The purpose of this research work is to characterize and inform the design of (mechanical) property-graded bulk structures made from a single metallic alloy via a laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process, with an end goal of creating repeatable/reproducible functionally-graded additively manufactured (FGAM) parts. This paper specifically investigates the manufacture of stainless steel (SS) 316L structures via a pulsed selective laser melting (SLM) process, and the underlying causes of property variations (within a functionally-acceptable range) through various material characterization techniques. For this, a design of experiments spanning the volumetric energy density (VED) based process parameter design space was utilized to investigate the range of functionally-acceptable physical/mechanical properties achievable in SS 316L. Five sample conditions (made via different process parameter combinations) were down-selected for in-depth microstructure analysis and mechanical/physical property characterization; these were suitably selected to impart a wide and controllable property range (209–318 HV hardness, 90–99.9% relative density, and 154–211 GPa modulus). It was observed that property variations resulted from combinations of porosity types/amounts, martensitic phase fractions, and grain sizes. Based on these findings, property-graded standard test specimens were designed and manufactured for further investigation—tensile specimens having a monotonic hardness change along its gauge length, four-point bending specimens with varying elastic moduli as a function of the distance from the neutral axis, and Moore’s rotating beam fatigue specimens with moduli variations based on the distance from the center. Altogether, this work lays the foundation for understanding and designing the local and global mechanical performance of FGAM bulk structures.