How To Pick The Best 80% Lower On The Market

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When people mention the “80% lower” they are generally talking about lower receivers. In general, a lower receiver is a part of a firearm that houses the firing mechanism, bolt, and the magazine of the firearm. Today, in order to help you find the best 80% lower for your needs, we're going to take a look at some of the most popular ones on the market. We're also going to show you a few things you should pay special attention to. Without a further ado, let's jump straight into the review.

Picking the Best 80% on the Market

Anderson Manufacturing 80% Lower Receiver

Via Brownells.com

Right out of the gate, we’re going to present what’s in our opinion, the best 80% lower receiver. The Anderson Manufacturing receiver is made out of forged aluminum, which guarantees both performance and durability. It’s also low in price when compared to its quality.

While it takes some effort to assemble it – it’s definitely worth it. The things you need to put together are the hammer and trigger pins, safety hole, and the group milling. It’s a multi-caliber receiver, which means it offers a huge number of customization options once assembled.

The reliever is made in the United States and it has been designed by military standards. That means, with this 80% lower, you don’t have to worry about quality. Although the jig is not included in the package, you can still buy it separately if you want.

Pros

  • Hard aluminum construction, durable
  • Precise working points for assembling
  • Lifetime warranty against workmanship and defects

Cons

  • The jig is not included in the pack
  • Takes a few hours to assemble it
  • Not really aesthetically pleasing

Polymer80 Lower 80% Receiver and Jig Kit

Via Brownells.com

The second 80% lower on our list is not exactly cheap, however, it offers a ton of value for your money. Polymer80 pack comes with an unfinished receiver, as well as a small jig that makes customization easier than you probably think. Also, it’s compatible with both 5.56 NATO and .223 ammunition.

You’re probably intrigued by the jig, so we should say a few words about it. It comes all of the necessary bits and components that you need to assemble it. Yes – that means you don’t have to go out and look for additional resources and tools in order to put it together properly.

If you want to have an aesthetically pleasing weapon, this is probably the perfect 80% lower for you. It’s available in a number of different colors – including grey, black, and dark earth, to name a few – so you can pick the one that fits your weapon perfectly.

Pros

  • A sturdy and reliable 80% lower
  • A pretty cost-effective solution
  • Available in multiple colors

Cons

  • Not the cheapest lower on the list
  • Not meant for inexperienced DIY-ers

Brownells 80% Lower Receiver

Via Brownells.com

This receiver comes to us from the world-renowned firearm manufacturer, Brownells. It’s machined from forged aluminum and comes packed with an excellent lug pocket. Once you assemble it, you’ll see how the roached mag allows you to change magazines on the go.

It’s compatible with a huge number of jigs, so if you already own a jig, you probably won’t have to spend money on a new one. This is another multi-caliber 80% lower receiver, which means, it will fit basically any upper receiver.

The only thing you may find unappealing is the price. If you want to own the Brownells 80% lower, you’ll have to spend more than a few dollars. However, considering the quality and the brand name, we have to say that it’s more than fairly priced.​

Pros

  • It fits basically any upper receiver
  • The roached mag is a nice addition
  • Features a handy lug pocket

Cons

  • The most expensive lower on the list
  • Requires additional tools to assemble

Matrix Arms 80% Lower Forged Receiver

Via Brownells.com

The Matrix Arms 80% lower is made from the endurable 7075-T6 aluminum and will last you for at least a decade or two. Moreover, this particular receiver gives the user a chance to put together the interior pocket all by themselves. So if customization is what you’re looking for, you’ve found your 80% lower.

But this doesn’t mean it takes a lot of time to assemble the Matrix Arms 80% lower. The exterior comes fully prepared and you only need to assemble the trigger and hammer pocket before you can use it. It’s compatible with all standard uppers and supports the popular 5.56 NATO magazine.

You have the option to pick between the non-anodized and the black anodized model. And although the receiver comes only in black, aesthetically it’s very pleasing. Last but not least – it has a takedown lug pocket that allows you to build an advanced firearm.

Pros

  • Made out of 7075-T6 aluminum
  • Has a quality finish and looks good
  • Offers good value for your money

Cons

  • Only comes in one color
  • The magazine may get jammed inside

James Madison Tactical 80% Lower Polymer Gen 2

Via Brownells.com

The last 80% lower on our list comes from a well-known manufacturer and is made out of the first-class polymer. What’s more, this James Madison is incredibly easy to install and even customize. Another thing that’s going for it is the fact that the price tag is significantly lower than the other ones on our list.

The James Madison Tactical was carefully designed to fit all AR parts perfectly. The receiver has all of the pre-machined areas you need, like the buffer tube, rear pivot pin, and a neat trigger guard too. It fits almost all AR-15 platforms, so you won’t go wrong if you go with it.

Durability is also on a high level. As a matter of fact, the durability is actually comparable to with aluminum receivers. The only downside to this 80% lower is that the manufacturer doesn’t accept any returns, which means you have to make sure to customize it properly.

Pros

  • Perfectly fits almost any AR-15
  • All areas are pre-machined for you
  • The cheapest 89% lower on the list

Cons

  • Doesn’t allow much customization
  • The manufacturer doesn’t accept returns

Frequently Asked Questions (The FAQ Section)

How Much Work Does it Take to Assemble Firearm?


The first thing we should point out is that an 80% lower is only meant for serious DIY enthusiasts. So if you love working on DIY projects at home and you’re ready to put in a couple of hours of work, you should try to build your own firearm.

However, if you don’t have too much experience, you should buy a regular firearm. While it may be expensive, it will save you a lot of hours. On the other hand, if you really want to give assembling firearms a chance, you can still do it. There are numerous tutorials on YouTube that can help you.

Assembling firearms at home doesn’t require a huge investment. In fact, you probably have everything you need in your toolbox. You just need a handy manual and a few tools, and you’ll be able to build a rifle in no time. There’s no definitive answer to this question. It all depends on your skills and tools.

Do You Need a License for an 80% Lower?


80% lower license

We all know that firearms require different licenses, however, 80% lower receivers don’t have serial numbers. That means the manufacturer can sell one to person, regardless if they have an FFL or not. Someone that buys a lower receiver can use it to assemble a complete assault rifle.

The law doesn’t require these rifles to have a serial number. But laws vary from state to state, so make sure to check the law in your state before you start buying firearm parts left and right. While owning such a weapon doesn’t require a license, the owner can’t sell it to anyone without registration it first.

In all honesty, these laws are somewhat confusing. On one hand, if you made the gun for yourself, you can give it to someone as gift without registering it. However, if you made it for someone else, you need to register it.

Of course, we’re not legal specialists. We’re just telling you our interpretation of the law. Therefore, before you make any purchases, make sure to contact a lawyer near you and talk about the laws in your state and county.

To sum things up, you don’t need to be an FFL to make a rifle, if you’re meeting the following criteria:​

  • If weapon-configuration is legal in your state, county, or city
  • If you’re not a felon, and you can legally own a firearm in your state
  • If you’re assembling the firearm for personal use only, and not for someone

Difference between Anodized and Non-Anodized Lowers?


One of the most important considerations, when you’re buying an 80% lower is the choice between anodized and non-anodized ones. Our recommendation is to go with the non-anodized lower. That’s because you’re going to be grinding large portions of the metal and exposing the non-anodized parts.

In most cases, this means you’re going to need to re-anodize your rifle anyway. Going with the non-anodized model will save you a ton of money. And you won’t have to worry about damaging the lower, because you’ll be just exposing more of the same material while you’re doing the drilling.

What Should You Pay Attention To?


And now, we’ve come to the most important part of our guide – what are the things that you need pay special attention to when you’re choosing an 80% lower? When you’re looking at different models, you should keep an eye on these parts:

The material it’s made out of

This should be your top priority. Luckily, you don’t have a huge choice, since lowers are usually made out of polymer or aluminum. The latter can be divided into two categories: 6061-T6 aluminum and 7075-T6 aluminum. The first one is a high-quality metal while the second is more of a general-purpose one.

We should point out that aluminum is not easy to drill, seeing how it’s a pure metal. The polymer is a bit softer and easier to customize. Therefore, if you want to customize your weapon fully, you should go with a polymer 80% lower.

But remember, aluminum is more durable than polymer, and will definitely last you a lot longer. And that’s why we recommend aluminum 80% lowers. Nonetheless, it’s all a matter of personal taste, so you won’t go wrong with either material.

The finish on the metal

Most lowers on the market are either type-2 or type-3 anodized. That makes them resistant to corrosion and abrasion. Some lower receivers, however, have Dura-coat and Cerakote finishes. Like we said above, you should avoid anodized lowers, because you’ll expose the inner layer of metal while drilling it.

But that only applies to aluminum lowers. Polymer lower receivers don’t have such a problem. When you’re drilling a polymer lower, you’re only exposing the layers of the same metal. That’s one of many reasons to go with a polymer lower.

The brand name of the lower

Buying an 80% lower from an unknown manufacturer should be out of the question. You should go only with a trustworthy company that has a good reputation in the industry. Since an 80% lower requires a ton of drilling, it needs to have a high tolerance and specific working points.

You probably won’t find precise working points on lowers manufactured from cheap metals. The truth is, going with a low-grade manufacturer is a gamble. And while you might end up with a quality product, chances are, you’ll face a number of problems while assembling your firearm.

The visual aesthetics

Even though you want a firearm that functions properly first and foremost, you also want to have something that will look good in your gun-cabinet, right? Visual aesthetics are an important factor while picking an unfinished 80% lower for customization.

Some models only come in one color, which might be a problem. If you want the final product to look perfect, you have to make sure that every part of your firearm matches. And if you want engravings by any chance, you need to check with the company before you make engravings on your own.

Final Thoughts

And those are the basics. We talked about some of our favorite 80% lower models on the market and went over a couple of things you need to keep an eye on. With this information, you’ll be able to find the best 80% lower in no time. So if you want a thoroughly enjoyable AR-building experience, you should definitely invest some time and energy into finding the right 80% lower for your firearm.

We hope you enjoyed our article. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below. We’ll answer all of your inquiries as soon as possible.

Alex Ramsey

Work hard & live to hunt! Countryman Hunter , Archery, shooter, Freelance outdoor writer and Love USA. founder of thebigdeer.com where I share my hunting experiences and gear reviews to help you become more prepared. Knowledge will save you, but great gear will help! Let Get Out & Go Hunting

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