Short Barrel Rifle (SBR) Build
In my efforts to review firearms and accessories, I felt that registering, building and owning a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR) platform would progress my education of firearms and provide an opportunity to evaluate several components of an AR platform rifle. In this article I will try and document the components used in this build. At some point in a future article, I will try to provide some details on the actual assembly process. I cover the registration issues associated with building a NFA items in my article NFA Gun Trusts & Filing ATF Form 1.
These next two photos show the final build configuration and overall I am very pleased with the outcome. Considering I purchased many of these components in early 2013 during the greatest run on AR parts in history, some of these components were not my first choice and some were not purchased efficiently. Basically, I had to take what I could get and an item being "In Stock" was far more important than the price.
The components used to make my custom SBR are shown and tabulated below. In the process of the build and once the build was finally complete, I did swap a couple of items like the gas block and flash hider. The table of components shows my final configuration.
If I were willing to live with the components that came in my DPMS Lower Parts Kit, live with the standard M4 style collapsible stock that came with my UTG Stock Assembly (which I purchased just to get a buffer tube and buffer), and decided to forgo putting a single point sling on the lower, then I could have reduced the initial costs of my lower assembly by $116. Also, keep in mind that $273 were tied up in NFA related requirements. If I were making a standard AR lower assembly for a regular barrel length rifle, this cost would have been $236 which is fairly competitive for a fully assembled lower receiver.
When it came time to purchase my upper receiver components, we were near the 2013 peak of parts shortages for building AR style rifles. Honestly, I would not have normally purchased the DPMS Low Profile Lower receiver because it had no ejection port cover, no case deflector and no forward assist, but it was all I could get at the time and I needed one for this build. After completing this build, I have grown to like the looks and simplicity of this upper receiver, although this upper is built like a tank and weighed in at 10.45 ounces. I could have saved a little money purchasing a cheaper barrel, but that seems to defeat the purpose of a firearm. The barrel is probably one of the most critical components and I was glad to pay extra for a cold hammer forged chrome lined barrel. It took me months before I was able to find a bolt carrier group that was "in stock", so I paid the price gladly. Fortunately, the specs on this bolt carrier group seemed to be up to par with some other quality products, so I felt it was close to a reasonable price considering the market conditions.
If I were building a standard AR-15 (not a SBR version), this build could have cost as low as $1034. At the time of this build, this price for an AR-style rifle would have been a good deal. Now that prices are coming down, building ARs is like building computers. The manufacturers can buy in bulk and assemble a rifle for less price than the average person can purchase each part and build one themselves. The advantage to building one yourself is that you can truly have a custom rifle and you get the satisfaction of accomplishment and learning something new, along with the pride of being able to say "I built this rifle."
The significant specifications for this build are as follows:
Since I now had a SBR, it didn't seem right for me to show up at the range with anything other than a case that fits this shorter length rifle. After doing some research on the internet, I finally decided on the Red Jacket 29" MP5 Case for $53 and purchased it from Amazon.com.
This case seems to be good quality and fits my SBR perfectly. The outside pocket is large enough to hold five 30-round magazine.
Building my own SBR was a fun process. I'm not sure if you will actually save money doing it yourself, but the gratification I got doing it was worth the extra costs. As time goes on, hopefully there will be a greater supply of components available for building your own AR style rifles.