Completing an 80% lower is super easy – but it can be a real PITA if you don’t have the right stuff. Today, we’re talking about the five tools needed to complete an 80 lower! If you’ve been reading and researching, rest assured the tools listed below may seem optional, but they’re highly recommended based on extensive personal experience.
#1: 80 Lower Jig and Tooling
The heart of this entire project rests in the 80% Lower Jig. The 80 lower jig acts as your machine shop, providing a stable foundation for you to drill and mill your 80% lower to completion. The 80% lower jig also helps guide your end mill bit, and most 80 lower jigs provide pre-measured depth guides, so you don’t need to measure anything.
The most popular 80 lower jigs include the Easy Jig Gen 2 Multi-Platform, the 5D Tactical Router Jig PRO, and the Modulus Arms Router Jig Extreme.
#2: Handheld Router
A handheld router is required to machine your 80 percent lower with your provided end mill bits. We strongly recommend sticking with the popular Porter Cable Handheld Laminate Router. This simple router is the model most 80% jigs are guaranteed to work with, and many jigs incorporate this router in their instructions and tutorials.
The Porter Cable Router’s 1.25-HP motor is strong enough to easily tackle billet and forged lowers, while its fixed 27,000-RPM speed makes for consistent and predictable machining. A simple adjustment ring and electronic speed maintenance system make the Porter Cable easy to use for first-timers.
#3: Drill Press Vise and Magazine Vise Block
You’ll need a stable surface to mount your 80% lower and jig. The only right way is with a simple drill press vise. You’ll also want to invest in a magazine vise block – this will allow you to secure your lower for final assembly without crushing any metal or your magazine well.
#4: AR-15 Punch Set and Gunsmithing Hammer
These two little tools will make final assembly of your AR-15’s lower receiver a breeze. The AR receiver requires numerous punch pins to be set in some rather cramped spaces. Attempting to set these rolls pins by hand (or with improvised tools) will likely result in a busted receiver, some missing pins, and an angry builder.
The soft brass gunsmithing hammer will help protect your receiver while providing a precise point of contact for hammering in those tiny pins. The punch set ensures each pin is driven in safely, with control – not lost or ruined.
#5: Armorer’s Wrench
The Armorer’s Wrench will make the difference between busted knuckles, and a properly seated buffer tube and stock. This multi-use wrench allows for easy fitment and removal of your barrel nut, castle nut, flash hider, or muzzle brake. You’ll also need an Armorer’s Wrench to easily install or remove your rail system.