A budget built AR-15? Why Not!!! Part I

You’ve checked your wallet, you’ve checked your bank account and you surreptitiously checked the children’s piggy bank. Still not enough to buy that Daniel Defense DDR. So you decided on a budget rifle. That’s not so bad is it? Of course it isn’t until you want to “trick” it out like all the cool guys. Well, before you let despondency set in, there is another avenue. If your willing to take the time, fancy yourself handy with a hole punch and don’t mind watching a few (20 or so…) You Tube videos then build one! My AR-15 pictured above cost less than $500 minus reflex sight and laser/flashlight and it more than does it’s job if I do mine.

  • Radical Arms .300 Blackout upper receiver w/BCG – $250
  • Palmetto State Armory lower receiver- $150
  • Sightmark Ultra Shot Plus reflex sight – $110
  • Sightmark LoPro green laser/flashlight – $120
  • BAD Lever (by MAGPUL) – $20
  • Back Up Sights – $20
  • MAGPUL AFG grip – $20

I didn’t add the cost of the magazine or sling in because..well frankly I have quite a few laying around the house, but please don’t tell Household 6!! The aforementioned Daniel Defense can be had for the low price of $1,600.

Picture courtesy of Daniel Defense

Even a BCM (Bravo Company USA) upper without sights will run you around $700. Now keep in mind the old adage “You get what you pay for” That $1,600 Daniel Defense is a powerhouse of workmanship, fit and functionality and ohhh does it look NICE!!!

Before we start discussing my budget build lets look at a little misunderstood term: MIL-SPEC (Military-Specification). MIL-SPEC (or MIL-STD) means meeting a military specification and contrary to the belief of many it does not mean inferior or low quality parts. The Military specifies many things for the parts it uses to make up it’s weapons system from specific color to very very specific lengths and widths to metal composition. MIL-SPEC means the weapon or individual part meets a government defined set of specifications plus/minus tolerances and dimensions. That’s it. If you hear somebody say they’d never buy something MIL-SPEC check everything else they say, chances are other things may be misinterpreted also. You should be able to take any MIL-SPEC part and put it in any other MIL-SPEC weapon and have it function properly. Here’s the kicker though…Even if a part meets the tolerances and dimensions as set forth, if it is made from a different material then technically it would not be true MIL-SPEC, but made to MIL-SPEC dimensions.

Now that we hawp-image-1896168844jpg.jpgve that out of the way on to my Super Rifle!! Ok…so it isn’t super and definitely not in the same league as Daniel Defense, Colt or Noveske but as I said earlier it will get the job done. First things first, what are you wanting to spend and what are you able to spend? Most, if not all the time those will not be the same figures. I decided to do my best to stay under $600 minus red dot and laser. This is where taking time before hand and exercising your Google Kwon Do skills pays off. You can find all types online with a little patience.

For the rest of Part 1 we’ll talk about the upper receiver and in Part II we’ll discuss the lower receiver and add-ons/upgrades. For my upper receiver I choose to go with Radical Firearms, purchased through Primary Arms for a few reasons. One it was lower priced; two it was in stock, (that’s hugh these days!). And lastly, it’s Made In ‘Merica!!! Call me what you want, but for me that makes a big difference. I went with the 10.3″ .300 Blackout barrel with regular quad-rails. I choose that length because all the statistics say the .300 reaches its top potential in around 8 inches of barrel or so. Another reason I went with that length is because it provides a good balance for Close Quarters Battle
(CQB) and medium range engagements plus it allows enough real estate to mount optics, magnifiers and lasers if you so desire.


When picking your upper think about where you will using it the most. For me I went with short to medium range engagements and possibly dealing with vehicle doors and windshields. Again, the 10.5 inch barrel is not unwieldy if I have to use it indoors or maybe from inside a vehicle where space is usually non-existent. That length also allows me to engage targets 200 -300 yards away. The beauty of th AR-15 system is that you can switch out different length upper receivers and if you are using the same caliber the lower receiver stays the same! As a side bonus you can interchange .223/5.56 and .300 Blackout upper receivers on the same lower as they use the same lower receiver and magazines…how’s that for interoperability!!! Just be sure you don’t put the wrong magazine in the wrong upper. I use two different colored magazines so I don’t confuse the two. Green for .223 and black for .300 Blackout.

As I eluded to earlier I also have plenty of real estate for attachments on my rifle. As you can see in this view on the top rail I have back-up sights, a laser/flashlight combination and a reflex sight and I still have room for a popcorn maker. We’ll go over the pros and cons of these items in Part II. One of the main factors being weight and balance.20161030_180120

When choosing handguards for your upper it’s virtually impossible not to be bombarded with the newest fad. First it was quad-rail like I have above. Now theres MOE and M-Lok and Key-Mod and some form or fashion of a mash-up of different models. All tout themselves as the best. The now standard quad-rail gives you the most area to mount attachments to. The draw back is they are heavier than any of the other rail systems out there and the cause the “Bigger Bag Pack More Stuff” syndrome. There is so much room that some people take it as a challenge to fill it all up!!!


Don’t fall into that trap. Think about what your mission is and what you actually need and plan accordingly. You will hear that more than once. I learned the hard way. Unless you are on a tactical team of some type, chances are you don’t a laser regular or infrared. You don’t an IR illuminator either. A flashlight though, is a must for just about any scenario even in daytime. Put enough lumens in somebody’s eyes and they won’t be able to see to engage you and hopefully that will end the situation right there and everybody goes home alive.

It is a big world when you decide to build your own. From different colors and finishes to upgraded parts to self lubricating bolt carrier groups. Don’t rush in cash or credit card in hand. Take your time and research online or go to different stores and put your hands on different items. Talk to the sales people. Talk to other shooters. Find out what works for you and go for it. Remember you can always reach out to us here at Delaine and Lee for any questions you have.

Products and equipment are only one third of the solution to survival. Training and Awareness complete the triad to help you keep safe. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for information on products, or training at info@dandltactical.com.


What It Takes – Montgomery Gentry


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