A stripped lower receiver is no doubt the mid-way compromise between a complete and an 80% receiver. It is comparatively cheaper than the former and easier to install and customize than the latter.
Here we’ll be talking about what a stripped lower receiver is and the factors to consider when buying one. We’ll also review some of the best ones on the market to help you make a buying decision.
Quick Take: Best AR-15 Stripped Lower Receivers
These are recommendations for the best AR-15 stripped lower receivers:
What is a Stripped Lower Receiver
Technically speaking, a stripped lower receiver is a machined or forged piece of metal which holds all the parts of an AR-15 together.
To help you understand it better, let’s first learn what a complete lower receiver includes: of a lower receiver body, stock, trigger guard and assembly, bolt catch and assembly, safety and fire selector switch, buffer tube assembly, grip and other takedown and pivot pins.
Overall, a stripped lower receiver only contains machined holes and compartments to help these parts fit snug when assembling.
The interesting part here is that despite being just a blank piece of metal/polymer, a stripped receiver is considered a firearm just like a complete AR-15 lower receiver. It must bear a serial number and its sale and purchase are regulated by law.
Using a stripped lower receiver has its own benefits. The reasons behind this are its low price, ease of installation, and the capability for customization.
A stripped lower receiver is much cheaper than a complete one. However, once you have to buy all the assembly parts, the price will of course rise up to at least that of a complete lower. But at least you get all the parts you want! You can choose individual lower receiver components based upon price, quality and your own individual preferences.
This wide range of possible customizations makes this a great choice as an AR-15 lower receiver.
Compared to using an 80% percent lower, the stripped lower protects you from the hassle of drilling and machining your receiver to finish it. If that’s too big a DIY project for you right now but you still want to make your gun truly “yours”, this could be the way to go.
The serial number and price sure make a difference, but the time, tools and effort you need to put in on an 80% lower receiver are significantly more than for a stripped one.
Factors to Look For
There are several factors you must consider before buying this essential part for your rifle. These include:
The first and foremost thing to look for is the material. Receivers are generally made of aluminum because it is lightweight, durable, and corrosion-resistant. The two main types of aluminum used for manufacturing receivers are 6061-T6 and 7075-T6 aluminum.
The former is a more general-purpose aluminum used for manufacturing everything from utensils to cars. The latter (7075-T6) is aircraft-grade aluminum and is of better quality.
Manufacturers have started to produce receivers from polymer as well. Polymer receivers are lightweight and corrosion-free. However, they are not as strong as aluminum. Buying polymer receivers might not be the best choice in most circumstances. It will probably hold up, but aluminum is a surer thing.
A receiver can either be billet machined or forged. A billet receiver is CNC-machined and is cleaner whereas a forged receiver is stronger.
Billet receivers are more expensive than forged ones because of the time and craftsmanship involved.
A good stripped lower receiver must be properly coated with some abrasion, dirt and weather resistant material. The U.S military uses type III anodized coating as its standard finish. Receivers can have type II-anodized finish or the coating of a polymer-based material such as Duracoat.
Having a proper finish increases the environmental resistance and the expected life of your receiver.
Even if you have perfectly-functioning parts in your AR-15, you’d still want it to look nice. Aesthetics might be your last consideration, but it counts for sure. Look for designs, branding or logos on your stripped lower receiver.
Billet receivers are machines and hence bear a cleaner design. Markings on the safety and selector switch are also an aesthetically-pleasing factor to consider.
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Stripped Lower Receivers
Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver
Aero Precision AR-15 Gen 2 Stripped Lower Receiver
Battle Arms Development Inc. AR-15 BAD Forged Lower Receiver
Spikes Tactical AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver
Seekins Precision AR-15 SP223 Billet Lower Receiver
Best AR-15 Stripped Lower Receivers
Let’s take a look now at the best stripped lowers.
This stripped semi-auto lower receiver from Anderson Manufacturing has been forged from 7075-T6 aluminum ensuring the durability of the AR-15 you build.
The receiver features a mil-spec hard coat anodized finish which makes it even more resistant to abrasion and corrosion, making it fit for rugged usage.
This lower is marked as multifit and can be used to fire both .223 and 5.56 rounds. It features a standard-sized takedown pin and hammer holes for ease of installation. The black finish makes the lower aesthetically pleasing and the inexpensive price is just phenomenal.
Perfect for hunting and competitive shooting, this is an exceptional model at this price point.
This Gen 2 Stripped Lower from Aero Precision offers good value for money. Manufactured from 7075-T6 aluminum, this receiver is durable and corrosion-resistant.
The receiver has been stamped ‘multi-cal’ as it supports a wide range of calibers including 5.56/.223, 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 300 AAC Blackout, 9mm Luger, or other chamberings that fit the standard AR-15 receiver.
The safety and fire selector switches have been marked precisely to help you identify the firing state of the rifle. The receiver looks good and easy to install.
The Aero Precision stripped lower receiver is compatible with multiple calibers which makes it versatile and apt for many different uses, ranging from self-defense to competition shooting.
A forged 7075-T6 aluminum Gen 2 stripped lower, this model from BAD has been machined to attain the precise finish, cuts and holes needed for convenient operation.
The receiver features a hardcoat anodized finish in black to match most AR-15 assemblies. The magwell has been beveled for quick and convenient magazine changing.
The extra-deep laser engraving on the sides makes it look aesthetically pleasing. It’s compatible with several other safety selector switches sold separately.
This stripped lower receiver is perfect in every aspect from material, finish, ease of installation to aesthetics. The only drawback is the price range, but the features and finish cover this drawback perfectly.
This semi-auto lower receiver from Spikes Tactical has been forged from 7075-T6 aluminum and precision-machined further to suit standard AR-15 components. The receiver is multi-cal and is specifically intended for use with .223 REM and 5.56 NATO.
The ruggedized hard coat finish resists abrasion, scratches and scuffs, so you can be confident if you’re taking it hunting.
The magazine well has been decorated with Spike’s spider logo and multi-cal engraving. Going a bit further, the manufacturer has engraved a ‘full auto’ position for the fire selector switch which is not selectable. Just to create the illusion of holding an even-more-powerful rifle.
This standalone stripped receiver has a matte black finish which makes it aesthetically pleasing. This receiver has been fairly priced and overall offers good value for money.
This matte-black stripped lower from Seekins Precision is machined from 7075 T6 aluminum and hardcoat anodized, meaning it’s going to be a sturdy piece of equipment. To fit the most common calibers used with AR-15s, it’s designed for 5.56 NATO and .223 REM.
It includes an ambidextrous bolt release as well as both a tensioning and a trigger setscrew.
The beveled magwell and the oversized trigger guard make this lower receiver very comfortable to use. If you like a sturdy, close grip for your support hand, the deep-ridge texturing in front of the magwell also helps.
A stripped lower receiver is by far the best choice if you are keen on assembling and customizing your AR-15 as you like. It is similar to a complete receiver and only lacks the components.
These receivers are inexpensive compared to complete lowers (although adding the necessary parts adds up quickly) and open a wide range of options for customization. Several factors such as material, finish, type and even aesthetics must be taken seriously before buying a stripped lower receiver for your AR-15.