Build or Buy an AR 15 - What’s Right for You? thumbnail image

Build or Buy an AR 15 - What’s Right for You?

80 Percent Arms   |   Oct 15th 2019

If there was ever a time to purchase an AR15, it’s always going to be yesterday. Politicians relentlessly go after the AR-15 as we watch our rights ebb and flow with the news cycles. The AR15 is used and bought for many reasons by all demographics. So the question is, should you buy or build your own AR-15? Let’s go over the pros and cons of each option.

Buying An AR-15 Prosm&p 15 sport ar15

Buying a completed rifle has a big upside, convenience. There’s no easier way to get a working rifle than to walk into a store, pick it off the wall and take it home (after paying of course). But along with that convenience comes the saying “you get what you pay for.” There are some fantastic completed AR15s out there but they can cost a pretty penny such as rifles from Daniel Defense, Wilson Combat or JP Enterprises.

Buying An AR-15 Cons

But if you buy a budget rifle such as the M&P15 Sport you might notice a few characteristics after your first range day. Maybe the trigger is too heavy, the rail is too wide or the stock just feels too cheap and flimsy. Perhaps even your groupings aren’t as tight as you imagined it would be.

Now you have a $700-$900 gun that you’re going to easily sink another grand into just so you can have it feel the exact way you want. This is not considering that you probably overpaid for the completed rifle in the first place, as completed guns are always marked up for firearms excise tax and the labor of someone assembling it for you. Complete rifles are generally adequate at most things, and not particularly exceptional at anything unless you’re paying over two or three thousand dollars for a top brand product.

Instead, it might make more financial sense for you to utilize the accessibility to AR parts that we all have on the internet to build your own rifles per your needs and desired specifications. It just doesn’t make as much sense these days to overpay for a completed rifle that would likely be subpar otherwise.

Building Your Own AR-15

AR-15 parts

For those shooting in competitions, capable of outshooting the average rifle or in possession of large quantities of time and money this might be for you. Building your own rifle from the ground up can be incredibly rewarding. Your rifle will have all the parts and accessories that you handpicked. You get to really call it yours, as it will look and feel exactly how you envisioned it in your mind. Hopefully, it shoots incredibly as well. Sounds awesome right?

Once you start looking past theory and come back to reality, you’ll start to realize how big of an undertaking this really is. Picking out each and every individual part can be extremely time consuming or even nerve wracking if you’re missing some knowledge or parts. Will all the parts fit together and be the correct spec? Are you getting the best price? Some people might dread this amount of work and find it frustrating but others might absolutely love the process.

Perhaps what causes the most anxiety is actually the finished product. It can be a huge headache when you finish a new AR-15 build from the ground up, and you end up having fitment issues or for some reason your rifle is short-stroking so you have to figure out what’s causing the cycling issue. This can lead to a hefty break in period, or even more time and money spent on a gunsmith to work out the kinks if you can’t successfully troubleshoot the problem yourself.

Don’t fret though! There are several resources online that can help you learn how to put all the parts of your AR-15 together. You can start by learning the anatomy of an AR15. You can also watch an extensive amount of video reviews or tutorials on Youtube to learn how to assemble a lower receiver and how to assemble an upper receiver. But for those that don’t feel comfortable doing so, you could always opt to pay a gunsmith to do it for you. What’s a few more bucks to get it right… right?

Why You Should Buy An AR-15 Build Kit80 Percent Arms Build Kit

Buying an AR15 build kit is basically a combination of buying a completed rifle and building it yourself. It takes all the positives from each option and none of the negatives. Reason being, is that you will get to have the confidence and peace of mind that you’ll receive all the parts and components you need to be able to put together a reliable and working rifle. No guesswork here.

For example with an 80 Glock kit or an 80% Arms build kit, customers can select various options for their preferences such as caliber, length of the complete upper receiver, muzzle device and more. Since the lower is an 80% receiver, there’s no need for an FFL to get involved. Everything ships straight to your front door. Not only is the shipping a convenient factor, the kit includes reputable, high end parts for the upper receiver, barrel, and furniture.

Once you mill out the lower receiver, all you have to do is order the trigger, a pistol grip and other extra accessories if you want. With ar 15 build kits there isn’t a lot of leg work to do as far as researching for parts, but you still get to be part of the process as you’ll have certain options to choose from.

These build kits have become immensely popular in the past few years due to various political movements and the fear that we may not always have these in the future… which is what makes them all the more appealing. Many people seem to enjoy milling out their own lower receivers as it gets them connected and acquainted with their rifle on a more intimate level along with avoiding serialization.

Tools Needed To Build An AR15

These are all the tools you’ll need to assemble any ar9, ar9 or ar15 build that you may be working on. Pro tip: to find out what all you might need you can take a look at what some company’s sell together as a complete kit (like the Wheeler Engineering AR Armorer’s Essentials Kit) to find out what you might want to buy individually.

Is buying an AR15 a good investment?

Buying an AR15, in fact just about any firearm is always a good investment. It’s good to know there are organizations like the Firearms Policy Coalition that are constantly fighting for our 2A right but you never know what’ll happen down the line in the long run. In a more practical aspect, look at it this way - surplus Mosin-Nagants could be had for as little as $50 in 2012. During the height of the pandemic they were being sold in gun stores for as much as brand new Glock handgun ($500). Just as people do in plenty of other hobbies and industries, it’s common for people to buy multiple guns of the same model with the intent to pass them on in the future or to flip them for a profit.

Is it more expensive to build an AR?

AR build parts

It certainly can be expensive to build your own ar, depending on the parts you decide to buy. But if you buy only during sales you’ll likely save money doing so and you won’t end up with a bunch of spare parts that will never get used after being tossed aside. If you consider building an AR with an 80 percent lower receiver you can also save money by avoiding any FFL related documentation, taxes and fees.

Is it legal to build your own AR 15?

It is absolutely legal to build your own ar15. However, there’s a big caveat to this as it depends how you’re going about the build. Make sure to be familiar with your state and local laws about what features your AR is legally allowed to have. Find out what makes a rifle compliant or an assault weapon. Determine what length you want to build for your AR15 and you’ll have o also decide if you plan on using a serialized lower receiver or going all in on a 80 percent lower receiver to mill out.

Final Thoughts

As the saying goes “there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” this suggests there must be a BEST way to skin a cat. Well the best way to approach buying your rifle, in our experience, is to buy a build kit. Once you get your AR’s lower setup situated, it’s the quick and easy way to have multiple rifle setups just by buying multiple complete upper sets or vice versa. Swap out individual parts if you want to but by using build kits, it reduces the need to troubleshoot problems with a rifle built from scratch. You save time and money.

However, if there are other circumstances like time, finances, or lack of technical know-how that restrict you from getting a build kit; please don’t refrain from exercising your 2nd Amendment right. Definitely go out and buy a complete rifle, absolutely nothing wrong with that. A decent and reliable gun, even if a bit overpriced, is still far better than no gun at all.