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What is an 80% Lower Receiver?

Posted by Jordan Vinroe on Sep 9th 2019

There have been a lot of recent developments in the firearms industry. With discussions about different styles of sidearms growing, the need for an alternative way to get a firearmfor personal protection has increased as well. Luckily, there is a DIY way to get a firearm without the traditional privacy concerns thanks to 80% lower receivers. If you aren’t familiar with these pieces, JSD Supply is here to explain what an 80% lower is and how it can help with your protection goals minus the normal headaches of purchasing a handgun:

The Basics of Lower Receivers

An 80% lower is a piece that can be used to complete a firearm, following some critical finishing work. Lower receivers require special machining – including drilling and milling – before they become useable for handgun construction. Most 80% firearm receivers may also require specialized skills to assemble it into a weapon. Typically the main fire control group pocket, hammer/trigger pin holes, trigger pass-through hole, and safety selector holes still need to be machined before the lower can be used to create a working firearm.

There is often confusion when people ask what an 80% lower is because it’s not a standard item. That is because the term is actually industry slang and not really endorsed by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms) or by most major brand manufacturers.

The ATF’s Stance on Lowers

So if what 80% lowers are just technical jargon what is the ATF’s stance on them? 80% Lower receivers are not regulated by the ATF because the organization considers the pieces to just be raw materials. That is because 80% lower receivers require specialized tools and skills to become an actual firearm.

People who don’t know what an 80% lower receiver is often wonder if it is legal to own them. The answer is absolutely. Since they do not meet the definition of a firearm under the Gun Control Act of 1968, they are just as legal to own as any other metallic tool or component. It is useful to know however, when purchasing an 80% lower, to buy from a manufacturer that has an ATF “determination letter” which specifically states the lower is not a firearm to be certain you are still in good legal standing.

Benefits Offered by 80% Lowers

As more people learn what is an 80% lower the popularity of these parts has risen. They provide a secure way for people to own a firearm without the traditional concerns of purchasing through a dealer or from the manufacturer. No registration is required to own a firearm that you personally manufacture, nor do you need to engrave your weapon with a serial number (though some people still do in case their piece is lost or as required by local/state law). As long as you can legally own a firearm then you can legally build one – so 80% lower receivers are a great alternative way to have a weapon when privacy is a concern. 80% lowers are also popular because they can often be shipped straight to your house without the extra government fees commonly associated with purchasing a completed firearm.

How to Turn an 80% Lower Into a Firearm

Now that you know what an 80% lower receiver is, you may be curious how to turn them into a firearm. A variety of tooling methods can be used, but most require a manual mill or drill press. Both of these tools can easily be found for sale online or from local suppliers. You’ll also need end mills and drills to finish the remaining operations.

Include Great Customization Possibilities

One other reason people consider 80% lowers are what different customizations are available. With an 80% lower receiver you essentially have a blank canvas as most lowers have no markings. This gives you the control to put your own logo, selector markings, or even choose the color/finish for your receiver. Since you can choose your own engravings you can create a truly unique firearm set apart from other weapons. You can also add a variety of personal touches.

When looking at what an 80% lower receiver is you also have the ability to create “retro” or “clone” firearms that mimic weapons that are no longer in production. This not only includes operations like drilling in holes that feature subtle shape differences of these former weapons, but also era markings and colorations that made these pieces so popular for an authentic imitation.

Learn About Every Piece of Your Gun

If want to fully immerse yourself into gun ownership then 80% lowers are a great way to do so. What 80% lowers bring is the ability to not just build your own firearm, but understand the different facets of your weapon too. Many people find that building their own firearm is a satisfying experience, and you’ll be able to see what pieces make up a gun and how they work together. This is a great resource when it comes time to disassemble and clean the sidearm, as well as making it easier to diagnose issues to prevent jams.

See Why DIY Firearms are Becoming Popular

No matter what your handgun goals are, an 80% lower receiver is a straightforward way to achieve them. Not only are they completely legal to own, but this DIY approach to owning a firearm can give you a satisfying way to have a piece customized specifically for your needs.

Take part in the personally made handgun revolution and reach out to our experts today to learn more about how lower receivers eliminate your privacy concerns when it comes to personal firearms.