The AR platform has been likened to grown up lego’s. The available configurations and components create an almost limitless options on both look and performance. Not only are there numerous purposes a rifle can be designed around such as varminter, long range, plinker, CQB, pistol, sbr or even a traditional M series a# clone but also the looks and budget for each can range thousands of dollars.
As pointed out by Ketih in his rifle build article it is not that building a rifle is really cheaper it is just less expensive to buy the part you want instead of replacing parts down the road. This makes picking the right part the first time crucial. In my experience picking the parts and tracking down good deals on them will take you a minimum of 5 times longer than building it.
This is a list of all required parts and a series of options you may want to consider. Since this will serve as a step by step of what I did next to each part I will list what was purchased for this specific build.
Lower receiver: Joe Bob Outfitters Spartan stripped lower. Got a great deal on this and color filled the spartan head and Molon Labe. We are a MSU house so this has a special place in my heart.
Lower Parts Kit : CMMG Kit minus trigger
Trigger: ALG ACT trigger but I installed that on my other rifle to write the review for it. Currently the pistol has a standard mil-spec trigger from palmetto state armoury that will be upgraded to the ALG ACT when finances become available. For the price I can not say enough good things about the ALG ACT trigger. Reviewed here: ALG ACT Trigger
Pistol Grip: Accu-Grip adjustable pistol grip. This product was sent to us for a T&E and is currently not available. Once it is back in stock and available we will release the review.
Optional BAD Lever: Tactical Link Enhanced Battery Assist Lever. I purchased the Magpul BAD lever at the same time and have run them both. The Tactical link one is more out of the way and slightly easier to operate. It also feels better but frankly either of them are just a luxury and not needed.
Upper Receiver: Anderson Rifles RF85 Mil Spec Complete Upper Receiver. Pairing this with the RF85 treated bolt will allow me to run this and test this as a lubeless rifle. We will be torture testing this through summer with no lube and limited cleaning to see if it is as good as they say. I have run the BCG before but never in a RF85 upper so this will be an interesting experiment.
BCG: Anderson Rifle 8f85 treated M16 5.56/.223 Complete Bolt and Carrier Group. I have used one just like this in the past on my primary rifle and have reviewed it here: BCG RF85
Buffer Tube: Phase 5 Pistol Buffer tube. High quality great price and comes with a comfortable foam pad.
Buffer: Spikes Tactical H1. I really like these buffers and have installed the H1 or H2 on every AR I have. I can not say it makes any real difference in shooting it is just a luxury that I enjoy having in my guns.
Barrel: Daniel Defense 10.3 carbine length gas system Cold Hammer Forged. These are really high quality barrels that last. While ultimately you will need to decide for yourself I will caution those who want to use a barrel shorter than 10 inches to be careful. There is a long series of documented issues with pistol length gas systems. If you are going to go with a pistol length barrel shorter than 10 inches go with a piston system. It will add weight but will reduce the issues associated with the shorter gas system.
Gas Block: Daniel Defense .750 Clamp Low Profile Gas Block. This is a much easier option to install than a traditional gas block. It was very easy to install and make sure I had proper alignment.
Gas tube: Carbine length generic from Brownells.
Hand Guard: ALG 10″ Ergonomic Modular Free Float Rail. We are going to do an entire write up on this part. it is by far the simplest and idiot proof rail and barrel nut you can install. Due to a very unique attachment system you do not even need a torque wrench. A lesson I learned only after buying a torque wrench (begin profanity). Light easy to add accessories without the need for a cheese grater all around.
Optional YHM Quick Disconnect: I replaced the plate that came standard with the phase 5 buffer with a YHM quick disconnect as I will not have a stock to attach a sling to.
Flash Hider/Compensator: Noveske KX3 Flash Suppressor. This was one of the most agonizing parts of my decision. With the final kick in the ass being the KX5 was released the week after I got this (profanity continues). With the shorter barrel flash is more pronounced. The KX3 does a great job of not only reducing the fireball that is often thrown from pistols and SBR’s but it also directs the concussive force backwards. While this will increase recoil (its a 556 here really recoil should not be an issue for you) it does not dissipate concussive force to the side like many other devices. This makes shooting next to you in a defensive situation or at the range a lot more comfortable for your partner.
Optional Optic: I had an Aimpoint Pro laying around so that is what was used. I am not going to recommend it however. For CQB which this is designed for Iron sights are just fine and in many ways my prefered solution. If you prefer a high tech approach then go with a low profile reflex site. You could also go with a smaller aimpoint like the T1 or comparable sized red dot.
There is lots of other upgrades you could go into such as anti rotation pins, 45 degree safety selectors, ambi safeties, enhanced charging handles, QD connectors, Sig pistol brace and much much more but that is all moot for this conversation. With the items listed on this page you will be able to build a complete rifle and have it be dependable at the range or in a defensive situation.
Our next article will go into how to assemble the lower. Thanks for reading and be sure to share this so others can find it.