Karen Hunter AR 15 Build Part 3: The Upper
Here we are in the third and final stage of our AR 15 build where we will complete the upper. As I stated previously, this series is an overview of the AR 15 build process and not a step by step tutorial or instructional video. This video will give you a good idea about what goes into an AR 15 build and the tools to make it a smooth process. More than that, my hope is that sharing this experience of building and AR 15 with my dad will shed some light on what an enjoyable platform this truly is. It isn’t the “big, bad assault rifle” that some people make it out to be. It’s a powerful rifle, no doubt, but one that is quite enjoyable and easy to learn to shoot.
The final leg of our AR 15 build is completing the upper. First, we will work on the bolt carrier group. Attach the extractor to the bolt and insert the pin. You will need to press the extractor down to line up the holes. Now we drop our bolt into the actual bolt carrier. It should take some firm pressure to get it inserted. This is because the gas rings are making a good seal. This is followed by dropping in the cam pin. The cam pin will only go in one way but will be able to turn freely once in the hole. Once it is in, turn it to align its hole with the carrier group channel. Now that we have our cam pin aligned, we can drop in the firing pin. This is all held together with a firing pin retention pin. The key to this is installing it with the two sides of the pin being horizontal. In this alignment it will go right in with little frustration.
Related Videos: At The Range – AR 15 Cleaning Basics
Our attention now turns to the actual upper as we install our Magpul Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS). These need to slide onto the rail of the rifle. Align the screw hole with the rail and insert the screw. We will repeat this with the rear sight. A special note on this is that it’s easier to accomplish if we attach it before we put in the charging handle. Like the front sight, align it and insert the screw. When it comes to the front and back sights DO NOT push the screw through too firmly but rather let it align with the nut on the other side of the sight. If you push it too hard, the nut will dislodge and need to be reinserted into its special pocket.
Next up we put in our charging handle. It is easy to install if we turn the upper over and see the notch it fits into. Align the two and it goes right in. With the charging handle in place we are ready for the bolt carrier group. Draw the charging handle back a bit and set the top of the BCG into the grove of the handle as you push it into the upper. The charging handle will latch in place and take the bolt carrier group with it. The last task is to attach the newly assembled upper to the lower. Extend the take down and pivot pins and align the upper into the lower. A trick to get this completed easily is to set in the front pin first, then the rear pin. This helps align the upper into the lower and makes assembly easier.
With that our AR 15 build is complete. The next video and article will be number 4, the final video where we will actually test the gun on the range. This is the one I’m most excited about and I believe will be the most rewarding for my dad. When you physically see the firearm you’ve built running and working in action. Please note that prior to our range testing I have been working with my dad on the fundamentals of shooting an AR. I cannot stress the importance of training, especially when using a firearm for any type of self-defense. This goes for all people and all firearms. Training is essential, for everyone. From newer shooters just starting out to others who’ve been shooting for awhile it’s imperative to stay consistent in your firearms training. Shooting is a perishable skill, but with consistent, proper and applicable training it will not only stay with you but you’ll get better and better as time goes by.
Watch the rest of this AR 15 Build series:
Karen Hunter, GetZone.com Contributor