Legal Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please do your own research, consult a lawyer, and do not rely on the above information.
If you follow the firearms industry even slightly, you know that gun laws are continually changing. Every year, senators, members of Congress, and local government pass new legislation barring the use of or the purchase of some types of firearm, accessory, or magazine. How is one to keep up with the never-ending change? What about lowers? Are 80% lowers legal? In most states, yes.
What is an 80% Lower?
First, before we dive into the legalities of 80% lowers, let’s determine precisely what an 80 lower is or isn’t.
To put it plainly, an 80% lower is a receiver blank. It is not legally a firearm — more of a hunk of metal — because the key components have not yet been drilled. The drilling is up to you. Once you receive your new lower, your job is to cut and drill the blank until it becomes a stripped lower receiver. Once you are done, you will have it all — safety pinholes, trigger, and more.
Are 80% Lowers Legal?
Yes, absolutely. As a receiver blank is technically not a firearm, it is legal to purchase and own in most states. That being said, some states do have restrictions regarding “ghost guns” or 80% firearms.
- New Jersey — Though receiver blanks are not firearms, New Jersey A.G. Gurbir Grewal demanded firearm retailers stop selling 80% lowers and “ghost guns.” He threatened fines and legal action to those who sold or own any.
- Washington — Washington recently passed House Bill 1739, which bans the sale of “undetectable firearms” or “ghost guns.” You cannot purchase, own, or construct an 80% polymer lower in the state. However, you may buy aluminum lowers.
- New York — In September 2019, the New York Attorney General submitted numerous Cease and Desist letters to retailers and manufacturers selling 80% lowers and kits. He claimed these products were illegal. Since then, New York has followed California in banning fixed magazines from AR-15s.
- California — California does not allow the ownership, possession, sale or manufacture of 80% lowers. However, previously, California residents were able to apply for a serial number for their firearm via the California Department of Justice if they planned on complete an 80 lower and registering it afterwards. This requirement stems from A.B.857, a bill that went into effect on July 1st, 2018. Also see the law passed in 2021 which went into effect on July 1, 2022. (AB 1057)
- Connecticut — Connecticut passed Substitute House Bill No. 7219, Public Act No. 19-6, effectively banning the shipment and ownership of 80% lowers and receiver blanks.
Do I Require an FFL?
No, an FFL is not required to purchase an 80% lower or build an AR-15 from a receiver blank. As the blank is not yet considered a firearm, it does not follow the same rules and regulations set forth by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives).
Do I Need a Serial Number On My 80% Lower?
Again, no, not in most states. According to federal law, an 80% lower does not require a unique serial number, even if you finish constructing an AR-15 from the blank.
In some states, such as California, they require you to serialize your firearm’s receiver. You’ll want to check local and state laws before finishing your build.
Can I Sell An 80% AR-15?
You cannot construct an 80% AR-15 intending to sell, according to the ATF, if you build a firearm intending to sell to the public, you become a manufacturer. At that point, you must become a licensed FFL.
However, if you own your AR-15 for some time, but later on decide to sell, that’s okay. Simply put, do not buy many receiver blanks, finish the build, then sell them to your neighbors or the general public. The ATF will crack down on you quickly, and they won’t be kind enough to issue a warning. You will probably walk away in handcuffs.
Other Types of 80% Frames
While most legislation focuses on the AR-15 — the boogeymen of firearms — it’s not uncommon for DIY types to construct their own 1911, Glock, or Sig Sauer P320. You can find 80% frames, or blanks, for each one of these.
We fully expect more models to become available as 80% frames, especially as the market continues to grow across the country.
If you’re at all concerned with the legalities of owning or building an 80% firearm, you’ve done well by researching the topic. Do yourself a favor and double-check local and state laws before you wind up on an ATF list.
If you’re ready to build an 80% firearm of your own, consider our 80 lowers available today!