Built or build?

So I’m coming into a little spare funds for another rifle for the collection (.244’s, .243’s, 30-06’, shotguns, etc). I was thinking about getting a more modern ‘black’ rifle, and thinking about the 300aac. I already know the pro’s/con’s between the .223, 5.56 and 300, and have opted for the 300aac.

Here’s my question, is it worth custom building my own rig or buying a quality built setup? I was thinking something like the FN m556a1 as a quality benchmark for pre-built. I like Beretta, but really don’t care for their poly ARX series.

As for building, I’m able and have the resources to build my own. I just don’t know exactly where I’d start in that area. One main requirement I’d have is 80% lower that isn’t all marked up with company logo’s, etc.

What are your guys thoughts?


I have bought complete rifles, but then after I replaced parts like different stocks, better triggers, added sights etc, I was way past the price point that I could have built a decent setup. The main problem with building your rifle is, there is so many different brands, colors, styles, that it gives you a headache trying to decide. And if you ask for opinions on parts, you will get a dozen different answers.
And if you ask for opinions on a specific part, or this brand vs this brand, people will give you another dozen answers on other brands, and never answer your question.
And of course you then have the snobs, that only buy the most expensive items and everything else is crap. I have the money to buy what I want, and rarely is an expensive item what I want.
I have never shot an FN, but it does look pretty good. If it has a good trigger I’m not sure you would have to do much to it. My only complaint is it should have a longer rail to cover more of the barrel.
If you can find a good quality rifle parts kit, you might be good to go, but then parts kits have standard stocks, or other parts that you might want to replace, then your back to wasting money.
I have gotten to the point of buying a good complete upper like from BCM, then building it from there.


Thanks for the feedback, this will be the first ar in our collection. I don’t know how many modification I’ll do, since it will be one the wife will be using as well. That is why I was thinking just a quality built one to start. Then down the road, perhaps build a his and her set later, once she’s more comfortable with the platform.

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The only reason I’d even think of an 80% lower is if I was afraid of it being registered/logged on some 4473. There are plenty of cool, or plain lowers out there that would work for such a build. I have guns, registered on 4473’s… If the government ever comes to confiscate guns, they aren’t coming with a list to confiscate just the registered ones; they’ll be there to confiscate every firearm, and just as likely to intern every owner at the same time… So, therefore, I’d just buy; too much hassle for the little bit of money that someone MIGHT save.
Instead, I’d go look for a nice custom lower that suits me instead. The market is flooded currently; I’d choose what I wanted and order it… Now, if I had a nice machine shop, I might go the 80% route ( but there are so many cool lowers that I’d consider first ).

Complete rig vs building ? If you are the type that wants to send the gun off to repair, get the complete gun. Personally, I’d opt for the parts route; get a nice custom looking lower, build the innards of the lower, slap on a pre-built upper, and order a nice bolt that suits my purposes… For example, I’d research the bolt carrier groups as getting a plain jane BCG is cheap, but cleaning is a pain; I’d research which would be less painful to clean like Nickel Boron or whatever is today’s flavor, then make an educated purchase… I know what I like in the aesthetics department; building allows me to choose what I like best, rather than settling on what is available from the manufacturer…

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Ive built my own flintlock, 30-06 bolt gun, and many ARs.
My advise would to have one built by someone who knows which quality parts to use.
We have spent lots buying parts, then rebuying others. We did it by trial and error, lots of error.

As far as lowers go. Once again, dont go by price alone. Stay away from plastic lowers, they are flimsy compared to aluminum ones. We tried the cheapest, which far outlasted the most costly (CNC brand), of the 5 we bought, 4 have broken and replaced. The one is owned by a gal who has not shot it much. We are already planning on replacing it.

As far as brand’s of lowers, stick with the known brand names. Anderson, Stoner, etc. We have tried about 90% of the ones out there. One brand, Noreen, not so sure about. The three we bought from different vendors, all had the mag well off set to the right a tad. Which makes the empty mags fall out, but ones with bullets in them stay in.

Make sure you know the mission of your AR. Just barrel twists, caliber, and gas tube length will keep your head spinning for weeks.

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I prefer to start with a quality gun and modify. But I also started with a Daniel Defense AR… Still, while I only mod most of my fully bought guns, I plan on building on of my own some day.


A quality firearm…
You do not think a custom made rifle is worse that a store bought one?

I once considered building a rifle, but I changed my mind after looking at current prices. These are great days for the AR market. The manufacturers are in a race to the top on features, while in a race to the bottom on price at the same time. There are some great AR’s with high quality components and features for under $1000 right now. One example is the Ruger MPR. It has a cold hammer forged barrel with 5R rifling, upgraded Ruger Elite trigger, upgraded Magpul furniture, premium handguard, etc. All for around $600. Good luck building one for that price.

Just depends on the parts really. You can build a cheap AR or buy a cheap AR, but spending a little extra to get that mid range build or mid range buy will be better in the long run. Plus, while the AR is easy, not every single person knows what they’re doing on their first build. As long as the end product has quality fit and proper tolerances, does it matter?

Thats what we did. Over at 22mods4u we got uppers for $200, added nickel boron BGC, about $340 to the door. All the guys are still using there. I removed m y 5.56 barrel and replaced it with custom 1/12 twist 300 blackout barrel. So now the upper was $600. Then I sold my nickel boron BCG and bought what I think is the best BCG out there. the Sharp’s Rifle Co balanced and DLC coated super BCG, a mere $200, then the next we they went down to $160. So now we are up to $800 for the upper. Add a J&P Enterprise flash hider, another $60. Cover it all with a gun skin $100.
The lower is as USGI as you can get. Except for the minimalist stock and a cool red mag release. Dont forget the flat spring. So much for USGI.
Now I have as much in an AR as my home built flintlock. About $1100.
But its the best ship money can buy.

All this to spin 125gr varmint grenades at 2400fps with sub MOA sight in @ 100 yards.
Yet 1/3 what I spent on the odd six bolt gun.