I was working as an engineering co-op between my junior and senior year of college making a fairly good week to week pay check when I decided that I needed an AR platform rifle to coyote hunt with. My budget was around $600, so I began doing my normal research and looking for sales, but I couldn’t find what I wanted in my price range. The only thing I could do was build one myself sourcing different parts from all over the internet. This way I could build something that would fit my needs and I could do it paycheck to paycheck. I knew this would take time, but it would be well worth it in the end.
The lower receiver of an AR-15 is where the serial number for the rifle is and therefore needs to be registered by a FFL in your name. Instead of sending one to a gun shop and paying the transfer fee, I stopped into a local gun shop to see what they had in stock. I managed to pick up a base Aero Precision lower for $60. This is pretty much normal going price everywhere but it was the only part that needed paperwork and would be the start of my rifle build.
Lower Parts Kit
At this point in time it was coming up on Memorial Day weekend. That means that every online retailer has sales going on. As I searched the internet and read numerous forums about what parts to buy, I found Palmetto State Armory. They had some great deals going on for all of their parts and I was ready to finish out my lower receiver. I ended up going with a mil-spec lower parts kit that came with a Magpul stock, trigger guard, and grip. This kit also included the buffer tube and components. This kit on sale that weekend ran me $129.99 with free shipping. I couldn’t pass that up.
Complete Upper Receiver
This was the most important part of the rifle in my opinion. I needed something that was going to be accurate and affordable. I decided to go with a complete upper because I knew little about assembling those components at the time. I spent countless hours on forums looking for brands that were good to go and in my price range. Once I felt like I had enough knowledge to make a good purchase it was almost July 4th. This meant tons more deals across the internet. I went with a DS Arms complete upper. Once again, since it was on sale it ran me $274.95. Here are the specs:
DSA AR15 16″ Nitride 1:9 Barrel w/ Free Float 12″ Picatinny Handguard Upper Assembly
5.56 NATO Chamber & Bore
4150 – 11595E Mil-Spec Barrel Steel
Barrel Features Nitride Finish
1:9 Twist Rate
Barrel Threaded 1/2×28
M4 Barrel Extension
Carbine Length Gas System
Stainless Steel Gas Tube
Steel Low Profile Set Screw Gas Block
DSArms A3M4 Forged Upper Receiver
Hardcoat Anodized per MIL-A-8625F, Type III, Class 2 Finish
M4 Feed Ramps
Mil-Spec Port Door & Forward Assist
A2 Mil-Spec Flashider
12″ Free Float 1913 Picatinny Rail Handguard
This was another part that I ordered from DS Arms, I thought that if I was using their complete upper this would be good for compatibility. I purchased it at the same time as my upper. I went with their M16 spec complete bolt carrier group for $84.95.
This was the last part I had purchased and was looking to add a little flare to my AR. I looked at multiple different different brands before deciding to go with Strike Industries. These guys have a lot to offer and many colors to choose from. I chose their charging handle with extended latch for $32.95.
Since this rifle would be used to coyote hunt with I needed more than just a red dot to fit my needs. I wanted to go with a nice 3X9 scope so I could shoot out farther than 100 yards if needed. I saw that Cabela’s was running a special on Vortex Crossfire II scopes. I ordered the 3X9 for only $110.00 plus shipping.
I finally assembled my new rifle and could not be happier with the way it came out. The grand total ended running me right around $730 for a complete AR with Magpul furniture and a Vortex Scope. As a plus I built it from paycheck to paycheck so it was almost as if I put it on layaway. Sighting the rifle in took a little more effort than I thought, but I was finally able to get it down to 1 MOA at 100 yards. This was all I needed to confidently go hunting with the rifle. This was the final result: