a search for an 80% lower for next time then you will know what the rest of us are talking about. it make it more fun to join the conversation when you are on the same page right??

dray
 

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boonedocker you had not asked a question that you and everyone already knew the answer too. so why touch it. 80% lowers are the way to thumb your nose at the man. But like my billet lowers I bought to build mine out of. It cost me more than I would have to spend at the local gun shop.

dray
 

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An 80% lower is basically a chunk of metal that vaguely looks like the lower receiver to an AR-15 or an M-16. I've seen them in raw forged shape (for example, no magazine well at all) all the way to fairly finished, still needing the deft touch of someone with a lathe, vertical mill and broaching mill. They are for men who have the time, the patience, the skill, the precision machines and the boundless love of the entire process to make their own firearm. I've seen them go for about a hundred bucks at gunshows. If you don't have all of the above attributes and machines, an 80% lower makes a really good paperweight...
 

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80% and 95% lowers are just about identical depending on the manufacturer, 80% or 95% is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Either one can be completed with a drill press, jigs and some simple tools. If you are looking for a project and plan on keeping the firearm it can be a fun but expensive project. You can buy a quality complete receiver for less than a hundred dollars that will have value if you ever need to sell the firearm. For those who think the uncompleted lowers are untraceable ALL online sales paid with a credit card can be traced.
 

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Not really sure what you are asking with your original question. There is paperwork with any AR lower. The lower is the registered part of the AR. There is little to save in purchasing all the parts to build the lower separately. They are easy enough to put together and no special tools needed like there are with the upper. I have built two lowers using Stag lower receivers, DPMS internal parts, and various makes of stocks. The only reason I can see to build a lower yourself is if you want something different than what is offered by one of the major manufacturers. If you want a lower with a collapsible stock or a standard A2 stock you might as well buy it complete, unless you want the experience of putting the puzzle together. Either way you will have the same $$ involved. It used to be cheaper to build it yourself, but that is not true anymore.

Uppers are a different story and I have decided to just buy the complete upper in lieu of buying the tools necessary to put it together. I would much rather trust an upper assembled by a competent manufacturer than to build one without the knowledge necessary to get it right. Not saying I couldn't do it, but by the time I buy the tools needed I will have as much if not more in the build.
By now you probably know the information you wrote in this post is wrong. An 80% finished receiver does not have to be registered when you buy it, it doesn't need a serial number on it. The catch is you can run into trouble if you buy more than 5 of these receivers, and once you make a rifle, you can not sell it. The reason you buy this kind of a receiver is because you do not have to do paperwork on it and there is no record of you owning it unless you buy it with a credit card.
 

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As in the other post you can buy as many of these as you want there is no restriction because it isn't regulated. A completed receiver/rifle can be sold you just cant manufacture it for sale. Selling one opens you up to a whole lot of liability and legal scrutiny.
 

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Necromancer.
 
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