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80 Percent Lower Receivers: Untraceable DIY Firearms

Photo by Mitch Barrie

One of the hottest topics when it comes to gun regulation is 80 percent lower receivers. The subject of great curiosity for many, these innocuous pieces of metal are without a doubt a cause of confusion in the gun community.

What is an 80 Percent Lower Receiver?

All lower receivers start out as a seemingly innocuous block of aluminum. If a hand-milled or billet receiver is to be made, the block is carefully milled by a machinist to the specifications of the weapon’s design. If a forged receiver is to be created, the metal is melted and poured into a pre-fabricated general mold.

At this point, the receiver is considered 80 percent completed – thus it is called an 80 percent lower receiver. It lacks the gouged out “pit” that will eventually house the magazine and trigger mechanisms and does not have the appropriate holes drilled in for the trigger, safety or hammer pin. Because it is not considered a weapon at this point, you can purchase as many of these stylized, unmarked blocks as you like. All you need to do is complete them by hand and you’re the proud owner of what the ATF considers an untraceable firearm.

Are 80 Percent Lower Receivers Illegal?

It is perfectly within any American citizen’s rights to construct their own firearm. Of course, it is a task better left to experts as these are weapons and not LEGO sets. However, if you decide to take on the task, you will not be prosecuted in any way. If you construct a weapon complete with an unmarked lower receiver and decide to sell it or transfer its ownership in any way, though, well that’s when the drama begins. It is completely and utterly illegal to create a DIY gun and try to profit from it – or even circulate it in any way.

Are 80 Percent Lower Receivers Considered Guns?

When it is fully completed and houses all the necessary apparatus to make the gun function, the United States Department of Justice officially considers an 80 percent lower receiver to be a gun. Even without the barrel, triggers and body attached, it is still believed to be a firearm and therefore, must be regulated. Any lower receiver in a functioning firearm will have some sort of serial number or identification marks engraved into the metal casing. These numbers are registered with the government and as a result, a nice little paper trail is created.

Are 80 Percent Lower Receivers Traceable?

The U.S. has become increasingly concerned with personal privacy and security in the last decade. Information is almost as highly valued as money and identity is more prized than ever. When a gun is registered, many people fear that the personal information attached to the serial number will create a direct link back to them, making their important details available for anyone utilize.

In addition, having a visible serial code on the lower casing makes it possible for underhanded folks to report your gun as stolen and as a result, make your life a living hell of legal nonsense for up to ten years. Both options are incredibly unpleasant, and as a result, increasing amounts of people are opting to purchase non-marked lower receivers in order to protect their privacy.

What Should I Look for in an 80 Percent Lower Receiver?

Predictably, because of the great deal of interest in homemade firearms and the protection of privacy, there is a staggering amount of companies offering 80 percent lower receivers. When choosing a company to utilize, you should do your research and invest in only Military Specification products. There are a huge amount of shady companies that will say their receivers are entirely up to Mil-Spec when in actuality only a small portion of the product is. Get to know the company before you purchase anything so you can be assured that your money doesn’t go to waste.

Yes, you can safely buy an 80 percent lower receiver without a SWAT team knocking in your doors and windows. Yes, you can legally construct your own firearms as long as you don’t share or sell them. No, you won’t spend your life in jail just because you spent a little PayPal money. However, keep in mind that if you decide to build your own weapon, you are literally entering into dangerous territory. Firearms are not toys Play it safe and be sure that you enlist the help of gunsmiths and experts every step of the way.