Purchasing a factory AR-15/MSR certainly satisfies your need for instant gratification. Perhaps you are new to the black rifle world and intimidated by the seemingly never-ending array of choices on lowers, uppers and parts that buying stock just seems easier. However, building your own AR-15 rifle satisfies in the long-term.
Building your own AR-15 has plenty of benefits over buying factory:
Cost – Building your own can be more affordable than even the cheapest factory rifle.
Knowledge – You know your gun inside and out and understand how it functions.
Satisfaction – You get exactly what you want.
Pride – You get a sense of accomplishment from building it yourself.
You do not necessarily have to be mechanically inclined or a whiz at do-it-yourself projects. An AR-15 rifle, once you have all the parts and step-by-step instructions, will come together in about three hours. Start Saturday morning and by Saturday evening, you’re at the range. That is not much time difference between buying one already built and putting it together yourself.
To start, you will need a lower receiver. The lower receiver is the part of the firearm that makes it a gun and comes with a serial number. A lower receiver must ship to or be purchased through a licensed FFL dealer. To purchase a lower receiver, you will need to go through a background check, just as if you were buying a complete firearm.
For your first entry-level AR-15 build, the Del-Ton stripped lower will handle hundreds of thousands of rounds. It has a smooth, flawless finish and most of all, it’s affordable. Made of forged 7075 T6 aluminum, the Del-Ton stripped lower receiver is hard-coat anodized. There are no tool scuffs or machine marks. However, a stripped lower receiver means it does not come with any internal parts.
To complete the lower, you will need to purchase a lower parts kit that comes with a magazine catch, bolt catch, pivot pin, fire control group, trigger guard, selector, grip, and pins. Further, you will need a complete rear stock and a spring assembly. Once you have picked out which parts kit you want, you will need to pick out an upper assembly. If you wait for a sale or shop around, as most of us do, you can buy and build a complete AR-15 for around $600.
Most of the people I know who have assembled their own AR-15 have gone almost as cheap as possible. They wait for sales on trusted name brands that are not the most expensive. These parts from Del-Ton, CMMG and Yankee Hill have served AR-15 owners well over the years.
One of the coolest things about the AR-15 platform is its modular design. There are so many different companies making parts for the rifle that you can go from extremely cheap to extremely expensive. You can find lower parts kits from CMMG for over $100 to DPMS kits that retail for less than $65. You will need a lower parts kit to make the Del-Ton stripped lower receiver functional.
As for quality, the Del-Ton stripped lower receiver will handle whatever you throw at it. Whatever you plan for your AR—be it a competition gun, plinker, home defense, or a varminter—you won’t have to worry about the Del-Ton lower breaking on you. A higher quality barrel and bolt are more important than the stripped lower. The barrel and bolt are where your rifle’s accuracy—or lack of accuracy—comes from. The experts agree—go ahead and spend less on the lower.
Surprisingly, you do not need special or expensive tools to complete your build. For the lower, all you need is a light hammer and a roll pin punch set. Putting your lower together is easy. The hardest part will be keeping track of all the small parts. Make sure you start with a clean workspace with enough area to spread out and keep track of all your small parts. Later, after purchasing your upper receiver, barrel and stock kit, you will need a vise, pliers, a screwdriver and some AR-15 specific tools. For example, it will be easier to complete your build with an AR-15 stock wrench multi-tool or Armorer’s wrench specifically made for AR-15 rifle assembly and takedown. The experts at Cheaper Than Dirt! also highly recommend The Flipper. The Flipper is a device that holds your lower receiver securely in your vise.
Many people have successfully built their own AR-15s from cheapy will-it-fire-safely Frankenguns to extremely expensive hand-picked-each-piece competition and precision builds. Fortunately, many of these people are willing to share their knowledge with the world via YouTube, online forums and blogs. A simple Internet search will pull up all you need to know about assembling your own AR-15 rifle. In fact, Cheaper Than Dirt! has a few of their own. To learn what you need to complete your stripped lower receiver, read “What Your AR-15 Lower Builds Needs” and for a step-by-step instructions on assembling your stripped lower and parts kit, please read, “Building Your AR Lower Receiver.”
Ready to start building? Purchase your Del-Ton stripped lower receiver here.