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AR Poll- AR Newb with no Clue

Build or Buy?   56 members have voted

  1. 1. Build my own AR or buy?

    • Build my own AR
      35
    • Buy an entry level AR (m&p15)
      22

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59 posts in this topic

In the next few weeks to months I want to get an AR style rifle.

 

I am more into handguns, owning many from Glocks, rugers, smith and Wessons and sigs.

 

I own a 12 gauge and Remington .270 for deer hunting.

 

The only thing missing is an AR. I used to have a mp15-22 which I loved, but sold it during last years AR craze. Made a nice little chunk of change on the sale.

 

I have read many of the forums and topics on building, mil-spec vs commercial. All informative, all making me more confused. It doesn't matter if my AR is mil- spec or commercial, but want it to be reliable.

 

It will be used as a plinker, 50-100 yards, and if the need ever came around, home defense.

 

Please let me know what you think. I wanna spend less than 700, and know I can pick up a mp15 sport model out the door for under 700.

 

The forums are a great place for information and opinions so help a fellow shooter out!

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I had the same dilemma, didn't have one, but i wanted one. i looked at some entry level rifles, and some more expensive ones. i decided for the money i was going to spend, i would rather build my own. I will have the parts that I want, and the knowledge to service it when needed all in one swoop.

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IMO build it. You'll have fun, customize the gun to your liking, and gain intimate knowledge of how everything works along the way. When I build my first one I used this guide http://www.ar15.com/content/guides/assembly/lower/ , there's tons of info out there, even vids.

 

You can get  a budget base model M&P for $700, or you may want to think about extending that budget another hundred or two. You'll be able to choose the parts you want, and have stuff like full magpul furniture which IMO is much nicer then stock CAR style stuff.

 

I'm not going to tell what the "best" stuff is as that can be subjective, but I can tell you that I have chosen to make my AR builds with stuff like Spike's lowers along with Bravo Company and Palmetto State Armory full uppers. Furniture and rail systems are up to you, lots of good stuff out there. I'd just stay away from the unbranded stuff. I can't stay enough good things about magpul... affordable, quality, functional. Rail systems will set you back much more, but its a decision you should make when you choose an upper. Get one with the rail system that you want already installed if you can. Will set you back anywhere from another $250 to the moon.

 

16" barrels make for a great multi-purpose rifle. You could even go with a 14.5 with a factory pinned brake to make it 16". Don't forget any full upper you buy, you have to either have the seller pin a brake before shipping, or you can take the upper with a brake of your choice to a NJ smith to have it pinned for you. Usually another $30 or so service.

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Look under the rifle forums, AR subsection.  Tons of info there.  I have been thinking about the same thing.  Everyone says they are easy to build but expect to spend some money on tools in addition to the gun parts.

 

Unless you are building the upper, you don't need special tools other then some punches and a small hammer to use with punches. It is for this reason that I always purchase my uppers assembled.

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IMO build it. You'll have fun, customize the gun to your liking, and gain intimate knowledge of how everything works along the way. When I build my first one I used this guide http://www.ar15.com/content/guides/assembly/lower/ , there's tons of info out there, even vids.

 

You can get  a budget base model M&P for $700, or you may want to think about extending that budget another hundred or two. You'll be able to choose the parts you want, and have stuff like full magpul furniture which IMO is much nicer then stock CAR style stuff.

 

I'm not going to tell what the "best" stuff is as that can be subjective, but I can tell you that I have chosen to make my AR builds with stuff like Spike's lowers along with Bravo Company and Palmetto State Armory full uppers. Furniture and rail systems are up to you, lots of good stuff out there. I'd just stay away from the unbranded stuff. I can't stay enough good things about magpul... affordable, quality, functional. Rail systems will set you back much more, but its a decision you should make when you choose an upper. Get one with the rail system that you want already installed if you can. Will set you back anywhere from another $250 to the moon.

 

16" barrels make for a great multi-purpose rifle. You could even go with a 14.5 with a factory pinned brake to make it 16". Don't forget any full upper you buy, you have to either have the seller pin a brake before shipping, or you can take the upper with a brake of your choice to a NJ smith to have it pinned for you. Usually another $30 or so service.

I appreciate the info, and it appears we live in the same town.

 

It all seems too overwhelming to make the choices.

Only thing I would change is the front hand rail. I know the sport doesn't have dust cover or forward assist, but they aren't deal breaks for me.

Mp15 ORC might also be a contender because I can find it for 100 more, and it has the dust cover and forward assist.

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I have an M&P Sport.  Great rifle.  You absolutely do not need the forward assist or dust cover for your purposes.  Mine ran flawlessly through a carbine course (300+ rounds) and has never hiccupped at the range.  I don't think when all is said and done you can build a rifle for the same price (I paid $625 last year).  I put a magpul forend and vertical grip on it and an Eotech, so for roughly $1000 I have what for me is a well balanced, comfortable AR with a top end sight.  If you have a burning desire to spend the time and effort in building the gun, by all means do so.  But the only reason to do it is the enjoyment/education in building the gun.  You won't save any money and, IMO, won't wind up with a rifle that is "better" in any meaningful way.

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I can't tell you what you should do.. but here is what I did.  I bought my first AR used from a member here.  At the time I was completely new to rifles and AR's so the number of options and the thought of building was overwhelming.   I didn't have to sink time into something I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy or worry about whether I built it right..etc.  Instead I had a known-good product that I could go shoot, learn, and have fun with.

 

Fast forward a year and I'm now in the middle of my first build.   Now that I've got a little bit of experience I now understand the options and what they mean.   I will say that building an AR.. at least the lower.. is very easy and I probably could have done it right off the bat.   but in my case I was able to jump right to the shooting part.. and then go back and enjoy the building part once I knew more.

 

I've heard the M&P Sport is nice.. the lack of FA and dust cover isn't that big a deal for most applications (like a range toy or learning platform). 

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I've heard the M&P Sport is nice.. the lack of FA and dust cover isn't that big a deal for most applications (like a range toy or learning platform). 

Just curious, why would the lack of a forward assist and/or dust cover have any relevance to defensive uses that 99.9% of civilians might encounter.  If something goes bump in the night or there is a zombie uprising and an AR is my go to gun , I can't think of a single reason why the M&P sport would be limited to a range toy or any less effective than any other AR in a defensive scenario.   

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Personally, I went with buying a complete rifle at first because i don't know exactly what features I want.  I grabbed an M&P Sport at a good price and a stripped lower.   I'm going to shoot the hell out of the M&P and make notes on what I'd change, what features I'd like, what I don't like, etc, and use that info to build my ideal rifle as find sales on components.   Later, I can sell the M&P.

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Just curious, why would the lack of a forward assist and/or dust cover have any relevance to defensive uses that 99.9% of civilians might encounter.  If something goes bump in the night or there is a zombie uprising and an AR is my go to gun , I can't think of a single reason why the M&P sport would be limited to a range toy or any less effective than any other AR in a defensive scenario.   

It wouldn't, and I agree with you.  In most cases I don't think a dust cover or FA is critical.  Perhaps you misread what I typed?   When I said "range toy or learning platform", I didn't mean to imply the Sport wasn't capable as for home defense.  

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Id go with a Stag.

 

Build it, enough said.

See Legal Transfers for Stag  3H build less lower.  Xmas special on now for $569 shipped.  NJ compliant models available, just ask.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_7_121/1242439_2013_Christmas_Special_Stag_Rifle_Kit_less_stripped_lower_Group_Buy_ends_12_24_2013.html

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for your price point and what you want to do with it i would just go buy something cheap. if you get more into it then you can build exactly what you want. you will be hard pressed to build something decent for $700. building doesnt really pay off until you want something specific and custom.

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I wanted to build an AR from scratch for as cheap as possible a few months. In the end I built two, one lightweight and somewhat economical, and one more premium, heavier and pretty sweet if I say so myself.  

 

I think you can build something with more features, assist, grips, guards, rails that you like even more than the S&W or otherwise, for the same amount of money if you search around for parts kits and complete uppers.

 

Joe

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Personally, I went with buying a complete rifle at first because i don't know exactly what features I want.  I grabbed an M&P Sport at a good price and a stripped lower.   I'm going to shoot the hell out of the M&P and make notes on what I'd change, what features I'd like, what I don't like, etc, and use that info to build my ideal rifle as find sales on components.   Later, I can sell the M&P.

 

That would have been my exact advice: Buy an M&P 15 and a good, cheap lower (ie $60 PSA).

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Nice review, but it's notable that S&W has changed barrels on the Sport since that review.  Now you get a 1/9 chrome-lined barrel.  Still 5.56.

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The answer really depends on how mechanically inclined you are.  If you can put a bicycle together, you can probably build an AR.  I decided to build for two reasons. 1)  I'm getting exactly what I want 2) It seems like fun.  The M&P is a good inexpensive alternative to building but you may run into some issues if you try to customize it later on, it depends on the mod.  Windham is a better choice if you want the ability to perform any mod you want and they don't cost much more.  Mil Spec and commercial are both fine, but you have to pick one or the other, the parts are not interchangeable.  Personally, I'd go with mil spec.  Not because the parts are better, but because there are more parts available.

 

If you decide to build a plinker, start with a stripped lower blem, and the least expensive complete lower parts kit you can get then do the same for the upper.  Blems are 100% reliable and even if you can find the cosmetic flaw it won't made a scrap of difference anyway.  It don't have to be pretty or have an awesome trigger, it just has to work.  Once you have shot, tweaked and cleaned your plinker for a bit and have the whole AR thing down pat, then go for the upgrades.

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Thanks for the input guys. Problem is: I don't know what I want! I have no opinion, just want something for fun, and quality at the same time. And try not to break the bank, a vendor on here has a sport model for 650. I know I can't build one for that.

Somewhat mechanically inclined, tools would be an issue.

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Thanks for the input guys. Problem is: I don't know what I want! I have no opinion, just want something for fun, and quality at the same time. And try not to break the bank, a vendor on here has a sport model for 650. I know I can't build one for that.

Somewhat mechanically inclined, tools would be an issue.

if you have some small screwdrivers and a hammer then you are set for tools.

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That's about all the tools I have.

 

The way I figured it, an AR can be assembled using an average tool kit.  Wrenches, hammers etc.  But there are two things that will make the job a whole lot easier, an armorers wrench and an upper receiver vice block.  Both tools can be had for under $75, a good investment if you plan on working on your own rifle(s).  In one sense, the tools required for building an AR are similar to what you would need to get into reloading.  You can get a Lee reloading kit for $30, very basic, all manual assembly, or you can spend $1,500 for a setup with all the bells lights and whistles.

 

TBH, it sounds like you are trying to talk yourself out of building an AR, which is fine if you don't like doing that sort of thing.  If cost is your primary motivation, you will probably be better off buying a M&P or saving a couple hundred more and getting something like a Windham.  Building your own AR is not terribly difficult, but it is serious business. 

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When I first became interested in an AR (and firearms in general) the whole "thing" was very intimidating. I read countless threads on this very topic and talked myself into buying a complete rifle. Knowing what I know now (which still isnt much at all) Putting together a lower and buying a complete upper is way less difficult then some of the toys Im sure Ill have to put together a month from now. 

 

Im still a bit intimidated by building an upper but I think if I sit in front of youtube long enough Ill be able to get a better understanding of the process and decide from there.

 

I say build it, Good Luck!

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Check out the Black Friday Cyber Monday Deals.

 

If you're leaning more toward buying:

Monmouth Arms has a M&P-15 Sport for $580.http://njgunforums.com/forum/index.php/topic/63331-early-black-friday-sale-today-thru-saturday/

Saw the sale this morning, sent him a reply right away. Also left him a voicemail, waiting to hear back from him.

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FWIW, I am in the same boat.  Or, I was.  I have decided to go the build route.  I just purchased a stripped lower and upper.  I'll be doing the entire rifle my self including the upper.  Head spacing and all.  I'm looking forward to it.  I figure it this way...  I'm going to take my time, watch some youtube videos, and make it fun for me.  I'm not doing it to save money, I'm doing it because I have serious issues with having things configured exactly how I like them.  I also really like using my hands and figuring out how to assemble stuff. 

 

If you are looking to have a good gun that you can shoot RIGHT NOW and will last until you change your mind, get the M&P.  If you want to sell it, it'll go pretty quickly.  Shoot it, decide what you like and don't, and THEN tackle a build. 

 

C

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