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Built, Not Bought: Building your first AR from a bucket of parts

Today marks a new entry in the blog (that you all thought I forgot about) to try and walk everyone through the decicions I made building my first AR.

    Certainly someone out there has recommended a first timer buy one complete for their first rifle, but I have a couple small problems with that advice.  Firstly, I am a tinkerer by nature.  Second, I wanted to build a very specific rifle for a fairly exacting purpose and I have definite ideas about how to accomplish that task.  Lastly, I am a glutton for punishment and I like a challenge.

    Every week (or perhaps more often, leave a comment and let me know how often you would like blog content to come out) I'll be concisely detailing a part or two on the rifle I ended up building, giving some critique on how I like it (or what I feel I could've done better), and talking about how that part adds to the overall concept.

    Speaking of concept, other than keeping up with the cool guys on the internet, I always tend to think of gear or firearms in terms of WHAT is this supposed to be doing?  What I set out to build was a general purpose rifle, a jack of all trades.  I wasn't after an SPR (special purpose rifle, intermediate to long range), though I wanted to have the legs if I needed them.  I wasn't after a CQB (close quarters battle, short and lightweight) rifle or carbine, but I wanted something I could maneuver in a hallway.  I didn't want to light Instagram on fire with all of my operatoresque coolness and I still don't care if the rifle looks cool or not, it does what I intended it to do.

    The rifle is built around an 18" barrel with a rifle gas system, long 15" handguard, flat top upper with a monolithic pic rail for mounting optics, and a fixed stock with an "A2" buffer system.  It has so far proven to be fairly soft shooting and extremely flexible and forgiving of what ammo is fed into it.  While many manufacturers have figured out the details of making shorter AR's more reliable than in years past, I wanted a known commodity that was likely to work in less than perfect conditions.  Leave me some comments, and I'll be back around to start talking you through the parts, and the method behind the madness. - Phil Rabalais

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