Consumer Products

NRA Instructions for Building Assault Rifle on Budget

Douglas A. McIntyre

As part of its effort to stay relevant during the election, and raise money, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has written a way to build an AR-15 assault type rifle on a budget.

Some of the pointers from “Building a Budget AR-15 at Home”:

There are three types of expenses to consider when planning an AR rifle build at home. The first and most obvious one is the cost of the parts going into the rifle. But the components are only a part of the equation. Next is price of the tools you’ll need. Spending too much on tools will blow your cost savings while not spending enough can lead to lost time, frustration and possibly damaged components. Finally, there’s the amount of time invested in the project. This includes researching and ordering parts, studying how to build an AR, preparing a work space and performing the build itself.


One of the most affordable AR rifle kits I could find online from a reputable company at the time of this writing was a Palmetto State Armory (PSA) PTAC M4-style carbine kit on sale for $399.99. I previously had positive results with one of this company’s AR pistol kits, so I was glad to work with them again on this project. The PTAC line is a PSA in-house brand geared to the budget-minded builder. The kits contain quality mil-spec parts but they are basic components that cost less. The kit includes everything needed for a complete rifle except a lower receiver, a rear sight and magazines.

The result:

Now that I’ve built and tested one of the least expensive AR-15 rifle kits on the market, the Palmetto State Armory PTAC M4, I have to say that I’m satisfied with the results. Granted, this is not quite a sub-MOA, tack-driving competition rifle (those cost much more) and the shoulder stock rattles a bit. But with groups hovering right around the 1.50” mark at 100 yds., it’s certainly accurate enough for recreational shooting, close-range hunting, home defense, bug-out bags and riding along as a trunk gun. The things I worried about with an inexpensive rifle, like ammunition failures, breakages, defects or cosmetic issues simply did not manifest in the PTAC build. In fact, this rifle could be tucked into a dealer’s rack next to other factory assembled $800 to $900 basic M4s even though it cost almost half the price to build.

This seems dangerous. Why do it at home to save a few hundred dollars?