Best AR-15 Lower Receivers [2021]: Budget to Baller

We know what you’re thinking right now:

Why are some AR-15 lower receivers $45 and some $200+?

Couple AR Lowers
Couple AR Lowers

How do I know what’s the best for me?

It’s not as intimidating as it seems, so don’t worry!

Skeletonized AR-15 Lower
Skeletonized AR-15 Lower, One-Off (sorry)

And we’ve built our fair share of AR’s with a variety of lowers!

Lots of AR-15 Uppers
Lots of AR-15 Uppers

We’re going to cover the differences in manufacturing, materials, and weight to help you pick the best lower for your budget and build.

AR-15 Complete Lowers
AR-15 Complete Lowers

Table of Contents

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Manufacturing Processes

The overwhelming majority of lower receivers are made of aluminum.

While there are other options such as steel, titanium, and polymer, we’ll focus mostly on the three ways aluminum is made into an AR-15 receiver.

We’ll touch on polymer also, but I’ll try to be brief.

First, what are those numbers in front of the aluminum?

6061-T6 vs 7075-T6 Aluminum Receivers

There are two types of aluminum alloys that are used in making lowers.  6061-T6 and 7075-T6.

So, what’s the difference?

Simply: strength and corrosion resistance

7075 vs 6061, Proto Labs
7075 vs 6061, Proto Labs

7075-T6 is nearly twice as strong as 6061-T6.  Naturally, there will be a cost difference between the two.

However, 6061 is more corrosion resistant.  But unless your receiver is bare aluminum, this part shouldn’t affect your decision too much.

Some 80% AR-15 Receivers
Some 80% 7075 AR-15 Receivers

When planning your build, think about how much that strength is worth to you.

Want our advice? 

The difference nowadays between 7075 and 6061 is so minimal that we like the peace of mind that comes with 7075.

But if budget dictates 6061…you’re fine too.

Now onto the three ways of manufacturing a receiver.

Cast Aluminum

The casting process is very basic.

Pour the molten aluminum into a mold and, once cooled, you have a lower receiver ready for final machining.

Aluminum Castings (Probably Not an AR Lower, US Castings
Aluminum Castings (Probably Not an AR Lower, US Castings

Since the aluminum is poured into the cast as a liquid the final product will have a loose crystalline structure making it the weakest form of the three types of aluminum.

It is still strong enough for the receiver to be perfectly safe without fear of malfunction.

However, it is the least desirable of the processes.

Billet Aluminum

Think of it this way, the manufacturer is Michelangelo and the billet bar stock is the marble.

The lower starts out as a block of pure aluminum that ends up on various machines that mill it into a finished product.

Blocks of Aluminum, AR15.com (Shadow Grey)
Blocks of Aluminum, AR15.com (Shadow Grey)

It is just sculpting with metal.

Because the aluminum remains solid billet lowers are stronger than cast and have a finer finish.

If you’re looking to build a “show gun” consider a billet lower!

They also have the added benefit of being easily customized by manufacturers since they start with raw aluminum.

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

This allows for creative changes to be made such as a skull-shaped magazine well, built-in trigger guards, and extra machining for weight savings.

This Seekins lower ($250) shows what cool things can be done with billet.

Seekins Gen2 Billet Lower
Seekins Gen2 Billet Lower

Forged Aluminum

The strongest and most common of the three types.

Take some aluminum and smash it into submission.

That’s essential what’s going on in this process.

Machines press a block of aluminum into the desired shape and then it gets machined to finish it off.  The compression of the aluminum increases its strength.

Anderson Arms AR Lower
Anderson Arms AR Lower

This is ideal for an AR-15 you plan on using often and hauling around with you.

Ambidextrous Lowers

This is a term you’ll see pop up now and then generally on premium lowers.

If you see a brand making lowers for one price, then see some lowers for 2x or 3x the price from the same brand — chances are the expensive ones are ambi.

Ambidextrous lowers mean they have controls on both sides of the lower. How, what, and where depends on the lower.

There are no standard naming conventions for these features so you’ll often have to inspect each lower on their own to see what type they are.

The bare minimum of an ambi lower is one that has a safety selector on both sides.

Reducing Recoil for an AR-15 trigger and side
Example of an ambi safety

A step up from those will have a magazine release AND a safety selector on both sides.

CA HD AR SI Ambi Mag Release
Strike Industries ambi mag release on a Aero Precision lower

Good ones will have the mag release, the safety, and a bolt release on both sides.

The best, and in my opinion the only ones that should have the right to call themselves ambidextrous, will have the mag release, the safety, the bolt release, and a bolt catch on both sides.

Rainier ambi lower
Rainier Arms bolt release only ambi lower

Note the difference between a bolt release and a bolt catch. Often an ambi lower will let you release your bolt from both sides, but will only let you lock it back from one side. That’s useful, but it isn’t the best.

Aero Precision Ambi
Aero Precision Ambi lower using a PDQ Ambi- Bolt Release/Stop

Okay, But Why?

Simple, so you can use all of the controls from both sides of the rifle.

If this is purely a range toy, then ambi really doesn’t matter. But for competition, SHTF, or home defense — I really recommend looking at ambi lowers or at least adding a ambi safety and mag to your normal lower.

You never know when you’ll be hurt, when you’ll need to switch sides when you’ll have your hands full with something or someone els.

The ability to manipulate your rifle from both sides have benefits that will only present themselves when you truly need them.

Polymer Lowers

Because of the growing popularity of polymer lowers, it’s worth talking about the pros and cons, how they are generally made, and why you might want one… or might not want one.

History Of The Polymer Lower

Surprisingly, polymer lowers really aren’t new. Colt was playing around with the design in the late ‘60s, it didn’t get past the testing phases — but they still were the first.

Polymer lowers would languish and be mostly ignored for several decades but the idea eventually came back.

hello boys I'm back
Polymer lowers, colorized, 2021, probably

Plastic is cheaper than aluminum, easy to work with, and lighter. So on paper, it makes for a good material for a non-wear part like the AR-15 lower receiver.

Is It Strong Enough?

This is where we run into some issues. If you take the specs for a standard AR-15 lower and try to just make it out of polymer, you’re going to have a bad time.

Failure points like the walls around where the safety detent goes are very thin and prone to breaking.

Poly lower broken detent
Broken wall for the safety selector detent on a polymer lower. This lower is retired now and lives on our “shame” shelf.

Where the buffer tube connects to the lower is another weak point, and even the threads for the buffer tube is often a problem and wear quickly if the buffer tube is replaced more than a few times.

There are other weak points but you get the idea.

To combat this, you need a lower that is designed to be a polymer lower. You can’t just take AR-15 lower specs and switch to plastic.

Overall though, the problem with these designs is that they are just too much weakness for not enough gain.

silly free weights
Less weight beats whatever the hell this is…

A standard aluminum stripped lower is about 8.5 ounces, a polymer stripped lower that is decently designed is about 5.5 ounces.

3 ounces really isn’t much weight savings and pre-covid the price wasn’t much different either, maybe $10 difference.

The Monolithic Polymer Receiver

Here is the game-changer.

While the difference between a stripped Al lower and a striped poly lower might only be a few ounces, when you make the entire lower — the grip, the stock, and the receiver, out of polymer, then you can save some major weight.

A complete aluminum lower (buttstock, grip, LPK, trigger) weighs around 2.5 to 2.8-pounds. Something like the KE Arms KP-15 complete lower (buttstock, grip, LPK, trigger) weighs 1.7-pounds.

ke arms
KE Arms KP-15 Complete Lower

A full pound or close to it is some real weight savings.

Making the entire lower out of polymer also allows you to design it so that everything is strong enough, often stronger than an aluminum lower because it’s all one part.

There are some downsides, but there are a lot of upsides too.

Sadly, there are very few options in this category — but more on that later.

Best AR-15 Lower Receivers

Most websites are going to tell you to weigh it out and decide on your own.

Modded AR-15s
Modded AR-15s

Here at Pew Pew Tactical, we’d rather show you some examples and talk about them.

Frankly, we won’t cover cast lowers.  For two easy reasons: they’re weak and I think they’re ugly.  Never have I used a cast receiver in a build and don’t think you should either.

Now let’s get on with our top picks!

To be clear though, these are not in any set order. All of them are great, some are better than others for different reasons.

1. Palmetto State Armory

Simple forged lowers for a great price, they also offer a host of complete lower options for basically every type of AR-15 you can think of.

PSA AR-15 Lowers
PSA AR-15 Lowers

We’ve used and reviewed just about every AR-15 and AR-10 rifle that PSA makes and their lowers have never given us even a hint of a problem.

They even have some awesome limited edition lowers, such as their “Space Rider” stripped lower!

PSA Space Rider Lower
PSA Space Rider Lower

If there’s a current event or meme…they’ll have you covered.  On the flipside…they also have “stealth” lowers that I like.

Otherwise you can’t go wrong with their regular ones.  And if you don’t feel like building the lower…check out their complete lowers.

40
at PSA

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on PSA lowers?

Readers' Ratings

4.89/5 (863)

Your Rating?

2. Anderson Manufacturing

Here it is, the Honda of lower receivers.

Testing Vortex Viper PST II
Anderson Lower

Anderson Lowers are cheap ($42 for stripped and $120 for complete), they’re forged 7075-T6, and they’re often available.

My accuracy testing lower uses the Anderson and Hiperfire trigger (Best AR-15 Triggers).

I have used their lowers on countless builds and have had zero issues with them.

If you scratch it while building, who cares?  Do not let the price fool you, these are quality basic lowers good for 90% of your potential builds as a hobby shooter.  I have four of these in my safe right now just waiting to be built.

Plus there’s also “stealth” versions where they don’t have the horse logo if that makes you feel better!

Most Affordable
42
at Kentucky Gun Company

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Aero Precision

My buddies and I have built at least a dozen ARs with Aero lowers.  They are all running just fine.

Aero AR-15 Lowers
Aero AR-15 Lowers

Aero Precision lowers ($90) are just like Anderson’s (forged 7075-T6) but their logo is better looking.

You can pair it with an Aero stripped upper receiver too which is our current favorite.

Aero Pew Pew Lower
Aero Pew Pew Lower

And every once in a while Aero will release their Pew Pew lower ($105).  Don’t worry it doesn’t automatically make you able to switch to Pew Pew Pew…though I can dream.

PLUS…there’s an adjustable screw for Gen 2 models that makes a tighter fit with your upper…no more rattling around!

Aero Lower Gen 2 Tension Screw
Aero Lower Gen 2 Tension Screw

My newest competition build utilizes an Aero FDE Gen 2 lower receiver.

BSF Barrel Testing, Round 2
Aero FDE Lower

Can’t wait for some future builds with more of them…my personal favorite for most builds.

Oh…and now we have a full review on Aero’s M4E1 uppers and build kits using…you guessed it…Aero lowers.

Check out the full review of the M4E1 and all the parts used in the build.

4. Battle Arms Development

How cool is this?

Best Lightweight Lower
269
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The B.A.D. lightweight lower ($269)  looks like something from Starship Troopers.

Lightweight builds are all the rage right now.  Compare the BAD weight of 6.84-ounces to Anderson’s 10.88-ounces and you’ve shed a quarter-pound in just the lower!

Also made of 7075-T6 aluminum, this lightweight beauty would be great for someone building a race gun.

5. F1 Firearms

This might not be the lightest at 9.4-ounces…but it’s definitely the coolest looking.

Most Lightweight Lower
230
at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

But one thing is for sure…F1’s billet lower ($230) brings some style to the competition shooting game.

Couple it with an even more insane upper receiver to save a ton of ounces.

F1 Receiver Combo
F1 Receiver Combo

6. Lewis Machine & Tool Company MARS-L

A truly ambi lower, the MARS-L is in our editor’s opinion the greatest lower on the market right now. 

This is the same pattern of lower that New Zeland adopted as their standard issue rifle and it comes with some great features.

1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and LMT Rifle
1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and LMT Rifle

First and foremost, this is truly completely ambidextrous. Every control can be used from both sides, including the bolt release and stop.

They are also proprietary to the MARS-L, not just aftermarket parts slapped on a standard lower sold for 4x the price.

Downside of all of that is that these are not cheap and they are often hard to find. LMT often has these back-ordered for 6 months or more at a time. If you see one for sale, get it fast!

289
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

They never stay on the shelves for long.

7. KE Arms KP-15 Monolithic Polymer Lower

These are barely on the market and almost none of them are in the wild just yet.

ke arms
KE Arms KP-15

And as such, we have no personal experience with them. But we do have a couple on order so when they get here… we’ll let you know.

That said — the KE Arms KP-15 was designed by KE Arms with the help of Ian McCollum and Karl Kasarda from InRangeTV based on their What Would Stoner Do 2017/2020 projects.

If you’re interested in those, I strongly recommend their videos on YouTube because it’s an awesome project.

Basically, this is a monolithic polymer lower that is designed to be such in every way. From the ground up this is meant to be exactly what it is. Strong, durable, lightweight, and reasonably priced.

Based on the testing and feedback we’ve read about it — we pre-ordered one. We’ll update with more info once we get done testing it!

110
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

8. Brownells Retro Lowers

Okay, there really isn’t anything special about these lowers, except that they are patterned after lowers from long ago. The AR-15 lower has changed in small ways over the years and these are throwback lowers to those bygone designs.

BRN-10
Their retro line also includes old school AR-10s!

Would I put one on a modern home defense rifle? Not unless I couldn’t find a normal lower.

But I would use them on a clone build like an old school M16A1, XM16, or early Colt M4 build!

They look good, they’re well made, and they’re fun. Plus, they are a lot cheaper than trying to source originals.

125
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

9mm AR-15 Lowers

If we had to choose one…it’d be the PSA PX-9 lower that takes Glock mags.

PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver
PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver

See how it already looks different from regular AR-15 lowers? It’s got an ejector built in and a longer mag release.

PSA PX-9 Magazine Release
PSA PX-9 Magazine Release
209
at PSA

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

We cover all the differences you’ll see in pistol caliber AR lowers and the rest of our choices in Best 9mm AR Lower Receivers.

Others

But the ones I see at the gun store are not on the list?

Lots of Lowers, Precise Shooter
Lots of Lowers, Precise Shooter

To provide you with information and direction, the above recommendations were selected without persuasion.

There are countless other places who manufacture and machine lower receivers.  There are three things you should keep in mind when shopping around for them: material, process, and reputation of the manufacturer.

A good place to start for manufacturer reputation is with our AR-15 Buyer’s Guide.  If their complete rifle is good…chances are their lowers are good too.

You can then cross-check against what is in stock at your local store so you can save on shipping.  Or check out the full list of lowers from Brownells and Rainier Arms (for cooler billet ones).

Conclusion

Ultimately you’ll get a feel for each company and find favorites, as I have.

Some people prefer different logos or roll marks, some have brand loyalty, and others only worry about the price of the lower.

Complete AR-15 Lowers
Complete AR-15 Lowers

There are many who choose a forged lower over the pricier billet lowers using the simple mantra “a lower, is a lower, is a lower.”

If I had to choose one lower for the rest of my builds…I’d go with the Aero.

Editor's Pick (Forged)
60
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

That’s what Uncle Sam taught me was the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Dwight KISS
Dwight KISS

Now that you’re armed with enough knowledge to help you sort through the haystack and narrow your search get out there and find what works for you.

Finish your lower with our Best Lower Parts Kits and also the AR-15 Resource Guide for all other parts.  Or…fancy completing an 80% lower receiver?  Check out our Best 80% Lowers & Jigs article.

Easy Jig 2 and Lowers
Easy Jig and Lowers

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57 Leave a Reply

  • Matthew Howard

    Aero lowers are great if you buy only aero parts, otherwise they are junk. They are already expensive and will cost you alot more in tge long run!

    3 weeks ago
  • Jeff

    The original article is a couple years old if you look back at the comments so the "prices accurate at time of writing" is technically true. I did manage to secure an Aero M4E1 stripped lower for $90 at Primary Arms a couple weeks ago. Out of stock now however. Keep looking around.

    1 month ago
  • Chris Crumley

    Where did you get your prices from? Because I am not seeing ANY prices that reflect your article.

    2 months ago
  • AznMike

    Lol, never thought I'd see the Achievement Hunters on this website.

    2 months ago
  • Big W

    Thanks, Pew Pew Tactical. I appreciate all of your reviews.

    I'm kinda new to the AR 15 world and recently did my first AR build. I used an Aero upper/lower, and a Sig Sauer Bravo3 based on your reviews — It came out awesome and shoots like a champ.

    Keep up the great work!

    2 months ago
  • Jon

    Thanks for the guide Cameron, it's really helpful in preparing to put together a first time build. Looking at options online I came across a polymer lower, the JMT AR-15 80% Gen 2 Polymer Lower. Do you have any experience with this type of lower? If not, would you be willing to test one on a new build and give us your thoughts?

    Thanks for all the great info pewpewtacital! It's all been very helpful for a noob like myself.

    3 months ago
    • James

      Jon, I used a JMT Gen 2 Lower as the start of my second build. I now have about 300 rounds down range with it and have had no issues. Seems quite solid. My problem with the Polymer lowers isn't with the lower itself so much as the cheap jigs that come with them. This was the case with both the Polymer 80 lower and the JMT lower. But both worked out fine. Go slow and get all the right tools. When drilling trigger pin holes and others plunge once and be done.

      2 months ago
  • August

    I stumbled upon a pew pew special edition AP lower online the other day. I felt so lucky, I had to buy, now this beauty is in my lap waiting to be my first build.

    8 months ago
  • 4200RPM

    I notice that many, many times when reading, and researching, and trying to comprehend some metallurgy, or engineering, gas pressures etc. when I learn a new tech term, and google to learn more, the Pew Pew site is usually in the top 6 of the search results.
    Hrmmm, wonder why that is.
    Thanks you guys, and of course Mr. Corley for all the good basic info to stay at least semi-cognizant of 'WTHeck' with this platform.

    9 months ago
  • marion Hart

    Thank you for your service. I am US Army Retired (31 1/2) years. I was a Cavalry Scout as well. I build my own AR 15's also. Thank you for your service to our country.

    11 months ago
  • Michael L

    Thanks Cameron for the informational article touching on the characteristics of each manufacturing methods. Now I am able to make more educated decisions when building an AR. We appreciate you sharing your insights with us.

    1 year ago
  • Todd

    That funky spot on the Anderson slick uppers is a "feature" on all uppers, even my Viet Nam era upper. You just notice it because there isn't a cover there. Whoever made the forgings changed the rear to delete the forward assist, but nothing around the ejection port. On a "normal" upper, that extra lump of metal gets some machining and is somewhat hidden by the ejection port cover.

    1 year ago
  • Joe

    7075 80% lower for the win, for sooo many reasons.

    1 year ago
  • DENVER V JOHNSON

    I HAVE AND ESSENTIAL ARMS RIFLE
    THAT HAS A CAST LOWER RECEIVER
    FROM KROTZ SPRINGS LOUISIANA
    I WAS THERE WHEN MR. VON JOHNSON STARTED MAKING THESE LOWER RECEIVER
    BACK THEN THERE WAS NOT BUT A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE MAKING LOWER RECEIVER BACK IN THE EARLY 80
    AND I HAVE DROPPED THIS WEAPON
    AND ABUSED THESE WEAPON
    TO SEE EXACTLY WHAT AND HOW IT WOULD HOLE UP
    AND I ALSO HAD A COLT SPI THAT I DID THE VERY SAME TEST TO
    AND THE COLT SPI ENDED UP HAVING A CRACK IN THE MAGAZINE WELL
    AS FOR AS THE ESSENTIAL ARMS LOWER RECEIVER
    ESPECIALLY WERE THE MAGAZINE WELL WAS
    WAS THICKER IN WIDTH THAN MY COLT SPI
    IF I AM WRONG PLEASE SET ME STRAIGHT
    BUT THE LOWER RECEIVER HAS NO PRESSURE ON IT
    UNLIKE THE UPPER RECEIVER
    AM I RIGHT ARE WRONG
    BECAUSE I HAVE USED THIS WEAPON
    FOR EVERYTHING THAT YOU YOU COULD IMAGINE WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM AT ALL FOR OVER THIRTY PLUS YEARS NOW
    AND WHEN I WAS IN THE GUN BUSINESS
    THESE LOWER WERE IN VERY HIGH DEMAND
    THE DALLAS TEXAS SWAT TEAM
    ACTUALLY STARTED USING THESE LOWER RECEIVER ESPECIALLY WITH THE 20 ROUND MAGAZINE OVER THE COLT LOWER RECEIVER
    BECAUSE WHEN IN TRAINING
    AND THE OFFICER HAD TO DROP TO THE GROUND IN A HURRY
    AND THEN 20 ROUND MAGAZINE WOULD HIT SOMETHING HARD
    LIKE CONCRETE OR A ROCK OR ANYTHING HARD
    THE COLT LOWER RECEIVER WERE CRACKING IN THE MAGAZINE WELL
    CAUSEING SEVERE PROBLEMS
    MR. VON JOHNSON OF ESSENTIAL ARMS RETRIED BECAUSE OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS
    AND THERE WAS NO ONE WHO WANTED TO CONTINUE WITH THE BUSINESS
    I KNOW IN THIS ARTICLE ABOUT LOWER RECEIVER
    IT IS SAID CAST TO BE THE WEAKEST OF THE THREE RECEIVER
    AND I AM REALLY NOT DISPUTING THAT
    BUT AS FOR AS MYSELF I NEVER EVER HAVE HAD ANY PROBLEMS
    AND HAS OF THE THE OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PLUS THAT WAS SOLD
    I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NEVER EVER HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT ANYONE SENDING ANY
    LOWER RECEIVER BACK
    AND WE WERE CLOSE FRIENDS
    BUT I KNOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED WITH BETTER TECHNOLOGY
    BUT AS FOR MYSELF I WOULD PUT MY LIFE ON THESE LOWER RECEIVER
    BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN USING THESE LOWER RECEIVER SINCE THE EARLY 1981 OR 1982
    SO AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
    THEY ARE STILL GOING STRONG
    BUT I WOULD STILL APPRECIATE IT
    IF YOU ARE ANYONE WHO IS READING THIS
    TO GIVE ME THERE OPTION OF WHAT I HAVE AND WHAT THEY THINK
    NOW THAT MY CLOSE FRIEND IS NO LONGER IN THE GUN BUSINESS
    I WILL BE LOOKING FOR THE NEWEST VERSION OF THE LOWER RECEIVER
    AND I HAVE ALWAYS APPRECIATED THE OPTION OF THE PEOPLE
    WHO ARE WRITING THESE ARTICLES
    I AM AND OLD DISABLED VETERAN
    AND I REALLY LOVE TO SEE ALL THE NEW GUN PRODUCTS THAT ARE COMING ON THE MARKET
    THANK YOU FOR SUCH A GREAT ARTICLE ON LOWER RECEIVER AND ALL THE OTHER ARTICLE
    THAT I READ ON A REGULAR BASIS
    AND HAVE A VERY BLESSED DAY

    THANK YOU
    DENVER

    1 year ago
    • Roc

      Breath...

      1 year ago
    • Randall S McKenzie

      I won't read anything written in all caps with little to no punctuation. Why do people do this?

      1 year ago
      • Infidel

        They may be gun savvy, but not computer, or English class savvy.

        1 year ago
      • George Cullen

        Probably because they don’t know any different. The man wrote that he is elderly, disabled and a veteran. So, in my book, those three facts increase my respect and compassion for him.
        If he wants to write in all caps, God bless him. Caps all day it is!
        We can all learn to have a little more compassion. Someday we’re gonna be right where he is. Lord willing and the crick don’t rise. CHEERS!

        11 months ago
    • Jason

      I found it interesting enough, he says cast was good enough for him and Dallas Texas SWAT. Just imagine some humble guy at a hardware store parts counter is writing it on the checkout computer with his pointer finger.

      1 year ago
  • Ryan

    Any reviews on the polymer lowers that are coming out now?

    2 years ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      I've heard amazing things about GWAC, the only poly lower I have is a Tennessee Arms lower. I'm not a huge fan, mine had a lot of fitment and finishing issues.

      2 years ago
  • Steve

    Beware of American Muskets Billet Lowers - I have one, it is basically an expensive AR lower shaped paperweight - they have ZERO customer service skills and use childish memes when you contact them about their defective product.
    The hole for the front pin is slightly too low, so an upper cannot be properly mounted.
    It is off just enough that you can see through the gap between the upper and lower at the rear when you hold it up to the light.
    Tried 6 different manufacturer's uppers on it with the same results.

    2 years ago
  • Brad Cobb

    It is true, as you've noted in the article above, that cast aluminum is not as strong as forged aluminum, but did you know that in the 1950s and 1970's they developed zinc aluminum alloys?   These are much better for making lowers, and are designed for the sand casting methods that most DIY Homebrew hobbyist foundries use.  

    When comparing zinc aluminum alloys with forged aluminum, forging has no particular advantages, and with home DIY anodizing and etching, it's possible to come up with a lower that's every bit as good as a Factory forged aluminum lower.   As far as the finish that you come out with, this depends upon what anodizing process you use, and the level of polishing that you want to apply.  

    I like the look of a dull, black-matte finish, but that's my personal preference; to achieve this effect, you would use drain cleaner (lye) to leach into the zinc aluminum, and black RIT dye in the anodizing process, using a battery charger as power supply, witness the plethora of YouTube DIY videos on this subject  :-)

    FYFI https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_aluminium

    2 years ago
  • John Cavanaugh

    I did not see any AR 10 lowers. I have shot AR 15 in competition for some time and decided to move to 308. I am currently owning an M1a that is accurate and a Precision semi 308 which is a great rifle. I would like to build a very good 308, My other rifles are very good I just want to build a 309.

    2 years ago
    • David

      This is our picks for best AR-15 lowers. We have a separate article for AR-10 lowers.

      2 years ago
  • Jared Stull

    I have 3 Anderson lowers on all 3 of my builds. All 3 very tight matchups with my uppers no slop, no play. I paid $33 ea not including shipping and FFL transfer fee's. None were "scratch & dent" specials either. I did very extensive research before I did my builds and I agree that Anderson should get top pick for "Best bang for your buck" I'll probably never need a, "High Speed Low Drag, super Tacticool" AR-15 so Anderson it is! My AR builds individually cost less than the 2A Arms Lower. I'm sure the 2A Arms is of the highest "quality" one can buy. But I'd rather have an AR for each family member when we go shoot than a $1000 AR that I don't want scratched or touched. I'm helping 2 buddies build AR's they both opted for the Anderson lowers. In your review of the Aero Precision lower you state they are just like the Anderson lowers but their logo is better looking. WHAT?! Really? $33 for an Anderson or $90 for an Aero? I'll save the $57 and buy 7 or 8 CPD aluminum mags.

    2 years ago
    • Ljs

      I have 3 anderson lowers. All of them were sloppy. One on a stag arms upper , one on a psa upper , and one on a rugged upper.

      1 year ago
  • George Quintanilla

    I want to buy an Anderson Lower first and then an Upper. But not at the same time because of budget. Can I buy a Lower now and then get an Upper 2 months later and will they fit. It's all because of my budget. Cannot afford to get them at the same time. . Hope you can help me.

    3 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      They will almost 100% "fit" if mil-spec but might have some slop. It won't affect accuracy or anything but you might have some movement/sound that bothers some people. Even if you buy together unless it says matched pair you might still have the same problem.

      3 years ago
    • Chuck

      I just built my first AR. I picked up a Anderson lower. A month later fuck the rest of the upper and lower build kit from PSA. All the parts I got for it fit like a champ.

      2 years ago
  • Keith

    I believe so, just makes sure of what you have and buy accordingly to the extra parts.. Meaning Mil spec, or not. Those parts do not match. It's either one or the other

    3 years ago
  • Stuff

    F1 skeletonized receivers are heavier than standard milspec.

    3 years ago
  • George Quintanilla

    Does any AR Lower fit any other brand upper and viece versa? Are do they have to be by brand only? I need an answer, please..

    3 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      It almost always will if they are mil-spec. Fit/slop might differ though.

      3 years ago
    • Todd

      You might want to buy your upper and lower together. Even from the same maker you can have fit and finish problems. I have Anderson Lowers and Anderson slick side uppers. They fit and work, but there is an EXTERNAL spot where the two don't exactly jibe with each other. The problem also exists with the Spikes lowers I have. It's something funky with the uppers. It's purely cosmetic, but if you have ODC it'll drive you nuts. Finishes also vary, but you can match up your upper lower and handguards with Cerakote or Durakote and give everything a uniform finish and custom look.

      3 years ago
  • Rich

    I know you can't touch every company but was curious if you looked at Mega Arms and if there was any reason they weren't mentioned. great article. Thanks,

    3 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hey Rich, I've heard of them but simply have never used one.

      3 years ago
    • Onidah Arms

      I have built 2 builds on the Mega, Great sets! They have sold out now and my goto is Zev Tech. or Aero.

      1 year ago
  • John B

    Thanks for the write up...do you know who machined the "model skeleton "lower in the photo ?

    3 years ago
  • Miguel

    I really really love New Frontier Armory's C-4 Billet set. You can purchase the set for a mere $230 ish. The lower features an integrated trigger guard, upper-to-Lower tension screw, threaded bolt-catch screw, and a threaded plug for take-down hole. The lower weighs in at 10.4 oz & the upper at 12. oz, not ideal for a lightweight build but definitely great quality for an affordable billet set up which I believe this set to be just as good as the $500 sets. They also make a polymer ar 15 receiver set which is supposed to be very durable. They also make 9mm, 80% & forged receivers. Want an upper receiver with a side charging? They make em in 9mm & 556. I'm currently building an ar 15 battle rifle using New Frontier Armory's C-4 Billet receiver set and I'm very pleased with the quality & look.

    3 years ago
  • Tony

    Hi Eric,

    I've rapidly become a fan of your articles and advise - thank you! I'm a huge fan of the AK platform's ability to shrug off any and all environmental factors and still go bang every time. I'm considering building my first AR platform rifle and I have a question for you: What feature(s) or component(s) should I put the most money/focus into in an attempt match this level of reliability?

    Thank you!

    3 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hey Tony...we're working on a series of the best parts/features for a custom AR-15 build with a couple tiers of different budgets...so stay tuned!

      3 years ago
  • Wesley

    I have done several builds off the Aero Precision upper/lowers. Really like there M4/M5 Enhanced upper, strong & makes a simple build. If you want to get a little wild go with the C.O.P upper. Did one build with this. Look out for there specials or shop dealers & you can beat the web site retail.

    3 years ago
  • M71

    Anderson all the way, 356 Builds by Customers in Standard and RF-85. Can't go wrong and why pay more..K.I.S.S. fro a FFL and Operator

    3 years ago
  • Austin

    My first build was a 16" .223 that started with an Anderson complete lower. Love it! Now I'm building a 8.5" .300BO pistol starting with an Anderson stripped lower.

    3 years ago
  • Chad

    Well written article. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I run a YouTube channel called Green Light Shooting and am doing my first AR build on there. I'll be sure to send the viewers to this link for more info on lowers.

    Chad
    youtube.com/greenlightshooting

    3 years ago
  • Dustin

    I'm currently in the middle of a build using a new companies receiver set. So new in fact the serial number is 0000023 It's a local manufacturing company called rss defense the receiver weighs in at just over 7 ounces. That's both upper and lower and was priced at 250. I'm very impressed with the rifles they make so I decided to make one using their Receiver.

    3 years ago
  • Brian

    I currently own a built AR with Anderson lower. I recently bought a Seekins billet trigger guard to replace the flat one that came with it, and it will not fit...a hair too long. Is this common with the Anderson lower?

    3 years ago
    • jay goode

      Not all billet items fit mil-spec recievers. You have to read and see if its compatible with what you are building. Seekins precision usually only fits billet recievers.

      3 years ago
  • Travis

    Used anderson lowers in 5 builds now great quality never had a prob. And I agree aero uppers best bang for your buck hands down

    4 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Awesome!

      3 years ago
  • Justin Schmidt

    Wow this was a pretty awesome and in depth article. One of the best I've read. Thank you!

    4 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      You're welcome Justin...glad I could help!

      4 years ago
  • Peter

    hi Eric. this will be my first ar so looking into a budget build. I may take your recommendation of going with the Anderson mfg complete lower. just wondering what you would recommend for a complete upper assembly that will mate it the best. don't want to spend over $400 for the upper. also, have you any input on Palmetto brand? thanks in advance!

    4 years ago
  • DanLewis

    Now that Ruger is selling stripped lowers and you can get sig saur stripped lowers those would be my primary choices.

    4 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks for your input!

      4 years ago
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