Best 80% Lower Receivers for Aspiring Gunsmiths and Shooters

by Travis Pike

April 5, 2024



As someone who’s been shooting my entire life, I understand the value of having a collection of lowers. Whether you’re a dedicated DIY enthusiast, a savvy saver, or simply prefer to keep a low profile, an 80% lower could be just what you need! But finding the right 80% lower can be tricky, especially with all the confusion out there. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you through it all. From exploring different options to finding the best 80% lower receivers for your needs, I’ve got you covered every step of the way!

Best 80% Lower Receivers

What’s an 80% Lower Receiver?

An 80% lower is an unfinished firearm. At the time of this writing, these kits are completely legal and can be shipped to most people without the need for an FFL. Even the best 80 lower frames are incomplete and cannot function as a complete firearm until the end-user applies some power tool magic.

How I Chose the Best 80% Lower Receivers

As a former marine with over a decade of experience in shooting, I’ve come to appreciate the value of a solid 80% lower receiver. It’s a must-have for anyone looking to build their firearm as it provides the foundation for your custom build. Now, I’ve got the know-how to pick the right 80% lower receiver for any situation.

But I didn’t want this guide to solely reflect my perspective. That’s why I reached out to some of the shooting professionals I know who share a wealth of knowledge in firearm assembly and safety. Their invaluable input has contributed to this comprehensive list of the best 80% lower receivers.

Now, choosing the right 80% lower is a personal decision and what works for me, may not work for you. It also depends on factors like the type of firearm you’re building and your level of expertise. That’s why I’ve sorted these options based on what they’re best for. Plus, I’ve also included a buyer’s guide so that you know what to look for when buying an 80% lower receiver.

The Best 80% Lower Receivers We Will Look At

Best 80% Lower Receivers By Category

Matrix Arms 80% Lower
  • Simple forged design perfect for any type of rifle
  • Affordable
  • Mill it and forget it
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AR-9 80% Lower
  • Billet designed around Glock magazines
  • Included ejector and magazine release
  • Compatible with most jig kits
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F1 Firearms 80% Lower
  • Unique skeletonized design
  • High-quality billet build
  • Fubar Guarantee
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Polymer 80 Glock Lower
  • Superbly simple to finish
  • Compatible with a massive catalog of Gen 3 Glock parts
  • Better than Glock Ergos
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Best Polymer Option

Polymer 80 AR-10/15

Polymer 80 AR-10/15
  • Polymer is easy to mill
  • Beefed up to tackle stress issues
  • Comes in a variety of colors
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Most Modular


  • Swap from full size to compact to subcompact with ease
  • Easy to finish
  • Modular design
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ZR Tactical Raw Forged Lower
  • Perfect for engraving
  • Mil-Spec forged lower design ensure compatibility
  • Blank canvas for any build
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  • Host Platform AR-15
  • Caliber 5.56mm NATO
  • Material 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Finish Black


If you are venturing into the world of 80% lower, the AR 15 rifle is an exciting starting point. As America’s favorite rifle, it’s no surprise that it’s also the top choice for 80% lower receivers.

These receivers boast a simple, no-frills design, closely resembling Mil-Spec standards. Crafted from 7075-T6 forged aluminum, they offer unparalleled versatility for milling and finishing.

What sets these forged lowers apart is their compatibility with various uppers, parts kits, and accessories, making them incredibly versatile. Additionally, their anodized finish ensures durability, promising reliability over the long term.

During assembly, I found that lubricating the roll pins significantly eased their insertion, streamlining the process. While completing the receiver requires some milling work, modern jigs, and tools, along with online resources like YouTube tutorials, make it more manageable than ever.

Overall, Matrix Arms is the best 80% lower receiver for AR-15 on my list. It offers exceptional value and serves as an excellent starting point for any rifle-build journey.


  • Mil-spec to the core
  • Affordable
  • Has M16/M4 trigger pocket
  • Untapped bolt release roll pin holes

Matrix Arms 80% lower Gun Deals


  • Host Platform AR-9
  • Caliber 9mm
  • Material 6061 T6 Aluminum
  • Finish Black


As I mentioned earlier, AR platforms are a hit with gun enthusiasts for their customization options. With that in mind, the best 80% lower PCC you can build is an AR-9.

This billet lower receiver is specially crafted to work seamlessly with Glock magazines, offering smooth operation and a comfy grip. It comes with a built-in ejector and magazine release designed specifically for Glock mags, ensuring reliability and ease of use.

The mag well is designed for quick reloads and fits Glock magazines like a glove. Just like the other billet lowers, it has a built-in trigger guard but it looks unique.

Whether you’re building a compact pistol or a full-sized rifle, the AR-9 delivers flexibility and performance. With a bit of milling needed for the trigger area, putting it together is a breeze, even for beginners. And because it’s made from 6061 aluminum, it’s easy to work with and is built to last.


  • Designed around Glock mags
  • Compatible with any 80 Lower jig
  • One piece with integrated trigger guard
  • Threaded screw can prove tricky for those with gorilla fingers


  • Host Platform AR-10
  • Caliber 5.56mm NATO
  • Material 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Finish Raw and no anodization


When it comes to AR-10 builds, going big doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. That’s why I opted for the F1 Firearms 80% lower receiver.

Made from 7075 aluminum, this lower stands out with its sleek skeletonized design, cutting-edge looks, and reduced weight.

What’s cool is that it comes ‘raw,’ allowing you to customize the finish to your liking, whether it’s anodization or cerakote. Plus, as a billet lower, it gives a premium feel with its precise cuts and unique appearance.

Pair it with other F-1 parts for a truly unique build. And with compatibility for various AR-10 uppers, including 6.5 CM and .308, the possibilities are endless.

Milling it out is straightforward, and F-1 Firearms even offers a Fubar guarantee, ensuring you’re covered if you encounter any mishaps during the process.

With its craftsmanship, customizability, and wide upper compatibility, it has taken its spot as the best 80% lower for AR-10 on my list.


  • Great for skeletonized builds
  • FUBAR guarantee
  • High quality billet build
  • Extra work if you want to anodize or Cerakote


  • Host Platform Glock
  • Caliber 9mm, 40 S&W
  • Material Polymer
  • Finish Black, FDE, Coyote, OD Green, Gray


When I first got into completing 80% firearms, I scoured the web for the easiest place to start. After digging around and watching some YouTube tutorials, I stumbled upon the Polymer 80 Glock builds.

These Polymer 80 designs are surprisingly simple. I’ve built both Glock 17 and Glock 19 variants and let me tell you, they’re easy. With the included jig and tools, you can get it done with just a drill or Dremel.

Just reduce some rails and drill a few holes, and you’re good to go. Even for someone like me, with little experience, it went smoothly. That’s why I’d say the Polymer 80 is hands down the easiest build on this list.

The best part? These polymer frames are an upgrade from your standard Glock frames. They’ve got a better grip angle, texture, beavertail, and a genuine Picatinny rail.

Plus, they come in different sizes, but all are equally easy to assemble. Personally, I prefer the Glock 17 version, but the 19 and 26 variants are equally appealing. The hybrid variant, combining a Glock 19 grip frame with a Glock 17 length slide, offers the best of both worlds.


  • Extremely simple to finish
  • Compatible with a ton of Gen 3 Glock parts
  • Better than Glock ergonomics
  • Minor fitting may be required


  • Host Platform AR-10/15
  • Caliber 5.56mm NATO
  • Material Polymer
  • Finish Black, Grey, FDE, OD Green, White


Since we have already introduced Polymer 80, let’s stick with that path. Polymer 80 isn’t just about Glock frames; they also produce polymer AR 15 and AR 10 lower receivers.

Polymer lowers have had their fair share of skepticism, but Polymer 80 seems to be changing that narrative. Their RL556V3 for AR 15 and the 308 80% lower receiver for AR 10 show promising improvements.

Milling polymer is a breeze, making these lower ideal for those with basic drill presses or routers. Polymer 80 addresses past issues with buffer tube housings, ensuring reliability and durability.

Despite being sturdy, these lowers are lightweight and compatible with Mil-Spec upper receivers. Available in various colors, they’re budget-friendly and beginner-friendly.

Also, with the included jig and tooling, you’re saving a lot of money.

The improved reliability, ease of milling, and affordability make the Polymer 80 AR-10/15 the best option for 80% lower receivers on my list.


  • Easy to mill
  • Durability jacked to handle duress
  • Comes in many different colors
  • No paper instructions


  • Host Platform Sig P320
  • Caliber 9mm, 40 S&W, 357 Sig
  • Material Titanium Nitride
  • Finish Titanium Nitride


The SIG P320 80% FCU earns its spot as the most modular choice in my lineup. What makes it unique is SIG’s innovative Fire Control Unit (FCU) design. Unlike traditional handguns where the frame holds the serial number, the FCU serves as the serialized part. This means you can easily swap frames and slides without dealing with FFL requirements.

With the P320, transitioning from a full-size to a compact carry setup is a breeze, no trips to the gun store are necessary.

Working on the P320 80% FCU is surprisingly straightforward. It’s like following a paint-by-numbers guide: bend some rails, drill holes, and stick to the jig.

While some parts like opening the trigger slot with a Dremel and perfecting the rails require patience, the result is a customizable FCU ready to fit into different handgun sizes, offering a personalized shooting experience.


  • Easy to swap between semi-compact and full size
  • Easy to finish
  • Modular design
  • Patience is definitely required when building out one of these


  • Host Platform AR-15
  • Caliber 5.56mm NATO
  • Material 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Finish Raw Aluminum


As someone who’s all about authenticity and precision, the ZR Tactical Raw Forged Lower is my top pick for fellow cloners. When it comes to building firearms, especially for replicating iconic models, this lower is a game-changer.

Its billet design makes it easy to work with AR 80 lower jigs, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free assembly process. Plus, it’s engineered to seamlessly accept Glock magazines, adding to its practicality and ease of use.

What’s really neat is its mag well design, which allows for quick reloads, and its unique appearance adds a touch of style to any build. Whether you’re crafting a braced pistol or a full-sized rifle PCC, this lower delivers both performance and aesthetics.

Milling out the trigger area is pretty straightforward, and being made from 7075 T6 aluminum, it strikes the perfect balance between durability and ease of milling. For cloners like us who value authenticity and reliability, the ZR Tactical Raw Forged Lower is hands down the way to go.


  • Perfect for engraving
  • Mil-Spec forged lower design ensure compatibility
  • Blank canvas for any build
  • No standard bolt catch

But Why Use an 80% Lower Receiver?

We live in a time where everybody and their momma is producing AR 15 lowers, Glock frames, SIG frames, 1911 frames, and more at decently low prices. Why would one purchase a frame or lower that’s incomplete? Well, I have a few reasons why.


Building guns and tinkering with AR-15 parts is just plain enjoyable. If you’re up for a challenge, completing an 80% lower adds an extra layer of excitement to the process.


There’s a rich history in America of folks making their own firearms. It’s a tradition that goes way back, and finishing your own rifle or pistol keeps that spirit alive.


Some gun fans love replicating specific firearms, whether they’re military classics or from their favorite movies. With an 80% lower, you can get all the details just right, down to the markings on the receiver blank.


While federal law generally allows for personal firearm manufacturing, state laws can be a bit of a maze. It’s important that you know the rules in your area regarding 80% firearms, as well as federal regulations like the NFA and Gun Control Act.

Best 80% Lower Receivers – Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to purchasing an 80% lower receiver, there are several factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice for your needs and preferences. Whether you’re a seasoned gunsmith or a beginner DIY enthusiast, these considerations will help guide your decision-making process.

Factors To Consider When Buying an 80% Lower Receiver

Compatibility: First things first, make sure the 80% lower you’re eyeing is compatible with the firearm platform you want to build. Whether it’s an AR-15, AR-10, Glock, or something else, check the specs to make sure it’ll work for your setup.

Material: 80% lower receivers typically come in two main materials: aluminum and polymer. Aluminum is sturdy and long-lasting, great for heavy-duty use. Polymer, on the other hand, is lightweight and easier to work with, making it perfect for beginners or folks with basic tools.

Finish: Consider the finish of the lower receiver. Do you want something raw and rugged, or maybe sleek and anodized? The finish not only affects the look but also the durability and resistance to corrosion, so choose wisely.

Ease of Assembly: Some 80% lowers require more intricate milling work, while others are designed to be a breeze for DIY enthusiasts. Take into account your skill level and the tools you have on hand when selecting an 80% lower that’s right for you.

Reputation: Do your homework on the manufacturer or brand behind the 80% lower you’re considering. Look for reviews and feedback from other builders to get a sense of quality and reliability.

Legal Considerations: Make sure you’re aware of all the laws and regulations surrounding 80% lower receivers in your area. The last thing you want is to run afoul of the law, so double-check the rules before you buy.

Price: While price shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision, it’s still an important consideration. Compare prices across different options to find the best value for your budget, keeping in mind that quality matters more than saving a few bucks.

Recommended reading.

• The BATFE on 80 lowers.

• All about 80% Lowers (Keep up with Federal law)

• 3D Printed Guns

Other 80 Percent Brands to Check Out

• 5D Tactical

• American Made Tactical

• Elite Builder

• James Madison Tactical

• Modulus Arms

• Tactical Machining

• Easy Jig


Building rifles, handguns, PCCs, or whatever else you choose is a fun, satisfying hobby. It’s educational and downright thrilling, especially for the tool inept like myself. It’s skills that not only apply to firearms but to life in general.

Why not do something that applies to both your hobby and life?

Milling out an 80% lower is like laying the groundwork for your dream rifle or handgun. After that, you just need to grab your chosen lower parts kit, upper receiver, and any other AR accessories you fancy. Then, it’s all about putting it together to make your firearm vision a reality.

What are you waiting for? Might as well get started on your at-home “machining” process.

Best 80% Lower Receivers – FAQs

What are the advantages of using a billet aluminum 80% lower receiver?

With a billet aluminum 80% lower receiver, you get precise dimensions, extra durability, and plenty of options for customizing your firearm. These receivers are machined from solid blocks, allowing for intricate designs and a sleek appearance.

What tools are typically needed to complete an 80% lower receiver?

To finish an 80% lower receiver, you’ll need tools like a drill press, milling machine, router, drill bits, end mills, cutting oil, and some hand tools. Additionally, specialized jigs and tooling kits designed for specific lower receiver models may be necessary for precise machining and finishing.

What role does the gas tube play in firearms with 80% lower receivers?

In firearms with 80% lower receivers, the gas tube is a vital piece. It channels hot gases to keep things moving smoothly, ensuring your gun fires reliably every time you pull the trigger.

What is the process of creating custom firearms using 80% lower receivers?

When you create custom firearms with 80% lower receivers, it’s all about making the receiver fit your style. You’ll use tools like drill presses to shape it just right, tweaking details like the trigger pocket and magazine well.

What are the benefits of a raw aluminum finish on an 80% lower receiver?

Opting for a raw aluminum finish is a great choice if you’re using 80% lower receivers. It gives your firearm a rugged look, plus it opens up a world of customization options. With a raw finish, you can easily add personalized coatings or finishes to match your style and preferences.


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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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