How to Build an AR-15 & What You Need to Know

Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide legal advice. You are responsible for your own actions, and we advise you to seek guidance from a legal professional in your area before building a custom AR-15 pistol.

 

Should you be afraid to build your own AR pistol?

 

Lions, tigers, and custom-built AR pistols. Oh my!

 

As a law-abiding citizen, we understand that building your own AR pistol can feel like walking on eggshells. It’s one thing to learn how to safely make a firearm that will work great for your needs—and quite another when it comes to building it according to all the convoluted rules in place. 

 

Have no fear. We will walk you through the steps of what you need to get started.

 

What you need to know before building an AR-15 pistol

 

The fears behind building a custom AR-15 pistol are not primarily focused on preventing yourself from getting caught in the act of using an illegally configured firearm at the range—but more about protecting yourself in case you ever need to use it in a personal defense situation, where your firearm can be seized and used as evidence against you in court. 


For rest assurance (and to remain the law-abiding citizen we know you are), building a firearm legally is truly a “cover your ass” action that calls for getting it done right the first time. It’s not worth cutting corners that could cost you a whole lot of issues in unexpected circumstances. 

 

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s cover our bases.

 

The first thing you want to do is familiarize yourself with both your local and state gun regulations, or contact your local FFL dealer for guidance. They can help answer questions and provide suggestions as well.

 

Now let’s define what a pistol is on a federal level.

 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) defines a pistol as “a weapon originally designed, made and intended to fire a projectile from one or more barrels when held in one hand and having: a chamber as an integral part of, or permanently aligned with, the bore; and a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore.”

 

While an AR-15 pistol has a similar makeup as an AR-15 rifle, there are a few differences that classify it a “pistol”: 

  • The barrel is typically shorter than 16 inches (and overall length is shorter than 26 inches).
  • You can’t put a vertical forend grip on it (angled grips are okay).
  • You can optionally have a pistol brace on your firearm.
  • It cannot have a stock.

 

Also, the NFA (National Firearms Act) doesn’t regulate pistol barrel length. So as long as it doesn’t have a stock, which would classify it as a rifle, you should be good to go without having to deal with the tax stamps, paperwork, and other rules from the NFA.



How to build an AR-15 pistol

how to build an ar-15 pistol

Now let’s get to the good stuff: building a custom AR-15 pistol. 

 

The benefit of building an AR-15 pistol is that you get exactly what you want–sometimes at a fraction of the cost. As long as you have the time on your hands, it can be a great alternative to buying one from a firearms dealer. 

 

First things first, you need to define your budget and what you want from your firearm.

 

Now it’s time to get a lower and upper receiver from your FFL. Ensure the 4473 form is marked “Other receiver, other firearm and receiver (not rifle).” You must know how the lower receiver part was purchased. If it was originally built as a rifle, it can’t be built into a pistol without getting a tax stamp and registering it with the ATF. But if you bought a stripped lower receiver and built it into a pistol from scratch (and it’s not designated as a rifle on the 4473 form), you’re gravy.

 

Here are some other items you’ll need:



  • Handguard
    • A handguard (also known as a forend or forearm) is a shroud that covers the barrel, preventing accidental burns and allowing a second surface for gripping the firearm. There are free-floating and drop-in handguards available based on your needs.



  • Bolt Carrier Group (BCG)
    • This is something you don’t want to go cheap on. It’s the part of the rifle or pistol that allows for safe semi-automatic action.


  • Barrel
    • You need to determine which caliber you want: .223/5.56mm, .300 Blackout, 9mm, .45 ACP, etc.
    • You will want to ensure the barrel’s gas port is in the desired location: carbine or rifle. Carbine-length gas systems are the de facto standard for most pistol builds these days.
    • An AR-15 pistol also usually has a barrel shorter than 16” (the minimum legal length for a rifle barrel).



  • Trigger
    • You can stick with a standard mil-spec trigger or consider an aftermarket trigger. The sky’s the limit when it comes to function and features of the myriad aftermarket triggers.





  • Pistol buffer
    • A pistol buffer is another piece designed to help make your AR semi automatic. Example of an AR-15 carbine buffer:



  • Buffer spring
  • Castle nut
    • A castle nut (or buffer tube nut) screws into the buffer tube and keeps the buffer tube/receiver extension and lower receiver end plate secured. Example of an AR-15 castle nut:
  • Endplate
    • An endplate is designed for an AR-15 with a carbine buffer tube, aligning the buffer tube with the lower receiver. Example of an AR-15 endplate:



 

Other add-ons we suggest:



  • Optics
    • We could write an entire book on optics and sights. Suffice it to say, do some independent research, ask others, and try out different options for yourself. First and foremost, you will need to determine whether open sights, a red-dot-type, a telescopic optic—or a combination thereof is what you’re looking for.



  • Flashlight for home defense
    • A flashlight mounted to your firearm will help you see where you’re going during the night and see your target, but a bright light can also stun your intruder, making it difficult for them to see you. 

14 Gun Accessories to Add to Your Wish List

The Holiday Season has sneaked up on us all once again. But finding the perfect items to give your gun-loving family (or yourself) can be a difficult endeavor with the national shortage on firearm supplies due to high demand. 

 

Have no fear. 

 

Because Shockwave Technologies’ gun accessories are Made in America, we’ve been able to quickly fill the gaps for dealers and buyers who want to stock up on the best firearm supplies.

 

And that includes items to add to your Christmas wish list, too.  

 

If you’re looking for some awesome stocking stuffers or Christmas wish list ideas, check out these badass gun accessories for the gifts that keep on giving the whole year round:

 

 

Shockwave Blade®

 

Blade® Pistol Stabilizer 

Made from high-strength glass-reinforced polymer, the Blade pistol stabilizer is manufactured to exacting tolerances and fits all pistols equipped with a standard AR-15 pistol buffer tube (up to 1.25” in diameter) such as the Shockwave KAK Pistol Buffer Tube:

  • AR pattern
  • Glock
  • CZ Scorpion Evo 3
  • HK9X pattern
  • And more

 

Just slip it on and tighten the large set screw for a rock-solid installation.

 

Features include:

  • Available in black, flat dark earth, OD green, and stealth gray
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Provides additional support during firing
  • Weighs a scant 5.0 ounces
  • ATF-approved for pistol use

 

 

Blade® 2M (Mil-Spec) 

With the same features as the Shockwave Blade pistol stabilizer, the Blade 2M adjusts with a simple finger lever. 

 

It’s compatible with all pistols equipped with a mil-spec buffer tube like the KAK Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube

  • AR-15 pattern
  • MPX
  • Glock
  • CZ Scorpion Evo 3
  • HK9X pattern
  • And more

 

Features include:

  • Available in black, flat dark earth, OD green, and stealth gray
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Provides additional support during firing
  • Weighs a scant 4.0 ounces
  • ATF-approved for pistol use

 

 

 

NEW! Blade® Classic

The new, veteran-designed Shockwave Blade Classic pistol stabilizer takes a slightly smaller approach to the traditional signature Shockwave Blade look with all the new desirable features. 

 

It’s made from high-strength glass-reinforced polymer with a QD swivel mount (QD swivel not included). With the vertical-pull latch on the bottom of the Blade, you’ll be able to quickly adjust it to different lengths and gain more support, giving you a boost in safety, marksmanship, and comfort.

 

The Blade Classic pistol stabilizer fits all pistols equipped with a mil-spec buffer tube like the KAK Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube

  • AR-15 pattern
  • MPX
  • Glock
  • CZ Scorpion Evo 3
  • HK9X pattern
  • And more

 

Features include:

  • Available in black (coming soon in FDE, ODG, and gray)
  • Ambidextrous side-mounted QDs for sling attachment
  • Quick and easy to install; just slip it on, and it locks in place
  • Provides additional support during firing

Weighs a scant 4.0 ounces 

 

 

NEW! Blade® Stealth

The Shockwave Blade Stealth pistol stabilizer is our very latest design. The new slick look and slightly smaller profile make it extremely comfortable for any user. The Blade Stealth is adjustable with a simple pull-down latch. 

 

Just like the Blade Classic, it’s also made from high-strength glass-reinforced polymer with a QD swivel mount (QD swivel not included) and fits all pistols equipped with a mil-spec buffer tube like the KAK Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube:

  • AR-15 pattern
  • MPX
  • Glock
  • CZ Scorpion Evo 3
  • HK9X pattern
  • And more

 

 

Features include:

  • Available in black (coming soon in FDE, ODG, and gray)
  • Ambi side-mounted QDs for sling attachment
  • Quick and easy to install; just slip it on, and it locks in place
  • Provides additional support during firing
  • Weighs a scant 4.0 ounces

 

 

 

Shockwave AR-15-Pattern Tubes 

 

 

KAK Shockwave Buffer Tube

The KAK Shockwave Buffer Tube is specifically designed for the Shockwave Blade Pistol Stabilizer, creating the world’s best pistol stabilizing system. 

 

With an anti-rotation and anti-thrust design, the Blade stays put without sliding forward or spinning. It’s flush with the rear of the Blade when it’s installed fully forward. When installed fully out, the assembly is incredibly rigid.

 

The Class 3 hard-anodized tube features 12 length-adjustment settings. It’s the same length as a KAK Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube at 7.25 inches. 

 

The KAK Shockwave tube accepts all carbine buffer systems, mil-spec receiver endplates, and aftermarket endplates. 

 

 

KAK Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube

With the same benefits of the KAK Shockwave Buffer Tube, the KAK Industry 6-position Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Tube is compatible with the Blade 2M, Blade Classic, and Blade Stealth.

 

 

 

 

 

Shotgun Raptor™ Grip

 

With the enhanced texture and ergonomic design of the Raptor Grip, you’ve never been able to hold onto your firearm with as much confidence and control, improving both safety and comfort. Its unique angle minimizes felt recoil, allowing for maximum control shot after shot. It’s also constructed with a glass-filled polymer, making it virtually indestructible. 

 

There are also new Raptor Grip colors available: black, flat dark earth, OD green, and stealth gray. 

 

 

Raptor™ Grip 500/590

The Raptor Grip 500/590 fits:

  • Mossberg 500 12-gauge firearms (aka 500A)
  • Mossberg 500 20-gauge firearms (aka 500C)
  • Mossberg 590 and 590A1 firearms (12-gauge)
  • Mossberg 510 Mini firearms (12- and 20-gauges)
  • Mossberg 835 firearms (12- and 20-gauges)
  • Mossberg 535 firearms (12- and 20-gauges)
  • Mossberg 600 (New Haven) firearms (12- and 20-gauges)
  • Maverick 88 (12- and 20-gauges)
  • Coast to Coast model CC 660 Master Mag (12- and 20-gauges)
  • Mossberg 590A1 and 500 Compact Cruiser AOW

 

 

Raptor™ Grip 500E (.410) 

The Raptor Grip 500E (.410) / Raptor Grip M500E fits:

  • Mossberg 500E .410 gauge firearms (aka 500E)
  • Mossberg 590E .410 gauge firearms (aka 590E)

 

 

Raptor™ Grip 870

The Raptor Grip 870 fits:

  • Remington 870 12-gauge firearms
  • New England Firearms (NEF) Pardner Pump Protector 12-gauge
  • Harrington & Richardson (H&R) Pardner Pump Protector 12-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 98 12-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 982 12-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 981R 12-gauge

 

 

Raptor™ Grip 870 + 20-gauge Adapter

The Raptor Grip 870 fits:

  • Remington 870 20-gauge firearms
  • New England Firearms (NEF) Pardner Pump Protector 20-gauge
  • Harrington & Richardson (H&R) Pardner Pump Protector 20-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 98 20-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 982 20-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 981R 20-gauge

 

Mesa Tactical’s 20-gauge to 12-gauge adapter is included in this package.  Simply attach it to the receiver in place of the standard 20-gauge stock. This cast steel adapter then enables you to attach the Raptor 12-gauge Remington 870 grip.

 

 

Raptor™ Grip 870 with QD

 

Raptor Grip 870 with a QD swivel fits:

  • Remington 870 12-gauge firearms
  • New England Firearms (NEF) Pardner Pump Protector 12-gauge
  • Harrington & Richardson (H&R) Pardner Pump Protector 12-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 98 12-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 982 12-gauge
  • Interstate Arms Corp (IAC) Hawk Model 981R 12-gauge

 

 

 

 

Shockwave Raptor™ F1™ Forend 

 

When you want to turn up your shotgun’s badass factor up to 11, reach for the Shockwave Raptor™ F1™ forend. Its cutting-edge design improves handling and speeds target acquisition. A direct replacement for your factory or aftermarket forend, the Shockwave Raptor F1 is available as a standalone forend, with an optional upper heat shield, with an optional forend installation tool—or any combination thereof.

 

Features for all the Shockwave Raptor F1 forend include:

  • Rugged glass-reinforced polymer
  • Lightweight
  • Available in black, flat dark earth, OD green and stealth gray
  • Extra length lets you personalize forward handhold
  • Ribbed inset area provides secure gripping
  • Front and rear handstops improve safety
  • A total of 10 M-LOK® slots allow for mounting lights, vertical grips, angled grips, Picatinny rails, and more
  • Optional upper heat shield prevents burns and offers rifle sights for fast target acquisition
  • Optional forend wrench simplifies and speeds installation
  • Veteran designed
  • Made in the U.S.A.

 

 

Raptor F1 Forend for Mossberg 500/590

This Raptor F1 forend fits 12-gauge Mossberg 500/590 firearms with both lengths of slide action tubes (7-3/4” and 6-3/4”) thanks to the included adapter. 

 

 

 

Raptor F1 Forend for Mossberg 590/Shockwave 

This Raptor F1 forend fits 12-gauge Mossberg 590 firearms and Mossberg 590 Shockwave firearms, which feature a 6-3/4″ long slide action tube.

 

 

Raptor F1 Forend for Remington 870/TAC-14

This Raptor F1 forend fits 12-gauge Remington 870 firearms, including the TAC-14 featuring the Shockwave Technologies Raptor Grip.  

 

 



Whether you plan on adding some of these gun accessories to your own Christmas wish list or getting it for a fellow gun-lover, make sure you order by December 18, 2020 to ensure it arrives by Christmas!

How to Remove the Forend Nut on a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870

Say Goodbye to Stuck Nuts!

 

How many times has this happened to you? You want to clean your Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, but as you’re stripping it down, you find your forend nut is stuck? Or you don’t have the right tool? 

You end up making do with a hammer and punch, or other unsuitable combination of devices. But as you’re wailing away on your nut and trying to get it off, you end up doing some real damage to your gun. 

Next thing you know, you’ve now got to spend the cash to go see a professional for gun repair — and see if they can clean up the mess you’ve created.

Fret no more. 

Shockwave has you covered. Remove and replace your forend in under two minutes with the Shockwave Raptor Forend Nut Tool. Full 304 stainless steel construction, this handy dandy device is proudly made in the U.S.A. 

Being double-ended, one tool fits both Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 guns.

Extra long, the Shockwave Raptor Forend Nut Tool can reach the deepest of nuts on the longest of magazine tubes. Being stainless, it won’t rust like a carbon-steel tool or deform like a nylon or aluminum tool. That means you’re always assured of being able to get off the most stubborn nuts.

Just grasp the tool with your dominant hand, work it over the magazine tube and into your nut. Then just a twist to the left. Voila, your nut’s off. Reassembly is simply the reverse.

Need more leverage? A thin metal bar or even a screwdriver can be inserted through the hole in the end. On exceedingly long magazine tubes, a rubber strap wrench can often be employed with great success.

The Shockwave Raptor Forend Nut Tool features include:

  • Precision-machined in Dunedin, Florida
  • Manufactured from 304 stainless steel
  • Won’t rust like a carbon steel tool
  • Won’t deform like a nylon or aluminum tool
  • Remove the most stubborn forend nuts
  • Insert a bar or screwdriver through one of the provided holes for extra leverage
  • Over 4? long for reaching the deepest recessed nuts on the longest magazine tubes
  • No need to remove the magazine tube from your firearm
  • One side fits Mossberg 500 guns and the other Remington 870 and Hawk 982 guns
  • Fits 12-gauge guns with short, medium, long or even extra long magazine tubes 
  • Compatible with the Streamlight tactical forend.


Of course, safety first. Whenever cleaning your Mossberg 500 or Remington 870 (or any gun for that matter), you always want to make sure your chamber’s empty, as you wouldn’t want your gun to go off accidentally.

Why You Should Choose an AR-15 Pistol for a Home Defense Firearm

Let’s cut to the chase: The AR-15 pistol is one of the best firearms for home defense. 

 

Why? They’re affordable, reliable, accurate, and found everywhere. It’s no wonder the AR-15 is informally known as America’s 21st Century musket. And for good reason. 

 

When an intruder sees the easily recognized AR in your hands, they know you mean business. 

 

Learn about the evolution of the AR and AR pistol

 

But first, let’s dive into the benefits of using an AR-15 pistol for home defense. Each benefit is like a ripple effect — they all go hand in hand to make this firearm perfect for defense purposes. 



Benefits of an AR-15 Pistol for Home Defense

 

shockwave blade stealth ar-15 pistol

Affordable

 

You can find an AR-15 pistol to fit every budget: from just a few hundred dollars to the “sky is the limit.” The typical .223 ammunition is easily found in stores (when there’s not a global pandemic unfolding daily or nightly riots) and one of the least expensive ammos, with prices averaging about 32 cents per round. 

 

 

Low Recoiling

 

A low recoil makes the AR-15 pistol easy to shoot and a good option for beginners — even younger members of the family.

 

 

Accuracy

 

Because of such low recoil, accuracy is improved for most shooters.

 

 

Lightweight

 

At a mere 6 pounds — with ammo! — the AR-15 pistol is light enough for shooters of all ages and experiences. Because it has such a lightweight body, you can easily customize and add accessories to your firearm without making it too heavy to handle safely and accurately — especially in a home defense scenario. 

 

 

Ergonomically Designed

 

Many features of the AR-15 pistol are designed with ergonomics in mind, making this firearm comfortable and safe to shoot: pistol grip, trigger reach, safety location, forward handguard, sights, etc.

 

 

Ammo Capacity

 

A typical AR-15 pistol magazine holds 30 rounds of ammo. 

 

Many experts recommend using the .223 cartridge because it’s typically easy to find in stores,  inexpensive, and provides lower recoil. Some recommend using a 55-grain soft-point load that minimizes bullet penetration, which can be beneficial to protect your family in other parts of the home (or surrounding neighbors) in case the bullet misses the intended target. However, as you may know, the AR-15 is available in a multitude of calibers.

 

 

Size

 

During a home invasion, you don’t want to be turning corners and allow the intruder to discover your location before you know theirs. The AR-15 pistol is a great option for home defense due to its relatively short length, allowing you to turn corners discreetly and avoid disclosing your location that can put your defense game at risk. 

 

 

Customizable

 

From function to ergonomics to aesthetics, there are simply too many types of firearm accessories for customizing your AR-15 pistol than we can possibly cover here: grips, forearms, slings, sights, lights, lasers, scopes, red dot sights, triggers, muzzle devices, and so on. 

 

For home defense purposes, however, we recommend keeping it simple. Focus on the following accessories:

  • Brace, grip and/or sling: for better and safer control of your firearm
  • Flashlight: for better visibility in low-light conditions and stunning any intruders with the bright illumination
  • Red dot sight: for accuracy



A note about pistol braces:

 

Whether you’re building a custom AR-15 pistol or bought an AR-15 pistol without a brace, adding a brace can improve control and accuracy.

 

An AR-15 pistol cannot have a stock but it can have a brace, such as the Shockwave Blade and Shockwave Blade 2M. 





Shockwave AR-15 Pistol Accessories

 

Shockwave Technologies offers products to enhance your home defense use (and enjoyment) of your AR-15 firearms. Check out these Shockwave products compatible with AR-15 pistols.

 

 

Blade®

 

Made from high-strength glass-reinforced polymer, the Blade® is manufactured to exacting tolerances and fits all pistols equipped with a standard AR-15 pistol buffer tube (up to 1.25? in diameter). Just slip it on and tighten the large set screw for a rock-solid installation.

 

Blade® fits all pistols equipped with a standard AR-15 pistol buffer tube (up to 1.25? in diameter) AR pattern, Glock, CZ Scorpion Evo 3, HK9X pattern, etc.

 

Features include:

 

  • Available in black, flat dark earth, OD green, and stealth gray
  • Quick and easy to install.
  • Provides additional support during firing.
  • Weighs a scant 5.0 ounces.
  • ATF approved for pistol use 

 

 

Blade® 2M

 

Made from high-strength glass-reinforced polymer, the adjustable Blade® 2M pistol stabilizer is manufactured to exacting tolerances and fits all pistols equipped with a Mil-spec buffer tube. Just slip it on and lock in place.  Adjusts with a simple finger lever.

 

Compatible with all pistols equipped with a Mil-spec buffer tube: 

 

  • AR-15 pattern
  • MPX
  • Glock
  • CZ Scorpion Evo 3
  • HK9X pattern
  • etc.

 

Features include:

 

  • Available in black, flat dark earth, OD green, and stealth gray
  • Quick and easy to install.
  • Provides additional support during firing.
  • Weighs a scant 4.0 ounces.
  • ATF approved for pistol use