Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If They Outlaw Your AR, Then What?

Wirecutter has been running ads from Advanced Rifles for a while now, and I never really looked at the details until yesterday.  They have a very reasonable idea and approach.

The idea is something I talked about a couple of years ago when I built my AR from an 80% lower.  In every legal sense, this is an AR-15 rifle:
That's a completely machined, but completely stripped, AR lower receiver.  That's all.  This particular lower is from Arfcom, but they're made by Colt, Bushmaster, Ruger, DPMS, S&W - you name it.  Everyone who sells their own branded AR-15 makes a lower with their name, identifying model number, serial number and all the markings required by the laws.

Advanced Rifles offers a very reasonable conclusion here.  Let's say you own a Bushmaster model that has just been made illegal by your state.  You are required to turn it in or register it.  If you remove the lower receiver, remove the trigger and all the components in there, stripping it down to just the hunk of metal and a pile of parts, that stripped receiver you're left with is the Bushmaster AR-15 in every legal sense.  You can hand in that stripped lower receiver and comply with the law.

Now what?  You have an upper receiver, barrel, chamber, bolt, charging handle, stock, buffer tube, trigger kit, all the things that are legally just parts made of metal or plastic.  All you need is a lower receiver.  You can now buy an 80% lower receiver, complete the machining yourself, and rebuild those parts you previously removed into/onto your new rifle.  But your lower will not be any of the rifles banned by name anymore because it's not the Bushmaster you started out with.  It may have a Bushmaster upper with a Bushmaster stock and a Bushmaster lower parts kit but it will not legally be a Bushmaster.  It will be whatever you decide to call it.  (Mine's a "Mo's Guns")

I, of course, have had links to how I made my AR up since I started the job.  Unlike me, Advanced Rifles promises to stand behind you and help you build your AR.  It can be done with a milling machine (if you have one, you probably don't need me to tell you this) or a drill press.  Advanced Rifles likes to call it "monkey simple".  You don't need to hold outrageous accuracies to complete an AR.  Remember the AR made out of HDPE - essentially a kitchen cutting board?  Let that be your inspiration.  I should point out that as of tonight, April 17, 2013, Advanced Rifles is getting quite a bit more for their 80% lowers than Colfax Tactical, where I got mine.  The Colfax Tactical non-anodized lower is $99, with $10 more for anodizing.  Advanced Rifles is getting $180 for their equivalent, non-anodized lower.  Advanced Rifles seems to be offering more in the way of an online community and support to help you through the build.

Edit 4/18 2100 EDT:  I had a nice email from Advanced Rifles about this post.  Due to the very high response they've had, they've been able to get some higher quantity discounts and lower their prices.  They also think they'll do better on order backlog time than Colfax.  I'll quote a few pieces here:
Your observation on pricing was accurate and we have been in the middle of revisions for the past week.  We did not expect the response from the market and the patriot community that we received.  "THANK YOU!"  is the only thing we can say!  We have been able to make changes that can only come with high demand.   We were able to bring in more staff, acquire larger/faster equipment and do larger bulk purchases. The boost will dramatically lower costs over a longer period of time. Which we are passing all that savings back to the community. We will still be able to continue our support of the community in other ways at this volume and price point as well.  This is going to be fun.

$120-ea / $110-5pc

There is still a spread, but not much. We will need to get more than Colfax / Redmond due to to the broaching of the mag well. It costs more to produce that way, so it needs to get bundled into the sale price. However, our capacity means that once we get through this catch up period, we won't have a backorder problem.  The other guys are 6-12 months out on back orders.
So count me as a fan of Advanced Rifles.  They've got a nice handful of innovative ideas there - American small business at its best.

No financial ties, no affiliations, I haven't bought a thing from them, I'm just an interested observer on this.  My next project is either going to be an AR from aluminum plate or it's going to be a 0% lower. 


  1. I now have access to a CNC milling machine. I think it would be a really interesting project to make my own from a block of aluminium (or maybe even stainless steel)

    1. You should visit The Redneck Engineer. It has been a while, but he's working on machining a "0 %" lower. That's the first installment.

      0 % isn't aluminum ore, it's a forging with no machining done. There are some machining videos on YouTube that start with a block of aluminum and make a complete lower. You mostly need a good set of drawings and there are .dxf (Autocad) and other models online in various places.

    2. Well, slight correction.
      There wasnt just one forging. There were about two boxes of them, that one on my blog was the first. There are dozens more like it, I just didn't bother blogging about all of them.

      I prefer the ray Vin instructions for completing a 0% lower.

    3. It took me a few minutes poking around at to find it, so let me leave a direct link to the pages:
      Machining the AR15 Lower Forging

    4. Doh. Sorry, forgot to link to the actual how-to.
      He breaks it down pretty good there.

  2. interesting concept, interchangeable lower as firearm. wonder if it could be prosecuted as concealed if the lower were in a coat pocket?

    i think i might hold out for an ar in 308, using (cheap & available) hk91 mags - sweetness and light.


    1. If I were to guess, I'd say yes. A prosecutor will interpret it any way they can to screw us.

      The idea of surrendering just the lower receiver is an interesting idea and (of course) just someone's opinion until courts rule. At that point, it's still just someone's opinion, but it gets sprinkled with the magic fairy dust of government which makes that opinion binding law that can be used to execute citizens.

      The BATFE law is pretty clear about the serialized lower receiver being the gun, though. It seems the states will be saying "don't do what we said, do what we meant" if they challenge turning in the lower receivers. Whether the state-paid judges rule with citizens or the prosecutors is the $64,000 question.

  3. I don't recommend Advanced Rifles AT ALL! I ordered 3 80% lowers from another company and 1 from A.R. to try out. I liked the machine work until I went to mock it up. The front takedown pin was .0120" off location and would not allow the upper to close. I emailed them twice through their website and once through me personal email. 3 weeks later and ZERO response. Take a chance if you want.