Five Easy Ways to Make AR-15 Lower Receivers at Home

It’s still very much legal to build your own firearms for personal use at home. Lots of shooters enjoy the process and many also appreciate the fact that their firearm doesn’t appear in any record or database.

If an AR-15 is on your build list, the normally serialized part of the rifle — the part that’s legally a gun — is the lower receiver. But this is something you can do yourself. There are at least five easy ways to make AR-15 receivers at home.

1. Purchase an 80% blank and finish it with a drill, files and a little patience. It gets easier with a Dremel type tool. Or use a drill, a mill and some skill. There are plenty of sellers of 80% lowers out there and many videos on how to do it  yourself.

2. Purchase an 80% receiver and finish it with a CNC machine, i.e. the Ghost Gunner. Order it on the Internets. The Ghost Gunner has an excellent reputation for creating quality receivers. Defense Distributed is expanding their line to include several different pistol models, including GLOCK and government model 1911s.

3. Bolt one together from properly sized aluminum sheets/blocks. Some drilling and tapping required. Specs and templates are available on the Internet. This has great potential for building at home. I have not found any kits, but these should be easy to create.

4. Print a lower with a 3D printer. Code and 3D machines are available on the Internet. 3D-printed receivers have been improved much since the first ones were printed as proofs of concept. They tend to be the least durable of the homemade receivers because of the common materials used in inexpensive 3D printers, such as ABS and Nylon. As 3D printers continue to become cheaper and more versatile, the durability of 3D printed receivers will continue to improve.

5. Cast your own out of an epoxy resin. Molds, resin and instructions are available on the Internets. Reviews of this method indicate it makes a fairly durable and tough receiver. Probably not be as tough as aluminum, but they work fairly well.

All of these methods have been shown to work reasonably well, requiring various amounts of time and money. These aren’t the only methods available, either. There are many combinations available depending on tools, time, and materials. For example, there are hybrid designs that print out smaller parts that can then be bolted together.

All of the information is available to mill an AR-15 receiver from a block of aluminum. Some have used this method, but it takes more time, skill, and effort than the others listed.

You don’t have to buy over the internet, either. Troll the aisles at a local gun show and you’re likely to find a few of these available. Sold as kits for cash and carry, they leave no digital or paper trail. The kits are simply information and materials, sometimes with a few basic tools.

Assembling kits is a simple matter. It would be a great money making project for a gun club or a gun rights group to promote both First Amendment and Second Amendment rights, self reliance, and personal independence, all at once. The systems are inexpensive enough to be a good money-making project for a church group, Trail Life, 4-H Club, or Boy Scout troop, if they can develop enough spine for it.


©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


  1. avatar CalGunsMD says:

    Da signal, she can’t be stopped…..

  2. avatar Removed_californian says:

    You’re missing the most important method of all!

    Casting a lower from melted brass:

    1. avatar Bloving says:

      Ooooh! Dat’s purty! Like Henry decided to make an AR10!

      1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

        “Ooooh! Dat’s purty!”

        Word! (And bookmarked)

        Someone needs to make an 80 percent brass lower casting now!

        1. avatar ollie says:

          How about a Home Depot slam fire pipe shotgun made with some brass pipe for bling.
          Fetch more at the next buyback being that it’s an exotic.

    2. avatar million says:

      what a beaut!

      and you really see the argument for additive manufacturing with all the scrap in the machining process.

    3. avatar Geoff says:

      I watched that video some days ago while browsing YouTube. But he has a milling machine and most of us don’t. Can’t do what he did with a drill press.

    4. avatar Geoff says:

      Unfortunately that requires expensive machines and great skill.
      Not to mention the foundry for melting the Brass, and making molds and it is just not within the capabilities of the average person.
      I’m very good at milling and drilling 80% lowers in polymer and Aluminum, but casting Brass and into a 50% lower and machining it is more than I can manage without investing in some expensive machinery which the person in the video has.

  3. avatar Nanashi says:

    The article should note that 3D printed receivers can be made into great molds for step 5.

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

      Are there wax printers for lost wax?

      That might be the way to cast a brass receiver…

      1. avatar Anymouse says:

        There are, but the more common PLA plastic can be burned out in a similar manner for a “lost PLA” casting. Alternatively, a PLA or ABS printed can be used to make a rubber mold, which is then filled with wax for “lost wax” casting.

      2. avatar Divemedic says:

        Here is a simple way to cast using lost foam.

  4. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:


  5. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

    NOT in commie kalifornia. Now it’s huge expensive pain in the backside. The gray suited Sacramento AHOLE overlords have destroyed that hobby! Of course, only LEGAL LAW-ABIDING AMERICAN CITIZENS will comply. Criminals and nut jobs, not so much. FRACK FRACK FRACK……

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the Bull, get the Horns" PR says:

      “The gray suited Sacramento AHOLE overlords have destroyed that hobby!”

      File a lawsuit challenging that law. We will have a SCOTUS sympathetic to that plea…

      1. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

        Lend me a million dollars, and I’ll stand tall and do it.

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      “It’s still very much legal to build your own firearms for personal use at home” IN MOST BUT NOT ALL STATES. What is legal under federal law is not necessarily legal under state law.

      As noted, you can build an 80% lower in California, but you HAVE TO OBTAIN A SERIAL NUMBER FROM THE STATE AND PASS A BACKGROUND CHECK before you do. Further, you must engrave the number on the receiver before you start the build. Third, you can ONLY build a “featureless” rifle.

      I am pretty sure that it is illegal to build ARs in NY, NJ, Conn. and maybe Mass and Md., i.e., any state that regulates and requires registration of such firearms.

      1. avatar Bob in Calif says:

        Show me the links to what you just stated.

      2. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

        Like I said Mark. THEY have destroyed the hobby. Why build, now the thugs know all about what you got? It’s over in commie kalifornia.

  6. avatar Roadking says:

    $339 for the resin, and mold. You can just about get a whole, new AR for that price. Yeah it’s on paper, but I can’t bring myself to pay those prices. Good thing I’m not in the market for any rifles. Good to go in that department.

    1. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

      Ah, ok. So you be one of those FUDDS? Likely a NRA member too.

      1. avatar Roadking says:

        If you are referring to me, as a FUDD I’m 54, and have got my colletion where I need it, and not one hunting rifle or shotgun. All mine are for when SHTF. Now I am concentrating on ammo, and survival food. I feel comfortable with the ammo supply I have, but if I see a deal I’ll pick it up. Plenty of water, meds, and my wife and I are medically trained. She is a nurse, and I was a combat medic. I even have full NBC gear, and other goodies. I fall more in the prepper camp.

      2. avatar BTerclinger says:

        People who give nothing to the NRA are cheap, lazy SOB’s riding on the efforts of the rest.

        The NRA isn’t perfect, but people like you who whine about FUDS and the NRA can kiss my OFWG’s rear end.

    2. avatar Blackspike2710 says:

      And it makes five lowers. Making them competitively priced.

  7. avatar FedUp says:

    Cheaper variation on #5: (and a great way to get ‘assault rifles’ for ‘gun buybacks’)

    1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      Oh that is funny.

      Totally have to try it out though.

    2. avatar Geoff says:

      Now THAT is really cool. Now if I could find a reusable mold that can take Aluminum, I have a small foundry in the garage where I melt scrap Aluminum and beer cans.

  8. avatar Mike says:

    But it turns you in a crazy killer with your new untraceably fully semi automatic machine ghost gun!!!!!!!

  9. avatar Kemikos says:

    There are definitely flat-stock lower kits available, but all the ones I’ve seen need to be welded together. Upside, they cost anywhere from $15 to $40 and will be much sturdier than any of the plastic options. Downside, you need to have a welder and the skill to use it.

    Which brings up a point that wasn’t mentioned in the article: whichever option you pick, make sure that it’s one that you have the skill to complete yourself. You can’t, for instance, buy a flat-stock kit and have your brother-in-law weld it together for you, any more than you can buy an 80% lower and have a machinist finish it for you. Either situation would be considered illegal manufacturing; if you are making a firearm for personal use, it has to be you, personally, making it.

  10. avatar Joe in CT says:

    Bad news. The ATF just sent Safety Harbor Firearms a letter stating that their .50 cal bolt action ar upper is a firearm since it contains a receiver! Look for all uppers to be reclassified just like lowers, requiring a serial # and an FFL transfer.

    1. avatar Geoff says:

      ATF stretching the rules again.

  11. avatar raptor jesus says:

    You can combine 3 and 4

    By printing out the parts and bolting them together, you’re a bit stronger than just printing the entire lower.

    Also, keep in mind some of the newer 3d printing files reinforce the notorious weak points with additional material for improved durability.

  12. avatar Mac Ten says:

    You can go to Jack Squat’s Flat Spot and buy a kit to weld together cheap.

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