Best Ambidextrous AR-15 Lower Receivers & Conversions [2019]

Can you name a single platform as adaptable as the AR-15? 

I certainly can’t.

The AR-15 started as a relatively simple rifle, but back in the 1960s it was a piece of space-age technology.

M16 Progression A1 to A4
From top to bottom the evolution of the American M16 family of rifles: M16A1, M16A2, M4A1, M16A4

As times changed so did the rifle. It keeps changing and evolving and most modern rifles are taking their design cues from the AR-15. 

That’s the good thing about mass production, the products require little craftsmanship and that allows them to be adaptable en-mass.

With the AR-15, the actual legal firearm portion of the firearm is the lower receiver. 

ar lower
Aero Precision Stripped Lowers

Like every other part of the AR-15 the lower has evolved.

One of the larger evolutions has been the creation of ambidextrous lowers.

The AR-15 has been more modular than most, but the standard receiver layout has always gone more or less the same way. It also favored righties. 

1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and LMT Rifle
1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment training with their newly adopted Lewis Machine & Tool MARS-L Fully Ambidextrous Rifles topped with Trijicon ACOG and RMR combo

We’ve gathered some of our favorites at a variety of price points and from our favorite manufacturers. 

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Why An Ambidextrous Lower? 

The most obvious answer for using an ambidextrous lower is that you are left-handed. A left-handed shooter is certainly better served by left-handed shooters.

It gives your normal left-handed shooter the ability to control their rifle like a right-handed shooter. 

A major advantage of the AR-15 system is that due to the brass defector and the design of the rifle, even wrong handed shooters using a right-hand ejection AR-15 won’t get brass in their face.

Brass in the face
Eating brass isn’t fun

There is no need to learn an odd or different manual of arms to learn how to control your weapon. An ambidextrous lower will grant you the ability to easily manipulate your rifle.

Beyond accommodating wrong handed shooters, we can also point out the fact that any shooter, regardless of their dominant side can better control their weapon in a variety of situations. 

Modern shooting techniques has seen shooters learning how to shoot better when accommodating for cover. Part of this is learning to shoot around cover and switching shoulders to do so.

Sometimes it makes sense to switch shoulder to fire around an obstacle and to make the most of your cover. 

An ambidextrous lower allows you to establish good cover regardless of your dominant shoulder and still maintain total control over your weapon. Speaking of cover and odd shooting positions an ambidextrous lower simply offers you more options to get the job done. 

If you are in a state like California and you are looking to do a featureless build, then an ambi lower can make handling the rifle much easier due to the different ergonomics attached to featureless builds. Ambi controls, especially ambi safety levers, are better designed for featureless builds. 

Downsides? 

Everything has a downside, right? Ambidextrous lowers have a couple, at least two I can think of. 

The first is going to be the price associated with ambi lowers.

Cash Cannon

They are certainly a lot more expensive than your standard lower. We live in a day and age where even extremely high-quality lowers have dropped a lot in price.

Ambi lowers haven’t dropped much in price and are quite expensive. 

More than that they are often built by high-end companies who tend to already be on the expensive side. 

The only other thing close to a downside is the fact you are going to have to learn how to utilize the ambidextrous controls. You’ll have to retrain to make the most of these controls, but training means more shooting so I’m not sure how exactly that is a bad thing. 

Best Ambidextrous AR-15 Lowers

We’ll start the list with our favorite lowers, then I’ll talk about the parts you may can add to a normal MIL Spec lower to make it as ambidextrous as possible. In both regards to parts and lowers you have quite a few options to choose from at various price points. 

1. Aero Precision AR-15 Ambi Lower 

The Aero Precision brand is the most affordable of ambidextrous lower receivers. Aero As a company is one of my favorites when I’m trying to find a quality AR component that won’t bend me over a barrel price wise.

The Aero Precision ambi lower allows you to easily mount an ambidextrous safety, an ambi magazine release, and best of all it comes with a PDQ bolt release. 

Aero RECCE on grass
Ken’s home-rolled RECCE build.

PDQ stands for Pretty Damn Quick and it’s an ambidextrous bolt release. On one side you have the standard bolt release you’d find on any standard lower.

On the opposite side is a bolt release that runs horizontally rather than vertically. It’s easy to reach with the thumb and is very intuitive for releasing the bolt. 

The safety selector channel is set for a short-throw safety and Aero suggests the Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety Selector switch.

57
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This reduces the amount of throw and allows you to switch between safe and semi quite rapidly with very little effort. There is also a lightweight variant is you so choose. 

Aero also suggests the Norgon Ambi mag catch, but any ambi mag catch will work. 

The Aero Precision Ambidextrous Lower is forged aluminum and features a black anodized finish. The lower is simple but will do the job without having to be insanely expensive. It’s compatible with all standard uppers and is made with the same quality you expect from Aero Precision. 

What’s your take on the Aero?

Readers' Ratings

5/5 (2)

Your Rating?

2. Rainier Arms Ultramatch Billet Ambi Lower 

A slight step up in the cool factor when it comes to ambi lowers is the Rainier Arms Ultramatch. It’s not a forged upper, but a bullet cut upper. This gives it sharper and cleaner lines and a sleeker overall appearance. 

Rainier Arms Ultramatch Mod2
Rainier Arms also makes awesome Ultramatch Barrels!

There is a slight step in price versus the Aero model but there is an undeniable cool factor when it comes to billet lowers.

The Ultramatch billet lower gives you the ability to install any ambi lower parts you choose, including both standard and 45-degree short throw safeties.

The lower sports a flared mag well which will make reloads slightly faster and more intuitive. It’s a nice touch that I appreciate. Additionally, there is a tensioning screw that will allow for better upper and lower fit, but if you purchase a quality upper the fit will probably be solid regardless. 

240
at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Like most billet uppers it also has an integral trigger guard and is made from 7075 aluminum. It’s finished with black anodization and is perfect for all your lefty needs. 

3. Lewis Machine and Tool MARS-L Lower Receiver 

Lewis Machine and Tool is a well-respected and well renowned AR-15 manufacturer that produces some extremely awesome AR-15s. They are always on the cutting edge of weapon’s development and the MARS-L lower is a testament to that development. 

new zealand army LMT Rifle
New Zealand Army really picked a nice rifle!

The MARS-L lower receiver is a fully ambidextrous lower that offers ambidextrous selector, magazine release, and of course an ambi bolt catch and release. The magazine and bolt catch components are machined into the lower itself for a very appearance. 

The MARS-L comes in both stripped and complete variants, but even the stripped variants come with the ambi components installed. The ambi controls are nearly identical to a standard AR. The bolt releases are both vertical, just separated slightly by placing the right-side bolt release slightly rearward. 

The magazine release is placed slightly lower on the left side of the lower. This is about close as you can get to standard AR controls on an ambidextrous lower receiver.

250
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This is one of the most ergonomic ambidextrous lowers out there. It’s expensive, but also well made. 

4. Knight’s Armament SR-15 IWS 

Bombproof, that’s probably the best way to describe Knight’s Armament rifles and accessories. Knight’s is a legend in the business and has been making a wide variety of weapons for the special op’s community for decades. 

SOPMOD 1.5 Clone
SOPMOD 1.5 Clone featuring a Knights Armament handguard

As a company, they’ve pushed the AR series forward time and time again. Knight’s is still a relatively small, independent company that continues to innovate.

Their lowers are outstanding and as far as I know, all they produce is ambi lowers. 

The SR 15 series are ambidextrous lowers built to some of the most demanding specs imaginable. If you go the Knight’s route for your ambidextrous lower I’d go with a complete lower versus a stripped lower. 

If you do with a complete lower you get all Knight’s Armament lower parts. This includes the Knight’s ambi safety selector, magazine release, and bolt release.

Additionally, you also get the Knight’s Armament 2 stage match grade trigger which is an awesome upgrade.  

325
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Knight’s Armament lower receiver positions the magazine release almost identically on each side and the bolt release on the right side runs vertically instead of horizontally. The entire set-up has set the standard for ambi lower receivers. 

860
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Knight’s provides some of the highest levels of quality control possible. Knight’s ambi lowers are far from cheap, but they are likely the best you can possibly obtain. They are forged lowers and black anodized for that mil-spec look.                

5. LWRC International Ambi AR-15 lower 

LWRC wins for having the coolest name for an acronym. LWRC stands for Land Warfare Resources Corporation which sounds like a cyberpunk company from Deus Ex.

LWRC is an awesome company that has done a lot of research on the development of the AR rifle. 

John testing the LWRC International AR-15!

They produce several proprietary designs for militaries across the world, as well as the American civilian population.

The LWRC AR-15 ambi lower comes as both a stripped and complete model, the complete seems to be the better deal overall. 

Complete with two vertical bolt releases, massive magazine releases, and quick and easy safeties.

The LWRC lower also has an extended trigger guard and built-in QD slots near the rear of the receiver. These M6IC receivers are extremely well made and while they are just AR-15 receivers you can immediately tell an LWRC model from any other.

550
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

They have a unique styling and enhanced magazine well that makes reloading quick and easy. The controls are easy to reach and activate and make running the gun one of the most ergonomic experiences possible.      

What If I Want to Mod My Regular Lower?

Maybe you already have an AR built and ready and you love it. You’ve already spent the money to build a great lower receiver but you want to make it ambidextrous.

The good news is that this is an option. Admittedly these options are not as intuitive as a true ambidextrous lower but they do add a good degree of ambidextrous design to any old standard MIL-SPEC lower. 

Take note I said MIL-Spec lower. There are lots of different crazy types of lowers out there and some of these parts may not fit in polymer lowers, or custom-built billet lowers, etc. 

Best AR-15 Ambi Conversion Parts

1. Norgon Mag Release 

The Norgon mag release is the original, often copied, ambidextrous magazine release. It’s easy to install and allows for quick and easy mag swaps with either hand. One side is your normal AR magazine release, and this does allow you to use something crazy like a Battle Arms Development enhanced mag release. 

80
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Installation is easy and is not much different than a standard AR-15 magazine release. Once installed you’re ready to rock and roll with either hand and you’ll have no problems as a lefty.  

2. Knights Armament Ambi Magazine Release 

The Knight’s ambi magazine release is a bit different than the Norgon. It extends a second arm rearward on the left side of the receiver. This second arm has a textured pad that is used to drop the magazine. It allows you to easily manipulate the weapon with any hand and in any situation. 

60
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Knight’s system is an all in one kit that replaces your standard magazine release in any standard AR-15 lower receiver. It’s quick and easy to install and before you know you’ll have an ambidextrous magazine release. 

3. Battle Arms Development Safety 

Ambidextrous safeties are all the rage and are the easiest ambidextrous additions to any AR-15. The Battle Arms Development, or BAD Safeties come in a variety of configurations and colors. This includes the standard and lightweight models. 

57
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The BAD safeties are all ambidextrous and very easy to install. They install like an average selector switch and then you attach the other side to the main mount with an allen key. Don’t forget to add Loc-Tite to keep everything good. 

4. Knights Armament Ambidextrous Safety Kit 

The BAD safeties are great but a lot of people dislike the fact that left-handed safety portions are smaller than the normal safety lever.

Some prefer some, some don’t. If you want two full-sized safety selectors go with Knight’s Armament. 

This Ambi safety kit comes with a short and a long lever so you still run a shorter lever if you so choose. This kit drops in and installs very easily. The levers are textured and made of steel.

62
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Knight’s Armament drop in safety kit is a quick and easy way to convert your lower to an ambi safety. 

5. Troy Ambidextrous Bolt Release

The bolt release isn’t as simple as switching out the magazine release and safety. You can machine the receiver and install a PDQ device, or you can install the Troy ambi bolt release.

The Troy ambi bolt release replaces the standard bolt release and then pushes a lever into the trigger guard. 

A simple press of this lever shoots the bolt closed. The lever sits inside the trigger guard and makes it easy for either hand to accentuate the bolt release. A simple movement of your trigger finger makes it easy to send the bolt home. 

Getting Ambidextrous

Ambidextrous everything is my motto. Modern rifles like the MCX and SCAR have adopted the ambidextrous model and it’s good to see the AR-15 can still keep up.

sig mcx pistol
Sig MCX Pistol

As the most modular rifle on the planet its not surprising it’s capable of keeping with the younger guns out there. 

Are ambi lowers worth it to you? Let us know below! For more awesome ways of improving your AR-15, take a look at the Best AR-15 Upgrades!

1 Leave a Reply

  • William King

    Spikes tactical also has an ambi lower.

    1 second ago
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