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The Rifle That Wish Built

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We Build a Gun With Parts From the Worst Vendor on the Internet

Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of crazy cheap deals on parts and pieces; some of them with questionable origins. The perfect place to put them all together was right here in our budget issue. Who needs Black Friday when you can build yourself a working rifle from the cheesiest of Chinesium from — or at least try to.

We did our best to avoid products that were simply stolen intellectual property from American companies. Despite our best efforts, the iron sights we purchased ended up being garbage knockoffs of Magpul MBUS sights — what was pictured in the listing was totally different. Still, they ended up being absolutely worthless due to two reasons: The apertures freely rotated, and the handguard was total trash.


When the handguard arrived, it actually looked pretty decent. Not only was it lacking that chalkboard-made-in-China feel, it had anti-rotational tabs, a barrel nut made of steel, and a whopping five quick-detach sling points. If you put it on a shelf in a gun shop, no one would believe it only cost $27. Ultimately, it ended up being LG;FU. That is to say: Looks Good; F*cked Up.

None of the QD points were in-spec; all were undersized. When the barrel nut was properly aligned to allow the gas tube to enter the upper receiver, the rail was canted several degrees. We had to shave down the alignment tabs to line up the rail with the upper. The handguard itself was a study in poor aluminum extrusion; rather than remaining in-line with the upper from tip to tail, it nearly touched the barrel at the muzzle end. Even if the Magpul-knockoff iron sights were OK, the rail itself precluded their use.

One of the few components we couldn’t procure from Wish was the barrel. No matter, there are several über-budget options. We went with a Bear Creek Armory blemished barrel. We know what you’re thinking, but no, not all of them are blems, apparently. This mid-length 5.56mm barrel had a gas port mic’d at 0.088 inch — too large to start out with.

The lower receiver was an Anderson Arms purchased on sale for $25, and the upper receiver a blem from Gorilla Machining with the original intended manufacturer’s markings milled off of the side. We skipped the ejection port cover, because we didn’t want to spend the extra $2.

The gas block, shockingly, was made from steel. Instead of a press-on, it’s the far inferior clamp-on type that went out of favor more than a decade ago because of gas leaks. The finish came off when you looked at it.

Though sold on Wish, the listing for the bolt carrier group claimed it was U.S.-made from a company called KM Tactical. A cursory web search brought up a company based in Missouri with an online store selling a lot of similar items. As expected, it wasn’t marked as high-pressure-tested — not that we’d believe it if it were.

The lower parts kit was a mere $20, and the included springs looked like it. Surprisingly, it also included a winter trigger guard and an ambidextrous safety selector. The only part we were missing for this build was a pistol grip, so we pulled a black Hogue from a parts box.


Since the iron sights were out, we decided not to buy a complete fake on Wish and turned to Vortex for an inexpensive red-dot sight. We chose a SPARC AR that runs on a single AAA battery. This would ultimately be the highest quality item that would ever touch this rifle. While we believe a weapon mounted light to be paramount for any gun configured for defensive purposes, we skipped it here because we couldn’t imagine a single scenario where we’d stake our lives on this rifle.

It’s not lost on us that the MSRP of the Vortex SPARC AR exceeds the rest of the rifle combined.


The rifle experienced a 50-percent failure rate right from the start — frankly, better than we expected. The main culprit was that the trigger wasn’t resetting. Under normal circumstances you’d check for incorrect hammer spring installation, but in this case, it was because the springs were made of zinc or butter.

Once that was corrected, the rifle actually ran. As to how long it’ll continue to run? Experience tells us it won’t hold a candle to a properly built, in-spec rifle. But we’ll continue to flog it and chronicle the misadventures on RECOILweb. Because we’re masochists.


The fact is, a cheap build may not end up being as cheap as you thought. Firstly, none of the prices reflected in this article showcase how much shipping actually costs, nor how much you’ll wait for your wares. Additionally, a handful of the subpar items we received had to be replaced entirely, adding to the overall time and cost. Furthermore, we received parts that didn’t match the descriptions, and we have a handful of well-known failure points in this rifle as well.

We did give this rifle the worst paint job we can think of. So, there’s that.

Ultimately, it was an interesting thought experiment, but what we received wasn’t all gravy. You’d be better off looking for a sale on an inexpensive AR, such as a Palmetto State Armory, rather than trying to piece everything together from a sketchy foreign vendor. Unless you just want to make your partner cry and your gunsmith rich.

Components and MSRP
Anderson Manufacturing lower receiver $25
Gorilla Machining blemished upper $25
Bear Creek Arsenal blemished barrel $45
Complete buttstock assembly $24
Gas block and gas tube $14
KM Tactical NiB bolt carrier group $68
Handguard $27
Charging handle $8
Lower parts kit $20
Total: $257
Additional Components
Vortex SPARC AR $259
Black Aces 5.56 Po’ Boy Silencer $199
Price as configured: $715

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1 Comment

  • Robin marchmonte says:

    For what you paid for a junk ar I paid 700$ for my ar10 and it works flawlessly and it’s made in the USA

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  • For what you paid for a junk ar I paid 700$ for my ar10 and it works flawlessly and it’s made in the USA

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