Building an AR-15? Your lower receiver is the bedrock upon which your build will rest. Therefore, it is vital that you buy the right lower receiver from the start. This will not only ensure optimal performance of your AR-15, but it also means that you can expect a higher degree of longevity from the quality lower than from a standard “off-the-shelf” product. In this guide, we dive deep into AR-15 lower receivers, highlighting different versions of lowers, what other upgrades you can get with your lower, and most importantly, what are the best lower receivers on the market.
What Are AR-15 Lower Receivers?
AR lowers are the bottom part of an AR-15 rifle, which houses the trigger assembly, magazine well, bolt release, and other parts that are vital in ensuring the smooth operation of your AR-15. Basically, it is the “control center” of the weapon.
It is important to note, legally, in many jurisdictions, it is the part that is considered the “firearm” and should be purchased through a licensed dealer with the appropriate background check.
Should You Get A Stripped Or Complete Lower Receivers?
Before deciding which to get, it is important that we first define what is a stripped and complete lower receiver.
Stripped lowers are the bare-bones framework without any additional parts. In comparison, a complete lower receiver comes with all the necessary components, such as the trigger assembly, magazine well, bolt release, and any additional bells and whistles you like installed.
Now, let’s jump into which is best for your use case:
Stripped Lower Receiver: Stripped lower receivers are best for those who enjoy the process of building and customizing their own firearm, have the necessary technical knowledge, or just want to learn.
Personally, I like opting for the stripped lower receiver route as I enjoy the freedom to choose each individual component. This is especially important for me because not all parts of the lower receiver might be to your preference and liking. Hence, by choosing your custom look and parts, you can build a lower tailor-made for you.
However, if you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of time and the necessary tools to assemble a lower, then I’d advise you to go with the complete lower receiver route.
Complete Lower Receiver: A complete lower is perfect for those who prefer a ready-to-use option or for those who are new to firearms and lack the experience or desire to assemble the lower receiver themselves. Buying a complete lower instead of a stripped one is definitely more convenient and time-efficient, but it may not provide the same level of customization as building the stripped lower.
I have used complete lowers in the past, especially at the start of my AR journey. Don’t get me wrong, they are great and work exceptionally. But as time passed, I wanted something more custom to my liking, so I started buying stripped lowers and assembled them myself.
Main Takeaway: If you are new to ARs or don’t have much time, the complete lower is better. If you want something custom and tailor-made for your use case, then a stripped lower is better.
6 Best AR-15 Lower Receivers
I bought and used a considerable amount of lower receivers. Here is a list of the 6 best lower receivers for an AR-15.
- Aero Precision M4E1 – Editor’s Choice
- Radian Weapons A-DAC Ambidextrous Billet – Best Ambidextrous Lower
- American Defense UIC Billet – Most Versatile
- Foxtrot Mike Products 9mm – Best Warranty
- Sons of Liberty Gun Works – Most Durable
- Spikes Tactical – Best Lightweight Lower
1) Aero Precision M4E1 Stripped AR-15 Lower Receiver
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First on our list is the Aero Precision M4E1. This stripped lower is hands down my favorite lower I’ve used. It’s not just about the sleek aesthetics it possesses. It’s also designed with custom 7075-T6 aluminum-enhanced forging that is compatible with all mil-spec AR15 parts.
One of the things I love about this model is its user-friendly assembly process. With a threaded bolt catch roll pin and an integrated trigger guard, you’re spared the hassle of breaking the tab. The increased magwell flare is a great little addition for quick magazine changes. Trust me; you’ll never want a different lower after using the Aero Precision.
2) Radian Weapons A-DAC Ambidextrous Billet AR-15 Lower Receiver
With the ability to shoot with both eyes, I have a soft spot for ambidextrous lowers – and the Radian Weapons A-DAC is one of my favorites. Crafted from durable 7075-T6 aluminum, this billet lower receiver not only offers an integral trigger guard and a flared magazine well, but it also comes with a self-adjusting receiver tensioner to minimize wobble.
What sets it apart is the A-DAC (Ambidextrous Dual Action Catch) feature. With this, right-handed shooters can effortlessly lock the bolt to the rear without losing grip control – it’s all about ease and speed.
3) American Defense UIC Billet AR-15 Lower Receiver – Ambidextrous
The UIC Billet is another ambidextrous gem. In my opinion, the design is pure brilliance – featuring an integrated ambidextrous bolt catch and magazine release. Moreover, it’s crafted from a solid 7075-T6 billet aluminum, making it significantly stronger than traditional mil-spec receivers.
Additionally, its 20-degree flared magazine well is a dream come true for quick magazine changes, while the enlarged trigger guard is glove-friendly, which is especially helpful on those cold, snowy days. If you’re looking for versatility, the ADM UIC is an excellent choice,
4) Foxtrot Mike Products 9mm AR-15 Lower-Stripped
For those in love with the 9mm, the Foxtrot receiver is a must-have. This lower is machined from a block of billet 7075-T6 aluminum and comes fully assembled – well, as fully assembled as a stripped lower can be. If you are a Glock enthusiast, this forged lower receiver is a dream come true with its Glock magazine compatibility.
The standout feature for me has to be the last round bolt hold open – a feature seldom seen in 9mm lowers. Plus, the lifetime warranty only sweetens the deal and just gives you an idea of how confident FM is in its product.
5) Sons of Liberty Gun Works AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver
This lower receiver is a beautiful combination of precision and durability. Made from 7075-T6 aluminum, this lower receiver promises a lightweight and no-wobble experience with mil-spec parts and upper receivers – a top choice for accuracy enthusiasts.
The “angry patriot” logo roll marks on the magwell and matte black hardcoat anodized finish add a certain rugged charm to this lower. If you want a lower receiver that resonates with patriotism, this one is worth considering.
6) Spikes Tactical Stripped AR-15 Lower Receiver
Last but not least, we have Spikes Tactical Stripped Lower receiver, featuring a high-quality design that won’t break the bank. To ensure its longevity, this receiver is forged from 7075-T6.
I have to say the unicorn logo and safe space, triggered, and full Libturd selector markings make this receiver a conversation starter. Lightweight and sturdy, it’s another fantastic base for your AR-15 build.
What Material Are Most Lower Receivers Made From?
Most lower receivers are manufactured from a type of aluminum alloy. This is because aluminum possesses certain unique characteristics that give it the ability to balance strength, durability, and lightweight.
In addition to aluminum lowers, you also get polymer lowers, which are generally light and cheaper than aluminum lowers. However, weight and cost difference aside, polymer lowers are considered less durable than aluminum lowers.
Which Grade Of Aluminum Alloys Is Best For AR-15 Lowers?
The 7075-T6 aluminum is definitely the better aluminum for AR-15 lowers. The reason is that 7075-T6 aluminum has a higher yield and tensile strength than 6061-T6 aluminum – making it more resilient under stress and less likely to deform or break.
The “T-6” indicates that the aluminum alloy has been solution heat-treated and artificially aged to achieve its highest level of strength.
Are AR-15 Lowers & Uppers Made From The Same Material?
Typically, AR-15 lower and AR-15 upper receivers are made from the same material, usually 7075-T6 aluminum. This is because the properties that make this aluminum alloy desirable for the lower receiver, such as its high strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion, also make it a great material for the upper receiver.
However, some manufacturers use different materials for certain specialized models or because of a different manufacturing process.
What Other Upgrades Can You Make To Your AR-15?
There are a plethora of upgrades you can make to your AR-15, and it really all comes down to your use case and preference. Among the most popular are swapping upper receivers, which you can swap for ones with different materials, finishes, or rail systems. A red dot sight is the perfect upgrade for those focusing on accuracy in fast-paced situations.
Alternatively, if you want something to accommodate your AR-15 in varminting and night hunting expeditions, then might I recommend the perfect night vision scope for your AR-15?
If you are someone who focuses on precision, then upgrading your barrel and adding a free-floating handguard can significantly improve your accuracy. Alternatively, swapping out your ar 15 binary trigger system can provide a more responsive, smoother shooting experience.
You also get upgrades with muzzle devices, such as flash hiders and compensators, as well as bolt carrier groups which can boost the smoothness of the rifle’s operation.
Can A Scope Be Added To An AR-15?
Adding a scope to your AR-15 is the perfect choice if you want to extend your AR-15’s range and improve accuracy at that range. This is especially ideal if you are planning to hunt with your AR-15 – not only can you make perform better target identification, but you can also shoot the target with more confidence that it has a fatal shot location.
However, finding the perfect scope for your AR-15 can be daunting, which is why we compiled a list of the best hunting scopes for the AR-15 platform. We have tested and used all these scopes in hunting situations, so you can rest assured knowing these hunting scopes have the HuntersHalt stamp of approval.
Can Red Dot Sights Be Added To AR-15?
Red dot sights can be added to your AR-15 and are especially useful in making fast-paced, accurate shots at close to medium ranges. Instead of having to align the sight picture of the iron sights, you can perform a much more efficient aim with a red dot.
Additionally, a versatile red dot can also act as a hunting optic when you are hunting animals at close range, such as turkeys.
There are many red dot sights out there, each with its own unique characteristics and standout features. Therefore, we mounted many red dot sights and tested them in various situations, from range shooting to hunting in dense forests. We can honestly say that these are the best red dot sight for the AR-15 – providing the perfect balance between versatility, performance, and durability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are lower receivers ambidextrous?
Are lower receivers worth the money?
Is it legal to replace lower receivers?
The Bottom Line
Lower receivers are an integral part of the functionality of the AR-15 – without it, the rifle can’t operate. But if you want to really enhance your shooting performance, then buying a quality lower receiver is definitely one of the preferred ways to go. When buying a lower receiver, it is important to consider your use case and preferences, as this will ultimately determine your experience with the lower receiver. Always be sure to purchase through an FFL and that you are buying original products – not pirated ones. Happy modifying!