Build Yourself a Budget AR That Doesn’t Suck

I haven’t had an AR-15 in my safe in over a year. In fact it’s probably closer to two years since I shipped the last one off. This summer I figured was the right time to get back into the game. Prices were dropping, and there was lots of stuff available on both sides of the border.

But I decided I wanted to try building an AR. If not from scratch, then at least a “baby’s first build.” So I jumped on the SFRC stripped lower special and started hunting for parts. Six months later, I have a gun:

All in, I spent $604.21 on the gun you see above. (I didn’t factor in the Razor and rear MBUS with that. Sights are separate in my book.)

The key was patience, and keeping an eye on what was available. I got lots of stuff on sale, lots of stuff on the EE, and lots of stuff bit by bit.

The beauty of this is that I didn’t end up with a bunch of take-off parts. My gear closet didn’t fill up with another damn A2 grip, another carry handle, another stock M4 stock etc. I got all the parts I wanted, kept it cheap, and put some of it together myself.

Here’s the details:

  • $87.31 (with shipping and taxes) A stripped NEA Lower from SFRC
  • $250 Norinco 10.5″ Complete Upper: This came off the EE from a stellar CGNer who included a spare trigger kit, safety, and Canadian Forces ambidextrous charging handle.
  • $150 Milsepc Buffer Tube, Buffer & Spring, and Magpul ACS stock: another EE treasure. The CGNer in question had bought himself a Stag 3-Gun model and was ditching the factory gear for some JP Enterprises goodness..
  • $53.20 (with shipping and taxes) Magpul MOE SL handguard and SL grip in stealth grey: This was from the CTCS (Canadian Tactical Cowboy Supplies) Black Friday Sale. I wish I knew beforehand how out of spec Norc uppers are. Its a good thing I had patience and a dremel.
  • $57.70 (with shipping and taxes) Small parts only lower parts kit from Saskatoon Gunworks: Because I already had a grip, trigger, etc I could get away with a reduced LPK
  • $6 Tan Krylon
  • $0 Odin Works Enlarged Magazine Release: Technically you could also list this as the most expensive part on the list, because I had to go to Shot Show to get it. But they were giving the things out at their booth! Retails for $20, dunno if anyone in Canada stocks them, but they are a slick simple upgrade.

Between installing the handguards and assembling the lower, I mucked up the krylon job pretty good. I’m giving myself a week to decide if I want to krylon again and how much of the gun I should paint. I wish Magpul made the ACS in grey, but they don’t so I’ve got to make do with my Frankengun.

I hear the LMT and KAC owners saying:
But TV, your base gun is still that 10.5 inch Norinco. You’ve just put lipstick on a pig!
Well I shot a 100 yard group with 69gr Federal Gold Match .223 this morning:

This is one pig I’m happy to slather-makeup-on/ride-into-battle.

She weighs in at 8.1lbs in the top pictures and a fair bit less without the razor on there. I really can’t think of anything I’d change. . . Well maybe the charging handle, all the CF guys I talk to say the ambi unit is unbearably annoying.

It’s not a fancy AR, but its more complete than you’d get from a regular Norc/DPMS/Colt purchase. And it certainly seems to get the job done.

I’m surprisingly happy to be shooting an AR again.

  • I ran into the same issue trying to put Magpul handguard on a buddy’s Norc AR. Definitely some fitting required.

    • It’s a battle eh? I’d be peering into the handguard with a flashlight going “where is it catching now?” then dremmelling a layer off, and giving it some love with a hammer! Doing it again I would just strip it down to the bare barrel and put proper parts on!

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