Home Main Category Personal Defense

Budget AR build...who am I kidding?

bisleybisley Senior MemberPosts: 10,813 Senior Member
Myself, mostly.

I (and my oldest grandson) built 'budget AR's.' Actually, we built the lower receivers, and then bought low-end complete uppers, because the cost saving of building, rather than buying, complete uppers was negligible. Mine was all Palmetto, because I happened to catch a good sale on a 1:7 complete upper, which is fine for me because I hand load, and all my components are for loading 64 grain or above bullets. My grandson's upper was one I bought at a gunshow, because it had a railed thin profile handguard like he wanted, a 1:8 barrel, and a nickel boron bolt, for just under $400, brand unknown. We got them both together and on the range, shooting, for well under $500 each. Mine was about $460, his about $485. Not bad at all, and they both performed better than I really expected. But....

Since both rifles were pretty good shooters, they deserved some upgrades, right? Right. We both wanted RRA National Match triggers, because they were on sale for $62, about half price. I couldn't see well enough to use my iron sights at 50 yards, so I added a Vortex Sparc red dot, about $230. He added a cheaper Sightmark red dot, about $100, and we both added a Magpul front grip. He added a Magpul butt stock. I did not, because I couldn't tell that it was much better than the Palmetto I already had. I bought a VTAC two point sling and QD mounts. He got a Magpul single point sling and we added the mount behind the receiver.

Then, my grandson's AR had the problem I described at length in another thread, with the hand guard slipping, (due to a loose barrel nut) so we ended up replacing it with a good, cheap semi-copy of a Wilson Combat Trim hand guard, for about $50. He liked it, but liked the 15" better than the 12" I ordered. So, I ordered a 15", for $65, and put it on his, and replaced the cheese grater quad rail on mine with the 12". Then, both of us bought Magpul grips, about $25 each.

Meanwhile, I discovered that my eyesight was inadequate for un-magnified shooting at 50 yards. So, on the recommendation of forum enablers, I spent $330 for a Leupold shotgun/muzzleloader 1-4x scope and a Burris PEPR QD mount (still untested at the range). So, here is the tally (so far) for me:

My rifle, complete, with no options - $460, plus..

$62 trigger
35 front grip
50 sling and mounts
50 hand guard
*230 red dot
330 scope/mount
30 QD sling adapter for keymod guard
$737+460=1197-230= $967 (I subtracted the *red dot since I will use it elsewhere, eventually)

CONCLUSION:

My goal was to have a fun, 50 yard semi-auto rifle for plinking, that could double as a home defense weapon, under extreme circumstances, for under $500. I achieved that goal easily, but discovered that I was not content to shoot paper plates at 50 yards with a rifle that was capable of much more. Anyone here could have probably predicted that this would happen, including me. Anyway, it was fun doing it, and I am now completely un-intimidated about working on AR type rifles. Heck, I may even paint the thing, before I quit tinkering with it. My grandson has learned a lot, and my wife is interested in shooting, now, after 40 plus years of disinterest. When we go to the range, she asks if we're taking the AR-15s, and goes with us if we are - big victory.

So, if you want a budget AR, keep this in mind - you probably won't quit with the low-budget option. The 'nickel and dime' stuff adds up.
«1

Replies

  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    My goal is the same as yours. Cheap as possible HD gun. I'm sticking to that! Other than the hand guard you got, that's not too pricey. It's going to wear open sights. No scope or red dot. That, I'm certain of. I won't trust my bacon on a cheap red dot. And a scope isn't well suited on a SD type weapon. I may get a See All open sight. Found a dealer semi local that supposedly stocks them. I want to see one before I buy one.

    All I know, so far, is that I can't hit small targets at 50 yards and that upsets me. I'll try the scope, and if I can use it up close, I'm done. If not, I'll have to decide for sure what I'm going to use this rifle for, and either use something I've got, or try something new, like the sight you're looking at. Please buy it and give it a good test, just in case I might someday be interested in it. :tooth:

    If paper plates at 50 yards turns out to be the answer, I can go back to irons or the red dot...or my Glock 10mm, for that matter. But I'm at least going to find out what the rifle can do with a scope, first, and see if that has a home defense role.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    I read most of the web site, and I would probably try one if somebody here [wink, wink] did a good range report on one. If I didn't like it on the AR, it might be dandy on an upland bird type shotgun.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I figure for the home fense, a heavy barrel carbine with a short stock and a laser should do great.
    Maybe a 300 blackout caliber, subsonic to cut down on report & muzzle flash indoors.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 12,193 Senior Member
    Nice builds
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,697 Senior Member
    I think I am going to put some type of tritium front sight on my RR and call it done............

    frontsight.jpg
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    I was going to do something similar, originally...until I discovered I could no longer see a 2" bulls eye at 50 yards. I could stay on the 9" plate by simply aiming for the center of the white blur, but that sucks, with a .223. If it was a pistol caliber carbine, that might satisfy me, but I didn't go that route.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    I figure for the home fense, a heavy barrel carbine with a short stock and a laser should do great.
    Maybe a 300 blackout caliber, subsonic to cut down on report & muzzle flash indoors.

    This is what I'm thinking. Actually, for HD I would think something on the order of an M1 Carbine would be great, but a 300 BO wound be better. It would be cool if Ruger would make their Ranch Rifle in 300 B.O.

    For my .02 worth, a .223 comes out the barrel a little swiftly for HD. Penetration through walls and such (I live in town). I don't know, maybe my thinking on this is flawed, but from what I've seen of .223s-5.56s I don't like the idea.

    Edited to Add:

    Actually, a Ruger semi carbine in 44 Mag. always struck me as a great HD rifle. Take the stock off and replace it with a pistol grip style. Then it would be very maneuverable.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    If it weren't for the suppressor and SBR rules, I would go with a short 300 BO barrel and suppressor, and load down near the M1 Carbine range. Sawing off .223 cases would be a pain in the butt, but I could deal with it if I had a SBR that suited me.

    My dearly departed dad always said that the M1 Carbine was perfect for people who couldn't shoot pistols well, and I'm approaching my first steps down that path, now. :tooth:
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I loved the M-1 carbine ! sweet lil shooter,

    I guess that was the original poodle shooter ?

    lol :jester:

    Dunno, seen some old war birds (Colonel) into their 70s that could outshoot almost any young sprat.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • N454casullN454casull Member Posts: 672 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    The sight I'm curious about.

    https://seeallopensight.com


    If I don't like it on a rifle, it will go on my Ruger Blackhawk.

    I go by their booth every year at SHOT. One guy there knows a guy that lives in town here from way back.

    I use to have one of their old sights that was just the fiber optic one. I liked it a lot, gave it to a family member to try and he gave it to another family member and he gave it to a friend in the end I'm not sure where it's at. Everyone that has put it on a gun has loved it I believe most of them where using them as a secondary back up sights on an AR.

    After looking at them at SHOT, I am going to order some of the new ones for the shop. And after talking to people about them I already have orders for them.

    I also thought their system for mounting the sight on a pistol using the existing dive tail was pretty cool as well.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    Hear say. :popcorn:
  • MichakavMichakav Senior Member Posts: 2,907 Senior Member
    If I am not mistaken, you could have saved $50 by going with Burris X-High rings instead of the PEPR. You have a foward rail section, correct?
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    Yeah, you're right. But, I like the PEPR (this is my third one), and I wanted to try out the QD model. I want to test the accuracy of my grandson's AR, since re-torquing the barrel nut. I will sight in on my gun, then detach and shoot a group with his, then put it back on mine. That will confirm the accuracy of his rifle, and at the same time give me an idea on the repeat-ability qualities of the mount. Since the mount clamps and un-clamps directly to the pic rail, this is somewhat suspect, to me. Anyway, I intend to try the scope on several different rifles, eventually, so I decided to spend the extra for a certain amount of convenience, if the repeat-ability is good enough.
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    You should consider pulling a scope off one of your other ARs for accuracy testing. One already mounted in a PEPR, even a non QD PEPR is easy to pull off, plus they will return very close to original POA/POI when put back on the original rifle.

    I have that same Leupold 1-4x scope with the Pig Plex reticle. The reticle in mine was too thick for shooting groups I want to show off.

    My opinion.
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    As to a budget AR? ONE of my ARs has been changed from the way I first built it. I upgraded the red dot, changed to a FFT, and changed the upper receiver from a slick side to a standard with forward assit.

    The others I waited and looked until I decided exactly what I wanted. The only money I saved was from not buying stuff twice.
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    You should consider pulling a scope off one of your other ARs for accuracy testing. One already mounted in a PEPR, even a non QD PEPR is easy to pull off, plus they will return very close to original POA/POI when put back on the original rifle.

    I have that same Leupold 1-4x scope with the Pig Plex reticle. The reticle in mine was too thick for shooting groups I want to show off.

    My opinion.

    Duh?

    I'm going to sight my rifle in with the scope I bought for it. Then, I'm going to remove it and install it on my grandson's rifle and shoot a group or two with it. Then I'm going to take it back off of my grandson's rifle and put it back on my rifle and re-check for zero. Then I will sight in my grandson's rifle with his red dot mounted. Is this different from what you said?

    My reticle is thick, until it gets to the cross, where it thins out into a fairly normal reticle. I think it will be fine enough for a 100 yard group. I just want a comparison - not a super-duper cloverleaf, necessarily, although I would really love that. And, in the process, I will know how well it stays zeroed after removing it and putting it back on.
  • shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Senior Member Posts: 5,985 Senior Member
    My AR started as a budget build. IIRC I think I built it, in its original configuration, for around $800 DURING the original 2008-2011ish era of more expensive AR's.

    In its current configuration, with a Daniel Defense complete upper, Trijicon ACOG, RRA NM trigger, etc... I intentionally stopped keeping track of what I was spending on it.

    My next rig that I'm working on will be no different. I'm saving money where I can, but the idea is to get the best quality AR possible from known brand name companies that will back up their products. I'm still building it piece by piece though ;-)
    - I am a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name. -
    "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and speed is the economy of motion" - Scott Jedlinski
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,085 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    The sight I'm curious about.

    https://seeallopensight.com


    If I don't like it on a rifle, it will go on my Ruger Blackhawk.

    The cheap scout scope on the mosin has not self destructed yet. I will put one of the See-All sights on there when it does.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    You should consider pulling a scope off one of your other ARs for accuracy testing. One already mounted in a PEPR, even a non QD PEPR is easy to pull off, plus they will return very close to original POA/POI when put back on the original rifle.

    I have that same Leupold 1-4x scope with the Pig Plex reticle. The reticle in mine was too thick for shooting groups I want to show off.

    My opinion.

    OK, farm boy,

    You were right. There is no possibility of shooting a tight group at 100 yards with my reticle at 100 yards. I got about a 3" group by using a round 9" paper plate to center on. This was with a practice load, 62 grain steel core military surplus.

    I did shoot a decent 50 yard group with 68 gr. Hornady Match that I had loaded for my 20" heavy barrel, centering a 2" orange dot. It was under 1", so I'll go with that for this rifle, too. I think it might be close to a MOA rifle, with the right scope, but that isn't what I wanted this one for.
  • Farm Boy DeuceFarm Boy Deuce Senior Member Posts: 6,083 Senior Member
    A three inch group with SS109 is ok, IIRC that is under mil-spec requirements. I shot my carbine with the same scope on it this weekend. I had about a 5" group with some Tula 55 gr HP.

    Funny thing happened. I had my LR308 out to tune the Syrac Ordnance adjustable gas block and found out the barrel nut is loose on it just like your grandson's rifle. I got that fixed yesterday, hopefully I get to try again this month.
    I am afraid we forget sometime that the basic and simple things brings us the most pleasure.
    Dad 5-31-13
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,891 Senior Member
    SS109/M855 specs are for 3-4 MOA, IIRC.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,577 Senior Member
    bisley wrote: »
    Myself, mostly.

    I (and my oldest grandson) built 'budget AR's.' Actually, we built the lower receivers, and then bought low-end complete uppers, because the cost saving of building, rather than buying, complete uppers was negligible. Mine was all Palmetto, because I happened to catch a good sale on a 1:7 complete upper......

    .....So, if you want a budget AR, keep this in mind - you probably won't quit with the low-budget option. The 'nickel and dime' stuff adds up.

    For me HD/SD rifles are not for the "budget" market. Their cost is not all that significant over "low cost" parts, but often the quality is measurably better than cheap options.

    An HD/SD rifle is simple: rifle, red dot, irons, magazines. Essentially.

    All that can be one-and-done for sub-$1200 of you shop sales on Colt, FN, etc. S&W MP15 maybe if you can't find one of the "mil-spec" brands.

    Competition guns on the other hand are very subject to parting out to build one significantly less expensive than $3000 or $4000 JP, Noveske, etc 3-Gun rifles. They are often high-speed, no drag and are subject to parts replacement and upgrade of worn out parts.

    For HD/SD you want high speed low drag, on the other hand. It doesn't need to have light weight BCAs, adjustable gas blocks, low mass buffers, buffer springs made from strands of unicorn pubes, etc. It needs to be reliable...mil-spec trigger, mil-spec assembly, etc and needs to be environmentally durable.

    Cut costs when losing means you don't get a blue ribbon, not when losing means your life.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    A three inch group with SS109 is ok, IIRC that is under mil-spec requirements. I shot my carbine with the same scope on it this weekend. I had about a 5" group with some Tula 55 gr HP.

    Funny thing happened. I had my LR308 out to tune the Syrac Ordnance adjustable gas block and found out the barrel nut is loose on it just like your grandson's rifle. I got that fixed yesterday, hopefully I get to try again this month.

    Apparently, the barrel nut thing is not a huge deal, safety wise. It just doesn't shoot very precisely.

    I've shot several ~1" groups with that bullet, in my 20" heavy barrel, with a max load. I do get a few uncalled flyers, occasionally, but they have done better than expected in both of my .223's.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    JasonMPD wrote: »
    For me HD/SD rifles are not for the "budget" market. Their cost is not all that significant over "low cost" parts, but often the quality is measurably better than cheap options.

    An HD/SD rifle is simple: rifle, red dot, irons, magazines. Essentially.

    All that can be one-and-done for sub-$1200 of you shop sales on Colt, FN, etc. S&W MP15 maybe if you can't find one of the "mil-spec" brands.

    Competition guns on the other hand are very subject to parting out to build one significantly less expensive than $3000 or $4000 JP, Noveske, etc 3-Gun rifles. They are often high-speed, no drag and are subject to parts replacement and upgrade of worn out parts.

    For HD/SD you want high speed low drag, on the other hand. It doesn't need to have light weight BCAs, adjustable gas blocks, low mass buffers, buffer springs made from strands of unicorn pubes, etc. It needs to be reliable...mil-spec trigger, mil-spec assembly, etc and needs to be environmentally durable.

    Cut costs when losing means you don't get a blue ribbon, not when losing means your life.

    I might feel the same if I was in your business, but I'm fairly new to AR's and have not really begun to think of mine in terms of self defense, yet. I have two others, both set up for hunting, and I just wanted this one to play with, mainly.

    In defense of cheap AR's, though, I have to say that I'm fairly impressed with the performance of my Palmetto, and my grandson's no-name works fine, too, once we got the kinks lined out. He was shooting 10 round groups into 3" at 50 yards, after we put my Vortex Sparc II red dot on it. Neither of ours has malfunctioned, and are more accurate than I really expected.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,891 Senior Member
    I would add that a good HD/SD AR needs a light. Because night/low light.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,577 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Sorta. Can you have a reliable weapon with the cheapest plastic hand guard and crappy stock? Yes. Will a 200 dollar guard with 48 rails make it more reliable? Or a HSLD fancy stock? Hell no.
    Some parts on ARs are simply for the queer for gear crowd. Some parts are important.

    I don't disagree there.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 12,193 Senior Member
    All I know is that my AR was put together with basic DPMS parts; exceptions are trigger, stock, and handguards. It has never malfunctioned and why I do not consider it a SD gun, I would have no hesitation using it as such.

    But, if it was a tool to be used in my everyday work, it would be built from the highest grade parts I could find. Dollar value would not be part of the equation.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • 1965Jeff1965Jeff Senior Member Posts: 1,648 Senior Member
    How much improvement in accuracy was realized after the aftermarket trigger group was installed?
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    1965Jeff wrote: »
    How much improvement in accuracy was realized after the aftermarket trigger group was installed?


    Quite a bit, for me. Not on this rifle, because I put the NM trigger in when I built the lower receiver. But I replaced the factory trigger in my Remington R-25, which is nothing more than a DPMS LR-308, and my groups shrank from just over 1" to 0.75" at 100 yards. The NM trigger is not in the class with a Timney, etc. But it is a significant improvement over mil-spec, and what I will likely always use, if I can get them for $62.
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 12,193 Senior Member
    1965Jeff wrote: »
    How much improvement in accuracy was realized after the aftermarket trigger group was installed?

    The DPMS trigger that came in the parts kit, totally 100% sucked. It was worse than any of the triggers in the M-16 and M-16A2s I used in the Army.

    After shooting a fellow forum members at one of the SE Shoots I decided it was time for a change. There is a guy that does AR builds/parts that comes to the local gun shows and I stopped by his booth for a chat.
    I can not remember the make but I ended up installing a single stage trigger that breaks around 4 lbs. It is nothing all that fancy except that it is smooth, no grit or grind, breaks clean and resets easily.
    Having an EOTech for its optic it is not set up to shoot groups, but it went from being real close to clustering all shots to center of target when at the range. Lose estimation is that groups were easily cut in half, but the original trigger totally sucked.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Advertisement