The AR-15 rifle has been very popular with a lot of shooters, gun owners, and gun users ever since it has been introduced. This is partly thanks to the adoption of the M16 by the U.S. military and is partly due to its modular design that allows you to swap parts and customize your weapon to however you like it.
While the AR-15 platform is reliable and accurate, you may enjoy the ability to mold your gun for the purpose that you are looking for. Your needs such as plinking, hunting, target shooting, or even self-defense.
What You Need for AR-15 Assemblage
Building an AR-15 rifle to some gun owners and gun users is actually not too difficult. The most difficult part is usually trying to get the tiny springs into place without them bouncing all over the place.
Not a lot of tools are needed either, and most pieces are usually attached with pins. For a true gun enthusiast, building from a kit is a fun way to take the next step in the field. It may even be therapeutic for them too!
Let’s have a look at some of the items involved. A build kit may include some or all of these items. It is even more depending on the type of kit and the manufacturer. Looking into these factors will help you understand whether if it is the right kit for you or. If it isn’t, then you may want to make substitutions or just buy each piece separately.
The Criteria: Choosing a Build Kit
Building an AR-15 from scratch can be quite challenging for some gun owners. It will also take a certain build kit to make sure the build-up is smooth and void of conflict from its start to its finish.
Instead of taking out money and budgeting for individual components from various brands, you can always buy a build kit for a lot less. It even saves you a lot of time and effort in tracking down the individual parts instead of buying them separately.
Buying a build kit doesn’t really allow the same level of customization as buying every individual part separately. However, it does allow you to experience the thrill of building your own AR-15 rifle. It also allows more customization than you can get by just buying a rifle off the shelf. With that being said, it kind of falls into a nice middle ground.
Not every kit is created equal if we can put it that way. Here are a few things to look for while selecting a build kit of your choice:
You can definitely find a build kit that is affordable for your budget in terms of quality and performance. There are plenty of those in the market. However, it is important that you find the best one that you can afford, rather than try to save a few bucks and sacrifice your rifle’s quality in the process. Whether if you are on a budget or have the extra money to play around with, you are bound to find a build kit you will enjoy using.
All Parts Included
Not every AR-15 rifle build kit will have all the parts you need to completely build out a rifle. With that being said, it is important to know which parts are available when you receive the kit.
Having as many parts as possible in the build kit may lessen the amount of time your project will take. It may also allow you to save some time and money trying to track down all the other parts you need individually too.
Ease of Installation
If you are someone who lacks gunsmithing skills, then you should know that you are not alone in this regard. These build kits will make sure that your build will be easy from start to finish. Every part that you will have that comes in handy will be easy to install. It is quite likely that it does not require a ridiculous amount of gunsmithing skills. Find a build kit that includes parts that are easy to install piece-by-piece.
The Pieces You Will Have to Put Together
The main parts of the AR-15 rifle are related to the accuracy and dependability of your gun. The more comfortable you are with your gun, obviously, the better you will shoot with it and the more accurate it will be as a result. Being particularly mindful of some of these pieces will assist you in building a more reliable gun.
Upper and Lower Receivers
The upper or lower receiver of an assault rifle is the most important piece of your rifle and is the key to the AR’s modular system. Most receivers will work on just about any AR. However, buying an upper/lower pair from the same company will basically eliminate any problems in fit and finish.
Receivers come in various finishes and looks, but the most popular options are polymer and aluminum. You are highly advised to choose a high-quality build material to make sure your weapon will take any punishment that will occur as a result of regular, everyday use. Forged lower receivers are the most common type of lower receiver you can ever find on the market, while billet receivers are less common and usually more expensive.
The way you hold your gun while you are shooting can make or break your shot. To say the least, the grip is your personal connection to the rifle. It should feel natural when you are holding it in your hand as if it is an extension of your arm. Any discomfort you feel from the grip, whether due to protrusions, sharp edges, or the wrong size, can impact and affect your shooting.
If you are someone whose hand is large, you should consider changing the stock grip for a larger one that feels like it was made just for you. A number of really good grips are available on the market and you can choose one that feels just right for you.
The typical grip for an AR-15 is the pistol grip. However, in some American states they are prohibited. Featureless grips can help you satisfy the legal requirements in those states.
By getting a new handguard, you are not only improving the rifle’s aesthetics, but also the comfort, accuracy, and versatility of mounting the accessories. The handguards come in many types and kinds, such as free-float or drop-in, and with or without rails. They can be made from many kinds of materials.
Free-floating handguards not only look good, but they offer a little bit more increase in accuracy over the traditional two-piece, drop-in designs. Free-floating handguards also offer a lot of space to attach accessories via their MIL-STD-1913 rails.
If you are planning to use the AR-15 for hunting purposes, for example, you will appreciate the ability to add a night vision device, extra optics, and even a holographic sight.
On the other hand, drop-in handguards are much easier to install or swap out so to speak.
The most common handguard lengths you can ever find are rifle, mid-length, carbine, and pistol. Generally speaking, you should match your handguard to your gas system length. However, you may be able to fit a longer handguard on a shorter gas system if you use a low-profile gas block.
The barrel can affect the weight and overall performance of your AR-15 rifle. A lined barrel such as chrome, Melonite, or Nitride coatings can certainly add to the life of the barrel, extending it by over 5000 rounds fired.
Even for the more expensive ARs, over time, the accuracy of a barrel can decrease as a result of having thousands of shots. The AR-15’s barrel has a lifespan of between 10,000 to 20,000 rounds, after which most show a severe loss of accuracy.
Another factor to consider is the twist rate of the barrel. The twist rate will determine which bullet will perform the best in the rifle. If you are planning to use longer or heavier bullets, you will definitely need a fast twist rate such as 1:7. For lighter bullets (55 grain or less), it will be great to use a slower twist rate. For a wider range of bullets, the 1:8 or 1:9 twist rates will work just as fine.
Some AR-15s come with great triggers. However, some do not. The same holds true for build kits. The standard mil-spec trigger sold on many AR-15 rifles works fine for some gun owners. However, when building your own rifle, look carefully at what trigger is included. Or the fact that you will want a new trigger to improve your accuracy and make every shot really fun and enjoyable for you.
You may opt for a drop-in trigger, which makes it really quick and easy to install a new trigger. A single case includes all of the trigger’s internal components, such as the trigger, sear, hammer, springs, and disconnector. Once you take away the old trigger, installing a drop-in trigger in its place is as simple as dropping the case into the lower receiver and securing the trigger case with your trigger pins.
The charging handle is used to move the striker, bolt, or hammer to the ready position. Hence, it is considered an important part of the AR-15. Other charging handle uses include ejecting unfired rounds and spent shells, checking the gun for blockages and rounds, and releasing bolts that have rear-locked.
One reason many gun owners upgrade their charging handles is that the stock handles are designed for right-handed shooters. If you are a left-handed shooter, consider an ambidextrous charging handle that you can use with both your hands.
Shooters in tactical situations love ambidextrous handles as they can be used for rapid and accurate shots from either side. You can choose from a wide variety of materials, colors, and features for your new charging handles. Some charging handles even reduce the effect of blowback by porting gases in a different direction.
Stocks come in two main kinds: fixed and collapsible. Although fixed stocks are durable and great for precision shooting, there are also many collapsible stocks that have a good-enough fit to offer both accuracy and malleability.
In order to allow different-sized shooters to comfortably shoot your rifle, you will need a collapsible stock. A collapsible stock also comes in handy for shooting while wearing armor. Furthermore, it is useful for urban fighting and crowded areas too.
A folding stock will be very handy for reducing the profile of your rifle while placing it in a bag or for storage. A folding stock will need an adapter for the AR-15, as the standard AR buffer tube/receiver extension system does not allow the use of a folding stock.
Whatever stock you choose, you should match the fit to the right side of the buffer tube. It did not matter whether it is a commercial or military spec.
Most AR-15 rifles go through a gas impingement system. An adjustable gas block helps to better regulate the cycling action. This lowers the felt recoil and barrel rise, as well as other impediments as you shoot.
Some shooters may want to try out the alternative gas piston system, which has its ups and downs compared to direct impingement. It is far less common, though, so you may have some trouble finding it in a build kit.
The Best AR-15 Build Kits – Reviewed
Now we have put together some of the more popular build kit items and criteria, here are some of the best build kits that you can currently find on the market.
1. CMMG AR-15 Lower Gunbuilder’s Parts Kit
A lot of newer gun owners and gun users were pretty happy with this build kit. They were able to fit this on most stripped lower receivers. One of the gun users said that he has all the necessary parts he needed to make his AR-15 build fully functional. Once it is complete, it is ready to go once the building project is thorough. He also added that he will definitely get a build kit like this again for any future AR-15 builds.
The reason why this kit stands out to us and to a lot of gun owners is that it has all the parts to make a lower receiver function. This also includes the firing groups and the trigger groups. They are equally as important to the AR-15 rifle. Because without them, the rifle will obviously be reduced to a piece of useless junk. Each part is made from top-grade materials and is guaranteed to last you quite a while. So if you are looking for high-quality, fully functioning parts right out of the box, then this kit will less likely to disappoint you.
This kit from CMMG is specifically made for building the lower of your AR-15 rifle. The lower parts kit includes a takedown pin, pin detent and spring (2 of each), hammer, trigger pin (2 of it), safety selector, magazine catch and release, bolt catch and plunger, buffer retainer, and all the other required pins and springs. To put it simply, this lower parts kit can be considered as an all-in-one solution for building your lower receiver.
The kit is really great for building a customized lower, especially with a custom grip and trigger group. The finish of all the parts in this kit is very consistent and the parts have been made to fit comfortably. Every component in the package is separately packed and clearly labeled. That way you can keep things organized during installation.
All parts of the kit have a matte black finish, hence they blend really well with the aesthetics of your rifle. All the parts in the build kit are mil-spec and compatible with all lowers. That way you don’t have to worry about selecting a specific type for your lower. Last but not least, the kit has been priced so well, you may even end up buying an extra as a backup.
This build kit will certainly be a must-have and must-use for those building their AR-15 rifles from scratch. As a matter of fact, this should be one of the first build kits you should definitely get. That’s because a lower receiver kit will contain some of the most vivacious parts of an AR-15. It’s a must-have if you are looking for something like a good trigger or firing assembly.
The bottom line is that the CMMG AR-15 Lower Gunbuilding Lower Parts Kit will certainly stand out as a must-have build kit for the AR-15 builder. If you want something that will give you durable parts that will function as a unit once you install each and everyone, then this build kit should be one of the priority or at the top of your list of must-haves.
The Lower Parts Kit from CMMG is an affordable yet complete solution to build your AR-15 rifle. The build kit is compatible with all lower, which is another attractive feature to have. This means you can also keep one as a backup for replacing worn-out parts – should it ever come to such.
2. DPMS AR-15 5.56 16 Inch Oracle Rifle Kit
A lot of new gun owners were pretty impressed with this build kit. They are quick to point out that this contained so many needed parts for their AR-15 rifle building project. One of the gun users said that he was able to use every part to his advantage and was able to knock out a huge chunk of his building project with this one build kit alone. He added that the top rail in the build kit actually even fit his favorite AR-15 rifle scope.
This build kit pretty much almost has everything else – parts for your lower receiver, upper receiver, and everything in-between. So this kit pretty much gives you what you need in order for your rifle’s building project to go relatively smoothly. Every single part is made from the best quality materials you can ever imagine. For example, the pistol grip is made from polymer, a material that is designed to give you excellent grip and control over your rifle in even the most adverse weather conditions.
Not too long ago, DPMS just released its well-planned AR-15 build kit chambered in 5.56 NATO. It is made for both first-time buyers and more experienced shooters in mind.
The Oracle kit includes every other part except for a stripped lower receiver, sights, and a magazine. The A3-type, flat-top upper receiver built from 7075 T6 aluminum comes with an ejection port cover and is forward-assist installed. The upper includes Glacier Guard handguards, which are usually regarded as sufficiently heat-resistant. It also includes a standard BCG and charging handle that is assembled at the factory.
The bottom line is that the DPMS Kit has every single part that is vital to the AR-15’s functionality. Just make sure to add on each part little by little as you go along. By the time you are done, you will have an AR-15 rifle that is ready for a few test fires at the range. Once you get some successful shots off, then you are off on the next hunting or target shooting trip!
3. Geissele Automatic AR-15 Lower Parts Kit
New gun owners are able to fit these parts on their lower receivers without much issues or permanent alterations to their rifles. While a majority of the gun owners have used this as part of their AR-15 building project, other gun owners have used this as an upgrade kit to further improve their lower receivers. Generally, the parts function really well and everything was smooth and very well-put-together.
This build kit contains all your smaller parts, like your pins and springs. These include parts like your buffer tube, trigger assembly, and your safety assembly among other parts that are equally as important to your AR-15 rifle’s lower receiver. This is a build kit that has all the necessary and important parts to last you many years or even decades. As long as you take really good care of your rifle, there is no question of how long your newly built or upgraded AR-15 will last.
The Geissele AR-15 Lower Part Set assumes that more-experienced gun owners usually build on their grips and triggers first. In that sense, Geissele LPK includes all parts except the fire control group and pistol grip.
Unlike some of the build kits that offer Metal Injection Molded (MIM) parts, these quality AR-15 lower components are made from hardened stainless steel or by casting process that can meet or exceed military specifications (Mil-Spec).
When it comes to building your AR-15, keep in mind the purpose you intended to use it for and plan accordingly. You should try to address any comfort or ergonomic issues with the grip, trigger, and handguard by upgrading to the best-fitting kits you can find.
High-quality magazines and sights can also make a huge and substantial difference in your shooting experience. You can reload faster and more reliably with good magazines and shoot more accurately with the right scope.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) some gun owners may have.
Q: What do build kits usually consist of?
Build kits can consist of a lot of necessary items a gun usually needs. Items such as stocks, springs and pins, triggers, and whatnot.