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Home > Main Forums > Hall of Freedom > A take on the 0% lower: sheet metal!, My entry into the ar build-off.
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Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 13:32 ET

Hi Folks:

Here is my entry into the AR Build-off, “Ugliest Rifle” category. It would have been a lot prettier, but I don't have Fluffy to give me aesthetic advice!

It is a receiver made from .100 4130 sheet formed to shape using homemade dies. It was based loosely on the Bill Holmes version of the AR lower, but I departed from his path pretty quickly.

I used the .100 metal for a few reasons. First, it’s pretty tough and herky. Second, it made sense dimensionally. If I called a magazine .900 wide, I bent the mag well to that, and then bent the “U” that makes up the FCG holder portion to .900 OD, it made the ID .700. Worked pretty well, I think.  

The bear of the whole thing was the buffer tube tower. I was trying to make this along the lines of my OhmsResearch AK, in that you didn’t need a lot of fancy tools to make it. Well, I ended up cheating and using a mill on this proof-of-concept lower, but I am chock full of ideas on how to make it easier on the next one! Anyway: Buffer tower. I found some tubing with an ID (1.180) that just barely allowed the threads of the buffer tube to slip inside. I ended up using a combination of JB weld (Thanks to a guy who posted a thread somewhere called “Mujahadeen AR-15) and setscrews to secure the buffer tube to the tower. It is not removable, though of course the buffer and spring are. Without a large (1.5” ?) end mill, I had to pretty much trial and error the curvature of the tower. For me, it was harder than it looked! I managed to get a template made, so I could so it without too much fuss.

Of course, I did not drill it for the detents for the front or rear take-down pin, nor the selector. Instead, I drilled and tapped the ends of these and secured the takedown pins with 8-32 screws and the selector with a 10-32 and a washer. I drilled the underside of the selector, and put a small spring and detent ball in there to make the positive “click.” I also used low temp (575 degrees F) silver solder to attach stops.

I used the high-temp 38,000 psi silver braze to affix the “ears” for the bolt hold-open to the side of the receiver.

So far, after ~200 rounds, it functions perfectly.

Well, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the judges’ decision. If anybody has any questions about this thing, let me know. Sorry about the photos. I had just finished Parking it, and it still had a lot of oil on it.

Oh, and if anyone has an extra stock screw, I’d like to purchase one: I am using one from another AR. Drop me a line.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 13:34 ET

Closer look...

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 13:35 ET

Other side...

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 13:48 ET

That is very interesting. Great piece of fabrication :thumbs: I love the A1 look.

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 13:57 ET

:thumbs: good build...ugly but good.

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 14:13 ET

Ugly is good!

When I get some time (and ambition) I'm going to make one out of plywood. No reason why that wouldn't work either.

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 14:18 ET

That's sweet! I'd love to see more info on that one.

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 15:18 ET

56K Warning!

Several construction photos:

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 15:19 ET

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 15:20 ET

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 15:23 ET

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 17:14 ET

:anmcalle: That thing is Beautifull, I loveyour work.
I got all giggy looking at this one, now THAT's what I'm talking about!

Sweet, thanks for sharing :thumbs:
My favorit kind of work, from scratch...


Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 21:05 ET

I LIKE IT :thumbs:  :anim_beer:

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 22:36 ET

Agreed! VERY nice. :)

Posted: Jul. 24 2005, 23:04 ET

And thats why I like this site. Excellent!

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 09:47 ET

Agreyman, that just warms my heart!  Nice job! :anim_bounce:  :notworthy:

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 10:31 ET

Agreyman,what does your forming block look like?

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 11:06 ET

A GrayMan, That is great. I might be able to build me a 500 beowulf after all, IF....................I can talk you out of a step by step directions, complete with pics of each operartion and exact sizes and measurements of (B]everything[B/]. Looks great though. I want to build one so bad. But I CANNOT make any LARGE purchases for at least another 10 months. Got to be cheep yet reliable, accurate with the proper upper installed.


Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 11:39 ET



WILLAIM :anim_beer:

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 11:55 ET

:p  Looks great AGreyMan. Do I see another video in the works?

Love the A1 look alot. It's not ugly at all. :D

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 12:57 ET

Absolutely wonderful!!!

PLEASE post plans. If I can form an AR lower from sheetmetal, I would defenitely look at a Wildcat AR of some sort - can anyone say 7.62x54R??? Or how about 30.06 AR? Should pack quite a wallop - especially on your shoulder.
Possibly a mini-AR for one of my kids - in 7.62x25.

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 13:22 ET

Hi Folks:

Thanks for the kind words. There was really no question who I was going to tell about this project first. This site is fantastic.

I don't think it's too bad for a first one. As I said, in retrospect there were a few things that I could have done differently, like practice my TIG welding a little more, or take the time to dress the welds a little better, but all in all, I am pretty proud. I really like the way the trigger guard looks!

This is definitely NOT the way to go if you want a receiver fast. Maybe not even if you want one cheap. 4130 is expensive, and it's more expensive the less you buy!

OK, on to the questions, in no particular order:

Swampfox and Maarten221: The only thing that would give me pause about scaling UP the size of the round it shot would be my method of affixing the buffer tube to the tower. Granted, most of the stress is taken up by the bolt and barrel, but if that buffer hammers back really hard, really often, I might be concerned that the buffer tube would come loose from the tower. I don't know...Maybe it's be OK, but it's somethig to look out for. I anticipate NO problems with the .223 round.

William: It very well might be feasible to make "component" sheet metal lowers. They would have to be made pretty inexpensively to compete with the regular 80% lowers already out there. Plus a lot of people are sort of "gun snobs" who won't even THINK about buying anything unless it has "Armalite" or "Bushmaster" or "Colt" stamped on it.

M96Jay: Possibly another video is in the works. Aside from my legal concerns, my AK video was overtaken by events. When I made the AK video, there were no flats to be bent, no bent blanks, no 3-piece flats to be welded. Those were all VERY good ideas and they made my video obsolete, except to a few die-hards who wanted to know how to build it from scratch with garage tools. I suspect it may be that way with the sheet metal lower for the AR. I am not sure it would be worth it to me, but I am thinking about it.

As to it's ugly or beauty, well, I like things that work. Things that work are pretty. Things that work and are cheap are beautiful. This thing is beautiful.

Bubba45: Here's a photo of the dies. I made 'em from regular hardware store 1018 cold rolled. Better metal would have made better dies, and saved me a little work.

Thanks again guys for all your kind words.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 14:21 ET


Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 16:42 ET

Next, do a sheet metal upper. Seriously.

Posted: Jul. 25 2005, 23:56 ET


Regarding your comment regarding the "name brand" firearms....AMEN BROTHER  :thumbs:

This is the best gun site because the members are able to think for themselves, solve their own problems (sometimes with a little help from there friends here), and come up with some of the most creative homebuilts that can be made.

Hats off on the build!   :notworthy:

I see no reason a sheet metal upper would not work.  The dies might be a little complicated but I have a vision of a G3 looking upper welded to a block for inserting the barrel extension and outside threaded for the standard AR nut.  The inside of the die could be made with a piece of keystock attached to a 1" bar... the outside die would take some machining.

Posted: Jul. 26 2005, 13:04 ET

GreyMan, you are a gene-yiss.   I can't get over it.  You have my vote for the build off.  You have managed to cross the AR with the AKM.  You ought to call your piece the ARM-15.  

Did you see Royce's build-from-scratch AR?  He machined various blocks and fastened them together.  

I have a crazy idea:  Suppose KT, GreyMan or Justin were to manufacture some of the solid AR blocks.  Then a kit of AR pieces could be legally sold as being less than a 100% receiver.  Some other maker would manufacture the buffer tower block and the buyer would order this part separately.  Then everything would be bolted together into a 100% lower.

I have KT's latest lower and it is a thing of absolute beauty.  It is so nice that my build actually feels like cheating.

GreyMan's build is really beatiful.

Enviously yours


Posted: Jul. 26 2005, 13:12 ET

This would be perfect for the 7.62x39 AR everyone wants... Maybe a .243 like that FAL carbine that DS makes?

Posted: Jul. 26 2005, 15:19 ET

The best part is how he installed the selector without using a detent.


Posted: Jul. 26 2005, 18:18 ET

Awesome. Half way to an AR-18.

Posted: Jul. 26 2005, 22:44 ET

that is incredible.  I have seen some ingenious ideas come from the guys on this sight and it keeps getting better.

Posted: Jul. 27 2005, 11:00 ET

Further congrats!  Sheet metal has proven itself over and over to create outstanding weapons, like the AK series, the Uzi, and many others.  Parked sheet metal creates an "all business" look, and incredible durability.

Tell us please about the buffer tube section.  It looks like the buffer tube is cross-drilled and tapped, and the tube itself is secured to the lower via BHCS.  Imagine this - chase or tap a section of tubing for the buffer tube section, then grind or mill it to shape before you weld it to the lower.

There's so much room for experimentation here, that's what makes it superb!  I'd thought I'd seen it all with AR lower variations, and you've come up with something new, with great potential.  Thanks for sharing! :)

Posted: Jul. 27 2005, 14:53 ET


I thought about tapping the buffer tube tower (does anybody know the correct term for that thing??), but my aim here was to make a "OhmsResearch-ized" AR lower. That is, build it in such a way that anybody with garage tools could copy it. I did cheat -a lot- in some areas on this proof-of-concept model by using my mill, but I really wanted to make it garage-buildable.

If I wanted to design it so people with mills/lathes could build it, it would be a lot different. Probably better!

The tower consists of a piece of tubing with the ID of 1.180 (IIRC) which just barely allows the threads of the buffer tube inside.

I took piece of 0.5"X 1" bar stock and rosette welded two flat pieces (one on each side) of the 0.100" 4130 to either side, making it 0.700" wide, same as the inside of the FCG "U". I then put a piece of 80 grit sandpaper on a length of the tubing and made a radius on the 0.700" piece the same as the tubing by sanding the 0.700 piece to shape.

I beveled the sides, then TIG welded the two together.
That was placed into the FCG "U" and rosette welded, as well as welding the circular tubing to the ides of the FCG "U" where it touched.

I used a dremel to score the inside in a crosshatch pattern, then coated both the buffer tube and the inside of the buffer tube tower with JB Weld, then inserted the buffer tube, clamping it in place. I put the buffer detent in place first, and coated it with Vaseline to prevent the JB Weld from sticking to it should any get in there. (It worked, mostly) When the JB weld was dry, I drilled an tapped for four 8-32 screws, thenmade certain they didn't protrude into the buffer.

Not a fantastic method, but a good example of WECSOG gunsmithing -did I mention that WECSOG won't let me join?-at it's best.

It would be done much differently with a lathe and a mill.

Thanks again for the kind words.

Stay Safe,

P.S.: I purchased the A1 upper complete and assembled at Knob Creek for $200. (Couldn't very well have a naked lower, could I?) So that, plus $60 for the AR parts, plus God knows how much for time, materials, band-aids, burn salve, etc, and you too can have an AR lower!

I saved all the pieces of parts that didn't work, and if I ever do make a video, I'll include them as a "blooper" reel!

Posted: Jul. 31 2005, 02:40 ET

I really like those dies*grin*

It's just amazing what folks can do when they use their heads and think outside the box...]

Oh and I almost forgot.....That rifles great too....Bill Holmes would be one proud dude thinking that he helped provide the brainfood to do this...

Posted: Aug. 12 2005, 13:46 ET

How much does the sheet-steel AR-15 weigh?


Posted: Aug. 12 2005, 17:29 ET

Another crazy idea....how about making dies to press the whole receiver in two parts, then weld the two parts together? Then the receivers can be sold as 40% parts - has to buy 2 seperate 40% parts and then the buffer tower block. As Jurgen mentioned, it can be a bolt together job, but if thick enough metal is used, it can also be a weld together kit - and a VERY cheap one at that!

Posted: Aug. 15 2005, 15:52 ET

Quote (maarten221 @ Aug. 12 2005,17:29)
Another crazy idea....how about making dies to press the whole receiver in two parts,

Now, I think that is a GREAT idea.  Make two sides and the threaded buffer tube tower available from the same or different suppliers.  Then just weld the whole get up together and drill the holes.  Even with the buffer hole threaded, it should be much less than 80%.  One should be able to get by with even A36 steel for all the parts so the big expense will be the design and construction of the dies.  :notworthy:

Posted: Aug. 16 2005, 19:36 ET

Thanks, Opossum....I think it could work. I should be well on my way with my first AR build soon - then I could get my head wrapped around the design - then maybe start working on a press kit. It will be slow going, and the poor dremel will hate me forever. I saw a nice shop press (12T, I think) for about $200 the other day....hmmmmm

I was also discussing the whole carbon AK deal in the AK threads earlier this year. Any way of manufacturing weird and possibly marketable products grab my eyes...

Posted: Aug. 17 2005, 17:20 ET

Sorry for the delay in answering.

According to my bathroom scale, the complete AR in A1 configuration weighs 9 pounds. Pretty substantial. My guess is that you could (were you to plan to go into production) use somewhat less than the 0.100" metal I used and still have a rugged lower.

As to the clamshell design, I think that's a great idea, but you'd still need some sort of an insert, be it a pin to prevent overtravel of the hammer and flexing of the sides, if not a block so you can use a real bolt hold-open. Also, it might get a little tricky at the back of the lower, with the curvature between the grip and the buttstock.

I am really honored by the continued interest in this project.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Aug. 18 2005, 09:17 ET

Your rifle is to the AR-15 what the AKM was to the AK-47.


Posted: Aug. 18 2005, 11:37 ET

Quote (AGreyMan @ Aug. 17 2005,17:20)
Sorry for the delay in answering, Jurgen.

According to my bathroom scale, the complete AR in A1 configuration weighs 9 pounds. Pretty substantial. My guess is that you could (were you to plan to go into production) use somewhat less than the 0.100" metal I used and still have a rugged lower.

As to the clamshell design, I think that's a great idea, but you'd still need some sort of an insert, be it a pin to prevent overtravel of the hammer and flexing of the sides, if not a block so you can use a real bolt hold-open. Also, it might get a little tricky at the back of the lower, with the curvature between the grip and the buttstock.

I am really honored by the continued interest in this project.

Stay Safe,

I agree, flexing will be a problem...another solution might be to use the clamshell design, but instead of making a Deep stamping, make it shallow, and use substanial metal to deepen it...in other words, have to stamped sides and bolt them to a central rail (which will be much more solid).

Posted: Sep. 25 2005, 22:18 ET

AGreyMan.... AK video??? you still have any out there? i personally really like low-tech solutions that dont require a bunch of expensive tooling to do. not knocking anyone or anything, i just think is pretty impressive what has been shown a man can make with minimal tools. hats off to you.. any video you make on sheetmetal anything that doesnt require specialized tools past a welding machine or soemthing the average guy would have.. ILL BUY!! just send me a PM with the info and ill get the money out to you ASAP!!

Posted: Sep. 26 2005, 07:36 ET

Outstanding!  :thumbs:

Posted: Sep. 29 2005, 16:19 ET

Royce, coming from you, that's high praise indeed. I only did mine this way because I wasn't smart or clever enough to copy you!

Stay Safe,

Posted: Sep. 29 2005, 19:42 ET

You started out following the Holmes design?  Did you think that it wouldn't work, or just wanna try something different?  I'm interested because I'm about to start one of his tube uppers and sheetmetal lowers, might have to have you fill me in on what you did differently!?!?!   :icon_smile_big:

Posted: Sep. 29 2005, 21:46 ET


I'll try to remember some of the differences between my lower and Mr. Holmes and put 'em down here. I have just moved, and my Holmes book is in a box, in a pile of other boxes, in a room blocked up with furniture.

Also, please remember that this project has taken me a couple years to do and other things always seemed to intrude and elbow their way to the forefront of my attention. Therefore, the comparison's a little fuzzy in my memory by now. Also, at some point early on, I stopped looking at the Holmes book altogether and went with Ulfrikr's large scale blueprints coupled with my own DPMS lower and a dial caliper.

As I remember,
1) Mr. Holmes uses different gauge steel than I.

2) He makes machined "blocks" for the grip and front pivot area.

3) He threaded the buffer tube tower.

4) Mr. Holmes has no provision for a bolt hold open (IIRC).

I am sure there are some other diferences, too. Mr. Holmes is an excellent machinist, and it seems like he falls back on that. I am a beginning machinist, and really "into" the Defense/Resistance designs to be made as simply as possible.

I sure hope I have answered your questions.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Sep. 29 2005, 22:36 ET

By the way I forgot to mention that that is one awesome build.  Looks don't really matter.  Form follows function.  I don't currently have a lower to go off of, so I'm gonna run with the holmes design for now.  The pictures were great too.  Good luck.......

Posted: Nov. 1 2005, 06:02 ET

I guess I'm sort of burned out on AR's, so I never looked at this thread until now. Finally the "sheet metal" part caught my interest, and WOW what a nice job. I hope I don't insult you by saying your dies don't look like much, compared to what came out of them. And in such heavy material, too. It's amazing.

I'm more of a "cut" guy than a "bend" or "weld" guy, but it's great to see others coming up with different angles to build things.

Together, we shall reduce the idea of workable gun control to a worn-out joke. :laugh:

Posted: Nov. 4 2005, 16:56 ET

Thanks Fuzzbean:

The dies don't look like much, even to me! In fact, they're downright ugly!

They were my very first attempt at bending sheet metal, and I pretty much just "trial-and-errored" it, with a few dimensions to guide me. Turned out pretty serviceable though.

Besides, I bet John Moses Browning's prototypes weren't pretty either! Ohhh: That does smack of blasphemy, doesn't it!!

Now, does anybody have a CNC controlled plasma or waterjet cutter that they wouldn't mind doing a small run for me?  :icon_smile_big:

Stay Safe,

Posted: Nov. 9 2005, 10:13 ET

Once again, fantastic build.  To expand on what Maarten mentioned, a weldable pair of basic clamshell halves would be completely kick butt.  Think of a Grease gun, which has a fascinating history.  In WW2, Thompsons were getting too expensive, so the stamped sheet-metal grease gun was designed.  Production went to a premier sheet metal-stamping outfit, the Guide Lamp division of GM, I believe.  The Guide lamp folks had vast experience with stamping some pretty complex shapes; even so, apparently there was a lot of teething on their part to make the M3 a success.

An AR lower is much simpler than a grease gun, shape-wise.  You could get rid of some of the funkier curves, the mag release fence, etc.  Basically a front section (mag well) and a rear section (Fire control).  Weld onto the completed shell the forward pivot boss, buffer tube mount.  Other weldments like the pivot pin retaining spring and detent, selector spring/detent, could be added.  

In the end, something like this would be visibly quite different from an AL AR lower, but it would be business-like, accept AR uppers and components, and be incredibly economical.  An FN-FNC uses sheet metal, doesn't it?

Anyway, it would take a hydraulic press and a team of expert die men to make this a reality, but oh boy, once set up, you could make an AR lower kit for a few bucks worth of sheet metal!

Thanks for sharing this with us.  I need to become more skilled with TIG and sheet metal in general.

Posted: Nov. 29 2005, 11:20 ET

A most excellant build...............what more can I say. Heres to your creativity.  Good luck in future builds.

Posted: Dec. 3 2005, 10:51 ET

New to the forum, love the site!!!

Agreyman, that is one of the neatest things that I have ever seen!!!

I have absolutely NO ability at all when it comes to making weapons at home (I sniff glue for a living and the AK build is giving me a migraine!) but I do know awesome when I see it...

Great JOB!!!   :thumbs:

Posted: Dec. 3 2005, 13:38 ET


It's not really that difficult to do home building, and I'd like to be the first to welcome you to the site that can help make it happen for you!

Think it all the way through, but take it one step at a time. You can start with a 80% AR from KT Ordnance or Tannery Shop,and move on to fold an AK flat. Maybe Wildmann can help you out with a MAC.Then maybe make your own AR lower from scratch, then who knows!

Again, welcome!

Stay Safe,

Posted: Dec. 3 2005, 16:33 ET

Thank you for the warm welcome...

The 1911 thingy is prolly gonna be my next project or the mac...The mac just looks all kinds of fun...after those 2 I "might" try and tackle the AR build..lol

If you guys can come up with the flats for the AR build as discussed earlier, would a LVD 325 Pressbrake be to much "umph" for it?? If it helps it uses Cadman as it's program..

Yea I work on a press brake as well as making holster's so i am not totally useless :p

Posted: Dec. 4 2005, 01:25 ET

Completely cool!  I'd been passing over this thread for a while thinking it was another "what if I..." kind a thing.  My loss!  What an extraordinary accomplishment!

I'm pretty decent at machining, but pitiful with sheet metal.  Can you explain / show how your dies were used?  I'm completely in awe of your build.

Excellent work!


Posted: Dec. 19 2005, 13:10 ET


A friend has been pestering me to help him make a sheetmetal lower like mine, so if/when it happens, I'll try to document it with photos, etc. and put it up here.

Thanks again to all for the kind words.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Dec. 19 2005, 20:50 ET

That would be fantastic!  I'm sure I'm not the only one that would appreciate it.

Thanks again,


Posted: Dec. 20 2005, 00:50 ET

I'd be glued to the screen for that one too!

Posted: Dec. 20 2005, 17:54 ET

I'll be slobbering on my keyboard waiting for updates on that as well.  

I have a question though, I have a piece of sheet aluminum about 3 ft. X 5 ft. and I am wondering if it would be strong enough to build into a lower?  It is .125 in. thick so it is sturdy, just don't know if it would be enough.  I have some sheet metal that is .100 in. as well but I'm thinking about weight savings.

Posted: Dec. 24 2005, 15:35 ET

Great job, really cannot wait for your next version...
I am currently working on a similar project but in Cad 3D first... work out any bugs...

but in order to save time with the grip area shaping why not install and shape the receiver to fit a G3 grip!
no rounding off in the same way as an AR as the grip has this shape and the receiver is more rectangular!

see pic below!!!

Posted: Dec. 27 2005, 20:57 ET

That's a good idea. I'll ponder that a while!

Stay Safe,

Posted: Dec. 28 2005, 13:27 ET

I like the G3 grip idea. . .

Posted: Jan. 24 2006, 12:37 ET

What kind of a small run are you talking about?

Posted: Jan. 27 2006, 01:57 ET

Oh unreal.  Greyman, everybody, wait a little while on this post.  Just wait for what Ive got for you guys.  I'll post as much tech-specs & as many photos as I can get away with for you too.  My project is along the same lines, but......................AR-180!!
The "other" AR!!

Posted: Feb. 23 2006, 17:48 ET

Quote (Arma-light-er @ Jan. 27 2006,01:57)
My project is along the same lines, but......................AR-180!!

I'm doing the same thing. I smell a race.  :D

Posted: Feb. 23 2006, 19:43 ET

would love a set of the AR-180 plans.

Posted: Feb. 23 2006, 21:53 ET

There is a possiblity I may offer kits (like and 80% lower type thing). Won't be for at least a few months though.

Posted: Feb. 23 2006, 22:42 ET

put me on the list

Posted: Feb. 23 2006, 23:26 ET

This guy's receiver is better because its a quicker build than mine.  It took far fewer resources, is less expensive, plus he did this in the privacy of his own garage.  Fit & finished the old fashioned way, that's gunsmithing.  My build is more of a match between the factory method & Greyman's/Bill Holmes method; the result will be a lower that closely resembles that of the early factory AR's.  I'm using some great drawings as well as a factory lower as a guide.  The dies will be fabricated so that a high speed production press is not used, but rather one just like Greyman's.  It would also be impossible to stamp the entire receiver out of one piece, then bend, weld & rivet the way Howa/Sterling did.
Alot of thought and second-guessing was involved.  At this stage I'm finished my complete drawings of the lower receiver & have it blanked out in flat form already.
It will be compressed & bent from two separate pieces of AISI-4140 (Cr-Mo) .070" thickness.  The first piece is the magazine well, the other will be formed into the generally U-shaped portion called the fire- control/bulkhead.  A number of other smaller pieces of the same material are used for the reinforcement at the front, the triggerguard, and the buttstock hinge.  Remember, this build is supposed to resemble a factory lower, so for me its not a race against time.  I just want to prove one thing: whether or not this will work.  If it does work, you guys get all of it: Pics, technical information on the rifle itself, a build tutorial, as well as drawings        (& I have tons) but the rifle stays with me       - she's spoken for.

Posted: Jan. 20 2007, 11:05 ET

I don't think it's ugly, i think you did a fine job there, very professional and rugged!  :thumbs:

Posted: Jan. 20 2007, 11:09 ET

Nice project
this idea was proposed and made many many years ago, over at AR-15, in fact late war M-1 carbine lower receivers were made this way, each plate brazed to the next.  yah you can say its a 0%

capt jack

Posted: Feb. 21 2007, 16:54 ET

Of all the DIY projects I've seen, none are more inspirational to me than this one.

Posted: Feb. 25 2007, 10:21 ET

Likely we'll see more of this kind of defective thinking over the next 3-5 years -

HR 1022

To the OP, please develop a set of professional plans, materials list, and overall how-to. Then, offer it up for sale. Your straightforward approach points out the futility of bans quite effectively.

Posted: Feb. 28 2007, 21:42 ET

Samoan Muru, Captain Jack and Red Metallic:

Thanks for the kind words. This whole project (of posting the pictoral process here on RCG forums) has been put on the back burner for a while longer. For those who don't know, I followed my dream to become a gunsmith, went to school for two years and hung out my shingle. I lasted about a year. I discovered that you can't make a living being a gunsmith. You have to be a good businessman, too. I am not. I gave too much of my time away for free (and lots of parts, too, I guess.)

Anyway, I am not destitute or homeless or anything, I just have all my stuff in a small storage shed and no place to work. Hopefully this spring will see me building a shop on my land and getting back in gear.

Again, I appreciate all the kind words about this project. I just want to tell you there is nothing special about me: If I can build one, you can too. I may put together a step-by-step written/video "how-to" in the future but it would just be a convenience thing for anyone who watches it. I am sure you all know what makes an AR tick. They aren't precision instruments. If you go into it with the idea that "If it works, it's good" and don't get hung up on the aesthetics, you are a giant step ahead.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, I just thought I'd drop in with an update.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Mar. 1 2007, 01:01 ET

Welcome back, great to hear from you, sorry the smithing didn't work out though.

Posted: Mar. 1 2007, 09:49 ET

That's tough.  I'm also sorry it didn't work out.  I've got this shop full of tools, and I've had a lot of guys say "You should do this for $$", and I've always been afraid, not because of the technical stuff, but like you, it's the sales/business side of it.  Bill Gates is one ultra-rich dude, not because he was a computer genius (he was smart but not exceptional) but because he is an outstanding salesman and visionary.

I hope your venture hasn't soured you on the fun of doing work for yourself and your friends.

Posted: Mar. 31 2007, 11:16 ET

Quote (AGreyMan @ Feb. 28 2007,16:42)
I discovered that you can't make a living being a gunsmith. You have to be a good businessman, too. I am not. I gave too much of my time away for free (and lots of parts, too, I guess.)

I am sorry to hear it did not work out. However, keep in mind that what you learned is invaluable and don't believe that there is no opportunity for you to start again.

Any business like this requires repeat customers & word-of-mouth to build up your clientele. Without that you'll have too little income and make desperate, poor decisions. I have a good friend who now repairs clocks full-time. However, it took him perhaps ~12 years of part-time, evening & weekend work to get to the point where the part-time business was overwhelming his day job.

He now makes a very comfortable living repairing any antique clock, has specialization on certain types of clocks that no one else in the country does, and even makes reproduction parts for them. To my eye, the business of a gunsmith is a lot like his.

There is no doubt in my mind that you've got the talent to be an excellent one. Don't worry about having good business sense as that can be learned and, you've got 12 months of how not to do it under your belt. Next time you'll know what not to do......and succeed!

Posted: Jun. 14 2007, 02:40 ET

I'm late to this thread -- neat stuff.

I saw this and immediately thought about making a lower that took sten or grease gun magazines for a pistol-caliber AR.  I wish I knew how to weld!  I know there's an AR lower that takes grease gun magazines, but it was quite expensive compared to the 223 stripped lowers, so something like this would be really nifty.

Any updates?

Posted: Oct. 5 2007, 02:38 ET

More photos and discussion here: Sheetmetal AR build, continued

Nothing new, just linking two existing but separate threads on this board together.

Stay Safe,

Posted: Nov. 4 2007, 23:22 ET


Posted: Nov. 27 2007, 02:59 ET

wow, dude... You have truly inspired me. I cant wait for my tig and mini mill now this spring!

Posted: Apr. 29 2008, 23:32 ET

It's been a long time(2years), but my dies are are almost finished.  Working fulltime takes too much away from playtime.  I hope AGreyman will be around to see the finished AR180 project.  BTW, my dies are machined on simple machinery ie: lathe, milling machine, drill press.  And are simple to make, just not so simple a task of designing.  But the designs are finished!!!
I'll xplain everything with the release of my plans & photos.
To everybody: please be patient, thankyou.  It will be worth it.

Posted: Apr. 30 2008, 19:27 ET

Quick question to anyone who knows AR's:  what type of alloy steel does Colt/Armalite manufacture their barrel extension from?  
            4140?           8620?            other?
If the info I have is right, Garand M1 rifle receiver made from AISI 8620.
               Then treated (obviously).

Posted: Aug. 30 2008, 14:36 ET

Now that I come to think of it, didn't Bill Holmes have a sheetmetal ar lower in his book "Bill Holmes the ar15/m16"?

Tough I'm not sure that was it only compatible with his own 9mm upper or did it also fit a normal ar-15.
I should probably re-read the book.

Take a look of the book your self:

Posted: Sep. 19 2008, 17:12 ET

I'm terribly sorry for the dead link, my old account got removed because I uploaded (accidently of course :cool: ) too many copyrighted books that ware detected by their systems, I'll try to avoid that this time so that the link should stay up


Posted: Dec. 13 2010, 19:53 ET

is there any new info on this?
Ill have to put on my to-do list.