Building an AR-15 upper from scratch is a rewarding process that allows you to customize your rifle to meet your exact specifications. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the art of building an AR-15 upper from the ground up:
- Define Your Purpose:
Intended Use: Clarify the primary purpose of your AR-15 (e.g., home defense, competition, long-range shooting) to guide your component selection.
- Legal Considerations:
Know the Laws: Ensure compliance with local and federal firearm laws, including regulations regarding barrel length, overall length, and other features.
- Gather Tools and Components:
Essential Tools: Acquire necessary tools, including armorers wrench, torque wrench, punch set, vise, and upper receiver block.
Components: Gather upper receiver, barrel, gas block, gas tube, handguard, bolt carrier group, charging handle, muzzle device, and other necessary parts.
- Assemble the Barrel and Gas System:
Install Barrel: Secure the barrel to the upper receiver using the barrel nut and torque it to specifications.
Gas Block and Tube: Attach the gas block and gas tube, aligning them properly with the gas port on the barrel.
- Install the Handguard:
Attach Handguard: Mount the handguard onto the barrel nut, ensuring proper alignment. Secure it with the provided screws or attachment system.
- Add the Muzzle Device:
Thread Muzzle Device: Attach the muzzle AR Uppers device to the barrel’s threaded end, ensuring it is properly aligned and torqued.
- Insert the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) and Charging Handle:
Insert BCG: Place the BCG into the upper receiver, ensuring it properly interfaces with the barrel extension.
Install Charging Handle: Slide the charging handle into the upper receiver and ensure it engages with the BCG.
- Attach the Upper Receiver to the Lower Receiver:
Align Takedown Pins: Ensure proper alignment of the upper and lower receivers, then insert and secure the takedown pins.
- Check Headspacing:
Verify Headspacing: Use headspace gauges to confirm proper headspacing between the bolt and barrel. This step is crucial for safety.
- Optics and Accessories:
Install Optics: Mount your chosen optics or sights, ensuring proper eye relief and alignment.
Add Accessories: Attach any accessories, such as lights, foregrips, or bipods, based on your preferences and intended use.
- Functional Check:
Safety Check: Perform a safety check to ensure the rifle is unloaded.
Cycle the Action: Manually cycle the action to check for smooth and proper functioning.
- Test Fire:
Range Test: Head to the range for initial testing. Start with a few rounds to verify accuracy, cycling, and overall performance.
- Fine-Tune and Adjust:
Address Issues: If any issues arise during testing, diagnose and address them. This may involve adjusting the gas system, checking for cycling problems, or fine-tuning the optic.
- Finishing Touches:
Cerakote or Finish: If desired, apply a protective finish like Cerakote for added durability and a personalized aesthetic touch.
- Document and Maintain:
Record Details: Keep a record of the components used, torque specifications, and any adjustments made during the build.
Regular Maintenance: Follow a regular maintenance schedule to ensure the longevity and reliability of your AR-15 upper.
Building an AR-15 upper from scratch requires attention to detail, proper tool usage, and adherence to safety guidelines. It’s a hands-on process that allows for personalization and a deep understanding of your firearm. Whether you’re a seasoned gunsmith or a first-time builder, take your time and enjoy the journey of creating a custom AR-15 upper tailored to your needs.