Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Best 80% Lower Receivers & Jigs [AR-15, AR-10, AR-9]

Best 80% Lower Receivers & Jigs [AR-15, AR-10, AR-9]


Looking to complete your own AR 80% lower receiver?

Some 80% AR-15 Receivers

Today, we’re going to go over the best 80% AR-15, AR-10, and AR-9 lower receivers out there.  And…we’ve done our fair share of 80% through the years.

Plus, the best jigs to help you get to the 100% mark.

AR-15 80% Jigs, Old School and Easy Jig 2
AR-15 80% Jigs, Old School and Easy Jig 2

Note: an 80% lower requires some pretty advanced machining, so the quality, fit, and finish of the final product is going to depend entirely on you, or the person who’s working on it and their skill level.  Disclaimer.

Table of Contents

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Brief Overview of 80% Lowers

First, you should really check out our other article on what exactly is an 80% lower.  

TLDR; an 80% lower receiver is an unfinished lower that is nominally sold as a “paperweight” or other novelty and not a firearm.

If you’re buying a finished AR lower, you’re technically buying a firearm in the eyes of the ATF.

AR-15 80 Receiver Top, ATF
AR-15 80% Lower.  Notice the solid area where the trigger would go, making it a paperweight, not a firearm.  Technically.

Meanwhile, an 80% lower is technically not a firearm until you finish machining it, so you can get them delivered straight to your house without paying FFL fees.  

As long as you’re manufacturing the firearm for personal use, and are otherwise allowed to own said firearm in your state, you’re good to go.

80% AR-15 Lowers, All Sides
80% AR-15 Lowers, All Sides

Yes…it’s a “ghost Slickgun” in that most places don’t require serializing/registration, but that’s a loaded term so we won’t be using it for the rest of the article.

Note: California requires a serial number, registration, and possible other changes to your lower, so be super duper sure to check the laws there and in other less-than-Slickgun-friendly states.

What Makes a Good 80% Lower?

There are a few things to consider when choosing your first AR-15 80% lower…  

Name Brand

First, tempting as it may be, don’t buy from Uncle Leroy’s Backwoods Firearms.  Small manufacturers are extremely hit or miss, and often lack the precision of a larger, well-known manufacturer.

Anderson 80% Lower
Anderson 80% Lower

In firearms, as with most things, the “cover your ass” rule is firmly in place.

Materials

Polymer lowers are easier to machine, but are more prone to scratching and gouging as well as full-on breakage if you aren’t careful.  Make sure they are reinforced around the buffer tube area as well since that’s where most can fail.

Aluminum comes in two flavors, forged and billet.  

Basically, the only thing you need to know is that forged aluminum is generally considered to be stronger, but almost no-one will get near the stress levels for it to come into play.

80% Arms Lowers
80% Arms Lowers, Billet 6061

There’s also the issue of 6061 vs 7075 aluminum…6061 is softer and will be easier to machine.

7075 is the standard for “real” lower receivers but the difference in strength is so little that I doubt someone could break a 6061.  Plus, 6061 is actually more corrosion resistant.

Coating

One final consideration is the choice between anodized and non-anodized 80% lowers, assuming you’re working with an aluminum lower.  Personally, I would go with a non-anodized lower because you’re going to be milling out large portions of it and exposing non-anodized metal anyway.

Some 80% AR-15 Receivers
Some 80% AR-15 Receivers

Usually, that means you’re just going to have the thing re-anodized or paint anyway so I’d just go with the cheaper option of the raw aluminum.

Of course, you don’t have to worry about that with polymer as you’re just exposing more of the same polymer as you’re doing your machining.

Best AR-15 80% Lower Receivers

Let’s start with the most popular of 80% lowers…the AR-15.

1. 80% Arms

Spoiler alert…80% Arms makes my current favorite jig.  But right now we’re here to talk about their lower receivers.

80% Arms Lowers
80% Arms Lowers

Their AR-15 80% lower is 6061 billet but is cleanly machine and is anodized very well in the two our team has completed.

80% Arms AR-15 Lower
80% Arms AR-15 Lower

Billet gives you the ability to have some slight differences from more mil-spec lowers…such as more aggresive lines which I like.  The 6061 aluminum also made it possible to do deeper milling cuts each time which saves time (more on this in the jigs section).

Plus they work perfectly with 80% Arms’ jig and the finished product has worked in all our tested uppers. Note: full Slickguns Review and video coming soon!

90

at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44109] = {
“id”: “44109”,
“title”: “Type III Hard Anodized Billet AR-15 80% Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/80-billet-lower-1024×768.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};
PPT_APS[44109].tag = “Editor’s Pick”

2. James Madison Tactical

Personally, I’m not a fan of polymer lowers.  

It’s a really stupid hangup I have that’s in no way founded off anything rational.  I own Glocks and other polymer-framed Slickguns…but no polymer framed ARs.  

Maybe one day I’ll change that.

If I do, it’ll almost definitely be a James Madison Tactical lower.  I’ve heard nothing but good things from these guys, and I know several 3-Slickgun and Precision AR shooters that use these lowers.  I’ve shot some of those Slickguns and even competed with one, and I have nothing but nice things to say about it.

Editor’s Pick
99.99

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

99.99
at Brownells

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Rainier Arms (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[19305] = {
“id”: “19305”,
“title”: “James Madison Tactical Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/james-madison-tactical-80-lower-e1511287563284-300×203.jpg”,
“tag”: “Editor’s Pick”
};

Their manufacturing process is also really cool.  They use their own polymer-fiber blend with special care taken at common stress points to build a really cool, lightweight lower that is corrosion resistant far beyond what you’ll get with a metal lower.

3. Anderson Manufacturing

Anderson Manufacturing is one of the big juggernauts of AR part manufacturers, and they bring that wealth of experience to their lowers.  

With their 7075 80% lowers, you’re buying from people who’ve been making AR parts of years and who sell ridiculous numbers of the things.  

Anderson Arms AR Lower
Anderson Arms AR Lower

There’s a certain comfort in buying from an established, reliable company.  

Personally, I’ve built two ARs off Anderson completed lowers, so I can attest to the quality.  These things are rock solid, and in the case of my first competition Slickgun, have been through hell and back with no issues.

Best Value
50

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[19307] = {
“id”: “19307”,
“title”: “Anderson 80% Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/anderson-manufacturing-80-lower-e1511288040444-300×218.jpg”,
“tag”: “Best Value”
};

If you get one of their 80% lowers and you do your part with the machining (it’s the harder 7075 aluminum so go slower)…I have no doubt that you’ll end up with a reliable, well-done product.

4. Polymer80

Polymer80 is the other contender for my first polymer lower, especially if I decide to go the 80% route.  These guys and gals specialize in polymer 80% lowers…hence the name.

Of course…we’ve done tons of their Glock 17 and 19 80% builds.

Various Polymer 80 Glocks
Various Polymer 80 Glocks

They also have a freakin’ ton of cool colors available which is perfect if you like to personalize your builds a bit more.

polymer 80 lowers
Pretty colors!

For me, I like building AR’s not just to shoot, but also for the mechanical challenge that comes with this type of thing.  Its really fun to take a box of parts and turn it into a working rifle that you can hunt, compete, and even defend yourself with if need be.

The cool thing about Polymer80 lowers, besides the awesome colors, is the jig sets you can get with them.

P80 AR-15 Jig
P80 AR-15 Jig

For $80, you can get the lower, the bits you need, and the jig to guide you…basically, everything but you need except for the drill.  

That,  plus a solid afternoon of work will give you a finished AR lower of your very own.  I particularly like the idea of putting together a lower of my very own with this setup.

So much so, that I think I’m going to get one for myself.

Author’s Pick
75

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

75
at Brownells

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Rainier Arms (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[19312] = {
“id”: “19312”,
“title”: “Polymer80 AR-15 Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/polymer80-lower-e1511288074544-300×215.jpg”,
“tag”: “Author’s Pick”
};

Best AR-10 and AR-9 80% Lower Receivers

1. 80% Arms

There’s not as many AR-10 and AR-9 80% lowers out there so I gotta give it to 80% Arms since we tried them and they work well.  Note: full Slickguns Review and video coming soon!

80% Arms Lowers, FCG Pocket
80% Arms Lowers, FCG Pocket

Check out the size difference in the AR-10 80% Lower.

80% Arms AR-10 Lower
80% Arms AR-10 Lower
120

at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44111] = {
“id”: “44111”,
“title”: “Black Anodized Billet .308 80% Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Black-Anodized-Billet-.308-80-Lower-e1568321796435-1024×468.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

And I’m glad the mag latch is already installed in the AR-9 Lower.  YES…it takes Glock mags.

80% Arms 9mm Lower
80% Arms 9mm Lower
120

at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44113] = {
“id”: “44113”,
“title”: “9mm AR-9 80% Lower – Glock Mags”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/ar9-lower-80-arms-e1568321902860-1024×536.png”,
“tag”: “”
};

Now…onto the jigs!

Best AR 80% Jigs

We’ve built a couple 80% lowers through the years…starting years with a jig where we had to send a money order to some guy.  Or silver dollars…he took those too.

And for the longest time it was the same design…drill a bunch of little holes with your drill press first.

Old AR-15 80% Jig
Old AR-15 80% Jig

Then attempt to “mill” or cut off material in a horizontal manner with a drill press…something that was never meant to do that.  Result…lowers that still worked but took forever (~3-4 hours) and looked gross in the fire control pocket.

Enter the next generation of 80% jigs…where you only need a normal drill and a router.  Which brings us to…

1. 80% Arms Easy Jig 2

Hands down the best 80% jig we’ve seen and used is the Easy Jig 2.

Easy Jig 2 and Lowers
Easy Jig 2 and Lowers

We got the multi caliber version which can easily make the AR-15, AR-10, and AR-9 platforms.

Easy Jig 2 and Router
Easy Jig 2 and Router

And that’s the router which basically spins the end mill bit…we used a Ridgid R2401 Router ($90) that didn’t need any extra parts to work with the Easy Jig 2.

We recommended getting the drill bits kit since it does need a special end mill.  Or if you want to save a little money…get the end mill and the other things at Home Depot.

MUCH easier than the older jig designs and only took me about 1.5 hours.

Easy Jig 2 with Router
Easy Jig 2 with Router

Plus it comes with a Shop Vac adapter that easily sucks away all the aluminum chips.  Because that stuff sucks to step on if you don’t clean up very well.

Here’s the final product…

Finished 80% Lower with Easy Jig 2
Finished 80% Lower with Easy Jig 2

A little flaring near the safety area but everything looks much better than my others.

It’s definitely on the pricier side at around $250…but you’re looking to save about 2.5 hours per lower.  I’d highly recommend just building more (lol) or splitting the cost with friends.

250

at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44105] = {
“id”: “44105”,
“title”: “Easy Jig Gen 2 Multi-Platform”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Easy-Jig-Gen-2-Multi-Platform-1024×768.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

Or to save a little you can opt for less versatile versions that take care of just the AR-15 and AR-9.

To see if you’re still down to complete an 80%…check out this video walking through the entire process with the Easy Jig 2.

What’s your take on the Easy Jig 2?

Readers’ Ratings

4.99/5 (215)

Your Rating?

2. Anderson Manufacturing 80% Jig

However, if you still want to do it old school and have a drill press and more time (to save around $70)…Anderson has their 80% jig.

112

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44242] = {
“id”: “44242”,
“title”: “Anderson AR-15 80% Jig”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Anderson-Jig-300×300.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};

But take it from me…save up a little and just do the Easy Jig 2.

Parting Shots

There you have it, folks.  These are our favorite 80% lower manufacturers AND jigs.

Easy Jig 2 and Lowers
Easy Jig 2 and Lowers

There’s a good amount of choices for 80% lower receivers…from 6061 to 7075.

If you gotta have mil-spec harder 7075 aluminum…go with Anderson.

Best Value
50

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[19307] = {
“id”: “19307”,
“title”: “Anderson 80% Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/anderson-manufacturing-80-lower-e1511288040444-300×218.jpg”,
“tag”: “Best Value”
};

Or if you want an easier milling time…go with 80% Arms.

90

at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44109] = {
“id”: “44109”,
“title”: “Type III Hard Anodized Billet AR-15 80% Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/80-billet-lower-1024×768.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};
PPT_APS[44109].tag = “Editor’s Pick”

If you want a polymer lower where you get the jig AND lower for around $80…I like P80 based on my good experiences with their Glock kits.

Author’s Pick
75

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

View Details

75
at Brownells

Compare prices (2 found)

  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Rainier Arms (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[19312] = {
“id”: “19312”,
“title”: “Polymer80 AR-15 Lower”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/polymer80-lower-e1511288074544-300×215.jpg”,
“tag”: “Author’s Pick”
};

BUT…if you go aluminum…stick with the Easy Jig 2.  Your sanity will thank you.

250

at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

var PPT_APS = PPT_APS || {};
PPT_APS[44105] = {
“id”: “44105”,
“title”: “Easy Jig Gen 2 Multi-Platform”,
“img”: “https://www.pewpewtactical.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Easy-Jig-Gen-2-Multi-Platform-1024×768.jpg”,
“tag”: “”
};
PPT_APS[44105].tag = “Editor’s Pick”

Need to choose other parts to complete your AR-15?  Check our Best AR-15 Lower Parts Kits and also our AR-15 Ultimate Resources.

The post Best 80% Lower Receivers & Jigs [AR-15, AR-10, AR-9] appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

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