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0055-24 Tech Tip - Building an Affordable AR-15 That Doesn't Suck_Thumb

Building an Affordable AR-15 That Doesn't Suck

Author Caleb Savant
one month ago

Building an Inexpensive AR-15 That Doesn’t Suck | Brownells Build


Hi, Caleb from Brownells here! In today's video, we're going to be covering this AR-15 build, the most recent one. The interesting thing about this one is that this one is inexpensive but it doesn't suck. That's the whole point of this video.

Overview of the Build

Now I know we've been doing a lot of AR builds and stuff in the past here. I say past, but somewhat recently, and they've all been pretty expensive builds. They've been more of the Gucci builds, and I wanted to go in a completely opposite direction. I wanted to do an affordable AR and, you know, with that, my own personal requirement, even though it's inexpensive, is that it has to be something that I would be willing to, like, bet my life on, something I would use in a home defense type situation. So, I didn't go with any overly cheap parts that were of questionable quality or origin or anything like that. Everything I chose is indeed available at Brownells. I wanted this to be a complete Brownells build, so that was another requirement.

Addressing the Elephant: Anderson Lower Receiver

Alright, so let's just address the elephant in the room. Lower receiver. I am using an Anderson Manufacturing lower receiver. Now before you like burn out your fingers on the keyboard, just hear me out, okay? Rewind back to like 2012-ish, whenever I first started using Anderson receivers because I was getting them at the time. I was ordering them at like 25 bucks a pop through my personal FFL back in the day, so I bought a ridiculous amount of them and built a bunch of guns on them. And I've never had a single issue with an Anderson lower receiver. Now because they're cheap, there are a lot of them out there, and typically the reason why Anderson lowers get a bad rap is because you have people that are building guns, they're doing their own home builds and whatnot, and whenever something goes wrong with that build, typically they'll blame that lower receiver because that's like the cheapest part on their gun. And that's kind of where they get a bad rap from in general. I know they go by the fun little name 'poverty pony,' which is funny, but honestly, Anderson lowers for me have never had a bad issue. They're not that bad. Chances are if you see somebody post something negative about them, they have absolutely no personal experience with them and they're just regurgitating something they read somewhere else, and it ended up in like a snowball type effect. Either that or they are just like one of the internet keyboard trolls that can't even legally own a firearm anyways. But that's a whole other thing. Let's continue. Let's keep moving. We got the Anderson out of the way. I like Anderson. If you don't, I don't care. Still, please hit the like button. Anywho, let's go tip to butt.

Tip to Butt Breakdown

Starting at the muzzle end here, the actual muzzle brake we're using is this Midwest Industries, I forget the technical name of it, but this is like the main one they make for the AR-15. And the reason I chose this one is because it is very inexpensive. I'm not going to be naming any prices here in the video because those change all the time and there are different deals and stuff that make things cheaper. But with that being said, I'll tell you how much this build costs at the end of the video. This thing right here is super cheap and it pretty much deletes recoil. The barrel we're using is this 223 Wylde Brownells barrel. This is listed as an A1 barrel, but it's only listed that because it uses a 625 gas journal. It's technically a pencil barrel, so that basically just means it's a lightweight barrel and it's super affordable but it's made really well.

Handguard: Breek Arms

Moving on from there, let's talk about this handguard. This handguard, the Breek Arms handguard. The reason I chose it is it's made out of good aluminum. It has a good fit and finish on it and it uses a good barrel nut. So whenever I was picking a handguard, the big thing was the barrel nut. You can definitely get cheaper handguards than this one, and they often will use a very bad attachment method like some of those Chinese market handguards that just have these super cheap cross bolts and like Philips set screws and stuff. Get that junk out of here. This one uses a beveled locking mechanism that holds on really tight to that handguard, from handguard to barrel nut, I should say, and it's just a really solid product.

Upper Receiver: Aero Precision

Upper receiver, this upper receiver we went with is an Aero Precision. Aero just makes good receivers in general.

Stock, Grip, and Sights: Magpul

Magpul stock, the Magpul stock itself, nothing even comes close to this quality in the price range of the Magpul MOE stock. Same thing to be said about the grip and the sights. Magpul has absolutely dominated the market in that price range as far as quality. They're just really good proven products.

Bolt Carrier Group: Brownells Nitride

I'll hit the bolt carrier group as well. The bolt carrier group is our Brownells nitride bolt carrier group. Let me actually show it to you instead of just talking about it through the ejection port.

Bolt Carrier Group Close-Up

There it is. Really good quality as far as materials and stuff go. Again, like I said, I'm going to put a full build list on our website that will actually have the specs and stuff, so that this video is just more of a highlight and it doesn't turn into like a 45-minute video of me just holding an AR-15 and talking about it. Because if it's not already boring yet, it will definitely be boring by the time we've reached that point.

Optic: Sig Romeo 5

Okay, so the optic, Sig Romeo 5. This is kind of completely optional for this build. I just wanted to include a good Red Dot sight that wasn't super expensive. This thing right here, I think, is usually you can find them for around 125 bucks, something like that. If you do this build, you're looking probably just over 800 bucks, and if you take away the optic, obviously subtract 125 from that. So obviously you can get cheaper ARs for that amount of money, but they, in my opinion, are nowhere near as good as this one you can build for this price.

Ensuring Long-Term Reliability

Okay, and here's the deal. I know like a lot of you out there are like, "Well, I just built my gun from whatever manufacturer, took it out to the field, got 30 rounds through it, it shoots great." That's me being you, as far as my voice goes. But with that being said, a magazine dump is no way to test a gun, right? Yes, it works, but that doesn't tell you how long it's going to work. Typically, when you start using cheaper components, especially for the AR-15, because AR-15 parts are pretty easy for most manufacturers to make, but what separates your higher quality parts from your lower quality parts is how long they're going to be working. Because they're made to a spec, and whenever they're made to or exceeding that spec, they're going to work a lot longer than those parts that are just cranked out as cheap as possible.

Final Thoughts

So that is building an inexpensive AR that doesn't suck. I didn't want to call this "building a cheap AR that doesn't suck" because some of you out there take the term cheap and you kind of refer that to as quality as well. We're just talking about price here. So when I said cheap, like I called this Anderson lower cheap, I was just talking about the price, not the quality. Like I said, I've used more than I can count and never had an issue with them. So if you have any questions or comments, you're watching this on YouTube, maybe you have experience with some of these parts, you want to post your personal opinions on them, anything like that, maybe you just want to call me dumb for using an Anderson lower, I don't know. This is your platform to do that. Go ahead, leave them down below. If you're watching this on the website, like I said, we're going to have the full build list there for you so you can see everything you need to put something like this together. Also, if you need any help with any of this, check out our AR build series that goes through every single part or feel free to give us a call on the tech line. We'll be happy to help you out. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you next time.

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