What are Common 80% Examples? How do you Finish Them?
As celebrities and political noise makers continue to try and infringe on our constitutional rights, more and more Americans are trying to see other options that are out there for firearms. For many people, this lead them to finding out about 80% lower receivers. In this article, we will give some examples of the different types of 80% lower receivers, and what it would take you to finish it.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with an 80% lower at all, here’s the basics. An 80% lower or an 80% frame is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about 80% of a part of a weapon. However, to be specific, it’s 80% of the part of the weapon that is traditionally serialized.
Since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has very specific definitions for what constitutes a firearm, manufacturers are able to skip some key parts of the production process to create a frame of a weapon that is 80% complete. However, because it’s incomplete, it doesn’t meet the ATF criteria for a weapon, so it doesn’t legally require a serial number.
You can get 80% lowers shipped to your door, because there’s no serial number and you don’t need an FFL to receive it. Similarly, there’s no background check, and therefore no way to connect your name to a weapon. For supporters of the Second Amendment, this is a huge win.
By far the most common 80% lower is for an AR-15. There are quite a few people who manufacture 80% lowers, and they are pretty easy to come by. There are a couple different constructions, to include forged, billet, and polymer. Polymer lowers are not nearly as common, but they are available.
Each one of the different materials and ways of making the lower has their own pros and cons, which could be its own article. What you need to know is that there are plenty of different models and options available.
AR-15s are excellent weapons to make from an 80% lower. As you may know, AR-15s are extremely versatile. The lower receiver doesn’t dictate what caliber the weapon shoots, so you have a huge choice of calibers for the upper receiver. The “standard” AR-15 shoots .223/5.56 NATO, but there are a ton of options. Some of the most popular are .300 Blackout, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, 7.62×39, and .458 SOCOM or .50 Beowulf, if you’re a huge cartridge fan.
Finishing AR-15 80% lowers has gotten much easier than when they first came out. The newest 80 lower jigs make the process extremely easy, and seriously cut down on time. New jigs require only one hole to be drilled, and the rest can be milled out with a router.
As far as what you’ll need to finish the 80 percent lower, you’ll need a jig, a bench vise, a router with tooling, and a drill press. Some of the lowers can be finished using a hand drill, but a drill press makes it easier and straighter. Finishing the lower will take a little more than an hour if you’ve never done it before. If you have done it before, you could feasibly get it done in around 30 minutes.
To finish the whole weapon, you’ll need a lower parts kit, a stock and buffer tube, an upper receiver, a bolt and bolt carrier group, charging handle, a barrel, and a handguard of some sort. Many of these parts can be bought in conjunction, and they are all really easy to come by.
AR-10s/AR-308s are extremely similar to AR-15 80% lowers. However, there is one thing that makes the process slightly more confusing. There are actually two different types of ARs in .308. One is the actual AR-10 that was designed by ArmaLite, and the other is the DPMS variety. The parts for one don’t necessarily work for the other, so you need to make sure your lower matches the rest of the parts that you get.
Most newer lowers and parts are of the DPMS variety, so that should make it easy. Another factor that makes it very easy is that newer jigs are usually able to accept AR-15 lowers as well as DPMS variety .308 AR lowers. This eliminates the need for you to buy more than one jig.
Other than that one slight discrepancy, finishing a .308 AR is more or less identical to an AR-15. You’ll have to mill it out using a router, and then you’ll have to actually finish the weapon. The whole process should be more or less identical to finishing an AR-15.
There are also plenty of AR pistols that you can get an 80% lower for. One of the most common is an AR-9, but there are also AR-40s and 45s. Other than the size of the lower, these are almost identical to the other ARs. Most jigs will accept all AR pistols.
Other common weapons to build from 80% lowers are handguns such as a Glock or a 1911. These are not quite as common as AR-15s, and can be slightly more difficult due to the fact that the jigs won’t work for multiple weapons. However, the jigs are pretty easy to use, and are relatively inexpensive.
As for finishing the 80% 1911 frame, it is slightly different than finishing the lower of an AR, dependent on the type of pistol you’re making. Glock lowers are somewhat similar. They require a jig, a drill press with tooling, files, and some basic gunsmithing tools. You mill the lower out using a drill press, but instead of drilling down into it, you generally keep the lower vertical and mill that way.
1911 frames are much different. Most 1911 jigs require a cutter. They aren’t done with a drill press, router, or other similar milling machines. The frame of the weapon is put between the side plates, and the internal cutter is used to take away what’s needed. However, you will sill need a drill press to drill the hammer pin hole and sear pin hole.
This was just the start of some of the common 80% lowers out there. There are still more options: submachine guns, AK47s, 300 Blackouts and various other pistols. This list was just to give you an idea of what’s out there. Keep in mind that this market will continue to grow in popularity. As you can see, the weapons are pretty easy to build.