You know what they say: opinions are like… AR-15s, everyone has one, and they are all different. Billions of them and all different. With so many AR-15 options out there, from the really inexpensive, to the customized and exorbitantly expensive, the choices are endless. There also is a way to get a great AR-15 and for a really good price: build it yourself. Building a gun around the Aero Precision AR-15 upper and lower receivers is one of the best ways to accomplish that mission.
It’s very easy to build and assemble an AR-15 by yourself, with the parts and components you have chosen. It can often be cheaper than what a comparable complete gun would be right off the shelf. With this approach, you can either get more of the gun for less or get the gun exactly the way you want it. And even then, sometimes for less. We call that more bang for your buck. Sorry. I could not resist.
Why a Custom AR Build?
Exhibit Alpha: my build based around Aero Precision AR-15 receivers is what I would consider the almost perfect build. Of course, this comes back to the part about opinions.
This might be a touchy subject for some people, but hear me out. Can one spend more money on parts and components of certain brands? Of course. Will that always end up creating a “better” gun? Mmmm, arguably not.
At a certain point, it all comes down to the shooter. I’d argue that my gun will punch above its weight, and I would confidently put it side-by-side against more expensive guns all day long. Nevertheless, you should remember that there is a point of diminishing returns regarding price and fancy gadgets. Plus, the gun won’t hit the target for you. That’s all on you, my friend.
Over the years, I have come across many shooters who only believe in custom builds. It’s kind of a “virtue signaling” within the firearms community. For them, if you didn’t build your rifle or carbine, then it’s somehow not “good enough” or you aren’t a “true believer.” Whatever. I’ll take my Daniel Defense rifle all day long, as well. There are other great brands out there, all ready to go.
With that said, for those of you who have never created a custom build, either because you thought you didn’t have the skill to do so, or couldn’t quite afford it, then Aero Precision AR-15 is for you. In addition to all the customization and pricing reasons, it’s also just kinda fun. And rewarding.
Aero Precision AR-15 Upper and Lower Receiver: The Foundation
Why do I start the AR-15 build recommendation with Aero Precision as the main chassis for the gun? Simply put, they make great components for a great price. Sure, as we all know, there are more expensive and maybe even slightly better custom parts and components out there. For what you get, however, Aero Precision hold their own and you will not go wrong with them.
Every AR-15/M16/M4 has three main components: the upper receiver, lower receiver, and bolt carrier group. For this particular build, I chose an Aero Precision AR-15 stripped lower receiver and an Aero Precision AR-15 stripped upper receiver. I have now built or assembled two AR-15s with these parts, and I love them both. They function well and I have zero complaints.
I did buy separate parts’ kits for all the little pins and gizmos that these foundational parts need in order to work. For some things, like a little teeny-tiny cotter pin, it won’t matter where you get them or who makes them. Other parts, though, no matter how small, might make a difference. How you approach that is up to you.
Aero Precision AR-15 parts are available in multiple configurations. You can find stripped parts with nothing else attached to them, i.e. they need more components to function. Yet, you can also find partially assembled parts of varying degrees of “completion.” Whatever route you want to go and however much work you want to put into it, Aero Precision has solid options. In the end, the parts all have the same necessary functionality in each gun.
Added bonus: Both the upper and lower receiver are pre-painted with Cerakote in Magpul Flat Dark Earth. Aero Precision does have options in this area.
The Aero Precision AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group
Aero Precision also manufactures really good bolt carrier groups (BCG). This is one of the most important components in any AR build. It is the part that really makes the gun go “bang.” In my military and civilian experience, a really great gun with a bad BCG makes life miserable.
For my tour in Afghanistan, I got lucky. At least, I thought I did. I was issued a brand-new, out-of-the-box Colt M4. However… the BCG and the upper receiver did not like each other. The friction was very high and something was off. It ground like sandpaper, and I had to keep it overly lubricated. Sometimes, it was so sticky, it would not seat the bullet properly when charging the gun to load it. No amount of work ever seemed to be quite right or do much of a difference. Lesson learned.
Aero Precision makes really good nitride BCGs and for a really great price. Are there more expensive BCGs out there? Again, the answer is yes. Are they that much better? Probably not. I have two of these, as well. Both of them are smooth, have a great fit and tolerance inside the upper receiver. I have never had any issues with them.
One major recommendation that I would make at this point, especially when it comes to BCGs, is that nitride finishes on gun parts are much better and more desirable than phosphate finishes. They do tend to cost a bit more, as they are a higher quality finish. Nitride is smoother, so it has more of a “natural” lubricant quality. This is beneficial for both corrosion resistance and smoothness of function. Phosphate is not as smooth and can cause a bit more friction.
Aero Precision AR-15 Enhanced Buffer Kit
Another part in an AR-15 often taken for granted is the buffer spring. This right here is a little nugget of knowledge that is going to make your day: Aero Precision offers buffer springs and kits in varying weights. What does this mean?
In case you don’t know, the buffer is the part of the rifle that absorbs the recoil once the bullet is fired. This is why AR-15s are extremely manageable to shoot and have very little felt recoil. In addition, a heavier buffer spring can absorb more recoil and, depending on the type of AR-15 that you’re building, this is desirable. For example, guns that are over-gassed — or, in my case, an AR with a shorter barrel — would benefit from a heavier buffer tube which allows them to absorb more recoil. This is preferable since both the reduced weight and the shorter barrel will affect the felt recoil and the performance of the rifle itself.
Aero Precision offers four weights of recoil absorption in their buffer kits.
In this build, I opted for the H2 Buffer, the third heaviest option. I love the difference and the performance of having a heavier buffer. It definitely helps make the short-barred configuration of this AR-15 build easier to manage and get back on target after each shot. I recommend considering this upgraded component, which will help a gun feel like it’s of a higher level of quality.
Other AR Parts
For this build, I created the exact gun I wanted. I gave myself my own set of “requirements” and specs for what I wanted it to be: A short-barred 5.56mm AR-15 with a balanced trigger pull, with a barrel length that tends to be optimal for a smaller carbine and have better recoil absorption. I also wanted a specific stock, an M-Lok handguard, colors, light, etc.
Every part was thought out and considered for those requirements — even down to the charging handle and bolt release. There are so many options out there, but with just a little bit of homework, you can get a lot of your gun for a little bit less. And every little bit adds up, especially since ammo is still freaking expensive these days. In building my gun, I knew Aero Precision AR-15 parts would be a great place to start.
The handguard is made by BCM, Bravo Company USA. This is another company that makes really good components (and guns). Their free-float handguard is a solid option and easier to work with than some other brands.
The barrel is made by Rosco Manufacturing, which makes really good barrels. It is an 11.5″ barrel, with a mil-spec 1:7″ twist. A 1:7″ twist is preferable, in my opinion, over a 1:9″ twist, especially on the shorter barrel.
The Timney trigger with a really smooth, light(ish) four-pound trigger pull, is worth its weight in gold… and it doesn’t come with a hefty golden price tag. I guess that means it’s worth much more than its weight in gold.
The SB Tactical pistol brace, Surefire Scout gun light, Magpul back-up sights, and other Magpul accessories, are all industry standard, and not terribly expensive.
One component where I really splurged is the Aimpoint Micro T-2 red dot. It’s very pricey, but one of the absolutely best red dots on the market today. Of course, there are other very good and much cheaper options out there.
It might be hard to argue in favor of one gun brand over another or one custom AR-15 build over another. With that in mind, I think my Aero Precision AR-15 build is close to the perfect build. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar it stacks up.
If you have any questions about any of the parts or details of this gun build, you can contact me at: [email protected]. I would be happy to chat and kick around new ideas.