You’ve probably browsed the 80% lower jig section and you may be wondering: Just how many ways can one complete an 80% lower? Can it be done without a jig? What tool options are at our disposal with this at-home hobby gun project? Here are (officially) two ways to complete an 80% lower- and one way you legally can’t.
How to Complete an 80% Lower:
Option #1: 80% Lower Jig, Hand Drill, and Handheld Router
Option #1 is – you guessed it – the gold standard of completing an 80% lower if we’re sticking to the spirit of the project. Eighty percent lowers were designed for the average store-bought gun owner to break away from what’s available on the big box shelf and create a firearm exactly to his or her specifications.
But building a firearm at home – an AR-15 or AR-9, no less – would normally mean investing in advanced tooling. So, 80% lower jigs were designed to be used with nothing more than a hand drill and a handheld router. These two common homeowner’s tools are the key to a simple, affordable project.
But what if you do, in fact, own some of that advanced tooling? Let’s take a look at how a professional tradesman may use his or her tools to complete an 80% Lower.
Option #2: Tabletop Vise, Micrometer, and Drill Press
Technically, an 80% lower can be completed without the requisite 80% lower jig. Using a complete schematic, anyone can drill and machine an 80% lower to completion with nothing more than a workbench vise, micrometer and a drill press.
This method requires an understanding of, and confidence in, using professional machinery and calculating precise measurements. A drill press is not designed for milling, though basic machining can safely be completed using one – and this is the sort of experience only a craftsman many possess.
If you do have access to these tools, then completing an 80% lower in this fashion will result in the least expense. We encourage anyone to learn and challenge themselves to master gunsmithing. If you can safely learn to complete your 80% lower in this method, do it!
False Option: You Cannot Allow Someone Else to Build Your 80% Lower
Although it would seem the laws that govern building a firearm at home are surprisingly lax – but only when they apply to you, and you alone. Legally, you cannot allow another person or business to machine your 80% lower to completion.
The ATF’s legislation discussing at-home building specifically states that one cannot build their firearm with the intent to transfer or sell it to someone else. This automatically disqualifies the idea of allowing anyone else to do the work for you.
Although having someone else finish your 80% lower may seem relatively safe (would be easy to simply not tell anyone), the possible legal ramifications are simply not worth the risk. Two separate individuals have already been recently indicted and convicted of illegal manufacturing. Each defendant received a sentences ranging from four to over six years.