Best AR-10 80% Lowers of 2019 – Rated & Reviewed

Are you looking for the best AR-10 80% lower? If you are, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, we’ll be looking at a couple of these in a brief moment. But first, we’ll be talking about what these are and what their intended purpose is.

We’ll also give you a brief guide on how you can choose a great 80% lower for your rifle without having to wade through the low-quality, cheap lowers that tend to flood the market these days.

Also, if you might have concerns as to whether or not an 80% lower is legal in your area or not, stick around. We’ll answer that question so you won’t have to spend more time researching for an answer.

Comparison Chart of the Best AR-10 80% Lowers

PRODUCT DETAILS
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James Madison Tactical - 308 80% Lower Receiver W/Jig

  • Includes Extended Fire Control Box Sections
  • Webbed Magazine Wells on Both the Left and Right Sides
  • Made From High-Quality Polymer for Durability and Corrosion Resistance
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JMT .308/7.62 80% Polymer Lower Receiver & jig

  • Made From High-Quality Polymer
  • Includes Upper Left Magazine Well Box Section
  • Webbed Magazine Wells on the Left and Right Sides
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What is an 80% Lower?

An 80% lower is a slang term for a type of lower receiver. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not something that was made up by government agencies like the ATF. Like the name, this lower receiver covers up 80 percent of the lower half of your AR-10 rifle. Despite some saying that it’s considered a firearm, a stand-alone 80% lower is not one.

For further confirmation, the ATF even states that these lowers are not firearms. That’s because in order to complete the receiver, it would require some tooling or gunsmithing skills. Keep in mind that in most jurisdictions, it is legal to manufacture your own gun. But to err on the side of legality, double check your local, state, and federal laws just to make sure.

James Madison Tactical - 308 80% Lower Receiver W/Jig

Is it Legal to Own an 80% Lower? 

Short answer: Yes. The long answer is a repeat of what was just mentioned. It’s not considered to be a stand-alone firearm. Unlike a complete lower receiver for an AR-10, you won’t need an FFL license to purchase or own one. In most, if not all jurisdictions, you will be allowed to own one of these lowers.

Why Would You Want an 80% Lower Compared to Others?

There are a few good reasons you should own an 80% lower receiver for your AR-10. Some of them may be for the sake of your rifle’s overall function. But there are also some advantages you may also enjoy should you own one of these yourself. Here is a brief list of what you’ll enjoy if you choose to upgrade to an 80% lower:

Your Right to Bear Arms

It’s clearly obvious. You, as an American citizen, have the right to bear arms, provided that you are not a convicted felon or have any blemishes on your record that would otherwise cause issues when you’re attempting to purchase a firearm. Whether 2A opponents like it or not, this is a right that most Americans have exercised responsibly and safely. And they should not be lumped in with those who have made the mistake of using a firearm irresponsibly.

They Don’t Have Serial Numbers

The good news is that 80% lowers don’t have serial numbers. In other words, you won’t be tracked down on any government database. So as long as you’re using them responsibly, you won’t have to worry about breaking any laws or regulations. Especially if you’re building an AR-10 rifle from scratch.

Complete Lower Receivers Will Require FFLs

If you’re getting a complete lower receiver, then you’ll need an FFL. And in some jurisdictions, it may not even be legal to purchase or even own these kinds of receivers. With 80% lowers, you won’t have to jump through the legal hoops and deal with the headaches that go along with it.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Before purchasing an 80% lower receiver of your own, you’ll need to consider some factors that will play a role in your final buying decision. It would be wise to look carefully at your options rather than buy the first 80% lower you find on the market. If you’re online, it’s better to do some in-depth research before you hit the “add to cart” button. With that said, here are a few aspects that some past buyers have considered prior to their purchase:

Price

Price is considered a major factor, especially for those looking for an 80 percent lower on a budget. While price should not be the “be all, end all” in your purchasing process, you should also consider overall quality as a possible factor. As a rule of thumb, find something that’s affordable in price but also high in overall quality.

Material

Staying on the topic of quality, it’s important to know what kind of materials are being used to manufacture these lowers. Most gun manufacturers opt for high-quality materials. For example, polymer is considered a heavy favorite among manufacturers. Upper and lower receivers will typically be made from this kind of material since it’s a lot stronger and more resistant to damage. Another material that might be included for 80 percent receivers is aluminum.

Installation

Already, you know that 80 percent lowers will need some tooling in order to be installed properly. The same way is true when you’re looking to complete the last 20% of a lower receiver. Keep in mind that some gunsmithing skills may be needed in order to install an 80% lower receiver. If the installation process appears a little too intimidating for you, you can always rely on the professional services of a gunsmith to install it for you.

Quick Take - The Best AR-10 80% Lowers

Review of the Best AR-10 80% Lowers

Below, we’ll be taking a look at two of the best AR-10 80% lowers considered the best on the market. We chose these two since they stood out as the best in terms of quality and performance. At the same time, these will fit most budgets. Regardless of which one you choose, your final decision may come down to a unique feature or two that might pique your interest a little further. With that said, let’s introduce our best overall choice:

Pros

  • Drilling and the Aligning Process is Simple
  • The Jig is Very Well-Made for Easy Machining
  • Polymer is Super Strong and Can Be Refined as You Go for Any Needed Adjustments.

Cons

  • May Require Some Additional Fitting
  • One Reviewer Complained That it Didn’t Come With Instruction
  • The Result May Not Be a Thing of Beauty, But Can Still Be Useable

For our top choice, we’ll be taking a look at the James Madison Tactical 80% lower receiver. One thing you’ll notice is that this is constructed from a high-quality polymer. This is guaranteed to hold its own, especially when you’ve fired off well over a hundred rounds.

This is a fully engineered lower designed to give you long-lasting and reliable performance that is second-to-none. The polymer is quite strong and most of its strong points are located in key areas. This receiver will also be resistant to not just damage, but also corrosion as well.

Something to keep in mind, polymer is more resistant to corrosion than aluminum lower receivers. So if you’re looking for something that will be strong and long-lasting, this 80% lower could be your best choice.  

These are engineered for the purpose of providing mil-spec style tolerances. So if you’re looking for something that’s close to mil-spec, you’re probably going to want this product for your own rifle.

Bottom Line

The James Madison Tactical 80% lower receiver is easy to fit and install if you know what you’re doing. Especially when you’ll be using tools like a drill press or any other machines that may be useful for the installation process. The manufacturers were smart in choosing polymer as the material to use for this lower receiver.

You can easily make some changes if need be and polymer won’t give you much difficulty. If you have some gunsmithing skills handy and know your way around the machines, the installation process won’t be as challenging for you.

Pros

  • Lower is Stout and Very Lightweight
  • The Jig is Great and Very Easy to Follow
  • Easy to Mill. You Can Also Use Basic Shop Tools

Cons

  • One Reviewer Said it May Crack Under Pressure
  • One Reviewer Complained About the Holes Being Too Small. May Need to Be Sanded Down to Ensure a Better Fit

Finally, we’ll be taking a look at the runner up on our list. This is also brought to us by the JMT brand (the short name for James Madison Tactical). This lower receiver is available in three different colors. So if you have a personal preference for a certain color, just choose one and go with it.

This is made from high-quality polymer that comes with a webbed magazine well located on both the right and left sides. Your AR-10 magazines should be able to fit in this lower receiver properly without any jamming issues.

Believe it or not, this is actually a lower receiver that is interchangeable. This can be interchangeable with most mil-spec .308 caliber rifles. If you’re looking for a lower receiver that won’t be difficult when switching to other rifles, then this might be your best option.

This is built to last and also built to withstand the harshest of environments. If you’re looking for something that will stick with you in the long run, you’d be crazy to pass up on this version.

Bottom Line

This 80 percent lower is a lightweight, but a durable unit that will work with your AR-10 without issue once you’re able to properly get it installed. If you’re looking for something that will be easy to machine, but a little less complicated than any of the other products, this JMT model might the better option for you.

This will fit quite well if you happen to have a JMT upper lurking around. As a rule, if you’re looking for an upper that will be perfect to pair with this lower, then your best bet will obviously be an upper from the same manufacturer.

Conclusion

Finding the best AR-10 80% lower may be a challenge. But one of these two might be yours if you’re looking for an excellent addition to your AR-10 building project. These are legal to own and will also give you more peace of mind as opposed to jumping through all kinds of hoops with complete lower receivers.

Whether you’re using it for a building project or as a replacement, a good 80% receiver might be just what you need to maximize your AR-10 rifle’s performance.

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