Spending Any Amount Of Time Online Around Firearms And There Is Going To Be A Time Where “Stripped Lower Receivers” Are Mentioned. Especially If You’re Into Assembly Or Building Your Own AR15 Or .308 Rifle
But what is a stripped AR receiver? And how does it differ from other options on the market? We’re going to go over these questions and a few of the nuances that surround them.
What Makes A Stripped AR Lower “Stripped”?
First we need to know what a lower receiver on an AR-15/AR-10 is. The lower receiver of an AR-style rifle is the section that holds the trigger group and has the buffer tube, pistol grip, and upper receiver attached to it. It also features the integral magazine well.
All of these add-on parts make up the functional lower half of an AR-15/AR-10. A stripped lower receiver is the housing for all of this. It is the final, serialized piece of aluminum that the rest of the lower receiver is either attached to or put into.
This creates some questions like the legality of a stripped lower receiver and how it applies to current gun laws.
Currently, a stripped lower receiver is considered a firearm. It is the serialized part that is regulated by local and federal law enforcement agencies. Even if there is nothing included with the stripped lower to turn it into a fully functional firearm, it still counts as a firearm.
How Can I Make A Stripped Lower Functional?
The easiest way is to purchase a lower receiver parts kit.
These parts kits will include all the parts for the trigger group, pistol grip, buttstock, and buffer assembly. This is a great way to learn more about your rifle and its maintenance. It also can be more affordable than buying a completed rifle off the shelf. However you should not try to assemble your own receiver for your first AR-15/AR-10.
Can I Buy Or Sell A Stripped Lower Receiver?
Absolutely. As long as the firearm is not banned for sale in the area and the serialized lower receiver is shipped to an active FFL, stripped lower receivers can be legally bought online and offline.
Private sales are different and will be governed by your local laws. Be sure to check them before attempting to buy or sell a firearm.
Complete Lower Receivers
If just the aluminum receiver counts as a firearm, what is the difference between a stripped lower and a complete receiver?
While stripped lowers are firearms in the eyes of the law, they don’t have everything they need to be a functional lower receiver. This is the major difference between a stripped lower and a complete lower.
Complete lowers come fully assembled. The trigger group, butt stock assembly, etc. are pre-installed and the complete lower is ready to be married to the upper of your choice. Assuming nothing about your upper or lower falls under NFA restrictions.
Additional Options: 80% Lowers
There is a third option for your lower receivers and that is an 80% lower. An 80% lower is a chunk of aluminum that is “80% of the way” to being a completed receiver. Currently 80% lowers are legal to purchase and do not count as a firearm.
You will have to mill or drill out the area that the trigger group goes into, which can be done relatively easily with the appropriate jig, in addition to some other finishing touches.
However, the ATF is attempting to have 80% lowers considered firearms and there are multiple legal cases being disputed as to whether this reclassification will occur. As the situation is somewhat volatile, you should check up on the status of 80% lowers before attempting to purchase one.
Why You Should Consider Getting a Stripped Lower Receiver
Stripped lower receivers are manufactured by a number of companies with varying quality and durability. But there are a lot of lower receivers that will be functional for the average individual. So why should you buy one?
Parting out a rifle (buying the parts individually and assembling them yourself) can cut down on the cost of the rifle overall. Depending on the receiver you go with and the parts, you can have a decent quality rifle at a fraction of the cost.
The only drawback is if you are not experienced with assembling rifles, you could improperly install some parts which would impact the rifle’s performance and reliability. But assembling your own AR-15 is a great way to better understand the platform and even save some money while enjoying your hobby.