Best AR-15 Pistol Lowers of 2020 – Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide

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Are you looking for the best AR-15 pistol lower? If so, you’re in the right place. An AR-15 pistol lower is similar to a regular AR-15 lower. It has the same parts and same function. There really isn’t a difference between the two. That’s what makes the assembly so much simpler (assuming you’ve built or used an AR-15 rifle in the past).

Regardless of what you’re using, you still get to enjoy the awesome firepower of this semi-automatic firearm that has long been a favorite among target shooters, competitive shooters, and hunters alike. But the AR-15 pistol is better for target shooting and in some instances, home defense.

Before we get to our list of six AR-15 pistol lowers, we’ll dive a little deeper into what the difference is between AR-15 pistol lowers and AR-15 rifle lowers. We’ll also talk about what a lower consists of and how you can choose one for your own AR-15 pistol.

Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Pistol Lowers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best 80% lower for an AR-15 pistol.
  • Magwell and fire control pocket are both reinforced.
  • Made from high-quality polymer for superior durability.
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  • Best overall AR-15 pistol lower.
  • Includes a pistol brace for additional support and solid control.
  • Made from high-quality aluminum with a black anodized hard coat.
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  • 5-position buffer tube with pistol brace.
  • Comes with an over-molded grip for a better hold.
  • Comes with trigger assembly and other lower parts.
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  • Best AR-15 pistol lower for the money.
  • Trigger assembly added for a clean, smooth pull.
  • Includes a carbine style buffer tube for adjustable pistol braces.
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  • Compatible with most calibers.
  • Fits with most carbine buffer tubes.
  • Adjustable pistol brace with nylon straps included.
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  • Best stripped pistol lower for an AR-15.
  • Includes lower parts for easy assembly.
  • Pistol buffer tube included for the inclusion of pistol braces.
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AR-15 Pistol Lowers vs. Rifle Lowers: How Are They Different? 

As mentioned before, physically they are the same, and for the most part, they have the ability to use lower assembly parts. They will function the same, as well.

One distinct difference is that your AR-15 pistol is a little shorter in length compared to your standard AR-15 rifle. A pistol can be converted into a rifle. Once the conversion is complete, it can never be reversed.

If you have a stripped lower that says “pistol only”, you may want to use it only for an AR-15 pistol and that alone. At that point, you can get a lower parts kit and start from there. If you choose to convert it to a rifle, you may need to sub it for a new lower but keep the lower parts as-is.

What are the Components of an AR-15 Pistol Lower Receiver?

A lower receiver contains some assemblies that allow the AR-15 pistol to function properly. If you have a stripped upper, it is important to take note of what’s included so you know what to look for in a lower parts kit in the not so distant future. Here are some of the components:

Trigger Assembly

Of course, no lower receiver is useful without a solid trigger assembly. This includes the trigger itself, the housing, and the firing pins and springs that hold it all together. One pull of the trigger and the firing mechanism goes to work to deliver a clean, crisp shot that will be precise, accurate, and dead-on its target.

Magazine Catch Assembly

The magazine catch assembly is another important element to the pistol lower receiver. This will be the place where you can attachand remove a magazine. Of course, magazines need a place to go if you’re planning on putting those rounds to good use, right?

The magazine catch assembly will include the magazine catch itself and also includes the usual pins and springs that hold it together and allow it function as normal. Also, this will include a magazine release button that will allow you to quickly release the magazine in the event it’s empty or if you’re experiencing a malfunction and need to reload a replacement.

Bolt Catch Assembly

The bolt catch assembly is essential because it’s designed to stop the bolt’s travel. Once it’s stopped, you can then discard an empty magazine with a fresh full one and be ready to go in a matter of seconds. The follower of a magazine is designed to push the bolt all the way up.

What Makes a Great AR-15 Pistol Lower Receiver?

There are a few characteristics that make an AR-15 pistol lower stand out among the rest of them. And some of them might be driving factors in your decision. It’s also important to know the difference between a lower receiver that is high in quality from one that is ineffective and crappy. These are the few things that make a great AR-15 stand out:

Material

Quality is always something you need to hold to a high standard. The higher the material quality, the longer a product will last. Most great lowers are made from materials like steel or aluminum. These are proven to be excellent materials that stand up to all kinds of abuse, bumps, and bangs. Look out for these materials as you’re looking for a lower of your own.

PSA AR-15 Complete MOE Shockwave EPT Pistol Lower is quality made using 7075-T6 aluminum.

Stripped or Assembled?

The answer to this question will come down to personal preference. An assembled lower will be great for those who are first-time builders that want to save time and money rather than track down every little part piece by piece. Plus, an assembled lower might serve you better in the long run if you’re simply looking for an upgrade. Meanwhile, a stripped lower will be for those who want to build an AR-15 pistol from the ground up and want to build it little by little.

Price

If you’re a budget shopper, then you’re always going to place high importance on price. In this case, you’ll need to find a lower that fits within your budget. Most are high in quality and have an affordable price tag. But they won’t be ridiculously low in price. Don’t buy any product simply because it’s cheap. Buy the best quality you can afford, even if it’s a little more than what your budget allows.

Quick Take - The Best AR-15 Pistol Lowers

Review of the Best AR-15 Pistol Lowers

Below are six of the best AR-15 pistol lowers currently on the market. As you look through each one, take note of any features and functions that match your personal needs and preferences. These lowers have been chosen as the best in a certain category, so there might be a specific lower that you could be looking for.

Regardless, we recommend that you look through all six to see which one stands out to you the most. Now, let’s begin our list by unveiling our “best overall” choice for an AR-15 pistol lower:

Pros

  • Super Durable
  • Will Accept All Kinds of Lower Parts Kits
  • Great for Those That Might Be Restricted From Buying Complete Lower Receivers Due to Gun Laws in Their State

Cons

  • None

For the first lower on our list, we’ll be taking a look at the Polymer 80 AR-15 80% Lower Receiver. You might be dealing with the headaches of not being able to purchase complete lower receivers due to your local and state gun laws. However, an 80% lower receiver might be the alternative if this is the case.

This lower is made from high-quality polymer and is completely stripped. The lower is also lightweight, so it won’t make your AR-15 feel like a heavy dumbbell while you’re carrying it around. A stripped receiver means you can add on the lower parts you need that will make the pistol itself fully functional. You have your trigger housing and mag well included so you can add on the trigger and magazine catch assembly respectively.

If you’re looking to fully assemble your lower from the ground up but are limited to an 80% lower due to gun laws, you’ll probably want something that is super strong, reliable, and accepts all kinds of lower parts kits. The Polymer 80 is your best choice if you so choose to go down this route.

Bottom Line

A good 80 percent lower might be the better alternative if you are not able to purchase a complete lower receiver. Alternatively, it might be a better option if you don’t want a complete lower just yet. Either way, the Polymer 80 proves itself to be a reliable lower that you can use to build your AR-15 pistol from the ground up.

Pros

  • Works With All Kinds of Different Calibers
  • Brace is Easy to Adjust for All Kinds of Shooters
  • Trigger Pull is Super Smooth and Consistent Compared to Other Mil-Spec Triggers

Cons

  • Some Have Complained That the Brace and the Grip Don’t Match Up

Next on the list, we have the PSA AR-15 Complete MOE Shockwave EPT Pistol Lower. At first glance, you’ll notice that this lower has what you might call "the complete package". This has a complete lower receiver that comes complete with a pistol brace to give you complete control over your AR-15 pistol.

Since you won’t be able to have a stock, a brace will be the closest you can get to one. This also includes a complete assembled trigger assembly that allows for a clean, crisp trigger pull. If you’re looking for a trigger that has a nice, super-smooth pull, you might be happy with this pistol lower.

The lower receiver is made from high-quality aluminum and is finished with a black anodized hard coat. This means the receiver will be durable and super strong.

The receiver itself is as close as you are going to get to a highly-functional, mil-spec model. If you fancy yourself a fan of mil-spec in an AR-15 pistol, you’d be hard- pressed to find something as good as this.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best of the best in AR-15 pistol lowers, you might want to give the PSA AR-15 Complete MOE Shockwave Lower a closer look. This is also great fit if you’re looking for something that’s fully assembled and ready to go.

You will get all the parts you need, plus a good pistol brace to give you the additional support you deserve so you can shoot off all kinds of accurate shots. It is excellent for an upgrade or if you want to save time with an AR-15 pistol building project.

Pros

  • Brace Fits Perfectly
  • Easy to Assemble Parts
  • Fits With Most Calibers (i.e.--.300 AAC Blackouts, etc.)

Cons

  • Some Reviewers Have Reported Receiving Their Kits With Missing Parts 
  • One Reviewer Had an Issue With the Buffer Tube Not Being Good Enough for Their Brace

Now, we’ll be taking a look at another lower from the PSA brand. This is the MOE + EPT SBA Pistol Lower Build Kit. This lower kit comes with all the parts you need to easily put them all together for a fully functional lower receiver for your AR-15 pistol.

This includes your trigger assembly with the trigger itself, the pins, and the springs that will hold it all in place. Also included is the buffer tube with a pistol brace that will allow you to hold onto your pistol in either a one-handed or shouldered position. No matter which position you’re comfortable with, you will have the ability to use either with the adjustable pistol brace.

The buffer tube itself is a five-position adjustable tube that may come in handy should you decide to convert the pistol into a rifle in the future. But for the moment, it serves as a solid unit that accommodates and holds the pistol brace so you’re able to get a better handle on the pistol itself.

If you’re looking for a lower build kit that will give you a bit of a challenge to assemble, then this PSA lower build kit might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Bottom Line

If you’re not the kind of person who likes an already fully assembled lower right out of the box, we won’t blame you (nor will we judge you). But rest assured, these parts are easy to assemble so you can put it all together yourself. Once finished, it will do its job smoothly.

Since it fits most calibers, you won’t have to worry about whether or not this lower will accept your .223 or 5.56 NATO-compatible barrels, or not. If you want a kit that will give you maximum enjoyment in building your own AR-15 pistol, this lower kit from PSA might just be right up your alley.

Pros

  • Solid and Sturdy Build
  • Fits All Kinds of Pistol Braces
  • Still Works Perfectly Without Malfunctioning After 200+ Rounds

Cons

  • No Castle Nut Included
  • Not California-Compliant
  • Some Have Had Issues With the Buffer Tube Coming Loose

If you’re looking for a lower receiver but want to stick to a budget, you might want to consider the PSA AR-15 Complete Classic Pistol Lower. Right away, you’ll have a lower that is straightforward and includes some of the parts you need in order for it all to function. This includes a trigger assembly that delivers a light, crisp pull which will allow you to get your shots off quickly.

Also included is a buffer tube designed to handle all kinds of pistol braces. Just add on the brace and you can make the AR-15 pistol more usable by most users. This is a simple, classic lower that has all the parts you need for it to fire and function properly. However, the pistol brace itself isn’t included, so you may want to purchase the best one you can find separately.

The buffer tube is a standard carbine buffer tube that will work with most carbine-style AR-15 pistols. This is something to keep in mind if you’re considering the idea of building a pistol from the ground up. This is also an excellent upgrade to add to your current build if you’re looking for a lower receiver on a budget. It’s solid, durable, and can function like a champion.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a cheap, low-quality lower, you’re going to be quite disappointed because this lower receiver exceeds all expectations. It’s solid, works with all kinds of pistol braces and AR-15 pistol calibers, and does a good job holding the pistol together. If you’re looking for a simple lower receiver without having to assemble so many parts, the classic lower receiver could be your cup of coffee.

Pros

  • Easy to Install
  • Trigger Pull Quality is Excellent
  • Very Solid Construction and Quality

Cons

  • Some Have Reported Having Missing Screws and Pins 
  • Some Have Had to Replace the Trigger Assembly Due to Malfunctions. This Might be a Problem on PSA’s End

Now, we’ll be taking a look at the best AR-15 pistol lower that comes with a brace. A great pistol brace is exactly what you’ll need if you want something that will fit you (or any other shooter) perfectly. The strap allows a three-position adjustment, so you’ll have a position that will work to your advantage.

It is also compatible with mil-spec brand bolt group carriers. If your AR-15 pistol has a carbine buffer tube, this will fit perfectly with it. Also added is a Magpul grip designed to give you better control over your AR-15 pistol.

If you’re using it for one-handed use or hanging onto it while shouldering the pistol, this will give you a grip that is reliable and won’t slip out of your hand in wet weather conditions or when your hands are sweating.

This lower is fully assembled and ready to install in your current AR-15 pistol build. Alternatively, this will also serve as one of the more important pieces to your building project.

If you want to save time and money with your project, then a fully assembled lower might be what you need. But if you want one with a reliable adjustable brace included, this will be something you’ll want to consider buying.

Bottom Line

Some may not be pleased with the idea of having to purchase a pistol brace separately from a lower receiver. If you’re one of those people, you can rest easy knowing that there’s a lower that has one included. You’d be crazy to pass on the opportunity to grab one of these for your own AR-15 pistol. If you’re looking for a product like this, get this PSA AR-15 pistol lower while you still have the chance.

Pros

  • Trigger Pull is Smooth With No Creep
  • An Affordable and Reliable Kit for an AR-15 Pistol Builder
  • An Excellent Starter Kit for Those Building Their First Pistol

Cons

  • Castle Nut Not Included
  • Trigger Assembly Might Be a Bit Challenging for Some
  • Some Have Complained About the Length of the Buffer Tube

If you’re looking for a lower receiver that’s completely stripped, you might enjoy something like the PSA Pistol Lower Build Kit. This kit is for those who want to build their pistol from the ground up and want to start with nothing but a stripped receiver. If you’re up for the challenge of building a pistol from the ground up piece by piece, then this might be the lower that will fit you perfectly.

Plus, you'll have a lower build kit that allows you to easily assemble each part so you can have a complete lower receiver that will function properly and make your AR-15 pistol highly functional and reliable for years to come.

Aside from the usual pins and springs, this includes a pistol buffer tube that you can attach to the pistol itself, so you can add on a pistol brace later on in the building project itself. This kit has all the parts you need to put together an AR-15 pistol, so if you’re looking for something that will make the building project a whole lot better and more enjoyable, this PSA Lower Build Kit is exactly what you’re looking for.

Bottom Line

No, we cannot forget those who want to strictly build an AR-15 pistol from the ground up. And that’s exactly what this kit was made for. This is a stripped lower plus the assembly parts you need to put it all together.

Once assembled, you’ll be one step closer to having a fully functional pistol that you’ll be dying to fire off at the range. If you’re looking to build a head turner of a pistol, then it all starts with a lower receiver with the right parts. So why not consider looking at this PSA pistol lower a bit further?

Types of AR-15 Pistol Lower Receivers

There are three lower receivers available for AR-15 pistols. Some of the products you can purchase in most jurisdictions. However, in some states with strict gun laws, you might be limited to one option only. Prior to purchasing a lower for your AR-15 pistol, please consult with your local and state gun laws to ensure you are not unintentionally breaking the law. Now, here are the three most popular types you can purchase for an AR-15 pistol:

Assembled Lowers

Assembled lowers will typically have all the parts assembled in one lower receiver. Which means you won’t have to put it together piece by piece. Most of them will be drop-ins, meaning you can install them without making any permanent alterations to the AR-15 pistol itself.

Stripped Lowers

Stripped lowers will not have all the parts put together. Most of these products will have a lower parts kit included, which means you will have to assemble and put it together yourself.

80-Percent Lowers

80-percent lowers are not complete lowers. And they are not considered to be firearms in accordance with the ATF. These are allowable in all jurisdictions (especially in states that have strict gun laws). You can at some point complete the other 20 percent, if you so choose. However, these do not have parts already intact. So in this case, you’re probably going to need a lower parts kit to complete the assembly.

Conclusion

The best AR-15 pistol lower is out there with your name on it. The question is: which of these six is your best choice? Whether you’re looking for something that’s fully assembled or a stripped lower, you’ll be able to build something that will bring out the best in your AR-15 pistol’s firing ability.

Whether it’s an upgrade or you’re building your pistol from the ground up, having parts you can rely on starts by adding on a great lower receiver that will work for years or decades to come. 

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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