How Low Can You Go? A Budget AR-15
2017 is truly the year of the AR-15 rifle. Long past are the days of seemingly elusive $500 budget builds. We’re seeing these budget builds easily attainable at $400. A saturated market coupled with constant sales on AR-15 components has lead to this glorious timeline. Well.. Not so glorious for people who manufacture and sell them, but for the consumer, this is pretty sweet.
I’m no stranger to the concept of “budget building”. So what if we took it a step further? I’m not the first to have done this but why not take a crack at $350 or $300 even? Well, it turns out that this wasn’t such a difficult task after all. The stars aligned for me just when I had finally saved the proper amount for a cheap M4 clone build I had in mind. Lo and behold the sales commenced in succession. Note: None of these sales are active anymore
Primary Arms Sale
Anderson Arms lower receiver – $36.90 after shipping before FFL – $56.90 After FFL. This was a decent deal despite the criticism Anderson gets for their “questionable Mil-Spec standards”. I personally did not have any trouble assembling my Anderson receiver. All of the LPK and buffer tube components fit into the lower properly and without issue.
Midway USA Sale
Mere days after the Primary Arms sale, I found myself reaching into my wallet to grab a credit card for another impulse purchase. But I stand by this one for sure. $199.99 for a complete upper receiver, including bolt carrier group and charging handle. This was an outstanding deal. The BCG alone fetches around the $75 – $99 price tag. Their charging handle is worth about $20. So if you look at it, I got an M4 style stripped upper for around $100. That’s just plain awesome.
But wait there’s more!
Midway had an accompanying item on sale. The AR-Stoner AR-15 lower parts kit for $28.99. In addition, I was able to pick up a cheap MaTech sight on eBay for around $30. So that nearly concluded my short adventure into the realm of cheap AR-15 builds.
“But Don, you’ve already reached the $300 so what about the buffer tube assembly and stock?” Well yes I might have fibbed about an entirely sub $350 build with all bought parts. I was lucky enough to have a friend gift me his cheapo milspec buffer tube assembly with an M4 style stock.
I’m not saying this is the only “quality” AR-15 build you could achieve on the cheap right now. In fact, just a few days after purchasing my parts, I realized Classic Firearms marked their Bear Creek Arsenal .223 Wylde upper (with BCG & CH) for $199.99. In addition they had a stock kit on sale for $24.99 and their $39.99 Anderson LPK in stock at the same time. This would complete an AR kit (without a stripped lower) for $284.65 shipped. Of course you’d still need to pick up a rear sight or optic, but the point still stands.
$300 AR builds are a real thing now and you have no excuse not to own at least one of America’s favorite rifles, the AR-15. (Except for people who live in places where they’re banned by name)
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