AR-15 Lower Parts Kit Mistakes to Avoid
You’ve made the decision. You’ve bought the lower parts kit. Now you need to install it. You head to YouTube and search for “how to install an AR-15 lower parts kit”. You watch the video and scramble around trying to find all the right tools only to discover you don’t have the same tools the guy uses in the video. You say to yourself – “Self…I don’t need no freaking special tool and I’m not spending the money to buy one. I also don’t need that small little hammer when I’ve got this big ole’ hammer I use for pounding nails.”
Okay…let’s stop right there.
Ask yourself a question. A simple question, really.
That question is – do I want to do the job right?
Now repeat this statement. A statement that my parents drilled into me when I was growing up. A statement you’ve likely said to yourself, I’m sure, many times before – especially if you have kids.
If you’re going to do the job, do it right the first time. (Man, I wish society would adhere to this simple statement.)
Ground-breaking. Earth-shattering. Life changing, huh.
Enough rambling. Let’s get down to the brass tacks.
There are a number of reasons you could find yourself installing an AR-15 lower parts kit. You could be building your own rifle using an 80% lower. You could be replacing your lower parts kit because a spring came out or a part broke. You could be upgrading your lower parts kit so that you have a smoother trigger pull and tighter shot group. Whatever the reason is, you’ve got to make sure that you do it right. If you don’t then there could be dire consequences. You do want to avoid that, right?
We thought so.
So we put together a short but useful list of a few of the biggest mistakes we see when someone is trying to install a lower parts kit for the first time…or the twentieth time.
#1 – Not Having The Right Tools
Think about what you do for a living. Okay, so whatever it is that you do, what tools are required for you to do your job right? Let’s say you mow lawns for a living. You wouldn’t cut a five acre plot with a push mower, would you? No, you wouldn’t. Why? Because using a push mower will get the job done…eventually. It’s not efficient. It’s not a good use of your time. Bottom line, you’d use the proper tool (riding mower or tractor) to get the job done.
Take that concept and apply it to building your AR-15. No, you may not build AR-15s for a living but that shouldn’t mean you use inadequate tools to get the job done.
So what are some of the tools you need? Here’s a list to get you started:
- Stable workbench
- Vice grip
- Stock wrench
- Ball peen hammer
- Nylon/brass hammer
- Needle nose pliers
You’ll likely want to add more tools to this list as you become more familiar with building an AR-15. The main thing is to make sure you use what you are comfortable with while avoiding unnecessary damage to your AR-15.
#2 – Rushing Through The Process
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it happen. You finally get the approval from your wife or significant other to purchase the last batch of AR-15 parts you need to finish your build. The excitement builds at the thought of getting it in the mail, opening the box, and inspecting everything you’ve got. You finally get everything and are ready to build so you can take your newly built, custom AR-15 to the range and show your buddies. So much excitement causes you to rush through the last bit of milling your 80% lower or installing your lower parts kit. Next thing you know, the safety selector hole is too big and won’t stay on fire. Or you don’t realize that you missed installing the takedown pin spring.
You take your rifle to the range and start shooting…only to have parts flying off of it or worse. Not only is your AR-15 a safety hazard and potentially damaged, you embarrassed yourself in front of all the guys.
It’s easy to avoid this type of situation or a million other situations like it. It only takes one thing – patience. If this is your first build, slow down. Take it slow. Ask questions. Watch how-to videos. Read guides like our “How to Install an AR-15 Lower Parts Kit”. Enjoy the process of building your own AR-15.
#3 – Installing The Wrong Parts
There’s a ton of AR-15 manufacturers out there. Same goes with 80% lower manufacturers. Same goes with AR-15 parts. It’s challenging to try and figure out what part will fit what part. Is it milspec compatible? Do all standard parts fit standard AR-15s?
Luckily, unless you have a unique AR-15 lower like the Sharp Bros AR-15, most standard parts will fit your standard AR-15. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but generally speaking, a product advertised as an AR-15 component will fit your standard AR-15. Another way to ensure compatibility is by using milspec parts as they will tend to adhere to military specifications and, as such, are machined and manufactured with extreme precision.
To add to the confusion, AR-15 and AR-10 parts, components, and even complete rifles are very similar to each other. While it would be nice to have interchangeable parts between these two type of rifles, that’s not the case. The AR-10 is a bigger platform and requires larger parts. If you inadvertently ordered parts made for an AR-10 and you’re trying to fit them in your AR-15, it isn’t going to work out very well. So make sure you use parts made specifically for your type of AR.
#4 – Listening To Bad Advice
Your Uncle Bob may have good intentions because he has always “done it this way” or that way but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to build or install parts on your AR-15. While I’m not saying you should tell your uncle to bug off, I am saying that you might want to take his advice with a grain of salt. So what should you do? Listen to the experts. Listen to the people that build or work on or with AR-15s for a living. Will they always be right? Probably not but it sure beats doing it the way Uncle Bob says to do it because that’s how he did it 10 years ago when he replaced his trigger.
A few good resources for building and installing parts on your AR-15 are here, here, and here.
What Are You Going To Do
We’ve given you a few of the common mistakes that we’ve done, we’ve seen others do, and mistakes we get frequent questions about. It’s not rocket science so don’t be intimidated when you’re building your AR-15. There are plenty of resources online including guides and videos. If you get stuck or have a question, the staff here at AR-15 Lower Parts Kit Co. are also here to help in any way we can. We aren’t going to build it for you because…well…we aren’t legally allowed to. We will, however, give you advice and guidance as much as we can so that you can build your own custom AR-15.