AR-15 Podcast - Builders Series- Where to Begin

Welcome to another episode of the AR-15 Podcast. On this episode, by popular request, we begin our newest builders series.

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What’s Up?

  1. Reed

  2. JD

Where To Begin

  1. What are you building and why

    1. Why it matters

    2. Intended use

    3. Deal breakers

    4. Budget

  2. Gathering parts

    1. Where to buy

    2. Dealing with an FFL

    3. Brick and Mortar vs. Internet

  3. Tools for the build

    1. Armorers wrench

    2. Receiver block/Reaction rod

    3. Torque wrench

    4. Roll pin punches

    5. Roll pin starter

    6. Brass hammer

    7. Vice

  4. Supplies for the build

    1. Tape

    2. Loctite

    3. Grease

    4. Anti-Seize

    5. Brake cleaner

  5. Custom Tools

    1. Front Sight Bench Block

    2. Carrier Key Staking Tool

    3. Bolt Ejector Tool

    4. Gas Tube Wrench

    5. Pivot Pin Detent Installation Tool

    6. Handguard Alignment Tool

    7. Gas Block Dimple Jig

  6. Considerations before building

    1. Clean work space

    2. Protecting the lower

    3. Preparation and patience

    4. Talk with people who know


ARP 078 - What tools do I need for my AR-15 Build?


Welcome to Episode #078 of the AR15 Podcast. I’m your host Reed Snyder and with me today are J.W. Ramp and Anthony Hardy.  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 is something we can all do to take our black rifle to the next level. Brownells helps make this show possible.

Don’t forget that Brownells is there for you anytime you make a mistake, like when Jake shoots a takedown pin detent across his avacado green linoleum flooring and it skids under the cabinets.

100-011-234 - Seekins Precision - SP223 Lower Receiver080-000-606 - Colt - Lower Receiver Parts Kit100-009-797 - ALG Defense - ACT AR-15 Trigger Set

Shop for AR-15 parts at Brownells.  Go to:

Rifle Assembly Tips:

The Lower Receiver Parts Kit and your Fire Control Group

1.  Magazine Release 2.  Bolt Catch 3.  Safety Selector 4.  Trigger and Disconnector 5.  Hammer

Main Topic:Tools for your AR build

The Major Tools Needed 1.  Workbench 2.  Bench Vise 3.  Upper Receiver Action Block 4.  Lower Receiver Vise Block 5.  Armorer’s Wrench 6.  Hammer 7.  Roll Pin Punches 8.  Torque Wrench

The Tools that Make it Easier 1.  Roll Pin Starter Punches 2.  Roll Pin Holders 3.  Bolt Catch Pin Punch 4.  Geissele Reaction Rod 5.  Barrel Nut Alignment Gauge 6.  Stock Wrench 7.  Pivot Pin Detent Installation Tool

Special Use Tools 1.  Snap Ring Pliers 2.  Carrier Key Staking Tool 3.  Bolt Ejector Tool

Things you wouldn’t have thought you needed 1.  Painters Tape 2.  Anti-Seizing Grease 3.  Work Mat

Listener Feedback:

Chris W: Hey guys, love the show. I just want to revise a question I had sent in earlier this week.

I'm trying to decide where to get a barrel from for my .300blk SBR build. I want to get a quality barrel, but I don't know what to look for. I've heard the benefits of chrome lining and nitride lining, but I don't know what a reasonable price is because Aero Precision is selling an 8 inch CrMoVa barrel for $210, but the 9" barrel from AAC that has a nitride coating and an installed gas block is $425. That seems like a crazy price compared to the Aero one, but maybe it isn't. Being a newbie to the industry, I would love to hear from some more experienced guys on what to do for a barrel. I want quality, but I'm on a fairly tight budget. What's a good compromise? I'd rather spend a little more if it's going to last a lot longer for me.

Any help is appreciated, and thanks so much for the awesome giveaway! I do have one question on that though, I know that I can enter through subscribing to the newsletter, leaving a review on iTunes, or stitcher, but what I'm not clear on is if there can be multiple entries? If I do all three do I get three entries? Thanks again,

Damian:  Hi Guys, I just found your show! I am building my 1st AR and was pleased to hear discussion on building one in your 75th episode. I have a couple newbie questions that I have not been able to answer yet:

Do I have to worry about upper / lower pairing (dimensions, gaps, etc) from different manufactures or is this taken care of by the mil specs?

Along the same lines are there any other dimensions I should be watchful of while building and mixing parts?

Coatings Coatings Coatings, Melonite, NiB, NiB-X, Teflon, etc, good bad & ugly and one manuf. to the next, quoting quality. I'm leaning towards NiB-X.

I always see a lot of reviews talking about budget builds but could you do a good, better and top of the line comparison with reasoning?

Thanks, I'm excited to listen more for the piece part manufacture comparisons and your choice logic!

Robert W: Reed I really enjoy your podcast, I work for An Armored Truck company and listen to the AR15 podcast and other podcasts on the Firearms Radio Network using "doggcatcher" podcast aggregator for Android while working. I just picked up a Blackrain lower for myself and a Phase 5 lower for my eldest (21) son for a simultaneous build. My son will build his on a college student budget and I will build my AR with a little more green. Do you have any suggestions to make it educational and fun.

Rob L.:  Have you guys discussed using 45 deg offset BUIS with optics? As I understand it to use standard (inline) popup BUIS you have to remove your optic/scope 1st. 45 deg. offset a better/realistic alternative? Sorry if I missed!!

GDT AR15 AR 15 Front and Rear 45 Degree Rapid Transition BUIS Backup Iron Sight.


Charles K: As I fly from PHL to PHX, I am listening to Episode 77 on Stitcher (offline)and I wanted to give you some constructive feedback.

I love the show, but there is a lot of background noise in this episode, and it sounds like either strange breathing, or stuff being slid across the counter top.  It is very distracting.

Thanks for a great show and great topics.

Ian K:  Hi Reed, and great job on Ep.77 Michael C.!  Another great episode guys.

Michael, one of the highlights was knowing how Reed must have been filling with pride as you cast aside that new-fangled ACOG to introduce and instruct young Marines on the proper use of the archaic iron sights!

If I may, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask a small favor of you.

Now that you're getting into the Brownells build, you will be discussing the tools needed and recommended for each assembly.

Lets all of us clear thinking individuals take a stand here and now and agree to eliminate and never again mention the horribly ineffective and poorly designed upper receiver action block that many builders have had to suffer with for decades. Now that we have the Geissele Reaction Rod, and similar quality products from Brownells, there is no reason to ever go back again.  For those new builders, I’ll let you describe the simple genius behind securing the upper receiver at the barrel extension, as opposed to crushing the entire aluminum upper in a bench vise, then fighting it as it slips and shifts while trying to torque down the barrel nut at the same time. Please spread the Gospel.

Love the show guys, and thanks again,

Now if I could just figure out how to fit this ACOG to my M1 Garand.


Enter the AR-15 Podcast Rifle Giveaway sponsored by Brownells by going to to join the FRN mailing list. You can also enter the Giveaway by leaving written feedback on iTunes and Stitcher Send us any questions or comments to You can also send us a recorded voicemail by using the Speak Pipe Plugin on the right hand side of the  ar15podcast website Subscribe and listen to the AR-15 Podcast for free at Be sure to leave an iTunes review so iTunes can place the show higher in the searches of potential listeners If you listen to us on the Stitcher app, be sure to leave us a review there. Share your pics with us on Flickr at Follow us on G+ to watch us LIVE at Check out our YouTube page at Follow FRN on Facebook Check out our other podcast on the Firearms Radio Network Don’t forget to use our Brownells Affiliate link for all your AR-15 parts Don’t forget to use our Amazon affiliate link on the website