Assembled Uppers vs. Stripped Uppers: Which One Makes Sense for You?

If you ever take it upon yourself to build an AR-style rifle at home from parts or a kit, when it comes time to spec out the upper, you will have two basic choices.

Either build the upper yourself from a stripped upper receiver and parts, or go with an assembled upper from a trusted brand.

Here are the pros (and a few cons) of each option.

Why an Assembled Upper?
If you buy an assembled upper, it will come with (more or less) everything the upper assembly needs, and can be mated to a complete lower to form a functioning rifle.

● Convenience: Buying an assembled upper requires a lot less legwork from you, as all the parts needed to assemble a functioning rifle will all be a part of the assembly.

● Easier for beginners: It can be intimidating putting together a rifle from parts. If this is your first home build, an assembled upper is a hedge against what you don’t know, since all the parts needed should be there.

● Potentially better accuracy: This is mostly attributable to the barrel you choose, but all the same, unless you are a skilled gunsmith and have done this before, it will be hard for you to make a more accurate upper than it would be to just buy one.

With this said, be aware that not all assembled uppers have all parts; some lack bolt carrier groups, charging handles, forward assists and ejection port covers, so read the specifications in the product details before buying.

Why a Stripped Upper?
A stripped upper is just a piece of aluminum; it is the actual upper receiver itself, and if you buy one you will still need all the rest of the parts to complete the upper assembly (see below).

● More flexibility, unlimited customizations: When you build with an assembled upper, you’re taking a cookie-cutter approach. While this saves time, it does limit you in terms of what customizations you can make to the rifle. Not the case with a stripped upper. You can customize at every step of the way.

● You might be able to save money: If you’re a smart shopper, you might be able to save money buying the parts separately when you get deals on them, rather than buying them all bundled.

● You’ll learn a lot about how the rifle works: It’s impossible to build a functioning rifle without learning quite a bit about what each of the parts does, why it matters, and how they work together on a granular level.

While you will enjoy greater flexibility if you build a rifle from a stripped upper and parts, remember that you need to double check for compatibility, as not all parts may work together as you expect.

What Else You’ll Need (Plus Tools)
If you decide to build a rifle from a stripped upper and parts, you will also need:

● A barrel (and a muzzle device or thread protector if it is threaded)
● A handguard
● A forward assist
● An ejection port cover
● A bolt carrier group
● A gas system (gas block and tube)

In addition to these parts, you will also need some tools to make the assembly possible, including:

● An upper receiver block
● A vice
● A punch set
● Hammers (preferably soft hammers like nylon or brass that won’t mar the gun)
● Torque wrenches
● A feeder and headspace gauge
● And an AR-15 combo tool

Shop a Wide Assortment of Stripped and Assembled Uppers for Your Next Build
Still not sure whether you want to build your first AR-style rifle using an assembled upper, or piecemeal with a stripper upper and receiver parts? Visit MCS Gearup. They carry both assembled and stripped uppers, along with all of the parts you need to complete a functioning sporting rifle, in a wide range of calibers – not just 5.56/223.

Check out their collection and get in touch with their customer service team at if you have any questions.

For more information about skeletonized ar 15 and Pistol Braces Please visit: MCS Gearup.

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