DIY AR-15: The Best AR 15 80 Lower

Last Updated on January 6, 2021.

80% lower receivers are cool little toys for AR-15 builders who are really into DIY projects. And, as a bonus, an AR-15 80 lower doesn’t need to be shipped to an FFL, because it’s not an FFA item.

All you need is a CNC machine and a drill press to finish an 80% lower receiver. If you have the right tools, milling out an 80% lower receiver is pretty fast.

However, this makes it even more important to get the best AR-15 80 lower you can find, because there are a lot more potential fit issues with an 80% lower than with a completed lower receiver. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache if you get a good 80% blank to start with.

Before we go on, it’s important to note that you need to check your state and local laws before you get an AR-15 80 lower. Some areas have specific laws around 80% lower receivers. It’s best to follow the laws.

With that out of the way, time for the spoiler.

Matrix Arms AR-15 80% Lower Receiver
  • Forged from 7075-T6 aluminum, with a mil-spec anodized finish.
  • Excellent fit and finish that rarely has fit issues with any lower parts kit.
  • “SAFE” and “FIRE” markings on both sides for ambidextrous safety selectors.

SPOILER—if you just want to know which AR-15 80 lower will work best, get the Matrix Arms AR-15 80% Lower Receiver. It’s a solid 80% lower receiver that usually fits perfectly if you mill it out correctly.

For those who are here for the complete reviews, keep reading. We’ve found the best AR-15 80 lowers, so your DIY build goes as smoothly as possible.

Top AR 15 80 Lower on the Market Today

The Best AR 15 80 Lower Reviews: Non-NFA Rifles

The overall best AR-15 80 lower is up first. All the other 80% lower receivers will be inspected in order of price.

The least expensive AR-15 80 lowers are near the beginning of this article.

Priciest 80% lower receivers are near the end.

Let’s finish a few lowers.

1. Matrix Arms AR-15 80% Lower Receiver - Overall Best AR-15 80 Lower

Despite being a very high quality 80% lower receiver blank, the Matrix Arms AR-15 80% Lower Receiver is surprisingly unknown. I find that many people who are into milling their own lower receivers don’t know about Matrix Arms.

The primary things that make this lower receiver great are the fit and finish.

However, it’s a forged lower receiver that’s constructed from 7075-T6 aluminum. And it’s type 2 hardcoat anodized to mil-spec standards.

So the build quality and durability are excellent. Once you’ve milled out this lower receiver, it’s essentially a mil-spec lower receiver.

Back to the fit and finish, though. This lower receiver is manufactured to very tight tolerances. I’ve never seen people have fit issues with this lower receiver that are related to specs or quality control. Everything in your lower parts kit should fit perfectly.

In short, that means that once you’ve done the work to mill out the interior pocket, you’ll be able to put your lower receiver together without any hiccups.

There are also a few bonuses: there are “FIRE” and “SAFE” markings on both sides of the lower receiver. And there are stops for a standard Colt-style safety selector.

The only trouble with the safety selector stops is that, if you use a safety lever that’s too much wider than the mil-spec safety lever, the stops can interfere with the safety operation. However, very few safety levers are wide enough to cause an issue.

That’s a very small issue. And this lower receiver is extremely well priced, considering how nice the fit and finish is.


  • Forged from 7075-T6 aluminum, with a mil-spec anodized finish.
  • Excellent fit and finish that rarely has fit issues with any lower parts kit.
  • “SAFE” and “FIRE” markings on both sides for ambidextrous safety selectors.


  • “SAFE” and “FIRE” dimples could interfere with your safety lever if it has wide selector levers.

Anderson Manufacturing has been making super affordable AR-15 parts for a long time. And they’re decent parts. The Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 80% Lower Receiver is another one of those affordable parts that’s not too bad.

This is a forged 7075-T6 aluminum lower receiver blank. It’s a standard mil-spec form factor. It’s durable and will accept any mil-spec lower parts kit. Also, there are rarely any fit issues, even with cheap lower parts kits.

The unique thing about this 80% lower receiver is that there’s no finish. It’s just plain, silver aluminum. That’s good, because you can put any finish on it that you want, without having to worry about removing the old finish.

On the other hand, you’ll have to add your own anodizing, paint, or cerakote if you want to get rid of the shiny silver finish. So there’s an extra step. But it makes for easier customization.

The only real complaint people have with this 80% lower is that sometimes you have to do a bit of milling in places that you shouldn’t have to mill to get the fit perfect.

For example, the takedown pin pocket comes pre-milled. But it’s not uncommon that you’ll need to mill that out a bit to get the fit right.

However, you’re already milling the lower receiver. And, if you’re using an 80% lower receiver, some fitment is expected. Sometimes this Anderson Manufacturing lower receiver requires a bit more fitment than other 80% lowers.

But, it’s a nicely forged lower receiver blank that’s easier to cover with a custom finish than most other lower receivers.


  • Forged from 7075-T6 aluminum.
  • Accepts almost any lower parts kit.
  • Raw finish accepts any finish without needing to remove the original finish.


  • Sometimes requires a bit of additional milling to get the fit perfect.
  • No “FIRE” or “SAFE” markings.

This is essentially the same 80% lower receiver blank as the raw Anderson Manufacturing 80% lower. However, the Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 80% Lower Receiver Black has a black anodized finish.

It’s a forged 7075-T6 aluminum blank, with a mil-spec form factor. It’s a durable 80% lower receiver. And, just like the other Anderson Manufacturing lower receivers, it accepts even the cheapest lower parts kits.

The anodized finish is impressively thick, considering the price point. However, the finish is a bit chalky. It’s durable. But, if you like the smooth black type of anodizing, you might find this to be a bit too matte for your taste.

Also, unlike other Anderson Manufacturing lower receivers, the rear takedown pin pocket on this lower receiver is consistently too narrow for almost any upper receiver (it’s more common with the anodized model than the raw model, for some reason).

It’s a quick fix with a CNC machine. It takes a bit more time if you have to mill it and sand it. But it can be made to fit. However, this lower receiver usually takes more fitment than most other lower receivers.

However, this is still a solid 80% lower receiver that’s durable and works great if you have the patience to do the required fit modifications.


  • Forged 7075-T6 aluminum blank.
  • Not picky about lower parts kits.
  • Anodized finish is surprisingly thick, given the price.


  • Rear takedown pin pocket usually needs to be widened.
  • Finish is a chalky matte, rather than a smoother black finish.

A polymer lower receiver might seem like a durability issue during shooting. However, the lower receiver doesn’t need to handle all that much stress. Polymer is durable enough.

The other benefit of a polymer 80% lower receiver is that it’s much easier to complete than an aluminum lower receiver, because polymer is far easier to mill. The James Madison Tactical (JMT) Gen 2 Polymer 80% AR-15 Lower Receiver makes the milling even easier with an included jig.

Not only is this receiver easy to mill, it also has some cool features.

The most notable upgrade on this lower receiver is the integrated trigger guard. It’s a flared trigger guard that gives you plenty of space for your trigger finger, even with gloves on. And it’ll save you like $7 on your build.

It’s also got some nice grip texture on the front of the magazine well that’s handy if you need to use your magazine well as a support hand grip. And the magazine well itself is flared to help you reload faster, even without looking.

The last thing I’ll mention is the reinforcements in key areas.

These reinforcements are important because this JMT lower receiver is polymer. So the thicker areas around the receiver extension mountpivot pin, and magazine well ensure that you won’t have durability issues with this lower receiver.

Overall, this 80% lower receiver is easier to mill than an aluminum lower, it’s got some ergonomic upgrades, and it’s perfectly durable. It’s a great option for anyone who may not have exactly what they need to mill an aluminum receiver blank, but can make some cuts in polymer.


  • Polymer construction is lightweight and very easy to mill.
  • Includes a jig for milling.
  • Integrated trigger guard.
  • Grip texture on front of the magazine well.
  • Flared magazine well for faster reloads.


  • Polymer is very durable. But it’s not aluminum.

5. Juggernaut Tactical Juggernaut Lower Receiver - Ambidextrous AR-15 80 Lower

Just because you’re milling your own lower receiver doesn’t mean that it can’t be ambidextrous. The Juggernaut Tactical Juggernaut Lower Receiver is an excellent option for anyone who wants to mill their own ambidextrous lower receiver.

One thing to be aware of is that this is a billet lower receiver. It’s 6061 billet aluminum. So it’s durable.

However, even completed billet lower receivers sometimes require fitment. It stands to reason that an 80% billet lower may also require some additional fitment. Be prepared for a tad bit of extra trimming to get this lower receiver to fit.

But, this lower receiver has an integrated trigger guard, which is flared. And the flare is quite wide and gives you tons of space for your trigger finger. You could probably run this lower receiver with super thick gloves and still get quick access to your trigger.

The nicest thing about this lower receiver is that the bolt catch pin hole is threaded. So you don’t need to punch any pins to assemble your lower receiver, once you’ve got it milled.

Lastly, of course it’s ambidextrous… Mostly. This lower receiver comes with an ambidextrous bolt catch. However, you’ll need to add your own ambidextrous magazine release. But, with an ambidextrous magazine release and safety selector, your lower receiver is entirely ambidextrous.

That’s not just nice for you lefties out there. It also makes it easier to operate your rifle weak handed. So it’s good for right-handers, too.

It might require a bit of fitment to get it right. However, this Juggernaut Tactical model is an excellent lower receiver that has quite a few creature comforts for anyone doing an ambidextrous build.


  • Durable 6061 billet aluminum.
  • Integrated trigger guard that’s wide enough for even thick winter gloves.
  • Threaded bolt catch roll pin hole removes the need for punching pins when assembling your lower receiver.
  • Includes ambidextrous bolt catch hardware.


  • Billet aluminum lower means you may need to do a bit more fitment to get a good upper receiver fit.
  • No ambidextrous magazine release included.

Cutting Out

AR-15 80 lower receivers might be a bit more work than getting a standard lower receiver and assembling it. However, they’re non-NFA items. So the purchase process is much easier, since you don’t need to send the lower to an FFL.

Again, check your state and local laws before you get an 80% lower receiver. Since they’re non-NFA products, some areas have specific laws around AR-15 80 lower receivers. You may also want to consider checking out a durable buffer while you're at it.
Matrix Arms AR-15 80% Lower Receiver

But, if it’s legal and you’re ready to start milling, get the Matrix Arms AR-15 80% Lower Receiver. It’s super affordable. And you get a solid mil-spec lower receiver once you get everything milled and drilled.

If you’re still buying complete lowers and assembling them, save yourself a lot of time and some money by using 80% lower receivers that you can have shipped right to your house.

You can also view these great reviews:

Lower Receiver Reviews

Best AR 15 Safety Selector