80% lowers have become a staple of modern gun ownership, and for good reason too. They are often found cheaper than complete firearms, they invited the challenge of building a unique AR-15 without the unnecessary government intervention that comes into play with complete firearms, and are not terribly difficult to build. It cannot be understated that the building of 80% lowers has become its own hobby within the gun community which people of all socioeconomic statuses can enjoy.
Recently though, there have been some changes that will critically alter the development of the 80 lower industry. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms recently issued a new ruling in the federal register that would effectively ban the sale and private manufacture of 80% receiver blanks. The ATF Ruling 2021r-05f was ruled on April 11th 2022, and will be made effective on August 24th, 2022.
Will 80 Lowers be Grandfathered?
The term grandfathered, refers to a piece to an item manufactured before the date a regulation was made effective. A close example of this would be the sale of fully automatic firearms manufactured by for the year of 1968, pursuant to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which outlawed the ownership of fully automatic firearms. The act does not extend its jurisdiction to firearms made before its effective date meaning there is a category of fully automatic firearms available to the general public, albeit at much higher prices.
The current ruling for 80% lower receiver blanks will expressly require any and all 80% lower built firearms without serial numbers to be turned in to local Federal Firearms Licensees to either be sold or serialized with an ATF approved serial number. This is done by the nature of the ruling, which does not inherently act as a ban towards 80% lowers, but changes the definition of firearm to incorporate what would be 80% lowers as firearms.
The summary of the ATF ruling on the ATF website notes that firearms with split frames built from 80% lowers will be legal on the requirement that they are marked with a serial number in accordance with the ruling’s requirements.
Does 80 Lowers Require Serial Numbers?
Currently, 80% lowers do not require serial numbers because until this ruling, they had not been legally considered firearms. In fact, the ruling is specifically a ruling that governs how the ATF will interpret its own regulations. The ATF Ruling 2021r-05f is not an actual piece of legislation, but must be adhered to in order to stave off a ten year prison sentence.
80% lowers will not only require serial numbers, but they will not be able to be purchased by an individual to be serialized at a later date. 80% lowers will be serialized by the FFL licensee that has either manufactured it or has it available for retail.
Types of Available 80 Lowers
There are a few kinds of 80% lowers. The first kind is that of the AR-15, which is a split receiver, meaning that the receiver is split into two parts that control the core functions of the receiver. The AR platform is available in many different calibers making this one of the most versatile firearms to build from an 80% lower receiver.
The AK-47 lower receiver is not really an 80% lower receiver as it requires the firearm to be built in its entirety rather than just the milling out of the fire control group. The gun itself is designed to be durable, therefore it is made using tools much harder to come by than those of the AR-15.
Polymer handgun 80% lowers, like those of the popular company, Polymer 80 are another example of 80% lowers. Modeled after the Glock OEM, Polymer 80 lowers are compatible with factory OEM and aftermarket products. These 80% lowers only require a dremel tool and a hand drill to build.
Which states are 80 lowers illegal?
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington DC
Break down the STATES and it’s laws regarding 80 lowers.
80% lowers are illegal in NJ. The Attorney General, Gerbir Grewal in 2018 issued a letter addressed to the Gun parts manufacturers demanding that the halt of 80% lowers sales in the state.
Like New Jersey, Leititia James, the Attorney General issued a cease and desist letter to gun parts manufacturers in September, 2019, halting the selling of receiver blanks to New York Residents.
Washington state legislators passed a state bill that banned untraceable firearms, namely those that can easily pass through metal detectors. While the bill does not expressly ban 80% lowers, polymer 80s and those without the required amount of metal are illegal.
80% lowers are legal in California, but only rifles. Pistols are not legal to be built from scratch by someone who is not an FFL. The state also requires that 80% lowers are serialized upon being built.
The mayor of D.C passed the “Ghost Guns Prohibition Emergency/Temporary Amendment Act Of 2020.” The bill amends an established law that includes 80% lowers in a list of prohibited firearms.
Rhode Island passed the Julie Cardinal Act after a shooting. This bans the sale and ownership of “ghost guns” or un-serialized and untraceable firearms. 80% lowers are banned from being sold in the state to its residents, and the manufacture of 3D printed guns is prohibited as well.
In 2020, Hawaii passed HB 2744 H.D. 1 S.D. 2 which prohibits the manufacture purchase or obtaining of firearm parts for the purpose of assembling a firearm that has no serial number. The manufacture of 3D printed guns is also illegal according to state law.
Are 80 lower Jigs illegal?
80% lower jigs are not illegal as they are not regulated by the ATF or any state law. Some states do however have bans on certain methods of making firearms at the home, especially revolving around the use of 3D printing. The ATF Ruling 2021r-05f does not specifically say anything about Jig kits themselves, but seeing as people will not be able to build 80% lowers from their homes anymore, jigs kits may suffer a similar fate.
Should you buy an 80 lower?
Buying 80% lowers as they are now will not be available soon. Even still, purchasing an 80% lower and building it will still be possible, but on the date that the ruling becomes effective, the build will need to be serialized. 80% lowers are currently still cheaper than purchasing a complete firearm because the law has not been taken into effect yet, however, this will change come August 24th. It is still worth it to be an 80% lower currency despite it needing to be serialized in the near future. Get them while you can!
Needless to say, gun control has become much stricter with the ATF ruling 2021r-05f. In what seems like just a method to reduce the 80% building hobby to zero, the ATF and the Biden administration has seen fit to change the definitions of many things revolving around the private manufacture of firearms sales. Whether this ruling will last or not in future administrations remains to be seen, though recent Supreme Court rulings have been in favor of the second amendment.