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The 5 Must-Have Tools for Completing an 80% Lower

Building an AR-15 lower receiver from scratch is easier than you think – you just need the right tools. If you’ve read this far into the process, we’ll assume you’re already convinced that you want to become a proud homebuilt gunsmith. So, let’s dive right into the must-have tools for completing an 80 lower:

  1.    80% Lower AR-15 Jig

Your jig is the heart of the entire operation. Without a jig, you simply can’t build an 80% lower into a finished AR-15 receiver. An 80% lower jig secures your lower in place and it even pre-measures the holes you need to drill. It also guides your cutting bits along, making the machining process easy and guesswork-free.


Most 80% lower jigs are universal and easy to use, but we recommend the 5D Tactical Router Jig PRO or the Easy Jig Gen 2. These are the two most popular 80% lower jigs available, and for good reason: They’re quick and easy to use, they’re well-built, and they reduce the total machining process dramatically.

  1.    80% lower Tooling

Most 80% lower jigs include the necessary tooling, but not always. If you buy a jig by itself, you’ll the following tools:

  •         (1) Carbide End Mill Bit
  •         (1) 3/8” Drill Bit
  •         (1) 5/32” Drill Bit
  •         (1) 21/64” Drill Bit

We also recommend investing in an Armorer’s Wrench. This is a wrench specifically designed for seating your barrel and castle nut, as well as installing your buffer tube. Lastly, you should invest in a quality set of roll pin punches. Trust us, they’ll make final assembly of your AR-15 lower much, much easier.

  1.    Hand Router

Obviously, you won’t be turning those end mill bits and drill bits by hand – you’ll need a quality, compact hand router. To make things easy we’ve offered up a universally accepted router that works well with all our 80% lower jigs, and that’s the Port-Cable Router. This little guy spins at a robust 31,000 RPM and weighs about 3 pounds. It’s just heavy enough to remain stable and secure, but light enough to maneuver easily. It even includes a handy little wrench to swapping out those drill bits!

  1.    Table Vice

Face it, trying to install a barrel, gas system, and those tiny little roll pins by hand is a pain. You’ll want a secure, desk- or standing-height table vice to secure your AR-15 lower receiver and upper in place while you work.

  1.    AR-15 lower Parts Kit

We saved the most obvious for last! You’ll need an appropriate AR-15 lower parts kit, and we’ve got plenty of them. The AR-15 Lower Parts Kits we sell will include everything you need to turn that hunk of stripped receiver into a real firing mechanism. Want everything in one kit? Pick up our Parts Kit that includes a butt stock and buffer tube assembly! Everything is mil-spec and ready to go out of the box.


BONUS: Patience

Building an 80% lower takes a little bit of patience, muscle, and finesse. Those last two don’t usually go together, which is why the former is so important. Trust us, there is a small learning curve. But, once you’re familiar with this process, you’ll be turning 80% lowers into finished AR-15 lower receivers in less than one hour! It’s all about having the right tools.

DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY AR-15 building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. We are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.

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