first published on December 14, 2018 by Scott Lambin
To prohibit the sale, acquisition, distribution in commerce, or import into the United States of certain firearm receiver castings or blanks, assault weapon parts kits, and machinegun parts kits and the marketing or advertising of such castings or blanks and kits on any medium of electronic communications, to require homemade firearms to have serial numbers, and for other purposes.
To all you shade tree mechanics and home DIY gunsmiths, we have a surprise for you. Imagine having the ability to legally manufacture your own un-serialized AR style rifle in the comfort of your own home. You have heard of the 80% lower craze that’s going on, but have you ever actually sat down and tried to cut out one? A Pain in the ass at best. Hand milling an 80%’er is time consuming, very easy to screw up and even potentially dangerous when you do crazy things like use a drill press as a mill.
Now, what if I told you there was a machine that completely cuts an 80% lower for you at the press of a button. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it, and there has to be something illegal or some fine print somewhere, right? Wrong. I would like to introduce to you the Ghost Gunner: GG2 CNC mill.
After hearing about this product from a friend I had to get one of my own to see what all the hype was about. Now don’t jump out of your seat too fast, it took about 9 months for my machine to arrive as the demand is so high and production is time consuming for a small business there is no immediate gratification. When it did arrive on my door step the wait and anticipation was worth it. Eager to put it to use, I hastily opened the box to be overwhelmed with “how the hell do I set this up”? I have very little [if any] machining background and definitely no CNC experience. However, after the initial shock wore off and I actually read the instructions, yes, I read them, it was surprisingly simple.
To start from the beginning, the company Ghost Gunner was very easy to do business with. I put down a deposit, they contacted me a few months later when my name was getting closer to the top of the list and I paid the remaining balance. It arrived at the front door packaged adequately, as the CNC mill weighs just over 50lbs. It was nestled inside custom cut foam and contained all the required information, parts and pieces to get going. Like previously mentioned, gentlemen, you will have to set your pride aside for a minute and actually read the directions, doing so will save you a world of trouble. The instructions are straight forward and easy to understand, [Ghost Gunner obviously knows their target market and have pretty much dummy proofed the process]. It comes with a memory stick that contains all the programming and cutting code. In a nut shell, you download the program and code to your home computer, plug in your machine and update its firmware. Once you launch the .DDCut exe file, it breaks it down for you grunt style. The cutting program is very detailed and tells you exactly what to do step by step. You insert the end mill, put the 80% lower in the jig, hook up the electrode, lock the lower and jig onto the cutting table and press GO. After about 2 hours of freedom inspired noisy cutting you have to reposition the lower to cut the selector hole and then re-tool to a drill bit to cut the trigger pin holes. It’s literally that simple. The entire process takes about 3 hours but only about 15 minutes of hands on time after you get the hang of positioning the lower and installing the jig onto the cutting table. After my first lower was cut I installed a “mil-spec” trigger assembly, it fit and worked flawlessly passing the standard function check. I took it to my local range as an assembled rifle and it again functioned perfectly without a single glitch.
As easy as it sounds there are a few tricks of the trade and a few pro tips I found out pretty quick. Make sure you have a shop vac to clean up the aluminum shavings out of the machine between steps and when cutting is complete. If you save the bottom packaging foam it makes a great anti-vibration stand and it doubles to catch all the aluminum shavings. Yes, all the shavings are contained inside the machine and it’s very easy to vacuum up. Ghost Gunner recommends you only use raw, unfinished lowers. The machine uses electrical conductivity to probe and set the location of the lower and any finishing (i.e. paint, anodizing, Parkerizing, etc.) can cause catastrophic problems.
I had to test this so I set up an anodized lower in the machine. On the first go the mill locked up on its first probe location and would not continue. Okay, fair enough…The pros proved me stupid…but there has got to be a way to cut anodized parts; what we did next is most definitely NOTis not recommended by the company so attempt only at your own risk; I removed the lower from the machine and took a dremmel tool with a polishing wheel and removed the finish from the 6 or so small spots where the Ghost Gunner probes the lower. The probe locations are in areas that are not visible when the firearm is assembled so don’t worry about having to refinish. Low and behold it worked like a charm and now I’m cutting finished lowers all day. I should also mention it will not cut polymer lowers as plastic is not a conductor and the machine can’t find the lowers location. You must also have a lower with the rear takedown lug pocket already milled (which is pretty standard) or additional milling will be required. For those of you in the market to assemble a large frame rifle, the GG2 will also mill out aluminum AR10 lowers using the same included program. The provided end mill (cutting bit), so far, has cut me 8 lower receivers and appears fine, natural progression of 24 hours of metal cutting metal would suggest the dulling of an end mill bit. Which can be purchased for $30 each directly from the manufactures web site.
Naturally there will be the ones who we used to call in the Corps’ “shit house, or Sea Lawyers”. They’re the ones that offer legal advice to other Marines. These lawyers are absent of ANY legal education whatsoever, and provide services to Marines that have found themselves trying to get out from underneath a cheating succubus wife. Instead of getting drug down in the rabbit hole; it is in your best interest to check your local, state and federal laws regarding the use and ownership of this machine. Keep in mind it is highly illegal to manufacture these lowers with the intent to sell unless you have the proper licensing. That said, for those into this side of the hobby and sport, I think this handy little machine is well worth the cost and wait time.
It’s easy to set up and use with no prior machining experience. Total cost with shipping is about $1600; compare that to the total cost of your last fancy AR build. It is small and single task oriented. The GG2 is the most reasonable CNC on the market. Ghost Gunners product and company gets a thumbs up and our recommendation for the cool factor, customer support, ease of use, build quality and simply delivering the product that we paid for.
Ghost Gunners customer and technical support team are overly accomodating to field questions their customers have! If you’re stumpped, call them between 10 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday Central Standard Time.
Ghost Gunner (GG2) 80% Lower Receiver Mill Specs
|Type||Computer Numerical Control (CNC)|
|Milling Plane||Horizontal w/10,000 RPM ER11 Collet Spindle|
|Area||8 ¼”x 2.95”x 2.35”|
|Components||A36/304 Stainless Components|
|Tasking||80% AR lower receivers|