80 Lowers is an industry slang that refers to receivers that are not fully manufactured. Thus, they are not considered firearms. 80% AR-15 Lower is one such example of 80 Lowers. It is completely legal to own these half-manufactured receivers as they are not recognized as firearms by the ATF. These are also referred to as “paperweights”.
Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, these paperweights do not meet the definition of a proper firearm. However, make sure you do a background check of the manufacturer of your 80 lowers. The manufacturer of your 80 lowers should have an ATF determination letter that states that the paperweight in question is not a firearm. For information on specific parts such as AR-15 receivers, you can visit sites like Tarfu Tactical (ar 15 receiver).
It is also important to remember that gun laws change from state to state. Thus, make sure that you are well-informed on your state’s take on 80 Lowers.
80 Lowers can be of various types. In essence, these are just unfinished receivers. For instance, an 80 Lower can have an un-machined fire-control cavity area with no hollowed-out space for the trigger, selector, or hammer pins. Another type of 80 Lower is one that can have a solid un-machined fire-control cavity area. If a receiver has a partially-machined fire-control cavity area, it is still not considered a firearm. Most of these 80 Lowers are silver in color as they are made of raw aluminum.
Often, you’ll also find some anodized 80 Lowers as it is the standard coating. Experts recommend that you go with a raw Lower 80 and finish it later on. On the other hand, if you go with an anodized receiver, all the cuts you make to complete it will expose the raw aluminum beneath. Therefore, you should only get your receiver anodized once you have completed it. Some popular coating choices include but are not limited to Duracoat, Alumahyde, or spray paint.
Finishing an 80 Lower:
Back in the day, you needed to have special equipment in order to finish an 80% Lower. An 80 percent lower jig will help to assemble your first gun in the comfort of your home. This equipment included a drill press, a power drill, and a wood router. Today, all one needs to complete an 80 lower is a router and a regular drill. You must have some mechanical know-how before you attempt to complete your 80 lower. Otherwise, you can ruin the receiver and also end up hurting yourself. Another important aspect of completing an 80 lower is patience.
Take your time and do it carefully, as rushing it can damage the receiver. Although completing the 80 AR-15 lower is a bit easier, you only have to drill some holes for hammer pins and machine out a cavity for the trigger. All in all, this whole task will only take up to two to three hours. If you are new to it, it’s better that you do it under someone’s supervision. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize how easy it is.
Laws Around 80 Lowers:
As mentioned before, purchasing a blank receiver or 80 Lower is legal in most states. However, there are some exceptions that you should bear in mind.
In New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has banned the sale of “ghost guns”. This term also includes blank receivers. Thus, if you are situated in New Jersey, you might want to check the legality of 80 Lowers.
In Washington, the sale of undeveloped firearms has been banned since 1739. However, this ban is only applicable to 80% of polymers. If your 80 lower is made of aluminum, it will be considered legal.
In 2019, New York banned the sale and distribution of 80 Lowers. In California, on the other hand, you can purchase and own an 80 Lower only if you have a serial number. You can apply for this number through the California Department of Justice. Hawaii and Connecticut have banned the sale and assembly of 80 Lowers with no serial number.
The most amazing thing about 80 Lowers is the anonymity. You do not need any paperwork while purchasing them, except in some states. You can finish them at your own pace and sell them later on if you want. However, it is important to note that you cannot build them with an intent to sell. That will make you a manufacturer and be an invitation to lawsuits and prosecution. There have been rumors that the sale of 80 Lowers will be outlawed in every state. However, those are still baseless rumors as there has been no official take on this.