I recently finished another build, my first 16″ carbine in a long while, and all told the bill for the build was under 400 dollars. Literally 320 for everything but the lower receiver from a Palmetto State Armory sale and a 60 dollar (with taxes) “poverty pony” lower. A 380 dollar budget build (no optics, could toss on a carry handle right now if I wanted to (have a spare), but kept thinking about buying something “derptastic optic” to complete the build). Eventually I dropped in a Vortex Crossfire II with a “CCOP” knock off of a Burris P.E.P.R mount (which actually seems like a decent mount, probably made in the same factory in China as the P.E.P.R for all I know).
But…the first time I racked back the charging handle was rather illuminating as to why the Parkland HS murderers M&P-15 locked up on him. If his rifle was anything like the one I assembled, not only was it delivered dryer than popcorn fart, all of the wearing surfaces were “new and tight” meaning that fouling will effect the rifle even quicker.
So, what do you do? Well, I used some militec “metal conditioning oil” that I had on hand to lube up the bolt carrier and bolt, then worked the action a bit to get the oil distributed, and then put it away for the night. When I take it to the range, I’ll make sure that the bolt and upper receiver are lubed generously, and then I’ll shoot several magazines through it to zero whatever optic I’ve put on the thing. I’ll want to put at least 50 shots down range.
And then I’ll get home, and clean out everything. There should be plenty of crud to clean out, some of the anodizing, some of the parkerizing, and lots of carbon. But once that crud is cleaned out, I’ll lube it up again, but not with oil, but with a grease. It doesn’t really matter what type of grease you use as long as it meets the temperature range you plan on shooting in, which means for me that pretty much any random synthetic grease is going to work just fine to keep my AR lubed up nice.
I did stone the trigger, so now it feels like a trigger rather than a rusty gate hinge desperately in need of oil. Stoning a trigger is easy, and cheap if you already have some stones that will work. If not, you just ruin a part. Lucky for me I had a pile of basic triggers to practice on, and didn’t ruin any of them in the process. Although I may revisit this in a thousand rounds or so to see how the stoned triggers are holding up compared to a premium trigger like the G2S I really like.
But…back on to lube, true story, I built an AR for high power, but got a three year vacation in a place where I couldn’t bring guns, so I went ahead and lubed it up and put it in storage. Three years later, I pulled it out of storage and it had about 350 rounds down the tube before there was so much carbon build up that I decided to add oil because the crud was so thick that it was slowing down the cycling of the action. So Mobile 1 synthetic grease stayed in place quite nicely, but honestly any brand will do (This is where all the doubters about “grease is grease” say “Cool story bro” and go back to some name brand gun grease). Anyone who says they have magical grease that lasts and lasts through thousands of rounds must also have magical ammo that doesn’t blow soot out into the action which acts like a sponge to soak the carrier oil out of the grease.
So that’s what I’ll do with my “Derp Tier” rifle, to avoid the problems that I experienced with newly issued Colt and FN M4 and M4A1s I’ll give it a deliberate break in session, then grease it up like I do my service rifles. Will it run like a swiss watch? No, because it’s not a swiss watch, it’ll run like an AR-15, and the holes in the paper won’t know what brand is roll stamped on the lower.
It isn’t hard to make a reliable AR-15 if all your parts line up the way they should. If they don’t line up the way they should…. well then that’s where things get trickier. So far I have no issues with Anderson or PSA products. A few years back Anderson let a lower get out the door with a buffer retaining pin recess drilled off center, which wouldn’t be a problem with a “New Colt” BCG (totally open on the back), it was so far off center that it was an issue with the “milspec” BCG the guy was using. Anderson offered to replace the lower, but the guy just decided to run is AR without the buffer retaining pin. If you lose a buffer retaining pin, it’s not the end of a match, just make sure that any broken bits are removed from the trigger well, and use your rifle as normal. To take apart the rifle, just make sure your trigger is fired, then disassemble, the hammer will catch the buffer assembly before it sproings all over the place (or you can just be careful and catch it with your thumb).
At some point I will seriously consider an upgrade to the buttstock, as PSA included a commercial stock for the milspec tube, and it rattles around pretty bad. Or I could use a strip of electrical tape and tighten it up that way.
Still, for a 380 dollar AR-15, (600 with optic and mount), I’m not complaining at all. Freedom rifles ain’t going to win any popularity contests with the AR snob crowd, you know the kind that thinks Noveske lowers are way better than Anderson lowers because Anderson does better work for contracts than it’s own products (including Noveske), or that Aero Precision is better than PSA because Aero Precision doesn’t waste a single cent beyond what a contract dictates. I don’t buy the explanation that companies simultaneously put their absolute best and minimal effort into a lower depending on whose roll stamp they plan on putting on it, only that on a contracted lower the contracted receiver might apply their own additional QA/QC inspection before selling it to a customer.