Karen Hunter AR 15 Build Part 1: The Lower
The AR 15 has become one of the most loved rifles today. Dubbed “America’s Rifle”, this platform has grown in popularity and rightfully so. With proper training and guidance, this rifle has a pretty straightforward design and function making it a great platform to learn and utilize. As much as the AR 15 is loved, there are many in the anti-gun realm who have created horrific misconceptions that simply aren’t true. These misconceptions are in fact very dangerous, causing people with limited gun knowledge to believe the scary myths over actual truth. The AR 15 is not an “Assault Rifle” or “Automatic Rifle”. The AR actually stands for Armalite Rifle after the company that designed this gun in the 1950’s. The AR 15 is NOT an automatic rifle, it’s not a machine gun and it definitely isn’t going to knock you down with recoil, as the AR 15 in reality has lower recoil.
I have found one of the best ways to demystify guns is to take them apart, then reassemble. Seeing the intricate parts and how it all goes together can help you view the gun as more of a powerful tool to be respected versus a frightening object that has a mind of its own. Recently my father decided to switch his home defense firearm to an AR 15. He wasn’t in any way fearful of this gun, but he had very limited knowledge and up to this point had never shot one. Knowing this, I immediately went straight for a custom build. Taking on an AR 15 build under the guidance of someone who has a good understanding of this platform is a wonderful way to become familiar with this gun. So, this is the route I took with my dad, Gary Hunter, and decided to share the experience here on GetZone.com as a series of four videos/articles. This is not a step by step tutorial or instructional piece. This is an overview of someone with no AR 15 experience going through the build process, training and ultimately firing it at the range.
Building the Lower:
The AR 15 is a pretty straight forward design that can be assembled with little guidance. While there are no shortages of online tutorials, I thought a few tips would be helpful as you start to build your lower. First is to have the right tools. We used the Real Avid AR15 Armorers Master Kit. It provided pretty much everything we needed to accomplish not only the lower assembly, but the entire rifle. Second is the use of quality components. We were fortunate to have Magpul provide many of the items we used in the build which made life easier and the end product higher quality.
Regarding the lower, assembly is pretty simple. There are however a few tips I would like to give you that make the process as smooth as possible. We dropped the safety selector in first. After that is the grip. A good tip before moving to the grip is to keep the gun horizontal after you put the detent pin in the gun and the spring in the grip. This allows gravity to help keep everything in place as you slide it together. Nothing is more frustrating that trying to keep pins in place as you assemble. Once the grip is on, make sure the safety selector works and you have an audible and tactile “click” when going from safe to fire. If you are missing this, I suggest you start looking on the bench or floor because more than likely the detent pin fell out before you got it tight.
Related Videos: At The Range: How To Change The Magazine On An AR-15
Next up is the bolt catch. This can be a bit of a balancing act because we are once again holding several pieces together at the same time. To avoid beating up your lower, it’s a good idea to put tape around the pin hole so that as you tap it in, you don’t ding the surface. Beyond that, it’s a matter of patience. Our attention then turned to the magazine release which needs to be tightened to the point where it’s snug, but still functions. Turning the lever until things are super tight is tempting, but you will soon find out your mag release doesn’t work. Snug it down and test it by inserting a magazine then releasing it. Make any tension adjustments you need.
Next is the trigger assembly which is composed of three parts. The trigger, the disconnector and the hammer. The trigger and disconnector go in together and must have their pin holes lined up. Utilizing a small punch through the pin holes first will help align everything, then you can follow up with your pin. The hammer can be a bit of a wrestling match because it must be inserted under pressure to keep the spring tight. Once again, a small punch is very helpful with this. Once the pins are in, conduct a function test to make sure everything works. Try not to let your hammer slam freely onto the upper if possible. While made from good material, it is not designed to be run like that and could cause damage.
You can find lowers in just about any stage of assembly from truly bare stripped lowers to those with varying levels of pre-assembly. The choice is yours and each offers a rewarding experience as you complete your own build. This completes the first of our series of four videos/articles on our AR 15 build. We hope you stay with us through the series when we can finally fire it at the range.
Watch the rest of this AR 15 Build series:
Karen Hunter, GetZone.com Contributor