There are many reasons why the AR-15 dominates the centerfire rifle market today in the United States, but one of the top reasons is because the AR is one of the most customizable firearms on the planet.
Best Budget Pick: Aero Precision AR-15 Stripped Upper Receiver
The Aero Precision AR-15 stripped upper receiver is a solid mil-spec upper receiver that is ready to go out of the box. The durable and yet lightweight aluminum build make it a great value for the money.
Best High End Pick: PSA 18” Mid-Length 6.8 SPC Upper Receiver
The PSA mid-length upper receiver may be very expensive, but it’s worth every penny as it comes ready to go out of the box and is built out of the highest quality materials. This is an upper receiver that can last for a lifetime and be passed on down to future generations.
Best Overall Pick: Bravo Company AR-15/M4 Flattop Upper Receiver Assembly
If you’re looking for a high quality American-made upper receiver, take a close look at the Bravo Company Flattop. This upper receiver is fully compatible with mil-spec AR-15 parts. As an added benefit, it comes pre-installed with a forward assist and a dust cover.
The only other firearms that rival the AR when it comes to customization options are the Glock and 1911 pistols, and the Ruger 10/22. With the AR-15, you can literally buy all of the different component separately and then assemble them together to make your own unique carbine or rifle.
Furthermore, the AR-15 is also available in a wide variety of different calibers as well, one of which is the 6.8 SPC. If you’re looking to build an AR-15 chambered in 6.8 SPC or otherwise upgrade your existing one, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to take a look at the top three best 6.8 SPC uppers on the market today, and we’re also going to talk about the benefits of the 6.8 SPC round and how you can install a 6.8 SPC upper receiver on your AR-15 as well.
Why Do You Need A 6.8 SPC Upper?
If you want to have an AR-15 chambered in 6.8 SPC, you need a 6.8 SPC upper. But why would you want to go with 6.8 SPC for your rifle?
The 6.8 SPC was developed at the beginning of the 2000s in a joint program between the United States Army marksmanship unit and Remington Arms. As with most AR-15 calibers, it was designed as a potential upgrade over the 5.56x45mm NATO and .223 Remington rounds, which have been the standard AR-15 rounds for decades.
The 6.8 SPC has never replaced the 5.56, but it still offers much superior ballistics. It has more energy, more stopping power, greater accuracy, and greater effective range. With the 6.8 SPC and a quality 6.8 SPC barrel, you should easily reach sub-MOA groupings.
In fact, the ballistics of the 6.8 SPC compete with the various 6.5mm and 7mm rounds that are available on the market as well, but in the same size package of a normal AR-15. This means that with the 6.8 SPC, you do not need to upgrade to a larger .308 caliber AR-10 rifle.
The 6.8 SPC magazine is also the same size as the 5.56 magazine, and the lowers for the 6.8 SPC and 5.56 AR-15s are identical. The only difference will be the markings on the lower.
When it comes to the upper receiver, there are several Mil-Spec upper receivers that are compatible with both the 6.8 SPC and the 5.56x45mm NATO; you’ll just need to get a different barrel for your 6.8 SPC. If you already have a 5.56 AR-15, there are only a small number of extra parts you’ll need to get to convert it to 6.8 SPC.
How To Install A 6.8 SPC Upper
Assembling a 6.8 upper receiver is very simple, and with the correct tools, you should be able to complete the entire process in as little as fifteen or twenty minutes, Just follow these steps:
- Secure your upper receiver in a vice
- Place the barrel into the barrel opening; it should fit snugly
- Make sure that the alignment notch on the barrel fits into the groove on the upper
- Thread on the barrel nut, and use a barrel nut tool to tighten it as much as you can; make sure that the hole in the barrel nut aligns with the hole in the upper receiver so you can accommodate your gas tube
- Slip the gas block tube through the hole in the barrel nut; make sure that the block is aligned to the gas hole in the barrel
- Secure the gas block to the barrel with screws, and consider using Loctite for added security
- Fit the hand guard over the barrel and thread it into the barrel nut
- Tighten the tension nut to help hold it in place
- Use a special AR tool for tightening up the hand guard cap
- Thread on the flash suppressor
- Place the charging handle into the hole in the rear of the receiver where the bolt will go; make sure that it is aligned, which it will be if it slides into place
By following these steps, you can get your 6.8 upper receiver installed and ready to go for your AR-15.
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new upper receiver for your 6.8 SPC caliber AR-15:
Stripped or Complete?
First and foremost, you will need to decide between whether you want a stripped or a complete upper receiver. A complete upper receiver means that everything is already installed on the receiver, and you will not need to add anything else to it. In other words, the receiver is ready to install on your lower to build your AR-15.
A stripped lower receiver means that the receiver is missing some or all components. You will need to buy these components separately and then either install them yourself or have a gunsmith do it.
Remember, the AR-15 is one of the most customizable firearms ever made. You have a lot of flexibility in regard to what you can do, and if you want your rifle to be truly unique to you should get a stripped upper receiver. Otherwise, a complete upper receiver will be better if you don’t want the hassle of adding everything else onto it yourself.
The best upper receivers are highly durable out of 7075-T6 aluminum. This is aircraft grade aluminum that is one of the strongest materials that you can buy for an upper receiver, and while still keeping things fairly lightweight.
Rust and Corrosion Resistant
It’s also vitally important for your upper receiver to be very rust and corrosion resistant, so it can resist rain, snow, and humidity and simply last longer. The best upper receivers will come with a hard coat anodized finish (usually black), which also adds a lot of strength and durability to the already durable aluminum.
Make sure that your upper receiver comes with a rail on the top of the receiver (preferably a Picatinny rail) so it will be very easy to add flip up sights (such as Magpul Flip Up Sights) and scopes or optics as well. Take note that most upper receivers do not come with sights or a carrying handle, but you can easily add these yourself.
M4 Style Feed Ramps
If your upper receiver comes with M4 style feed ramps, it will help to feed the 6.8 SPC rounds more reliably.
Dust Cover and Forward Assist
Some upper receivers come with dust covers and forward assists, and others do not. Cheaper upper receivers will lack the assist and dust cover.
Neither a forward assist nor a dust cover is truly necessary, but they are nice features to have. The forward assist is a plunger on the side of the rifle that can force rounds that are stuck into the chamber. Most AR-15s have them, but not all do.
The dust covers simply cover up the chamber to the AR-15 when it is not firing. It’s designed to help keep grime and the elements outside of the chamber while you’re carrying the weapon out in the field.
The 3 Best 6.8 SPC Upper Receiver For 2020
Now that we’ve covered what you need to look for in an upper receiver for your 6.8 SPC AR-15 and how to install it, here are our top three choices for a 6.8 SPC supper receiver today:
PSA 18” Mid-Length 6.8 SPC Upper Receiver
The PSA 18” mid-length 6.8 SPC Upper Receiver is a complete upper receiver that comes fully ready to install right out of the box. The upper receiver itself comes built out of a forged aircraft grade 7075-T6 aluminum with a hard coat anodized finish, which is about as durable and rust and corrosion resistant as you could ask for in an upper receiver.
This upper is also built to mil-spec standards, which means that it is military-grade, and is also fully compatible with other mil-spec AR-15 components.
The barrel is built out of a highly durable and rust resistant 416R stainless steel and has a 1:11 twist rate and is covered with an M-Lok free float rail, which will make it easy to add accessories. There’s also an A2 style flash hider located at the end of the barrel to help keep muzzle flash when firing to a minimum.
Finally, the bolt is built out 9310 steel and has further been treated with nitride for further durability and corrosion resistance.
Overall, the PSA mid-length 6.8 Upper Receiver is a highly durable and well made choice for an upper receiver. While it may be expensive, it’s also complete and has everything that you need in an AR upper.
While the PSA 6.8 Upper Receiver is very expensive, it’s also complete and comes ready to install right out of the box. The upper receiver itself is built out of 7075-T6 aluminum, the bolt out of 9310 steel, and the barrel out of 416R stainless steel. This is a very durable receiver that will last for a lifetime and beyond.
- Has a 416R stainless steel
- 9310 steel bolt
- 7075-T6 aluminum upper material
- Built to Mil-spec standards
- Comes with an A2 flash hider
- Ready to install right out of the box
- Very expensive
Aero Precision AR-15 Stripped Upper Receiver
The Aero Precision AR-15 Stripped Upper Receiver is a very durable and simple stripped upper receiver that is built out of aircraft grade 7075-T6 aluminum and has been further coated in a black anodized finish for excellent rust and corrosion resistant.
Take note that this upper receiver lacks a dust cover and forward assist, and while neither a cover nor an assist is truly necessary for your AR-15, many people still highly appreciate having them. If you want to have a dust cover and forward assist on your AR-15, you’ll need to add them on your own.
Fortunately, the Aero Precision has been machined to mil-spec standards, which means that it is fully compatible with other mil-spec AR-15 component as well. And in addition to the 6.8 SPC, it is also fully compatible with eight other AR-15 calibers well. The Picatinny rail on the top of the upper also makes it very easy to mount optics.
Overall, the Aero Precision is a high quality and lightweight aluminum upper receiver that is built out to mil-spec standards. Fully American made, it comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. The Picatinny rail makes it easy to mount optics, scopes, or lasers as well.
- Very lightweight
- Made in the United States
- High quality aluminum steel construction
- Lifetime warranty from the manufacturer
- Comes with a Picatinny rail that makes it easy to mount scopes and optics
- Built to mil-spec standards
- Compatible with other mil-spec parts
- Compatible with 9 different AR-15 calibers, including 6.8 SPC
- Lacks a forward assist
- Lacks a dust cover
Bravo Company AR-15/M4 Flattop Upper Receiver Assembly
The Bravo Company Flattop Upper Receiver Assembly is built out of 7075 aircraft grade aluminum with a hard coat anodized finished for excellent durability and rust and corrosion resistance. The Bravo Company is built to mil-spec standards, which means that it is fully compatible with other mil-spec AR-15 components as well.
The interior bore of the Bravo Company has a mil-spec level dry film lube to help keep wear to a minimum. The Picatinny rail has T-marks, which will ensure that the sights or anything else you want to install will be mounted in the correct places. In addition to the 6.8 SPC, the Bravo Company upper is compatible with four other AR-15 calibers as well.
In addition, the Bravo Company also comes with a dust cover and a forward assist, which should be a welcomed feature for most people as several upper receivers do not come with a cover or an assist at all.
Take note that a barrel can be a little bit of a challenge to fit into the Bravo Company upper receiver, but you can remedy this by applying a little bit of heat to help make it easier.
The Bravo Company flattop upper receiver assembly is a high quality mil-spec upper receiver that is built completely in the United States and comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. It is built to mil-spec standards and comes with a dust cover and forward assist.
- Has M4-style Feed Ramps
- Built to mil-spec standards
- Comes pre-assembled with a dust cover and a forward assist
- Lifetime warranty from the manufacturer
- Built in the United States
- Compatible with 5 AR-15 calibers, including 6.8 SPC
- Barrel fitting can be a bit tight
And that concludes our list of the top three best 6.8 SPC upper receivers for 2020. The 6.8 SPC is a great if also overlooked round for the AR-15, and you can optimize its performance by going with a high quality upper like we have covered here today.
Featured image by Ammoland