Building A “Ghost Gun”

A so-called 80-percent receiver is an AR-15 lower receiver that is 80-percent finished. Depending on the material and the manufacturer, you can finish them yourself using tools ranging from a mill to a Dremel tool. In addition to the satisfaction of “doing it yourself,” an 80 percent lower can be shipped straight to your door with no FFL involved because it’s not a “firearm” until the machining is finished. Because it’s not a firearm, there is no serial number.

According to ATF, “Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the GCA provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms.” That means you can finish these lowers for your own use. You can’t finish one and give it to someone, and your machinist brother-in-law can’t finish your receiver for you.

The jig is basically idiot-proof. The hole indicators are even self-centering.

The jig is basically idiot-proof. The hole indicators are even self-centering.

Polymer80 recently came out with what they call the “Buy, Build, Shoot Kit” and it makes completing an AR-15 from an 80-percent lower stupid simple. Every part you need is in the box, including the correct drill and milling bits and an idiot-proof jig so you make your cuts in the right places.

Machine a little at a time, and simply stop on the line. If you can drill a hole and turn a crank, you can finish these receivers.

Machine a little at a time, and simply stop on the line. If you can drill a hole and turn a crank, you can finish these receivers.

It took me less than an hour to mill out the remaining 20 percent of the Polymer80 lower and then using simple hand tools had a functional and accurate AR-15 on the range by the end of the day. I did take it apart later and give it a rattle can coating of Brownell’s AlumaHyde.

The only thing you have to mill out is the fire control pocket plus drill the holes for the selector switch and hammer and trigger pins.

The only thing you have to mill out is the fire control pocket plus drill the holes for the selector switch and hammer and trigger pins.

Accuracy is right at one inch at 100 yards, which is right up there with my Bushmaster, and the trigger pull is right there with other rack-grade ARs I’ve handled. Overall, I’m impressed with how easy it was to make this gun. I can never sell it, but why would I?

The finished AR is coated with Brownell’s AlumaHyde because it looks badass that color.

The finished AR is coated with Brownell’s AlumaHyde because it looks badass that color.

 

 

 

Scott Mayer

www.john1911.com

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Scott Mayer

Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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  • Chris Bergen

    So far, I have built an AR10 in .308, AR15 pistol/SBR in .223, AR15 SBR in .300 AAC, and working on a higher spec AR15 Rifle in Desert Tan. All from 80% forged aluminum lowers using a drill jig. All shoot very well, and though the SBR’s are form 1 registered, the others require no serial numbers or registration. You can make them as cheaply as possible (the pistol/SBR came in around $400 before the tax stamp), or you can go as high end as you want at your own pace, as finances allow..

    • Mikial

      Very cool.

  • Mikial

    I’ve got my 80% lower and kit in the box with the bits and jigs, and I have my upper. I need the rest of the bits for the lower and the stock, and I’ll be ready to give it a go. Looking forward to it.

    • Chris Bergen

      You’ll enjoy it! Plus the satisfaction of having built it YOUR specifications.