With AR platform rifles going for ridiculous prices, I'm considering getting a lower before a ban hits and building over time. The prices of lowers have gone up as well, but I can get one from a local dealer for $175 plus tax, which isn't too terrible. My question is, how difficult is it? Is it worth it in the long run? Any advice you can give me? Thanks.
As a builder I will jump in on the availability of uppers and parts....
Right now, the number one most difficult to come by part for an AR15 is a bolt carrier. This is not a new issue. This has been an issue for months. Part of the problem is there are only 3 large manufacturers in the country that supply directly to consumers. 1 of them has had a huge quality problem and the other has been so backed up with government orders, they are sold past their capacity all the way through next year.
There are other manufacturers but they are all small scale in comparison. Bolt carriers are not overly complicated to make but they do have to be right. We have a machine at our shop that is capible of making them but we don't have a drawing with all of the specs required. We are working to get our hands on one so we can start making them ourselves if this shortage continues.
We also have a line on carriers for the short term and we hope that by the time we burn through them, some of this will have blown over.
My point is, buy the lower....it is the controlled part of the weapon. You will be able to find parts. Maybe not this week....but you will find parts.
Listen to what Compass Lake has to say. They, in my opinion, are the ultimate authority when it comes to the black rifle. The Space Gun upper they built for me will shoot 3 1/2" groups at 600 yards (prone with a sling not off of a rest). They know of what they speak.
My question is, how difficult is it? Is it worth it in the long run?
It's pretty easy to build out (assemble) a lower from a striped lower and lower parts kit. I've done two lowers with no special tools and it's really easy. Many "kits" include a fully assembled upper so assembling the lower is the whole job. I've done two lowers with no special tools and it's really easy (like a 15-30 minute job). The upper is a harder and you'll need several special tools, depending on the state of assembly (I haven't done one). The barrel extension needs to be "head spaced" if that's not already done. The barrel needs to be clamped to the upper receiver with the barrel nut and vertical alignment is critical if you plan to use the front sight. If you get an assembled upper it will save having to buy a bunch of tools. Is it worth it? Well you can save about $100 in tax by buying parts vs an assembled AR.