We live and breathe them, gun owners love them, and they’ve been in the news with scary phrases like “ghost gun” attached to them. So, what is an 80 lower? Let’s go over what it is NOT first, then we’ll explain why you want one and don’t even know it.
80 Lowers are NOT firearms
Contrary to what you may hear from uninformed folk, an 80 Lower is NOT a firearm. No legal definition in any local, state, or federal book says they are. An 80 Lower is also not a tool or item that lets any felon own a firearm – that would still be just as illegal as any bad guy or gal buying a gun through a strawman purchase or a black market sale.
80 Lowers are big chunks of aluminum alloy
In a literal sense, that’s exactly what an 80 Lower is – a big hunk of metal no different from a paperweight. Specifically, it’s made from a large hunk of billet, called 6061 T6 Aluminum. Or, it will be forged from 7075 T6 aluminum, which is the same material the U.S. Military uses for its issued rifles.
80 Lowers are an 80% complete not-yet-a-lower
An 80% lower gets its name in a rather “duh” kind of way: It’s an 80% finished AR-15 lower receiver, though it’s not legally considered a lower receiver – and thus, not a firearm – until you finish the last 20%!
80% Lowers do NOT require an FFL transfer
Because an 80 lower receiver is not considered a firearm, you can buy and own them without any paperwork necessary. Mind you, some states require paperwork and other legalities to be satisfied before you machine that lower and turn it into a firearm, so check your local and state laws when you purchase.
80% Lowers are the most affordable way to own an AR-15!
Because we’re taking out the cost of additional fabricating labor and all the operating costs of selling firearms, you get to save a ton of money on the journey to owning your next AR-15 by investing in an 80% Lower! Simply put, using an 80% lower to build an AR-15 is the most affordable way to actually own an AR-15.
Off-the-shelf, completed lower receivers often cost $200 or more. The average 80% lower costs just $60 to $100. Although you’ll need to invest in an 80% lower jig, you’ll have all the tools you need to crank out more and more AR-15 lower receivers for the lowest price possible.
80% Lowers require an 80% Lower Jig
Machining that 80% lower to completion is surprisingly easy, you just need the right stuff. Specifically, you’ll need an 80% Lower Jig. This little piece of equipment seats your 80% lower in place and it even guides your machining steps and drilling requirements. That means you need little to no experience to build one!
An 80% Lower Jig allows you to machine out the inside of the 80% lower and drill all the holes you need to secure your trigger assembly and fire control group. Completing an 80% lower with an 80% jig takes less than one hour, even for beginners!