I’m filing this under How to be a Backyardsman. I love to shoot and hunt but I can’t do that in my backyard. You probably can’t either unless you’re really lucky. So what can you do if you like guns but you can’t go shooting as much as you’d like? Build your own gun. It’s pretty easy – if I can do it you probably can too.
Build your own gun vs. buying a factory gun
Sometimes you can save money by building your own gun, but usually it’s cheaper to just buy one. I don’t care. I build guns because I enjoy it and I get to make them exactly the way I want them. It’s also a great way to learn how they work. I figure if I built it I can probably fix it if it breaks. If you start with an 80% receiver it can save you from doing paperwork.
OTOH it’s easier to just buy one. To build your own, you’ll need some tools and skills. It’s usually cheaper to buy a factory gun, and it will come with a warranty. So why build your own? Because you’re a Backyardsman, right?
Ways to build your own gun
When you build your own gun, you have lots of options. The cheapest is to get a black powder rifle or pistol kit. You can get a Traditions Kentucky pistol kit for about $175 or their Kentucky rifle kit for about $260. I haven’t built either but they look pretty easy to put together and they get good reviews online. To build one, you’ll need to do a little wood inletting for the metal parts, some minor filing, finish the wood stock, blue the metal parts, and screw everything together. I’m hoping I can build one with my son later this year (after he passes his Hunter Safety course).
The easiest way to build your own gun is putting together an AR15. You can get every part you need online. The only hard part is finding an FFL to do the transfer on the lower receiver for you. You’ll need a few special tools and some good instructions, but putting together an AR is so easy it’s not even really building a gun, more like assembling one. If you want a little more challenge you can start with an 80% lower. My first (and so far only) home built gun was an AR-15. It cost just as much as a factory gun, but it’s put together exactly the way I want. I have over 1,000 rounds through it with zero malfunctions.
My next home built gun is going to be a Glock type pistol built on a Polymer80 frame. The ATF doesn’t consider this to be a firearm so you can order the frame kit without going through an FFL. I got my frame last week and even though it needs some milling, it looks even easier than putting together an AR15. The only problem is the cost – about $200 for the frame and lower kit and $400 for a complete slide. You can buy a brand new factory Glock cheaper than that.
If you’re really good and have tools you can build a custom bolt action rifle or even build your own semiautomatic pistol from scratch.
So get to it – start building
If you like guns, you should definitely build your own gun. At least once. It’s easy (at least it can be) and you’ll learn valuable skills. What are you waiting for? Figure out what you want, find the parts (either locally or online), and start building.