Best AR-15 Stripped Lower Receiver

The AR-15 is one of America’s most popular weapons. Its classic, tactical look and easy customization has made it so popular that over 8 million of these and their variants in circulation today. Building and upgrading your own AR-15 is a fun hobby for gun enthusiasts and finding the best AR-15 stripped lower receiver is a key part of that.

But when you shop for AR-15 parts, you quickly find that the options are endless. What’s the best for you?

We narrowed down the field into these 5 picks. Read on for more details on what to look for in a stripped lower and our reviews below.

ProductOur RatingScenario
BROWN. STRIPPED LOWER RECEIVER4.7/5Best Overall
PSA STRIPPED LOWER RECEIVER4.8/5Budget Friendly
80% POLYMER LOWER RECEIVERS4.9/5Editors Pick
AERO GEN2 STRIPPED LOWER4.2/5Alternative #1
ANDER. LOWER RECEIVER ANODIZED4.0/5Alternative #2

What Is A Stripped Lower Receiver?

This question really comes in two parts. First, what is a lower receiver?

In short, the lower receiver is the part of the receiver and rifle that contains the firing control. To some, it’s the heart of what makes the firearm and weapon. Legally, it’s the regulated part of the AR-15 and has the serial number printed on it because it is the firearm.

Lower receiver usually contain the following:

  • Fire control group
  • Magazine well
  • Pistol grip
  • Attaches to the buffer assembly
  • Attaches to the stock

The other question involved is “What does ‘stripped’ mean?” Stripped receivers are fully-finished receivers. You can buy these and install them on your AR-15 without having to machine anything yourself.

The opposite of the stripped receiver is the 80% receiver. 80% receivers happen when the part is not completely finished by the company. It saves money and avoids regulation by the ATF, but you have to drill out some holes yourself.

Stripped receivers may cost more, but they are easy to install, and because they’re machined by the professionals, you have guaranteed reliability.

Features Of Stripped Lower Receivers

When you’re looking at lower receivers, it can be confusing to know what each feature means and how it important it all is. This section goes through the important parts of the part and how it can impact the effectiveness of the part.

Material

The material is the receiver is made from is probably the most important of all features. They can be made from metal or synthetic material.

For metal choices, you can either find them most commonly in steel or aluminum. Steel is the classic material and is very durable and handles the heat from firing well, but it’s heavy.

Aluminum is lighter and makes the weapon easier to use, but it isn’t as durable under pressure. However, as a lower receiver, it isn’t as directly impacted by the pressure and heat from firing.

Synthetic receivers are usually made from a polymer. This is almost exclusively found on lower receivers. They are cheaper, easier to mill, and fit into place.

Finish

The finish on the receiver is almost as important as the material itself. If dirt, sweat, or moisture combines with heat on the receiver, it can warp or block the proper use of the part. The finish provides a chemical layer of protection that prevents buildup and damage.

There are many types of finish, and every company claims that theirs is the best. The best way to tell how effective a finish works is to use it. In our reviews, we look at what users have to say about the finish, so be on the lookout for that.

Compatibility

There are so many companies making parts for the AR-15, you’d think they would all just fit together, but that’s not always the case. Check our reviews and the product descriptions at the links to see what the lower receivers fit. It would be really frustrating to buy a part only to find it doesn’t fit without a lot of work.

Reliability

When you consider the lower receiver’s reliability, you’re really looking at how often the rifle may jam and how easy the magazine well is to use. A bad receiver can really negatively impact the overall use of the AR-15, so make sure to check those recap sections in our reviews for the part’s reliability.

FFL Restrictions

Finished or stripped receivers are considered firearms in themselves. Because of this, they’re subject to regulation when buying online. They require a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to buy. 80% receivers aren’t under this regulation because they aren’t finished being made.

Don’t be scared off about the FFL, though. It’s not especially difficult to buy online. Check out Brownells’ Guide to buying online. We make sure to note which products require the FFL in our break downs below. 

Price

The lower receivers we picked cover a variety of price points to match different budgets. There should be something on our list to match what you’re willing to spend.

Try this: look at the features above and think about what you need. Then decide on the part that fits that need and pay what you can.

For example, if you plan on shooting a lot in competitions or at the sportsman club, you need a reliable and durable part. Pick one that’s stripped (finished) and made of aluminum or steel with a good finish. This may cost more, but you need those features.

Reviews Of The Best AR-15 Stripped Lower Receivers

best ar-15 stripped lower

Below are our reviews for each of the best AR-15 stripped lower receivers. Take note of how the features impact its use and think about what you need. We also cover the experience of actually using the part with easy-to-read recaps for each part.

Brownells BRN-4 Stripped Lower Receiver

Brownells stripped lower receiver is the most expensive on our list by far, but it’s also the most unique. They started with the design of the HK416 (the rifle used by many including SEAL Team Six when they went after Bin Laden), and then put it through their Primary Weapons Systems machining process.

On top of the shape, the colorings and placement of the serial number is in the exact same place as the HK416. It includes marking for selector switches (although full auto is regulated and not given by this part).

The receiver gets a Type III matte black anodizing finish for optimal protection and great style. This receiver is compatible with all standard AR-15 parts and would be a great choice for an HK416 or other custom AR-15 build. The special receiver is a limited run, so get it while you can.

This stripped receiver requires an FFL to purchase. The user experience boils down to this:

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Unique HK416 design to get a piece of American history
  • Great, protective finish
  • Precision machining for smooth and reliable operation
  • Compatible with standard AR-15 parts

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • Expensive

Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Stripped Gadsden Lower Receiver

Palmetto State Armory is an affordable stripped lower. Don’t be fooled by the low price, the lower may still exactly what you’re looking for.

The receiver is made from 7075-T6 aluminum which means that it’s a light yet durable material for longevity and smooth operation. The stripped and machine finished part is precisely engineered for easy use.

As part of the manufacturing process, PSA also adds a black hardcoat anodize finish. As with most finishes, this makes it resistant to grime and buildup.

One of the unique elements of this model is the addition of the Gadsden flag which is where the parts name comes from. The Gadsden flag (the snake with the line “Don’t Tread on Me”) has been around since the Revolutionary War and has become a symbol for the Tea Party Movement and support for the Second Amendment. This symbol is engraved over the magazine well on the receiver.

As a stripped receiver, you need an FFL to purchase online. Customers say this about using the product:

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Great finish and machining
  • Matches easily with other AR-15 parts
  • Affordable price
  • Unique style with the Gadsden flag

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • No consistent complaints on this product found

Polymer80 AR-15 80% Polymer Lower Receiver

This affordable 80% receiver by Polymer80 may not actually be stripped, but with the comprehensive instructions and finishing kit that comes with it, the receiver may as well be completely finished. Polymer80 also adds some unique features that make this polymer part stand apart from the rest.

The receiver is made from a durable polymer synthetic material. This makes the part cheaper and lighter but at the cost of durability. Polymer80 tries to avoid this by reinforcing the lower receiver at key places like the magazine well and trigger control group.

In addition to this, the part comes in different colors and styles for ultimate customization. Styles include:

  • Black
  • Flat Dark Earth
  • Gray
  • O. D. Green
  • White

As an 80% receiver, you have to finish drilling some holes, but the kit included comes with helpful parts and jogs for easy and guaranteed accuracy. This means that this part doesn’t need an FFL to buy, but it does come with a blank serial plate for those of you who need to register the part.

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Polymer is lightweight and resistant to weather
  • Different colors look great and allow for personal choice
  • Fits standard AR-15 parts and sizes

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • Have to finish it yourself
  • May not be as durable as a metal receiver
  • If you finish it incorrectly, the part may not function

Aero Precision AR-15 Gen2 Stripped Lower Receiver

Aero Precision made a light and affordable stripped lower receiver. It doesn’t have any fancy features other than quality construction all around, but if you don’t need those extras, this may be for you.

The receiver is made from 7075 T6 aluminum for a good balance of lightweight and durability that synthetic materials have a hard time matching. It has a hardcoat anodized finish for protection from dirt, sweat, and moisture.

Aero designed this to fit with all standard AR-15 sized parts using a variety of inlets, holes, and pin options. The clearly stamped firing mode switches provide extra safety in understanding the state of your rifle. On top of this, it’s possible to use this with multiple caliber options with high efficiency.

As a finished and stripped receiver, you just need to install it onto your rifle, and you’re good to go. But you do need an FFL to purchase online.

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Fits snugly with many AR-15 parts
  • Smooth and durable operation
  • Finish is great at protecting the part
  • Affordable price

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • May take extra work to take down and clean the parts due to more screws involved

Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 80% Lower Receiver

This is Anderson Manufacturing’s 80% lower for the AR-15. What makes this different from other receivers is the design for .223 Remington cartridge instead of the standard 5.56 mm NATO.

The receiver is made from 7075 T6 aluminum for lightweight and durability. With a black anodized finish, you know it’s going to be protected from grime.

As an 80% receiver, it’s not finished, so it doesn’t require an FFL to purchase online. The things you need to finish are:

  • Fire control/trigger group milling
  • Trigger pin
  • Hammer pin
  • Trigger slot
  • Safety selector hole

Though this isn’t strictly a stripped receiver, the things left to do are fairly easy. Keep in mind that once you do work on the receiver, though, that returns are not accepted.

Users for this product had this to say:

Positives Recap for This Product

  • Fits well with AR-15 parts
  • Easy and fast shipping
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Affordable

Negatives Recap for This Product

  • Have to finish it yourself

Conclusion

By looking at our reviews of the best AR-15 stripped lower receivers, we hope you can now go purchase with confidence. Keep in mind what you’re using the gun for and what you’re willing to do to install the part and making the decision should be easy.

In general, I recommend the Palmetto State Armory Gadsden receiver. It provides a great balance of price, quality aluminum material and finish, and style with the flag design.

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