So, I finally did it, and now it's in my veins...
I broke down and finally built my own rifle. I've bought quite a few handguns and rifles over the past few years, but was always a little nervous about building my own.
Having a business that sells builder's parts, I felt it was important that I understand the process and parts that go into building your own firearm. Though, I knew how to field strip and assemble the rifles I have, I was admittedly a little intimidated by building one from the ground up.
My first step was doing a little online research, reading how to's and forums. Honestly, that didn't help me that much. I ended up joining some groups on facebook for AR building. If you want to get started building, that's where I would start. There are literally thousands of guys (& gals) that have ton of experience building rifles. Most are helpful, some are snooty. I just kind of snooped on everyone's builds and questions for a while until I had a pretty good understanding of the tools I would need, where to begin, and common mistakes that are made. I was also able to get an idea of what I liked and didn't like in a build.
One of the most important parts of the build, especially if you don't want to end up spending a fortune, is having a vision of what the end result looks like. You don't have to know every detail down to the parts list, but have an idea of what caliber you want to use, the approximate budget for the build, if you want to do a rifle or pistol, the color scheme, and so on. This will prevent you from having to continuously order new parts to conform to your ever changing idea.
This was my vision:
- Caliber that can effectively reach out 600-1000 yards
- Caliber that I felt could humanely put a deer down
- Caliber that is not hard to find or extremely expensive
- Wanted an AR style platform
- Good for longer ranges, but not too long to prevent close quarter maneuvering
- Free float handguard
- Flat Dark Earth/Black Color Scheme
- Wanted to spend between $1,000 - $1,500 (not including optics)
The end result was a Flat Dark Earth .308 build
So now that I have the vision, I began to do research on parts I will need. Where you can save money on parts, and where it is more appropriate to spend a little more for quality. I ended up going with mostly Aero Precision parts, because of our affiliation with them (Products coming to store soon). They had a huge sale around christmas time so I was able to save some money. One of the top reasons I went with Aero Precision is because of the value of their products. They are great quality, and the price is not unreasonable. I got the rest of the parts from here :).
I didn't buy all of the parts at one time either. This is part of the beauty of building your own weapon.
I bought my lower receiver and lower parts kit, along with some Testors paint to do a little back filling.
Next came the upper receiver, Bolt Carrier Group, handguard, barrel, gas block, and gas tube.
After that was the Buffer tube, spring, buffer, stock, muzzle brake, charging handle, magazines,and back up sights.
At this point, I had what I needed to begin the functional build.
(4th round, which is yet to come, will be optics, fore grip, sling)
The BuildNow it's time for the build! Hours of Youtube videos and facebook groups have prepared me for this moment!
Before we begin this section, let me give you some tips on some tools you will need to get the job done, because even though I had watched youtube videos and group discussions, I quickly found out I wasn't fully prepared. This caused delay in the build and multiple trips to Lowe's and online sites for tools.
Must have tools:
Good Set of Punches
Roll Pin Starter (highly recommend!)
Tweezers (also, highly recommend)
Set of Allen Wrenches
Set of Star Wrenches
Barrel Dimpling Jig (found this out the hard way)
Vice (I didn't use, but would make your life easier)
Just get these before you start, because once you start, you'll have a hard time stopping.
OK, now on to the actual build.
1. First Step for me was backfilling the Lower receiver. This is not necessary, but I wanted to add a little contrast to the FDE that I had going.
it wasn't perfect, but I was proud.
2. Next Step was assembling the lower. I thought this process was going to be really complicated, but ended up being pretty easy.....except I had the famous detent fly across the room a couple of times (can't stress the importance of those tweezers!). Now it's starting to look like a gun!
3. Third was installing the buffer tube, spring, buffer, and stock. Very very simple. I added some anti-seize lube to the threads of the buffer to make it easier on me when I have to remove it.
4. Fourth step was Assembling the Upper Receiver. This was actually really easy. The upper that I bought already had the dust cover and forward assist assembled, so I didn't have to do that. I just popped in the BCG and Charging handle. Ready to move on.
5. Finally came the barrel, gas block, gas tube, and muzzle brake.
This is where you're really going to need those tools I mentioned. Especially the Roll Pin Starter, Torque Wrench, Armorer's Wrench, Punches, and Dimpling Jig. All of those tools, I had to actually get after step 4. Please don't be like me and think you can work your way around it.
If you have the right tools, it's pretty simple. If your barrel is not already dimpled, use your dimpling jig (make sure it is the right size for the gas block you bought) to dimple your barrel so that your gas block does not slide.
Like mine did, the first time I shot...
Once your barrel is dimpled, put some grease on the threads of your upper receiver, insert your barrel, and tighten your barrel nut using the torque wrench.
After that, pin your gas tube into your gas block with the roll pin. For God's sake, get you a roll pin starter and a set of punches for this. Slide the gas block/tube onto your barrel, making sure that your gas block is aligned correctly (dimpling the barrel easily allows for this). Make sure your gas tube is aligned properly and your bolt carrier can move properly. Now tighten the gas block onto the barrel.
Next is your Muzzle Brake, put it on the end of your barrel with a crush washer. Tighten so that it is aligned properly. Mine has flat sides so I used a Channel Lock for this.
6. Final step is to put your hand guard on.
VOILA, your rifle is assembled! Make sure your get it lubricated and go test it out.
Of course you'll need some optics, and whatever accessories fit your need.
But I tell you what, this was really fun, and I can already feel another build coming on.
My Parts List:SKU Product Name
|APRH308184||.308 / 7.62 Bolt Carrier Group, Complete - Phosphate|
|APRH100158||M5 .308 Carbine Buffer Kit, No Stock|
|APRH100117||16" .308 CMV Barrel, Mid-Length|
|APAR308556MS||M5E1 Upper Receiver and 15" M-LOK Handguard Combo - FDE Cerakote|
|APRH100122C||.750 Low Profile Gas Block - Phosphate|
|APRH100144C||Gas Tube, Mid-Length - Stainless Steel|
|APAR308005C||M5 (.308) Stripped Lower Receiver - FDE Cerakote|
|APRH100249||M5 .308 Enhanced Lower Parts Kit|
|MPIMAG247BLK||MAGPUL MBUS FRNT FLIP SGHT GEN 2 BLK|
|MPIMAG248BLK||MAGPUL MBUS REAR FLIP SGHT GEN 2 BLK|
|HO15340||HOGUE AR15 STK MIL-SPEC RBR DT|
|MGMPI292BLK||MAGPUL PMAG M3 7.62 25RD BLK|
|PH5FATMAN-58-24||PHASE5 FATMAN HEX BRAKE 7.62 BLK|
|RWR0009||RADIAN RAPTOR CHRGNG HNDL 762 FDE|