Tennessee Arms Company Tests Clear AR Lower

Tennessee Arms Company can see clearly now the metal’s gone. They can see all obstacles in their way. Well, most of them. Here’s the company come-on via Reddit: “To those prospective builders who always wondered ‘why bother with polymer lowers when metal ones are inexpensive, sturdy and often mil-spec’ comes a completely clear polymer AR lower from Tennessee Arms Company . . . Like their other polymer receivers, this clear lower has metal inserts in the pistol grip and buffer tube threading to combat damage to the often delicate threads. There are some kinks still to work out, as one representative pointed out in an online discussion that while ”GI mags drop free, Magpuls had to be pulled a little.’ Tennessee Arms Company hopes to provide some high speed camera video of testing the lower soon.” [h/t Jason T]

comments

  1. avatar Craig says:

    I’d buy one.

    1. avatar IthinkIhaveaProblem says:

      I would love to have one of these for teaching purposes.

  2. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    Cool..I want one

  3. avatar Rab says:

    Polymer lowers don’t have a very good reputation for reliability. Doubt this one would either. Also, once it gets dirty and scratched it won’t be so attractive. I’ll pass.

    1. avatar Based 10mm says:

      you mean durability?

    2. avatar Friendly Neighborhood Gunsmith says:

      Poly lowers have historically been made of cut rate plastics that had more in common with cheap airsoft guns than actual firearms. TN Arms is not one of those companies, and their injection molding process is pretty serious stuff. Their lowers seem to be some form of glass filled nylon, which is essentially what pistol frames and polymer rifle stocks are made of.

      Long story relatively short, I have one of their FDE lowers and have been trying to destroy it for 2 months. Mortaring, throwing it around, stepping and climbing on it, bludgeoning trees with the buttstock specifically to try and get that buffer tube area to snap. No dice. It’s as strong as an aluminum lower, probably stronger in some regards.

      1. avatar DJ9 says:

        I might be wrong, but I don’t think you can make clear, glass-filled nylon look cleanly transparent like the pictured lower.

        1. avatar Elliotte says:

          Maybe it’s not glass filled nylon, maybe it’s transparent aluminum.

        2. avatar Nick D says:

          Transparent aluminum exists. Most people just call it sapphire.

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    That is friggen cool!
    I want one. Today

    1. avatar TheBear says:

      +1

  5. avatar Ems_92 says:

    Neat!

  6. Next up, the pink translucent model with little unicorns that light up with LEDs.

    In my opinion, no red-blooded American male would be caught dead with one of these.

    So much fail.

    1. avatar Xanthro says:

      Sorry, I’d totally buy a translucent model with little unicorns that light up with LEDs in a heartbeat.
      Why? Because it’s different. Because it’s interesting, and it is an avenue of conversation.
      I have lights and mods on my computer as well, and I’m 50.
      There’s nothing about being a red-blooded American that forbids you from having some fun.

      1. Fun? Yes.

        Gay? No.

        1. avatar Tony says:

          Nope, there’s nothing about being red-blooded American that forbids you from being gay.

        2. avatar Stinkeye says:

          When did unicorns get such a bad rap? I mean, how can you consider a freakin’ horse with a sharp spike on its head as a girly creature? Put a cowboy on that thing with a Winchester ’92 and a couple of Colt SAAs on his belt, and even the Comanches and Apaches would be running scared. Being gored to death by a horse is not gonna be a pretty way to die.

        3. You may have a point….if the unicorn on their head was a flamethrower.

        4. avatar B says:

          I’m fairly certain Unicorns are some sort of metaphor for medieval forest bandit rapists, what with their phallic horns and propensity for taking maidens out for wild scary rides then “eating” them. Nothing gay about them, not there would be anything wrong with a gay rapist horn horse.

          … D*** you political correctness.

      2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Yup.
        I’d even have one like this.

        http://americandigest.org/annbarnhardt2.jpg

        Cause Ann Barnhardt is cool.

    2. avatar Zachary marrs says:

      Paul, you dont know shit about being a red blooded American

      1. avatar Paladin says:

        It’s times like these that TTAG needs a like button. +1 for you sir.

        1. Wow, two Interwebz tough-guys hiding behind their fake names.

          Here’s your morale patch guys:

          http://i1317.photobucket.com/albums/t637/FMJ1911/Main_Chairborne_2048x2048-440x566_zpsb0782d29.jpg

        2. avatar B says:

          This one is more my speed. There are a lot of different PotG out there. Not sure the guys defending unicorns are the chair commandos here.

          http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2012/168/b/5/rainbow_dash_patch_by_furrykeks-d53ttpj.jpg

      2. avatar Zachary marrs says:

        You mean im not Zachary marrs? Wow, that’s news to me, I guess thats not your real name either?

  7. avatar TITAN308 says:

    May be a good tool for troubleshooting.

  8. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    It would be good for parts demonstrations.

    1. avatar Xanthro says:

      It’s the training and parts demonstration that I would be most interested in. It would help to explain to people exactly what is going on with the fire control group.

      It’s really no different than those clear engine models from the 60s, so you could turn the engine and see what happened.

      I have 8 AR-15 and 1 AR-10, something that can get people more interested in firearms is always good, and some people are more drawn to the mechanical aspects of things.

  9. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    It’s probably a good exercise in engineering, which could well yield important insights valuable down the road; but the idea of a clear lower receiver, for its own sake, strikes me as about as silly as clear Pepsi.

    1. avatar B says:

      I loved Crystal Pepsi. It single handedly ended the cold war and sent us to the moon according to the commercials. It also brought us that hilarious crystal gravy SNL skit with Chris Farley chugging some sort of clear gelatinous fluid.

  10. avatar Mark N. says:

    I think they are cool too. Not every firearm has to be tacticool black, OD or desert tan. I remember that EP Armory introduced a prototype (as seen on The Firearms Blog some time ago), but could not bring one to production, presumably because of lack of reliability/breakage, most probably at the buffer tube. These guys are facing the same issue that they are trying to address with the brass inserts. But unless the brass extends down into the back of the receiver (and it does not appear to), I think they will have issues.

  11. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

    No one beat me to this?

    G-g-ghost gun! Run Scooby!

    1. avatar wrc says:

      We would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you damn meddling Moms!

  12. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

    @ rab:

    Clear plastics seem to be more brittle than opaque ones too. But it’s still damned cool.

    1. avatar Rab says:

      I agree, it IS cool. Useful for demonstration, yes–but I have never found a need to demonstrate a fire control group. Practical as a shooter, nope.

  13. avatar djs says:

    clear plastic is the most brittle plastic….not going to hold up very well

    1. avatar Gurney Halleck says:

      Plastics rigidity is usually determined by the type of polymer, the molecular bonding, the temperature it is heated to and then the cooling process. PET, HDPE, and many others can be clear and flexible. Like nalgene(a polycarbonate) it can be flexible or very rigid.

      1. avatar Stinkeye says:

        I don’t think “Nalgene” is a type of plastic. It’s just the brand name of a company that makes different plastic containers (some polycarbonate, some HDPE, etc).

      2. avatar Mark N. says:

        The polycarbonate lenses in my glasses are damn near bullet proof.

  14. avatar Tactical Tightwad says:

    It would be even cooler to have a matching clear polymer upper but the AR’s DI gas system would have the upper covered in carbon soot in no time. I also wonder how long the clear lower would remain clear for the same reason.

    Maybe the clear polymer would be more practical on a piston AR upper?

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Yep…
      Step #1) Clear upper and lower piston drive
      Step #2) Get a CR123 powered top pic rail mounted device that illuminates interior with RGB LED
      Step #3) Be prepared for an influx of new gun owner / PC tweaker types.

      Cmon…you know you’d buy one if it was cheap enough.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        Now I want to attach a bunch of LEDs to guns. I have a weakness for LED lights, it started with PC keyboards.

  15. avatar GatorGrabber says:

    Adaptive camo!

    1. avatar B says:

      It automatically tints like welding goggles to match the environment. FDE one minute, foliage the next, and it glows bright blue when it detects a MAIG or MDA member nearby.

  16. avatar Morgan Gatorsee says:

    Not a fan of plastic lowers but I would actually buy this.
    It would be neat to see how much junk goes into my lower every time I pull the trigger when I run suppressed vs non suppressed.

    Once I have done that I’d probably clean it and then give it to my daughter to help her understand what is going on in that registered lower. I am sure she could benefit from the shaved weight as well.

  17. avatar GG says:

    I suspect it would be prone to fouling and not be so translucent over time.

  18. avatar former water walker says:

    Like a Taurus View?!? No thank you. YMMV

  19. avatar Ralph says:

    Transparency is important. Just ask Obama.

  20. avatar tfunk says:

    Why don’t they just make it out of clear aluminum? I mean, c’mon! Scotty gave up the recipe back in the 80’s, get with it!

    1. avatar B says:

      They do have it, its used for bulletproof glass, aluminum oxynitride. Aluminum oxide is basically sapphire I think. Its that white coating old aluminum pots gets when you boil water.

  21. avatar Lolinski says:

    Let me be transparent here. I am no operator but clearly this is a winner. This has never been as clear to me as it is now.

    Thank you and thank God that I am not here all night.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      OK. That is funny

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I saw right through your little play on words there. Sheer silliness.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        I regret nothing.

        #YOLO

        Okay, I regret that one.

  22. avatar Jay1987 says:

    might make the AR less scary being that that lower looks like somethin off one of my old airsoft guns.

    1. avatar B says:

      Yeah right. I’m pretty sure cops have killed more kids with airsoft guns than actual school shooters.

  23. avatar Josh Schroeder says:

    There’s nothing new about strong see-through materials in industrial or commercial applications. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSmGjB-G6v8

  24. avatar Paul G. says:

    Now they need to make one out of transparent aluminum!….aaah, someone beat me to the punch…line.

  25. avatar JoelT says:

    Introducing new Glad brand Battlefield Tupperware! Look for it in the Tupperware section of your grocery store today!

    In all seriousness, it is a pretty cool feature. If I got it, it’d be just a shooter, but there’s all kinds of cool cosmetic mods I could think of doing with this (look up LED PC case mods to get an idea). Plus, you get one of those clear H&K polymer magazines, and you’d have a nice little view of what’s going on. For all the people who criticize the design, how many times have I heard people buy a gun “just because.” Quite honestly, I’m rather surprised it hasn’t been done before.

    Once the clear plastic starts to become permanently discolored on the inside, you might be able to use some of those Headlight lens polishing kits to remove some of it. If nothing else, there’s always cerakote, right?

  26. avatar defensor fortisimo says:

    Now if they could only do this with the rest of the gun, we’d have a way of dealing with Magneto and/or allomancers.

    1. avatar B says:

      Bow and carbon fiber arrow with a flint head. Sometimes its the simplest answer, any of the comic archers could take him out easy on his own.

  27. avatar BlinkyPete says:

    That’s really cool, and would make an amazing display piece, but I feel like it would get fouled really quickly, and to some degree, permanently, but maybe I’m just being a negative nancy.

  28. avatar DJ9 says:

    I also think it would be cool, but not very durable/practical as a firearm in the long term. Just the normal lube and fouling blowing around in the upper and lower would discolor it rather quickly, although a gas-piston upper (as suggested above) would help it run/stay cleaner.

    However, if I obtained one, I’d also install LEDs in it; they would light-up the entire lower green when it was on-Safe, and change to red when the safety/selector was moved to the Fire position.

  29. avatar NWGlocker says:

    Looks cool. But at the same time I might be turning the rifle in my hands thinking, “how do I pry the security packaging off this upper??”

  30. avatar Phil says:

    One step closer to the predator.

  31. avatar KC in NorCal says:

    I don’t follow rifle optics much, anybody know offhand what brand this one is?
    Thanks

  32. avatar Anonymoose says:

    Can I get one of their takedown ARs with this lower?

  33. avatar Dave Roberts says:

    Hi, thought i would answer the questions that popped up since im the guy in the video and I built it and designed the part itself.

    This is a prototype that we built that is intended to be shot but is designed to be a training tool and product showcase for people who own shops to showcase their parts. The material is a high grade polycarbonate while my normal receivers are a proprietary blend of Glass filled Polymer of the same grade of material as a quality pistol frame.

    We are not a run-of-the-mill polymer receiver company. Our products are covered by a lifetime guarantee and the failure of my lower receiver will come long after your mil-spec upper receiver has bitten the dust.

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  35. avatar Bill Winget says:

    Has the .308 receiver been tested with live ammo? If so, how many rounds were fired before it seized up or malfunction.

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