9 Best AR15 Lower Receivers
Are you building an AR pistol, a SBR or an rifle from scratch? There are so many companies making them and it can be overwhelming sometimes to find the best ones because most of them are identical.
In this guide, let's check out the best AR15 lower receivers you can buy on today.
There are 3 types of receivers you can buy:
- Strip Lower [Bare bone receiver]
- Complete Lower [Ready to mate with an complete upper receiver]
- 80% Lower [Requires milling]
But in this guide, we will only focus on strip lower receivers. At the end of this guide, you will learn which ones are the best and what to look for.
Let's get started
NOTE: All Serialized Lower Receiver Purchases Require Local FFLs Administrating ATF 4473 Background Checks
[At the time of writing this guide [Nov 2020], a 80% lower is NOT considered a firearm and the ATF laws can change at any time]
9 Best AR15 Lower Receivers
Since most people will buy the strip lower because they're premilled and ready to go, so we will talk about them first.
There are tons of companies local & big-name brands making them, and it's important to understand that most of them are made at the same factory, and the factory simply stamps the companies logo on the receiver.
A well-known brand usually charges a little bit more than less know brands due to the nature of doing business and brand value.
BCM Lower - Best Overall
BCM makes some of the top AR15 parts and accessories including their most popular KMR handguard & BCM PDW grip that everyone loves. Their primary marketing efforts aim at the hardcore tactical communities.
Buying their Mil-Spec lower receiver is definitely one of the best overall choices
Anderson Manufacturing - Best Price
Anderson Manufacturing lower receiver is the most affordable on the market. Don't let the low price fool you people have build countless AR15s with this lower with zero issues
The receiver is CNC machined from a high strength 7075 T6
aluminum with a Type III black hard-anodized finish to the Military Specification that provides durability and unmatched performance in the field or at the range.
Aero Precision - Best Value
The M4E1 Lower Receiver delivers billet aesthetics from a forged 7075 T6 aluminum, and it's compatible with all mil-spec AR15 parts.
Besides the external differences, they have also added several functional features to the lower receiver to simplify the assembly process for the at home builder.
Increased Magwell Flare - Enlarged magwell opening to aid faster and more efficient magazine insert.
Integrated Trigger Guard - Eliminates the possibility of breaking the trigger guard tabs by integrating the trigger guard into the lower, creating a stronger more rigid platform to build upon.
Threaded Takedown Pin Detent Recess - Install the Takedown Pin detent and spring with the use of a 4-40 set screw (no more launching detents across the room).
Threaded Bolt Catch Roll Pin - Allows for simple installation of the bolt catch and virtually eliminates the chance to damage the finish during installation (pin included). 1/16" Hex Key required for assembly.
VLTOR VRA R - Best Billet Lower Receiver
In the past decade, VLTOR released a series of innovative products to the weapons market. Most notably, the company has a large presence in the hardcore tactical community.
The VLTOR VRA-R is a fully-featured Mil-Spec lower receiver including 3 QD sling attachment points, a beveled magazine well and an oversized magazine release button.
If you get this one, the VRA R ships with a mil-spec trigger, lower parts kit & buffer system already preassembled.
Radian Weapons - Best Ambidextrous Feature
The Radian Weapons AR-15 Ambidextrous Lower Receiver is not only completely ambidextrous, but it also looks & feels just bad ass featuring flared mag well for quick reloads, a serrated front for CQB support handhold & integrated trigger guard for easier trigger access.
Radian Weapons milled this receiver from 7075-T6 aluminum, hard coat anodized and milled weight-reduction cutouts into the magazine well.
Additionally, this unit enables right-handed shooters to lock the bolt to the rear without taking their firing hand off the weapon.
For fit, there’s a self-adjusting receiver tensioner that uses a spring pin to automatically adjust the upper receiver tension for an exact upper receiver fit without turning any screws.
Overall, this model is an outstanding option for those who want a truly ambidextrous lower receiver without purchasing any additional hardware.
F1 UDR-15 3G - Best Skeleton Receiver
F-1 Firearms is a Texas firearms brand that sells the best skeletonized AR-15 upper & lower receivers that stand out from the crowd.
The skeletonized UDR 15 3G lower receiver is made with 7075-T6 aircraft quality domestic aluminum, ensuring quality, and offers the new F-1 Firearms 3G skeletonizing for reduced weight and aesthetics
Most importantly, F1 UDR 15 3G skeletonized receiver is much beefier than others on the market to maintain structural integrity.
In addition, the receiver features an oversized trigger guard for shooters gearing gloves & 60° beveled magwell for fast magazine insert.
How To Pick An AR-15 Lower Receiver: The Major Factors
Now, let’s talk about what matters the most when buying a strip lower, and there are 3 things to look for:
- Type – The type of lower receiver should make sense to what you want between feature and function. It should also fit your budget.
- Material – Forged or Billet. Forged 7075 T6 aluminum is stronger
- Quality Control – Most receivers are made from the same factory with different company logos stamped, but quality standards vary.
If you can find a lower receiver that matches the intent of your weapon, falls within your budget, and is built to last, then you may have found the best AR-15 lower receiver for you. There are some other minor factors to consider as well. They include:
- Finish – You want a finish that is free from defects and blemishes. Not only does it look good but it protects your weapon from chemical corrosion and exposure to elements.
- Aesthetics – What your AR-15 looks like can influence how much you enjoy your weapon overall. Choose a lower receiver you like and that matches your aesthetic.
- Performance Features –Don’t sleep on this one. Features like flared magazine wells and tension screws can greatly improve the function and performance of you weapon.
Let’s look at all of these in a little more detail.
Detailed Buyer's Guide
7075 T6 VS 6061 T6 Aluminum Lower Receiver
There are two types of aluminums commonly used to make AR15 receivers:
- 7075 T6
- 6061 T6
|Aluminum Type||6061 T6||7075 T6|
|Ultimate Tensile Strength||45000 PSI||83000 PSI|
|Tensile Yield Strength||40000 PSI||73000 PSI|
|Shear Strength||30000 PSI||48000 PSI|
|Fatigue Strength||14000 PSI||23000 PSI|
7075 is about 2X stronger than 6061, so why would anyone buy a 6061 receiver?
They both last, and we have seen both of them in action for many years and we can't tell any difference as far as performance. All we can say is they work.
So why is there price difference?
The forged 7075 T6 is a lot stronger & less expensive. On the other hand, 6061 is slightly less strong than 7075, but the billet receiver has a bit more details, better looking & more expensive due to the extensive amount of CNC machine work.
On top of that, the price is also depended on the brand. The stronger the brand market value, the more they can charge.
2 Most Reliable Types Of Lower Receivers
Strongest Receiver - 7075 T6 Aluminum grade lower receiver is the best on the market and the most common for mil-spec grade AR15s. It's hard to beat its combination of strength and price.
What is forging? - Forging is a process where hot metal is hammered into the general shape of a lower receiver to increase the density of the material, thus the strength.
How the shape is formed - As the metal is hammered into the shape of the lower receiver part. The grain flows continuously through the part giving the receiver significantly increased material strength.
Heat Treatment - After the lower receiver is forged, heat treatment is applied to further strengthen the metal.
Finishing Touch - Once the heat treatment is completed, then the sharp edges, drill holes, and tap threads are cleaned up before applying markings and a finish.
Who Makes Them - Only a few manufacturers make the receivers, and you can identify them by looking at the forging stamp [Keyhole, Square...etc], then the brand logo is stamped to the receiver.
Popular brands with high brand equity, better-perceived value & marketing can charge a much higher price than less popular brands. Yet, the receivers are made at the same factory.
So higher-priced units may not be the best value. When you can get a cheaper receiver with the exact same qualities.
Billet Lower Receiver
Best Looking Receiver - A billet aluminum lower receiver looks much better and unique for any hardcore AR15 carbine lovers. They work just as well as a standard A2 receiver and gives the AR15 so much more creative designs than a forged receiver.
Buying a billet receiver is the same as choosing a forged receiver- get it from a reputable manufacturer that uses top-quality materials.
CNC Machining - The process involves the use of CNC machines to carve the receiver from a single billet block into the final product. The process can take upwards of a few hours. After everything is done, you’re left with a rugged and good looking lower receiver.
Fitting - Some billet lower receiver parts won’t fit standardized parts and require proprietary parts exclusive to the manufacturer. This is definitely a detail you need to pay attention to before making a purchase.
Durability - The billet receivers are inherently weaker than a forged receiver theoretically, but it's highly unlikely that people test its strength in any condition to notice a difference at the metallurgic level.
Other Parts Needed
Once you've decided on a lower receiver, the next thing to do is to buy the lower receiver parts kit or you can buy them individually.
We recommend buying a set that includes everything unless you know exactly what to get. These parts are:
- Trigger guard
- Receiver retention pins
- Safety selector
- Trigger group
- Bolt release
- Magazine release
- Buffer tube
- Pistol grip
- Plunger & plunger spring
- Buffer & Buffer Spring
- Castle nut
- Receiver plate
- Rifle stock
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Tools Needed For Installation
Tools needed for completing your lower receiver build are:
- Hole punch
- Vice Block
- Screw Driver
Best Places To Buy
Cons – Besides the hassle of contacting your local FFL to coordinate the purchase & transfer. Some FFL can charge up to $100 per item being transferred on top other expenses
Local Gun Shop
Pros – You support local business and often get superb customer service. You also get to touch, feel, and experience your parts before making a purchase.
Cons – Gun shops don't generally carry tons of receiver parts unless you go to a store that does. Sometimes the local gun shop charge higher prices overall.
If you decided to just buy a complete AR15 rifle, please check out this guide here.