One of the most common questions we get regarding AR-15 lower receivers is how can there be such a difference in price? There are decent models available for less than $50 and some that are priced well over $200.
The biggest difference is the material from which they’re made. The most common materials are steel, aluminum, and polymers. The more exotic the material, the higher the cost. Most lower receivers are made from aluminum as it offers both light weight and strength. Here are our top picks as well as those used by some of the top brands.
Top 8 AR-15 Lower Receivers
|Name of Product||Style||Construction Material||Price|
|Aero Precision Gen 2 Stripped Receiver||Forged||Aluminium||$$|
|Spikes Tactical AR-15 Lower Receiver||Forged||Aluminium||$$|
|Anderson AR-15 Receiver||Forged||Aluminium||$$|
|Seekins Precision SP223 Billet Receiver||Billet||Aluminium||$$$|
|Battle Arms BAD-15 Forged Receiver||Forged||Aluminium||$$$|
|James Madison 80% Polymer Gen 2 Receiver||80% Assembled||Polymer||$$|
|Mega Arms Billet Receiver||Billet||Aluminium||$$$|
|Polymer80 Lower Receiver and Jig Kit||80% Assembled||Polymer||$$|
First and foremost, the Aero Precision stripped receiver comes fully assembled, therefore you are required to get FFL to purchase it. That being said, it is constructed from sturdy, anodized 7075-T6 aluminum material to ensure its strength and durability. This is because, to house your firing parts properly, it is important to get a tough structure that is built to last.
Moreover, it is stamped with the multipurpose ‘Cal Multi’ feature where this mil-spec receiver can be utilized to accommodate 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 300 AAC blackout, 5.56/.223, 9mm Luger or any other chambering that can be fitted to the AR-15 receiver. As written in its specification, it is mainly designed to fit the 5.56mm NATO cartridge.
This product is equipped with a sturdy upper tension screw which is nylon made, to make any sort of adjustments when attaching the two-piece AR-15 receiver. That being said, you just need to adjust the set screw in the grip tang area to ensure fine tune fit between the upper and lower receiver, with proper alignment.
However, refrain from exerting too much tension on the screw or the takedown pin will be rather hard to push out and made adjustments to. Not only that, it includes an increased magazine flare which comes in handy to ensure quick and simple insertion of the magazine. Also, the hole for mounting the pistol grip is threaded along the interior of the receiver which can be used for custom-made triggers.
Speaking about pin holes, it comes with a small pin, .250” pivot/takedown pin holes as well as .154” hammer/pin holes so you get to attach the firing parts there with maximum ease. It would most probably be a perfect fit because the holes, inletting and pin location are precision cut to final dimensions to accommodate the AR-15 magazines and firing components, for your added convenience.
The clearly stamped fire/safe switch position indicators on the other hand allows you to be updated about the service state of the rifle. In addition to that, the precision machined surfaces of this product are wholly designed to match the mil-spec receiver accurately. All in all, it comes with a great fit and finish where the lower receiver properly and tightly attaches to the upper receiver for the best performance of your rifle.
Suitable for :
- Hard, anodized aluminum
- Multipurpose ‘Cal-Multi’ feature
- Precision machined surfaces
- Increased mag well flares
- Useful upper tension screw
Spikes Tactical AR-15 Lower Receiver
Deemed as sturdy and tough, this lower receiver is constructed from machined 7075-T6 together with aluminum forging to accommodate mil-spec dimensions thus ensuring accurate fit and the best performance of your rifle. For your information, the hot aluminum metal is hammered and made into the shape of a lower receiver under the forging process.
Then, they are heat treated to further strengthen the metal. And finally, the finishing process includes touch-ups such as hole drilling, thread tapping, softening the sharp edges and decorative purposes such as engraving and coating.
In addition to that, its magazine features the Spike’s famous spider logo and multi-cal engraving stamped on the side of the mag well. The multi-cal lowers are not only limited to the .223 or 5.56 NATO cartridge. In fact, it can be used for any weapons that fits into the .223/5.56mm mag well.
The pin holes on the other hand are precision made and of excellent build because they are punched, polished and sanded to perfection. In other words, it is equipped with .250” pivot/takedown pin holes as well as .154” trigger/hammer pin holes in which you can attach your firing components with a perfect fit.
In terms of assembly, the upper and lower receiver are rather easy and quick to assemble. It has a tight fit with proper alignment to guarantee you with the best shooting performance. Not only that, it is compatible to be used with short throw safeties that are intended for use on all standard AR-15 products.
Equipped with a matte black finish, it proves to be rather a fetching picture. The receiver comes as a standalone component without any additional features such as trigger group, selector, magazine and bolt release. Therefore, you need to purchase them separately. The butt-stock on the other hand are made from reinforced molded polymer which is strong and sturdy hence contributing to its durability in the long run.
Last but not least, this semi-auto lower receiver includes a ruggedized and hard-coat anodized finish to ensure that it is rust-resistant. Apart from that, it successfully resists scruffs, scratches as well as the wear and tear of your product.
Suitable for :
- Rugged, hard-coat anodized finish
- Aluminum forged (machined 7057-T6)
- Easy and quick assembly
- ‘Cal-Multi’ feature
- Comes as standalone component
Anderson AR-15 Receiver
This receiver fits standard AR-15 components. However, this same lower receiver can be utilized for both rifle as well as pistol builds with the only difference being the buffer tube. But mainly, it is wholly designed to fit the 223 Remington (check out Remington 700 trigger replacements!) as well as 5.56mm NATO cartridges.
Its mil-spec, hard anodized finish on the other hand contributes to the added strength to the receiver walls and delivers excellent abrasion resistance when utilized for field use. Hence, it is resistant to scratches and wear therefore contributing to its durability in the long run.
In terms of construction, it is made from high-strength, 7075-T6 aluminum forging where the hot aluminum is hammered and further heat treated to the shape of a low receiver with superior strength. Hence, this feature contributes to its excellent durability as well as fantastic performance when dealing with your rifle.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that this product is a perfect platform to contribute to the excellent build of the mission-specific and powerful AR-15 rifle or carbine. In other words, you are able to attach other firing components to the housing of the receiver according to your preference. Don’t fret because this product is rather tough to able to hold all your components to guarantee an excellent shooting experience.
Apart from that, it is precision machined to further ensure the simple drop-in assembly of the mil-spec receiver, when attaching the other firing parts of the weapon hence leading to added convenience. The assembly on the other hand is rather straightforward because the machining is very well done, with the jagged and sharp edges smoothened out perfectly. As a result of this, the lower and upper receiver would most probably be a perfect and tight fit.
Instead of getting the stripped receiver (fully assembled), you can go for the almost complete assembly which includes 80% of the work almost done. You only need to assemble yourself the front handgrip, pistol grip, butt-stock and flash-hider and able to customize it according to your preference. And the good thing is, you don’t require any FFL to purchase it because it isn’t considered a firearm.
Suitable for :
- Hard anodized finish
- Aluminum forging
- High-strength 7075-T6 construction
- Precision machined
- Straightforward assembly
Seekins Precision SP223 Billet Lower Receiver
Compared to the other products which are aluminum forged, this receiver is made using the billet style. Most importantly, what does it mean? First and foremost, the billet style product is CNC machined and carved from a single billet block. It takes a lot more time than aluminum forging it, to be honest.
While this process could go up to several hours, it takes a lot of workmanship, wastage of material (from being carved) as well as precious time for its construction therefore leading to its dear price. Though, they are said to be lower in terms of strength compared to the forged style product.
Besides that, this product is stripped with a matte black finish. In terms of construction, it is machined from the 7075-T6 aluminum billet therefore providing this product with superior durability and ability to withstand any sort of impacts. Also, it features an oversized integral trigger guard with extra clearance which comes in handy for shooters wearing gloves.
Another plus point is that it is equipped with an ambidextrous bolt release which is important to aid in fast reloads. The beveled magazine well feature on the other hand assists you in getting a fresh mag (either a mil-spec, PMAG, Magpul, or Surefire ultra high cap) locked in quickly. The flared mag well also allows for easier insertion and removal of the mag, for your added convenience.
The trigger reset screw and the upper tensioning setscrew are included upon the purchase of the product in order to align the upper and lower receiver properly in place. Meanwhile, it has no roll pins. That being said, all the roll pins have been replaced with screw-in dowel pins for strength and ease of maintenance, mainly so it can be assembled with ease.
In addition to that, the bullet pictogram selector markings provides you with a quick recognition of status under stress as well as deep-ridge texturing on the front of the mag well. This feature assists shooters who frequently utilizes high and close support hand hold with the rifle.
Not only that, this product is made using the Class 2 hard-coat anodized construction to ensure its high-strength as well as excellent resistance to abrasion. All in all, it fits all standard mil-spec AR-15 and M16 components, mainly the 223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO cartridges. Also, the upper receiver can be used for pistol builds, for added versatility.
Suitable for :
- Oversized internal trigger guard
- Beveled mag
- Upper tension setscrew & trigger reset screw
- Class 2 hard-coat anodized construction
- Screw-in dowel pin instead of roll pins
- Bullet pictogram selector
Battle Arms BAD-15 Forged Receiver
First things first, this forged aluminum product fits all standard AR-15 parts and mainly uses the 223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO cartridges. It is upgraded with a special machining operation after forging which contributes to its excellent strength and durability.
Speaking about high-strength construction, it is made from forged 7075-T6 aluminum material which is hard-coat anodized as well as comes with a matte black finish. Compared to the 6061-T6, the 7075-T6 (this product) aluminum material is twice as strong which comes in handy to withstand impact and abrasion resistance.
Moreover, the magazine well is precision wire EDM cut to ensure a smooth and low friction surface in order to insert the magazine quickly in one sliding motion. Meanwhile, the mag well opening is beveled to ease magazine removal and insertion.
The holes that comes on it on the other hand are precision reamed instead of being drilled which comes in handy to produce smooth and concentric holes to house any firearm parts, for your added convenience. Not only that, there is a laser engraving on the side which is cut extra deep, providing it a unique and custom look.
Apart from that, the extension threads are precision cut with helical threading to ensure perfect and proper alignment as well as smooth installation and removal of buffer tubes. The buffer tubes comes in handy if you plan on attaching a stock to your firearm as well as it houses the buffer which in return allows the rifle to operate efficiently.
That being said, the receiver is compatible to accommodate the standard 90 degrees safety selectors together with a Battle Arms Short-Throw safety screw. However, these safety selectors doesn’t come with the purchase of the product so you need to buy it separately.
The pictograph selector markings allows you a fast recognition and updates of receiver status under stress. Besides that, the easy to install setscrew bolt pins is a sleek addition to this product because it eases the assembly process.
Suitable for :
- Forged aluminum
- Precision cut holes and receiver extension
- Pictograph selector feature
- Flared mag well is precision wire EDM cut
- Hard, anodized finish
James Madson 80% Polymer Gen 2 Receiver
Unlike most of the other products, this product is not completely assembled. Instead, it is only 80% assembled. For the balance 20%, you got to work on them yourself using additional tools. The great thing of getting this 80 % assembled product is that you don’t require an FFL because since it is not completely assembled, thus not considered a firearm.
If you are a handy person, then you should totally consider getting this product. That being said, it features an 80 % polymer lower which includes jig and instructions. The instructions are important to provide you with detailed guide on how to assemble the remaining 20%, for your added convenience. All that and voila, you’re ready for the final machining to make a completed AR-15 lower receiver.
In addition to that, it comes with pre-machined areas such as bolt release cavity, threads for buffer tube and rear pivot pin holes as a guidance for you to completely build it to house standard AR-15 parts. Also, bear in mind that you will need extra tools and parts to get you going.
Tip : It’s a whole lot better of you drill the safety selector first so it would go through cleanly when the milling is done.
Despite not being made from aluminum, the polymer material is rather tough as well (though not as tough as aluminum). So why are some receivers constructed from polymer? To answer your question, polymer is relatively strong, a lot lighter than aluminum in terms of weight as well as is rather easy to produce.
Besides that, it features reinforced areas which includes the upper left mag well, upper interface as well as extended bolt release posts which contributes to improved strength and durability in the long run. The mag well should be flared to ensure easier insertion of magazines meanwhile the bolt release comes in handy for quicker reloads.
All in all, it is designed to accommodate the 223 Remington cartridge and assembled up to 80% construction only. The trigger guard on the other hand is integral to the lower receiver, thus simplifying the assembly, for your added convenience.
Suitable for :
- Polymer 80% assembly
- Has reinforced areas
- Includes pre-machined areas
- Integral trigger guard
Mega Arms Billet Receiver
First and foremost, the Mega Arms manufactured product features a nylon tipped upper tensioning screw. This nylon tipped screw comes in handy so attach together both the lower and upper receiver tightly and securely with proper alignment. As a result of this, your AR-15 firearm will be put up well which will most probably enhance your shooting performance, if you look at the bigger picture.
The mag well on the other hand includes an enlarged bottom flare paired with an inner chamfer to ensure easy and quick insertion and removal of the magazine. Meanwhile, the integrated trigger guard comes oversized for convenient use when donning on gloves. The trigger guard is important for improved functionality and strength.
Weighing 8.9 ounces, it has a rugged black finish. Its butt stock attachment is rather fortified for improved strength when used for high power application. Speaking about the butt stock, it is located where the barrel and firing mechanism are attached. It functions to assist users to firmly support the weapon and aim from it.
Apart from that, the GTR-3H feature that comes with this product is suitable to be utilized with the mega billet upper receiver. It fits the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. Constructed with the billet style, it is carved from a single billet block into the shape it is in right now. Compared to the aluminum forged products, it is slightly higher in terms of price due to the workmanship and time spent for construction.
Not only that, the GTR-3H stripped lower is fully ambidextrous (can be either used with left or right hand) and is equipped all the hardware for an integrated ambidextrous bolt catch. All in all, it is machined from the billet 7075-T6 aluminum material for a 70% increase in strength compared to the 6061-T6. Also, it is anodized with a surface hardness of 60 Rockwell in order thus contributing to its durability.
Suitable for :
- Integrated trigger guard
- Nylon tipped upper tensioning screw
- Fortified butt stock attachment
- Billet 7075-T6 aluminium
- GTR-3H lower
Polymer80 Lower Receiver and Jig Kit
Similar to the James Madison Tactical product, it arrives only 80% assembled. You will have to assemble the remaining 20% however look on the bright side, you don’t require a FFL license to make the purchase since the 80% style construction is not considered a firearm. That being said, you need to make slight adjustments and modifications using additional tools and parts according to your preference.
In addition to that, it is made from polymer 80% construction and comes with a complete jig. If you notice the title of this product, it is obvious that it includes a jig kit which comes in handy to assemble the remaining 20% and viola, you’re good to go with a complete AR-15 lower receiver set. The polymer material is strong (though not as strong as aluminum) as well as lightweight and able to resist shock from powerful impacts.
That being said, the improved jig system comes in handy as it provides inserts for trigger hole drilling as well as necessary end mill bits, for your added convenience. The unique reinforced polymer design on the other hand allows for a great project build. Meanwhile, the solid core design as well as large and high-strength buffer tube area contributes its durability.
In other words, the beefed up buffer tube allows the stock to be attached to your weapon with maximum ease. Not only that, this product is designed to fit the 5.56mm NATO as well as 223 Remington cartridges.
Moving on to the jig kit contents, it includes various tools and some firing parts such as the 80% lower receiver itself, dowel pin, setscrew bolt catch pin, pistol grip nut and screw, Allen wrench, drill bits for safety selector, AR-15 jig end mill for fire control pocket and finally drill bit for trigger and hammer pin holes.
Jig screws unfortunately are not included upon the purchase of this product so you have to purchase them separately. All in all, all the additional tools and parts included are utilized to completely build the full product itself where you can even customize it according to your own performance and design.
Suitable for :
- Polymer 80% construction
- Beefed up buffer tube area
- Jig kit included
- Improved jig system
- Solid core design + reinforced polymer design
Some key considerations when choosing an AR-15 lower receiver:
Receiver Style :
Compared to the forged style, the billet style is a lot harder to make. Therefore, it involves a lot of time (at least a few hours) and workmanship which in return contributes to its expensive price. Let’s briefly walk down its process. First things first, the metal is CNC machined and carved from a single billet block to the shape of a lower receiver.
The billet style product is weaker in terms of strength compared to the forged type. However, it is good enough to handle the strong recoils of your rifle. Not only that, you are also able to easily make aesthetic changes with this construction style, for your added convenience.
This is the most common type of receiver style in the market. So what does forged process mean? First things first, the hot aluminum or steel metal is molded and hammered into the standard shape of the lower receiver. To further strengthen it, it is then heat treated.
After that, the finishing process includes modifications and adjustments being made such as drilling of holes, smoothening of sharp edges, coatings as well as engravings. Once fully forged, the product would be of high-strength and excellent quality. The forging process produces the strongest receiver between all three styles
3. 80% Assembled
What does 80% assembled mean? To answer your query, the receiver is not fully assembled and so it is not considered a firearm. This comes in handy because you don’t require any FFL license to purchase the lower receiver. If you’re a handy person, then it wouldn’t be too much of a problem for you.
However, you may need to get additional tools and parts to fully assemble the product. Apart from that, you need to acquire technical skills to properly assemble them with maximum precision. For example, you may have to add to the pre-machined areas such as threads for buffer tube, rear pivot pin hole and bolt release cavity.
Construction Material :
Though not as tough as aluminum material in terms of strength, the polymer material is rather sturdy and durable. The best qualities of polymer that makes it popular among firearms is that it is lightweight and easy to produce. Apart from that, they are also able to withstand abrasion and impacts from the powerful recoils of the firearm.
Since polymer material is less strong than aluminum, it is a lot easier to machine and carve since there won’t be much resistance. If you have noticed, most 80% assembled products have polymer construction so modifications and the remaining 20% assembly would be a breeze.
The most commonly used material in constructing the lower receiver is aluminum. Why are they mostly chosen? It is mainly because they are equipped with high strength and excellent resistance to corrosion. Between the aluminum metal there are two popular aluminum ratings which are the 6061-T6 as well as the 7075-T6.
The 7075-T6 material has a higher tensile strength compared to the 6061-T6 aluminum. Hence, it provides excellent strength and durability and mostly utilized for the AR-15 lower receiver. In other words, the 7075-T6 is twice as strong compared to the latter.
That being said, it is obviously more expensive than the 6061-T6. Nevertheless, the 6061-T6 aluminum is easier to machine since it’s a lot less strong and stress-resistant. Hence, there is lesser wear and tear in the long run.
The cost basically varies depending on the type of material being used and the style of it being constructed. For example, aluminum billet construction is a lot more expensive compared to the forged ones because billet style requires a lot of initiative and time. Meanwhile, aluminum material cost more than polymer because aluminum is a whole lot stronger than the latter.
That being said, choosing the type and style of material depends on your personal preference and all comes down to your budget. However, you shouldn’t be hesitant to get a good quality product because in the end, the performance of your rifle is the most important thing. To get a little insight on how to choose the products or the individual products itself, you should look through product-based reviews as well as customer reviews.
More AR-15 Resources
All in all, a lower receiver is one of the most important part of the AR-15 rifle. It is available in either aluminum, steel or polymer construction so it is able to withstand the strong and powerful impact of the recoil of the rifle. Apart from that, it is available in 3 different styles including the billet, forging or 80% assembly. Therefore, I hope my review assists you in making the right choice.