You might think that an AR-15 build during this time of miserable shortage of basically everything gun-related (including ammo) is impossible.
Well, it’s not. Not only is it not impossible, but I’m also going to do it in print (and in real life), and you get to follow along.
Let’s DO something for once instead of just talking stuff to death. It’s like arts and crafts, just for stuff that goes bang.
Over the coming weeks, I’m going to put together an AR-15. We’ll go over selecting various components, sighting systems, and much more. The idea here is several-fold. For one, a project gets to take shape. Hopefully, a novice gets views about picking tools that suit a task, and in the end…maybe I’ll have a cool gun.
In the end…we’ll see just how good the rifle actually is with a range report and full review.
One thing will be sure: this will be an exercise in doing what one can with what is available, not getting everything a person wants. However, I think that even during these lean times, you’d be surprised at what you can put together if you put your mind to it.
Your Dream AR-15 Build Is Probably Not Going To Happen
My dream AR-15 build (or instead builds, because I have a few in mind) will not happen.
By now, we all know that almost everything, everywhere, is sold out. When it comes to anything AR-15 related, that includes both the Gucci stuff and the budget stuff.
Therefore, this won’t be my dream AR-15 build, nor will it be anyone else’s. But I think a pretty decent one can be put together.
All the typical manufacturers you’d buy parts from to build a rifle – because they make good stuff – are devoid of inventory.
Forget getting anything, at all, from Aero Precision. Faxon? Faxoff is more like it. The only thing BCM has in stock is shirts. Ditto Daniel Defense. Ditto, everyone, you can name and/or think of.
Palmetto State Armory is one of the few makers that regularly have inventory, but it fluctuates wildly; what’s available today may not be there tomorrow, so you have to watch them closely to get what you want…and their mid-to upper-tier products go quickly.
And their prices have gone up in the process, so they may not be the go-to source for the amateur and/or budget AR-15 build they once were.
So putting together EXACTLY the rifle you want, with exactly the components you want, is probably not going to happen…but you may be able to get within striking distance.
Obviously, you have to have a goal in mind, but you’ll have to have some flexibility in how you get there. In other words, you need to know what you can do without.
So…What Kind Of Rifle Are We Going To Build
The kind of rifle we’re going to assemble will be somewhat generic.
The theme will be a modern carbine. Lightweight, streamlined, and handy, and I’d like to do it without going broke.
Carbines of the type would routinely cost around $800ish or less in some cases pre-pandemic; now, they’re edging closer to $1,000 depending on the brand. I think I can get it done for $1,000 with a workable optic, sling, and some magazines…though I may get disabused of this idea.
The specs I’m concerned about are the following:
A free-floating M-LOK or KeyMod handguard, with ideally a mid-length gas system, but that’s negotiable. The barrel cannot be stainless steel because the actually good ones are expensive.
If you see a stainless barrel on a budget gun? If you plan to shoot it much, plan on replacing it. If you plan to shoot it much and use steel case ammunition? Plan to replace it with the quickness.
The receiver should be railed, and I’d like to be able to mount back-up irons if I choose to…though I might not bother and some more on that later.
I can deal with a GI trigger if I have to. Obviously, anyone would prefer a match trigger, but I can deal with it. Worse come to worse, spring kits are cheap, and I can grease it to smooth it out.
I don’t necessarily need it to be ambidextrous, but that’s a bonus if so.
Pretty generic, but I think just such a rifle that – again – will run you close to $1,000 if not over from the big brands that aren’t available right now CAN be built (and possibly for less) with the stuff you can actually find right now if you can dig for it.
The Nanny State Comes For Its Due
One hitch in my giddup is that I live in Washington state. That means I have to deal with the Inslee regime and their restrictions on buying AR-15s and other similar rifles.
Thanks to the idiot voters in this state and Inslee and his Hedley LaMarr-esque AG Bob Ferguson, Washington voters passed an initiative (I-1639), placing additional restrictions on semi-auto purchase rifles, which the nanny state enthusiasts of Seattle gave with glee.
It’s one of the many reasons I’m not too fond of the Seahawks.
Without describing the entire law, the reason this is pertinent is that I must undergo some mandatory training to get a certificate saying that – if it pleases the crown – I can buy a semi-automatic rifle.
I’ll describe the course and its contents as part of this series and let you know what it’s like…and it promises to be really, really stupid—sort of like most gun control laws.
Are You In The Middle Of An AR-15 Build?
The comments section isn’t just for arguing; are YOU in the middle of an AR-15 build? Or any gun build, for that matter? Let us know about it!
What kind of gun is it? How are things going? We’d love to know!