Building your own AR-15 can be the most fulfilling thing any gun owner will ever do. After all, you’re not just parting together pre-built components, you’re machining a hunk of metal from scratch, transforming it into a functional, by-definition firearm. There are, of course, some pros and cons of building your own AR-15. Is it worth it? Are you on the fence about deciding whether to pull the trigger and do it yourself, or go to the local gun store and pick one off the shelf? We’ll help you decide!
Pros and Cons of Building Your Own AR-15
The pros are the best part, so let’s go over why you should build your own AR-15! We’ll touch on cost, customization, convenience, and legality.
Pro: It’s More Affordable. For starters, building your own AR-15 is more affordable than buying a comparable rifle off the gun store’s shelves. That’s because the operating costs of maintaining an FFL license, and the cost of assembly are generally passed on to the consumer.
By building your own AR-15 at home, you’re saving on those costs by doing it yourself! Where most assembled AR-15 lower receivers cost at least $150 (and easily climb from there), you can pick up an 80% lower and lower parts kit for less than $100. Even though you have to buy an 80% lower jig, the cost is still much less than a store-bought rifle – and the jig is a one-time cost!
Pro: You Can Make it Your Own. Most store-bought AR-15s stick to a painfully simple, boring layout: a 5.56 chamber, a 16” barrel, an A2 flash hider, and a standard carbine buttstock. While this makes for a fine shooter, it’s never going to be the perfect AR-15 for you.
Building your own AR-15 means making it fit your needs. You get to decide what barrel and muzzle device you want. You even get to pick your own caliber, and each caliber is equally easy to build! Would you rather buy a rifle and spend more replacing parts, or get it right the first time?
Pro: It’s Less Paperwork and Waiting! Buying a gun in most states means filling out loads of paperwork, waiting on a background check, paying a bunch of fees, and even waiting a number of days before you can even pick up your purchase.
But building an AR-15 at home is 100% legal in all 50 states, and you don’t need to bother with any of that red tape! You do not need a background check conducted, you don’t pay any FFL transfer fees, and you can have all the parts and tools you need shipped to your front door – again, no paperwork necessary!
Some states require you to serialize your AR-15 lower before it’s built (like in California), so you should still review your local and state laws first. Otherwise, yes, it is more convenient to build your rifle at home.
Con: Building an AR-15 Takes Time. Although the job is relatively simple for even first-timers, there is still a minor learning curve. You need to understand how to operate some basic power tools and you’ll have to learn some relatively simple concepts when it comes time to drill and mill your 80% lower.
But we promise, building your own AR-15 is so simple you can learn it in a single day – just like many of our own staff members and come to learn and love!
Con: You Might Become Addicted to Building
Once you realize how easy and quick it is to build an AR-15 from scratch, and once you realize just how many configurations there are available, you might end up building lowers and slapping uppers and parts kits together again and again. First, you’ll need a regular AR-15. Then you’ll want an AR-9. Then you’ll want to experiment with 300 BLK. It’s a slippery slope, but at least you can tell your spouse how cheap your last 80% lower was!