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Building Your Own AR Upper vs Buying an Assembled AR-15 Upper

The AR-15 and its variants are very popular firearms in the US and all over the world. The AR-15 is a very accurate, and reliable rifle, which is why most militaries prefer it, however, as a civilian, you have an advantage that Military ARs don’t. You can customize and modify your AR to perfectly fit your needs and preferences.

Therefore, whenever you are building an AR, you have two options. You can either go for an assembled upper, which has a receiver, barrel, gas block, gas tube, handguard, and sometimes Bolt carrier group as well, or you can buy all the parts, and build one yourself.

Both methods have their pros and cons, and we are going to talk about them in detail.

Buying a Complete Upper:

When you buy a complete, Assembled upper, especially from a reputable brand, you can be certain that you are getting a good product that is made from parts that complement each other. However, you don’t have too much control over the final product. Let’s talk about some more pros and cons of buying a complete upper.


  • Peace of mind:

Most brands that sell assembled uppers also offer a warranty on their products. Therefore, if you have a problem with your upper, you can simply return it and get a new one within the time of the warranty. This is a luxury you don’t have when you build your own upper.

  • Easy access:

Buying a complete upper is easy. You can simply buy them from a local gun store, or even order them online without having to worry about sourcing different parts from different manufacturers.

  • Better Accuracy:

Unless you are a very skilled gunsmith, building an Upper that is more accurate than something you can get from a trusted brand is very difficult. Most times, the parts used on a completed upper are perfectly tuned to work with each other and hence offer a better shooting experience.


  • No customization options:

assembled uppers may be easier to buy, but they also usually come in preset configurations, and you can’t make many changes to them. Some brands may allow you to choose between a couple of different handguards, but you won’t get much more customizability than that.

Building your Own Upper:

When you build your own upper, it doesn’t only give you the ability to customize it, but it gives you a unique experience and helps you develop a useful skill. However, it is obviously more time-consuming. Here are some pros and cons of building your own upper.


  • You’ll get exactly what you want:

When you build your own upper, you can choose whatever parts you want. From the gas tube length to the barrel and bolt, everything is in your control, so you get the perfect upper that fits all of your preferences.

  • You’ll get to know your rifle:

Another advantage of building your own upper is that you get familiar with every part of your rifle, and how it works, this will allow you to maintain it, and make repairs more easily.

  • Building your own AR is budget-friendly:

If you don’t have the budget to buy a complete upper, you can still order parts every month, and build your upper over time. This makes building an Upper a more budget-friendly option.


  • Compatibility Issues:

One of the major issues with building your own upper, especially for the first time, is that you can’t be sure that the parts you have ordered will be compatible and whether they will work well together.

Final thoughts:

Overall, both buying a built upper, and building your own have their advantages. This post will help you make a decision about which way you want to go. However, I’d suggest that if you don’t have some experience with building an AR, buy an assembled upper, or get a friend who has some gunsmithing experience to help you with your first build.


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