New Frontier Armory LW-15 Polymer Lower for the AR-15
Major Pandemic 12.31.13
A complete $119 polymer AR-15 lower is something that can give you pause. The concept originally hit the market several years ago, and the online banter questioning the durability has not stopped since. Without naming names, let’s call the original polymer AR-15 manufacturer “plum insane,” and their customer service practices lacked anything identifiable as customer service. That level of customer service paired with a bunch of unfounded claims that polymer AR lowers will never hold up like metal didn’t serve to start the whole idea off on the best foot.
From my research, actual owners loved the polymer AR-15 lower receivers, but regardless of those reviews, the armchair commandos continued the banter. Because I realize it is pointless to argue with closed minds, I decided to do my own research and test one myself, but that “plum insane” company never returned my calls to place an order and, from my understanding, has not shipped any product for some time.
Fast forward a year and I find out that New Frontier Armory is offering complete AR-15 polymer lower receivers for under $120, touting great support and an expansive product line of upgraded, completely assembled AR uppers as well. Founded in 2009, New Frontier is a Class III veteran owned firearms dealer founded to provide both local and online customers with fair prices, honest information, and the best customer services possible.
Unlike the “plum insane” place, someone educated actually picked up the phone at New Frontier Armory and answered enough questions that I am now the owner of a $119 New Frontier Complete AR15 LW-15 Polymer Lower Receiver. Yep, $119 is a great deal on a lower, one complete with trigger group, all the pins, buffer, M-4 6-position stock, and grips all ready to pin up to your upper. Once in hand through an FFL transfer, I am a believer in better living through plastics.
Fit and Feel
The first thing you will notice is the very light weight compared to a forged aluminum receiver, the second is that despite being a polymer lower, the New Frontier LW-15 feels solid and only has a minute flex. The finish is a subdued tactical texture finish which looks good matted to any upper, but it will not match the smooth finer finish of typical forged upper and lowers. After all, this entire complete lower is only $119.
The minute flex I mentioned earlier allows just a little tension and results in the tightest fitting lower compared to any of my other lower receivers. New Frontier calls this their “Zero Slop” fit. I have pinned this up to no less than a Yankee Hill Machine, Del-Ton, Spikes, DPMS, Aero Precision, Mega Arms, S&W, CIV Tactical, and Ruger uppers and all were gap and wiggle free.
The New Frontier Armory LW-15 is the same profile as any standard forged AR-15 lower and is assembled with the same US-made buffer, commercial buffer tube, M4 6-position stock, and grip you will find on any standard AR build. What will surprise you is that the take down pins, hammer/trigger assembly, safety lever, and magazine release are all also polymer. Most folks will be Okay with almost all the parts, but buyers will cringe a bit about the thought of polymer hammer, trigger, and take down pins, but it all works as reliably or, in some cases, even better than metal parts. If you think about it, nearly every tactical pistol today has a polymer lower and trigger, so this Polymer AR-15 lower just offers some additional parts beyond what we normally see.
New Frontier is using some of the same molds from the same OEM manufacture that the “plum insane” place used, but New Frontier Armory has tweaked the polymer blend to make it stronger. Polymer has some great durability, weight, and cost properties, all of which are delivered in the LW-15. LW-15 stands for Lightweight AR-15 Lower and at 1lb, 11oz complete. Compared to a forged aluminum 2lb, 3oz complete lower, you save 7.2oz of weight.
Another advantage of the polymer is that it is not surface finished like metal, which can be scratched off. Although the polymer is tough and scratch resistant, deep gouges from rough treatment will not show up as shiny white lines like on aluminum receivers. I also found that the New Frontier Armory LW-15 was also much easier to clean, and I found myself mumbling a couple times that it must be part Teflon.
The trigger group really, really surprised me. I mean, it’s plastic for Pete’s sake. Pulling New Frontier Armory’s Accu-Group trigger the first time blew me away with a crisp 4.5lb trigger pull, which is leaps above any standard DPMS parts trigger group (which by the way about 95% of the industry uses). Crisp, very little take-up, no grittiness, and almost no over-travel. I found myself wondering if I could use this trigger in my other AR builds. Although I have not tried, the LW-15 is 100% compatible with any Mil-Spec lower parts so, if you wanted to drop in a Geissele trigger and aluminum take down pins or other parts, you could.
One part which is a little different is the reversible safety selector, which can accommodate left or right handed shooters. By offering this flexibility, the safety can be placed back into the safe position on a hammer forward empty chamber state, which may feel a little odd. New Frontier has received feedback and has now updated the safety to standard format in order to address user feedback and further enhance the overall design.
As they do with all their products, New Frontier Armory also backs the LW-15 up with a lifetime warranty when used as directed. When I asked about this (the “as directed” comment), it was shared that some folks will try to break the lower and expose it to stresses and situations which the user would never dream of subjecting their aluminum receivers to. According to New Frontier’s abuse and testing videos, the LW-15 actually takes more stress and remains functional longer than a forged receiver will. Take a look at their http://www.lw15.com/ site for all the crazy torture tests that show you just how tough the LW-15 lower is.
With the exception of safety lever having the odd feature/ability to move into safe on a hammer forward chamber empty situation, the LW-15 ran perfect, and I mean flawlessly with no issues on three uppers selected to do range testing including the pictured Model 1 Sales Dissipator Upper customized by yours truely. To really give the LW-15 my own brand of stress testing, I ran an additional three magazines through it as fast as I could pull the trigger, and this meant I attached my SlideFire stock and burnt through through those mags at a very high rate. The results of well over 400 rounds of various ammo and uppers were a LW-15 that looked a bit dirtier but looked and worked exactly the same as it did when I received it. Even the polymer hammer looked the same, which is an indication that New Frontier’s tweaked polymer blend is extraordinarily tough.
At this point I have several polymer framed Glocks, Kel-Tecs, Ruger LCR revolvers, and plastic stocks on a whole bunch of various, more traditional looking guns, and almost all of our magazines are now made of polymer. So I have to ask myself, is the New Frontier Armory LW-15 really that much different? After all, my Glock and Kel-Tec firearms also feature plastic triggers. Ruger even has a polymer 357, and who saw that coming? With the exception of the innovative polymer hammer, it really is not that earth shattering of an idea. It performs just like its metal counterpart, and in some situations it will outperform aluminum as shown in New Frontier’s torture test videos.
New Frontier has already built a name in the business as a customer service focused company with some great guerrilla marketing tactics, which put their mouth and their money on the line in the form of video torturing the LW-15 to the extreme (actually stupid extreme). If these videos do not obliterate your doubts of durability, then I guess you you will probably be best served with a wood stocked M14 and classic 1911. For those of us who have embraced polymer in our firearms, the New Frontier Armory LW-15 is one heck of a $119 deal on a complete AR-15 lower receiver, which I would not hesitate to use even on a defensive build. I am sure you will see this lower in other builds to come.
- Complete AR-15 Lower
- MSRP: $119.99
- 1LB, 11oz compared to 2lb, 3oz of a similarly equipped forged lower.
- Complete AR-15 Lower – ready to pin onto upper and fire
- Lightweight – weighs in at 1.6 lbs – That’s 7.2oz lighter than a standard lower
- Lightest most durable composite polymer lower on the market today
- Low maintenance / easy cleaning / scratch resistant
- Accepts all standard MIL SPEC uppers and lower parts
- Features the accu-group composite fire control system with 4.5lb trigger pull
- Can accommodate any brand MIL SPEC LPK upgrade
- Reversible safety to accommodate left or right hand shooters
- “Zero Slop” fit eliminates the need for wedges
- Lifetime warranty against any manufacturer defects when used as directed
- Assembled with 100% USA Made parts kit: Complete lower parts kit, pistol grip,
- Commercial buffer tube, buffer, buffer spring, and six position M4 style stock
- Polymer Lower 100% USA Made