Should I Build, Buy, Or Modify An Ar-15?

When it comes to semi-automatic rifles, many consider the AR-15 to be the king. The original design was produced by Armalite in the mid-1950s and modeled after the AR-10. The ArmaLite AR-15 was crafted to be revolutionary, with a higher velocity, lighter-weight, small-caliber round, which allowed troops to hump with higher ammunition capacities. The design was later sold to Colt and adopted by the U.S. military as the M16. Since then, different models mirroring the AR-15 have been adapted for hunting, self-defense, competitive shooting, and virtually any other mission that you can assign a gun. Similar rifles have followed in the footsteps of the AR, but none have been able to vastly improve on the functionality and effectiveness of the semi-auto masterpiece.

To this day, the AR-15 model is one of the most sought after, and for a good reason. The AR-15 has been America's rifle for almost 75 years because it is lightweight, effective over long ranges, has a high magazine capacity, and is remarkably durable. There's no question that an AR-15 is a solid choice of firearm for hunting, self-defense, or target shooting, but the way you purchase your semi-auto rifle is totally up to you. Many firearm owners don't consider the different methods of acquiring a firearm, but considering alternatives beyond a storebought AR-15 may enhance your experience and the rifle's performance.

Finding An AR-15 For Sale

Most people are inclined to purchase modern sporting rifles in-store and are entirely content with the product. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to owning a storebought rifle, so your purchase should be made based on where your preferences lie. At the end of the day, the AR-15 is a highly popular rifle for a reason, so you really can't go wrong.

While Colt is the only true manufacturer of AR-15's since purchasing the design from Armalite, there are plenty of semiautomatic, 5.56 rifles that are modeled after the infamous firearm, so factors may vary based on the brand of your choosing. Different models will have various alterations, but there is a fairly consistent standard across most manufacturers. Many of America's top firearm manufacturers have their version of the AR-15, including:

  • Sons of Liberty Gunworks
  • Centurion Arms
  • Odin Works
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Springfield Armory
  • Sig Sauer
  • H&K

Different manufacturers will always use a slightly varied process, giving you firearms that are similar while leaving room for price variation. Sometimes you'll find a great deal on a higher-quality rifle, but most of the time you are paying for a refined manufacturing process and design. With hundreds of brands offering their AR-15 rifles, you are bound to find more options than you could ask for at different price points and qualities.

Benefits of Purchasing your AR-15 In-Store

Semi-automatic rifles have come a long way in the past few decades, and the quality of their manufacturing has gotten a lot more consistent. With that being said, most rifles will "do the trick", and you will find an accurate shot with most AR-style rifles that are sold today. Purchasing a rifle off-the-shelf is the fastest, and usually cheapest, way to purchase an AR-style rifle. It's also the easiest for users who are inexperienced with disassembling and building rifles. For many people, it can be difficult to piece rifles together before they have had a chance to familiarize themselves with the system, so manufactured rifles may be the best option.

Downside Of An Off-The-Shelf Rifle

While it's great to save some time and money by going to the gun store for your Ar-15 or AR-15 style rifle, but you are getting the same thing everyone else has. The same accuracy and the same capabilities from the same semi-automatic rifle. For someone who wants the best, a manufactured AR-15 just won't cut it. There are manufacturers and custom shops that sell premium AR-15 style rifles but at a hefty cost. You are essentially paying for them to acquire high-quality parts, assemble the rifle, and then some extra for their service. Qualities vary based on the manufacturer, but many options that are substantially better cost a lot more.

Using Aftermarket Parts For Your Semi-Auto Rifle

Modern sporting rifles are impressive on their own, with more power and accuracy than anyone could have imagined a century ago, but aftermarket parts can make them even better. One of the biggest advantages of the AR-15 is that you can completely disassemble the rifle and reassemble with enhanced components.

This is true for many firearms today, but AR-15 style rifles are the best example of a weapon with interchangeable components. Don't like the handguard on your rifle? Change it out with an aftermarket handguard that suits you. Prefer a shorter barrel length? replace your barrel with a tactical one. There are endless configurations that you can achieve with your rifle, and you are only limited by your funds and local laws in your area.

Customizing your AR-15 rifle does a lot more than making it your own. While there are subtle enhancements that you can make, such as extending your magazine release, major upgrades, like an upper receiver replacement are also available to truly upgrade your shooting experience. The importance of available upgrades will depend on your preference, but you can start with upgraded parts like this Odin compensator, which will reduce your muzzle rise and felt recoil.

Many gun owners prefer to enhance their AR-15 firearms with aftermarket components to achieve the highest performance level and build a weapon that can be depended on in any situation. You can't always trust a mass-produced product, but upgrading key components will improve your shooting and increase your firearm's reliability. For those that shoot for more than practice, a subtle enhancement can be game (or life) changing.

Enhance your AR-15 with these top-quality rifle components

Building Your AR-15 From Scratch

Semi-automatic rifles that are built from the ground up are a true work of art, but you better find some great deals to make it affordable. From scratch means acquiring every component, from the upper and lower receiver to the barrel and stock, and while parts may be bundled together in some cases, you will still need a decent understanding of the AR-15 system to build your own.

Assuming you have that understanding, there is little stopping you from ordering every part needed to assemble an AR-15 style rifle yourself. Granted, depending on your area you may need to order through an FFL ( Federal Firearms License) dealer or store, but the only component that you will typically need to do that with is a completed lower receiver.

The best thing about building an AR-15 from scratch is knowing that every part was hand-selected by you, and the rifle is completely your own. Whether you are gearing up for hunting or personal defense, or just want the baddest gun at the range, you won't be disappointed with the outcome as long as you are purchasing the right components.

Steering clear of stock products is great, but be prepared to pay a premium on every gun part. The price of semi-auto rifles is rising, and so is the price of parts. Choosing to build your rifle from scratch gives you the most freedom, but it can cost the most as well. You can achieve a low-recoil, accurate shot that from a firearm that feels like it was fitted to you though, so many marksmen are happy to pay for the premium.

AR-15 Ammo

The ammunition that you send through your guns matters, and can make a huge difference in hunting or home defense. Find great deals on top-quality ammo from brands including Remington, PMC, Speer, and more with Project War Path. Explore .223, 5.56, 300 Blackout and other cartridges with PWP and save on premium ammunition.

Is It Worth Buying An AR-15?

AR-15 rifles are a great purchase for anyone who enjoys hinting, wants a home defense weapon, or likes shooting at the range. AR-15's may not be the cheapest firearms on the market, but a lower price would also give you a lower-quality firearm. If you don't mind having a basic rifle, there is a large selection of stock rifles at a lower price.

To the avid marksmen, however, the real question is whether you should purchase your AR-15 from the generic manufacturers and upgrade the rifle yourself, piece it together, or leave it stock. You don't have to break the bank to get your hands on an AR-15, or even to upgrade it when you shop around for great deals on semi-auto rifle parts.

How Much Should You Spend On An AR-15?

There is a broad range of price and quality when it comes to firearms, and your purchase should be made depending on your intentions. Do you intend to trust the firearm with your life? If so, spending extra to get a higher-quality rifle model may be a smart choice. Rifles jam, malfunction, and let you down, but quality firearms do so far less often.

If you are looking at or already own a stock AR-15, there is plenty that you can do to upgrade the quality and function of your rifle. Simple upgrades like rebuilding your lower receiver with an enhanced parts kit can give you a smoother trigger pull and functioning of your rifle. Purchasing a less expensive rifle can help you get started, and the aftermarket components will be ready for you when it's time to upgrade.

Does The Military Still Use AR-15 Style Rifles?

Ever since Colt acquired the AR-15 Armalite rifle, the model has been used by the U.S military. A lot of improvements have been made to the original configuration of AR-15 rifles, but the same design has stood up to the top firearms since the late 50s. The M-16, M-4, HK416 are evolutions of the original AR-15.

How Accurate Are AR-15s?

There is no cut and dry answer to this question because different AR-15s will have various quality levels and, therefore, different accuracies. Various configurations can increase your accuracy, though, and with a few adjustments, you can improve the accuracy of your rifle. Match grade barrels, free floating barrels, changing barrel lengths, AR bipods, buying enhanced telescopic and red dot sights, and using premium match grade ammo can help you achieve the best accuracy. There is a standard of accuracy across AR-15s, but any improvement to your shooting is appreciated when hunting, competing, or defending your home. Find other accessories to help you build the most accurate shot here.

With AR-15s, you have an effective firing range of 550 yards and beyond with upgraded components, accurate on-target shots are doable for decent marksmen with decent sights at that range. Not too many other weapons are capable of shooting over that kind of distance and still be incredibly versatile. Any rifle that sends bullets downrange accurately at 500 yards should be sufficient for any hunting, shooting, competition or self-defense you have planned.

Can I Legally Carry An AR-15?

The legality of carrying firearms varies widely based on local laws. While some states let you open carry AR-15s and other rifles while other states make it hard to even hunt. Before purchasing guns or accessories, it's important to check all local regulations to ensure that you are within your rights. To legally walk around with a semi-auto rifle, you would need to reside in an area that allows for the open carry of guns, and those areas are limited. You can, however, use these weapons for home defense, hunting, and range practice according to your area. Several states monitor everything down to your magazine capacity, so you may also encounter issues when shipping certain parts to locations with these restrictions.