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Old February 24, 2020, 12:22 AM   #1
NobodyJones
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Steel AR-15 receiver?

Okay, I am no expert, or even really very familiar with the AR-15, so pardon my ignorance with the following question. AR-15's have a milled aluminum lower, has there ever been a model built with as milled steel lower?

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Old February 24, 2020, 12:50 AM   #2
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There are a few out there for high end builds like Turnbull. Forged then CNC'd 6061, then 7075 then billet are some upgrades from the original. I have, at one point, owned all of them aluminums, Steel and Polymer. Sold the Steel, have a Cav Arms and GWACs still in polymer. But most of mine at 7075 with a few billet.
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Old February 24, 2020, 02:03 AM   #3
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Okay, don't take this the wrong way because I don't mean any insult, but I chuckled when I read that. The only parts I understood were Yes, some high end AR-15s had milled steel lowers. most were aluminum and some are polymer.

The particular grades of metal have little meaning to me. Sorry.

But thank you for the information.
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Old February 24, 2020, 06:39 AM   #4
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An outfit called Vulcan/Hesse made steel lowers (in stainless if memory serves) in the 90s. The Vulcan parts were poorly regarded.

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Old February 24, 2020, 08:10 AM   #5
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7075 is stronger than 6061. About the only that that means is that the barrel nut can be torqued a little higher making a more rigid assembly. On lowers, does not matter, on uppers, for some, that matters.
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Old February 24, 2020, 11:37 AM   #6
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NobodyJones
Okay, I am no expert, or even really very familiar with the AR-15, so pardon my ignorance with the following question. AR-15's have a milled aluminum lower, has there ever been a model built with as milled steel lower?
Emphasis added.

Building on MarkCO's answer, I'd agree that the aluminium grade in a lower isn't consequential. That's just because a lower doesn't normally see a lot of stress.

While there are some lowers milled from billet aluminium, the "normal" ones aren't. Those are forged.

I am periodically tempted by some of the features I first saw offered in billet lowers, like threaded retention of the bolt catch and safety plunger. There is also an aesthetic difference. Billet lowers typically have a sharper, more stylish appearance. I shy away from them just because sharp edges probably aren't as easy to live with as a smooth forged item.

I've never tried a 6061 upper, and have only 7075 forged uppers. If I do find one I like well enough to buy, I'll find out whether the threads will take the full 80 pounds of torque; this has never been a problem on my forged uppers.

There is a video somewhere of a fellow simulating out of battery events with billet and forged uppers. He concluded that the splintering seen in the failure of a forged upper is more dangerous than the bending seen in the billet equivalent.
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Old February 24, 2020, 02:10 PM   #7
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"...The particular grades of metal have little meaning to me..." Think in terms of heavy and not heavy or maybe it's not as heavy.
A milled steel AR receiver would cost a fortune.
"...AR-15's have a milled aluminum lower..." Most are cast Al(forged means the thing is hammered into shape. Then finished machined by a Computer Numerical Controlled machine.) not milled. Milling is a very expensive time consuming process.
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Old February 24, 2020, 05:31 PM   #8
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I think there was only one company that made stainless steel lower receivers for a while. They weren't very popular and they are next to impossible to find now.

I do have a stainless steel charging handle on one of my AR's. Those are now hard to find now as well. However, to me the stainless charging handle makes sense as that can take some abuse and if it bends, you are sol.
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Old February 24, 2020, 05:42 PM   #9
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6061 and 7075 are aluminum, not steel.
More of O'Heir's drive-by nonsense- CNC finishing IS milling!
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Old February 24, 2020, 07:24 PM   #10
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Yes Bill.
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Old February 27, 2020, 09:20 PM   #11
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I'm assuming T. O'Heir means to say that most receivers are cast or forged and then finish milled, as opposed to being machined from aluminum billet stock from operation 1.

As stated, there have been AR lowers in steel (and titanium, magnesium, and probably a few other metals). There's really no need for it in the AR design as steel is heavier, more likely to corrode, and takes longer to machine (more expensive) and the AR lower really does not receive much stress.
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Old February 28, 2020, 04:51 AM   #12
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If you find a Vulcan/Hesse steel lower, they make excellent doorstops.
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Old March 1, 2020, 09:45 AM   #13
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Group Industries made some stainless steel M16 lowers back in the early 80s. They sell for a little more than a standard M16A1 these days... That is to say well over $20000.

They are said to be much stronger than aluminum lowers but there is very little stress on the lower so it's hard to say if it's worth it.
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Old March 2, 2020, 11:12 AM   #14
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I could see wanting a stainless steel lower with a full-auto M16. The one area that tends to wear some with lots of use and over time are the holes for the pins. A little added weight in that area might also make full-auto fire a bit more controllable.

I suppose a stainless steel lower might also be a consideration with an echo or binary trigger system. Beyond that, I don't know what a stainless steel lower really adds to an AR? I do like having a stainless steel charging handle on one of my AR's, however. While I've never bent a charging handle, it does happen and it would render the gun pretty much useless.
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Old March 2, 2020, 08:12 PM   #15
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While I've never bent a charging handle, it does happen and it would render the gun pretty much useless.
Screwdriver or knife works. I had a charging handle stolen out of my match rifle on the rack at a match. Ran 10 stages without it. Loaded, unloaded and showed clear for each stage.
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Old March 3, 2020, 12:09 PM   #16
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Screwdriver or knife works. I had a charging handle stolen out of my match rifle on the rack at a match. Ran 10 stages without it. Loaded, unloaded and showed clear for each stage.
That is very resourceful. I'll have to keep that in mind. But, what kind of person steals a charging handle from someone's rifle during a shooting match? That's pretty low-rent. I'd be quite angry over that, because my stainless charging handle is next to impossible to replace!
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Old March 3, 2020, 04:06 PM   #17
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I was pretty pissed Skans. I had an idea so I went and asked some of the ROs if this particular person had any issues with his charging handle on his first stage, and sure enough he did. Claimed some spectator gave him one that just happened to be the same as mine...just a run of the mill spec CH...which I no longer run. Anyway, he is no longer shooting and did some prison time. I laugh about it now.

The year before, I gave Jerry Miculek a Turkey load for a spinner. One shot and his CH flew out of his shotgun and it jammed. Out came the knife in a flash. So I had seen it done and it worked fine. The other lesson was..."never shoot a round at a match you have not tested in your own gun." Two for one from the GOAT.
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Old March 4, 2020, 11:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
I was pretty pissed Skans. I had an idea so I went and asked some of the ROs if this particular person had any issues with his charging handle on his first stage, and sure enough he did. Claimed some spectator gave him one that just happened to be the same as mine...just a run of the mill spec CH...which I no longer run. Anyway, he is no longer shooting and did some prison time. I laugh about it now.

The year before, I gave Jerry Miculek a Turkey load for a spinner. One shot and his CH flew out of his shotgun and it jammed. Out came the knife in a flash. So I had seen it done and it worked fine. The other lesson was..."never shoot a round at a match you have not tested in your own gun." Two for one from the GOAT.
My blood boils just thinking about that! Nearly everyone I shoot around is as honest as the day is long. I guess it just takes one jerkweed - and you won the lottery on that day.

On the charging handle, my stainless was manufactured/sold by Miculek. Maybe the guy is a bit rough on charging handles?
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Old March 4, 2020, 11:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Skans
My blood boils just thinking about that! Nearly everyone I shoot around is as honest as the day is long.
I found that report a bit jarring as well.

Shooters as a group have their share of vices, but amongst their virtues I count simple honesty. I think a sport in which lies are useless because they will be disproven by a target fosters that honesty.
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Old March 4, 2020, 12:16 PM   #20
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Vast majority of shooters are awesome folks...even the ones who claim 0.13" groups with their rack grade ARs on the internet.

But 3Gun had some millenials with no ethics get into the sport in the 2014 to 2018 time frame. Most of them have been run off. Stealing guns from prize tables, altering scores, moving targets and complaining about everything. It was not a good few years and many of the old timers left the game because of it.

The lure of $300K prize tables for a $300 match entry going to 250 shooters created a bad situation ripe for thievery. Especially with no National Organization to keep track of such things. If one desires to look, they can see several sponsors, Match Directors and Competitors have been black balled as a result of their lack of ethics.
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