Build or buy first AR?

Should you build or buy your first AR?


The age old question - buy or build? Check out this thread, @Scoutbob, it may help:

I built my first AR right after Christmas last year. :slight_smile: I may buy my next… or build it… or buy it…



I am in the market for an AR and I have been looking around in the local gun stores. I will buy one before I build one, just because I need it right away, since I have never built one I figure its a stepping stone to learning how to build one.


Worst case, I can’t see a 1st time build taking more than 2 hours assembling both upper and lower.

Edit: due to it being an unknown I set aside a whole afternoon to assemble my first and only lower. Thirty minutes later it was done. Now I have the tools to repair or tinker with it in the future.


It depends on what you want and when you want it.

I know plenty of people that take their time, shop around, and build a custom AR platform with relatively little money.

On the other hand, if you’re shopping for the best custom parts or want a complete rifle quickly (without time to shop around), building a custom rifle can be an expensive hobby. Sometimes it’s cheaper and easier to buy a complete rifle and then customize it over time.

As with any project, the answer depends on your budget, your schedule, and your requirements.


Anyone have a good resource to start with? I really like the idea of building an AR, but I also know I could buy a decent complete for $700. I could see myself buying premier parts along the way and spending way more than that :grimacing:. That being said, it seems like it would be really cool to have my very own personal construction.


I used to “build” computers. People used to think it was really cool and super unique, and like a massive accomplishment. We use the term “build” to mean assemble.

It’s fun, picking out components based on specs, reviews, etc. But to “complete the build” … everything generally only fits one way, and anyone following youtube with the proper tools can do it.

It seems that AR-builds are similar. I have bought a complete lower/complete upper (that was my first)… two pins and you’ve “built” an AR.
I also bought a complete upper and a stripped lower. That was a headache, as far as I’m concerned. Probably didn’t have the right tools at the time, but also some of these pins and springs ARE frustrating!

I’m considering a future AR-10 build, and I’m very very strongly considering buying complete upper and complete lower again. I’m too old to like putting tiny pieces together. If I want to upgrade a particular component, I’ll do that down the road.

In conclusion, IMO, building things is fun if you think it’s fun, but the concept of “building” computers and guns is more often than not much simpler than people envision.


The reason I prefer building (assembling) one is my first one I changed so much to fit my preferences i basically rebuilt the rifle. So number 2 i orders all the pieces individually minus the upper i found the exact upper I wanted. It took time because I waited for sales but I got exactly what I wanted and have not changed a thing on rifle number 2


My local FFL/Gunsmith (1911 Academy) offers weekend classes where you build your own AR with the help of his tools and knowledge. They also help you build your own customized 1911. So… maybe call around to a few gunsmiths?


In Accounting we would call this the difference between actual cost. (What it cost you to purchase a completed AR-15) and then (Actual cost of all the parts and gizmos you need to build the completed AR-15 + opportunity cost).

Opportunity cost is what else could you be doing with the time you are spending on that AR-15 build.

If the actual cost of buying a completed rifle is less than the actual cost of the parts needed to make a completed rifle plus the associated opportunity cost. Then buy it.

Or you can always use the gun buying brick. Throw brick in air , if it lands on ground buy a new gun.


Since I was one of those kids that would take things apart to see how they’re worked, and put them back together, I also like putting plastic models together, then later wrenching by the shade tree on muscle cars swapping out parts.

So I like taking the put yours together route. For all of mine I used stripped lower receivers. I have a certain list of parts that I prefer so for me it made sense as far as cost and time.

With anything the first time can be challenging yet I enjoyed it, even the search for the spring and or detent that took flight here and there.


You should build one if you truly enjoy building and stripping firearms. I say this because building AR’s rarely saves money. The advantage of building an AR is similar to reloading ammunition…you get exactly what you want.

The most common mistake I see with AR builds are purchasing a buffer that’s either too light or too heavy. Combine this with the incorrect gas system (carbine length, mid length, rifle length) and you will have headaches, not to mention you will end up spending more money. NOTE: Pay special attention to the size of the gas port.

Here is a link I have bookmarked just for these moments: