To put it in simple words, 80% lower receivers, mostly for AR-15s, are receivers that haven’t been developed to the stage where it would be considered as a firearm. You see, AR-15s have two main parts, which are generally the upper and the lower receivers.
The lower, which is the receiver of the gun houses the components like the trigger group, magazine well, and in short the core firing mechanism. This is why the Receiver is the part of the gun that is actually regulated.
So, the Idea behind an 80% receiver is that anyone can buy them, and build them into a rifle that is unregulated, thus gaining the ultimate freedom to bear arms.
However, all this does seem a little shady, and there are probably many questions on your mind, regarding the legality and practicality of these items, so, in this post, we are going to try and answer any questions that you may have about 80% lower.
Why are 80% Lower Receivers not considered a firearm?
Well, if we were to look at how the Gun Control Act of 1968 defines a firearm, it states that any weapon that is designed to, or maybe readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive is called a firearm.
Therefore, the receivers of a gun, which can be readily converted to a state where they can fire a projectile are also classified as Firearms. So, in normal circumstances, if you go out to buy an AR-15 receiver, the process will be the same as buying the entire gun. You will have to do a background check, and fill out an ATF firearms transaction form. The receiver will also be serialized.
However, when it comes to an 80% lower, you can’t simply convert it into a firearm by putting on some parts. An 80% receiver isn’t milled to have a place for a fire control group, and can’t be readily converted into a firearm, therefore, it is not considered one by law. To turn an 80% receiver into a gun, you will need a milling station, where you can create the required space for the fire control group, and drill out the holes for the selector and pins.
The term 80 lowers, or 80% lowers is not a term recognized by the ATF, it is more of a slang term for these “Paperweights” that look like an AR-15 receiver.
Are 80% Lower Receivers legal?
This is probably the main question that is on everyone’s mind, Are these so-called “paperweights” legal. Well, in simple words, yes! Yes, 80% law is legal in most states of the US, however, some states have restricted or in some cases outright banned the sale of 80% lowers and “Ghost guns”. These states include California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.
However, in other parts of the US, you can buy 80% lower than anything else in the US. they are not considered a firearm, and hence are not regulated as one. Anyone can buy an 80% lower discount without a background check or filling out any paperwork.
However, even if it is legal to buy an 80% lower in your state, make sure that you purchase one from a reputable company, which has a determination letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE).
Can you legally make a “Ghost gun” from 80% Lower Receivers?
Now that we know that you can legally own an 80% gun in most states of the US, the question is, can you legally turn it into a firearm? Well, contrary to popular belief, Yes you can, and you don’t necessarily need a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to build a gun at home.
It’s simple: If you can legally own a firearm in your state, county, or city, you can also manufacture a firearm at home for personal use. This means that there are two conditions you have to follow when you make a “Ghost gun” at home, firstly, you should not be convicted of a violent crime, and should be old enough to legally own a firearm, and secondly, you can not legally sell the firearm to anyone else.
Moreover, the “Ghost Gun” you make should comply with the gun laws of your state, so for the most part, it should not have a short barrel and it shouldn’t be a machine gun.
What about the serial numbers?
In almost all states where you can legally make a gun at home, you aren’t required to serialize it either. You should check your specific state laws just to be sure, but what is the purpose of making a “Ghost gun” at home if you have to register and serialize it.
How hard is it to make a firearm from an 80% Lower Receiver?
In theory, making a functioning receiver from and 80% lower is quite simple, however, the level of difficulty you will face depends a lot upon your skill levels. In the specific case of AR-15 80% lower, you won’t have the cavity where the fire control group goes. So, you will have to mill it out. Additionally, you will also have to drill out the holes for the hammer, selector, and trigger pin.
You will preferably need a drill press, or perhaps a power drill to machine out the receiver. For anyone who has experience with power tools, some patience, and a little bit of mechanical inclination, turning an 80% lower into a functioning receiver would take two or three hours. After that, you’ll need a few minutes to install the fire control group, buffer tube, and upper to have a fully functioning AR-15.
Many firearm activists in the US believe that the increasing gun control laws in the US are infringing their rights and freedom under the second amendment. They believe that the government might try to take away their guns, which is why “ghost guns”, which any one can make at home with an 80% receiver, are becoming more popular.
We hope that this post answers all the questions you had about 80% lower.