Author Topic: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?  (Read 3944 times)

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Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
« on: December 08, 2015, 09:15:32 PM »
I've been thinking of getting a few AR lowers to stash away for a rainy day.  I'm not looking to build anything in the near future, just looking to turn a small amount of little green pieces of paper into something that could be used/sold/bartered/finished up later on.  Ideally I would have posted this a couple months ago when prices were at rock bottom, but we don't have full blown panic (yet) from current events and I'm hoping that things settle down a bit and we get another glut after Christmas and prices come in another 10 or 20%.

At any rate, I've no experience with anything AR.  So here are my specific questions:
  • Is there a large spectrum of quality difference between lowers of different manufacture?
  • Is there a major difference between polymer and aluminum?  Weight, price, longevity etc?
  • Are there any manufacturers to specifically avoid because of well known QA/safety issues?
  • Are there any specific features to look for?
  • What specialized tools are required to go from a table full of parts to a safely functioning AR?  Obviously headspace gauges, but also maybe things like barrel nut wrench and ...?
  • When you see 'blemish' sales, what does that actually mean?  Is it just cosmetic defects or could it be out of spec issues or other hidden gotchas that such items should be generally be avoided?

      

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Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 09:35:37 PM »
I can't answer all the questions, but I'll help with what I can.

AR lowers are still out there for a good price. Anything under $100 is a decent deal, depending on how complete it is. You can buy "raw" lowers for about $40, but they require full machining. The most common lowers are called 80% lowers. They are almost fully completed, you just need to finish them off, usually it's drilling the trigger group holes. Anything over 80% is considered a functional part, and requires a serial and FFL transfer. You can buy 100% lowers with serials.

Keep in mind, as an individual, you can buy an 80% lower and build a non-serialed gun for your personal use. However, if you try to sell it, you are now considered a manufacturer, and would need a manufacturer's FFL license and add a serial to the gun.

Quality wise, I can't comment. I don't deal with many. It's just so much cheaper to buy a complete factory gun nowadays. Every brand sells a $550 complete model.

As for aluminum vs poly... I have never seen a poly lower only for sale, but if they exist I'd stay away from them. Windham Weaponry is the ONLY manufacture that has perfected poly/carbon ARs. All the others have issues.

Tool wise, an AR multi tool should do most of what you need, depending on what you are doing for an upper (assembled upper or scratch built).

The other thing to consider...many times mismatched uppers and lowers don't fit together well. Another reason I like a complete factory gun.

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Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 09:37:00 PM »

At any rate, I've no experience with anything AR.  So here are my specific questions:
    There is only like three makers of standard lowers not including specialty lowers. They simply receive the finish and logo of the customer. 

    • Is there a large spectrum of quality difference between lowers of different manufacture?

    Not really...  Just finish differences mainly.

    • Is there a major difference between polymer and aluminum?  Weight, price, longevity etc?

    My cousin has a poly lower... Works great and looks decent, but I prefer the alum because thats the way its supposed to be and I have seen some ugly broken poly lowers on line. 

    • Are there any manufacturers to specifically avoid because of well known QA/safety issues?

    Quality wise... Not really.  I don't particularly like the ones with the built in trigger guards because they look funky and dont allow upgraded guards. Original guard design lets you swing in down for use with thick gloves too..

    • Are there any specific features to look for?

    My opinion....  Standard alum with standard trigger guard.

    • What specialized tools are required to go from a table full of parts to a safely functioning AR?  Obviously headspace gauges, but also maybe things like barrel nut wrench and ...?

    Universal AR tool with barrel nut wrench, upper vice block, misc small tools for lower assembly that you likely have... Razor blade, vice grips, tape.

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HEADSPACING AN AR...  the barrel seat depth into the upper and the receiving socket are all made within tight specs..... Done. You can freely swap barrels all day long without issue.


    • When you see 'blemish' sales, what does that actually mean?  Is it just cosmetic defects or could it be out of spec issues or other hidden gotchas that such items should be generally be avoided?

    Its cosmetic finish only... Will not be spec problem...  May not even see it. 

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #4 on: December 09, 2015, 08:37:58 AM »
    just got into AR's myself. I bought complete lowers from PSA because of a few reasons. didn't want to go to the cost of buying the tools needed to put together and didn't know anything about how to do it correctly. PSA has some great deals too. have bought blems and never could find anything wrong with them.
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 08:48:20 AM »
    PSA is always having sales and are worth checking out. www.palmettostatearmory.com   thumb1
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #6 on: December 09, 2015, 10:01:27 AM »
    PSA is always having sales and are worth checking out. www.palmettostatearmory.com   thumb1

    1+ on PSA. Sign up for their newsletter and I bet they will talk you out of a few pieces of that green paper. They really do have some good deals once in a while. I was on their email blasts from when they were selling the $399 VZ2008's, and some of the prices on the AR stuff caught my attention.
    I just started messing around with AR's myself. I first bought a PA-10 complete lower, and have been piecing the upper together with mostly PSA stuff, but a Rainer Arms Barrel, etc..
    They then had stripped multi-cal lowers for $49 shipped IIRC (not blem), so I bought a couple of those. A month or so later they had their classic lower build kit for $59 with free shipping, and I bought a couple of those.
    With tools I had already, and a 20 minute you tube video I had a complete lower done with no previous experience.
    PSA then had their PA-47 (7.62x39) complete upper for $339 with free shipping( they were $319 black Friday, about got another) so I got one of those and slapped it on the lower I put together. I've been shooting the snot of this thing with no problems yet. Really surprised how simple they are to put together.

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #7 on: December 09, 2015, 11:05:46 AM »
          
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 05:39:50 PM »
    Let me make this perfectly clear..  I said "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HEADSPACING AN AR." Because you dont mess with it and there is basically no way to adjust it. Either the bolt is bad or the barrel is bad, and you reolace it.  I am not saying the headspace itself does not exist... Thats retarded.  That being said, its always a good idea to CHECK headspace. This is easy if you have a bullet and tape.   

    And yes....  There is a crazy small chance a bolt or barrel is not correct, but good luck finding one!

    Thanks for looking.    :)
    « Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 05:51:46 PM by Loose}{Cannon »
          
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    Offline Dannyboy53

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #9 on: December 09, 2015, 07:27:24 PM »
    bbush, am I understanding you right, I can put a 7.62X39 AR together for around $400?
    « Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 07:41:22 PM by Loose}{Cannon »

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #10 on: December 09, 2015, 07:41:43 PM »
    bbush, am I understanding you right, I can put a 7.62X39 AR together for around $400?

    Pretty much danny....  Maybe 450.  Depends on how cheap you can find the parts.
          
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #11 on: December 09, 2015, 08:31:37 PM »
    If the lower has a caliber designator on it, then I take it the final gun has to be of that caliber?  Does cal multi get by that rule?
          

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #12 on: December 09, 2015, 08:43:12 PM »
    I dont think I have seen a specific cal lower other then the proprietary 'AR similar' variants. I dont think my lower says multi, and I see no reason why I couldn't swap out to a x39 barrel, bolt head, and mag. 

    For instance.. The GB lower I posted, the description states the new models will be marked multi, but there is no other dif then the marking. 
          
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #13 on: December 09, 2015, 08:53:48 PM »
          
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    Offline bbush44

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #14 on: December 10, 2015, 09:19:36 AM »
    bbush, am I understanding you right, I can put a 7.62X39 AR together for around $400?
    Danny,
    Here is what mine cost me.
    PSA Stripped Lower $49 Shipped
    PSA Classic Lower Build Kit $59 Shipped
    PSA PA-47 Complete upper with BCG and Charging handle $339 Shipped
    C Products Defense 10, 20, & 30 Round Mags $54.35 Shipped from https://shop.northriverllc.com/762-x-39-AR-Magazines_c19.htm
    Puts me just over $500. If you went with less mags you would be $475, or you can use standard 223 AR mags, but can only load like half capacity IIRC.
    This was over a few months watching PSA's email blasts when they had sales and free shipping.

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #15 on: December 10, 2015, 09:40:01 AM »
    BB I thank you for putting this together for me, I may go this route since I can get it in 7.62X39 caliber. Nothing at all against 5.56mm but standardizing ammo is an attractive proposition!

    Offline bbush44

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #16 on: December 10, 2015, 10:41:46 AM »
    BB I thank you for putting this together for me, I may go this route since I can get it in 7.62X39 caliber. Nothing at all against 5.56mm but standardizing ammo is an attractive proposition!
    As I mentioned above if you go to PSA and sign up for their news letter they will send you all of their deals. Sometimes they have some really good ones. There are other vendors out there, but I have had good luck with PSA and every few weeks they have free shipping.
    I have a couple mini-14's in 223 and have a pretty good stash of ammo, but no where the amount of 7.62X39 I have. So it just made sense to me to go that route since it was an option.

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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #17 on: December 10, 2015, 01:34:38 PM »
    My 20" A3 upper is a PSA sitting on a Surplus Ammo and Arms lower.  Shoots flawless.
          
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #18 on: December 15, 2015, 05:28:18 PM »



     yawn1  Been there, done that.. wasn't feeling it, so it had to go thumb1
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    Re: Anyone have the patience to school me on an AR lower?
    « Reply #19 on: December 15, 2015, 05:34:58 PM »
    Nobodys perfect.    thumb1
          
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