What Is an 80 Percent Lower Receiver? Why Should I Be Interested?

Many, perhaps most, gun owners’ experiences with their first purchases involve trips to a local gun shop and a lot of questions. Most first-time gun owners do their research, visit a local shop, fill out a 4473, wait for the NICS check, and take their first gun home.

But that is not the only legal way (federally) to acquire a firearm. Some enthusiasts know firsthand that, given the fact that some of the most popular firearms in the country are, in fact, ARs, Sig Sauers, and Glock pistols, an equally efficient way to acquire one of these is by completing a build with an 80 percent lower receiver.

What Is an 80 Percent Lower Receiver?
An 80 percent lower receiver, alternatively referred to as an 80% lower, a receiver blank (and occasionally, and pejoratively as a “ghost gun”) is an unfinished receiver that has not been fully machined. As a consequence, an 80% lower receiver, without alteration, cannot be used to complete a functional firearm. Also as a consequence, they are not considered firearms by the ATF and are not serialized.

The ATF also explicitly specifies that “Individuals manufacturing sporting-type firearms for their own use need not hold Federal Firearms Licenses.” There is also no federal regulation to serialize the completed firearm, although there are some local requirements for serialization in certain jurisdictions throughout the country.

Potential Draws of Completing Your Own Build with an 80 Percent Lower Receiver (Assuming Legality in Your Jurisdiction)

While some states, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, expressly ban the sale of 80 percent lower receivers, they are legal in many jurisdictions. This enables enthusiasts to create and complete their own AR builds using a combination of 80% lowers, a jig and template to complete the lower, and build kits containing the upper receiver and the remainder of the firearm’s parts.

If you’re interested in completing your own AR build and it is legal in your area, there are some reasons that may justify the extra work involved in the process.

-Lack of availability at local gun shops: We’re not simply under a current ammo crunch. Some gun shops are selling their stock as fast as they come in. If it is legal in your locale, you can complete your own firearm with the requisite parts kit, 80% lower receiver, a jig, a vise, and a drill press.

-Becoming more familiar with the inner workings of your MSR: Tinkers and others with an interest in gunsmithing have a vested interest in completing their own builds because it is an intensely educational experience. You simply can’t create your own firearm without becoming intimately familiar with its inner workings.

-Potential cost savings: Availability might be a big seller, but when you consider the fact that you don’t need to pay for any of the high taxes imposed on firearms or FFL transfers fees, you might experience cost savings as well.

-No need to fill out a 4473 or deal with waiting periods: Anyone who has ever filled out a 4473 will be familiar with the fact that it offers the ATF your personal information, alerting them to when and where you purchased a firearm. There is no 4473 associated with the purchase of an 80% lower since it is not considered a firearm.

-No need to serialize or register the firearm (depending on where you live): Some jurisdictions, like California, require the serialization of firearms completed from 80% lowers, but federal law does not require serialization. Check your local and state laws before proceeding with the project, because laws vary considerably, and some locations may impose penalties for possession of manufactured, unserialized firearms in some locations.

For more information regarding the process of completing an 80 percent lower receiver or the tools and resources that you will need to do so, visit 5D Tactical at 5D Tactical.com. In addition to supplying a large corpus of high-quality firearms parts, upper and lower kits, build kits, and jigs, their helpful staff will be able to answer any questions you have as you navigate the process of building your own firearm.

Visit their website and then contact them at 508-834-4223 or by email at [email protected] if you have further questions.

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