Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to build an AR Upper. Part 1: Tools and Supplies

So. Have I whetted your appetite? Are you clamoring for more information? Can you barely stand my laziness?

Well, never fear, I am not so lazy as to start something and not totally finish it.

So, here's what you'll need for tools.

A decent vise:
You know, actually, it doesn't even need to be that decent. A Harbor Freight one will suffice. Get one and bolt it to something solid. You'll be putting a decent amount of pressure on it, so you'll definitely need a vice.

A torque wrench:
One that goes to at least 80 ft-lbs. (960 inch-lbs / 108.5 nm) Again, it needs to be good enough to actually work.

An Armorer's wrench:
You can get one at any gun show, should run you anywhere from 10-50 bucks. A word of advice: If your torque wrench is 1/2" drive or 3/8" drive or whatever, bring some kind of tool that size to ensure that your torque wrench will actually fit in your armorer's wrench

A Vise Block (AKA Receiver Block):
It's two pieces of black plastic that fit around the reciever so the receiver can be put in a vice. There are a couple of different devices that serve this purpose, but we (The Angry Turk & I) like the "wrap the black plastic legos around it" style.

Some Lube:
Ask a dozen people what kind, get a dozen answers. Some say white lithium grease, some say molybdenum grease, we used good old Anti-Sieze. Everyone agrees it should be some kind of grease. YGMV.

A Set of Roll Pin Punches:
At a minimum you'll need a 5/64 & a 1/8 punch which you already should have from your lower amirite?

So that's it. That's all the tools you need to build an AR upper. The worst part is going to be your reciever block, but you can't put it together without it. Sorry Charlie. You're looking at...maybe 150 dollars in tools? But once you've got them all your goofy friends can mooch off you.

Stay tuned for assembly instructions AND ACTUAL PICTURES. ZOMG

So there you have it. Those are all the tools you need to put together an AR-15 Upper

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to build an AR-15 Upper. Part .5: Parts List & Prices

Ok. So here's the story. I had a 24" Bull Barreled upper on my DPMS lower that I liked a lot. The problem is that it weighed a ton, I couldn't shoot it from the shoulder, and my lower didn't have the precision trigger parts it needed to really take advantage of the accuracy. (I also had a shitty Chinese scope on there.) Long story short, I decided to build something else, and sold it.

This is the story of that build.

So. You may have heard that EBR parts (Evil Black Rifle) have been scarce as of late, for political reasons. This is totally true. It's especially true of small parts, as any small parts that might have been available were generally used by the manufacturers to, you know, put rifles together.

But they're starting to trickle in. So I decided that instead of buying a complete upper, and then having to change things, I would build my dream upper from the get go. My requirements? 20" HBAR barrel, Upper Receiver with M4 feed ramps, quad rail free float forearm, low profile gas block.

If you'd like to do something similar, here's the parts (and price) list that I used to build my rifle.

Source: PK Firearms (
Flash Hider - A2
Unit Price: $7.00
Crush Washer
Unit Price: $3.00 (In retrospect, I should have gotten a peel washer -- I ordered one)

Product Name: Gas Tube Roll Pin
Unit Price: $0.75

Product Name: Gas Tube - Rifle
Unit Price: $12.00

Product Name: Delta Pack Assembly (parts 9-10-11 on exploded diagram -- turns out, I didn't need these with my free float)
Unit Price: $12.00

Product Name: Bushmaster OEM Receiver with M4 Feed Ramps
Unit Price: $120.00

Product Name: RRA AR15 Bolt Group Assembly
Unit Price: $119.00

Product Name: RRA Forged Charging Handle
Unit Price $25.00

Shipping: $10.00
Total: $308.75

Source: Dezarms (
Product Name: AR15 Fluted H-Bar Barrel - 20"
Unit Price: $183.00
Shipping: $11.26
Total: $194.26

Source: The Mad Turk (My shootin' buddy)
Product: Yankee Hill Machine Low Profile Gas Block
Price: $20.00
Total: $20.00

Source: Cheaper Than Dirt (
Product Name: AR-15 Leapers UTG Rifle Length Free Floating Hand Guard Quad Rails
Price: $79.97

Product Name: Mag Magpul PMAG 30 Maglevel
Price $17.97 (Because I really like the idea of a windowed PMAG, despite the added weight of the polymer magazine

Shipping: $10.00
Total: $97.94

Source: Local Awesome Gun Store (Check your yellow pages)
Product Name: Magpul Back Up Sights (Front and Rear)
Price: $120.00

Grand Total: $740.95 (give or take) Shipped to my house.

(All the parts piled up on the floor)

This is in addition to, of course, my DPMS lower reciever. So, all in all, I'd say this build probably would cost around 1100 dollars to replicate. But this was built to my spec:

The Barrel: I wanted a 20" barrel, because only accurate rifles are interesting. I wanted HBAR for the same reason, and the fluted was only an extra couple of bucks. We can argue the merits of fluting all night long, but what's done is done.

The Receiver: I wanted M4 feed ramps, because they don't hurt, and can only help. I was actually shocked at the number of manufacturers that *don't* offer M4 Feed ramps on their receivers. How much extra could that possibly cost? Whatever, Bushmaster cuts their receivers with M4 ramps, so that's what I got.

The Bolt Carrier Assembly: Chrome lined, which I feel is essential, but otherwise it's a plain jane BCA.

The Handguard: I wanted a free float. (See #1) The theory behind free float handguards is that if nothing touches the barrel, then the barrel will "whip" in the same way every time. Otherwise, if you're pulling down with the sling, or pushing up as with a bipod, you could affect the point of aim. Free float handguards are surprisingly expensive, and free floating handguards with rails are even more expensive. Rails are cool because you can easily attach all kinds of goofy shit to them. I noticed that UTG had a very reasonably priced quad rail handguard, and decided to give it a shot. I've been pleasantly surprised, to be honest. But I'll save that for the range report.

The Sights: With a flat top upper and a low profile gas block, there were no sights on the rifle. I saw the Magpul MBUS in The LAGS (Local Awesome Gun Store) and I had to have them. Spring loaded flip up sights, both front and rear, and for a really good price. (If you look online, you could probably find them 100 bucks for the pair. I highly recommend them) They mounted right up with my flat top upper and my railed forearm.

The Flash Hider: I chose a standard A2 for a couple of reasons. It's cheap, it works pretty well, and the Gemtech HALO is reported to mount to it. Maybe some day I'll be able to find out. ;)

Whew! This concludes Part .5. Next I'll tackle the tools you need to assemble your upper, and the beginnings of what you need. Hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

AR-15 Upper!

Good morning chiiiiiiiiildren!

I built a new toy last night!

"Rex", you breathlessly exclaim. "That's wonderful! How ever did you do it!?"

Well, I'm glad you asked. Because I'm going to show you. Step by step, how, exactly, I did it and what I did it with.

So this week, be prepared for "Building an AR-15 Upper, A Shitty Phototutorial!" Lots of folks on the internets can tell you how to build a lower. Lowers are easy. Uppers, on the other hand...uppers are hard(er).

So if you're interested (and even reading this), Keep your eyes peeled.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Hi There!

This is a test post. A first test post, let's say, since with any luck there will be many test posts to follow and even actual posts.

Let's try some stuff.


Bold and Italics


A picture of a Ducati Monster S4R: