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  1. RE: AR-15 lowers. Buy lots, then buy more, then build them out [with lower parts kits] – triggers, hammers, takedown and lock pins, pistol grip, buffer tube assembly, etc. so they’re ready to “drop on” an upper. Yes, a stripped lower will command a much higher price when scarcity hits, but a complete ready-to-use lower will command a MUCH higher price. Do it now while stripped lowers AND completion parts are plentiful and cheap. (The FCG (Fire Control Group – trigger, hammer, pins, springs) doesn’t have to be a $240 Geiselle SSA-E, just functional, and those parts are cheaper and many of the “just functional” parts are quite good. But I’d keep a few “premium” FCGs on hand to convert some lowers back to one’s personal use if necessary.)

    RE: AR-10 lowers – you’ll find the standardization in AR-15 parts is almost completely lacking from AR-10s because the 15 are mil-spec, the 10s aren’t. Many parts are unique to THAT PARTICULAR LOWER (Ex: PSA takedown and pivot pins will fit PSA receivers (and probably a number of others) but NOT Aero Precision receivers – Aeros use longer pins because the receiver is wider (nearly all brands of AR-10 lowers WILL accept an AR-15 FCG and use AR-15 buffer tubes, but buffer weights and springs will probably be different).

    Procure and maintain lots and lots of spare parts; they’re readily available now, you’ll use some building out lowers (and uppers), you’ll need some as “future spares,” some will get lost (“sproing”….oooops…..), and some are very useful as diagnostic tools. I keep a full set of carbine-length buffer weights (carbine (3.0 oz), H1 (3.8oz), H2(4.6oz), H3(5.8oz), HSS(6.5oz) on hand plus a range of carbine and pistol buffer springs (10.5″ – 14”) as diagnostic tools; don’t forget carbine-length buffers use different length buffer weights and springs than rifle-length buffers, and while you might be able to use carbine-length weights in a rifle the reverse is NOT true. If you have bolt problems – broken extractor, etc. – it takes about 45 seconds to swap a complete bolt, about 6-8 minutes to replace an extractor, maybe 3-4 if you’ve done it several times before, and requires a couple small tools that you may not have in your “compact field kit.”

    BTW, building a lower – and upper – from scratch is a great way to learn how these things go together and operate. ARs can be assembled with minimal tools (and maintained with almost none) but prepare to buy more tools to make it easier. Someday you may have to replace an extractor with a Leatherman tool and candle light and if you’ve done several on the bench under good light it’ll be much easier.

    Oh, and all those little, tiny spare parts? Organization, organization, organization. If you can’t find it it’s just like not having it, no way to tell if you need to order more and some will get misplaced or just plain lost. They do come in labeled little plastic bags, but dumping all the bags in a 5-gallon bucket ain’t the answer.

  2. Fro those thinking of stocking up on AR-10 lowers, be aware that unlike AR-15s, parts from different manufacturers are not necessarily compatible. Buying an AR-10 lower from PSA likely ties you to PSA parts for the rest of the rifle.

  3. i keep buying cheap anderson ar-15 lowers. my problem is that i also keep building more carbines, rifles, and pistols with those lowers. time to repeat the process i guess.

  4. During the 0bama gun / ammo shortage, unprepared me, had a completed AR lower but couldn’t find a complete upper for the life of me. I ended up having to trade a .30cal M1 Carbine for a (quality) complete M4gery upper. The total values of each were heavily uneven but that’s the result of supply and demand. The M1 was a Frankenstein reimported from the P.I. after they returned their lend-lease weapons which then became available on the U.S. retail markets, but the rifle did headspace, had a good barrel and shot well, I only had to do a 100% clean and oil and scrub down and refinish the stock to rid it of that awful Teak Oil that is so heavily used in Asia. In the end, We both had something of value.

  5. You don’t have to be a machinist to finish off 80% lowers. Get yourself a 5D Tactical Router Jig Pro and as long as your existing router is compatible with their tooling (see the list on their website, 5dtactical.com) that’s all you’ll be needing, other than a hand drill or preferably, a drill press. While you can pick one up from most any of the big firearms retailers, you can many times get a better deal on a kit directly from the manufacturer. You can’t go wrong with this one, as long as you can read and follow instructions. I waited years to buy a decent jig and this one has exceeded my expectations. And it does AR-10 lowers as well as 9mm lowers.

    1. I sold mine, after I had completed all of the 80% receivers that I wanted for my own family. So far as I know, the GhostGunner II model is still being manufactured.

  6. JWR noted in his post above finding 80% lowers in the $25-35 range. My experience of late has been anywhere from $60 to over $100 for black anodized, and about $50 for in the white, which is what I am finding in the net. Does anyone happen to have a supplier link they can provide for a vendor with those lower cost 80% lowers? My wallet would appreciate the help!

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