My First AR-15 Walkthrough: Final Assembly

As I’ve mentioned, final assembly is truly the easiest construction you’ll do with your rifle. It hardly qualifies as construction, in fact. I’ll admit, I watched a video or two to ensure I was doing it right, but it’s so simple I could have figured it out without the assistance.

...aaaaalmost there...

The final parts

Let’s gather together our now fully assembled lower, and upper, as well as the bolt carrier group and charging handle. To begin with, make sure your pivot and takedown pins are fully retracted on your lower. Line up the pivot pin holes in the upper and lower receivers, and push the pin through until it snaps into position. Side note: I said in a previous post that I was having a little trouble with the pivot pin in my build. It would bind at the end of its travel to the point where I had to use a hammer and punch to be able to retract it again and remove the upper. This wouldn’t be a big deal, since I only own the one upper (so far), but I didn’t like leaving something that close to non-functional. I corrected the problem though by grabbing a drill bit the same dimension as the pivot pin holes and manually running it through them until I widened them just enough to allow smooth travel. I really think my issue here came more from the anodizing on the Anderson Lower growing just a little too thick, rather than oversized pins from the Spike’s Tactical LPK, but it’s possible it was a case of stacking tolerances working against me. No matter, it works perfectly now.

From here, you should be able to pivot the entire upper to line up the takedown pin holes in the rear of the receivers, but it’s not yet time for that. First you need to install the charging handle. This is the closest that final assembly comes to being actually tricky. The charging handle has to be finessed just slightly to get into place. You slide it in through the larger opening beneath the narrow channel in the top of the upper. Once you get that seated with the retention nubs securely in the groove, slide the entire Bolt Carrier Group into the upper, with the gas key riding in the groove inside the charging handle. Once these are lined up, they can slide home until the bolt is fully seated in the barrel extension. This will trip the catch on the charging handle, signifying that everything is in place.

From here, you need to turn to the remaining pile of parts, filled with an overwhelming sense of dread at how long this will take to…wait. That’s it? There’s no more parts laying around? Nope. Simply rotate the upper into place on the pivot pin until the takedown pin lines up with the hole, and snap that pin into place. You should now take the time to cycle the action a couple of times to give the rifle a function check. If everything moves freely, it should all be OK. I’m going to assume you already know the basic rules of gun safety here, so please, don’t do anything stupid.

There you have it. A (hopefully) fully functional, optics ready, AR-15 rifle. Beyond a sighting mechanism, it’s going to need lubrication (which I’ll go into in detail in a future post, but in the meantime, applying it to any moving part is really a safe bet), and at least one magazine, but then you’ll be ready to hit the range and get it sighted in. That’s where we’re headed next time!

with placeholder optics

Fully Constructed

Parts in this article:

Charging Handle – Charging Handle with Extended Latch Provided by Strike Industries
Bolt Carrier Group – Mystic Bronze coated BCG Provided by Cryptic Coatings
Upper Receiver – Stripped upper receiver Provided by Anderson Manufacturing
Dust Cover – Ultimate Dust Cover Assembly  Provided by Strike Industries
Forward Assist – LDFA Provided by Forward Controls Design
Barrel – Premium Series BA Hanson Provided by Ballistic Advantage
Handguard – EXT Mid-Length, Free Float Kit Provided by Anderson Manufacturing
Muzzle Device – Dragon SpitZLead – Provided by Ordained Arms
Lower Receiver – Stripped AM-15 Lower Receiver – Anderson Manufacturing
Buffer Tube – Mil-spec provided by Anderson Manufacturing
Lower Parts Kit – Enhanced LPK provided by Spike’s Tactical
Buffer – T2 Heavy Buffer provided by Spike’s Tactical

I apologize about the quality of the photos in this article. As you can see I was having some camera related technical difficulties.

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