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What to know about 80% Lowers

Discussion in 'Black Rifle Forum' started by shellster, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. shellster

    shellster Locked & Loaded

    Feb 23, 2009
    My wife is wanting an AR15 of her own. With the crazy AR15 prices these days (and the general fact that I don't like buying AR's on the books in this current climate), I've been thinking about having her get an 80% lower, and helping her finish it.

    I built my own AR (from a stripped lower), and I think it would be a good experience for her to build her own.

    I have access to a 12 speed drill press with a clamping table. Providing I have the guides, is finishing a lower really something we can do with just a regular drill press? I know a lot of people recommend a proper metal mill, but I certainly don't have access to one.

    If we embark on this path, what are some things we should know about in advance? Also, how much of the process can I help her with, without potentially getting on the wrong side of the ATF?
  2. dkf


    Aug 6, 2010
    BATF considers and 80% lower an unfinished chunk of aluminum. It can ship to your house. (check state and local regs) You can finish the 80% lower on a drill press but you need the jigs to do it.

    I just machined 2 on my cnc mill with no fixtures.(just a vise) However each lower was from a different manufacturer so they were not machined identical.

    It is not required however for best wear the lower should be sent off to be anodized with a MILA8625 Type III hardcoat which runs From $50-$100+.

    Honestly if I did not have a mill I would just have bought a stripped lower with SN or a complete lower vs buying fixtures, whittling it out on the drill press and paying to have it anodized.

  3. Walter Bishop

    Walter Bishop

    Aug 5, 2012
    I just don't understand the reasoning for buying one of these 80% lowers. The quality of the final product will be inferior to a factory lower. If you are so concerned about there being no record of the sale you can just as easily buy a factory-built lower through a private sale. The only situation where these 80% lowers makes any sense is in California where all private sales have to go through a FFL.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  4. Glock21Owner

    Glock21Owner NRA Life Member

    Dec 27, 2001
    Isle of Lucy
    I think the appeal lies in that according to federal law, anyone can make one firearm for their personal use and it doesn't need a serial number
  5. shellster

    shellster Locked & Loaded

    Feb 23, 2009

    True that. I could just get a lower, but to be honest, I really want to try to roll my own, just for the hell of it. I know it will probably cost me more than an actual stripped lower, but if I know I can pull it off, it would be a lot of fun to do.