I Built a Semi-Automatic Rifle in My Kitchen

Kyle Mizokami


Yes, this is possible. 

Homemade AR-15: I Built a Semi-Automatic Rifle in My Kitchen

It was delicate work. Trying to mill out too much aluminum at once risked shattering the end mill. Go slow and it cuts aluminum like butter. Go too fast and you can, as I learned the hard way, shatter an end mill. Three hours of work later, the job was done. The milled pocket exposed raw aluminum—and the result wasn’t pretty. My first complete lower looked like a monkey made it with a Dremel tool. But the mess was on the inside of the rifle, and once I had installed the proper parts, nobody was going to notice.

I built a semi-automatic rifle in my kitchen. I’ll bet that’s one sentence you’d never thought you’d hear. Neither did I, until the day I decided to do it.

The job required drilling aluminum, and tiny shards and slivers of metal were going to fly everywhere. It’s not something you want to do over carpet, so I decided to do it in my kitchen.

Did it work? Hell yes, it did. After three hours of work with light tools, I had built the essential component of an AR-15 rifle. America has now reached a point where people can construct modern weapons in their kitchens.

Is this awesome, crazy—or both?

In my extended group of friends, seven of us own AR-15-type rifles. Perhaps not coincidentally, we each bought one after turning 40.

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Buying this kind of rifle is the modern version of getting a Corvette during your mid-life crisis—but cheaper and probably less dangerous.

There’s a subculture—and cottage industry to support it—around AR-15 rifles. After adding accessories to my first rifle, swapping out parts and purchasing tools, I realized I had a knack for it.

I was an AR-15 grease monkey. During the course of several projects, I’d built an entire rifle from scratch. But I’d never built the lower receiver of an AR-15. By U.S. government standards, I’d be manufacturing a firearm.

The Last 20 Percent:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms controls the sale of AR-15 lower receivers. As far as the law is concerned, the lower receiver is the weapon. It’s one of the few parts you absolutely need to make a functioning firearm, and they’re usually stamped with a serial number.

AR-15 enthusiasts who build their rifles at…

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