Clear AR-15 Receiver… It Was Bound to Happen

It is just a short leap from opaque polymer receivers to clear ones. First to jump? Tennessee Arms, which published a video of their prototype receiver in action.

We can glean from the footage that the receiver is actually translucent (not clear) does indeed work and can stand up to at least 60 rounds without failure. Oh, and it is completely tacti-cool.

No word yet on pricing or availability. Their current Generation IV receivers are priced at $55.00, so I would expect this to be in that range, even with the inevitable second-kind-of-cool markup.

And yes, I want one (if only to turn it into a full-auto range toy).

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • MFPower

    Clear polycarbonate has to be one of the worst materials to use for a firearm part. It is prone to cracking and/or shattering under any type of stress. Add in a little cold weather and that lower isn’t going to last 10 rounds. They might as well make it out of crystal because it’s only going to be useful as a display piece.

    • Agreed. I’ve talked to engineers about using this material and they universally have said it just doesn’t work for any amount of time. Personally I’d never fire a rifle like this when you know at some point it’s going to fail. Display is about the only reasonable use for it.

      • dan citizen

        there was one of these out there two years ago (tennessee arms isn’t the first) and due to flecks of powder, hot gasses etc it lost clarity pretty fast. Neat though.

        This one is far better than the one off made before.

  • ColaBox

    Already been done.

    • gunslinger

      wait, did will hayden come up with this neva ben dun ba-for concept?

    • Tacon

      And also done many years ago. Calvary Arms clear lower + pistol grip + stock.

  • Cymond

    It’s still just a prototype, so it may not come to market. FWIW, EP Armory made some prototype clear polymer 80% lowers, but never produced them for whatever reason.

    • kosherbacon

      EP’s standard polymer lowers were Kevlar reinforced for strength, which would obscure the hell out of a transparent material. Without the embedded fibers, it would be all kinds of brittle.

    • I doubt we’ll ever see it on store shelves.

  • 101nomad

    Do it make firearm shoot gooder?

    • gunslinger

      no, but it makes you more operator


    I don’t exactly know what they’re going for here. Aesthetically, it’s -fine-, but there’s nothing particularly exciting that’s going on with the trigger group to really justify wanting to look at it more than two or three times. Not to mention the guy’s arm darkened the insides to make it more difficult to see from a distance, and I don’t think anyone wants to stand closer and get smacked in the face by flying brass.
    Maybe it has educational purposes, but there’s already digital renders of cycling guns out there.
    This is really my own opinion, but the only useful application for opaque parts would be magazine ammo windows.

    • There is a huge difference between useful and “tacti-cool.”

      Since I am an obsessed gun writer, I am drawn to tacti-cool like a fly. Its a terrible affliction…

    • Jimbo

      Also Useful for entire magazines made of semi-transparent polymers like those made by Lancer etc.

  • iksnilol

    Lemme be transparent here. I am not an operator or LEO but I think this is clearly the best choice.

    • Today, you win the internets. Puns are always in good fun.

    • gunslinger

      i’m not sure i can see through your reasoning

      • iksnilol

        Hah, another pun (I don’t use lol much).

        I thought people didn’t like puns, guess I was wrong.

        • gunslinger

          true, but many people like the high visibility

          • Hyok Kim

            …or have their hands too idle, maybe they should remember what they used to with, back in the high school, before that first kiss.

        • gunslinger

          on a side note, my last job had about 4 guys who would find a funny article and pun it to death. about 20 emails each day….

          • gunslinger

            glad to see someone can uncloud their judgement

  • Mystick

    This would be an excellent visual aid for teaching the AR…. beyond that, no thank you.

    If it fails after a few mags, why not just make an entirely disposable rifle… with an integral magazine. I’m sure there’s a market for that kind of thing out there.

    • anonymous

      > I’m sure there’s a market for that kind of thing out there.

      That has been considered. Tamara Keel posed on her blog that:

      Tuesday, January 18, 2011
      A sad commentary on the industry…

      I made this comment in another post, but I figure it deserved its own:

      If you wanted to, you could design a centerfire gun that would
      crumble to dust after the 500th round was fired and maybe one in ten
      owners would ever find out about it (and the other nine would call
      them “bashers”…)

      Posted by Tam @ 9:41 AM


      In response, Todd Green, who was the Federal/Military Projects Manager at SIG for 5 years, responded in the comments section that:

      ToddG said…

      The generally accepted number in the gun industry, based on
      various surveys of gun-buyers over the years, is that on average, a
      handgun purchased in the United States will be fired less than 50
      times. For every internet poster who own ten guns that have each been
      fired 1,000 times, there are dozens and dozens of people who walked
      into a gun shop, purchased a pistol and a box of ammo, and never once
      took that gun to a range. Those people, obviously, don’t read and post
      on forums and gun blogs.

      Ask anyone who’s worked at a gun shop and I guarantee they’ve had
      customers complain about having to buy A WHOLE BOX of ammo when the
      gun only holds 15 (or 8, or whatever).

      When I worked at SIG, there was serious discussion about producing
      a pistol that came PRE LOADED with 15rd in a non-removable mag. The
      gun could be made of very cheap material because it only had to
      survive 15 rounds of fire. It was rejected on technical capability
      grounds, not because there would be a lack of demand.

      11:43 PM, January 19, 2011

  • Paul White

    Almost ashamed to admit I want that badly.


  • derfelcadarn

    Just because you can, does not mean you should. Ones needs to ask, why ?

    • Jack

      That’s the wrong question. Why not? How many of guns are bought purely out of some “need” and not because their fun?

      Lighten up!! Guns can be just for fun.

  • David Knuth

    Okay, am I the only guy who thinks this is a horribly bad idea? We already got kids getting shot or hassled because of cops thinking Airsoft is the real thing. We don’t need to make that worse.

    • I don’t think this will ever make it to store shelves. As far as kids running around with something like this it could have a bad outcome. When an officer gets a person with a gun call the stage is set until the officer can prove otherwise. Calls like this are frequent at night when lighting is pretty bad and airsoft guns do look like the real thing. The officer only has a minimal time to decide if he’s under threat or not.

      • Justice

        Phil, actually I would like to see this hit the shelves. Why not? If anything it makes a good novelty/training/display item.
        Either way, a gun is a gun whether its made from forged aluminum or clear plastic. And Don’t point a gun to a Cop no matter if its a real or toy gun.

      • Hyok Kim

        I remember a case from Beaverton, OR, back in the 80’s, where a classmate of mine was playing with a MP5 look alike water pistol (and it did look pretty real), playing with his friends, and almost got shot by responding cops.

        Btw. In bad ambient light, it doesn’t have to look like a gun. A black man pulling a cellphone out of his pocket was shot dead in north Omaha several years ago by responding officers. The shooting was considered justified.

    • gunslinger

      what is it, play stupid games, win stuipd prizes. sorry, but you shouldn’t be pointing a gun at a cop, neighbor, uknown person unless you are willing to accecpt the chance they may fire back.

  • dan citizen

    for training, education, practice builds, etc this is a great idea. For practical use, not so much.

    • gunslinger

      was thinking that. i always wondered how the trigger actually worked. found a YTV where a guy pinned the trigger to the side of the gun instead of the inside. then it made sense.

  • Dr. Daniel Jackson

    I think this lower makes the AR15 look too much like a toy.

    • DSFADS

      Who cares? Some of us don’t build AR-15s for our egos, bro.

      • Dr. Daniel Jackson

        I don’t build or own any AR-15s,I prefer more reliable weapon systems.

  • HKmaster

    Now it looks like an airsoft gun. Yipeee

  • poak

    TN Arms Co DOES NOT plan on producing this lower.

    They’re heavily active on Reddit’s r/ar15, and had stated this was just a fun project. The material necessary deviated from what they have spec’d for their polymer reinforced lowers.

    I’ve never bought anything from them, but they seem like a good group of guys who like to joke a around a little and are very interested in staying in touch with end users of their products.

  • Phil Hsueh

    I can see this being used for marketing purposes where an AR manufacturer/assembler could use it to display the innards of their AR to potential clients/customers.

  • Pretty cool. Not that it would always come in handy, but it could be beneficial to see what’s going on inside your receiver.

  • Gadfly

    When I went to H&K armorers school, we had USP variants with clear plastic frames to practice breaking down. I never saw one fired, but they were very helpful in understanding all the parts interaction between LEM, DAO, DA/SA, etc…

  • Rick_A

    Their customer service/shipping/sales guy posted a pick of that on the AK files a couple months ago. I assumed it was a presentation piece and remarked that I’d only buy their receiver in clear to make a “ghost gun.” Waiting for the matching upper…

  • Jim Osburn

    I once saw a Star Trek movie where they used transparent aluminum able to withstand tons of pressure. That would be a better option. And for those ready to blow up on me, this is in jest.

    • gunslinger

      And I say,
      Bounce a graviton particle beam off the main deflector dish

  • kschmadeka

    This shouldn’t be happening. It’s bad enough that kids are getting shot by cops for holding airsoft guns. Do we want police to have valid grounds to draw down on people for holding toy guns made of clear plastic? Clear plastic toy guns are supposed to be the safest to give your kids to play with, and this company is going to foil those efforts. We have an absolute right to be armed, but other people, police and citizen alike, have a right to know if the weapon we’re holding is real or not. There needs to be clearly designated colors for real guns and fake guns, and gun companies need to be more concerned about the safety of their customers than about any “cool” look. This is incredibly irresponsible.