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Building Tiny Dancer on a Budget

The firearms industry is currently a buyer’s market. Whether that’s a good thing overall for the market is debatable, but what isn’t debatable is that prices are pretty good right now. Especially if you’re in the market for AR-15 components.

To that end, I thought building a “budget friendly” AR-15 would be a fun project – how cheaply could I build an AR that was still reliable with decent accuracy? With that in mind, I set out to find parts.

One of the cheaper ways to build an AR-15 is to find a builder’s kit on sale, which contains everything you need to build a rifle minus the lower receiver. A few weeks ago, I was talking to my buddy Dean from 2 Vets Arms when he ran across a sale on this 16″ M4 Rifle Kit from Del-Ton from one of his distributors. The project was a go.

Del-Ton M4 Rifle Kit, photo via Del-Ton

Del-Ton M4 Rifle Kit, photo via Del-Ton

To complete the build, I bought a forged lower receiver from 2 Vets Arms, and Dean being the fine gentleman that he is, put the rifle together for me instead of shipping me the parts. He said something to the effect of “bloggers don’t know how to properly build rifles” or something to that effect. Whatever dude, I successfully changed a muzzle device all by myself once AND made it through an entire mag before it came off.

For those of you that prefer the build it yourself route, here’s what kit comes contains (specs from the Del-Ton website):

Barrel

  • Chrome Moly Vanadium
  • M4 Feed Ramps
  • 16″ Length
  • 1×9 Twist
  • A2 Flash Hider
  • Manganese Phosphated
  • Phosphated under Front Sight Base
  • Taper Pins in F-marked Front Sight Base
  • Threaded Muzzle
  • M4 Profile Barrel

Chamber

  • 5.56 X 45 mm

Bolt And Carrier

  • Phosphated 8620 Steel Carrier Assembly
  • Carpenter 158 Bolt HPT/MPI Tested
  • Heat Treated and Plated
  • Mil-Spec
  • Chrome Lined Carrier Interior
  • Carrier Key – Chrome Lined, attached with Grade 8 Screws
  • Properly Staked & Sealed Gas Key

Handguard

  • Carbine Length
  • Aluminum Delta Ring
  • Single Heat Shield

Upper Receiver

  • Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • A3 Flat Top with M4 Feed Ramps
  • Hard Coat Anodized
  • Mil-Spec
  • Ejection Port Cover and Round Forward Assist
  • Right Hand Ejection
  • Bore’s surface is coated with dry film lube, over the anodized surface

Buttstock

  • M4 5 Position
  • Reinforced Fiber
  • Mil-Spec Sized Tube

So it’s a 16″ M4 profile barrel with an A3 upper. The first thing I decided to change was the standard furniture, which I replaced with a a B5 Systems furniture kit from 2 Vets Arms.

Baseline Cost Breakdown

Item Price
Del-Ton Rifle Kit $360
2VA Forged Lower Receiver $75
B5 Systems Furniture Kit $135
Total $570

Further Enhancements

After that I made a few other enhancements. First I had an extra Magpul Gen 2 MBUS Rear Flip Sight in my parts bin, so I threw that on. Next I added a Raptor ambidextrous charging handle, and a Vortex Spitfire 1x prism sight (which I really like so far, review coming soon). Lastly I swapped out the A2 flash hider for a Griffin Armament M4SD Flash Comp.

The result – Tiny Dancer is born.

Tiny Dancer

Shots Fired

So how does it shoot? Pretty well so far. I have yet to put some glass on it and shoot groups from the bench, so I’ll have to report back on that, but it’s been 100% reliable.

Overall, I’d say the build was a success. If you’re considering building an AR-15, don’t wait much longer. While I don’t expect any significant gun control measures at the federal level in the next two years, it’s impossible to predict how the political climate, prices and availability could change in the future.

Next I will be upgrading the fire controls and installing a Law Tactical Gen 3 Folding Stock Adapter. I’ll have another update soon.

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11 Responses to Building Tiny Dancer on a Budget

  1. TK November 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Looks great. Interested to see how she groups, I don’t have any experience with Del-Ton barrels.

  2. Geoff November 13, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    WOW! Only $360?!? I have 2 80% lowers I finished, just need LPK and upper to finish a complete rifle. But I have a 5.56 already, also from a 80% lower. Now if it came in 6.8SPC or 300BLK…….
    For about the same price……
    That is what I want to build from my 2 lowers.

  3. Geoff November 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Not $360 anymore. $510.

    • Brandon November 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      Well there are cheaper ways of course – drop the B5 kit and you save ~$135. Another option is to get a blemished upper and a barrel on sale from PSA. Then you’d probably be even cheaper than my build.

      The point of the article is that it’s a buyer’s market, and we as buyers would be silly to not take advantage of it. Good luck!

  4. Mike November 13, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Nice – one of my favorite “budget” builds is a polymer lower (can usually be found for $40), a blem upper, barrel on clearance, and a handguard from a buddy or on trade. Keep us posted on accuracy!

  5. Chris Knowles November 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Pretty much how i built my first 2va.Having 3 daughters pretty much consumes all the fun money. A great start indeed. Thanks

  6. HillBilly Bob November 13, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    Looks good, how old are these prices? I have a buddy interested in getting an AR as cheap as possible and this may fit the bill
    He actually has an 80% lower but the FFL (Supposed friend) soaked him for $230 just for the lower and as I no longer have access to any machines he is on his own getting the mill work done
    I will give him one of my files and tell him to get to work LOL

    • Brandon November 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

      Prices are fairly recent, but at this point, wait for Black Friday sales. Companies like PSA will be blowing out uppers super cheap.

      • HillBilly Bob November 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

        Cool, I will tell my buddy and thanks

  7. Chris November 16, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Brandon, Great write-up and you got me motivated to look at building a rifle, but it is to bad that Del-Ton raised the price of their rifle kit by $150. It takes away from the point of this article.

    • Brandon November 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      What you’re seeing is MSRP on the Del-Ton kit, not the best price you can find. You have to watch different sites for the kits (or other parts) to go on sale. Palmetto State Armory, AIM Surplus, DSG Arms, etc.

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