"80% Arms Billet Aluminum Lower Build–No Milling Machine Needed"
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Thread: "80% Arms Billet Aluminum Lower Build–No Milling Machine Needed"

  1. #1
    XCR Guru Merlin's Avatar
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    Sep 2007

    "80% Arms Billet Aluminum Lower Build–No Milling Machine Needed"

    Wonder if the Dremel would work on this too.Name:  rofl3.gif
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    One of the comments;
    "Yes, there is a great sense of accomplishment carving out the lower from billet, but this particular kit seems to be not cost effective. There are many stripped lowers for well under $100, but here you are in $200 just for the jig and the bits (of which only the end mill can be difficult to find), and then another $100 for the billet? To recover the cost of the tools you’d have to carve 4+ lowers, and even then they’d be costing you $150 a piece. True it is a very solid looking jig, but how many rifles are you going to build? I figure that you can only shoot one rifle at a time, so a couple of complete lowers and a variety of uppers is the way to go. Or maybe I’m just cheap."

    80% Arms Billet Aluminum Lower Build-No Milling Machine Needed ? GunsAmerica Digest

    80% Arms: 80% Arms - AR15 80% Lower Receiver | Billet 80 Percent Lower | Lower Jig
    “With certain exceptions, a firearm may be made by a non-licensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms.” ATF: [18 U.S.C. 922(o) and (r), 26 U.S.C. 5822, 27 CFR 478.39, 479.62 and 479.105]
    You heard it from the horse’s mouth! As long as you can posses a firearm, you can legally create your own firearm! But how does anyone short of a machinist create a firearm?
    80% Arms has made it simple.

    Hidden behind enemy lines in the Peoples Republic of Californiaistan, 80% Arms is a company whose mission is to help you help yourself create your own firearms.
    80% has brought to market no compromise 80% lowers in both AR15 and AR10 patterns. An 80% lower is just what it sounds like. It isn’t 100% complete. The lower is 80% of the way there, but requires some finishing to make it an actual firearm. You’ll need to remove material for the trigger group and drill some holes. Without these additional steps, it might as well be a paperweight. But because it isn’t technically a firearm at the 80% completion point, it can be shipped directly to you without the hassle of an FFL and form 4473.
    You will need some guidance, a few tools, a few jigs, and billet to complete a firearm.

    Features of the Lowers

    • Full mil-spec part compatibility ensures maximum rifle customization.
    • Machined from 6061-T6 billet aluminum for superior strength, 7075-T6 optional.
    • Broached, flared mag well aids with faster, easier magazine reloads.
    • Integral trigger guard enables winter use with gloves.
    • Easy bolt catch installation with a regular punch eliminates need for special tool.
    • Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
    • Three finishes available: raw aluminum, bead blasted matte aluminum, and mil-spec type III hard anodized in black, flat dark earth (FDE), and pink.

    Besides the lowers, they also have a universal jig that makes the completion of your lower receiver as easy as possible. The jigs are designed to be used with hand tools and a simple vise. A novice can easily complete a lower receiver in a matter of a few hours. Available as replacement parts or as a whole kit, it gives you an easy to use jig that is designed to be universal for all AR15 lowers.
    The kit doesn’t include the drill bits and mills but they are available from 80% Arms for an added cost of about $45. If your going to complete one of these lowers your going to want to purchase a few tools and miscellaneous things to make sure its smooth sailing.
    Cordless drills may not cut it. Go for a larger drill, or a drill press.

    Other tools needed

    • WD40
    • Trim Router
    • Corded drill
    • Vise
    • Shop glasses

    Nice to have

    • Cutting fluid
    • Drill press
    • X Y vise
    • Air compressor with nozzle to blow out chips
    • Gloves

    Milling out the lower doesn’t have to be done on a milling machine. A router will work.

    Cost of lower and parts necessary for build

    • $99.99- 6061-T6 Anodized Billet 80% Lower
    • $149.99- AR-15 Easy Jig
    • $44.99– Easy Jig Tool Kit

    How to mill out the lower

    First things first. Lay out your parts and tools and make sure you have everything you need for the job. Assuming you’ve got all the right parts and tools, it’s time to assemble the jig around your lower. Installing the 4 cross bolts in the jig firmly locks the lower into place and keeps it centered and free of movement.
    Add the appropriate top section of the jig. You can now prepare for drilling the front trigger pocket. Lock the jig in the vise. You now use the supplied drill bits and stop collar to drill the depths of the front pocket. Though it is possible with a hand drill, I’d say if you have access to a drill press, use it. It’s good to use lots of cutting fluid and to take small breaks fairly often to clear the chips of aluminum from the jig.
    Setting the depth on the bits is crucial. Don’t drill too much material. Removing it is much easier than putting it back.

    The next step in the process is to drill the rear trigger pocket. Remove the top rear bolt in the jig. You now set the proper depth on the drill bit and go to work as you did on the front pocket.
    The next step in finishing your lower is milling out the remainder of the aluminum with a router. I used a DeWalt Trim router and found it to be perfectly powered and sized for the job.
    It’s important to do this part very gradually to achieve clean and even lines inside the lower. Taking half steps at a time you should start inside one of the drilled holes and move toward the center of the jig, slowly connecting the dots. Once you get the mill bit below the walls of the jig, you can move toward the sides of the lower. I made around 12 passes to get the pocket milled out to perfection (or as perfect as I could get it). Next I moved to the rear of the pocket taking the same caution to make smooth passes (moving from hole to hole then moving outward to the sides of the jig).
    After the pocket is cleanly milled out, drill out the trigger hole. Using the trigger hole template, make a square cut and then switch to a mill bit and expand the hole to size.
    Drilling holes for the controls requires a bit more control. The angle of the holes is important, so I opted for the control offered by a drill press.

    Once the pocket is complete, turn the jig on its side and drill the selector hole as well as the trigger pin holes. Using the supplied bits, make sure your holes are straight and square to the receiver. I found it easier to flip the jig over and do one side at a time. After the holes are drilled, disassemble the jig and clean off your freshly finished lower.
    After removing the remainder of the aluminum chips and excess cutting fluid, I would say the lower came out pretty much perfect. Apart from a few cosmetic blemishes (due to negligence on my side) the lower came out better than I had expected.
    A few tips

    Go slow and make sure to check your depths frequently, I had the drill stop slip a few times. It is better to make twice as many passes with the router than to make deep rough passes. Gloves would be a great investment because tiny slivers of aluminum will slide under your skin very easily and may cause annoying discomfort. Deburr the selector holes to ensure smooth operation. Though not necessary, I will eventually recoat the entire lower with Cerakote.
    The process makes a mess. Go slow. That will allow you to clean up frequently and judge your progress.

    It really isn’t all that complicated. There are some out there who think you can’t make a functional aluminum lower without a milling machine. Even though I did use a drill press for a few cuts, I didn’t have to. And I got a fully functional lower without a milling machine.
    80% Arms has something unique here. They have a quality system that makes building a lower receiver so easy that you can do it from home with minimal tools. Yes, you can go out and buy a completed lower for less than it would cost to complete one from an 80% billet, but there’s more to it than that. And the jig and tool kits are reusable and all the parts of each can be replaced, making this an investment you can depend on for years to come.
    The Real Question

    We’ve written about the 80% lowers before. They can be a bit of an enigma to those who don’t know guns. This lower isn’t serialized. That scares some people. They want to call it a ghost gun, or some equally terrifying name. People who have an irrational fear have a crazy irrational fear of these things. They think thugs are going to line up with their milling machines and start churning out machine guns and no one is ever going to know.
    The process is nearing completion. In a couple of short hours (and I was taking my time) I had a fully functional lower.

    The reality is much less terrifying. Because it isn’t serialized, and doesn’t have to be serialized if you follow the basic rules that govern who can make guns at home and what can be done with those guns, this has become a personal liberty issue. You can build a gun, and you don’t have to tell anyone. And if the result is as solid and functional as any other lower you might buy–why wouldn’t you? Unless you are one of those types that likes bragging to Uncle Sam about all of you personal business.
    But there’s more to it than that. This is about getting your hands dirty. You can go buy a gun or you can build one. Which do you think you will have a stronger affinity for? Which one will bring you more personal pride? And this way, if something does go wrong with the lower, you’ll know a hell of a lot more about how to fix it. It will be yours. There’s something about the process that I find personally gratifying.
    Milling out pieces that are exposed on the outside should be done with extra care, just to make them neat.

    The jig has a plate to help support the router.

    When set up in a vise, with the jig, routing is very easy.

    The jigs are crucial and help with stock removal in incremental steps.

    A drill press with its own vice makes the whole job even easier.

    The milling inside will almost surely show tool marks, but that won’t change how it functions.

    The router zips through aluminum more slowly than wood, but it still works.

    The drill holes make milling much more efficient.

    80% Arms’ jigs are ideal, and can be used for multiple builds.

    The whole build takes very little time. The most time consuming part is the process of discovery. Assembling jigs and pacing the cutting both have small learning curves that quickly disappear.

    Getting the appropriate bits is easy through 80% Arms, or you can find them yourself.

    These bolts hold together the jigs and keep the work from shifting.

    "Be Vigilant and Safe!!"
    "Molon Labe!!"
    "It Is A Weak Man Who Urges Compromise!!"

  2. #2
    XCR Guru Merlin's Avatar
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    Sep 2007

    "Be Vigilant and Safe!!"
    "Molon Labe!!"
    "It Is A Weak Man Who Urges Compromise!!"

  3. #3
    XCR Guru Merlin's Avatar
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    Sep 2007

    Making an AR lower from a billet that is 80% complete is completely legal and not as hard as some would have you believe.
    Bravo likes this.

    "Be Vigilant and Safe!!"
    "Molon Labe!!"
    "It Is A Weak Man Who Urges Compromise!!"

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  5. #4
    XCR Guru fmunk's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    80% lowers these days isn't about cost. It's about having a functional lower that is 100% off the books and 100% legal. Cost proposition was a valid one during post-Sandyhook panic when prices went through the roof and supply was non-existent. Times have changed.

    80% Arms is located in southern California. Since 1/1/2015 long gun purchases had to be reported and registered. That should also give you another idea why there is a case for 80% builds.

    After the first ATF letter to Sig regarding the SB15 brace, a lot of people built theirs thinking they could have an off the books pseudo SBR, but the times have changed on that too... publicly anyway, since no one in their right mind would shoulder a brace in public (in front of strangers).
    Last edited by fmunk; 06-01-2015 at 08:13 PM.
    Sean K. likes this.
    Fool-proofing serves only one purpose: identify bigger fools.

  6. #5
    XCR Guru WatchoutforStobor's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    As "the manufacturer" of my sbr, I have to engrave my name and city/state. How come you don't have to mark these? What if you want to sell it?

  7. #6
    XCR Guru Merlin's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    I believe technically you cannot sell a completed 80% upper. According to the NFA 'comment' at least.

    "Be Vigilant and Safe!!"
    "Molon Labe!!"
    "It Is A Weak Man Who Urges Compromise!!"

  8. #7
    XCR Guru fmunk's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by WatchoutforStobor View Post
    As "the manufacturer" of my sbr, I have to engrave my name and city/state. How come you don't have to mark these? What if you want to sell it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Merlin View Post
    I believe technically you cannot sell a completed 80% upper. According to the NFA 'comment' at least.

    Based on my recent chat with a local Cerakoter and engraver, if not a SBR, and it is for personal use only, then you don't need to engrave it. It needs to be engraved only if you intend to sell it. And if you do engrave, technically, you are suppose to engrave your name, address, DL number and a made up serial. But, I can't imagine giving away such personal information to a buyer, so I think most people make up a fictitious manufacturer and serial instead. But, that begs the question, wouldn't that amount to being a unregistered firearms manufacturer? a business that isn't registered or permitted to manufacture firearms? as opposed to an individual?

    You can sell a completed 80%. It just has to have a manufacturer and serial number engraved on it so that both pieces of information can be recorded at time of transfer. That is the Fed's position. If you live instates where private party transfers are permitted without FFL involvement, I suppose there is nothing stopping you from not having engravings on the lower... other than the word of the law and fear of prosecution.
    Last edited by fmunk; 06-02-2015 at 02:38 PM.
    Fool-proofing serves only one purpose: identify bigger fools.

  9. #8
    XCR Guru Bravo's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    What Fmunk said - if it's a "for personal use", as I've understood it, it doesn't need anything engraved on it.

    BTW, that's why I came up with a really great name for my trust. If I'm going to engrave something on a firearm, I want it to be something I'm glad to have on there.
    And no, it wasn't called the "F the batboys, them I don't TRUST" LOL!

    And no offense to anyone meant in the least, but I still would go for a GhostGunner instead. If I could get them to ship, it'd be a done-deal. Just get 3 friends you want to "share" the cost / benefits with, and call it done.
    I need to call them again, and see if anything has changed.
    Merlin likes this.
    Do you really think we want laws to be observed? We want them broken. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be crimes that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants law-abiding citizens? Pass the kind of laws that can’t be observed, enforced, or objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers.

  10. #9
    XCR Guru MickeyC's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    If they are willing to ship I'll get into one with you and share the cost.
    Bravo likes this.
    Semper in excremento sum, solum profunditas mutat. 'Always in the shit, only the depth varies'

    The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.... Margaret Thatcher,

    Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.
    Mahatma Gandhi


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