Building Your Own Rifle Is the Perfect Family Project

Improve your skills! Bond with the kids! Infuriate control freaks!


I remember one of my mother's uncles, at a picnic, responding to a comment about a proposed gun ban with a laconic "Doesn't matter. We'll build our own." Building rifles was his hobby, I learned during that day of grilling and shooting on his land in long-ago rural New Jersey. His comment has come back to me over the years, especially after, for Christmas, my wife gifted my son and I a jig for completing an unfinished AR-15 lower receiver. Like my great uncle, we built our own. We recommend the experience.

Making personal firearms is perfectly legal under federal law, if that matters to you, though states and localities may have their own rules. To that end, finishing "80 percent" receivers has become a popular pastime since the roughed-out blocks, shaped like the part of the AR-15 rifle that contains the hammer, safety, and trigger, but with solid material where those parts should fit, can be purchased without the legal rigmarole required for buying a firearm (the privacy offered by a DIY gun is somewhat compromised if you then write an article about your activities). It's a modern version of my uncle's hobby, simplified by the use of jigs that guide drill bits and end mills for finishing the project.

Anthony Tuccille milling.

My wife gave us the Easy Jig sold by 80% Arms, which is one of a number of competing products in that category. I've only ever done this once, so I can't tell you which jig is best, but the Easy Jig got the job done, and came with clear and concise instructions that made our obsessive viewing of the online instructional video probably a bit superfluous.

AR-15 receivers can be manufactured from several different materials, including polymer and various types of aluminum. I picked up an unfinished receiver made from 7075 aluminum. Like everything gun-related, demand for these receivers has skyrocketed and the price is now roughly double what I paid.

The biggest challenge was drilling the initial pilot hole needed to start milling the pocket for the fire control group (basically, the hammer and trigger). Despite plenty of oil, my cheap drill press kept binding. That necessitated using a (much better) corded hand drill to back out the bit, which came in a package of tools also purchased from 80% Arms, before resuming. Eventually, the bit won the battle.

I hadn't milled anything since high school, back when schools offered shop class, and this was entirely new for my son. But attaching the end mill from the tool kit to a router and milling out the pocket was much easier than anticipated. The key was lots of patience as we took turns removing layers of aluminum. Molded into the jig are gauges for incrementally extending the end mill, but our router did unlock itself a couple of times, cutting deeper than intended. Fortunately, that never happened at a point when it mattered. We learned to anticipate such slips by feel so we could tighten the router.

Next, we drilled the holes for the hammer, safety, and trigger, using bits included in the tool kit. The included bubble level helped orient the receiver horizontally relative to the drill press.

Completed lower receiver.

Because I focused on finishing a lower receiver, for the rest of the build I purchased a parts kit from Palmetto State Armory. Serious hobbyists will, instead, customize their rifles with parts chosen from many sources. For guidance in putting the parts where they belong, we turned to The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide by Walt Kuleck and Clint McKee, as well as the online Ultimate Visual Guide from Pew Pew Tactical. The book walks you through the process step-by step, while the Ultimate Visual Guide is well-illustrated and suggests workarounds if you don't have a full array of specialized tools. We acquired an inexpensive gunsmithing punch set that proved indispensable once we threadlocked the hammer head into place so it didn't twirl with every blow.

We encountered a hitch when the safety wouldn't slip into place. When I probed with the drill bit to diagnose the problem, I discovered that the holes on each side of the frame were just a hair out of alignment. A slow turn of the bit in the drill removed a whisker of aluminum, and in the safety went.

Also, I learned years ago that anything involving fiddly bits should be assembled or disassembled in a box. Nevertheless, the bolt-catch spring and plunger launched themselves over my shoulder and bounced off the wall. The two of us retrieved them after several minutes on our knees with flashlights.

"It's simpler inside than I expected," Anthony told me as he installed parts. He got a kick out of figuring out how they interact and make the firearm function. 

"It won't make you an AR-15 armorer, but it will make you a more knowledgeable owner," Kuleck and McKee note of the benefits of building a rifle. "In short, if you build it, you'll know how to repair it."

This perspective evokes my childhood hobby of disassembling doorknobs, radios, and household appliances to see how they function and then putting them back together in (usually) working order. Too many of the things in our life might as well be magic given our limited understanding of how they work. We can't demystify everything, but examining a few things important to us enriches our knowledge while giving us more control over our lives.

With the finished lower pinned to the Palmetto State Armory upper kit, everything was assembled. But would our new "boomstick" go BANG? To answer that question, we went to the local range, since the road to my preferred desert shooting spot washed out in a recent monsoon storm. But indoor ranges don't play well with the steel-core ammunition that makes up the bulk of our supply. Fortunately, I was able to scrounge together a couple of magazines worth of range-friendly 5.56 ammo. Anthony got first dibs and, to cut to the chase: Yes, our home-build goes BANG!

The completed firearm.

Unsurprisingly, given the politically polarized nature of gun ownership in this country (although that is changing) the Biden administration sees an opportunity to please supporters and sting opponents by tightening rules that allow for home-constructed firearms free of bureaucratic impediments. Specifically, 80 percent receivers and anything that can "readily be converted" to shoot according to extremely subjective criteria may soon be regulated as firearms. 

But even vague rules have limits. The proposed revisions allow that an object must be "clearly identifiable as an unfinished component part of a weapon" to be subject to regulation and that "frame or receiver molds that can accept metal or polymer, unformed blocks of metal, and other articles only in a primordial state would not—without more—be considered a 'partially complete' frame or receiver." It's easy to envision an expanded market for jigs and tools that help hobbyists transform bricks of aluminum and polymer into finished receivers. And let's not forget that my great uncle made rifles long before you could buy 80 percent receivers on the internet.

My son eagerly anticipates the answer he'll offer to the inevitable "what did you do this summer?" questions at school. As for me, I'm more prepared than ever to rebut control freaks' demands for tighter restrictions on everything. "Doesn't matter. We'll build our own."

Father and son.

NEXT: Brickbat: Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

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  1. Fascinating report on the rise in gun ownership among die-hard leftists.

    1. Lefties know that bloodletting is coming during Civil War 2.0, that they started (again).

      HAHA. Or they think they will be the “Vanguard” of Communism.

      A bunch of Lefties are fleeing to Georgia from cities because the cities are cesspools of crime, filth, and corruption.

      1. The cities are experiencing the effects of long-term progressive policies.

        1. Is that like “experiencing” homelessness?

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        2. ah, you mean the Rev Kirk’s culture wars – its RALK-utopia in those cities, don’t you know?

    2. The guy lives in northern Arizona and goes to an indoor range to shoot?

      Hey JD, there’s like a bazillion acres of open land on the way to the Verde hot springs…

      1. Air conditioned?

      2. “since the road to my preferred desert shooting spot washed out in a recent monsoon storm”

        1. Former resident of Cottonwood here. Trust me, there are plenty of others available.

          But hey JD, wherever you go next time, just be sure to teach the kid the importance of a proper cheek weld.

  2. America’s Rifle indeed!

  3. You probably should update this to remind people that if your child is under 21, do not let them install the chainsaw bayonet, for safety reasons.

  4. Brilliant stuff. Your name is on an ATF list now. When Joe and the Ho administration declare 80%ers an imminent threat to mankind, you will lose that weapon and any others because they will declare you a felon. Go on, buy that “oil can” suppressor too. You can trust them. It’s cool.

    1. By then, he may have had a tragic boating accident, in which he lost that gun, and maybe several others.

      1. Private sale. No receipt.

        1. Gave it to a hot woman after sex. Her name was Susan, or Tiffany, or something.

  5. Milled too deep?

    What happened to your face Billy?

  6. A router used as a milling machine, and a hand-held drill? C’mon …. get yourself a hobbyist-quality milling machine. Once you have one, you’ll find many uses for it. And you won’t be making such a hack-job of it.

    1. Hey, it works and doesn’t require specialized tools. I’d love to have a little mill, but it’s pretty cool to be able to do it with basic stuff. And most of what you have to mill for an 80% AR lower doesn’t have to be all that perfect to work.

      1. Yep, the bottom of the fire control pocket is really only there to accept the grip screw and minimize the amount of dirt that can get in.

        1. Getting the holes in the right places and having the right width where the trigger and hammer pins go seem to be the critical elements.

    2. Just say No to Harbor Freight.

      1. Horror Freight

    3. Dude was gushing oil and binding up his drill press on aluminum, he doesn’t need you to offer up more expensive ways to remove digits.

    4. A lot of the hobbyist-grade CNC beds use that same palm router for their motor. Probably won’t be too many more years before a homeowner-grade CNC mill or a 3D printer capable of forming the needed kinds of polymers will get to be cheaper than the $1850 price tag of a full sized manual mill from HFT. Then it’ll be game on since people won’t need an “80%”, or “60%” or even “30%” complete lower, they’ll just need the appropriate program to make an AR (or Glock-compatible reciver with a 3D printer) from a bag of plastic beads or a rectangular 6061AL billet.

  7. Your son will remember this and smile.

    I just wish my father had been a bit more persistent in trying to clear my head of the prohibitionist crap that I was swallowing in school and taught me how to handle his Korean War surplus rifle. (Happily, I “evolved” – to use the leftist lingo – once I got out of the NY suburbs and started seeing a bit more of life.)

    1. M-1 Garand, or M-1 Carbine?

  8. “Specifically, 80 percent receivers and anything that can “readily be converted” to shoot according to extremely subjective criteria may soon be regulated as firearms. ”

    Since, given enough time and perseverance, virtually ANYTHING can be manufactured using hand tools and jigs, all aluminum purchases will require the proper license and background check. And, since aluminum melts at relatively low temperatures, and is rather easily re-case, six-packs of beer will also require federal back-ground checks.

    1. Unlike voting, that six pack of beer does require showing ID and can’t be transactioned through USPS.

      1. Okay. Then I will switch to Diet Coke… in cans. Yeah, I know, and soon every can will have a unique bar code so the government will soon find that I am NOT recycling them.

        1. Can recycling centers will have the same security as uranium enrichment facilities.

          1. +

  9. Now all you gotta do is drill one more hole and drop in an autosear.

    1. If you talk to the good people of Sarajevo that lived there during the siege, they will tell you that they quickly learned that a person firing on auto was not nearly as deadly as a person taking well aimed single shots.

      1. But a mag emptied on full auto is much more likely to be featured in a CNN news update video.

      2. And the people firing full auto ran out of rounds first, turning their rifles into clubs and spears, significantly decreasing their range and effectiveness!
        In pretty much any collapse or resistance situation ammo scarcity will be an ever present problem. It will make the worst of the ammo shortages of the past few years seem like nothing. Every round will count. Unless you need suppressive fire, full auto pisses this resource away for nothing.

    2. An illegal autosear, since it is, no doubt, not registered with the ATF, despite legally being a machine gun.

      Besides, why would you want a full auto firearm, except for the giggle factor? Infantry use full auto for covering fire, when their squad is doing their fire and maneuver thing. You probably aren’t going to be using it for that, and, indeed, those of us who haven’t been infantry (including Marines) probably don’t know how to do this anyway. Besides, didn’t you hear? You don’t have a tank, or an F-16?

      1. “An illegal autosear”

        Drop in auto sears are indeed NFA devices. But a full auto FCG is, in and of itself, not an NFA item. So long as you do not have, in your possession, a firearm that will accept those items – including the proper bolt carrier group. then you are not in possession of an unregistered weapon.

      2. Besides, why would you want a full auto firearm, except for the giggle factor?

        That’s about it. It’s not practical, extreeeeeeemely illegal, and it’s certainly not easy on the wallet.

        1. It’s only illegal in some states. In all others it’s legal, just bureaucratically onerous.

          1. I’m not a big fan of begging for licenses that waive my 4A rights and allow agents to search my place without a warrant.

            1. “…begging for licenses that waive my 4A rights”

              Exactly; it’s not just the $200 that you’re in for; you’re on a registry and they can demand to have you account for the class 3 item at any time. You cannot even take it across State lines without prior approval. Not worth it to be “legal” at that price.

  10. I’d be real careful about your Son answering that “What did I do over the Summer?” question. About 15 years ago I taught my Nephew how to shoot. He liked a girl on the Rifle Team and wanted to try out for it. I had been on the Team when I was in school and still had my target rifle. I taught him over the Summer at a range I belonged to. He did the “What did I do?” paper for English class. A few weeks later CYS showed up at my Sister’s (his Mother) door wanting to see how they stored their guns. They had a copy of his paper.

    1. Did they have a warrant?


      1. What difference, at this point, does it make?

      2. They don’t need a warrant when they can take your kid away for failure to comply.

      3. No they didn’t. When my Sister told them that there were no guns in the house they asked where was the gun mentioned in my Nephew’s paper? That’s how we found out that they had a copy of the paper. They showed up on my doorstep a few days later. I asked if they had a warrant and was told no, so I said “have a nice day” and closed the door. A few hours later they showed up with a State Police officer and a Court order preventing me from having contact with my Nephew, his Sister and Brother unless I showed the Officer how I stored my guns. I asked the Officer if I had to let them in and he said “No. Just me.” I invited him in, had a cup of coffee, showed him my locker, and spent 45 minutes talking guns. Real nice guy, still see him at the range. We went out where the CYS people were waiting and he told them everything was fine. That was the last of it.

        1. Nice that he wasn’t a dick about it, but that’s some bullshit. You shouldn’t have to prove that you are doing what they think you should be doing. They should have to prove that you are doing something that actively endangers your nephew or leave you be.

          1. When it comes to CYS they can pretty much do what they want. I took the path of least resistance.

            1. Oh, I’m sure you did and I don’t blame you. But that is what’s really maddening about it.

        2. You must live in a place like me, where cops are still neighbors and family members; if you lived in a place like NJ I imagine you would still be in jail for some time.

          1. In some areas. The City I live in is pretty good, the Township around it, not so good. Never had a problem with the State Police.

          2. He would still be in jail, yes, or he could still be in the hospital, waiting to go to jail.

        3. Did your nephew get an A++++++++ on his paper?

          1. Don’t know. He was the Captain of the Rifle Team his senior year.

          2. More importantly, did he get the girl?

        4. That’s what happens when you live in a communist country.

    2. I guess that I had better tell my son not to write papers about our backyard range, super fun pest control, or how Tannerite can initiate explosives from a distance if you don’t have a cap and a stand off device.

      1. Even back in teh 60’s/70’s my parents said do not talk to anyone about our guns its none of their business especially teachers. thsi is nothing new.

        1. Your parents were prescient.

        2. We didn’t talk about them because my father was worried about theft. Guns in safes was a pretty foreign concept where I grew up.

          Of course now, the fear of thievery has shifted to the government (CPS, red flag laws, etc).

  11. As an aside, I clicked on ‘Cille’s “boomstick” link to see where it would take me. It was to youtube, where I got to watch a 47 second PSA begging me for my support of a ban on “assault weapons”, before I got to watch the video.


    1. Mixed messages or targeted ads?

    2. Chrome and adblock plus = no youtube ads.

      1. You use chrome? Seems kinda dichotomous.

    3. Have gotten a few fascist gun grabber ads before viewing firearms videos. If Hickok45 or MilitaryArmsChannel can make a few bucks off Bloomberg, good for them.

  12. Oh noes! We must outlaw possession of…of…tools! Nobody needs tools!

    1. Obviously, you are trying to throw a wrench into the discussion.

      1. See! That is exactly the kind of violence banning tools can prevent!

      2. I still want the sequel.

      3. Govt wants to turn the screws on legal tool owners.

    2. I hear that is a thing in Great Britain. Apparently you “need a good reason” to have a hammer or screw driver.

      1. Wonder how they would respond to, “Germany is across the channel.” as the reason.

        1. The same way they did last time – meaning not responding until too late. They will have to try to import such “dangerous tools” from the USA. Except we won’t have any either, this time around.

      2. To carry one with you. I’m pretty sure you can still have them in your home.

      3. Meh, in Great Britain you need to drop about $220 a year for a TV license, only $75 if it’s B&W. Hell, I’m surprised they can buy steak that hasn’t been pre-cut by a bonded and licensed knife weildsperson over there.

        1. Oh, I forgot the best part. You get half off the TV license if you’re blind or severely visually impaired.

          1. I laughed, and I believe it. I suppose the discount is probably because they can only listen.

        2. I’m surprised they can just buy steak. Red meat. Came from an animal. Doesn’t increase estrogen levels like soy products.

    3. Nobody needs a drill that holds more than one bit.

      1. I have a dozen screwdrivers (single-shot), and three others, which will hold any of the other forty bits I have. I guess I must have a whole collection of dangerous weapons, a veritable ARSENAL!

      2. Does the drill have a military style pistol grip?

  13. There will always be machinists. Sarajevo SWAT showed us the weapons that they were confiscating after the war. The Muslim defenders were making weapons throughout the siege. AK rounds were scarce, but they had a warehouse full of shotgun rounds so they made shotguns from any materials available. There was a double barrel, swing open shotgun made from welded pipe and gate latches. The front sight was a chain link welded like a ghost ring. Somebody had also made a 12 gauge wheel gun that held six rounds. They turned ashcans into mortars. It is amazing how quickly people will adapt.

    1. Yeah, shotguns are super easy. You can make a usable slam fire shotgun for like $20 of parts from a hardware store. 3/4 schedule 40 iron pipe is just the right size for 12 ga.

    2. The North Vietnamese were pretty good at this, too, from what I hear.

    3. Don’t misunderstand them. The people trying to ban guns don’t give a flying fuck about gun crime or violence or protecting the innocent. They want to dominate, no more. They don’t care if organized criminals have zip guns, or even regular guns, really. They want the vast majority of regular citizens to be unable, materially or mentally, to effectively handle and bear arms. To minimize resistance.

      1. Most people have good intentions. Even the gun grabbers.

        These are people who will say you’ve got bad intentions because you want criminals to have guns and you want children to be killed in drive-by shootings blah blah blah.

        They don’t have nefarious intentions. They just don’t think ahead or read history.

        1. There are probably a good number of dupes and toadies who believe the rhetoric. But, in general, the dupes and toadies get their marching orders from the hard core of people pushing gun control, who are indeed nefarious. Look at how they focus on peaceable gun owners while criminals are barely mentioned. Look at how they try to make things illegal that have nearly no bearing on actual violent crime. Look at how ignorance of the use and function of arms is pushed as a virtue.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree.

          1. You’re missing it.

            These are people who really feel that government is us and we are government, so if only government is the ones with guns then they/we will keep us safe from the right wingers and corporations, which are basically the same thing anyway.

            I don’t think they mean ill will. They’re not psychopaths. They really think they’re making the world safer.

            Paving the road to hell with good intentions.

            1. No. They are evil. Their actions are willing and deliberate. Time to stop make excuses for totalitarian goons.

              1. Good intentions are not justification or an excuse for anything.

                1. ^^

            2. I count at least three psychopathic beliefs in your second paragraph, before you say they aren’t psychopaths. Therefore, you are either wrong about their psychopathy, or they are mind-bogglingly witless, or they are evil.

              If they were witless, they could not coordinate so well.

              I agree to disagree.

        2. Most people have good intentions. Even the gun grabbers.

          That is a matter of perspective. Even if you mean keeping people safe from themselves, the concept of “NOYB” still applies. As to the rest, we’ve gone ’round and ’round on that here about a thousand times, and I don’t think you’ll find many here who don’t see the 2nd Amendment as pretty straightforward.

    4. Absolutely classic article from a guy that built an “AK in defense of motherland” out of a shit shovel and a cheap barrel, wish I could find better link, it’s a riot:

  14. It is great fun. And after you have done it a couple times, it is fairly easy. The biggest problem is that there are a bunch of tiny parts, many held in place by tiny springs, that can easily zoom off into space, never to be found, if you aren’t very careful. Because of this, I have purchased extra parts kits, aimed at exactly this situation.

    We started with a Ghost Gunner machine that does the milling and drilling for you, under computer control. You just attach the work piece (e.g. 80% AR-15 lower receiver) in a jig, install the correct milling or drilling bit, and hit “go”, and the trigger well is milled out. Then, after awhile, it stops, you reattach the jig and work piece to the GG machine, and hit “go” again, and the selector switch hole is milled. Then, you switch the milling bit to a drill bit, and start it u,p again. After drilling the two holes for the pins to hold the trigger assembly in, you are done, with just a lot of aluminum shavings to vacuum up.

    What we did then was to watch several videos to see how to assemble the various subsystems. This is helpful, because there are some fiddle little things that people who have done this a lot have figured out how to do easily. After doing it a couple times, it becomes fairly easy.

    1. Indeed; they are very modular and being mil spec it’s pretty much plug and play as long as you buy the right parts.

      I especially agree that there are “a bunch of tiny parts, many held in place by tiny springs, that can easily zoom off into space, never to be found, if you aren’t very careful.” Especially with the detent for the pivot pin; I lost three of them just this past weekend. If you are into building or upgrading or even just changing out worn parts it is critical to have spares on hand. I would add to the usual pins springs and detents parts to repair the bolt [rings, ejector, extractor, firing pin, and cam] if not an extra bolt [or two] itself

      1. I had to remove the bolt catch and sand the crap out of the surfaces that came into contact with each other because there was so much friction that it wouldn’t let the mag follower push it up. Going to do the same thing with the trigger at some point.

        1. “I had to remove the bolt catch and sand the crap out of the surfaces that came into contact with each other because there was so much friction that it wouldn’t let the mag follower push it up.”

          Sounds like some rough stock; who was the manufacturer?

          As for trigger, you can polish up the points of contact and that will at least marginally improve an average mil spec but not by much; you can also add better springs [hammer and trigger] but I’ve just gone with a trigger upgrade. Larue was recently selling their MBTS single and two stage triggers [I bought one] for around $80; not very expensive [as these things go] and a remarkable improvement [good bang for the buck].

          1. Sounds like some rough stock; who was the manufacturer?

            I don’t even remember. Just some inexpensive kit for my first build.

          2. Probably the lower. It was one I had to mill, so contact surfaces likely weren’t polished. Hm, wonder what else I should sand.

  15. There is no reason you have to make a rifle either. There are plenty of short barreled uppers available. Just two caveats.

    1. short barrels can make function fiddly, so be prepared to play around with buffers and springs to get everything working smoothly

    2. Check your Ps and Qs with whatever you put on or over the buffer tube. If you put an actual butt stock onto a pistol then you have made yourself a nice NFA item, and a possible trip to the Federal pen. Arm ‘braces’ are ok.

    1. There may be no reason you have to make a rifle, but it sure is fun; that and you learn a lot more about it and how it works which, for me, was the main point over buying a completed upper.

      1. You do learn a bit. But, due to the robust design you really do not learn as much as you might think. Especially if it functions right out of the gate. That’s the (not so) hidden benefit of going with a full parts kit – most of them have been specced to run well together and really are near plug and play.

        It’s when things go wrong – failure to go into battery, extraction problems, jams, double feeds, etc. – that you really begin to learn a thing or two. This is more common when you source all the parts yourself. And once of the things you learn is that an education can be very expensive.

  16. The next war on our soil will be over freedom and the enemy will have drone robots and government complicity.

    Prepare for that.

    1. shotguns are for drones though drones some can get quite high

      1. I’m talking about, walking/rolling gun carrying military robots made by google and sold to the highest bidder.

        Whose employees have signed NDA’s.

        1. “Bad cop” robots will loot people’s Priuses for the battery packs.

  17. Aren’t grips one of the next items targeted for the forbidden list?

    1. You mean like fore grips and pistol grips? I think a lot of states already regulate those.

    2. Arm braces. I believe ATF has a proposed rule banning them, including the ones previously ruled legal, which would turn a lot of people into felons overnight.

      1. Those with them should brace themselves for this possibility.

        1. They should be alarmed.

          1. They will have to shoulder the responsibility of staying in compliance.

    3. All gun control “laws” are unconstitutional and therefore illegal, so ignore those “laws”.

      1. Best estimates are that there are about 20 million ARs and variants in private ownership, and about 7 million braces in circulation.

        When you look at FBI crime stats, only about 325 homicides are committed annually with long guns of ANY type or caliber/gauge.

        Make you wonder just what the purpose of these proposed regulations is?

        1. No wonder required.

          At least a third of US adults have irrational fears of “guns” and want to live in a world without them.

          At least a third of US adults are strongly inclined towards authoritative government with strict rules for what people can say, do, or own (as long as they get the brand of authority they prefer).

          At least a third of US adults align themselves with “Democrats”, and against “Republicans”, and also associate guns with people on the right. Therefore, to fulfill a desire to delegitimatize if not eliminate Republicans, the Democrats seek to outlaw all things they associate with the right, including guns.

          Politicians and officials know that an unarmed public is easier to control.

          1. Politicians and officials know that an unarmed public is easier to control.

            The also know that a paramilitary police force is better equipped to control an armed public. When was the last time armed citizens stood up? Hm? What are they afraid of? Seriously. These laws are more about pandering for votes than protecting the ruling class from gun owners.

        2. Step process. Ban the “military style assault weapons” first. Oh? No change in statistics? Mag capacity. Still no change? Then other firearms and components.

          1. “This is just the beginning” [of gun control].

            Joe Biden, December 2012

  18. (the privacy offered by a DIY gun is somewhat compromised if you then write an article about your activities)

    If any Reason contributors are being watched by the feds, it’s Tuccille.

    1. But how much of the comment section is Feds? I always kind of wonder about some of the people who seem to think it’s time for a civil war right now.
      Speaking of which, I notice LC1789 is back.

      1. I have been here the whole time. Im still not commenting much until all the commies that work at unreason die, get fired, or quit.

        This website is so glitchy now, a quick run through comments is all that is tolerable.

        1. And here I thought you’d slunk away with your tail between your legs after Jan 6 didn’t go Trump’s way. Oh well.

      2. But how much of the comment section is Feds?

        Half of the people that came here after the woodchipper incident.

        1. That is how I learned about this site.

        2. Preet is a dick.

          1. That sound too much like a compliment; let’s just call him a cunt.

            1. Perhaps others wood chip in with additional descriptions.

    2. Each tine I have s background check I wonder, “Is today the day.”

      1. I have nothing to hide [as far as I know…] but I get the same sickly feeling; I think it’s more the knowledge that the government “can” arbitrarily restrict you, sometimes with no notice or explanation. Now I get the same feeling when I’m at an airline ticket counter. Did someone put me on the no fly list? How would I know, and why?

    3. It’s my assumption that every comment on here is being recorded, and perhaps even analyzed. And I don’t mean by the good folks at Reason looking to see what sells.

      Bite me Joe, bite me!

  19. “It won’t make you an AR-15 armorer, but it will make you a more knowledgeable owner,” Kuleck and McKee note of the benefits of building a rifle. “In short, if you build it, you’ll know how to repair it.”

    Very true, which is what motivated me to build my first [then second, third…] rifle. I wanted to know how it went together and worked so I could better solve my own problems or just make it better. Add to that having a decent supply of spare parts on hand in the event they become unavailable.


    “Too many of the things in our life might as well be magic given our limited understanding of how they work. We can’t demystify everything, but examining a few things important to us enriches our knowledge while giving us more control over our lives.”

    From that perspective it or any weapon is a collection of pins, springs, and widgets that somehow make it go boom. Much better to be informed and practiced enough to make it and fix it yourself. And you also get a very satisfying sense of achievement when it all works.

  20. Using a Dremel to carve out a piece of aluminum to give you a gun part isn’t really “building your own gun” and doesn’t make you significantly “more knowledgeable”.

    Why don’t you actually learn to build your own gun?

    1. Depends on what you knew before. Someone with little or no experience of metal working, or assembling and disassembling firing mechanisms would certainly come out significantly more knowledgeable. It’s a good place to start.

      1. “Why don’t you actually learn to build your own gun?”

        I suppose we could start out with a blank of steel and mill and then rifle it, but then you should also mine the ore and smelt it too.

        As JD put it, it doesn’t make you an armorer, but I certainly am more knowledgeable and able to upgrade, fix, and replace parts than I was before “assembling” my own rifles from all of their disparate parts. Ditto for reloading ammo; I don’t dig up my own sulfur and salt peter, nor could I make my own primers even if I did, but anything you can do for yourself has it’s own reward [and because of reloading supplies I started accumulating in 2013 and some knowledge on how to use them, I do not lack for ammo.

        1. So I know you?

        2. I suppose we could start out with a blank of steel and mill and then rifle it

          And that’s what you should do. It’s called “machining”. It’s a useful skill to learn.

          but then you should also mine the ore and smelt it too

          That is indeed another useful skill to learn, but it’s much simpler than machining.

      2. Depends on what you knew before. Someone with little or no experience of metal working, or assembling and disassembling firing mechanisms would certainly come out significantly more knowledgeable. It’s a good place to start.

        Those are not particularly useful skills because they don’t really transfer to anything else. And they certainly don’t amount to “building your own rifle”.

        You’re better off spending the same amount of time learning to use a drill press and/or a lathe.

  21. my luck I’d build it backwards and Daffy Duck myself.

  22. I fear the days that to own a woodchipper I will need to buy an 8% completed version.

  23. Cool project. Back in the day my dad built a muzzle-loading rifle. (Caps, not flintlock). The milled parts were of course pre-milled, but the stock needed a lot of woodworking to finish up. Came with a mold for the balls, which was a pain as the furnace work was a whole different skillset.

    My cousins do some AR-15 3D printing. If Congress bans it they’re instantly printing it. The AR-15 is a very versatile design, and not at all an “assault” rifle. That it looks “military” is beside the point. A gay friend of mine has a bright pink AR-15! Hah! I’ve seen some with wooden stocks like look like quite ordinary hunting rifles.

    I’m not interested in that now. I’m in the suburbs where it’s a pain getting out to a range, and maintenance is a chore. Slowly selling off my firearms. Crime isn’t what it was in the 70s, so no urgency to be open carrying. Plus I find the open carry guys to be a bit creepy. Seriously, you guys need to work on your image.

    1. You anywhere near New England?

    2. It only looks creepy because it’s unusual, so mostly weirdos trying to make a point do it in places where it isn’t common. Though I suppose there is a difference between having a pistol on your hip and walking around with a highly accessorized black rifle with all your “tactical” clothing and gear.

      1. Last weekend I took my daughter for a walk on a nature trail that sees a lot of traffic, and some beefy dude walked by with a “tactical” vest. Like Back To The Future except it looked like Kevlar instead of a life preserver. He wasn’t armed that I could see, and when I say “beefy” I mean gorilla. Very strange.

        1. “…and when I say “beefy” I mean gorilla. Very strange.”

          In Virginia they call those woodboogers.

    3. This area is 2A friendly but rarely see open carry. Last weekend buying groceries was the first time in probably a decade. The guy did need to work on his image some and in a Kydex makes it easy for someone else to grab it.
      The rest of us just conceal carry and don’t advertise.

      1. It is a shame that open carry seems to almost always be a statement of some sort these days, and not just a way to carry. I see store owners with a piston on their hip sometimes, and that seems like a good way to let people know they don’t want to rob the place. But yeah, some people could tone it down a bit.

        1. It was on his back hip. In Kydex. Someone could reliably get that from him. It looked sloppy.

    4. “Seriously, you guys need to work on your image.”

      And who would that be? I own a number of weapons, including several “modern sporting weapons” but I never put them on display unless I am shooting them. As for carrying, I maintain concealed because I see no advantage to doing otherwise. I don’t even put any kind of 2nd Amendment or similar sticker on my vehicle, as I think that would only tip someone off to breaking into it in search of a weapon. Same goes for clothing emblazoned with gun logos. Keep it to yourself [but vote, write your legislators, and volunteer for and contribute to what you believe in].

    5. I don’t mind seeing people carrying on their hip; but then, that was the thing when I moved here (Arizona) and you still needed a permit to carry concealed. It wasn’t common, but it wasn’t all that rare to see otherwise.
      Folks that carry long-guns into the Walmart or Burger King, just to prove the point? Yeah, that’s kinda iffy. I mostly just think of it as over-demonstrative, like the dudes wearing leather chaps in gay pride parades. Yeah, you have (or should have) the rights to do that, but are you really helping your cause by “freaking out the normies”, or just alienating folks who might be sympathetic to your stance if you just toned it down a bit?
      (That’s not to say that it matters either way when you meet a true hoplophobe. Nothing will convince them.)

  24. The placement of the rear sight and stance/grip on the ar15 tells you all you need to know: the people have no business owning one.

    I do not like the current gun culture in the US. We used to make fun of people who played militia dress up; now it’s mainstream. These dorks are only going to hurt themselves and the 2nd amendment. I know there is a strong aversion to reality around here, but the fastest way to have one of your rights abridged is to exercise it obnoxiously. Well, keep encouraging people to show up to demonstrations armed like walmart army, keep encouraging city dwellers who have no knowledge, experience, access to long range, etc. to own and flaunt scary black rifles, etc. and then acted shocked (shocked!) that people are made to feel unsafe and watn those guns taken away by daddy gov.

    1. *these people

    2. What’s wrong with the placement of the rear sight? They look like backups to me, sure they could be further back but plenty of guns have sights further forward that work just fine. Hell, that’s a much longer sight picture than an AK gives you and those irons are plenty effective for the distance the gun is designed to work in.

      You’re nitpicking because you hate gun rights.

      1. He’s nitpicking because he hates citizens, and armed ones make him scared.

        But yeah, the rear sight really needs to be closer to the eye for proper function as a ghost ring.

        Stance/grip (other than no cheek weld) is ok for a beginner.

    3. “the[se] people have no business owning one”

      Fuck you.

      1. His Walter Mitty memory tells him he looked like Joh Wick the first time he shouldered a rifle.

    4. I see no reason to think that the Tucilles have done any of the obnoxious or irresponsible things you mention.
      In any case, the people you complain about are a small minority of gun owners and it’s not exactly a major source of carnage.
      And finally, fuck you, rights are rights. If someone does something criminally reckless, then charge them. Otherwise, if you can’t use your rights they aren’t worth much.

    5. What Zeb said – Fuck you you worthless lying piece of shit.

    6. Hopefully they have friends who aren’t assholes who might tell them what they should adjust. Have to start off somewhere. Nobody’s born an expert.

    7. I do not like the current gun culture in the US.

      As opposed to what? Do you seriously believe that people 100 years ago were any smarter or more educated? Idiots have always used guns. Idiots have always killed themselves and others with guns. If you’re not willing to accept that, then you hurt the 2A.

      (Ditto with drugs. Legalizing drugs will probably increase drug addiction and drug deaths, and if you want to argue in favor of legalizing drugs, that’s something you need to accept.)

    8. “the fastest way to have one of your rights abridged is to exercise it”

      Don’t exercise your rights or you’ll lose them.

  25. I hope your great uncle is not in New Jersey still. They don’t allow homemade weapons.

    1. I like to say that NJ is what life would be like [for the rest of the country] had we not fought and won a revolution. Or lost the Cold War.

  26. Used to work with a guy who said his friend built a gun in his garage. Like from scratch. Still naïve and believing law enforcement is the good guys, he went to his local ATF chapter to show off his creation. He handed it to them, they pronounced it legal, and then kept it. When he asked for it back they just played dumb, as in it’s got no markings prove it’s yours. Grade school “Don’t got your name on it neener neener! Mine now!” I imagine that’s SOP with so-called ghost guns.

  27. Today I saw a video of a comedian observing that our parents and grandparents marched to have their rights recognized by government, while anti-gun people march in support of having their rights taken away.

    1. Part of the problem is that they don’t think of them as “their” rights. They think they are just taking away the rights those OTHER GUYS use, and since they’d never want to exercise that right anyway, who cares?

      (The ones who are more legalistically-minded and do understand the concept of universality of rights merely go one step further and declare it’s not actually a right, or that it’s a right of the states to have a militia, or some other equally transparent rationalization.)

      1. These are people who feel that government is us and we are government. Gun owners and corporations are them, and the government that is us protects us from crazies and greed monsters.

    2. Today I saw a video of a comedian observing that our parents and grandparents marched to have their rights recognized by government,

      You mean the people who voted/marched for Woodrow Wilson and FDR? Those people?

  28. Bravo, JD! I have been home building 80% receivers for a couple of years now. Glocks, with better triggers, barrels and optics, and rifles in several calibers. The classic .223/5.56 AR-15, a .410 bore AR-style shotgun, a 9mm Luger AR Pistol, and my current project, an AR-45 rifle for .45ACP ammo. It is so satisfying and so much fun to take to the range with kids, and say, “I built this! And the gummint don’t know nuthin about it!” Oops! Did the NSA just find out?!!

    1. I’ve always wanted to build one in 10 mm. I think that is the ideal pistol caliber carbine.

  29. J. D. Tuccille has got some balls. Respect. That’s all I gotta say about that.

  30. So I look over the disgusting news stories on Google then treat myself to a visit to Reason. The only attractive story on today’s menu is Tuccille’s recipe for constitutionally keeping and bearing arms. Naturally the ravings of disappointed malice pour forth from mesmerized Trumptreuen thralls, butthurt over losing their Fuehrer and sniveling over the harsh fact that nobody cares. But the article is relevant, delightful and a joy to read… and the only such item on today’s menu. Much appreciated, thanks.

    1. Uhm, so I agree it’s a great article and all, but who exactly is talking about Trump in here? It looks to me that the guy with T is living in your head at this point. Not a very beautiful head, that is, telling from that picture, I mean. 😀

      1. The chaff and redirect crowd pull the Trump card (which in this case isn’t a trump card) when the debate goes poorly for them. Which is basically every comment section.

  31. Clearly the root cause of gun violence is geeky white boys assembling their own weapons, not dumb blacks firing indiscriminately into birthday parties. We must outlaw the former and stop prosecuting the latter. Equity!

    1. No justice, no piece. No piece, no birthday party arcade.

    2. “Cogito ergo sum.”

  32. The following might be somewhat off point, but I submit it’s worth thinking on anyway. I have long wondered, I continue to wonder as to the following. Why is it that these Oh So Concerned types, while they are fine with the trashing of our most basic civil/constitutional rights seem unable to bring themselves to actually punish criminals?

  33. “…the bolt-catch spring and plunger launched themselves over my shoulder and bounced off the wall.”

    Those and any e or c (Jesus) clips. If I had a nickel… 🙂

  34. ‘ and anything that can “readily be converted” to shoot according to extremely subjective criteria may soon be regulated as firearms.’

    Things that can be readily converted to a firearm:


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