New(ish) from IO: Millet-Billet Stripped Lower AR Receiver

Tiger McKee recently blogged about the pitfalls of pronouncing “mil-spec” gun parts superior to their civilian cousins. Sometime they AR, something they ARn’t. But God (and manufacturers) know the ability to utter the phrase “mil-spec” is worth the price of admission. I mean, how can a pseudo-operator’s black gun part not be mil-spec? And now it’s time to officially add another tacticool term to the lexicon: millet-billet stripped lower. According to IO, their new $199 millet-billet stripped lower AR receivers are “precision CNC machined from a solid block of billet aluminum . . . manufactured with the most technologically advanced equipment on the market today.” [Video above. Press release after the jump.] According to TTAG commentator GAKoenig, not so much . . .

Calling a Haas horizontal mill “the most technologically advanced equipment on the market today” is pure bullshit. Haas mills are nice enough, but they are about the exact opposite of being “the most advanced” anything on the market. Shops buy Haas machines because they are precise enough, inexpensive, well serviced and easy to run. To start saying you’ve got the “most advanced” machines available, you need to buy something from Makino or DMG/Mori Seiki; machines that literally hold 0.0005″ tolerances, at extremely high speeds, taking huge cuts.

So there’s your throw-down IO. What say you? While we await their reply, here’s the presser.

Palm Bay, FL Top-quality firearms manufacturer I.O., Inc. has now added milled-billet aluminum stripped AR lowers to their already impressive line-up of products.

The AR lower receivers are precision CNC machined from a solid block of billet aluminum. The receivers accept all Mil-Spec AR15 components and feature original Mil-Specs. The receivers are fully compatible with all standard AR uppers, including the 6.8 and 50 Beowulf.

“Introducing the stripped AR lower is something we are very excited about,” says Uli Wiegand, CEO of I.O., Inc. “Our lowers are manufactured with the most technologically advanced equipment on the market today. This insures the best quality and reliability possible. Our lightweight AR lower platform enables the user to switch between multiple calibers and gives them consistent reliability and solid performance.”

The Milled-Billet AR stripped lowers have an MSRP of: $199.95

comments

  1. avatar jeff says:

    IO INC a top quality manufacturer?

    Guess it’s a good thing that they took down their “factory” tour videos that they released late 2011, where employees could be seen making AKs with hammers, bench grinders, and glue.

    1. avatar Andrew says:

      “YURI! Why are you putting potato in Vodka Cannon?”

      “Dah, dah, You win Pasha. I put bull in Vokda Cannon.”

    2. avatar Alex Boshnack says:

      Odd- I thought that, in Russia, they made AKs at the factory with hammers, bench grinders, and glue…

  2. avatar GAKoenig says:

    What bullshit.

    Look, the IO Lower may, in fact, be super nice. I don’t know, never actually seen one…

    But I notice a complete lack of details from IO about *what makes* their lower so nice. No details about how their 7075 billet lower is different from anyone else’s billet lower. No details about special features. No indications they’ve done anything other than to take AR blueprints, adapt the (originally forged) design to a CNC mill and called it good. The same as every machine shop with a CNC mill that filed for their FFL a day after Sandy Hook to cash in on the market.

    I can say this; calling a Haas horizontal mill “the most technologically advanced equipment on the market today” is pure bullshit. Haas mills are nice enough, but they are about the exact opposite of being “the most advanced” anything on the market. Shops buy Haas machines because they are precise enough, inexpensive, well serviced and easy to run. To start saying you’ve got the “most advanced” machines available, you need to buy something from Makino or DMG/Mori Seiki; machines that literally hold 0.0005″ tolerances, at extremely high speeds, taking huge cuts.

    Not that I expect the writers of TTAG to know the ins and outs of CNC milling machines, but you are basically taking a press release and agreeing with it 100% without any critical eye towards the claims made. That’s the truth?

    1. avatar Andrew says:

      Other than saying “ITZ BILLET YALL!” are there any real benefits to a billet receiver?

      From what I understand of the hammer forging process, the rheology at the molding phase lends itself to structural graining of the complex structures in the receiver (think buffer tube area).

      If anything, the billet would be akin to a block of wood with regards to graining in critical areas (I.E. Weaker…)

      1. avatar 32x20 says:

        Well, they look cool, so there’s that.

      2. avatar Billy says:

        I don’t think a billet lower can be mil-spec, I think milspec specifies that a lower be forged. Plus if it is, why would you want a billet lower that is mil-spec? Wouldn’t it be weaker as it won’t have been forged? Billet lowers only gain in strength because they are bigger and heavier, having a thinner one takes away the point of having one.

    2. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Well we have you to set us straight. As you have me. Text amended.

    3. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Dude, thanks much for doing a rant on this. I have to run out right now, but please do explain how Haas aren’t the top shelf CNC machine, because I don’t have the time just now. You’re absolutely correct, and putting this sort of sophistry out there as PR is very self-destructive to their cred with those of us who actually do know our buttocks from a CNC mill.

      Now, if these boys had a Kitamura MyCenter mill… or a DMG… eh, I could be more forgiving. But a Haas? Nope. No way.

      BTW – I’ve been through several gun makers here in the South Dakota/Wyoming/Montana area. Not one of them has a Haas machine. I’ve seen Fadal, Mori, Kitamura, Doosan, etc. Not a single Haas.

      1. avatar GAKoenig says:

        I want to be clear, I am not talking smack on Haas CNC machines.

        Haas builds the workhorse machines for small, medium and large scale American manufacturers. For the vast majority of CNC machining applications, Haas machines are affordable, reliable, easy to run and Haas takes *excellent* care of their customers. Plenty of companies have booted up, prospered and been wildly successful by turning their ideas into reality on machines with the Haas logo on the side.

        What Haas machines are *not* is very advanced. Start throwing really tight tolerances at them, in a high speed machining environment, on aerospace or medical parts where surface finish and repeatability are critical… and Haas machines pale in comparison to something like a Makino or DMG/Mori. This is especially true in high-volume oriented horizontal mills (like the one shown) where the Haas offerings (the EC-400 series) is simply a non-competetive product.

        Don’t believe me? Go to haascnc.com and read the page headline- “The Leader in CNC Machine Tool *Value*”

        They succeed wildly in delivering value, but advanced? Only to folks who have no experience actually making parts, which is what this video and PR blurb is banking on.

  3. avatar Culpeper Kid says:

    Haas somebodie been givingz us bad inkformations?

  4. avatar Mark N. says:

    Not being an AR fanboy, what makes a milled billet receiver any better than a forged one, or for that matter a reinforced polymer receiver? It would seem to me that as long as the parts all fit together the way they should and the receiver doesn’t self-destruct when used, you should be GTG, no? I mean, although the lower is the “firearm”, the parts that really matter (barrel, chamber, bolt) are all up top.

    1. avatar 505markf says:

      Great question. Am also not an AR-15 owner. Nothing against it. Just to date, the desire has not exceeded the cost.

      I second this request. Please. Do tell. Inquiring minds want, well, you know, to know.

    2. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

      Yup…from what I understand you could almost whittle one from wood with a dremel and as long as you lined up the holes it would work just fine.

      Not sure at all the advantage of a “super strength” lower.

    3. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Yes you’re all correct. I think billet receivers have become popular because they can be machined to have a different look. Forged receivers are almost always the standard “mil-spec” design that has been around forever and, despite how many companies have their names on them, there are only a couple places that actually have the forges and stamp out the receivers. A CNC machine is more affordable and anybody can gear up and start machining lowers from forged billets of really high quality aluminum (or titanium or steel, for that matter). Billet receivers tend to have built-in trigger guards, as those little “wings” on the forged receivers are easy to break. They also often have reinforced areas for other parts that are prone to breaking, have extra-flared mag wells, etc. I think the look of it can be nicer, as the machining can get to a finer tolerance and you can have a SUPER clean-looking part. Not that forging is bad or anything, but I haven’t seen one that looks quite as slick.

      My last AR build was on a Precision Guncraft billet lower. Fairly new company in Idaho and the product was VERY nice. Simple, sleek design: http://www.precisionguncraft.com/pages/products.php

      Seekins is super popular and is a more modern, aggressive, tacticool design: http://www.seekinsprecision.com/ar-lowers.html

      Another design that’s unique: http://blog.gunspec.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ar1-1-471×400.jpg

      BUT!!!… they sky’s the limit if you’re machining from billet. Check out this receiver: http://sharpsbros.com/hellbreaker-ar-15-lower-receiver/

    4. avatar GAKoenig says:

      Jeremy S speaks the truth.

      Forged receivers start out as “near net” blanks. Basically an ingot of aluminum is smushed into the basic shape of an AR lower. This is a low tolerance, somewhat brutal process.

      Forging is used because the AR was designed in an era where CNC machines simply didn’t exist. At the time, there was simply no efficient way for a manual mill to cut away detailed areas like the magazine well, magazine catch fence, the web area above the grip. Even on modern CNC equipment, time cutting away that material is money.

      On a forged part, all those details are created in a couple of smacks under the forging die. The raw forging is than placed in a mill and the details are machined out – holes are cut, threads are formed, the magazine well is cut out (or this is done on a wire EDM machine) and the inside pockets milled out.

      While forging itself is very inexpensive (raw AR lower forgings are usually only about $15 at retail pricing for the DIY crowd), the forging dies themselves are ruinously expensive- $50,000 to $80,000. The 3-4 forges that are producing raw upper and lower forgings all invest in dies to make standard AR parts; nobody is gonna take a $50k flier on making forging dies for some funky AR design.

      So if you want to do anything that is non-standard, you basically need to machine the whole thing from billet.

  5. avatar Kris says:

    I just wish people would stop using the word “insure” when they mean “ensure”. Especially executives in press releases. They mean different things people!

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      ;)… not really. Although I agree with you on principal and choose to spell them how you suggest and act like they mean different things, they don’t.

      Look at definition #4: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insure?s=t
      Look at definition #4: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ensure

      Sorry. Sucks.

      Merriam Webster:

      “ensure, insure, assure, secure mean to make a thing or person sure. ensure, insure, and assure are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitable of an outcome, but ensure may imply a virtual guarantee , while insure sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand , and assure distinctively implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person’s mind . secure implies action taken to guard against attack or loss .”

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        I thought Ensure was the new Geritol.

      2. avatar Hank says:

        Something tells me that 😉 should have been after, not before you agreed with him in principLE.

        (And if that was a typo, I wouldn’t admit it, it’s more fun to read assuming it was on purpose.)

    2. avatar Andrew says:

      Irregardless, we must soldier onwards.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        LOL. That one’s like nails on a blackboard to my wife, especially. She put herself on a strict regiment to learn proper grammar 😛

        1. avatar Observer says:

          She put herself on a strict regiment to learn proper grammar

          I see what you did there… 🙂

  6. avatar JaredFromTampa says:

    From the title I was expecting to see an AR lower made of birdseed.

  7. avatar Blehtastic says:

    IO branching out to stay in business as Obama abuses his executive powers to slow or stop importation of their main demand drivers raw materials.

  8. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    Are you serious? Or more correctly, is this guy serious? He’s going to show us all how it’s done, but his window is covered in cutting fluid. It’s like a cheesy titillation movie from the 70’s, where you see naughty things, but only through curtains or a dirty window. You know what’s going on, but you can’t really make anything out. If the point is to showcase your CNC work, but you do nothing to prevent the viewing window from being obstructed by splashing cutting fluid, what is the point of making the video? FAIL!

  9. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Oh, and please insert my standard rant about the word “billet.” They’re not machining a receiver out of “billet.” What they’re using is called “bar stock,” which is made from billet and heat treated.

  10. avatar Mario Reyes says:

    It sounds like a organic vegan sandwich.

  11. avatar Eric Stieb says:

    Larue Tactical seems to be pretty handy with a haas….

    It’s not the machine tool you need to be concerned with… It’s the person behind the machine.

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