Completing an 80 lower is exciting! You’ll want to assemble your stripped receiver with a lower parts kit and slap a shiny, new upper on it as soon as possible. Before you go spending too much money on things you don’t need (and may end up disliking), take a pause. Here are 3 things to avoid when building your first AR-15:
#1: Not understanding the law
Many first-time builders buy everything they think they need, and they dive into the project of building an AR-15 without first knowing the requirements. Before you add anything to your shopping cart, you should know what it takes to operate within the law.
Completing your lower means you’ll be the owner of a legal-by-definition firearm even though it’s just an empty receiver with no trigger, barrel, or parts. You must know the laws regarding that finished firearm, first.
States like California require serialization, and others (CA, MA, NY, and others) have explicit restrictions on how your finished AR-15 can be configured. Ignoring these critical laws could land you in the hot seat – and in the crosshairs of the ATF.
#2: Not knowing how to complete an 80 lower
You’ll need to complete your 80 percent lower before you do anything else to complete your first AR-15. Completing your 80% lower means using power tools, configuring those tools with measurements, and putting metal to metal.
Machining metal can be inherently dangerous. Not doing it right when machining an 80 lower and building an AR-15 could result in creating a deadly firearm that harms the shooter with the first trigger pull.
Watch the video tutorials included with the 80% jig of your choice, first. Read the instructions and learn more about the process by reading our how-to guides. Learning the process first will ensure you know what tools you need, and it’ll make you confident enough to build your first AR-15 the right way.
#3: Not deciding what the finished AR-15 will be used for
It’s 2019, and by now all the biggest gunmakers have developed a nearly endless market for the AR-15. The result is a firearm platform that can be tailored to shoot 1000m, compete in three-gun competitions, and act as a home-defense piece, a hunting rifle, and a pistol – all in one.
You simply must know what you want your finished AR-15 to do. Want to reach out and touch targets at 500 meters, maybe more? You should be checking out a DPMS Gen 1 80% lower chambered in .308. Want to shoot subsonic with a suppressor, but also work with medium-range targets? A .300 BLK-chambered AR pistol may be the ticket.
Knowing your finished AR-15’s configuration will ensure you’re buying the right lower, the right parts kit, the right buttstock and sight, and the right upper, barrel, and handguard. After all, the whole point of building your first AR-15 is to save cash and enjoy a gun made just for you, right?
Check out our uppers, lower parts kits, gunsmithing supplies, and lower and jig combos before you build.