Are you looking to either put together your own AR in 9mm or otherwise upgrade your current 9mm AR? If so, you’re conducting your research in the first place.
Best Classic AR9 Lower Receiver: PSA 9mm Colt-style Lower Receiver
The PSA 9mm Classic Colt-style lower receiver maintains the classic look of the lower receiver for the Colt 9mm carbine. Besides it’s classy look, it’s also very easy to install and is compatible with the 9mm AR upper receivers that PSA makes as well.
Best AR9 Lower Receiver For Glock Magazines: PSA PX-9 Forged Complete Glock-style MOE Lower
The PSA PX-9 Forged Complete Glock-style MOE is a fully assembled lower that is ready to install right out of the box. It is fully compatible with Glock factory magazines, but you will need to check to make sure it works with any aftermarket magazines you want to use.
Best Overall AR9 Lower Receiver: CMMG AR-15 9mm Dedicated Lower Receiver
The CMMG AR-15 9mm Dedicated Lower Receiver is an excellent lower receiver optimized for 9mm, but just remember that there are additional components that you will need to install until it’s truly ready to go. These include the buffer spring, stock, and the trigger group.
AR rifles or carbines chambered for 9mm Luger are known as an AR-9. One of the original iterations for the 9mm AR was the Colt 9mm Carbine, also known as the Colt Model 653, which was released in the mid-1980s. The Colt 9mm Carbine was essentially a scaled down M16 and chambered for the 9mm cartridge.
Today, the concept of pistol caliber carbines have exploded in popularity. With a 9mm carbine, you can use the same ammunition (and sometimes even the same magazine) as your handgun, but because of the longer barrel you should get much greater bullet velocity and accuracy. Furthermore, their compact size makes them very nimble and adept for home defense.
With a 9mm AR lower, you can either upgrade your existing 9mm AR-15, or you can use it to help build a custom made 9mm AR as well. Either way, it’s very important to invest in a high quality lower for your AR, because without a quality lower it doesn’t matter if the upper and the rest of the components are high quality either. After all, the lower receiver that accepts magazines to feed your rifle and enables you to pull the trigger. If you are about to start a new build consider reading our article on 9mm BCGs as well.
In this article, we will go over the main benefits of the 9mm Luger for the AR, the top features and qualities to look for in a lower receiver for the AR9, and then our picks for the top three best 9mm AR lowers on the market. By the end of this guide, you should know exactly what you need to look for in a lower receiver for your 9mm AR. Alternatively you should also look into AR-15 9mm conversion kits, as they can often offer an easier way to convert your AR.
Why Go With The 9mm Luger For Your AR?
The first question we should attempt to answer is this: why would you even want a 9mm for your AR-15? We already talked about some of the reasons in the introduction, but we’ll expand upon those reasons here.
The two fundamental reasons to consider investing in a 9mm AR are 1. it allows you to shoot the same ammunition as your 9mm pistol, and 2. It’s a great choice of weapon for home defense.
Think about it from this perspective: say you have a 9mm pistol such as a Glock 19. By investing in a 9mm AR, you now have a carbine that accepts the same ammunition and perhaps even the same magazines as your Glock, which simplifies your loadout greatly.
Most 9mm AR15s are also very short, compact, and lightweight. In a home defense situation, this is highly desirable because it makes it easier to maneuver the weapon in tight conditions. Granted, there are 5.56 caliber ARs that are very compact and lightweight as well. You may also say that it doesn’t matter if your carbine and pistol have the same ammunition or magazines.
So why go with a 9mm for your AR?
Well, the 9mm will kick less than the 5.56 from your AR-15, and it will also not be as loud as a 5.56 either. In a home defense situation, this means that you can potentially shoot faster follow up shots, and a quieter rifle will deal less of a blow to your ears in the tight walls of your home as well. Take note, that ‘quieter’ does not mean that the 9mm is quiet, it’s just not quite as loud as the 5.56.
Granted, there are cons to going with a 9mm AR-15. 9mm, as a pistol round, has drastically inferior ballistics and less range compared to the 5.56. 9mm can be great for a defensive round, but only if you go with proven jacketed hollow point self-defense rounds.
As a hunting round as well, 9mm is definitely inferior to 5.56. The 5.56 is a solid round to use for medium sized game such as deer or wild boar, and while the 9mm *can* be used on such game, you will need to be within significantly closer ranges.
Most 9mm AR lower receivers are also 80 percent lowers, which means that they are not entirely complete. The benefit here is that they are compliant in most states, and even in some states where full one hundred percent lower receivers are not allowed.
Take note that if you buy a stripped lower receiver, you can have it shipped directly to your home and you will not need to have it transferred through an FFL. This can make the process of shipping it out to you very convenient.
Finally, 9mm ARs are just fun to shoot. Practical applications aside, you can get a lot of fun out of shooting them at the range.
Buyer’s Guide To Finding The Best 9mm AR Lowers
These are the most important factors to consider when you are looking for a new lower receiver for your 9mm AR:
Remember that your AR9 is only as good as your lower receiver is. Your lower receiver needs to be built from high quality materials, and this is not something that you should negotiate on. Pay extra for a lower receiver if it means it’s going to be more durable and therefore more long lasting.
The gold standard for materials in a lower receiver is a forged aircraft grade 7075-T6 aluminum build construction. Aluminum is very lightweight and also highly durable, and there are many other firearms built out of it such as the Beretta 92FS 9mm, which itself is a proven firearm. A billet 6061-T6 receiver is also a great option.
High Quality Finish
While having a durable lower receiver certainly helps make your receiver tougher and more long lasting, it’s also only part of the equation. You also need to have a high quality finish, which means that your receiver will hold up much better to rust and corrosion created from moisture.
Remember that ARs are commonly used in inclement weather with lots of moisture, whether it be humidity from the tropics or rain in the woods. An anodized Teflon finish is a great example of a finish that can hold up well against the elements. A stainless steel finish is another good option. Yet another choice could be to get your gun covered in Cerakote, which while not an actual finish is a highly protective coating that holds up well to moisture and rain as well.
Stripped or Assembled?
With any AR lower, you have the choice between a stripped or an assembled/complete version. Assembled or complete means that the lower is ready to go out of the box, while stripped means that certain or all components will be missing and you will need to purchase those components separately to add them yourself.
Remember, not all states allow assembled lower receivers to be shipped directly to your homes, and in these cases you will need to go through an FFL provider instead.
Assembled lower receivers, however, are incredibly easy to install and require virtually no gunsmithing skills. Depending on the state of the lower, if it’s stripped or incomplete you may need to hire a gunsmith to take care of it for you. The main advantage to a stripped upper receiver is that you can customize the gun as you see fit with your desired components; this may also give you the feeling that the gun is truly yours.
Last but not least, pay close attention to magazine compatibility. Not all 9mm AR lowers will work with all 9mm magazines. For example, some of the AR lowers that we will take a look at here shortly are designed to function with Colt-style 9mm magazines (like for the Colt 653 Commando) while others are designed to accept Glock magazines.
But even if the manufacturer of a 9mm lower says it is compatible with Glock magazines, means that it may only work with factory magazines and not with all aftermarket magazines. It will be up to you to research this yourself for the lower you are interested in, or to test out the magazines yourself.
Regardless, absolutely be sure to think ahead in regards to which 9mm magazines you want to use for your 9mm carbine, and purchase a lower accordingly. If you have a Glock pistol and you want to use the same magazines, make sure that the lower is marketed specifically to handle Glock mags.
The 3 Best 9mm AR Lowers For 2020
Now that we have gone through the basics of the 9mm Luger and the top qualities to look for in an lower receiver for one, here are our top three picks for 9mm AR lowers for 2019:
PSA 9mm Classic Colt-Style Lower Receiver
One of the original 9mm ARs was the Colt 9mm Carbine (also known as the Model 653), which was essentially a more compact AR-15 scaled down, re-chambered for the 9mm, and with a Colt 9mm AR magazine. The PSA 9mm Classic Colt-style lower receiver is designed to look and feel essentially the same as the lower receiver for the Colt 9mm Carbine. If you are looking for a classic looking lower receiver for your AR9, this is an excellent option.
Many people who purchase this product are Colt enthusiasts who already own Colt AR-15 carbines and Colt 1911 .45 pistols, but who don’t want to pay the higher Colt-level price tag for a 9mm lower receiver. The PSA comes ready to install on AR-15 9mm uppers right out of the box, and the buffer tube is long and secure enough to accept a wide variety of different 9mm pistol braces. If you are looking for more info on buffers, we also got a guide for 9mm AR buffers.
However, there is no buttstock that comes on this particular PSA lower, as it is designed to be used with AR pistols rather than AR carbines and rifles. You can, however, add the stock yourself, along with a carbine or rifle upper if you so choose.
The PSA Classic may not be the exact same thing as the lower receiver featured on the Colt 9mm Carbine, but it’s also pretty darn close, and is available for only a fraction of the cost.
Overall, the PSA 9mm Classic Colt-style Lower Receiver is an excellent option to go with if you are looking for a high quality alternative to the Colt 9mm Carbine. The PSA Classic is easy to install, has a classic look and feel, and is fully compatible with other PSA 9mm AR upper receivers.
- High quality finish
- Classic look and feel
- Easy to install
- Accepts most Colt-magazines
- Buffer tube is very secure
- Great option for AR pistols
- Accepts Colt 9mm AR magazines
- Retainer pins longer than usual
- Does not come with a stock
PSA PX-9 Forged Complete Glock Style MOE Lower
The PSA PX-9 Forged Complete Glock Style MOE Lower is one of the best lower receivers to go with if you want to use Glock magazines for your AR9 lower receiver. Not all AR9 lowers will accept Glock magazines; in fact, most will mainly work with Colt or Colt-style 9mm AR magazines.
The PX9 is fully compatible with Glock 9mm magazines (such as for the Glock 17 or Glock 34), but may or may not be compatible with the massive variety of aftermarket Glock magazines that exist. If you have any aftermarket magazines in your possession for a 9mm Glock, you’ll need to test them out yourself in this lower to make sure that they work.
As for the PX9 lower itself, it’s very durable and built to the same level of quality that we have come to expect from Palmetto State Armory. It’s fully compatible with all PSA 9mm upper receivers and hybrid uppers as well. The trigger pull is also very crisp, and the entire upper receiver is very lightweight. The recoil reduction system that comes installed on the lower is also welcomed. If you are a Glock enthusiast, the PX9 will be an excellent addition to your 9mm Glock pistol, and you can use the same magazines for both weapons.
All in all, the PSA PX-9 Forged Complete Glock-Style MOE Lower comes fully assembled and ready to install on your AR-9 Carbine. The durable construction and added recoil reduction system are also very welcome benefits. The PX-9 will work with Glock factory magazines, but you’ll need to double check that it works with any aftermarket magazines that you have.
- Comes fully assembled and is easy to install
- Solid and durable construction
- Lightweight with a crisp trigger pull
- Fully compatible with all PSA hybrid upper receivers
- Comes with a recoil reduction system
- Will work with Glock factory magazines, but not all aftermarket Glock mags
CMMG AR-15 9mm Dedicated Lower Receiver
The CMMG AR-15 9mm Dedicated Lower Receiver allows you to build a 9mm AR without your AR looking like it’s a conversion gun. That’s because this lower is designed to eliminate the need for a conversion block, and thus any reliability issues that could come from converting a 5.56 AR-15 lower will not be a hindrance for you. The magazine well will accept any Colt 9mm AR or modified Uzi 9mm magazines.
This lower also comes with a bolt catch, ejector, and feed ramp that are designed specifically for the 9mm cartridge. All you will need to do is add a trigger group, buffer spring, and butt stock. This lower is also built out of a high quality 7075 T6 aluminum billet, which is very high quality and durable. Meanwhile, the Teflon hardcoat anodized finish further helps aid in corrosion and rust resistance, which makes the entire lower resistance to abrasion, discoloration, or scratches.
All in all, the CCMG AR-15 9mm Dedicated Lower Receiver is a very durable and well-finished lower receiver that is optimized for the 9mm round. All you’ll need to do is add a trigger group, stock, and buffer spring, and it’s ready to roll.
- Magazine well
- Built out of durable 7075 T6 aluminum billet
- Finished with a Teflon hard coat anodized finish
- Comes with a feed ramp, bolt catch, and ejector optimized for the 9mm round
- Magazine well will not accept Glock-style magazine
- Does not come with a trigger group, stock, or buffer spring
Any one of the three AR lowers that we have discussed here today will be a great choice for your 9mm AR rifle or carbine, and you can also refer to the above buyer’s guide at any time as well when you’re on the market for an AR lower. Furthermore, once you find a quality lower to use for your AR9 carbine, it should last you a lifetime and can be passed on down to future generations.