Best 80% Lower Receivers & Jigs [AR-15, AR-10, AR-9]

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Looking to complete your own AR 80% lower receiver?

Some 80% AR-15 Receivers
Some 80% AR-15 Receivers

Today, we’re going to go over the best 80% AR-15, AR-10, and AR-9 lower receivers out there.  And…we’ve done our fair share of 80% through the years.

Plus, the best jigs to help you get to the 100% mark.

AR-15 80% Jigs, Old School and Easy Jig 2
AR-15 80% Jigs, Old School and Easy Jig 2

Table of Contents

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Brief Overview of 80% Lowers

First, you should really check out our other article on what exactly is an 80% lower.  

TLDR; an 80% lower receiver is an unfinished lower that is nominally sold as a “paperweight” or other novelty and not a firearm.

If you’re buying a finished AR lower, you’re technically buying a firearm in the eyes of the ATF.

AR-15 80 Receiver Top, ATF
AR-15 80% Lower.  Notice the solid area where the trigger would go, making it a paperweight, not a firearm.  Technically.

Meanwhile, an 80% lower is technically not a firearm until you finish machining it, so you can get them delivered straight to your house without paying FFL fees.  

As long as you’re manufacturing the firearm for personal use, and are otherwise allowed to own said firearm in your state, you’re good to go.

80% AR-15 Lowers, All Sides
80% AR-15 Lowers, All Sides

Yes…it’s a “ghost gun” in that most places don’t require serializing/registration, but that’s a loaded term so we won’t be using it for the rest of the article.

Note: California requires a serial number, registration, and possible other changes to your lower, so be super duper sure to check the laws there and in other less-than-gun-friendly states.

What Makes a Good 80% Lower?

There are a few things to consider when choosing your first AR-15 80% lower…  

Name Brand

First, tempting as it may be, don’t buy from Uncle Leroy’s Backwoods Firearms.  

Small manufacturers are extremely hit or miss, and often lack the precision of a larger, well-known manufacturer.

Anderson 80% Lower
Anderson 80% Lower

In firearms, as with most things, the “cover your ass” rule is firmly in place.

During one of the previous panic buy periods…we bought a no-name 80% that had multiple alignment problems and required re-drilling of pivot pin holes.

Materials

Polymer lowers are easier to machine, but are more prone to scratching and gouging as well as full-on breakage if you aren’t careful. 

Make sure they are reinforced around the buffer tube area as well since that’s where most can fail.

Aluminum comes in two flavors, forged and billet.  

Basically, the only thing you need to know is that forged aluminum is generally considered to be stronger, but almost no-one will get near the stress levels for it to come into play.

80% Arms Lowers
80% Arms Lowers, Billet 6061

There’s also the issue of 6061 vs 7075 aluminum…6061 is softer and will be easier to machine.

7075 is the standard for “real” lower receivers but the difference in strength is so little that I doubt someone could break a 6061.

Plus, 6061 is actually more corrosion resistant.

Coating

One final consideration is the choice between anodized and non-anodized 80% lowers, assuming you’re working with an aluminum lower.  

Personally, I would go with a non-anodized lower because you’re going to be milling out large portions of it and exposing non-anodized metal anyway.

Some 80% AR-15 Receivers
Some 80% AR-15 Receivers

Usually, that means you’re just going to have the thing re-anodized or paint anyway so I’d just go with the cheaper option of the raw aluminum.

Of course, you don’t have to worry about that with polymer as you’re just exposing more of the same polymer as you’re doing your machining.

Best AR-15 80% Lower Receivers

Let’s start with the most popular of 80% lowers…the AR-15.

1. 80% Arms

80% Arms Lowers
80% Arms Lowers

Their AR-15 80% lower is 6061 billet but is cleanly machine and is anodized very well in the two our team has completed.

80% Arms AR-15 Lower
80% Arms AR-15 Lower

Billet gives you the ability to have some slight differences from more mil-spec lowers…such as more aggresive lines which I like.

The 6061 aluminum also made it possible to do deeper milling cuts each time which saves time (more on this in the jigs section).

Plus they work perfectly with 80% Arms’ jig and the finished product has worked in all our tested uppers. Note: full review and video coming soon!

90
at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. James Madison Tactical

Personally, I’m not a fan of polymer lowers.  

It’s a really stupid hangup I have that’s in no way founded off anything rational.  I own Glocks and other polymer-framed guns…but no polymer framed ARs.  

Maybe one day I’ll change that.

If I do, it’ll almost definitely be a James Madison Tactical lower.  I’ve heard nothing but good things from these guys, and I know several 3-Gun and Precision AR shooters that use these lowers.  I’ve shot some of those guns and even competed with one, and I have nothing but nice things to say about it.

Editor's Pick
99.99
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Their manufacturing process is also really cool.  They use their own polymer-fiber blend with special care taken at common stress points to build a really cool, lightweight lower that is corrosion resistant far beyond what you’ll get with a metal lower.

3. Anderson Manufacturing

Anderson Manufacturing is one of the big juggernauts of AR part manufacturers.

With their 7075 80% lowers, you’re buying from people who’ve been making AR parts of years and who sell ridiculous numbers of the things.  

Anderson Arms AR Lower
Anderson Arms AR Lower

There’s a certain comfort in buying from an established, reliable company.  

Personally, I’ve built two ARs off Anderson completed lowers and with the rest of the team we’re probably in the dozens.  

These things are rock solid, and in the case of my first competition gun, have been through hell and back with no issues.

Best Value
50
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you get one of their 80% lowers and you do your part with the machining (it’s the harder 7075 aluminum so go slower)…I have no doubt that you’ll end up with a reliable, well-done product.

4. Polymer80

Polymer80 is the other contender for my first polymer lower, especially if I decide to go the 80% route.  These guys and gals specialize in polymer 80% lowers…hence the name.

Of course…we’ve done tons of their Glock 17 and 19 80% builds.

Various Polymer 80 Glocks
Various Polymer 80 Glocks

They also have a freakin’ ton of cool colors available which is perfect if you like to personalize your builds a bit more.

polymer 80 lowers
Pretty colors!

For me, I like building AR’s not just to shoot, but also for the mechanical challenge that comes with this type of thing.  

Its really fun to take a box of parts and turn it into a working rifle that you can hunt, compete, and even defend yourself with if need be.

The cool thing about Polymer80 lowers, besides the awesome colors, is the jig sets you can get with them.

P80 AR-15 Jig
P80 AR-15 Jig

For $80, you can get the lower, the bits you need, and the jig to guide you…basically, everything but you need except for the drill.  

That,  plus a solid afternoon of work will give you a finished AR lower of your very own.  I particularly like the idea of putting together a lower of my very own with this setup.

So much so, that I think I’m going to get one for myself.

Author's Pick
75
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best AR-10 and AR-9 80% Lower Receivers

1. 80% Arms

There’s not as many AR-10 and AR-9 80% lowers out there so I gotta give it to 80% Arms since we tried them and they work well.

80% Arms Lowers, FCG Pocket
80% Arms Lowers, FCG Pocket

Check out the size difference in the AR-10 80% Lower.

80% Arms AR-10 Lower
80% Arms AR-10 Lower
120
at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And I’m glad the mag latch is already installed in the AR-9 Lower.  YES…it takes Glock mags.

80% Arms 9mm Lower
80% Arms 9mm Lower
120
at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now…onto the jigs!

Best AR 80% Jigs

We’ve built a couple 80% lowers through the years…starting years with a jig where we had to send a money order to some guy.  Or silver dollars…he took those too.

And for the longest time it was the same design…drill a bunch of little holes with your drill press first.

Old AR-15 80% Jig
Old AR-15 80% Jig

Then attempt to “mill” or cut off material in a horizontal manner with a drill press…something that was never meant to do that.

Result…lowers that still worked but took forever (~3-4 hours) and looked gross in the fire control pocket.

Enter the next generation of 80% jigs…where you only need a normal drill and a router.

Note: an 80% lower requires some pretty advanced machining, so the quality, fit, and finish of the final product is going to depend entirely on you. 

1. 80% Arms Easy Jig 2

Hands down the best 80% jig we’ve used is the Easy Jig 2.

Easy Jig 2 and Lowers
Easy Jig 2 and Lowers

We got the multicaliber version which can easily make the AR-15, AR-10, and AR-9 platforms.

Easy Jig 2 and Router
Easy Jig 2 and Router

And that’s the router which basically spins the end mill bit…we used a Ridgid R2401 Router ($90) that didn’t need any extra parts to work with the Easy Jig 2.

We recommended getting the drill bits kit since it does need a special end mill.  Or if you want to save a little money…get the end mill and the other things at Home Depot.

MUCH easier than the older jig designs and only took me about 1.5 hours.

Easy Jig 2 with Router
Easy Jig 2 with Router

Plus it comes with a Shop Vac adapter that easily sucks away all the aluminum chips.  Because that stuff sucks to step on if you don’t clean up very well.

Here’s the final product…

Finished 80% Lower with Easy Jig 2
Finished 80% Lower with Easy Jig 2

A little flaring near the safety area but everything looks much better than my others.

It’s definitely on the pricier side at around $250…but you’re looking to save up to 2.5 hours per lower.  I’d highly recommend just building more (lol) or splitting the cost with friends.

250
at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Or to save a little you can opt for less versatile versions that take care of just the AR-15 and AR-9 (losing AR-10 compatibility).

To see if you’re still down to complete an 80%…check out this video walking through the entire process with the Easy Jig 2.

What’s your take on the Easy Jig 2?

Readers' Ratings

4.97/5 (218)

Your Rating?

2. 5D Tactical Universal 80% Jig

Another contender in the router-based universal jig world is the 5D Tactical Universal Jig.

5D Tactical Universal Jig
5D Tactical Universal Jig

Like the Easy Jig 2, it can do AR-15, AR-9, and AR-10 80% lower receivers.

So far it looks like it has great reviews (and tons of fans in the comments) but is priced a little higher at $289.

We’re looking forward to testing this bad boy out in the future too!

3. Anderson Manufacturing 80% Jig

However, if you still want to do it old school and have a drill press and more time (to save around $70 compared to the AR-15/AR-9 Easy Jig)…Anderson has their 80% jig.

112
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Parting Shots

There you have it, folks.  These are our favorite 80% lower manufacturers AND jigs.

Easy Jig 2 and Lowers
Easy Jig 2 and Lowers

There’s a good amount of choices for 80% lower receivers…from 6061 to 7075.

If you gotta have mil-spec harder 7075 aluminum…go with Anderson.

Best Value
50
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Or if you want an easier milling time…go with 80% Arms.

90
at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you want a polymer lower where you get the jig AND lower for around $80…I like P80 based on my good experiences with their Glock kits.

Author's Pick
75
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

BUT…if you go aluminum…stick with the Easy Jig 2.  We’ve tested it.  And your sanity will thank you.

250
at 80% Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Need to choose other parts to complete your AR-15?  Check our Best AR-15 Lower Parts Kits and also our AR-15 Ultimate Resources.

27 Leave a Reply

  • Mike

    Hmm. Before reading this article I actually thought I could trust the reviews on pew pew. But this felt to bias. Like any other paid commercial. Where are the other jigs like 5D and a bunch of others. Sad.

    4 hours ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Mike, thanks so much for the comments. I can see where you're coming from. The team got really excited at how different the Easy Jig 2 was compared to the old drill press jigs we've used. We'll be updating the article with the 5D and looking to do a hands-on comparison of that one too.

      1 second ago
  • Bird

    Hmmm!!! No 5D Tactical...

    6 hours ago
  • Boxnoiv

    Re the video where the host is interviewing a guy from Brownells: is the host stoned?

    3 months ago
  • Robert Emanuel

    GREAT article - well-explained, BUT - if non-anodized means shiny and not black, how come the weapon in the photo above, identified as "Completed AR15 80% lower, anodized" appears to be NON-anodized?

    7 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Opps, that should read "non-anodized"! Thanks for catching that.

      7 months ago
  • Brandon Blair

    Has anyone built with juggernaut tactical for a AR10? If so how were they? I am looking to build a quality 6.5 Creedmoor. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    8 months ago
  • Aaron

    I'm trying to find an aluminum lower with the features of the juggernaut tactical or the jl billet ones (which i think look great, though i haven't tried them) but WITHOUT the integrated trigger guard.... And obviously, i want it to be a company that isn't some garage operated cnc with a website... If anyone knows of a company producing an 80% lower with threaded takedown pin/ bolt catch's, flared and broached magwells, upper tensioning screws, and an ambi bolt releases, AND with an open trigger guard PLEASE reply. I want to build a high-end AR and i believe that the features i want shouldn't be out of reach because i want to mill it out myself...

    11 months ago
  • Vince Brandt

    5dtactical has got the best one just my opinion

    1 year ago
  • Rob

    Aluminum doesn't rust, so scratching your aluminum lower is not going to lead to rust developing.

    1 year ago
  • Jeffrey Koon

    Only 1 comment/warning - Do Not go to Polymer80!! Have 2 different flavors of their products and neither is properly setup and their jigs are not correct for trigger an/or hammer pin holes. One side on 1 jig was 1/16" off! Closest on 3 jigs is: .009. 2nd, if you clamp their jig onto the 80% and mark out with Sharpie, once you finish machining out FCG you will have a couple problems; 1. cut through on at least 1 side at either trigger or hammer pin region; 2. Opening is not sufficient to properly install trigger/hammer. Also jig piece for trigger hole at bottom is not properly aligned so be gentle. Now onto the main event: A. 556v3 unit - none of the detent holes were drilled and I was not able to find either a 3/32 x 7" or 1/16' x 7" bit to be able to drill out for bolt catch and still have a straight hole. If you follow instructions and jig design, you will have a very, very thin wall or 0 wall for the selector detent. I came up with a solid work around for the takedown/pivot pins and have now even modified my 100% AR to use these. I will try James Madison as I want to have a realistic opportunity to test a polymer lower. I have made many "adjustments" on the Polymer80 products I have and I am now very close to having a G150 finished (ugly but finished) and probably will have the 556v3 finished in another day. I had to use a 1/8" bit to drill for bolt catch and then drill out the bolt catch and make an 1/8" pivot pin and tap the hole to 8-32 and use an allen head set screw. Also, if you take your time, leave more materials than their jig wants, especially at selector detent area, you can use a dremel and gently finish the takedown of materials for trigger, hammer and to make sure detent has plenty of wall. Also be careful of their online PDF instructions (emailed them a month ago now and no changes that I've found) as they leave out important details and they mismark where to and where not to leave materials. Hope this helps you and some of your readers make a more informed decision. I created 2 tickets but only got help with one from Polymer80.

    1 year ago
    • Jack

      I have made 3 Polymer80's, and the worse problem I have found is finding the best tool speed. Another source I know bought a carbide milling bit with great success...far better than the tool steel bits that come with the P80. I am fairly handy with spotting and fixing problems, so I can not argue about the problems you have described, but all 3 of mine are sub moa and completely reliable with no indications of any kind of problems or failure. I did go with a trigger upgrade for each rifle, and am very pleased with them. I have heard real good things about James Madison, and might give one of those a go for a winter project.

      10 months ago
      • Rick

        The lower has ZERO effect on accuracy speaking of the AR15 platform. Only function the lower receiver serves is to hold the FCG parts, basically. Your garbage P80 lowers WILL fail eventually and i certainly hope it isn't at a moment when you need them to defend your life. P80 & all polymer lowers in general are known to fail around where the receiver extension threads into the lower. Only a matter of time. For the author of this article to even include P80 in here is insane. Juggernaut and plain ol' 80% Arms lowers are top notch but most any 80% ALUMINUM lower(Forged or billet) will be fine.

        1 month ago
    • Eric Hung

      Dang, I haven't tried P80 for anything besides their glocks which were great. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      1 year ago
      • Rick

        Good. Don't. P80, Glock frames are great. P80, AR15 lowers are garbage. They are an accident waiting to happen. They WILL fail eventually. A polymer lower does not lend itself well to the AR platform.

        1 month ago
  • GMcD

    If you purchase a pre-anodized 80 Lower, does the trigger pocket/milled our area need to be anodized after milling?

    1 year ago
    • David

      Yes and no, if you want complete protection then yes it should be. However, since it is aluminum to start with and that area doesn't really have anything that needs to be protected - it is easy to get away without doing anything to it. Generally, I would at least throw a coat of spray paint down there.

      1 year ago
  • GUNdude

    to make a 80 % to a 100% the best set up is 5d tactical I know this was about the best 80% lowers but this is the easiest way to get it done and I drop the mic and walk away

    1 year ago
  • Stephen

    Uh, if you buy something that is more than 80% finished, you are buying a firearm. Also, if you have your machinist friend finish an 80% for you and you take possession, you are both in a heap of trouble.

    1 year ago
  • Mjd

    Jl billet best 80% aluminum lower James Madison best 80% polymer lower Both offer AR10 and AR15 My 2 cents

    1 year ago
  • Jake

    Tennessee Arms Co. has an excellent looking lineup of 80% and complete polymer lowers. They've got a threaded brass insert for the buffer tube which takes care of my main worry with poly lowers. I just ordered mine! Should be able to have it all milled out by Christmas.

    1 year ago
  • Wzrd

    Since I’m already milling/routing I like to add PDQ levers to mine. Not cheap compared to standard bolt catch but gives you ambi bolt catch/release.

    1 year ago
  • Jim M.

    I've used 80%arms Gen I jig and 80%arms billeted lower. I love them! FYI, use masking tape and tape a shopvac to the threaded buffer tube port while milling. Thank me later;)

    1 year ago
  • Wzrd

    Never used one but 80percentarms has nice looking billet lowers in AR15 & AR308. I used their new Easy Jig Gen 2 & a router to do my 80%s. Also can get New Frontier Armory style AR9 & AR45 80% lowers now. I have one of each laying around waiting to be built over the winter. The Easy Jig Gen 2 can supposedly do them all. Another cool looking billet 80% maker is Juggernaut Tactical. They offer their lowers with ambi bolt release.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Yup, looking to get my hands on an Easy Jig Gen 2 in the new year!

      1 year ago
  • Rhod

    Interesting you didn’t mention Juggernaut Tactical. Their 80% is loaded with features and are billet, so they’re nice to look at too.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hmm, haven't heard of them yet, thanks for the rec.

      1 year ago
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