Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    One to Build

    A while ago, I bought an AR15, and also a stripped lower receiver for a second one. The idea was that I'd custom-build the second one for my wife, and learn a little something in the process. I don't have any intention of becoming a gunsmith, but I'm at least not-quite-retarded when it comes to working with tools, so I thought I'd give it a try.

    Rock River Arms' complete lower parts kit seemed to be the item I needed, so I ordered one up. With the Obama presidency being the best thing for the gun industry since the assembly line, it took them a month and a half to get around to my order.

    I had originally thought to photograph the entire process, but two obstacles stood in my path: First, I'm not that great a photographer, and black parts against black parts aren't exactly ideal subjects. Second, my camera battery is dead, and I could not for the life of me find the stupid little charger thingie. Since I was gung-ho to get it done, I went ahead and put it together. As soon as I was done, I of course found the charger. *sigh*

    Much as it would be good bloggage to take it all apart and do it over, I'm not going to do that. My thumbs are too sore, sorry about your luck. So anyway, here's the stripped lower by itself:

    ... and here it is fully assembled:

    I mostly followed the instructions in a video I found... apparently at Life, Liberty, Etc.. I can't find a direct link to it, and I don't want to post the whole thing in case they would get upset over copyright issues.

    The tools I wound up needing were:

    brass punch
    channel-lock pliers
    AR15 wrench
    needlenose pliers

    There are three tricky parts to the assembly:

    1: The trigger guard and bolt catch are both installed using "roll pins". These are basically pieces of sheet metal rolled really tight, that stay in place by expanding against the sides of the hole they're installed in. The video says to use the hammer and brass punch to drive them into place, but I found it was MUCH easier to use the channel-lock pliers. I used a mouse pad to protect the finish of the receiver, and it worked out fantastic. I used the brass punch and hammer to push the pins that last little bit once they were flush with the hole, but the pliers were the key to getting them put in.

    2: The hammer requires quite a bit of hand strength to get pushed into position for its pivot pin. Holding the receiver, the hammer, the pivot pin, and a tool to tap the pin into place takes quite a bit of dexterity as well. This is the one part of the assembly where I wished for a vice/stand/helper. It can be done without (I did it), but it's a fair bit of messing around.

    3: The detent for the pivot pin is a tricky little bugger, and a lot of folks suggest using a box cutter to hold it in place while you slide the pivot pin into position. I couldn't find my box cutter either (I think it ran away with the camera charger), but I did find that if I braced the receiver on something, I could hold the detent in place with needlenose pliers and smush the pin on top of it. That saved me the worry of trying to hold pressure on a razor blade in a place where my fingers were working.

    Everything else is pretty easy. There are a couple of points where you have to pay attention to the order you're putting parts in because this holds that in place and so forth, but on the whole anybody should be able to do it with the caveats above.

    I had the desire to similarly build the upper receiver, but upon researching the topic discovered that you really want to have a barrel vice and some other specialized tools. I've decided that I will instead buy a complete upper half and perhaps learn how to detail strip it instead. I don't imagine ever doing this again, so I don't see any good reason to get heavily invested in tools.

    I still have a major project in mind for my pre-built AR15, namely a custom paint job. Hopefully I'll have all my camera gear sorted out when that time comes, and that'll give me an excuse to make up for the lacking pics on this post.

    Posted by Tom, 2/12/2009 6:49:17 AM (Permalink). 4 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Now for the SSK upper in 300 whisper with an integral suppressor, 240 grain Sierra Match Kings at 1040 fps and a sound like a clap. unless you close the gas port, then it gets pretty damn quiet.


    300 whisper? How many times do I have to say it... I want standard, mass-produced calibers. And aren't you the guy who says he doesn't own a .50bmg because he doesn't fancy paying $2-$5 a round?

    -- Tom

    There are some OTC loaded whisper cartridges out there, Cor-Bon makes them though they're not subsonic.

    Otherwise you can get that reloading bench made up and make cases from 221 fireball or 223 Remington for nearly free :)


    AS for 50 bmg it's not just the cost of the ammo, projectiles cost $2.00 apiece. NOTHING is standard. not primers, not powder, not bullets, not the reloading press, not the dies, not the scope, not the mount. Nothing. and it adds up FAST. and to put 5 into a dixie cup at a Thousand yards you gotta get it ALL, then shoot several hundred rounds through it.

    I HAVE thought about a McMillan in 338 Lapua, which reduces these costs by something like 60% and has equal carrying power for rifleman's work.

    Now as a capable reloader I can make up 30 whispers from 221 Fireball/223 Remington, 338 whispers from >308/7mm BR cases, or 50 Whisper from .338 Lapua cases. Mind you that even in the last case projectiles and cases go up to $2.00 each for a rough cost of $4.00 apiece, but I haven't priced .50 BMG primers to calculate actual savings, and powder is saved by an order of magnitude in volume alone. and all for a weapon which can hit out to 1000 yards or more, and goes *foop* instead of *BANG*.

    Nanny nanny boo boo.