Over the last year, I’ve made a solidly-performing 9mm polymer framed pistol, a fun AR-15 style rifle and a great “parts-bin” AR10 in 6.5 Creedmoor based on kits from 80% Arms and Brownells. For the fourth installment of this loose series, I put together the 80% Arms AR-9 GLOCK magazine compatible braced pistol.
All of the parts from this build, with the exception of the Underground Tactical take-down and pivot pins, came from 80% Arms and Brownells. It turned out great. It’s a fun, accurate, and capable gun.
Like the other guns, this one started with a parts kit from 80% Arms, and I re-used the same multi-caliber Easy Jig and router I used on the other guns. Just like those other guns, the process itself was fairly simple and straightforward.
Unfortunately, just like those other guns, I didn’t think ahead to buy a lower parts kit, and needed to wait a while until the necessary items came in stock at Brownells.
Once I got all the parts in, this build took a little longer than the others. The milling of the receiver wasn’t the culprit. That was just as fast as milling the other AR-style receivers, and I ended up with an identical quality part.
Just as with those others, the trigger pocket is a little larger than it has to be, but that means it will fit a wide variety of triggers. I went for cheap and whatever was available.
If you aren’t familiar with building an AR-9 (and I wasn’t), I would highly recommend watching the multiple videos put out by 80% Arms as well as the many videos available online before buying your parts kit. The 80% Arms AR-9 lower receiver kit includes the magazine release, but you’ll need to source everything else.
For the upper receiver, I picked up a now discontinued complete upper receiver from Brownells based on the Foxtrot Mike upper receiver. It’s extremely similar to another currently offered product. The only difference in the one I used is a slightly different handguard and a variation on their heavy “blast diffuser.”
To be clear, the “blast diffuser” is in no way a silencer. Forget your ear protection and you will be sad.
Also, if you want to add a silencer, this is not the setup for you. The 5″ barrel ends inside the handguard, and the tight diameter of the handguard is too small to insert a silencer into it.
If you intend to put a 9mm-capable silencer on the gun, you would be wise to pull the handguard and get a larger diameter offering, or a shorter handguard.
The hardest thing to source was a heavy buffer. With a standard AR-15 buffer, the gun had some reliability issues. Once that was sorted with a heavy buffer, it never missed a beat with anything I put through it. Steel-cased trash, brass, and fancy aluminum cases all fed just fine. No GLOCK or Magpul double stack 9mm magazine of any size or variety failed to load or eject with a push of a button.
A red-dot optic is ideal for these type of guns. With a Leupold Delta Point Pro on the full-length upper rail, 50-yard four-inch groups from a kneel were not challenging. The precision of the gun is limited primarily by the optic or sights, and if you wanted to mount a magnified optic on the pistol you’d be making headshots for hassenpfeffer at a hundred yards.
To complete the pistol build, I slapped on an outstanding SB Tactical adjustable pistol brace.
The total build time for the gun, minus sourcing the parts, was under and hour, and that includes milling and completing the lower.
The end product is a reliable, accurate, easy to shoot and very fun little gun…as well as the neat experience of making a gun mostly in my yard and on my porch.
In the end, I have no real use for this gun. I’m still not super into the AR-style pistol. My preferred home defense weapon is a full auto-capable SBR in a rifle caliber. Then again, I live very rural, am very familiar with the platform, and am a grown, able-bodied man.
If I lived in an area where over-penetration was a concern, or was simply older, smaller, or disabled, a semi-auto 9mm AR pistol would be perfect for me. That’s why my 90 lb. mother has one and so do several of my amputee friends.
I didn’t need to use the 80% Arms lower block, jig, and router. I have access to a full machine shop and I have the knowledge and experience to build this gun straight from a solid aluminum billet. (The kind of billet delivered on a big truck.) I can and have done this before.
I also don’t really like the brace, even one as good as this one. No matter how good they are, they are no substitute for a quality stock. I have several SBRs and if I intended to use this gun much, I would definitely go that route.
Which is exactly why I built it as a braced pistol from an 80% kit.
Right now, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives has proposed a radical plan to eliminate the ability of the average citizen to manufacture their own firearms. The same organization that seems quite proud of their role in burning unarmed women and children to death has proposed redefining both what a firearm is and what are firearm parts. They have also recently proposed to redefine what constitutes a pistol, and would virtually end the use, creation, and ownership of braced pistols.
None of these rules will directly affect me, or tens of thousands of other gun makers and gun owners. Why? Because if you’re a relatively wealthy able-bodied male, you can just buy the free exercise of your rights and enjoy them at your whim.
That’s not the case, however, for millions of other people. There’s a whole lot of people who don’t have the money to invest in a tax stamp, or the time and money it takes to legally apply for it. Very few people have the resources to buy a quality mill and lathe, much less go through the legal and financial difficulty of creating a legal firearms manufacturing company.
These are the people these new rules will disenfranchise. If adopted, they will predominantly diminish the free exercise of the rights of poorer, disabled, and minority citizens. This is so obvious I can only assume the BATFE sees this as a feature, not a bug.
The Biden-Harris administration seems hell-bent on reestablishing an ugly time in America’s history, where rich white men have the ability to protect themselves as they see fit, and everybody else, well…doesn’t.
What you see above is an American-made gun in the truest sense of the word. Go out and make one if you can. It’s fun and could quite literally save your life.
If you can’t, or you just don’t want to, go out and make sure that other citizens of all walks of life can build one by calling your Representatives and Senators, as well as entering a comment on the ATF’s rule in the Federal Register.
Freedom is for us all.