Courtesy Chris Dumm for The Truth About Guns
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Courtesy Chris Dumm for The Truth About Guns

My gunsmith had a delightful pre-Thanksgiving surprise for me today: a (nearly) all-polymer AR-15 complete lower from New Frontier Armory. Just about everything in it is made of a tough polymer: in fact, only the buffer, tube and springs seem to be made of metal. Even the trigger and hammer, you ask? Yep, even the trigger and hammer . . .

Joe Grine and I are going to take it out for a test ride on Black (Rifle) Friday, and we’ll let you know if the 5.2-pound single stage trigger is as good as it seems. The lower locks up very tightly to my heavy-barrel midlength upper, and my P-Mags seat snugly and drop free on command.

This chunk of polymer will only weigh you down by 1.7 pounds, and better yet it will only lighten your wallet by $109 plus shipping and transfer fees. This is a half-pound (and a full-Benjamin) less than other complete lower receiver groups, and if it holds up it might be the starting point for a super-lightweight and super-cheap AR.

Stay tuned…

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  1. It should hold up. We’re about 20 years past the point of wondering if polymer guns will hold up or not. They will.

    • They can break, like any gun. The good news is that the customer cservice is pretty good. Mine fractured right on the seam where the buffer tube connects to the receiver.

  2. Went for the Grand Experiment too, eh? I also picked up and NFA poly lower to use as a base for a new truck AR. Matched with an on-sale Palmetto middy upper, I put an AR-15 truck gun together for just under $500 and right at 5 pounds. I had a hiccup when I started in that the lower actually cracked down the front.
    When I went to separate the upper from the lower, the upper swung to the front and hit the lower. Smacked into the front of the lower and cracked it down the front.

    The benefit to the NFA poly lower is that it has a lifetime warranty so NFA was awesome in getting the new one to me after I shipped back the cracked one. Since then, I’ve put about 300 rounds down the rifle and she shoots really well. Can’t even tell that the lower is poly. I had considered swapping out the poly take-down pins and hammer/trigger, but decided to leave it in to see how it runs. The trigger is surprisingly good. Next to no take up and breaks well, if a bit heavy. I think that NFA has a good product on their hands.

    The only issue I have (and this is something buyers need to pay attention to) is that the buffer tube (if they buy it as a completed lower) is commercial-sized. I had an extra Magpul MOE stock I wanted to put on it, but it was mil spec and I had to spend $20 to get a milspec buffer tube for it. Apart from that, it runs well and is a suitable replacement for the Marlin .30-.30 that’s been riding around behind the seat from the past decade…

      • Very much so. If you check Palmetto State Armory (especially for Black Friday) you can get great deals on (almost) complete uppers. I picked up a 16″ Middy upper for $269, found a local gun show BCG for $110 and when matched with the $109 complete lower put the price at $488 (actually $502 after I paid the FFL local transfer fee). Definitely a good shooter and worth the $500 price.

  3. I’ve been running one for a while with a cheap DPMS upper as a beater gun. It’s held up to a decent amount of abuse and feels very solid as well as having a decent trigger. The only thing at all that I worry about is falling on top of it and it breaking at the buffer tube.

  4. I’ll be watching this closely. $109 for a complete lower is a steal, if the product does its part. The review is going to be the deciding factor for whether or not I grab one

  5. My one reservation would be the trigger/hammer group. I’ve got no problems with the idea of a polymer lower at all, but polymers don’t impress me as a material for a good, reliable trigger. Remember, the point of a trigger/hammer group isn’t just that it feels good under your finger when you want it to go ‘bang’ – it also has to absolutely not allow the rifle to go ‘bang’ when you don’t want it to do so.

    That said, I think most stock AR triggers feel like I’m stirring a box of gravel with a chunk of rebar, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

  6. Time to stock up on Tulammo and run that thing into the ground to see how it holds up.

    Wait, they want their T&E equipment back? In one piece? But…aw.

  7. A polymer lower? Ummm….why? Next thing you know someone will make a woman out of polymer, and then we’re all in trouble.

  8. There’s probably nothing wrong with this. It’s probably all just me being snobby, but no, never, not in a million years.

    When they come up with a polymer that is literally bulletproof, and does not degrade in heat or sunlight, and they have testing videos to show it, only then would I ever consider this.

    The idea of a polymer lower makes me want to throw up in my mouth. Might as well start making lowers out of MDF next.

    • A metal lower is not “literally” bulletproof…

      Polymer guns have been around for quite a while and have proven themselves plenty. Get with the times.

      • I know that my aluminum lower is not literally bulletproof, but making a switch to something else; for me, requires that something else to be better, not just as good as.

        And there’s a difference, at least in my head, between a Glock, where the polymer bits only have to hold the round in a place where the metal parts can pick it up, and an AR 15, where the buffer tube hole has to hold a buffer tube that’s going to repeatedly get slammed by a buffer and bolt carrier group recoiling.

        You should go buy one and tell me how I’m missing out on some awesome cheap AR15, and I can guarantee that I’ll still be wincing every time you fire it, waiting for that part of the lower where the buffer tube screws in to break clean off and make the whole gun fly apart all over the range. It may never happen, but in my head, it’s gonna happen every time I see someone fire one.

        • I have one and beat it up pretty good… They said the same thing you are saying about polymer handguns way back when.

          I’m not saying this is perfect or I would want to take it into combat yet. Polymer is the future though.

  9. Several years ago I purchased a Kel-Tec SU-16 for all the same reasons. Light, reliable, 223 package. Kel Tec used polymer to build the receiver and it has the added benefit of foldability (is that a word?). At 4.5 lbs and around 24 inches folded, it makes a heck of a “survival” gun, SHTF gun or a truck/trunk gun. Cost at the time less than 500 bucks. I still think it is worth a look if that is what your parameters are.

  10. So what’s the benefit, you save a couple hundred bucks and 8 ounces? Is that worth the risk of having it crack on you like it did to OODALoop? What do you do when that happens and you need your weapon NOW, not in a couple of weeks when the manufacturer gets it back to you? I guess you could just duct tape it together and drive on, but wouldn’t it be better to just get a real lower?

    • The polymer lowers are not really intended for heavy use in combat or duty purposes. They are geared more towards plinking, range use, and a cheap option for a truck or house gun.

      I have a polymer lower (ATI) on one of my AR15’s. It’s a strictly a range rifle and serves only as a secondary weapon to my Spikes M4 and Mossberg500. In the event of a true emergency or SHTF situation, I would ideally always grab the Spikes or Mossberg first.

      If it breaks–and the possibility is there– you go grab your main battle rifle or shotgun. And for that you only lose $109. The warranty should cover you anyway so in the event of a failure, you should get a free replacement.

  11. @ Barstow, not everyone buying one of these needs it as a combat ready weapon. I for instance just ordered one to do a cheap ar15 build for my girl. Something light and cheap is all i need and to see if i even LIKE the ar platform. I would of went for the m&p 15 sport but the prices continuously go up and are sold out instead of spending $700 to try the platform and give my girl something to enjoy, ill build one for about $500 maybe less. And when i need something NOW, ill have my always trusted AK variant 😉

  12. Poly lowers share very little on common with poly pistols.
    The stresses are much higher in the AR-15 lower, not to mention the buffer area of the lower absorbs recoil. In poly pistols, the poly lower has metal inserts the slide simply travels along. There is no analog between poly lowers and poly pistols. Poly lowers are junk, they break almost immediately, and are a waste of money. I am glad they have great customer service. Make sure to remember that when your plastic lower breaks when your life is on the line. Bottom line, if EM Stoner had wanted the AR to be made from plastic, he would have done it back in 63. Spend the extra cash.

  13. 5600 rounds and counting through my first New Frontier lower. I have three of them so far. Hate all you want, call them junk if you will, but I will be buying them for future builds without a second thought about reliability.

  14. Wow! Why are there,so many AR snobs? The US Military doesn’t pay more than $650 for Full auto M4s from,colt and FN , yet the online “experts” are always calling,people dumb or “fudds” for not breaking the bank on a weapon thats more modular than a set of legos!

    I was ragged on my friends putting together a del ton lower with a spikes upper( 1/7 twist, chromed lined barrel, m4 ramps and properly staked bcg), total cost was 850 compared to my buds $1150 colt 6940-both look similar in build, with,MO furniture and hand rails.after 1000 rds each , my franken gun makes the same size holes the colt does at the same,distances, and hasn’t choked or BLOWN UP!

    Bought a BCM mid length and put it on a complete PSA lower, for $975, despite another bud who raves I should have spent $1375 for a Danielz Defense AR like him!

    I say this cause recently I plunked down 130 for a L W 15 polymer lower at Ammo Brothers of Cerritos, CA( $75 plus tax and transfer fees) the polymer Lower isnt a supergun , but with proper care itll ladt and,work. This will last, and with a $360 dsa complete upper I will have a spare AR style carbine thats lightweight and costs less than 500 bucks. I’m sold because !

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