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What You Need To Build Your AR15 Lower

There are many options for those contemplating building their own AR15 or AR variant.

If you are trying to build the cheapest AR15 possible with milspec parts you can often complete a rifle for under $700.

You can also build a top of the line rifle but at much greater expense.  The choice is yours!

This post will detail what you need and a few popular spots to get what you need.


To start with you will need a lower.  The lower, or receiver, is the only part of the AR15 that is serialized.  This means that the lower is the portion that must be purchased through an FFL, if purchasing new.  Think of this as the gun.  The rest of the rifle is simply “parts”.  The next thing you will need is a lower parts kit or a lower build kit.  These are two separate things.  A lower parts kit will still require that you buy a buffer tube, buffer spring and stock.  A lower build kit includes everything necessary to build your AR15 lower.

Tools You Will Want/Need To Build Your AR Lower

Castle Nut Wrench (Necessary)

MidWest Industries – $5.25

Lower Receiver Vice Block (Recommended)

Palmetto State Armory – $9.99

Rollpin Punch Set (Recommended)

Wheeler Engineering – $15.99

Now lets begin with the parts necessary to build the cheapest AR15 lower possible.

AR15 Lower

Palmetto State Armory – $49.99

Choose Either Option A or B to Complete Your Lower:

Option A

AR15 Lower Parts Kit

Palmetto State Armory – $44.99

AR15 Stock Kit

Palmetto State Armory – $39.99

Option B

AR15 Lower Parts Build Kit

Palmetto State Armory – $79.99


Now lets begin with the parts necessary to build a moderately priced AR15 lower.


AR15 Lower (4 options)

Palmetto State Armory Gasden Flag – $99.99

Anderson Manufacturing – $49.99

Aero Precision – $69.99

Spikes Tactical – $89.99

AR15 Lower Parts Kit

Rock River – $70.00

Enhanced Grip

Magpul MOE – $22.99

Enhanced Trigger Guard

Magpul MOE – $7.99

AR15 Buffer Tube Assembly

Spikes Tactical – $69.99

AR15 Stock

Magpul MOE – $39.99


Lastly lets look at the parts necessary to build a high quality AR15 lower.


AR15 Lower (4 options)

MEGA Arms Billet – $196.00

MEGA Arms Forged – $114.00

Noveske Billet – $318.00

Noveske Forged – $183.15

AR15 Lower Parts Kit

Daniel Defense – $99.00

Enhanced Grip

BCM – $29.95

Enhanced Trigger Guard (Not required for Billet Uppers as they have built in trigger guards)

Magpul MOE – $7.99

AR15 Buffer Tube Kit

BCM – $99.50

AR15 Stock

SOPMOD – $58.00

AR15 Trigger Upgrade

CMC Single Stage – $164.95


A few notes to take from this list.

This list is not meant to be something that you have to follow without deviation.  This list of parts is meant to give an idea, or guide if you will to follow.  You should feel free to interchange items between lists.  These are some of the best prices available as of January 2015.  When looking at some of the items listed you should realize that as price goes down, generally so does quality.  However, if you are like me and on a budget, you must make certain sacrifices to afford the parts and equipment necessary.  This list reflects the cost that could be cut to lower the price of your rifle, but do realize that as that price goes down your quality could go down as well.  Even the cheapest parts listed on this post are considered adequate but they will have less polish and possibly less quality standards than the higher priced items listed.

A prime example would be the AR15 lower.  Many lowers are created by the same manufacturers but then sold with differing stamps.  While one lower might be $200 and another $75, they could come from the same manufacturer and the reason for the different pricing is finishing and name brand.  This does not mean that higher priced lowers are not worth the price.  After years of buying AR15 lowers I have noticed that I now tend to purchase lowers in the medium price range.  This generally allows me to get a high quality lower with a great finish and complete milspec dimensions.  I say this because I have purchased extremely cheap through rather expensive priced lowers and very often I find that very cheap lowers have dimension issues.  While I would say that is the exception and not the rule, it is still something that happens the lower the price you go.

As you will note, if you are looking at building one of the cheapest, yet quality, AR15 lowers palmetto state armory is where you are going to buy your parts.  As stated in the above paragraph though, you will find that you might get a parts kit that is not to spec.  Before the gun and ammo craze a few couple of years back I purchased 3 lower parts kits from Palmetto State Armory to build a few rifles.  After hours of not being able to get my kit to work I sent it to a certified armorer and immediately he recognized that it was not his lower that was out of spec (as I originally thought) but instead the lower parts kit.  He swapped out the out of spec part and to my surprise the rifle worked without issue.  Out of 3 kits that I bought that day, only 1 had issues.  Now while that is 33.33% of the kits having errors, I have purchased no less than 5 other kits from Palmetto State Armory with zero issues.  I also know a large amount of fellow shooters that buy lower build or parts kits from Palmetto State Armory with the majority having no issues.

When we look at entering the mid-range AR15 market you will notice that Magpul is a big contender.  Magpul makes extremely high quality parts at very reasonable prices.  Their grips, stocks and trigger guards are some of the best in the mid range market and their prices are very competitive.

When we enter the high end AR15 market the first name that comes to most AR15 enthusiasts or professional users is Bravo Company Manufacturing USA, or BCM.  While their prices are generally higher than others, their quality cannot be beat.  I have never purchased an AR lower, part, upper or anything for that matter from BCM that did not exceed my expectations.  These parts are meant for the user that will run their gun and run it hard.

A company I want to promote that makes fantastic rifles and parts is 2Vets Arms.  One of the first rifles I built had an out of spec parts kits and while I am sure the the guys at 2Vets Arms wanted to tear me a new one, they calmly explained that the parts kit I sent was out of spec and that they replaced the out of spec parts and put the lower together properly for me.  This showed me that the company was looking to more than just make money.  They were invested in their customers.  I was able to hangout with one of the guys and his wife from 2VetsArms at the 2014 NRA AM.  I did not explain to him who I was or what I had done for him but I did buy him a beer.  I can definitely say he was an interesting guy and knows his stuff and gets a little crazy.  Either way this is a company to source what parts you can.


Let me know what what you think and your experiences with the parts listed or parts that were not listed.

What would you add to this list or remove?  Let us know.

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Holsters, Lights, and more….oh my!

There is a lot to think about when you decide to carry a handgun every day.  Holsters, lights, belts, and more are all things that we need to look at when we decide to carry a handgun every day.  Below we will talk about a few products and companies that I have dealt with and I recommend.


Belts are a primary part of your self defense system.  With a proper belt your holster and firearm will nearly disappear.  The holster will also maintain its position and allow for a constant draw.  A proper belt will not bow, rip, or be deformed after a few months of carry.

Great for Appendix Carry –

Large buckle that is not ideal for Appendix Carry –


Inside the Waistband holsters allow us to conceal our handgun while still keeping it accessible when needed.  We advise appendix or strong side hip as the carry position, a few companies that make great holsters are:

Appendix –

Strong Side Hip –


Outside the Waistband holsters are great for both competition and those that are not interested in carrying a handgun inside of their waistband due to physical or clothing limitations.


Flashlights allow us to positively identify our threats as well as find our way when the lights are out.  Flashlights can be both handheld and weapon mounted.  There is a tradeoff for each, a handheld flashlight can remain in our pocket until needed, however, it will require the use of a hand.  A weapons mounted light allows the user to maintain a two handed grip on their handgun but it cannot be used outside of a self defense scenario.

Handheld –

Weapons Mounted –

Weapons Mounted –


Knives are both a weapon and a utility device.  It can be an everyday item or something that saves your life and takes up little to no space.

Pocket Knife –

Multitool –


The items recommended are items that I personally have and can attest to their performance.  I have put my holsters through thousands of draws, mounted on my belts.  Put thousands of rounds through handguns with the lights mentioned.  I have used the knifes many times for many different things.  All of these devices have served me well and have not broken or failed me.

The links posted do not represent the best prices.  They are simply here so you have an idea of what I use.



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DOJ sponsored gun buyback……goes wrong. Shocker.

Philly’s ‘Goods for Guns’ Program Misused Grant Funds: DOJlocal An audit has charged a Philadelphia gun buyback program, which provided grocery gift cards in exchange for weapons, misused more than $450,000 in grant funds from the federal government. Philadelphia Safety Net (PSN) received $800,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice to run its “Goods for Guns” program from July 2010 through March 2012.

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You have taken your Ohio Concealed Carry class and successfully applied and received your concealed carry license.  You have trained countless hours on the range and dry fired thousands of times at home.  You know your handgun inside and out.  You know what shots you can and cannot make.  The classes you have taken above your initial concealed carry class have taught you to draw from a holster and concealment with ease and to pick up targets whether in brightest day or darkest night.  You have taken on the role as protector of your house and family.

The area often forgotten, as it is far less than fun, is the law.  The law is meant to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.  The law is complex and like a dense jungle.  You have local, state and federal to consider.  Do you know how the law decides who is the victim and who is the aggressor?  Do you know what to do after a self defense shooting to protect yourself from being considered the aggressor or being shot by police?

These are all things we need to consider.  They are not pleasant, they are not fun, but they are important.




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MAG20 – What to do after a self defense shooting.

Massad Ayoob Group – MAG20 – February 15-16, 2014Standing alone in a dark parking lot with your concealed carry gun in your hand and spent brass on the ground is NOT the time to start thinking about issues regarding the use of force and the law.

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If you attend Mag20 this February 15-16 (click on link above to register) and bring your receipt to any 2014 Shield & Sword Academy class we will give you 10% off for taking the extra step to better your firearms knowledge. Just mention that you heard about the class from Shield and Sword Academy!

Please share with everyone you know!!!


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Why carry a flashlight?

Whether a lethal threat or adverse situation, a flashlight can be a vital tool.

If you find yourself facing a threat that you believe lethal , it is vital that you identify that threat.  We have heard many stories of men, woman, even family members wounding and in some cases killing their neighbors or family members because they engaged what they believed a threat before identifying that threat.  This is generally due to fact that the perceived threat was not well lit, night time conditions.  Were you the person above would you not give anything to go back and tell yourself carry a flashlight?

If the power goes out in your building or you are in a crash at night a flashlight can make a huge difference.  From personal experience I can tell you that when the power goes out, even for a short time, people will follow the person with a light source.  My small streamlight illuminated the room and hallways enough that people congregated around me and followed me towards the exits.  Many persons there stated how they wished they had even a keychain flashlight or something.

Is a flashlight part of your every day carry (EDC)?

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Do you know the laws surrounding Concealed Carry and what to do in the aftermath?

Massad Ayoob Group – MAG20 – February 15-16, 2014Standing alone in a dark parking lot with your concealed carry gun in your hand and spent brass on the ground is NOT the time to start thinking about issues regarding the use of force and the law.

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Massad Ayoob is considered the for most expert in the field and is a wealth of knowledge.

Do not miss this chance to learn from Mr. Ayoob while he is in the great state of Ohio.

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Competition for the Tavor?

Desert Tech MDR: a different breed of bullpupA few weeks ago not many people knew about Desert Tech, formerly Desert Tactical Arms. Primarly a manufacturer of precision long-range rifles, but now with the announcement of a new, innovative and modular bullpup rifle the shooting world can’t get enough about Desert Tech. And with good reason.

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Have really wanted a Tavor for some time.  Now the new Desert Tech MDR line is really making me rethink that decision.