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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]

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  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. @ rab:

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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).

  6. 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

    • 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.

  9. 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.

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

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

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

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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??”

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

  18. 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.

  19. You are listed with Negative or Poor Rating on the internet; Your current rating on the internet needs immediate attention. Your profile is not trustworthy and people will avoid using your services. Don

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

  21. Well folks ,I’ve read a lot of your most interesting comments,and as usual many folks have there off the subject opinions,but on the subject of Tennessee Arms Co.lowers,I want to add my 2 cents in.First to clarify a few of your questions and comments up front.I am a 35 year experienced and practicing fire arms instructor,I personally own way more than the average man,in fire arms,and I own and use 12 of Tenn Arms Co built on lowers in my school.My favorite two shooters are my ar 308 lrs rifle and my 450 hog gum.both of these have been put thru the mill, Im now on my second barrel on my 308.with over 7000 rounds fired thru it,which means over 11000 rnds have been fired on this faults,cracks,or really wear except the finish is very dull now.
    My .450 is a bit different,and honestly it did fail with less than 12 rounds fired thru on a veteran hog hunt. it,so I set down with the owner Dave and his staff and we discussed any and all possible ways to cause the failor ,then the offered me my money back or a replacement lower,,.I choose the lower.
    this time i witnessed them rebuild my lower.and I head straight to the range,well 900 rounds later of .450 and shes still rocking hard,only change I’ve made to was changed the buffer tube to a Anderson mil spec tube and buffer.I currently have 3 ar 308s,,1-.243and a 6.5 setting on there lower ,then on ar 15 lowers,I have.22,9 mm,204,223/5.56,224 valkalry,6.5 gredal.7.62×39,450,458 waiting .45 upper .so yes I can say I beleive in there product,use them in my tactical class,s ,loan them to several of our law enforcment officers to practice and train on.Yes I own other metal lowered ar platform rifles,and I love them too,I just wanted to see how long and how easy I could break a Tenco lower,thats all.So all I ask is pass on the heritage,stand and fight for our rights,stop worring about unicorns and prepare,prevent and fight.
    thanks chet

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