Building your own AR 15 from scratch starts with an 80 lower, the will to build, a little determination, some instructions, and the proper tools, of course. One of the most important tools is the instrument you’ll use to mill your 80 lower receiver. It can be a router, a drill press, and for pro builders, even a simple hand drill. The tool you choose to mill your lower will determine the type of 80 lower jig you utilize to guide your tooling. One of the easiest and fastest methods to mill an 80 lower is a router.
So, What’s a Router?
A router is a milling device that is traditionally used for cutting wood. Most routers are very large, very powerful devices that can chew through wood, metal, plastic, and more. When you research routers you’ll see many that require two hands, a lot of practice and some real training. These powerful tools can be a literal handful and can be quite destructive, even dangerous.
There are several different types of routers, but for 80 lower receivers and 80 lower jigs you’ll use smaller, compact laminate routers. These smaller routers are still powerful and capable, but not hard to control. They don’t require training, just a bit of practice to learn how they work. They’re simple machines that are easy to find and they’re relatively affordable.
With that in mind, know that you can go too powerful, or you can end up under-powered. Certain handheld laminate routers can be insufficient for milling aluminum alloys, and they may fail to perform. So how do you find the most capable router, that ”Goldilocks” tool for the job? Well, we can point you to what is likely the best model for milling 80 lower receivers:
The Porter Cable PCE6430 Compact Router
We’re not the only 80 lower hobbyists to choose this particular router. The creators of the Easy Jig, a wonderfully successful 80 lower jig, recommend the exact same router our staff love using. This little guy is an excellent router for 80 lowers. It’s powerful enough to mill metal, it’s lightweight, it’s easy to handle, and most importantly, it’s easy and safe to use. The Porter Cable PCE6430 is also quite affordable, especially when you consider the power this little beast has.
Getting the Right 80 Lower Jig
Two of the easiest-to-use jigs are the 5D tactical Jig and the previously mentioned Easy Jig. Both are designed to use routers like the Porter Cable and they’re perfect for even a first-time builder when paired together. The Porter Cable router is extremely functional and capable of milling billet and forged 80 lowers alike. The Porter Cable router is the #1 router we suggest for milling your 80 lower.
Now, if you decide to go with your own choice of router, just remember you should stick with a model that pumps out around 1.25 HP. Anything less, and you’ll have a tough time finishing the job. Anything more, and you could “over-power” your lower and jig, resulting in some nasty gouges in your jig and an unusable, shredded hunk of aluminum.