First off I need to say that if you decide to build an AR you need to check your local & State laws to see if you can even own one before trying to build one. This post is going to be geared toward Alaska and Alaskans so please do your own research before attempting to build a rifle! Also since we are talking about "rifles" you must have a barrel over 16" for it to be legal. Do not put a 10" barreled upper on a lower with a stock on it. You will go to prison for a long time if you do. Also it is illegal for you to build a machine gun, there are ways to own a machine gun, but building it out of a parts kit is not the way to do it....
Now, the only piece of metal on an AR-15 that is considered to be a "Gun" by the BATFE is the "lower receiver"....
It is the only part that has a serial # on it. Once you have this little part then you own an AR-15. Any FFL can transfer one for you, just like any other firearm. So find you an FFL and have a lower shipped to him to get the hard part over. A lower will cost you anywhere from $100 to $300... there are several manufacturers that I use and I generally pay about $150 for a lower after shipping and transfer fees.
I use DPMS, Stag (& all of the lowers that Stag makes for others) Colt, CMMG, Double Star, Wilson, Bushmaster, Rock River Arms, well pretty much any of them besides Hesse, Vulcan, or Olympic
... these manufacturers had quality control issues which led to them getting a bad name that they never recovered from. I just stay away from them personally!
Now that you have your lower, you can go about building your rifle several different ways! You can take your time and buy it piece by piece. Or you can buy a "kit gun" for about $500 and go from there. I have done it both ways and have to say that the shipping can kill you if you don't do it right! Every piece of an AR-15 minus the lower receiver can be shipped through the mail. The barrel, upper receiver, stock, pistol grip, magazines, lower parts kit, hand guards, rails...etc. They are not the gun, only the lower is!
The only thing positive about buying it piece by piece is if you can get good deals on the parts over time. You can also custom build the rifle like you want subbing crappy parts that break with very good parts that don't.
I have my AR's for home protection. I need to know that it will go BANG when the time comes to drop the hammer. So the parts that I buy are Mil-Spec and pretty much the best on the market. If you are blasting wolves from a snow machine then the kit gun route will be more than sufficeint for your purposes...
Here's 2 of my best AR's... The top one is a Colt factory built 9mm AR-15. The bottom one is a Wilson Tactical lower that I built. Here are the specs:
Wilson Tactical lower $150
Colt M4 upper reciever $185
Youngs Manufacturing Bolt Carrier Group & Bolt $180
Stag Lower Parts Kit $75
Tango Down pistol grip $25
Denny's Guns Operator Barrel 1/7" twist $350
Magpul CTR stock $150
front handguards $20
Magpul 30 round P Mag $14.50 each
Geissele Automatics 1.5 lbs trigger $279
Magpul winter trigger guard $20
The Wilson is very accurate and super reliable. This winter I took it out to the trapline and tested it in -30 below. I had some gun oil that I was testing for William Geissele at Geissele Automatics along with his trigger. The rifle never gave me trouble throughout the weekend in sub zero conditions.http://www.geissele.com/detail.aspx?ID=4
Now if you got your lower and went the kit gun route, then you have just got a pretty good AR for around $700. You saved yourself about $300, because that's what you would have paid for the exact same gun at a gunstore. Use that saved money to buy quality mags and ammo.
Here's a link to AR-15.com's build it yourself forum. This is where I learned how to put together my first AR-15...http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=4&t=226782http://www.ar15.com/content/guides/assembly/lower/
Here are a few of the vendors that I buy my parts from.
Denny @ Global Tactical has free USPS shipping if your purchase is over $300. He sells quality parts and will take time out of his busy schedule to BS with you. Tell him that the Alaskacajun sent you, he'll get a kick out of that. I have spent hours on the phone with this guy picking his brain...http://global-tactical.com/
Magpul is where I get my mags... I used to use USGI mags but found out that I was getting "failure to feed" (FTF) issues with them. So I did some testing of Magpuls mags and found out that you'de be hard pressed to break or destroy them. I have never had a FTF with a P Mag. A big part of reliablity in the AR platform comes from the quality of the parts you use, the mags you use, and the ammo you use. If you skimp on any of these there is a possibilty that you'll have problems...http://www.magpul.com/
I also buy some parts from Bravo Company, they have fast shipping and excellent service...http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/
Del-Ton is where I get my kit guns. They are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to these kits. If you decide to go the kit route these are the guys I recommend... they are currently on a 3 week back order, but they are well worth the wait!http://www.del-ton.com/AR_15_Rifle_Kits_16_s/57.htm
I know you wolf blasters are gonna want a "red dot" sight to go on top of that AR you just built so here they are... the Trijicon, Aimpoint, and EO Tech... there are many more out there but these are the best. Battle tested tried and true. I currently have an EO Tech and love it...http://www.swfa.com/c-2183-riflescopes.aspx
I guess I ought to show yall where I got the cases that I store my rifles in. I got them from Spike's Tactical. They also make a really nice Lower. If you want to get great service and great products I highly recommend them. A carbine with a telestock and 16" barrel will fit perfectly into their 36" case.http://www.spikestactical.com/catalog/home.php
I have built dozens of these rifles over the years and after a lot of trial and error have arrived at the vendors and manufacturers that I use today. I can take $50 out of every paycheck and build 2 AR-15's a year without my wife noticing! I don't know of another rifle out there that has so many different calibers available to it, with the push of 2 buttons.
I hope that this post has helped yall decide weather or not building an AR-15 is for you. If you destroyed every model car you ever tried to build and have no patience then you might want to consider just buying an AR outright!