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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Build

I received my mid-length kit from Del-Ton yesterday and have to say the quality of what I received was way above what I expected. Additionally the Essential Arms lower was perfect as well. I had made a cursory inspection and things looked good, but when putting the LPK into the lower I discovered how good it really was. The fit and finish was flawless, there was no filing, grinding, reaming, or adjusting necessary.
Total time it took to put everything together was around 2 hours including gathering the tools I would need. I was prepared to get a punch set, detent installation tool, vice block and all the other stuff that is recommended; I didn’t and was able to get it together with little or no drama.
I followed the guide on With the exception of the Cal compliant bullet button it was step for step easy to follow. The Bullet Button was actually easier to install than the standard mag release so there was no drama there. Below is a step by step summary.

I found the only tools needed were:

A hammer – I used an adjustable face mallet I got at Harbor Freight for $4 with a coupon, it has four different faces that can be used in varying hardness, for the most part I used the hardest plastic face and the metal face.

65516-0VGA Central Forge
4-in-1 Quick Change Multi Head Hammer

Three piece nail punch set

41988-0VGA Central Forge
3 Piece Nail Punch Set

This was used in place of the roll-pin punches, it has tapered tips that fit nicely into the roll pins and worked very well.

A hemostat – basically a small locking clamp. Harbor Freight carries them but you can also pick them up anywhere small tools are sold.

12" Locking Clamp 94952-0VGA
This was extremely helpful when installing the small detent pins.

Locking pliers (Vice Grip®) – I used a set of needle nose locking pliers but pretty much any configuration will work as long as it can open larger than 1”. The larger you use the more leverage you have, but don’t go over about 10”.

10" Curved Jaw Locking Pliers with Wire Cutter Irwin Vise-Grip 3294-0VGA
The pliers were used to press in the roll pin when installing the mag catch release and the trigger guard. VERY helpful.

Small flat piece of metal – I used a small screwdriver that I had ground flat, but a small metal ruler or other thin flat piece of metal will work. This is to hold the front takedown pin detent down while inserting the pin. A tool is available for this purpose, but unless you are building multiple lowers it isn’t worth it.

¼” hardwood dowel or metal rod – used in the installation of that pesky front take down pin, holds the detent down while you push in the pin.

Large clear plastic bag – I used a 1 gallon ziplock bag to put over the lower while installing the front take down pin to keep the detent contained when it launches (yes it will).

Electrical tape – protects the metal parts from scratches.

#10 flathead screwdriver for installing the grip

Gun oil, eye protection, pad for assembly, block of wood (1”), patience…lots of patience

Overall, the build is very simple and only requires a few cheap tools. Make sure you tape up the lower and the locking pliers to keep from scratching things up and things will go fine.

There are a couple difficult steps that take some time and finesse; the bolt catch release and the front take down pin.

The bolt catch release:
FIRST, TAPE UP YOUR LOWER SO YOU DON’T SCRATCH IT!!! NEXT, TAPE UP YOUR PLIERS SO YOU DON’T SCRATCH YOUR LOWER. Put a small amount of lube on the end of the roll pin and if necessary you can squeeze the end down a little. Using your hemostat or small needle nose pliers line the pin up with the hole and squeeze it in a little using your locking pliers. DO NOT PUSH THE PIN IN MORE THAN A COUPLE MILILMETERS. Insert the spring and buffer, line up the release and carefully squeeze the pin in the rest of the way. You may need to tap the pin in to seat it fully, but by then the hard part is done.

The front take down pin:
DO NOT LET THE DETENT LAUNCH ACROSS THE ROOM. WHILE COMPRESSING THE SPRING PUT THE BAG OVER THE RECEIVER AND WORK INSIDE THE BAG. The technique I used was to insert the 1/4” rod into the holes from the left side of the receiver, then gripping the detent with the hemostats, guide it into the hole compressing the spring as far as I could. Using the rod and flat piece of metal together press the detent down and the rod forward until it is held down by the rod. Finally, carefully press the rod out with the takedown pin allowing the detent to transfer over to the pin. If you get this the first time you are amazing, it took me about five times to get things lined up right, but when it worked it went smooth.

Everything else is cake and with a little patience should be easy. There are many other hints out there, read all of them, take notes, and have fun. My build took all of about 1 hour and when it was done I was left thinking “that’s it?”.

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