So, you’ve heard the buzz: You can build a Glock-compatible pistol (in any series!) at home by using a polymer 80% frame. Aptly named the Polymer 80 Pistol, this new entrant to the market of the world’s most popular handgun is making waves. What is it, exactly?Find out below:
What is the Polymer 80 Pistol?
The Polymer 80 Pistol is a handgun platform that replicates the Glock® series of handgun frames in form, build, and function. The P80 Pistol’s heart rests inside its proprietary 80% pistol frame. Some call these 80% lowers or receiver blanks. This is an unfinished firearm under federal law, and it cannot be made to function in its current state. You must must fabricate the remaining portion of the frame to make it a firearm that's ready for assembly. Once fabricated, your frame can accept gen 3 Glock® parts, allowing you to build a custom handgun.
What is an 80% Lower?
If you're new to this idea of building a firearm from scratch, you may not have even heard of what an 80% lower receiver is. This guide covers the topic in more detail, including P80 frames and receivers for other weapon platforms.
So, is it like a Glock®?
At first glance, the Polymer 80 pistol is nearly indiscernible from the real thing. P80 pistol frames use real Glock® parts from muzzle to magazine. There is, however, just one important difference: Grip angle. Factory grip angles measure 22 degrees, but the 80% pistol frames' angle measures 18 degrees. This is no coincidence, the legendary M1911 also sports an 18-degree grip angle. This same grip angle was purposefully included in the design of the 80% frame. It’s this age-old, widely preferred grip angle that some say gives the Polymer 80 pistol a more ergonomic feel.
In every other way, the Polymer 80 pistol mimics a manufactured Glock®. The 80% pistol frames shares all other features and functions of a manufactured Glock frame. All Gen 3 Glock® components are used to complete the build, including:
- Glock® Gen 3 Frame Parts Kit
- Gen 3 Glock® Side
- Gen 3 Glock® Slide Parts Kit
- Glock® Sights
- Glock® Barrel
- Glock® Recoil Assembly
- Glock® Magazines
So, is the Polymer 80 pistol a real Glock®? Functionally and aesthetically, yes. By incorporating every feature and component from the original Glock®, the Polymer 80 pistol promises the same reliability, accuracy, capacity, and (perhaps slightly improved) ergonomics.
These P80 frames work with these Glock® parts:
How to build a polymer 80% pistol
Building an 80% pistol requires some basic tools that you may already own:
- Tabletop vise (4" or wider)
- Handheld drill or drill press
- Bubble level for work table
- Sandpaper or hand files
- Hammer and punch
To complete a Polymer 80 Pistol, you’ll need to complete these steps:
- Drill the side holes using a hand drill and table vise
- Mill off the top rails with the provided large end mill bit
- Use the same large bit to mill the interior barrel block
- Finish cutting the rails with the smaller provided end mill bit
- Install the Locking Block System with provided screws
- Install your parts kit, slide, barrel, and accessories
Federal vs. State Law
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has clarified that 80% pistol frames are not considered firearms under federal law. The agency considers these units to be receiver blanks. Blanks are not regulated as firearms and do not require a Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) to transfer the product to sale. Federal law also says that one may legally fabricate a firearm at home for personal use without an FFL. However, state laws vary.
States like California have restricted the practice of buying and fabricating a firearm using an 80% frame, 80% lower, or other kind of receiver blank. Other states have outright banned all receiver blanks, like New York and New Jersey. Our Shipping & Return Policy provides a list of which states these frames cannot be shipped to. It's important to note that state and federal laws change frequently and with little notice. We recommend you conduct further research or consult legal counsel if you're unsure of the legality of building a firearm.
Why not just buy a Glock®?
It's true that you could just walk into a gun store and buy a Glock. But you might be losing out on some unique advantages of instead building your handgun from scratch.
Building might be more affordable
Glocks® have always been affordable, but you’re still paying a premium. You have to foot extra cash to cover transfer fees, the store’s own margins, and extra taxes. Building your pistol, however, costs a fraction of the retail price. The Pistol 80 lower kits cost only $160 and they include a full frame with plenty of upgrades. Combine a kit with an upper and parts kit, and you’ve easily saved hundreds.
A P80 is easier to customize
Everyone wants a handgun that’s tailored to them. Some want a lighter trigger, some want a fluted, threaded barrel for a compensator. Others like to keep things simple, OEM-spec. When you build your own piece using a polymer 80% frame, you get to customize your new handgun from scratch. That means saving even more money by investing in the parts you want, avoiding the needless cost of buying a complete handgun and shelling out even more cash for different components or branded guns.
DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY gun building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. At 80-lower.com, we are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.