When making the important decision of purchasing a firearm, many questions will arise: Which firearm will meet my needs? Is this the time to purchase a piece that I’ve been interested in for some time? Which firearms can I own in my home state? What can I afford?
Questions such as these are important, and so it’s necessary to look at each option available before a decision is made. For many, buying a firearm that is fully constructed is a popular choice, since it allows the buyer to have immediate access to their firearm’s capabilities. It’s also fair to say that these “ready-to-go” models are seemingly the only choice many buyers feel they have since ordering a custom firearm is often too expensive for most, meaning what’s available in a store is all that’s obtainable for most.
Today, consumers have another choice they can consider when it comes to purchasing a firearm: an 80% firearm. These particular firearms are a meld between a ready-made piece and a piece that isn’t finished being built yet, which allows consumers the chance to not only buy an affordable firearm, but to also finish the build on their own firearm, which is an opportunity many are interested in pursuing.
What is an 80% Firearm?
In short, an 80% firearm is exactly what it says: it’s a firearm that is, in essence, only 80% complete. These firearms are finished except for the receiver, which has not been fully machined when it is constructed. This piece, once finished, is important to all 80% firearms because without it, the firearm won’t work. The receiver, often referred to as an “80% lower” in these firearms, is typically responsible for housing the trigger group and the magazine within the firearm. When the 80% lower is not fully machined, the firearm cannot function, meaning all it can do is be a fancy piece of home decor.
Due to this, these firearms are not considered to be firearms by the law until the receiver is completed, which means a few things for consumers. One, these firearms do not need to be registered at time of purchase, since they are not legally “firearms.” Second, there are no transfer fees with 80% firearms, unlike their completed counterparts. Third, there is no Federal Firearms License required when purchasing these firearms, which allows for an easier and smoother purchasing experience. For these reasons alone, many consumers are interested in these particular firearms, but they do come at a cost: they have to be completed before they can be used.
How is an 80% Firearm Completed?
These firearms only require one piece to be machined: the receiver, or the 80% lower. This piece, as stated before, is vital to the performance of these firearms. Without the 80% lower, these firearms lack the ability to do much more than look pretty, which is not what most consumers want. To complete the firearm, the 80% lower will need to be machined to completion, and this is where the issue of precision will come into play.
Before an 80% firearm is approved for sale, it is necessary that its design be meticulously reviewed to ensure that the 80% lower cannot be completed by just anyone. This is a safety measure enforced by federal organizations to help keep these firearms from being used by those with ill intentions, since the final build of an 80% lower requires specific measurements, tools, and construction to work. Should an 80% firearm build find its way into the wrong hands, it is nearly guaranteed that it won’t be functional unless this builder has the right equipment, which is not the case in many instances.
So, what special tools are needed for such a build? Besides special drill bits needed to machine into the metal of the 80% lower, an 80% jig is the tool that allows 80% firearms to be completed. A jig serves as a guide to allow a consumer to properly build their receiver with the best chance of making minimal to no errors in the process. A jig, in laymen’s terms, is the instructions for an 80% lower build. This piece tells a builder where to machine on the 80% lower, how far down to machine, and so forth. Without a jig, a consumer will not know the specifications of their 80% lower component, and therefore will not be able to machine the part to be useable.
It should be noted, though, that even when a consumer has an 80% jig, they need to follow the instructions explicitly. Without this careful attention, an 80% lower can end up being unusable, turning a dream firearm into a simple paperweight.
The Appeal of an 80% Firearm
So, after all this consideration, why build an 80% firearm? Compared to a finished firearm, they come with more work to make them ready for a consumer to use, which is often not appreciated in today’s “ready to go” market. Still, these firearms are incredibly popular and loved for many reasons, which is helping to drive their popularity skyward. For those who enjoy these particular firearms, three arguments in their favor will often arise:
Avoiding red tape: As stated before, these firearms are able to avoid many aspects of the legal process during the purchasing process. This is possible because, at the time of sale, 80% firearms are not legally considered firearms due to having unfinished receivers. This allows consumers to have an easier and smoother experience when purchasing their firearm, which is often appreciated.
Control in the process: The entire process of purchasing and finishing your 80% firearm is in the consumer’s hands. They get to decide what they want, when their firearm is finished, and they call the shots when working on their receiver. This control during the process can help relieve stress and frustration with consumers, which is often worth its weight in gold.
Pride in making your firearm: This is one of the most consistent reasons listed for purchasing these firearms. The pride that a buyer feels once they finish machining their firearm and fire it for the first time is almost indescribable, and for the rest of their time owning that firearm, they will have the privilege of saying they finished building their own firearm. This reason is spoken about by almost all 80% firearm owners, which speaks to its importance within the firearm community.
Purchasing an 80% Firearm
When it’s time to purchase a firearm, make sure to go to the place that will ensure you are taken care of. At 80 Percent Arms, we can help in choosing the right firearm for you, along with the right 80% lower and 80% jig necessary to complete your build, while also ensuring you have everything you need to build your own firearm in the comforts of your own home. We are ready to help you with all of your firearm needs, so contact us today!