The shooting world has exploded with the popularity of the AR-15 rifle, and rightfully so. The AR-15, based on a design by Eugene Stoner in 1956, has rapidly become America's most popular rifle. Estimates on the number of AR-15s in civilian hands in the US vary widely, but some guesses are as many as 10 million.
One reason for the rifle's popularity is the ease with which the AR platform can be customized. The firearms industry is awash with hundreds of companies producing specialized accessories that can be added to a basic AR-15. In addition, many more companies, like the popular Brownells, are producing parts kits for consumers to build their own rifle in the comfort of their own home.
Unlike many other rifles sold today, the AR-15 is designed to be easily constructed and modified according to a user's preferences. Using the same-style receiver, it is possible to create a short-barreled NFA-regulated SBR or a long-barreled precision rifle in dozens of possible calibers. Hundreds of variants fill the gap in between, and innovators have been working for years to expand the wide variety of options already available to builders.
If you're ready to take the plunge into the addictive world of AR building, Shooting Illustrated Assistant Editor Bob Boyd has chronicled the steps needed to complete an AR-15 rifle build. Though it might look daunting, it is a fairly simple task that is easily completed in the space of a couple hours, if done right. So, dive on in and turn that pile of parts into a ready-to-shoot rifle:
Lower: AR Lower-Receiver Build: Switching Gears
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Bolt-Catch Installation
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Pivot Pin Installation
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Trigger Group Installation
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Grip and Fire Control Selector Installation
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Magazine-Release Installation
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Trigger Guard Installation
AR Lower-Receiver Build: Buttstock Installation
Upper: AR-15 Upper-Receiver Build: Installing the Forward-Assist Assembly
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Dust Cover Installation
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Bolt-Carrier Group and Changing Handle Installation
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Barrel Installation
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Gas Block/Gas Tube Installation
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Fore-end Installation
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Muzzle Device Installation
AR Upper-Receiver Build: Checking Headspace