What do you look for with AR-15 Lowers?

Hello all,

I’m in the process of losing weight. Dropping from 250 lbs to 180 lbs. And I’m very close to being done. I’m 180.8 lbs as of Monday.

So, when I hit that first goal of 180, I’m going to buy an AR-15 lower. Then start building my own rifle off of that. Ofc what I can do will be limited, given I live in NYS. Still, I can do some things.

So, since I’m still new to shooting, I wanted to ask if there was anything specific your supposed to look for when buying your first lower?

I can tell you, I want to get an upper for firing pistol caliber rounds, and an upper for rifle caliber rounds. But I’m still very undecided on exactly which calibers I want to aim for.


I find most lowers to be about the same. Many times you end up paying for a name more so than the lower. I’ve built dozens of ARs and used dozens of different lowers. The only issue I’ve run in to is drop in triggers. Some times they just don’t drop in right. Seems some places use a larger mill to open up the trigger well, and that creates a larger radius curve at the corners. I personally prefer more squared wells as the triggers drop right in without issue.

Beyond that, it’s what you wish to have, you have a lot of options as to what is engraved on the lower. It’s really the trigger that will make the difference between a nice AR and an outstanding AR.


The only down side to the 300 blackout is the cost of the ammo. When it comes to caliber, that will depend on it’s end use.

Another thing to keep in mind is pistol caliber, the price of a drop in mag block adapter is the same or more than the cost of a new lower receiver. It will also need a different buffer. Do your research, it might be nearly the same price to build a dedicated 9mm lower. When you get to that point, come back and talk to us before buying anything. There’s a lot that needs to be considered beforehand.

Are you looking to build a show rifle or are you looking to beat the hell out of it?


probably better to build to beat the hell out of it. I’m still new, so I might not take the best care of it…hope for the best, but plan for the worst, ya know?

Edit:I will say, I do want the final product to be reasonably lighter in weight. I don’t pretend to be a strong guy.

1 Like

Just get a basic mil spec lower. I like SOLGW stuff for the rollmarks


Hey now, I love my Beowulf. I reload for around 50 cents a round.

1 Like

I’ve had good luck with Spikes. not the flashiest, but they take a beating.



My Spikes is brilliant.


what are roll marks? Those drop in triggers?

Also, what are drop in triggers?

1 Like

Roll marks = the printing and the logos on your lower.
Drop-in trigger = aftermarket trigger upgrade.


ofc all this is predicated on my local stores availability.

You guys could give me all the suggestions in the world, but if none of the stores have them in stock, or they cost too much, then i’m sol.

ha! I know that pain all too well.

I thought gun broker can’t ship to your house though?


Matt - Sent from tablet

How do I find my local FFL dealer? Also, what does FFL mean? Is that just my local gun shops?


Matt - Sent from tablet

Matt, also note not all FFL holders are created equal. You’ll find some FFLs charge as little as $15 per firearm transfer but some can charge as much as $50 per transfer. The average should be $25-35.

Thanks for the tip!

I’m in the 4th most expensive place to live in the continental US. Just behind NYC. I very much doubt that I’ll find a place to do it for $15.

But one can always hope!

1 Like

I’ve seen some charge as much as $75, I’ll pass on those. My local shop charges $25, I find that to be fair.


Thats dumb, $75? Wow. I have one that’s $25 but I go to another that’s $35 because their service and such is top notch. They care about their customers.


Spikes makes good stuff

Or not, you have an impressive collection if anything you should thank the booze.