7075-T6 aluminum has had a pretty good run as the materiel of choice for AR lower receivers, but it’s no longer the only game in town. Taking advantage of the lower weight and manufacturing costs of space-age polymers, New Frontier Armory sells an all-polymer AR-15 lower receiver with a price so low ($109 complete) that even cautious shooters are reaching for their wallets and asking themselves, “Why the hell not?” And why the hell not? Your financial exposure is pretty small if a $109 purchase doesn’t work out, but the real question is “Does the damned thing work?” Even the lowest-priced gun has very little value if it’s unsafe or unreliable . . .
To get this test sample, I ordered one through the New Frontier Armory website. I didn’t mention TTAG and I didn’t ask for a T&E sample; I just ordered one off the shelf like any other customer. That’s how I learned firsthand that New Frontier’s front-end customer service is freakishly good: they answered my email questions within 10 minutes (on a Sunday!) and they shipped the receiver out the next morning. I did the Form 4473 Shuffle and picked up the all-plastic lower from my gunsmith seven business days later.
How plastic is ‘All Plastic?’
The LW-15 is basically all plastic. The buffer parts, bolt catch, action springs and pistol grip screw are metal, but everything else is made of polymer. Even the mag catch, trigger, hammer, safety and takedown pins are made of some tough, hard plastic.
The body of the receiver is made from an extremely rigid glass-filled plastic. The design is externally similar (read: almost identical) to the Plum Crazy polymer lowers we’ve seen for a few years, but New Frontier uses a different polymer formula and different reinforcing fibers. If you like to watch gun porn of the ‘snuff’ variety, New Frontier has some brutal testing videos on its website.
Fit And Finish
It only takes a moment to notice that this is very much an ‘entry-level’ AR lower. You’ll never mistake an LW-15 for an LWRC. The exterior looks mostly well-executed, but some bits look a little rough and others just look like crap. There’s molding flash at some of the seams, but this is only a cosmetic issue except for the burrs on the single-stage trigger face. These are polished away easily enough, but the underside of the trigger guard and the space between the front takedown pin holes are fugly. Once again, they’re nothing a few minutes with an emery cloth won’t remedy, but they’re still ugly.
The good news is that this slightly rough external finish has no effect on fit or functioning, and no effect on how the lower half attaches to an upper receiver. Our test lower mounted very tightly to my Armalite upper; there was absolutely no wiggle or wobble anywhere. It’s a much better fit than my off-brand forged aluminum lower, which wiggles a little bit even with an ‘accu-plug’ crammed under the rear takedown pin.
Regardless of its unorthodox construction, the LW-15 operates exactly like any other AR lower. The all-plastic single-stage trigger is an unexpectedly pleasant surprise: it’s kind of hard to describe a trigger pull scientifically (at least until Foghorn actually builds the computerized graphing trigger gauge he theorized about) but the LW-15’s trigger pull is very smooth, not too heavy (5.2 pounds) and fairly short with minimal overtravel.
It’s also a little mushy/spongy/vague (take your pick) but it’s one of the best triggers I’ve seen included with a lower-priced AR. I wish it were lighter by a pound or so, but it still helped deliver some amazing accuracy.
The selector lever has a smooth and positive feel, and it would only be better if it were ambidextrous. I like that the LW-15 is ready-made for an ambi lever: it has ‘SAFE/FIRE’ markings on both sides of the receiver.
When it came to magazines, the LW-15 was like Mr. Creosote: it ate everything we put on the table. (No ‘wafer-thin mints’ here.) My Magpul P-Mags, Joe’s steel magazines from H&K, and Wayne’s GI magazines all snapped home neatly, fed perfectly and dropped free when released.
Firing and functioning of the LW-15 lower receiver was absolutely reliable, through more than 500 rounds. The all-plastic trigger and odd-looking hammer provided 100% ignition with everything we gave it: Remington Green Box, steel-cased Tulammo, Radway green tip and whatever other mil-surp ammo Joe Grine had rattling around in his range bag. It worked with FMJs and hollowpoints, brass cases and steel, in fair weather and heavy snow, through slow fire and mag dumps. It just plain works.
An AR is only as accurate as the sloppiest of its components, even though the upper half plays a more important role than the lower half. I bolted the LW-15 to a mid-length Armalite upper with a full-profile barrel and proven accuracy. Shooting prone in the snow from 80 yards (Note to self: measure twice, set up firing line once) it averaged under 1.0″ with Remington Green Box, and that doesn’t even include a varmint-worthy 0.25″ cloverleaf. I kicked myself for not measuring out a full 100 yards, but these groups still demonstrate that the LW-15 didn’t let us down when it came to accuracy.
Conclusion: The Good
The first and most obviously cool thing about the LW-15 lower is that it’s ‘Sofa King’ cheap that it’s hard to pass up. For $109 it’s already got a functional M4 buttstock and all the moving bits you’ll need; all you have to do is pin it to an upper half and start loading up your magazines. Even after shipping, taxes and FFL fees, it will still set you back less than $150.
The second cool thing about the LW-15 is that it’s incredibly light. The fully kitted-out LW-15 lower half tips the scales at 1.7 pounds, which is a half-pound lighter than a forged lower half with same buttstock. If you choose your components wisely, you’ll use it to build a dedicated .22 carbine or a stripped-down 5.56 carbine weighing between 5.5 and 6 pounds. Whatever you do, keep it simple and keep it light: a varmint-barrel upper (or any tactical tomfoolery hanging from your handguards) will give you a muzzle-heavy blunderbuss with the handling alacrity of a Marlin Super Goose Gun. (Remember those?)
I was surprised at how gently (for lack of a better word) this very lightweight receiver shot and cycled. Perhaps it’s a serendipitous combination of barrel and buffer harmonics. Or perhaps, as is the case with polymer-framed pistols, a slight flexion of the lower receiver acts to mitigate the already-mild 5.56mm recoil. However it works, it shot slightly smoother than a forged AR lower with a fixed A2 buttstock.
The LW-15’s trigger pull, tight lockup, and exceptional accuracy were all unexpected at this price point. In fact, these features would be gratifying even on ARs costing $1,000. In many regards, the LW-15 is superior (so far) to many entry-level forged AR lowers I’ve dealt with, while costing less than half what they cost.
With careful shopping, the LW-15 will let you build a six-pound AR for less than six bills.
If you want to build a drop-dead gorgeous race gun, you WILL NOT start with an LW-15 if you’ve actually looked at all my photos. In addition to its numerous cosmetic flaws (and questions from your competitors like: “You’re running a what?”) it’s just so damned light that you probably won’t want to hang any tactical doodads from it. Quad-rails and bipods are a no-no: too much weight at the muzzle or fore-end will make it handle like crap. As Sean Connery’s Ramirez told the young Highlander Connor MacLeod, balance is the secret to nearly everything.
Although the LW-15 is ‘mil-spec’ in most of its dimensions, it’s not 100% compatible with other mil-spec parts and accessories. The integral trigger guard works fine but it can’t be removed or replaced unless you’re really handy with a Dremel tool. The buffer tube, for no discernible reason, is commercial diameter instead of mil-spec. It can be replaced with a mil-spec tube, but I would be very cautious not to over-torque the castle nut when doing so.
The LW-15 will accept any mil-spec trigger group, with two exceptions: drop-in units like Timney triggers won’t fit, and if you do swap out the trigger parts you’ll have to replace the selector/safety switch also. The included selector only works with the LW-15’s plastic trigger group.
Every LW-15 lower is designated “CAL.MULTI.” Most of them will eventually wear a 5.56 upper, but many other cartridges can cycle through a standard AR-15 action. A .22 long rifle upper is an obvious choice, but is this polymer lower receiver a good choice if you’re looking for a cartridge with a little more horsepower than the 5.56?
New Frontier advertises that they’ve tested the LW-15 for safety and durability with heavy-caliber upper receivers like the .450 Bushmaster. The LW-15 is apparently safe and reliable with a .450, but I don’t know how many rounds they ran through it.
I also haven’t seen any rigorous independent testing in calibers other than 5.56, so I would counsel caution with this relatively new receiver technology. The LW-15 is more than adequate for Foghorn’s darling .300 AAC cartridge, because it has a pressure and recoil profile that’s similar to the 5.56. One regular on ar15.com has been happy with a .458 SOCOM upper on his LW-15, but if I had a sledgehammer like that (or a .50 Beowulf, or a high-pressure caliber like 6.5 Grendel or 6.8 SPC) I think I’d hang back and let someone else to test it on their polymer lower first.
How Do You Clean It?
Plastics don’t always like solvents, but the LW-15 proved completely safe to clean with Hoppe’s No.9, Break-Free CLP and M-Pro 7 gun cleaners. In lieu of wiping it with drain cleaner or battery acid, I diligently searched the Interwebs for information on how to ruin it with harsh solvents. And it was all for naught: the gun forums are full of questions about solvent resistance, but nobody has actually seen an LW-15 that was damaged by gun cleaning chemicals. FWIW, New Frontier claims that it cannot be harmed by any common gun cleaners.
Ignoramus et Ignorabimus
The only really dark cloud hanging over the LW-15 is its unknowable long-term durability. These plastic lowers just haven’t been on the market long enough for Early Adopters (like us) to test them with thousands and thousands of rounds.
Five hundred flawless rounds (and counting) is the perfect way to start demonstrating quality and reliability. That’s a great record for reliability: my TTAG testing career has only introduced me to three other outstanding firearms (an FN, an Arsenal AK, and a SIG/Sauer) that were as reliable out of the box. 500 rounds is good, but I’ll keep testing this receiver because when you shoot your 5.56 ammo by the case you’ll learn the crucial difference between reliability and durability.
Since durability will be the key to whether the LW-15 is a good value or not, I’m going to treat this as a the first installment of a long-term review; I’ll check back next summer with an update on the LW-15’s round count and malfunction log.
If I had to guess where the LW-15 might fail early, it might be the plastic takedown pins, the buffer ring or the front takedown pin holes.
Warning: firearms were harmed in the making of this video. Scroll to 2:12 to see dirt literally spraying out of the barrel. Heaven knows I’ll never do that to my firearms, but it’s nice to know the LW-15 doesn’t have a glass jaw.
If you search for ‘new frontier armory polymer failure’ you’ll quickly find the same few failure anecdotes I did, but you’ll also find that New Frontier Armory took care of the owners and sent them new lowers. There doesn’t seem to be any solid body of evidence suggesting that the LW-15 is any less reliable or durable than a forged aluminum lower. Only thousands of rounds will tell if this polymer lower will hold up as well as they do.
At this point I can definitely say that the LW-15 looks completely solid so far, and I’ll sound the alarm if it doesn’t hold up.
The LW-15 looks like a good entry-level lower, and for $109 it’s a flat-out unbelievable value. Reliability has been impeccable so far, but long-term durability has yet to be proven.
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Fit and Finish **1/2
Tight and sturdy but rough at the edges. Still better than you’d expect for $109.
Don’t let those rough edges fool you: it’s got a good trigger and smooth, positive controls.
Reliability **** (and counting)
Perfect so far, but subtract a star for unknown long-term durability.
A fantastic value at $109, although I wouldn’t take it to war just yet.
Impressive… I’ll look forward to the follow-up review about whether it holds up or not.
OMG you have to watch the video.
Why in the world would you run over it with a Ford F-150, or chuck it 25 yards into the desert. Even in the army I can say I never abuse my M-16 that much, ever! In fact I treated mine with love and care.. 🙂
If it will stand up to that, I would say it would stand up to just about anything.
They don’t. Mine broke in under two weeks, right at the seam on the buffer tube ring. Yes, the warranty process was painless, but my gun was still broken.
I own a LW-15, and I am worried about the seam where the buffer tube meets as well. I have done 200 rounds of .223 through it, I guess time will tell. I have heard of owners that have gone 5000+ with no issues.
Did you notice any detectable wear or wear spots in the trigger group after 500 rounds? Like maybe on the hammer face?? As much as I dislike the AR15/M16 5.56mm I am considering one of these already with a .308 upper. Hmmm need to talk real nice to Santa Clause for a day or two!!
I examined the trigger parts carefully (but without disassembling them) after 300+ rounds, and there was basically no wear at all except a spot on the hammer which was peened a little smoother.
Thanks Chris. Have seen the same smooth preening on steel hammers in the Army, even on fairly new one’s we refurbed in the Arms Room and was curious about it with a polymer hammer.
Guess I am going to have to break down and buy one after all. Sure would be nice to find an upper in 7.62x54R so I wouldn’t have to buy another set of dies and add another caliber to the list(shoot 6 reloadable(7.62x54r, .25auto,.38spec, 9mm, .45acp, 12ga) and 2 nonreloadable calibers(.22lr/.22mag) as it is!!!
FN has been using plastic FCGs for a while in their P90 and F2000 rifles.
I have a plum crazy polymer lower. It was ok. Had problems with the bolt catch and some other issues. I found some blemished stripped del-ton lowers at a gunshow for $75 and bought 2. I also have one from “surplus ammo and arms”. I just never liked the polymer one that much. But thanks to it I learned how to assemble a stripped lower. So now I have 3 aluminium lowers and 1polymer lower. And 2 uppers. Sota arms makes low priced uppers that work great. I got my 300 blackout from them.
+1 on the PlumCrazy lower. Mine was ok, but long term it sucked hard. The plastic trigger started loosen up and replacing it was a PIA. I replaced it with a stripped lower from Rguns and have never been happier.
I agree with the triggers on the polymer lowers being not too bad. Better than a stock mil-spec trigger.
I’m seriously thinking about building a supa light 9mm carbine out of one of these.
Hmmm. An sbr, with a polymer lower, .45acp!!! Man you guys are going to get me in trouble with all these ideas!!!
They make for a great “truck gun”. I picked up one of the poly lowers this summer and matched it with an “on-sale” Palmetto State upper and ended up with a complete build under $500. I ran about 10 mags through it and it now resides in the rig as a backup. So far, so good.
Sometimes it may be a good idea from costing prospective to use bullet price. How long will it take me to send the same amount of money down range as the cost of what I am sending it with. For example:
I go and plop $500 down on an M&P 9. (Maybe I just did that on my last visit to Gander Mnt) I will throw that gun down range every 2,000 Rnds. (@.25/Rnd) If I am really an enthusiast, at 10,000 rounds, the gun will represent only 17% of total cost.
A $1,000 AR comes even with ammo at 2,500 Rnds.
The $110 lower only costs 183 5.56 Rnds, so if we think of the cost of something in rounds that LW-15 lower gets cheaper and cheaper.
So when the wife complains about a new gun, tell her the more range time you get the cheaper the gun is. Ya know, just like a “Sale” at the Gap saves her money.
Not surprised this isn’t new Calvary arms receivers which where almost the same thing been out for many years.
Commas are your friend. Please use them! 🙂
I have this lower mainly for use on a spikes 5.45 upper/beater gun. I’ve probably put slightly over 3 k rounds through it. The magwell is all scratched up but still functional. The takedown pins have since loosened up a bit, but no sign of cracks or breaks, and still tight enough it wont back out on its own. I was initially worried about the mag release and bolt hold, but those two items are still going strong.
Seeing as I shoot corrosive surplus, this lower has been subjected to brake cleaner and water regularly, no problems there. Cannot speak to the durability of the trigger as I swapped that out very early on.
Mine definitely does not look new anymore, its a bit scratched up and worn, but its still fully functional.
I did not hesitate on a polymer lower is because my SCAR16s has a polymer lower. Granted the SCAR upper and stock absorbs the bulk of the recoil. Focusing on the NFA polymer section near the buffer tube, I don’t see any signs of cracking or fatigue.
My wife wants me to build her a 5.45, could you please tell me more about your project and trigger swap. She just wants to plink with her slidefire stock, would it be hard to change out the buffer tube?
Buffer tube is easily removed. The castle nut for the buffer tube is not staked, so one could just use a standard castle nut wrench to remove the nut then unscrew the buffer.
I replaced the stock trigger with a geiselle 3 gun trigger, was easy to install.
I used a spikes 5.45 upper from aimsurplus and c-product mags specifically for 5.45. I’ve found regular Pmags are good only up to about 10-15 rounds for 5.45.
Hope that helps =]
Thanks for the review! I might just pick up one of these if I don’t have to pay the ridiculous $75 CA Internet transfer fees. It’s “only” $35 if a local dealer has it in stock, plus we have the pleasure of paying an additional $20 for the POS CA legal bullet button. Man, CA gun laws suck.
“drop-in units like Timney triggers won’t fit, and if you do swap out the trigger parts you’ll have to replace the selector/safety switch also. The included selector only works with the LW-15′s plastic trigger group.”
” Quad-rails and bipods are a no-no: too much weight at the muzzle or fore-end will make it handle like crap.”
Meh… No thanks… I always run a light and AFG on a barrel less than 18in, at 18in and beyond, perhaps it would be something looking into, but if it’s a long range precision rifle you’re building… Why spend the money on a plastic lower that cant handle precision trigger groups, bipods, or shoulder things that go up. If you’re building a precision rifle, chances are you’re not expecting to pay less than $1200… Hell a decent 18in, or 20in upper could cost that much, not including the trigger group, stock, or bi-pod.
This LW-15 lower sounds great for the super budget conscious shooter looking for a solid AR platform plinker, nothing more. I’m more utilitarian with my purchases than some of my shooter friends. .22 for hunting small game, 5.56/.223/.300/12ga/9mm for combative roles, and .308 for long range and hunting. If I cant trust my lower to hold the weight of a bipod or light on rails, I dont know if I could trust my life to it. I also build my rifles to take a beating. I dont want to think twice about dropping a rifle or it accidentally getting banged up. I want it to last.
The Timney drop-in trigger group is the only trigger the LW-15 can’t take. Giessele, Jewell, Rock River, etc. will all fit just fine. And I wasn’t implying that this lower isn’t *strong enough* to handle a heavy barrel or lots of accessories. I tested it with a heavy-barreled upper and it worked perfectly; it just handled sluggishly because its balance was all messed up; too much of its weight was forward.
That being said, I think you are going up against the elitist in all of us. 🙂
Folks don’t have an issue with buying a $500 red dot, or spending gobs of cash on the best out there. The Timney $200 dollar trigger comes to mind.
In reality not all of us are rich, and for your kids, or some other use, this fits the bill nicely and saves you some bills.
I know some folks were like, well a stripped lower only costs $150.. Yeah that is for a stripped. this one is complete.
So when I go to my LGS it kinda goes like this.
$150 spikes lower stripped.
$80 CCMG lower parts kit
$80 a cheap stock 6 position with buffer tube assembly and spring.
$20.00 bullet button
$13 Background check
That doesn’t even include tax either, or transfer fees….
My shop is $65 for the fee.
Now lets look at the New frontier.
$129.00 for the CA compliant version
So I want two, that is $258.00 for both.
My shop will charge a single fee I believe for transfer on multiple.
So for about the same price I get not 1 but 2 complete lowers.
That isn’t bad at all!!!
Agree 100%, bought two
I run an 18″ 300 BLK free float and a 14.5″ (Perm to 16″) 5.56 HBAR uppers
The balance is forward but both guns are still lighter than my 16A4 back in the day and with the reciever fit and stock trigger (I love how it breaks) superbly accurate. They out shoot me and that is good enough for this grunt
I have trouble seeing the benefit here. You say they are $109, but won’t accept many of the things I automatically install into an AR.
There are quality in-spec aluminum lowers from Palmetto State and Aero Precision for less than $100. By the time you tack on shipping and transfers for either one, going for the metal one is a no-brainer.
Yea, that’s where I’m at on this one. If I can’t drop in a replacement trigger, then I can’t see a reason to own one at this price point.
I have several of the Aero Precision receivers and they’ve all built up into perfectly fine guns – at $89/lower. Can’t beat that with a stick.
One thing to remember is that this is NOT your typical aluminum receiver, obviously. In my opinion its geared towards cheaper AR builds that will be plinker and range toys, not a competition/duty/top-tier rifle.
To build a standard aluminum lower with quality parts, you are looking at easily $300+. The cheap pricetag of the LW15 is one of its biggest advantages at $109. Just keep in mind it is not as durable as an aluminum lower, which is reflected in its cost.
Take it for what it is, and what it is not.
Actually, if you search youtube LW-15 you’ll find the tests they run show it, LW-15, takes the abuse that less than .1% or AR owners put there guns through. Day of a carbine class I had some dude stone faced tell me that my “rebranded” plumb crazy lower was prone to melting in the heat of a car interior during the middle of summer. Later that day as I was removing my borrowed 556 Kestrel…..lots O’heat, I offered up some my lithium wheel bearing grease ($2/lb) to aid with his cycling issues he was experiencing with his Frog Lube ($100/lb). I’m going to be honest, I feel most guys that give the LW-15 flack are the ones who own, or want to own, Noveske, DD, Mega……ie nice forged/billet lowers and feel that the $39 stripped LW kind of makes the $300+ lower unnecessary…..in terms of a tool. If your looking for a safe queen/looker you need aluminum, but if looks are not an issue then this thing is the SH#T. Polymer has such a warm plastiky feeling, mmmmmmmmmm (I do run all metal internals so YMMV)
As Chris said, this is for a complete lower, not a stripped lower. I think this makes a ton of sense for a cheap pinker or a super lightweight build.
Nice review Chris. Plastic, errr I mean polymer has come a long way.
So for my kids, let’s say, a standard polymer lower, maybe a del-ton upper, and low cost red dot for 50 or even 100 yards is fine. BTW finding a long range 100+ yards in CA is like finding a winning lottery ticket.
To be honest I think this is plenty good, even for 3 gun, I know many are gasping right now, but think about it. If you want to get into the sport, this might save you a little dough and let you shoot for a bit before you go all out. If my kids wanted to compete in juniors this would also be a good way to start.
Most lowers once you add the stock, buffer tube, trigger with internals, bullet button for CA, you are looking at about $300.00 + so in reality this isn’t a bad deal at all.
Sure it isn’t a $400 trigger, and you can’t go all tacticool, but if all you want is a red dot or scope this wouldn’t be a bad option. If you don’t plan on using something other than 5.56, 223, or 300, then why not? I know I love the spikes jolly roger, and some others, because let’s face it, they look drrooolll cool, but for your kids, or even as a backup, this makes a hell of a lot of sense. It would work well as a designated varmint rifle, or some other position in your collection where it isn’t going to be abused, even though it can take it for the most part.
I personally could see picking up a few, so I can build out my kids guns. If they kill it, then you haven’t lost a lot of big bucks, and Daddy’s rifle is mine, and YOU CAN’T TOUCH IT!!! 😉
The fact it seems to handle what ever Chris threw at it is also testament to it’s ability to perform.
The fact remains many either don’t or can’t afford some of the high end stuff on the market. This fills that niche, and allows folks options. The fact it performed as well as it did, means a lot. You could start with this and a nice upper, realize you are now a gun nut and start building something more expensive. Slap the upper on the new lower and away you go. You haven’t really lost anything and you could pick up a cheep upper later and have two guns. Options are great aren’t they?
Bottom line is for the cost of one built out metal lower you could have two ready to go. That aint half bad in my book.
It would be perfect as a base for a 22 LR slide fire, though the trigger is a bit heavy.
I would happily use one for a truck-boat-truck gun
I’m currently building a lightweight AR pistol with a 7.5inch barrel and a polymer Lower, but I have one the ATI/Omni lower. You can definitely feel the difference (less weight and quality) compared to my primary AR15 Carbine (Spikes Tactical).
These polymer lowers are perfect for cheap and lightweight AR builds that will be range toys and plinkers. I would not recommend it as a duty/competition/beauty queen AR.
Got a Plumcrazy for 100 bucks awhile back, put a 280 dollar Delton m4 style upper on it and ran 1500 rds thru it so far. Only problem is the bolt holdopen quit working after 300 rds, doesnt seem to have enough travel to catch the BCG. Other than that no noticeable wear, great crisp trigger and its LIGHT. Oh, its a tad finicky about mags, certain real old aluminum GI mags wont stay seated but modern Pmags and such work fine. The polymer lowers are great for a cheap AR. Glock should start making them, they would have alot higher level of fit and finish and probably last forever.
Did a cheap 300 BLK build. In CA cost was $170 with bullet button and DROS. DS Arms upper for $320. Complete bolt assembly another $110. The plastic hammer chipped (but stilled worked) after the first visit – $15 traded out the hammer and trigger with metal. The take down pin broke at about about 500 rounds when I was putting it back in while cleaning. Replaced with metal for another $12. Recently added a cheap NCStar 3-7 x 40 AR scope for $70 from Turners (1/2 price black Friday). Have about 1,000 rounds through now with no further trouble. Very light. No problems with the mags from Midway (AR Stoner) or Bushmaster or the original mag from my M&P 15. We will see how she holds up over time. The New Frontier is supposed to be better than the old Plum Crazy-updated polymer. Plus the lifetime replacement – so it would just cost the DROS to replace and handling by the dealer. Parallax Tactical where I bought it said it works just fine as a 22LR build, but needs the metal hammer, trigger and take down pin due to the stress or 223 or 300 BLK.
I ordered a stripped New Frontier LW 15 lower about a month ago and I ordered a Palmetto State Armory Magpul Moe metal lower build kit. The lower parts installation was kind of hard, I have to admit. The lower is very tight, but everything did get installed fine.
Aftermarket milspec lower parts kits do fit fine, however they are tight. I don’t know about 2 stage triggers, but an average milspec lower kit will work.
I borrowed an upper to test the fit. It was a Delton 16″ HBAR, 2 piece quad rail handguard, flat top with Eotech, low pro gas block. It didn’t feel too heavy. I figured I could get a 16″ M4 upper with quad rail, add light and Magpul AFG and it wouldn’t be much heavier.
I’ve installed a two-stage Delton that works well. It does require replacement of theNFA safety as well.
I had exactly one problem in assembling the lower: the standard magazine catch is shorter than the one NFA uses and sticks. I dremeled the slot to be a bit longer and it works.
Wow, you guys really torture things during a torture test. That polymer lower stood up to it well, too. I checked the price today and they’re going for an “introductory price of $169.99” now. Feh! What happened to the $99 intro price? Did your review trigger that? (pun intentional)
I’d love to be responsible for a great idea like this succeeding. Unfortunately I can’t take much credit for New Frontier lowers selling off the shelves.
We can blame a psychopathic little c*nt in Connecticut for that.
Are these worth buying?
I found them in stock here, but I am not sure if I wanna pay that much for a lower even if it does include a PMAG.
Lowers In Stock
jesus freakin christ!!!! 399???? god damn thats price gouging!!!
On the other hand, it’s not out of line with current market prices. One of my FFLs has garden-variety Rock River lower parts kits for $130 right now — not the nice ones with the upgraded triggers, the basic ones that were previously going for $70.
Figure $80 for an M4-style buttstock and that puts the cost of the polymer lower at $190. Last decent price I saw for a stripped aluminum lower (that you could actually buy) was $250, for comparison.
So yeah, it sucks, but I wouldn’t call it gouging.
Riflegear.com currently has them for $199 (been in stock for most of an hour, I’m impressed).
Just bought one for an ultralight build. Just need to get my ultralight forearm (MI 2Gen SS) and permanently affix the flash hider and this build will be off to the races 🙂
Thanks for the review. Thanks for all the comments too.
As a AR newbie who is looking for a place to begin, this was very welcome. I’m looking at on of these lowers for $300.
I picked one of these up and put a DPMS lower parts kit in. I like it a lot, especially since it has no wobble between the upper and lwoer at all (I’ve got a heavy 20″ up top). While it’s certainly front heavy, I’m putting a lead wedge in the A2 stock and a polymer hand guard on the barrel. I think it’ll be better after that.
Here’s my problem; The mag catch isn’t engaging. It doesn’t stick far enough into the mag well to do anything (the catch is flush at best) and the whole thing doesn’t want to move side to side at all. I think tight tolerances are part of the problem, but I’m not altogether sure. I’d rather not bring it to a smith. Any input?
Chris, it’s been a year + how is that lower holding up?
I regret to admit that I haven’t touched off more than 300 rounds of 5.56 since I wrote this review, because the ammo just isn’t available. ARs are back in stock and so are mags (but 30% more expensive) but 5.56 is still flat-out unavailable. I won’t be doing any more 500 round AR shoots until I can get another few cases of Tulammo or Bear for $220 per thousand.
That may be a while. ;(
Chris, this review, as well as some more delevent builds I have read people do with these prompted me to try one for my first ar build. So thanks for the upclose images of the resultant flawed appearance due to a very poor finishing & polishing job on the injection molds. I am not building a looker, just a light weight tracking & hunting rifle.
I am using it on a 6.8spc. It will be my primary hunting rifle for deer coyote & hog, and whatever else may cross it’s path from the business end. I went with a 18″ stainless to help the balance out vs a steel barrel. Even with a mid-length quad rail I am hoping it has a decent balance. I will be sure to update once everything is here & I have had a chance to test it out.
I was won over by there reputation for taking care of customers & their failures vs some other companies (cough**ati***cough) & a lifetime warranty that means something.
Thanks again & wish me luck!
I have a full windham weaponry ar, but picked up this lower for $188 total cost because of videos and reviews like this one… Putting it side by side with an aluminum lower this one is worth the money great product for the price!
Ah, the days where the the price of AR parts related to their quality! Looks like I’ll be sticking with my 30-30 and .270 for the next year or so.
I received my lower the other day. I have to say that I admit the molds used could use some very basic clean-up. There were thick portions on certain edges and the threaded portion for the stock is very rough and funky looking. The trigger does feel relatively firm and not the least bit vague or sloppy. The CP mags I have fit fairly snug with minimal slop & drop free easily. Thre hammer could use to have more material and the catch it a bit odd shaped at the end. I plan on changing the trigger assembly at some point so this is not a major concern.
I chose this complete lower for my first AR “build”.
At $170 ($182 out the door with CA taxes and fees) it was an attractive price and a friend has been shooting an older generation one at Frontsight for a few years.
At first, I could not get the rear pin to go through to connect the upper (Aero, with Mossber4 M4 Melonite 16″bbl – 5.56, MI free float mid-length rail PSA BCG and unspecified make charging handle).
I looked closer and carefully sanded down some burs and I now have a snug fit:
I expect it to shoot fine tomorrow.
Forgot to mention that with $635 for the complete upper, $90 for a set of MBUS flip-ups, I was able to put together a decent AR for under 1K. Now if I can only get some sort of respectable, sturdy holographic sight for under 30% of the rifle’s cost…… Anyone?…. Anyone?…. Anyone?….
Sight mark ultra shot reflex Pn # 13005 my friend. I picked one up at a fleet farm for $60 on sale. I have tried eotecs & honestly they are blurry compared to these. Pick one reticle you like & sight it in. Give it a try I think you will like it. If not you can always spend $400+…
Gtfoxy – how durable is that SightMark?
Do the mounts come loose with frequent firing?
Do the internal parts rattle loose after 1,000 rounds?
It holds just fine. The mounts are solid. I even use a quick disconnect under it. The retical turns from left to right so recoil doesn’t effect that aspect. Only problem you will have is trying to change reticles after sighting it in. They don’t go to the same spot of center. Keep it on one & you will be fine.
OK. Will have to see if anyone has one at the range tomorrow.
The brand gets mediocre ratings on Amazon.
There are few sub levels that aren’t that good. I haven’t had an issue so far.
The mattel toy has now become the Fisher Price Toy.
I “built” (assembled?) a New Frontier/Sportical for my wife, who wanted the absolutely lightest AR she could get. Topped it with a used optical sight I bought for $20 in a pawn shop. Total was under $500 in mid-2012.
It shoots reliably. Trigger is nothing to write home about. The only ammo I have fed it is factory PMC 55, and a few of my match handloads. Both loads go into 2″ at 100.
I assembled another one for behind the back seat of the pickup.
When I can get more Sportical uppers, I am going to put together a few more.
FWIW You can install a Timney drop in trigger in a LW-15 lower but you do need to change out the safety selector to something like a BAS ASS. With that exact FCG in my lower its seen 15k rounds with no issues.
I used one of these to build a lightweight rifle. 14.5 pencil barrel with permanently attached YHM phantom FH, MI low gas block, Rock River upper,Troy TRX Battle Rail, Magpul VFG, CTR and MBUS sights, Ergo grip, and Vortex SPARC red dot. I also added one of the Blackhawk sling adapters that bolts on the buffer tube that adds a little meat behind the receiver, and did it all for less than $900. It is a fantastic little piece, easy to handle and more than accurate enough. The lower has performed very well and the trigger was GTG from the start.
Just to add to the fray.. My unit in Aland replaced most all of our weapons lowers with this lower after we could not get parts via us military. Many times after crawling around on the rocks we would find an alum well dented so it would not take a mag. the rocks over there destroy you rifles. My wife sent me many of these for replacements and after literally 1000’s and 1000’s of rounds many of us came home only to replace our own guns lowers. These are tough and work, period.
Like mentioned earlier, looking for a show gun…not your part. Looking for something that will keep you alive when the SHTF…I wouldn’t want anything else.
@ Chris Dumm nice review, I want to add to your whole page here I’m from Vegas and so I purchased a complete one bout 2 years back at NFA (wanting to buy from a local store and not a mass company) I had no idea what I was really buying after getting rid of my plum crazy after 1500 rds through it, ive had a pencil barrel on this NFA lower all the way to an 18″hbar with a 12″ quadrail a foregrip and flashlight I go packing through the Deserts out here yotie hunting have dropped it smashed into rocks, and have run a total of 2000+ rds with all the stock parts still on this lower ive pack it around boar-hunting on the Arizona strip and this new barrel helps with the accuracy it is a tad bit heavy but nothing you can’t handle like a regular ol 16″ barrel, to the guys on here the trigger group works, if I had the time of day to do competitions with this lower I would and I would put my life on this rifle
Hi everyone I must say this is a great review of the LW-15. I have one and I love mine. I just wanted to say I had my rear take down pin break in half. New Frontier fixed it but then it happend again so I just replaced it with a steel one and haven’t had any problem since then. I think I have had about 600 rounds through my rifle so far.
Put 2 together, one on a Plum Crazy another on the NFA Lower with no regrets whatsoever. We’ve ran over 3k rounds through each with absolutely no problems. Both have Off Brand Uppers with Wilson S.S.Barrels and Benny Hill Rolling Thunder Comps and are topped off with 1.5-4×30 scopes and 45* iron sights.(Setup for 3Gun) Both have triggers that break like glass and actually are preferred shooters by my 2 Sons,out of the 4 ARs that we have. The other 2 are a Bushy and a YHM on a Charles Daly Defense Lower. Their abuse of these Polymer Lowers without breakage is good enough for me. Joe Bob Outfitters usually runs the NFAs (when in stock) for $99 to $109 delivered. Not too bad for a Complete Lower!!
These are genuinely wonderful ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched some nice points here.
Last year, we built a Post 86 Dealer Sample M16 on a New Frontier Armory Polymer lower. Mil-spec M16 Trigger Group and auto sear were a snap to install after drilling the hole for the auto sear pin. Several hundred rounds of full auto suppressed fire later the only malfunction noted was the bolt catch would lock the bolt back with rounds still in the magazine. Replacement of the spring cured that.
Now that select fire lower sports a 10.5 ” barrel and also has a 16″ .300 Blackout just for giggles. For sights, both uppers have Eotech 512’s mounted.
Now as far as esthetics go, the AR/M16 will never win any beauty contest in my opinion. This is a purely utilitarian weapon and does exactly what the designers intended. My concerns are solely with function and after selling over 50 of these NFA lowers as stripped lowers, complete lowers, and assembled rifles, I am satisfied as to their excellent performance.
I bought one last year for a pistol build and finally got it completed this year. Shot about 100 rounds through it with no problem. Then I fired 60 rounds of blanks using a blank firing adapter to simulate gun fire for an exercise and the rear take down pin broke in half.
I replaced it with a steel pin and take down detent pin and decided to replace the front pin as well, since I was at it. The front steel pin would not push out to disassemble the upper once installed without using a punch and hammer. I ended up reaming the front take down pin hole with a drill bit and it now works better.
Other than that, so far, so good.
I’ve owned several of these as well as a plumcrazy lower. I have had no issues with either (the plumcrazy had issues with 20 rd Colt mags). I ordered several more batches of the NFA lowers for a bulk deal. Have not had any issues ata ll with any of my builds. My son has the plumcrazy with an Rguns superbull stainless 20″ upper I built for his 18th birthday. I built one of the NFA lowers into a 24″ Rguns fluted bull upper. The weight issues aren’t that bad at all, especially since these are probably going to be used mainly on bipods. I’ve shot thousands of rounds through them and the only issues to date are with my son’s, and that is from the bolt carrier keys backing out, and that is a Rguns issue, not a NFA lower issue.
Good review, and good luck out there.
Since the admin of this site is working, no question very quickly it will be well-known, due to its
It’s hard to find experienced people in this particular subject, but you sound like you
know what you’re talking about! Thanks
DPMS Sportical complete upper from Midway Arms on sale for $339. and $109 for complete lower from Joe Bob Outfitters makes for a fun, lightweight shooter for less than $450.00! Can’t beat that!
Have two, one with 7.62×39 upper. Trigger pull is fantastic.
I’d purchased a Noveske 300BLK 16″ stainless barrel a couple of years ago. About a month later, I called my son and asked if he would build me a lightweight AR with it. Before I had put the period on the end of my sentence, he asked: “You want me to build you a lightweight AR with a 2+ lb. barrel? Okay. I’ll see what I can do.”
My son showed up to visit his mom and I a couple of weeks later. He came in with a box full of stuff and went out to my shop. In what seemed like no time at all, he returned with a complete AR and said: “It’s got everything you would ever want or need. Let’s go sight this thing in.”
The AR looked amazing. I carried the gun out and it was a little front-heavy, but it really was lightweight. My son used the LW-15 lower, but had replaced the handle and the stock with Magpul FDE-colored items. I never noticed any blemishes or seams in workmanship, but knowing my son – he probably worked it over before I ever saw it. He’d used a black Vltor upper, and a Vltor CASV handguard in FDE. Sitting on top was an Aimpoint Micro T-1 red-dot with a cover on the scope that was also in FDE.
Once we’d arrived to the spot where we all shoot, I asked him about ammo and magazines. He pulled out a stack of ten PMAGs from the box, also in FDE, and said: “They’re already loaded and you have the remainder of a case of a thousand rounds. Oh yeah, and the gun weighs in around 5.7 lbs.” As for the BCG, flash-hider / compensator, and sling – I have no clue what brands they are. There is a front-handle in FDE on it that has a bi-pod that pops out of it. Again, don’t have a clue what brand that is either.
Since then, I’ve put close to 3,500 rounds through this gun without a single hiccup. My son did say that he’d replaced the takedown pins with metal ones, and that if I ever wanted a different trigger to let him know. His favorite AR has a Geissele two-stage trigger, but I’m quite happy with this one.
I still don’t know exactly what kind of money that he put into the project, but he said it was for my Christmas present. Oh, and he put an Aimpoint magnifier in my stocking that year, as well. He was very adamant about the type of ammo to use, and said that when I needed more to just let him find it for me. I can say that the gun has never missed anything I’ve aimed at, so he knows more about it that I ever will. All I can say is that even after all of the shooting I’ve done, it’s still just as solid and tight of a build as it was the day he built it for me.
This was my very first AR at 73 years-old. I’ve always used bolt-actions for most of what I’ve hunted all of my life, but it just seemed too cumbersome for me to get around with any longer. I just don’t have the balance or coordination I once had. With this thing, the sling keeps it on me without over-burdening my ability to get around. It’s very easy to just throw it up there and take the shot.
So, yes… I’m quite pleased with the LW-15 lower.
73, huh? Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Glad to hear it. Welcome to the AR family.
I was a Ranger, I KNOW ARs. I have owned mine for over a year and put a lot of rounds through it. Mine is as accurate as any gun I have ever owned, and as reliable. Thousands of rounds with no problems and no discernible wear. At this point if I had to go into combat, this is a lower I would trust.
Long time NF lower owner here. I’m approx 2000rds of 223/556 and a few thousand rounds of LR22 on another upper, and I’ve noted the front of the box of the mag well has completely separated at the seam. My guess would be that I’ve stressed it from cleaning it when opening and closing the upper time and time again. The take-down pins do look a tad wore, and I’ll assume that is causing it to pull apart. Will be calling NF and see what they think. Hopefully, they can take care of it. I love my lightweight lower, and currently am running it as a 2.9lb LR22 pistol.
Purchased my LW15 about a year ago. About a 1000 rounds thru it.
Considerable wear at the buffer tube attachment. It’s being battered by the BCG. It’s causing wear to the tube itself and making it so the buffer doesn’t make it all the wY forward contact with the retaining pin. Well, it was cheap!
There is definately a great deal to find out about this issue. I love all of the points you made.|
“Since durability will be the key to whether the LW-15 is a good value or not, I’m going to treat this as a the first installment of a long-term review; I’ll check back next summer with an update on the LW-15’s round count and malfunction log.”
I searched TTAG for the follow-up article but couldn’t find it.
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