Guns The Rifle That Wish Built Dave Merrill December 27, 2019 Join the Conversation 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 Wish.com — 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. PARTS AND PIECES 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. OUTFITTING 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. Vortex SPARC $199.99 Sportsman's Warehouse Vortex SPARC $199.99 Brownells.com Notice: We Found Ammo In Stock: (Check our Current Deals page for more ammo deals - including bulk ammo) 9mm 150gr FMJ 50ct $26.99 Optics Planet9mm 115gr JHP 50ct $54.99 Palmetto State Armory 5.56 62gr LAP 20ct $15.99 Palmetto State Armory.223 REM 75gr HPBT 200ct $194.95 Creedmoor SportsGet 5% off all Creedmoor brand ammo with code CREEDMOOR5 Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. Caribou Media Group earns a commission from qualifying purchases. Thank you! AT THE RANGE 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. LOOSE ROUNDS 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 Anderson AR Lower $58.99 Brownells.com Brownells Upper $49.99 Brownells.com AR-15 Barrel $172.99 Brownells.com AR Buttstock Assembly $63.99 Brownells.com AR-15 Gas Block $21.99 Brownells.com Gas Tube Kit $14.99 Brownells.com BCM Bolt Carrier Group $169.00 Brownells.com AR Handguard $90.99 Brownells.com Charging Handle $24.99 Brownells.com Lower Parts Kit $69.99 Brownells.com Surefire Suppressor $988.99 Brownells.com Explore RECOILweb:RECOILtv Gun Room: Integral SuppressorsTrump Announces Second Amendment CoalitionSo Others May Live - US Navy (video)The FN 509: A Worthy Contender Budget AR-15s In Stock: PSA PA-15 5.56 $699.99 Palmetto State Armory PSA 7.5" Pistol Length 300AAC $769 Palmetto State Armory Sig Tread M400 5.56 $799 Rainier Arms F-1 FDR-15 5.56 $819 Rainier Arms Bulk Handgun Ammo in Stock 9mm Magtech 115gr FMJ 1000ct $689 True Shot 40 S&W FMJ 1000ct $549 Rainier Arms Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. Caribou Media Group earns a commission from qualifying purchases. Thank you! NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!