Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Doctor Z. SHTF Zombie Apocalypse AR15 Build - Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles on how to build your own AR15 rifle on a budget. Not my usual type of article, but a public service regardless. Apropos also, when one considers that one needs to prepare themself for the impending zombie apocalypse (will it EVER get here?!?!). And, when the mindless, ravenous, moaning hordes of the undead are pounding on your door in search of your flesh -- you're going to want something to shoot them in the head with. So, in that vein...

The Dr. Zombie AR-15 project was begun because I decided that I really, really needed a go-to, shtf, zombie apocalypse gun.

I have several shotguns, and I am most comfortable with a shotgun... but I got the rifle bug a couple years ago and decided I had to have a combat rifle. The big problem, however, is my lack of funds.

I'm not a rich dude, and I don't have much in the way of disposable income. When I decided to get a new gun, I also agonized over WHAT to get. I initially decided to follow my shotgunner instinct and pick up a Mossy or Remington to tacticool up. I actually came close to picking up a Maverick 88 for $175, but was waylaid by some unexpected car trouble that necessitated my spending my hard earned and saved gun money. Fucking responsibility...

Anyway, after that, I continued to agonize as to what I could get once I saved up some more money. I vacillated between a new shotgun, an SKS, a High Point carbine, or an AK47. The common denominator with all of these was their cheapness. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved AR's, and they are the ultimate in kickass zombie killing tactical tool... but I always figured they were too expensive.

And that's true.

An off the shelf, middle to upper grade AR15 at the local gun store will run you $1k or more bucks. Much too rich for my cheap blood.

But then I did some research and saw that if you were frugal, and harnessed the full and evil power of the internet, you could build your own AR for almost half that. $600 or so dollars - spread out over a year or so - seemed suddenly attainable. My buddy Aaron W. encouraged me further when he built his own 10.5 inch SBR(short barreled rifle) and assured me it took little to no mechanical aptitude. Basically, if you can use a screwdriver, you could build an AR.

I was sold.

I took the plunge and decided to build my own. And so began the madness.

What follows is my detailed build notes for anyone interested in building their own rifle.

I had a few criteria to keep in mind as I did my build. They were:
- Cost - I wanted to build a rifle over a longer period, but in the cheapest possible way. In the age of the internet, this is easier to do than ever. If I could grab a piece here or there, when I could, and if it didn't impact the household budget, life was good. This is also known as the Theory of Keeping Mrs. Zombie Happy. If the CFO is happy, we're all happy.
- Quality - The other side of the equation was quality. I knew I wasn't going to build a top end Colt or Bushmaster, but I also didn't want to build a bottom of the barrel Olympic or DPMS-type rifle. So, the cost was balanced with the search for a mid-range (and hopefully more reliable) zombie gun. I think I did pretty well in this respect... but you be the judge.


The Build

I made the decision and had a $100 check for an article I wrote for a local paper, as well as another $50 or so in birthday money. So I pulled the trigger (pun intended), and went for it. I knew that, once I plunked down the money for the first part, I was in. It actually was harder than I thought...

My first purchase was a Spike's Tactical Stripped Lower Receiver. Spike's makes an awesome product and, around the holidays, they were running a great deal and offering their stripped lowers for $89. This was $50 - $70 cheaper than anything locally (there was still a little post-election panic pricing at the time) and, even considering shipping on an internet purchase, it was a deal almost too good to pass up. The lower receiver was the only part that qualifies as a true gun... so, once I purchased that, I had control over every other piece that I bought. An $11 shipping fee and a $25 FFL dealer transfer fee later, and I was officially in the AR game.

Spikes Tactical Receiver - this is the only part that is a 'gun', must be purchased through a licensed firearms dealer, and is subject to registration. Everything else is parts and can be shipped to your door.


A few months later, in January, I managed to get a little extra money and scoured the internet for a lower parts kit to begin the build. My local gun shops had DPMS parts kits for $66 and $75 dollars respectively. Calculating in local sales tax, I realized very quickly that the internet was the way to go. Thank the dark pagan gods I showed some self control and came home to do a Google search. I found probably one of the best deals an AR fan could hope for. The DPMS kits I found on the internet were all in the $60 range on the internet, but then I saw that AIM Surplus (an Ohio supplier!! wOOt for quick ship times! Booo for Ohio sales tax!)had CMMG lower parts kits for $65 with free shipping! Awesome!

DPMS is the bottom end for parts kits and their quality control, finish quality, fit, and even their ability to put all the parts in the bag is suspect and unreliable. For the price of a bottom end DPMS parts kit I got a significantly better quality and consistent parts kit. Yeah!

Coming Soon: Part Two - With a lower and a lower parts kit in his blue, undead hand -- Doctor Z. begins the build!