We at KCT love when we have the opportunity to get our eyes and hands on a new product that's being brought to the market. It helps us to show the shooting community that there is another option out there, and if it would be worth looking into or not.
Located out of Reno, Nevada, Liberty Arsenal debuts with its first product of the LA15 Stripped Lower Receiver for AR-15 rifles. The lower receiver itself is made from 7075 T6 billet aluminum and has a reasonable price of $198.97 USD with flat-rate shipping of $24.95. By default you would get a matte black hard-coat anodizing, or for an additional $26 you can opt in to get black, FDE, or OD green cerakote.
We had the opportunity to get a hands-on look at a blemished receiver that simply did not receive the proper sandblast treatment, however this lower still functions as it should. In this review we'll cover the lower itself, the design features, and the process of installing all the parts to make it a fully functioning receiver.
Below is the receiver as it was shipped to us, and it is a fine piece of machined aluminum. Near the top is etched "LIBERTY ARSENAL" followed by "RENO, NV USA" with the standard SAFE/FIRE semi-auto configuration for the fire selector. Towards the front of the receiver is the following etched:
The only other marking on the lower is the outline of Nevada on the portion which is covered by installing the grip.
The blemish on this lower can be seen mostly around the serial number etchings, where there are what looks to be 'scratches' on the surface. The only other thing that stands out when looked at very closely is some circular machine pathway marks that were not covered up by the sand-blast and coating. Below you can see the difference between the lower that we received and the picture that is supplied on Liberty Arsenal's website:
|The light markings that were not removed during the sand-blasting process.|
|Very light pathways can be seen from where the aluminum was machined away.|
|The normal finish of the lowers shows no scratches or machining pathways.|
The style and features of the LA15 lower receiver have been kept simple, but have a few key areas that make it worth taking a good look at. First would be the integrated trigger guard that has plenty of room to accommodate even gloved fingers. Being part of the one-piece design makes it extremely sturdy so it can stand up to almost any abuse. The bottom of the trigger guard also matches up very well with the grip once installed, as seen below with a Magpul K2 grip.
When you consider the overall aesthetic of the receiver, the lines and grooves have an almost boxy look to them, yet there has been extra attention put in to the bevels on those edges so nothing feels sharp.
Carrying on with the bevel concept, the magazine well does a very good job of accepting magazines when loading the firearm. All four sides are flared and then beveled on the inside. When you need to perform a reload, it helps when everything is working for you rather than against you.
Installing the lower parts kit and buffer tube were done very easily, with only a couple of points that are worth noting for prior knowledge. The lower parts kit used was one by P-TAC that was ordered from Palmetto State Armory. These lower parts kits are not sold as mil-spec, and we are certain that this is what caused the following issue. Pictured below is the scratch down the inside of the receiver when the trigger was inserted. The tolerances were just large enough to be an extremely tight fit, but once the trigger was pushed into place and pinned it functions perfectly.
When the hammer was installed, we noticed that it seemed to be a tight fit as well. What occurred here though was slightly different than the trigger. After installed, the function test revealed that upon pulling the trigger the hammer would not rotate forward fully, and stopped part-way. After several more times of performing the function test the symptom seemed to lessen, and eventually we could not get the hammer to stop part-way even when slowly guiding it by hand. This may be a combination of both the hammer being slightly out of specifications and the anodizing coat, so it would be good to ensure that the function test for the firing mechanism is performed until smooth operation is present. This applies to any lower receiver as well.
The only other issue experienced was user error, as I dinged the receiver while installing the roll pin into the bolt catch. While this is normally the step of installation where caution should be used, the possibility of this occurring amplifies when using a steel pin punch and it catches on the lip of the much softer aluminum receiver.
Once the lower was completed, we had the opportunity to run several mags through it on a range trip before thunderstorms rolled through, so as we get more field experience documented we'll report it here. After running three 30-round mags there were no problems that arose, and the lower attaches to the upper flawlessly.
If you're in the market for a quality billet receiver that isn't pushing $400, go check out Liberty Arsenal at www.nvarms.com and tell them KCT sent you!