Do you want to build it yourself with an upper receiver parts kit? Well, on one hard there is precious little reason to; at this writing uppers are cheap and there are plenty of assembled uppers on the market. On the other, far more fun hand, AR-15’s are Lego kits for grownups, and what’s the fun in buying an already assembled upper when you can put your own together?
Now that you’ve taken the plunge and bought an upper and an upper receiver parts kit, let’s take a look at what you are dealing with. You are probably holding a stripped upper receiver that needs it’s forward assist and dust cover installed, and it probably came with a charging handle too. Now here is where you may wish you’d just spent a few more bucks and had it all put together, or if you are like most of us, you get excited and ignore the tiny fiddly little bits staring you in the face.
To build it yourself with an upper receiver parts kit, be sure to double check the manufacturer’s instructions first, but they are all pretty basic. The forward assist is the easiest part to assemble; just slide the spring over one end, line it up, press it into place, align everything so you can tap in the returning pin, and boom, done! Now comes the more complex bit. The dust cover is held in place with equal parts irritating springs and dark magic, but if you put the cover in place first, then place the spring in the correct position, and put the retaining rod, it isn’t as hard as it might appear.
Now at this point you have assembled an upper receiver. The next step is to get your barrel and barrel nut, place the upper in a receiver vice block, clamp it all in a vice, and assemble the barrel according to the specifications applicable to the chosen barrel nut (they vary based on the type of handguard you are using). Install your handguard, slide your bolt carrier group and charging handle into place, and there you have it, a complete upper to buy!
In all fairness, going the build it yourself route isn’t all that hard, and can often let you save a few dollars over buying an assembled upper. It also can let you piece together an upper over time or with parts you like. The true genius of building your own from an upper receiver parts kit is both the small cost savings and the extreme satisfaction of knowing you assembled the whole thing yourself from a pile of parts. The budget builder too may enjoy the advantage of piecing the gun together a little bit at a time until the entire gun is assembled. No matter how you slice it though, building your own AR from scratch is very satisfying, and gives you an in depth understanding of your gun that not everyone can enjoy. So go ahead! Get an upper receiver parts kit and build your own!