Letter Re: Building Your Own No-FFL AR From An 80% Complete Receiver

Hugh,

I am a firm believer in what JAG is advocating. I, too, have built different AR15 platforms. The first was an FFL registered stripped lower receiver and a full kit (shipped through UPS with NO FFL paperwork) from Model 1 Sales. Everything went together smoothly. Anyone with any mechanical aptitude can do this. I next bought an EP80 and drilled and milled the lower with a drill press and Dremel tool. This, too, is easy if one works carefully. I have since bought two 80% aluminum forged lowers and a jig. I don’t mind the extra expense of the jig, as it will provide piece of mind while I drill and mill the lower. The bottom line is an individual can make an unregistered rifle that is LEGAL to own. They can be cheap enough to cache and reliable enough to depend on. The AR15 platform is made from a design that is easy to assemble and disassemble, clean, and shoot for the smallest frame adult. I feel that every home could benefit by having one of these around. The one thing that I would add is a .22 caliber upper or adapter for plinking. The ammunition costs less and shooting at tin cans or targets (safely) is fun, relaxing, and a good way to teach firearm safety and handling. – CDH

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Letter Re: Building Your Own No-FFL AR From an 80% Complete Receiver

Dear JWR,
The mere fact that folks such as Carl X. and C. are discussing, researching, and indeed, well informed on the subject of 80% lower receiver completion gives me hope! I can’t begin to express just how pleasing it is that good people are informing themselves on the subject. Anyway, I’d like to clarify a couple of things, if I may?

As C. notes, an inexperienced builder will likely spend at least two hours milling and shaping the fire control pocket. However, a slip of the Dremel does not necessarily mean the blank’s doom. One must remember that the pocket is hidden by the upper receiver, and the only one that will know of the boo-boo is the one completing the lower receiver. Further, said boo-boos can easily be repaired by mixing the polymer shavings with JB-Weld — which is machinable when fully cured — to maintain surface consistency. I’ve been a gunsmith hobbyist for about 22 years now and have my own machine shop, and my own jigs that insure a reliable machining job. But after consulting with a couple of fellow enthusiasts, we’re of the opinion that structural integrity and a uniform surface can be achieved in this fashion. In fact, I proved it with a lower I had lying around by deliberately marring a side and repairing it in that fashion. Again, I stress
patience and the operator WILL be pleased with the end product. EP Armory is that good with their quality control! Completion is a cinch: just remove the white and smooth the ridges flat. Any other fine lapping to make the trigger and hammer smooth is unique to the chosen lower parts kit. One only needs to take their time.

As for legality concerning the 80% lower receiver: the prospective owner should consult their state and local officials until they are completely satisfied that they operating within the constraints of the law! The language in the BATFE’s self-manufactured firearms laws are very clear: the firearm must be self-manufactured, which means ‘build parties’ are technically illegal, although impossible to enforce. Personally, I make every effort to operate within the constraints of the law, and would recommend that everyone exercise solid and legal judgment. After all, some states are ambiguous and sometimes outright hostile on the subject, and protecting one’s family is impossible to do from behind bars. So … research, research and research again! And do make an effort to buy a letter and number stamping kit for serial number application. It also never hurts to have your receipt for the lower laminated and on your person when hunting or target shooting. I’d hate to see a new AR owner detained for hours by an officer that demands to inspect their rifle, and is ignorant of the law! Been there … done that…

Again, it’s good to see folks that are genuinely interested in the subject! Self empowerment is a heck of a morale boost! You’ll save a few bucks and be proud of your handiwork! Not to mention the fact that you’ll end up with a rifle that will serve you well, should the unfortunate need arise…

God Bless and thank you for your interest everyone, – Nomad

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