How Much Does It Cost to Build an AR-15? (Updated Prices)

The AR-15 rifle has gained significant popularity among firearms enthusiasts due to its versatility, reliability, and extensive customization options. One common dilemma faced by gun enthusiasts is whether to embark on the journey of building their AR-15 or simply purchase a pre-built one. 

This comprehensive article explores the cost considerations of both options, providing readers with valuable insights to make an informed decision based on their preferences, budget, and skill level.

Building an AR-15

Factors affecting the cost of building

To understand the cost implications of building an AR-15, you must understand what constitutes a “good” AR-15. 

It involves knowledge about a high-quality rifle’s components, features, and specifications. Factors such as barrel quality, trigger mechanism, handguard type, and optic compatibility can significantly impact the cost of building an AR-15.

Another critical consideration is an individual’s comfort level with building firearms. Building an AR-15 requires a certain level of mechanical aptitude, technical knowledge, and familiarity with weapons. 

Shooting range

Beginners or those lacking experience in firearm assembly may need to invest additional time and effort in learning the process, which could impact the overall cost of building.

Process and costs involved in building

One common approach to building an AR-15 is to start using an 80 lower receiver from scratch. An 80-lower receiver is a partially completed lower receiver that does not meet the criteria to be legally considered a firearm. 

By completing the remaining machining and assembly steps, individuals can create their AR-15. The cost of an 80 lower receiver varies depending on the manufacturer, quality, and material, with prices ranging from $50 to $200 or more.

Building an AR-15 is a meticulous process that demands time, effort, and attention to detail. It involves assembling various components, including the upper and lower receivers, barrel, handguard, trigger [1] assembly, and stock. 

Each step requires precision to ensure proper fit and functionality. The time needed for building an AR-15 can vary depending on an individual’s experience and familiarity with the process. 

Fire arms model

Beginners may need more time to carefully research, learn, and execute each step. The effort invested in building an AR-15 should not be underestimated, as it involves acquiring specialized tools, reading manuals, and potentially seeking expert guidance.

Cost Range

The cost of building an AR-15 can vary depending on the components and accessories quality. On average, the cost range for building an AR-15 falls between $500 and $900. 

However, it is essential to note that individual preferences, component selection, and customization options can significantly influence this range. Some builders may opt for budget-friendly components, while others prioritize premium or specialized parts.

Buying an AR-15

Local gun shop or contacting American Made Tactical: When considering purchasing an AR-15, individuals can visit a local gun shop or explore reputable manufacturers like American Made Tactical. 

Local gun shops provide the advantage of personal interaction with knowledgeable staff who can provide guidance, answer questions, and offer recommendations based on individual needs and budgets. 

Actual shooting activity

Alternatively, contacting manufacturers allows buyers to explore various options, including customization features and accessories, ensuring a tailored purchase experience.

Knowledgeable individuals to help find the right AR-15: Purchasing an AR-15 from an established manufacturer or a reputable local gun shop provides the advantage of tapping into the expertise of knowledgeable individuals. 

These experts can help customers find the right AR-15 based on their intended use, preferences, and budget. Their guidance can save buyers from mistakes or oversights and ensure they acquire a reliable and suitable firearm.

Cost Range

The cost range for purchasing an AR-15 falls between $1,000 and $1,500. This range includes a variety of models and configurations, ranging from entry-level options to more specialized or premium variants. 

The cost can be influenced by factors such as brand reputation, included accessories, additional customization options, and the overall quality and craftsmanship of the rifle.

Budget AR 15

Cost Comparison: Buying vs. Building


Opting to buy an AR-15 provides immediate ownership without requiring assembly. The cost associated with purchasing includes the base price of the rifle, any additional accessories or upgrades, and potential transfer fees if buying from a licensed dealer. 

While the initial cost may be higher than building, buying allows for conveniently acquiring a fully functional firearm without requiring specialized tools or assembly skills. It also offers the flexibility to upgrade or modify the rifle gradually.


Building an AR-15 offers the advantage of customization and potential cost savings. Builders can choose specific components, handguards, triggers, and other accessories according to their preferences. 

By selecting budget-friendly options or taking advantage of sales and discounts, builders can save money compared to buying a pre-built rifle. However, it is essential to consider that building requires additional expenses such as tools, manuals, and potentially professional assistance if needed. 

Moreover, inexperienced builders may encounter challenges or mistakes that could result in additional costs to rectify or replace faulty components. There is also a slight risk of ending up with an inferior product if proper research and attention to detail are not exercised.

Anderson RF 15

Time Comparison

When buying an AR-15, the time required for acquisition depends on the availability of the desired model and any required background checks or waiting periods. 

Buyers can purchase directly from a local gun shop or order online, which may involve waiting for delivery. The time frame for purchase and delivery can vary, but it generally allows for immediate ownership after completing the necessary legal requirements.

Building an AR-15 demands a considerable time commitment. The process involves meticulous assembly, testing, and fine-tuning to ensure proper functionality and safety. 

For beginners or those unfamiliar with firearm assembly, completing the build may take 15 to 20 hours or more. This time includes research, acquiring necessary tools, learning the assembly process, and executing each step precisely. 

It is important to note that the time required can vary based on individual skill level, familiarity with firearms, and the complexity of the chosen build.

Holding AR 15

Benefits and drawbacks of each option

Building an AR-15 allows for customization and personalization, offering a rifle tailored to an individual’s specific needs and preferences. It provides a sense of accomplishment and knowledge as builders gain a deeper understanding of their firearm’s inner workings. 

Additionally, potential cost savings can be achieved through careful component selection and taking advantage of sales or discounts. Builders also have the freedom to gradually upgrade or modify their AR-15 over time as their skills and needs evolve.

The main drawbacks of building an AR-15 include the need for assembly skills, time investment, and the potential for mistakes or errors during the process. Inexperienced builders may find the assembly process challenging, requiring additional research and potentially seeking professional assistance. 

Mistakes in assembly can result in malfunctioning or unsafe firearms, necessitating additional time and cost to rectify the issues.

Buying an AR-15 offers the advantage of immediate ownership and convenience. It eliminates the need for assembly, specialized tools, and technical knowledge. 

PSA 300 Blackout

Expert guidance from knowledgeable individuals at gun shops or manufacturers can help buyers find the right AR-15 for their intended use. The availability of various models and configurations ensures a wide range of choices to suit different budgets and preferences.

When buying an AR-15, customization options may be limited compared to the building. Upgrades or modifications may require additional purchases and installation. Additionally, buying may involve higher upfront costs than building, especially for those on a tight budget.

AR-15 Price Range Overview

The average cost of a basic AR-15 rifle falls around $850. However, it is essential to note that the final cost can vary significantly based on brand reputation, quality of components, included accessories, and additional customization options.

Top-of-the-line AR-15s

For those seeking the highest-quality and most feature-rich AR-15s, the price range typically falls between $1,100 and $2,500. Reputable brands often manufacture these rifles and offer superior craftsmanship, precision, and enhanced performance. 

Stag Arms 556

Recommended top-tier models include the Bravo Company Mod 0, Kaiser US X-7 MONARCH, Daniel Defense DDM4 V7, LaRue PredatAR, and Colt M16A1 Retro Reissue.

Mid-tier AR-15s

Mid-tier AR-15s range from $830 to $1,000. These rifles provide reliable functionality and quality components without reaching the top-tier price range. The Springfield Armory Saint Victor is a highly regarded option in this category, offering excellent performance and versatility.

Budget AR-15s

For those on a budget, options are available in the price range of $600 to $800. Budget AR-15s provide reliable functionality and can serve as a solid entry-level firearm. The GFLA .223 Wylde Rifle is recommended in this category, offering affordability without compromising performance.

Reasons to Own an AR-15

The AR-15 platform is renowned for its versatility, allowing users to adapt the rifle for various purposes, such as hunting, home defense, competitive, or recreational shooting. Its modular design enables easy customization and upgrades, allowing users to tailor the rifle to their specific needs. 


In summary, the average price range for AR-15s falls between $400 and $2,000. However, it is crucial to consider individual preferences, budget constraints, and intended use when purchasing.

The market offers various AR-15 options to suit different budgets and preferences. With careful consideration, buyers can find high-quality, reliable, and affordable AR-15 rifles that fulfill their needs, whether they build their own or purchase a pre-built firearm. 


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