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So I have decided to build my first AR Lower and maybe the upper as well and I have a few questions.

1. What is the best way to determine the overall length when buying parts?

2. What tools are required and where to buy them? I assume I can buy a majority of them from Lower but I am open to suggestions.

3. Is assembling the upper as easy as it looks or are there hidden gremlins to be found in every step?

I am also open to any other advice or suggestions and they will all be appreciated.

The final question is specific to VA.

4. If my build exceeds 26 inches, then I can not carry it loaded in my truck but that is the only restriction correct?


"Make something out of nothing"
 
Posts: 97 | Location: VA | Registered: June 14, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Avoiding
slam fires
Picture of 45 Cal
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I am pretty knowledgeable with tool from a lathe on down
Uppers and lowers are certainly less expensive than a few years back.
My suggestion is to buy the thing put together to start with.
I say this not knowing your talents or tool setups.
I will change the barrel on an M-1 and have done several with tools I cut on the lathe
Tools are expensive for that rifle.
A/R not so much and I will not do that.
 
Posts: 20982 | Location: Georgia | Registered: February 19, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The lower can be built with some simple punches and a pair of pliers while watching a 30 minute YouTube video. As mentioned, I would just buy the upper already built. There's plenty of options out there and they're damn near giving them away.
 
Posts: 1921 | Location: The Low Country | Registered: October 21, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of myrottiety
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Tools you'll need:
A bench Vise
basic punches and pliers
Magpul Bev Block
Barrel Nut wrench
Some Aeroshell Grease for Barrel/Receiver Extension

Difficulty to put lower or upper together. 2 out of 10. Hit the google and watch some videos. Then take your time. It's easy!




Train how you intend to Fight

Remember - Training is not sparring. Sparring is not fighting. Fighting is not combat.
 
Posts: 7141 | Location: Alpharetta, GA | Registered: August 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Life's too short to
live by the rules
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by The Big Sham:
So I have decided to build my first AR Lower and maybe the upper as well and I have a few questions.

1. What is the best way to determine the overall length when buying parts?

2. What tools are required and where to buy them? I assume I can buy a majority of them from Lower but I am open to suggestions.

3. Is assembling the upper as easy as it looks or are there hidden gremlins to be found in every step?

I am also open to any other advice or suggestions and they will all be appreciated.

The final question is specific to VA.

4. If my build exceeds 26 inches, then I can not carry it loaded in my truck but that is the only restriction correct?


1. You'll need a minimum of a 16 inch barrel (14.5 if you want to pin and weld a flash hider, but I wouldn't recommend) so your overall length is going to be over 26 inches. Anything shorter then a 16 inch barrel you'll either need to build a Pistol or get the tax-stamp for an SBR (Short barreled rifle).

2. The basic tools I use are: Good set of roll pin punches, set of roll pin starter punches, AR15 Armorers Wrench, mag well block, upper block, small brass hammer, razor blade, molybdenum grease, either a big flathead screwdriver or big allen wrench for the grip screw. To make things easy, I have a few extra tools that are not required, but helpful, they are: Gas block roll pin punch, bolt catch roll pin starter and punch, pair of Knipex pliers (useful for pressing in the pins instead of whacking them all the way in with a punch), torque wrench and a small rubber dead blow hammer. I think that's about it.

3. Upper is easy to put together. Only a few things to watch out for. Use molybdenum grease on your barrel nut when attaching it to your upper. Tighten and loosen the barrel nut three times before reaching the final tightness (you can use a torque wrench, but you don't have too as the torque range is quite wide). When you are putting on your flash hider and trying to get it lined up, remember you can't go backwards that is un-tighten it. The crush washer that is used is a one time use item and if you un-tigthen the flash hider, you loose the benefit if it.

4. That's a good question, I would recommend searching through the VA code to confirm. I keep mine in the truck, magazine in, but un-chambered.

It seems you are thinking about building a truck gun, If you are worried about the over all length as far as keeping it short as possible for storage, I would recommend looking at the Law-Tactical folding stock adapter. It allows you fold your stock/buffer tub assembly. With mine folded, I can fit my setup in a tennis racket bag.

Building is fun and a great learning experience. I've built 5 1/2 from scratch and modified the first one I bought. I highly recommend it. Good Luck!

Chris
 
Posts: 1265 | Location: Richmond, VA | Registered: August 04, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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if you do decide to build it I suggest you buy an "oops kit" just in case or at least a couple of spare detent pins and springs... they like to fly into black holes when they get loose on ya...
 
Posts: 198 | Registered: August 12, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Tompow:
if you do decide to build it I suggest you buy an "oops kit" just in case or at least a couple of spare detent pins and springs... they like to fly into black holes when they get loose on ya...


The Pivot pin detent WILL go into orbit or the shaggiest carpet you have.




Train how you intend to Fight

Remember - Training is not sparring. Sparring is not fighting. Fighting is not combat.
 
Posts: 7141 | Location: Alpharetta, GA | Registered: August 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Rule #1: Use enough gun
Picture of Bigboreshooter
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Building a lower is easy. Even I could do it. But, I didn't have the tools or the confidence to build the upper from scratch.

I would recommend buying a complete upper. They are plentiful and CHEAP these days.



When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. Luke 11:21


"Every nation in every region now has a decision to make.
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." -- George W. Bush

 
Posts: 13270 | Location: Birmingham, Alabama | Registered: February 25, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by myrottiety:
quote:
Originally posted by Tompow:
if you do decide to build it I suggest you buy an "oops kit" just in case or at least a couple of spare detent pins and springs... they like to fly into black holes when they get loose on ya...


The Pivot pin detent WILL go into orbit or the shaggiest carpet you have.


I strongly recommend using a 1/4" clevis pin for this operation, and they are cheap from Home Depot.

You'll never lose another detent or spring, or eye again.
 
Posts: 16915 | Registered: August 12, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Delusions of Adequacy
Picture of zoom6zoom
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I also use a clevis pin.
For first timers or clumsy folks,. try this. Get a large clear plastic bag, and build your lower inside it. If your pins go sproing, they'll be trapped inside.




I have my own style of humor. I call it Snarkasm.
 
Posts: 15758 | Location: Virginia | Registered: June 02, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Life's too short to
live by the rules
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I've tried both the clevis pin and razor blade tricks on the front pivot pin. Up until the my latest build, I oddly enough didn't have much luck with clevis pin but great luck with the razor blade. This past build for some reason, I had much better luck with the clevis pin.
 
Posts: 1265 | Location: Richmond, VA | Registered: August 04, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by cmparrish:
I've tried both the clevis pin and razor blade tricks on the front pivot pin. Up until the my latest build, I oddly enough didn't have much luck with clevis pin but great luck with the razor blade. This past build for some reason, I had much better luck with the clevis pin.


Yep...razor blade and my 15 year old son's extra set of hands... I hold the pin in with the flat razor blade while he GENTLY inserts the take down pin. If you try to force it and wiggle the lower its bye bye baby
 
Posts: 198 | Registered: August 12, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Plowing straight ahead come what may
Picture of Bisleyblackhawk
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quote:
Originally posted by LDD:
I strongly recommend using a 1/4" clevis pin for this operation, and they are cheap from Home Depot.

You'll never lose another detent or spring, or eye again.


Amen to this X 3 Big Grin...

I will also recommend a set of roll pin starting punches and dedicated roll pin punches (the little raised tit on the face keeps the punch centered on the pin)...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/prod...02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

These are flat on one side to fit closer to the lower when installing the bolt catch release...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/prod...01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

A vice mounted block that supports the lower by using the magazine makes building the lower soooo much easier...this one has worked well and is reasonably priced with free shipping to boot...

https://www.plastixrevolution....-receiver-vise-block

They also offer a vice block for the upper...

https://www.plastixrevolution....-receiver-vise-block

One thing you might check...do you know of anyone in your area that might loan or share these tools...

The youtubes explain it...




Link to original video: https://youtu.be/M7DrFEDw3ow




Link to original video: https://youtu.be/k4_k8OvjwAY

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Bisleyblackhawk,


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"we've gotta roll with the punches, learn to play all of our hunches
Making the best of what ever comes our way
Forget that blind ambition and learn to trust your intuition
Plowing straight ahead come what may
And theres a cowboy in the jungle"
Jimmy Buffet
 
Posts: 6725 | Location: Southeast Tennessee...not far above my homestate Georgia | Registered: March 10, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just very recently put together my first AR, both upper and lower. Only "issue" was that damn pivot pin detent LOL! Lots of good YouTube videos on the subject, I watched a bunch and fired one up for the actual assembly of both upper and lower and just followed along.I had most tools to begin with, other than an armorer's wrench and clevis pin Wink

It's a great learning experience, very much enjoy the whole research and assembly, almost as much fun as shooting 'em LOL.



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Canadian Coast Guard - Retired
 
Posts: 643 | Location: Canada | Registered: June 05, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for all the great tips. I am pretty comfortable with my mechanical ability and am reasonably knowledgeable about the AR platform. I am building a pistol with the shockwave and with a roughly 10ish inch barrel. From what I have read the 10.3-11.5 is the easiest to get running reliably.

In terms of the VA question. From what I understand only pistols are concealable which is why I am curious as how to predict the ending length.


"Make something out of nothing"
 
Posts: 97 | Location: VA | Registered: June 14, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
British by birth,
American by Choice
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I've built a few, and the only real part I struggle with is the roll pin, through the bolt catch.
I have never had one go easy.
I've come to loath bolt catch roll pins.


______________

I will NOT Sit Down !

"There are many who vehemently argue something CAN'T be done.
They should stay out of the way of folks who are doing it."

 
Posts: 2875 | Location: Georgia... 45 Minutes from everywhere....... | Registered: July 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Life's too short to
live by the rules
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quote:
Originally posted by Longbow_06:
I've built a few, and the only real part I struggle with is the roll pin, through the bolt catch.
I have never had one go easy.
I've come to loath bolt catch roll pins.


For that roll pin and the roll pin that for the trigger guard, I use a pair of Knipex pliers to press the pin through. It works great!

https://www.amazon.com/Knipex-...knipex+pliers+wrench

I just recently purchased a specialized bolt catch install punch and starter. Mostly for the starter.

https://www.amazon.com/Wheeler...bolt+catch+pin+punch
 
Posts: 1265 | Location: Richmond, VA | Registered: August 04, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Delusions of Adequacy
Picture of zoom6zoom
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a drop of Kroil on those pins helps with assembly too.




I have my own style of humor. I call it Snarkasm.
 
Posts: 15758 | Location: Virginia | Registered: June 02, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of Rinehart
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As Bigboreshooter said, things are cheap right now. I have seen stripped lowers for less than $35 bucks.

I built three ARs just before Trump's election. (They were dedicated to Hillary because no one knew who would win but EVERYONE knew what would happen if she won).

Most annoying issue I had initially was doing torque on the barrels. (I had a cheap poorly-cast aluminum barrel wrench which I returned and got a real one). After that it was a breeze.

If you are not in too much of a hurry, take advantage of promotional sales. I would say identify what manufacturer parts/models you want and cruise the sales on sellers sites. I found some incredible deals while building the last rifle this way.

BTW, a great number of the tools you would use to assembly an AR don't have to be dedicated gunsmith brands- (like punches, torque wrench, pliers, hammer, etc). Plenty of videos online with good guidance.

Take pictures of the stages of assembly for your memories and have fun!
 
Posts: 568 | Location: PA | Registered: March 15, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks again for the advice again and only a few more questions if you will oblige me.

What buffer weight and spring for a 10.3-11.5 barrel with a carbine gas system. I know that it is dependent on the individual rifle but what is a good starting point?


"Make something out of nothing"
 
Posts: 97 | Location: VA | Registered: June 14, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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