For anyone who comes across DIY guns, their reliability is a loaded topic. While some people may still doubt the reliability of an 80% lower receiver, the millions of deeply satisfied owners of finished frames know the real answer to that question. Although it is legal to purchase and own a stock model gun from a manufacturer, the process entails a paper trail, serial tracking and a background check.
The draw of purchasing legal 80% lowers lies in privacy. Despite lawmakers continually trying to infringe upon gun owners’ rights to keep and bear firearms, Americans have been able to purchase 80% lower receivers to remain off the books and stay legal. However, a topic of debate has always been about the effectiveness and reliability of these homemade firearms in comparison to stock models.
Since 20% unfinished frames are delivered to the doorsteps of many individuals around the country, it is the individual’s responsibility to finish the receiver into a working firearm. It should go without saying that building your own gun comes with some perils. People come with varying degrees of knowledge and some have less experience working with tools or machinery. These people may be the ones who gave the reliability of homemade firearms a bad reputation in the past.
Defective parts are an unavoidable fault and there have been accounts of recalls on defective DIY gun parts in the past. Most suppliers and manufacturers have recall lists and guarantees that can protect customers in the event there is a faulty piece. This stresses the importance of buying all DIY guns, parts, and accessories from reputable suppliers and manufacturers.
Another very important factor that contributes to the reliability of any piece of merchandise is the quality of the material it is made from. Higher standards and requirements for production mean American made is often of better quality.
Diving into a gun project takes some basic firearms knowledge and competence of tools. This coupled with patience, precision, and some time dedication will produce a reliable DIY gun. You can finish a lower receiver with just a few tools: a jig, manual drill press, and the appropriate drill bits. With some machining, milling, and drilling actions and a frame kit, anyone can easily assemble a completely legal firearm.
The exception to this are the few who:
● do not follow the guidelines for assembly
● use the incorrect template
● use poorly constructed materials from questionable suppliers
● are simply poor machinists
Not paying attention to detail while building your masterpiece will directly affect the performance and reliability of your homemade gun making it inferior to a stock model.
Reliability Outside of Variables
The answer of reliability in homemade firearms is simple: DIY guns are as reliable as the individual who builds them. Shoddy workmanship, purchasing from unreliable dealers, and a lack of gun knowledge breed unreliable outcomes.
Many AR fans love building their own platform and one of the big thing to get if you like drilling the lower yourself, is getting an 80% lower receiver.
80% AR-15 Lower Receivers is a piece that have not yet reached a stage of manufacture to be considered a firearm. The term “80%” is an industry slang and not endorsed/used by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms).
Disclaimer: Any information here should be checked by your local, state and federal laws.
80% are legal to have because they do not meet the definition of a firearm under the Gun Control Act of 1968. ATF referred this as “paperweights.”
Did you Know?
When you get your 80% lower, there isn’t any serial number on it. So once you’ve finish drilling your lower, do you need to put a serial number? No, you don’t have to but doing so helps in case you get your lower stolen.
In short you don’t need to have an FFL for having the 80% lower.
As long as you meet these criteria that the ATF looks at:
-Can legally own a firearm in your state/county/city (not a felon, etc…)
-Manufacturing only for personal use
-Configuration is legal in your state/county/city (National Firearms Act rules apply for short barreled rifles, automatics, etc…)
Comes in Silver?
Most 80% lowers are sold as raw aluminum, which is why the color. If you get the lower with anodized coating and after completing it. All the cuts will expose the aluminum underneath. Tis, why most savy AR builders just go with the raw aluminum.
Once you’re done machining it, you can complete it with anodized or use a coating like Alumahyde or spray paint it. Cutting the 80% lower
Is it hard to finish an 80%? You’re definitely going to need some specialized equipment such as a drill press. However, if you have the patiences and an aptitude for the mechanics of it, you can do one yourself. Here’s Youtuber AKCustom showing you how its done.
Here are some of the top 80% lower manufacturers:
Anderson Manufacturing is one of the big AR part manufacturers out in the market, with plenty of experiences. With these lowers, you’re buying from people who’ve been making AR parts for many years.
Because they are established, you can find their lowers in most local gun shops.
The quality of these 80% lowers are off the charts. Anderson puts their reputation on the line with each piece that they make. If you get one of their 80%ers, and you do your part with the machining correctly, you’ll end up with a reliable, well-done product.
Polymer80 is the other contender for 80% lower in polymer. Yes, they specialize in polymer 80% lowers…hence the name. They also offer tons of cool colors which is for you to personalize your builds to your liking.
These lowers offer you the AR builder a chance to turn this into a working rifle for competition, hunting or home defense.
This is one of the big dogs when it comes to the 80% lowers. Did you know that they also make 1911 80% lowers, 10/22 80% lowers and even .308 lowers.
Tactical Machining also offers fully lower which obviously requires FFL paper work.
They have a number of 80% lower jigs that are perfect for putting together your build. Trying to drill these lowers freehand is going to be scratched and damaged, get the jig.