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Are 80 Percent Lowers Legal?

Can You Still Buy 80% Lowers?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or ATF is currently in numerous court cases to determine the limits of their regulatory authority. This has resulted in a lot of misinformation as to what can and cannot be purchased legally, especially regarding 80 Percent lowers and 80% lower kits.

This becomes confusing very quickly so we’re going to go over what you can do and how that changes into something you can’t do.


Is it legal to purchase an 80% lower receiver?

Yes. You can still legally purchase an 80% lower receiver for your own private use. On the federal level, private manufacture of firearms is still protected as long as you do not intend to sell the firearms professionally, which requires a Federal Firearms License (FFL).

However state and local ordinances can impact whether or not you can privately make your own firearms in a legal manner. You should always check your local laws before starting a firearms project.

What can make purchasing an 80% lower receiver illegal?

According to current ATF policy, if an 80% lower is sold with jigs, pre-started drilling areas, instructions, or other methods of easily converting the 80% lower to a full lower receiver it is considered a firearm. This means it must be serialized and transferred through FFL holders like any other gun instead of being sent directly to your door.

The selling of 80% lowers and jigs together are usually referred to as 80% lower kits and feature most of the things necessary to complete the manufacture of the lower receiver. Whether the ATF can regulate these kits and require them to be serialized is currently being determined within multiple court cases.

This means that 80% lower kits must be treated as firearms and require serialization in order to comply with the ATF’s guidelines.

Do I need to pass a background check to purchase an 80% lower?

If the 80% lower is purchased by itself, you do not need to pass a background check in order to own it.

If the 80% lower is sold as a kit, then you will need to pass a background check and meet any other requirements for your area that are connected with purchasing a firearm.

Does an 80% lower need to be serialized?

An 80% lower receiver does not need to have a serial number if it is purchased by itself for private use.

If the intent is to purchase the 80% lower and manufacture a complete lower receiver in order to sell it, the 80% lower will need to be serialized. This means the firearms dealers, gunsmiths, or other FFL holders who take in unserialized guns will need to add a serial marking to the firearm before they can resell it. This serialization is required to be done within seven days “following the date of receipt or other acquisition.”

Can I have an 80% lower shipped directly to me?

Yes. You can have an 80% lower shipped directly to you as long as it is not part of a kit or comes with instructions on how to complete the lower. The instructions and other items (jigs and tools) will need to be purchased separately.

Can I still make my own guns at home?

Yes. If it is for personal use only, you can still manufacture firearms at home as long as it does not conflict with your state or local laws.

If you intend to manufacture firearms at home in order to sell them you will still need to obtain the appropriate Federal Firearms License and serialize the guns in order to legally transfer them in a professional capacity.

How does this affect 3D printed firearms?

The 3D printing of firearms components and lower receivers for private use is not impacted by the requirement of serialization.

Again local laws and restrictions will still apply, but for the most part private, manufacture of semi-automatic firearms for personal use remains legal. This means printing and finishing your own receivers should not pose a problem unless your location has passed a specific law or ordinance prohibiting the manufacture of 3D printed firearms.