Just owning an AR15 pistol sounds cool, right? What if you made yours from scratch? It’s easier than ever, thanks to the ever-growing popularity of the 80% lower jig and the size of its market. Here’s what you need, and need to know before, you build an AR-15 pistol!
The legalities of building an AR15 pistol
Folks in California, if you’re reading, we’ve got bad news: The AR-15 pistol’s been effectively neutered in the Hollywood hills, meaning you can only own one if it’s a single-shot pistol. In fact, the legalese spells out quite clearly that any AR15 pistol in the state of California that isn’t single-shot must be manufactured by a registered, licensed FFL.
Unfortunately, this means that you cannot build an AR-15 pistol in the state of California using a standard 80 lower and jig. You’ll need to build the pistol as a single-shot pistol, and you’ll need to invest in a barrel measuring 10” or less.
Vertical Grips and Shouldering an AR15 pistol
Everyone else, you’ve got a much better market to work with. The AR-15 pistol is, in most states, perfectly legal in its available configurations. Federal does not allow for a buttstock or vertical forward grip (angled grips are OK), although at the time of this publication, you can legally shoulder a pistol brace (the ATF has clarified this).
That means you can build your AR-15 pistol with any barrel length, accessories, and fixings. Functionality, however, will dictate how you can build your AR-15 pistol.
The right barrel length for an AR15 pistol
If you’ve been doing research and reading forums or reviews, you might be pulling your hair out over this one. Surprisingly, picking the right barrel length for an AR-15 pistol is easy: Go the longest you can to retain muzzle velocity, without sacrificing overall comfort, maneuverability, and your personal wants and needs.
Will a 7.5” barrel afford much accuracy or power beyond, say, 50 yards? Perhaps not – but will you be using your 7.5” AR-15 pistol at the range? Or will you be using it as a personal defense weapon or some kind? Therein lies the answer to your barrel length.
Going mil-spec? Or simply want what the operators use? Colt Firearms did some ballistics research in the 1960’s and 70’s and found that 10.5” was the “shortest practical barrel length” possible for the U.S. Military’s needs, so they adopted it as the XM177 platform. Today known as the CQBR Carbine or Mk 18 Mod 0, this platform’s barrel length is the current favorite of many special operations communities.
What you need to build an AR15 pistol
Building an AR-15 pistol is no different, technically speaking, than building an AR-15 rifle using an 80% lower. You’ll need the following components to piece together a complete AR-15 pistol:
- Complete AR-15 Pistol Upper
- AR-15 Lower Parts Kit
- AR-15 Buffer, Tube, and Spring
- 80% Lower
- 80% Lower Jig
- Handheld Router
- Hand Drill
- AR-15 Punch Set