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Discussion Starter #1
Legos for grownups, eh?

ICONROLLEY

What a frickin' PITA.

So, being the stupid person I am, I waited to get into the "build your own AR" game until Obamascare 2013. So I paid 3x more than I should have for a crappy polymer NFA lower. Which was out of spec and a PITA to build using too-expensive, run of the mill PSA LPK (which I had to scrounge for months to find). So figure at this point I'd spent at least $100 too much so far.

[ame]http://youtu.be/HsCbm4ANry4[/ame] video detailing issues and fixes for any interested.

Found a used Magpul CTR stock for about $60 and a used/beat up receiver extension and castle nut/plate on one of the forums for... I can't remember, but I paid double what it was worth. in early/mid 2013 there were ZERO AR parts available anywhere. Paid too much for a standard carbine buffer and later a carbine spring; paid shipping on both from separate shops because you couldn't buy both parts together anywhere at the time. ICONROLLEY

Got the lower completed and it functions... tried it out on a couple other uppers and seems fine. Trigger pull is like 12 lbs but Kwhatevz.

So couple weeks ago I decide I've hemmed and hawed enough and I'm going to get this POS rifle done come hell or high water, so I can put it in the back of my safe and ignore it. My goal originally was to go for cheap/light for this one. Since the lower is polymer, I figured I was off to a good start at least for the light part. I've already paid likely at least double what I should for a completed lower. *cough*

Still needed barrel/gas tube/front sight guts/gas tube pin/delta ring and guts/flash hider/handguards. Sometime during the panic I find an email "special" and pay $170 for a "5.56 8620 BCG with charging handle" from PSA. Not engraved with typical PSA logo so I assume it's no-name or generic brand. I don't know. Paid too much for crappy quality. Again. Because I'm stupid.

Last week I order the barrel and most associated parts from Midway and get free shipping; ends up being $190. Still don't have rear sight or handguards. Barrel is E.R. Shaw/Model 1 lightweight 16" CAR barrel from Midway, info says .223 chamber, reviews/feedback say .223 chamber.

Try to install barrel. I tighten and loosen barrel nut a couple of times to "seat" the surfaces, as recommended. Then try torque. At recommended starting torque of 30 ft/lbs, the tooth opening on the nut is juuuust too far for proper clearance of the gas tube. So I have to go a complete other tooth tighter. Sonova..... In the process of trying to torque barrel nut I shear like 4 teeth off the crappy barrel nut, and at what I would consider WAY TOO MUCH TORQUE/STOP YOU HAMFISTED GORILLA tightness, the next tooth is juuuust not far enough for clearance. Sonova...... I am NOT going to try to tighten it any further. Once the part breaks I figure it's tight enough, and I don't try to tighten it further. I don't care who you are... that's just good sense. GI1

I figure the barrel nut is now FUBAR anyway, so I can just grind/sand the tooth a bit to clear the gas tube. (I know, I know ICONROLLEY ). I try. I sweat and swear. I don't have a Dremel so I use sandpaper. It's a bit better but it doesn't work well enough to properly align gas tube without interference. To distract myself from how crappy a job I'm doing, I decide to check headspace.

Bad idea. 8620 BCG closes on a Clymer .223 NO GO gauge. (1.4666"). ICONROLLEY The PSA BCG that came with my PSA mock dissy upper does NOT close on the NO GO .223 gauge in the new rifle. Both BCGs close on .223 NO GO gauge if tried in the PSA dissy upper (which has a 5.56 chamber).

So: I assume this means that my crappy 8620 BCG or bolt is out of spec. I don't have a 5.56 NO GO or MAX gauge so I can't confirm that the chamber is improperly cut. However, the fact that a "known good" BCG won't close on a .223 NO GO leads me to believe that my 8620 BCG is questionable.

I add one layer of scotch tape (supposed to be .0015" thick) to the back of the .223 NO GO gauge and the bolt won't close. So I figure it's close enough for government work. Somewhere between 1.4666" and 1.4681". If I ever get it complete I'll only shoot .223 in it and test/triple check for excessive case stretching.

After headspace check I try to futz with the barrel nut again. It pisses me off again so I give up and loosen it (before I break the rest of the damn teeth off) and order a new barrel nut, skinny M4 handguards, and a Daniel Defense rear sight ($70 GI3 ). I would have tried to cheap out on the rear BUIS and gotten a Magpul but I have a hard time paying $50 for an ugly, questionably functional plastic sight... plus I'm paranoid about the myriad fake magpul parts out there. I figure I can justify the rear sight by using it on my PSA Dissy and take the (likely fake) Matech rear sight off of it and use it on the new LW build.

So, my "cheap" build has now cost me quite a bit more than the complete "bargain ARs" I've seen in sales lately. Ah, well... the lessons learned are worth it. Right? RIGHT? DISHOUT

Only good part in this story is that I was given the complete PSA flattop upper (sans BCG or charging handle), so I claw like $50 back there. woooooooooooooooo ICONROLLEY
 

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In the gilded halls of Valhala
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What a nightmare...

Use a Troy rail and you can torque the nut at the lower end with no worry. The rail prevents it from loosening.

I now buy my a parts locally. Even if I pay more it's worth it to be able to get in the car and exchange it if it doesn't drop in.

Happened with a fail zero bcg... wouldn't go into battery. Swapped for the next one on the shelf wich worked great.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Troy rail costs more than my entire build. :D

But thanks for the tip. I'll remember that for my next time... if there ever is a next time. I'm kinda soured on the whole AR thing right now.
 

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Man, I thought I was frustrated when I scratched the finish getting a roll pin in.

I feel like I need a smoke just to calm down after reading your experience.

Hope you like how she shoots. If not, Bravo company has a bunch of blemished uppers on sale right now. Just saying.
 

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Honestly I really don't care how she shoots at this point. It's one of those things where you just want it DONE so you can stop obsessing about it. maybe it's just me.

In future I will definitely stick with quality makers/parts like BCM, though.
 

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Sounds like you got a bit overwelhmed.

On the plus side u got some experience with your rifle...

You could use shims on the barrel nut to get it to time correctly.

I would assume your barrel is GTG and not worry with headspace, the barrel SHOULD be correctly headspaced to the barrel extension. Very few people have headspace issues with AR barrels from reputable sources.
If your bolt gives out, which it may or may not, depending on how hard and how frequently u shoot you may never make that 8620 bolt bite the dust. In which case usually means bolt teeth shearing off, with a simple remedy of a new bolt....

The learning experience was worth it!!! ....Not to mention the complete upper u scored is worth more than $50.


Did u say u were still using the polymer lower??? If u are that it the one thing I would replace.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, overwhelmed is a good word to describe it. I haven't been this upset since trying to assemble my girl's dollhouse at 3 a.m. last Christmas morning. LOL

Building a man-portable nuclear device would be simpler
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What did you do? just leave it as long as it torques/lines up properly?
 

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You can use a barrel nut with damaged, broken or missing teeth as long as the teeth are timed to the gas tube while being within torque specs AND your handguard locks up correctly.

If the threads are good on the barrel nut and the nut itself is undamaged, having damaged /stripped or missing/ground off teeth won't affect function as long as it is torqued and timed within spec.

If the handguard attaches correctly then the damaged nut means nothing... It just has a beauty mark
 

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Using the old-school Army-issue barrel wrench (with just three pins), I have stripped one or more teeth off of more barrel nuts than I care to remember. A GOOD wrench, sturdy vise/workbench certainly helps there. Taking your time and not getting frustrated (something that I am sometimes less than stellar at) also helps tremendously.

Just think how easy the next one will be! GI2
 

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What did you do? just leave it as long as it torques/lines up properly?
Yup. As long as you get the right torque and the gas tube is straight, it's simply a cosmetic issue. Not much of a cosmetic issue because once the hand guards/modular rail system goes on, the slip ring hides it.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
Buy complete uppers. They are easy.
That's what I've done in the past. I assembled this PSA lower (no problems) but got the upper complete.


 

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I wouldn't judge a rifle based on an experience had while putting it together with parts manufactured during the biggest firearms buying panic ever.

PSA is a good company. They generally offer good quality parts for really low prices. Occasionally they offer fair quality parts for even less, or cosmetic blems. It's difficult (but critical) to be able to discern the difference. With their Premium build kits, you can get a complete PSA rifle together for like $600. Pretty much the best deal for a budget AR out there, and all the parts are mil-spec.
 

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Yeah, I don't blame them at all, and have recommended them many times, and will continue to do so. The only really possibly questionable part is the 8620 bolt, which if my data is correct is only .0015" short or less.

It was more a question of my lack of experience.
 

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Yeah, I don't blame them at all, and have recommended them many times, and will continue to do so. The only really possibly questionable part is the 8620 bolt, which if my data is correct is only .0015" short or less.

It was more a question of my lack of experience.
I wouldn't use an 8620 bolt. Milspec is C158, which is normally what their bolts are.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah.
 

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I think that the lesson here is that the time to get into rifles is when they're not threatened and the market follows the normal rules of supply and demand. I'm currently this far along with my Mk14 EBR build, but will be building a Mk12-style upper for my AR on the cheap, before completing a lower, and then replacing parts on the new gun until I have the parts I actually want for a 3rd gun.

The AR world makes it really easy to incrementally build multiple firearms once you have a lower receiver, which is great.

Here's the EBR, just needs glass. 1/4 of the way saved for a Leupold Mk4 LR/T 3.5-10



Guns are such a fun hobby...
 

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Sorry to hear its been such a PITA. I agree, I would ditch that lower, but I am allergic to "plastic" guns.

I guess I lucked out. Walked into Surplus Ammo & Arms and walked out with one of their $70 stripped lowers. Had a $45 Stag LPK, a $50 6-pos stock kit(that Im gonna swap out for an A2 stock), $100 BCG (from DSA). Grabbed a $80 Rainier stripped upper, and got the parts to complete it from PSA. The upper was actually cheaper online than the prices I saw in Rainier's store. The barrel ($150 16" mid-length) is on its way from Green Mountain right now. Still need a front sight/gas block, gas tube, and hand guards. Looking at that same Daniel Defense rear sight that you bought.... wondering if it sits at the proper height for a standard front sight.

Hopefully my wife will like her new carbine. GI1
 
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