ARP 041 - What to buy & how to build it?

Reed & Jake cover the basics of building your first AR-15; what tools, parts and the order to put them together.

Welcome to episode 041 of the AR15 Podcast.  I’m your host Jake Challand with Co-host Reed Snyder. This is the podcast about your favorite black rifle! This show is for you; whether you're building your first AR or you’ve been building ARs for years. There’s something we can all do to take our black rifle to the next level.

AR-15 Product or Training Tip of the Week: Practicing Hold Over

Main Topic: What to buy & how to build it?  - Our simple guide to building your 1st AR-15

Notice: You may need to pause this as we go


Tools: Quick Once over

AR-15 Schematics

  • Lower Receiver:
    • Parts Kit (pins, springs, trigger, mag release, safety selector and pistol grip)
    • Trigger (If you want a better one or your parts kit doesn’t have one)
    • Pistol Grip (If you want a better one or your parts kit doesn’t have one)
    • Butt Stock
    • Buffer Assembly, Spring & Tube
    • Upper Receiver:
      • Charging Handle
      • Forward Assist (only if your upper requires it)
      • Ejection Port Cover (only if your upper requires it)
      • Bolt Carrier (Buy complete assembly if possible)
      • Barrel & Barrel Nut (Barrel nut may come with your rail system)
      • Gas Block (A2 style front sight is also a gas block)
      • Gas Tube
      • Handguard or Free Float Rail
      • Flash Hider (Crush Washer for alignment)
      • Sling Swivels (optional)
      • Iron Sights (BUIS)
      • Optic & Mounting system


  • Lower Receiver:
    • Bolt Catch
    • Trigger & Hammer
    • Safety Selector & Pistol Grip
    • Magazine Release
    • Take Down Pin, Butt Stock, Buffer Spring and Assembly
    • Pivot Pin
    • Upper Receiver
      • Ejection port cover
      • Forward assist
      • charging handle
      • bolt carrier assembly
      • Barrel + Barrel Nut
      • Gas Block / Front sight
      • Gas tube
      • Flash Hider
      • Handguard/Free Float Rail

Listener Feedback:

Greg:  I was at a Cabela’s store recently looking at AR’s.  There was a guy asking one of the salesperson about the value of his recently built AR.  The customer rattled off a number of known manufacturers whose parts were in the AR.  Before he could finish, the sales person stopped the customer and told him that the parts in the gun really accounted for nothing.  In that, as far as the store is concerned it is not a factory rifle and that the value to the store is not in the parts no matter what they are.  The salesperson told the customer that if his rifle were a completely manufacturer product, it would have more value to the store, as a resale or trade-in.

Can you shine some light on this? I have not built an AR, but I am considering it.

Joe Lopez:

Charlie aka gator_b8:  Hey guys first off let me say this is a great podcast. It looks like you guys are having a whole lot of fun with it. I have listened to all of them and am always learning something new. You guys also put me over the edge and I have actually started to build an AR. This bring me to the second thing I wanted to mention. I post on the flicker account as gator_b8 and had the honor of hearing my name on the last show mentioning my uploads. As I said I am in the process of building an AR. I don\'t have the money to buy all my parts at once so I have been ordering piece by piece when possible. I also wouldn\'t mind winning a free AR so I posted pics of the components I have in hand and tried to get creative as Jake asked us to do. I posted pics of the components I wanted to put on my build mixed in with pics I took myself. I thought this was a pretty creative way for a guy who only had a stripped lower to get some entries. Fast forward a few weeks and Jake changes the entry qualifications yet again! Says you must take the photo yourself. So I have been taking more original pics and uploading them as well. Now if someone could tell me how to remove the other pics I would be happy to do it! I didn\'t intend to break the ever changing rules for the giveaway. I feel like a Kalifornian trying to keep up with the gun laws! They were legal when I uploaded them and then became retroactively illegal and now I don\'t know how to make it legal! I will keep taking pictures of my in-progress build and keep uploading them till Jake puts a retroactive limit to the number of entries allowed! I hope you all have as much fun making this podcast as I have listening to it. Keep up the great work!

Josh - St. Louis, MO, free America: Jake,You were going through some of the flikr photos on the last podcast and mentioned my Wilson tennis racquet bag as a rifle case and said that the barrel must have to come off to fit. That is actually a 10.3" SBR that I transport in the Wilson bag for the purpose of discretion. No disassembly required!  Anyway, thanks for the mention!  Hoping you draw my name in October!

Jay: Just a note to you guys to request a plug for Spikes Tactical. You have probably heard of them, but if not, let it be known that they make true mil-spec , high quality rifles, lowers, barrels,uppers, etc... which many say meet or exceed quality put out by Colt, at significantly lower prices($960!). I received one of their ST-15 mid lengths recently and it is flawless.I can't find any bad reviews online. Their barrels are designed for 20,000+ rounds. Here's their description page for the mid-length with all of the specs...

Keep up the good work and love the show!

Frankie in Rock Hill,  SC: I'm a new listener and I  am really enjoying the show.  You guys really get me pumped up about the whole AR scene.  I have not yet built or bought an AR since I am still researching my options.  I  enjoyed the older show about the 300 blackout which brings me to my questions.. Would you guys recommend this caliber for hunting?  I'm am seeing more ammo in this caliber so should the ammo supplies be more plentiful?  Also as a new listener I  was unaware of the AR prices before they went up.. What were the prices and how close are they to the "original" prices for parts like complete Uppers,  lowers and off the shelf rifles.. Like Colt,  Smith,  Daniel Defense etc.. Lastly I am confused about what you guys are calling a "Frankenstein" rifle? I think you were referring to many different internal parts so me getting a Palmetto upper and Spike's lower would not be a Frankenstein? I  live near Palmetto so I like that you guys recommend them.  Thanks for your hard work and the time you take to help us black rifle fans.

Otis BONE Tool and O12 Carbon Remover Giveaway O12 removes stubborn carbon fouling with ease BONE tool is the quick clean tool which scrapes carbon and fouling from the bolt, bolt carrier, and firing pin of your AR15.

Winner:  Ken A. from Bozeman, MT or as I like to tell my friends in CA, AMERICA!!!

Thanks for all the great podcasts axespecially the AR-15 podcast. I've already completed my first build before you\'re podcasts started. Thanks to you and your co hosts I've been able to confirm my selection of parts as good choices. My AR turned out well and shoots great.

The AR-15 podcasts have been enjoyable to listen too. Lot\'s of good info and things to think about. Not 100% too serious, a good amount of humor with the info being shared. Keep up the great work it keeps getting better.

Hope you're able to leave the people\'s republic of Illinois sooner than later. I think everyone that enjoys firearms and the rights most Americans have should leave the slave states.

With that I'd like to say please enroll in the contest for the Otis BONE Tool.

Thanks guys and I'll keep listening.

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