There was a time when building an AR15 was something only a very small group of people did. These people would build specialty rifles that fit their unique needs, and were willing to pay a truckload of money to do so. Those days are long gone. These days, AR 15 build kits are often more common than store bought AR15s.
So what are the pros and cons of buying a rifle, versus buying an AR15 build kit?
Buying a Rifle
We’ll do the pros of buying a rifle first, since the reasons are short and simple.
I want it now!
This is true, when you buy a rifle from a gun store, after you pay you can generally take the weapon home with you. Buying an AR15 is the better choice if you are making an impulse purchase and are not concerned with customizing the rifle much.
Occasionally gun companies will produce nontraditional weapons with different finishes, or slightly different configurations and call them distributors specials. These are rare in the rifle world, but occasionally occur. You can’t build a distributor exclusive.
These are the only two reasons I have for buying a rifle.
Advantages of an AR 15 Build Kit
An AR 15 build kit is most commonly a simple kit that contains every piece you need to build your own rifle. These kits are unfinished and require you to finish the 80% lower and assemble the rifle.
Completely Off Grid
When buying an AR15, or even a 100% receiver, you must go through an FFL. This requires paperwork like the 4473, which is accessible to the ATF. A build kit with an 80% receiver does not need to go through an FFL and is free from the 4473 and paying for the background check.
Can be Shipped to Your Home
Because the 80% receiver and the rest of the kit aren't considered a firearm it can be shipped directly to your door. Normally, a rifle would have to go through an FFL, which results in a transfer fee that can range from 20 to a 100 dollars. An AR15 build kit can be shipped directly to your door, and into your eager hands.
Allows for Customization
Building a rifle allows you to pick and choose the parts you want on your rifle. If you want Magpul furniture, there is an AR15 build kit for that. If you want a standard, lightweight polymer gear then there is a build kit for that. You’re not stuck with a rifle you have to pay even more for to customize.
Building a rifle can often be cheaper than buying a rifle. In some situations, a dirt cheap, not even mil spec, rifle can be slightly cheaper. However, when comparing mid to high-end rifles, building is almost always more affordable.
Lastly, when you buy an AR15 build kit you aren’t just getting a rifle, you are getting an experience. An experience that challenges you, rewards you and educates you. You catch something called, the builder’s bug. Once you start you just keep building rifles, sometimes in different calibers, sometimes in different sizes, but once you build an AR15, you don’t go back to buying them.