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Building an AR 15 on a Budget

Budgets: We all gotta work with one, and if you’re wise with your money you try hard to stay within that budget. When it comes to building with an AR 15 kit, there’s a very common misconception that it’s expensive to build a high-quality rifle. Now, you can easily buy a cheap rifle, but “cheap” is a lot different than “affordable”. “Cheap” is a word we associate with useless, and that’s no good when it comes to owning a firearm. However, you can build an affordable black rifle for about the same cost as a cheap one, and it’ll work well – just as well as a brand name rifle on the retail shelf. So, let’s look at the parts necessary to piece together your own AR 15 kit at home, minus all the markup and high cost.

The Lower

80% Lower w/ Classic Lower Parts Kit

So the best, most affordable lower receiver you can find for building your budget AR 15 kit is going to be found in one of our money-saving 80 Lower Kits. These kits include everything you need to build a great lower receiver. One of our popular kits, in particular, emulates the standard AR 15 carbine package. The parts included are almost the exact same as what the military uses. The biggest difference here is the lower is an 80 lower and the fire control unit lacks a “giggle switch” (a full-auto sear).

The base 80 lower is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum and comes finished in a mil-spec Type III Hard Anodized Black finish. This is identical in material and type to what’s found on a grunt’s M4A1. This lower is the highest quality and most affordable option on the market. The trigger pull is crisp with little take-up, over-travel or creep, and the parts feature tight tolerances so everything goes together nicely. These kits do include the 6-position M4-style buttstock that’s functioned extremely well for generations in the service. It’ll serve you just as well.

The best part about our 80 Lower Kits is they’re universal. This is the same stuff found on any store-bought black rifle. They’re easy finish and piece together because most gunsmithing and AR 15 tools are built around these very parts, no matter where they came from.

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The Upper

5.56 (16" Barrel & 12" M-Lok Handguard) AR 15 Rifle Upper Assembly

We suggest a complete lower, and we’re going to highlight two complete uppers. The only difference between the two is the caliber. We’re not suggesting buying both, we’re merely giving you options. However, it should be noted if you buy one, finish your rifle, and decide to swap calibers, all you have to do is swap the uppers out.

The first is our hugely popular 5.56 upper with an M Lok handguard. The venerable 5.56 is the classic AR 15 cartridge, and it’s the most common caliber found on the AR 15 market. If we were on a budget we’d likely go this route due to the plentiful and affordable ammunition. The 16-inch barrel has a 1:7 twist and is topped with a flash suppressor. The M Lok handguard is the current choice of SOCOM due to its strength and dependability. It’s a very versatile upper receiver that accepts loads of accessories and is modular to your needs.

Alternatively, if you plan to own a suppressor, the still-affordable and more effective route is the 300 Blackout Keymod upper. The new 300 Blackout round is easy to suppress and packs a serious punch. It’s more expensive round-for-round than 5.56, but it presents a much better option for suppressed shooting. This upper also sports a 16-inch barrel with flash suppressor, and it’s just as modular as the 5.56 upper when it comes to attachments.

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The Jig


AR-15 Rugged Jig (80% Lower Jig)

The jig is critical to finishing your AR 15 build. There are two routes to take on a budget, the first is the Rugged jig. The Rugged Jig is the most affordable option, but when you factor in the final costs of tools and tooling it may not be the best option. If you already own a drill press we’d go with the Rugged Jig.

If you don’t own a drill press, however, we’d go with the Tough Jig. The Touch Jig can be used with a standard hand drill. This will reduce your overall costs significantly. Drill presses obviously aren’t the most affordable tools compared to hand drills.

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Get it All at Once!

5.56 (16" Barrel & Fixed Front Sight) AR 15 Rifle Kit with 80% Lower Fire/Safe Marked

Before we wrap it up we also want to point out that we sell complete rifle kits that include everything you need, except for the jig and tools. These complete kits are excellent and affordable all-in-one options for building a quality, budget black rifle. These standard kits will allow you to produce an at-home piece that’ll hit targets just as well as any retail rifle.

You can check our favorite kit in the lot here, or you can browse around and spy some of our other complete rifle kits – the choice is yours.

Building a budget rifle is a great way to go, and using the parts above you’ll get a great rifle. This will not be a cheapo sport rifle, but rather a legitimate, quality AR 15. It may not be unique at face value, but it’ll be a rifle you truly put together yourself and it’ll be just as functional as a rifle that rolled off the assembly, and we think that’s something to be proud of.

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