Polymer80 Spectre Ghost Pistol Build

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When is a gun defined as a firearm? Even better when is a gun a ghost? If you are a staunch 2nd  Amendment advocate as I am plus like to build stuff — especially stuff that goes bang — then 80 percent lowers no doubt tickle your fancy. According to the Federal Government, the Polymer80 Spectre 80 percent pistol kit is nothing more than a piece of polymer, but apply some calculated cuts with drill bits and cutting tools, shape the polymer with a file and sand paper, and add parts and that inert piece of plastic becomes a functioning semi-automatic pistol. There is a certain satisfaction on a number of different levels — yes, I can hear you checking them off in your head — when you create something from nothing especially a firearm or rather a ghost gun.

Background

Polymer80’s idea is simple: Provide 2nd Amendment enthusiasts with the ability to build a semi-automatic pistol in the comfort and privacy of their basement, garage or kitchen table. There’s no serial number or 4473 form to fill out. It’s just a kit that turns into a pistol receiver ready to be built. The Spectre 80 Percent Pistol Kit comes with a piece of polymer that looks like a pistol receiver. Upon inspecting the piece of polymer, it is apparent that it is close to being a receiver but it is only 80 percent there.

The Specter was run with factory and hand loaded ammo including Hornady American Gunner 115-grain XTP, Aguila 115-grain FMJ, Winchester Train 147-grain FMJ and a hot handload with a 115-grain JHP.

The magazine well, magazine release button cut outs, trigger guard and a slew of other features are molded into the piece. There is even a Picatinny style rail molded in for accessories. You just need to perform 10 percent more work to it until it becomes a receiver. Along with the plastic piece — you can be ill reverent to it until it becomes a full-fledged receiver — I call it a “pre-receiver” or “80-perecenter.” The black piece comes with a plastic jig. Think of the two halves of the red jig as slices of bread and the black pre-receiver as the meat. The 80-percenter is sandwiched between the jig. The jig is clearly marked so you will only make a mistake in cutting — really just relieving some material — if you can’t read. Polymer80 makes sure the process is very simple. Also included in the box are two drill bits and two end mill bits. No need to go to the local hardware store to get the right cutting tools. Polymer80 provides them for you.

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Tools of the Trade

The Polymer 80 Spectre was fired using 3 different slides, 2 different recoil guide rod assemblies and 2 different magazines.

The tools you need are a drill press, hand drill, bench vise, files, sand paper, punches, bench block, hex wrench and hammer. If you have a Dremel tool that can be helpful as well. The other piece in the kit is a steel locking blocking block. This piece is press fitted into the pre-receiver and screwed into the frame. This is the Jesus nut of the entire receiver keeping the barrel, slide and receiver all working in harmony. The clearly written instruction manual should be read at least once. I read it twice. Required safety equipment includes safety glasses. I wore WileyX Rouge, which has interchangeable lens so you can go from workshop (clear lens) to range (smoke lens) with minimal fuss. Before starting, remember that you will most likely not have a working pistol in one day not unless you are a gunsmith savant. Make sure you have an uncluttered work area and plenty of lighting. Take your time and have a patience. I was actually surprised no explicatives were uttered on my part during this build.

Think of the build as having four steps:

1.) Machining

2.) Fitting

3.) Assembly

4.) Test Fire. Total time for me was about 8 to 10 hours.

Step 1: drill 3 holes on each side using a hand drill. Don’t drill all the way through.

Step 2: Use the provide end mill to remove material from the top rails.

Step 3: Use a file to make the top rails flush with the jig..

Step 4: The author used a Dremel tool to make a semi-circular cut for the recoil spring assembly.

Step 5: The smaller end mill is used to cut out the rear slide rails.

Step 6: Use a small tiny file to finish off the rear slide rails.

Step 7: Place the slide onto the rails so you can fit it so the slide moves freely and easily.

Step 8: Place the receiver and the locking block into the bench block and press fit them together.

Step 9: Place the receiver and the locking block into the bench block and press fit them together.

Placing the pre-receiver between the jig halves and tighten it in the bench vise. Drill one 5/32nd hole on the left side reposition the jig and drill the right side. Swap drill bits and drill two 7/64th holes on the left side and right side. Don’t try to drill completely through since the holes the holes on either side will not completely align.

Next, chuck up the end mill bit in the drill press and relieve material off the top rails. A cross vise is handy during this step.

Then file down the side rails until flush with the jig. The next cut is for the recoil spring and guide assembly. I used a Dremel tool to cut out the semi-circular slot.

The top side of Polymer 80 slide shows the cut out for an RMR. For actual carry and use I’d add a cover plate to support the Meprosight.

Lastly, use the small 5/64th end mill to cut the slide rail slots on the left and right sides. Just follow the guide molded into the jig. I used a small flat file to file the rear slide rails and used three different slides while fitting. You need the slide to ride on the rails easily and smoothly. At this point your pre-receiver is almost a full-blown receiver. Use the bench vise to press fit the locking block into the pre-receiver and fix it down with a screw on the left and right side. This is where the hex wrench is needed. Loctite on the screws is recommended. Now the piece of plastic has crossed the threshold and is now a receiver. It still needs fitting —especially the rear slide rails — but you have a receiver.

A Receiver is Born

Note the final slide rails and the semi-circular cut out inside the receiver.

Polymer80 designed the pistol to be compatible with Glock parts — trigger, ejector, slide, magazine — the whole nine yards. I sourced all the parts through Lone Wolf which offers OEM parts and aftermarket parts. I opted for the latter since Lone Wolf custom parts can enhance the Glock experience.

I won’t go into detail assembling the parts, suffice to say that Lone Wolf will supply all the parts to completely assemble a receiver in one kit so you don’t have to order each individual part. Suffice to say if you have assembled the Polmer80 receiver and have parts left over you probably missed something. Tear it down again and start over.

With three slides on hand, a stock Glock G17, PWS EDS (Enhanced Duty Slide) and a Polymer80 P80 DLC slide cut for an RMR, I used all three to fit the receiver. File a bit then check for fit. You don’t want to file too much material away. All said and done, the Spectre pistol was a mash up of Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and Glock parts. I also wanted to try out the Magpul PMAG 21 GL9 magazine which hold 21 rounds of 9mm ammo. I also used Sprinco recoil guide and spring. The barrel was stock Glock G17.

The muzzle is blunt and blocky; a Picatinny style rail allows the user to add accessories.

The PWS EDS features night sights and a crisp 4-pound trigger pull. It is blocky and offers plenty of serrations for a good grip. The Polymer80 slide needed parts so I utilized Lone Wolf products. The rear of the P80 slide is cut out for an RMR and iron sights. I opted for the Meprolight FT Bullseye sight, which uses fiber optics and tritium to create an illuminated dot and circle. Center the dot in the circle on your target and fire. For the test firing position of the build, I used the FT Bullseye on the P80 slide. If I keep the Meprolight on the slide, I’ll also need to invest in a cover plate so the sight can lay flush with the slide. With the slide working smoothly and the trigger feeling a lot like a Glock trigger, I lubed the Spectre and took the pistol to the range with an assortment of 9mm ammunition factory and hand loads.

Lasting Impressions

I can’t say that building the Polymer80 kit is as easy as buying a factory produced pistol. I had to make some tweaks and a couple of trips to the pistol range before I got the Polymer80 to run reliably. My first mistake was tightening the two locking block hex screws too much. They interfered with the recoil spring functioning. I also needed to use an OEM slide lock spring and OEM slide lock. The first few factory rounds I had issues with the slide going back into battery. I fired about 25 rounds of a hot handloads and the Spectre began working as it should. I also found that I was shooting a large ragged hole at 10 yards as I was working out the kinks. The grip feels thin in hand. There is plenty of texture on the grip to keep the pistol secure. The magazine well has a molded in funnel so the pistol sucks up magazine and spits them out just as fast. There is also plenty of beavertail to protect the meaty part of your hand from a slide cut.

Yes, building a pistol from a kit can be complicated but if you hate paperwork as much as I do then the Polymer80 should be on your to-do list. I’ve always hated paperwork. Remember, ghost is a relative term. Buy one the old fashion way. Pay cash.

Check out the review of the Glock Gen 5 here.

For more information about Polymer80 kits, click here.

To purchase a Glock on GunsAmerica, click here.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Chris Baker September 13, 2017, 3:43 pm

    I’ve seen several comments that talk about the price being higher or some other problem with the cost but for me, the fact that I can buy the parts a few at a time is gravy on my potatoes. I seldom have enough cash to just go buy the gun or the kit and all the parts needed. But I can squeeze in a few parts every so often and that will let me own a firearm that I normally would not be able to afford without going into debt. That makes them even more expensive.
    As for California and it’s unconstitutional gun laws, that’s why I don’t live there any more. More people should read the constitution and the papers written by the founders of our country and realize that none of the gun laws that require you to ask permission, which is that pesky background check, or a CCW, all the laws that say you can’t carry in a certain manner, open or concealed or you can’t carry it Here, or There and you can’t have more than X number of rounds in the magazine and you can’t buy more than one every X amount of time are all unconstitutional. There’s no room for those kinds of laws in the second amendment.
    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”. It doesn’t say except for states that pass laws telling you when or what or how you can carry, nor counties, cities any other such entity. This is shown by the contrast to the first amendment which limits CONGRESS only. “Congress shall pass no laws…” Nothing there that says a state or county, et al, can’t pass such laws.
    If the politicians want to have these sort of laws then they should have done an amendment modifying the second amendment first.
    BTW, the federal income tax laws are unconstitutional since they recognize a religious rite in determining the tax rates of single people vs married people. Marriage predates the constitution by several thousand years and has always been a religious rite, not a civil right.

  • FirstStateMark September 12, 2017, 4:52 pm

    A present for the convicted felon.

  • Mark N. September 12, 2017, 12:47 am

    These make no sense in California, because ghost guns have been “outlawed.” As of the first of July, a builder must apply to the California DOJ for a serial number, a process that includes a background check. Second, the regulations require that the serial number be engraved or etched to the exact same standard that is fond in the ATF regs for manufacturers. Third, another portion of the law, still to go into effect, will require the serialization of ALL firearms and registration with the DOJ, irrespective of the date of acquisition or manufacture, and irrespective of whether the particular firearm now has a serial number–if it doesn’t, you will have to apply for one and engrave the gun.

    So why bother? It will be a crime to be caught in possession of an unserialized, unregistered firearm. Now not that they are likely to catch you, but every time you take one out in public to shoot you run the risk of arrest and confiscation.

    • Alan September 12, 2017, 10:27 am

      I think the idea of a “ghost gun” is escaping you.
      It’s not for everyday carry (especially in your State) nor the trip to a public range.
      It’s for the “end of the Republic” scenario.
      If they don’t know you have it, they can’t take it, now can they?
      It’s a burial vault gun, a hideaway gun, Your ‘go to’ when the SHTF comes.
      I personally don’t adhere to this, but it makes for good marketing, and hey! it’s fun!
      Technically and philosophically speaking, it makes perfect sense in Calli.
      For those of the mindset, it makes total sense.

  • David September 11, 2017, 10:54 pm

    I guarantee and promise you if you have to confront a police officer for any reason and you have that bad decision with you you’re going to wish you didn’t…..

  • Marc September 11, 2017, 3:17 pm

    They cost more than a factory Glock with a warranty. And since Glock slides have the serial number on them what’s the point. Now you have a pistol you cannot sell with the serial number on the slide instead of on the frame and you spent more without a warranty or magazines, Duh?!?! Yeah, I know…………

  • Roger Welborn September 11, 2017, 10:29 am

    Looks enjoyable to build. Where do you purchase the kit?

  • Wzrd September 11, 2017, 10:11 am

    I built one of the newer PF940C models. Took about 3 hours for me- never having stripped or assembled a Glock before & being a bit of a perfectionist. Got a complete Glock factory upper from a seller on Guns America. Got the jig kit & frame parts on sale from Brownells. All together it was a little under $565. That’s not cheap for a Gen 3 Glock 19 with no mags. Add three 15 rd mags for another $55. However the new model has different colors to choose from, a better grip angle with no finger grooves, undercut trigger guard, “accelerator cuts”, pic rail- all things people pay extra for to have added to (or removed from) their factory Glocks. But probably the best reason for something like this is in places like Marxland [sic] where you otherwise would have to pay for a “training” class & apply for an HQL (handgun qualification license) just to buy a pistol. Not to carry concealed, just to legally purchase! So these kits do serve a purpose & it’s not for criminals who can’t pass a background check.

  • Dick September 11, 2017, 10:07 am

    I love guns been that way for over 70 years, but just think about all the ammo this kind of stuff gives the anti-gunners. What about all the crack-pots and terrorist that love a way to get around gun laws. If you can’t pass a back ground check no gun.

    • Rouge1 September 11, 2017, 12:58 pm

      70 years ago there wernt these laws. What did you do then?

    • FB September 11, 2017, 1:15 pm

      I really don’t understand your point.

    • koldwindblows September 11, 2017, 2:06 pm

      So, criminals apply for background checks?

    • gopher September 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

      Note original article is about complying with gun laws. It shows a legal process for building a firearm from non-firearm materials. What about all the crack-pots and terrorist(s) that would love to abrogate that process as well as one that involves purchasing an existing firearm? If you can’t pass a background check, it is likely illegal for you to possess a firearm, whether you buy it or build it.

    • Alan September 12, 2017, 10:44 am

      I think you still don’t understand that the anti’s don’t need nor could care less about any of the “ammo” we might give them.
      Do you think after all they have tried that any of them are ‘reasonable’?!?
      They won’t rest or quit until there is a TOTAL ban on firearms, period.
      This has been privately stated by nearly EVERY leader of the anti gun movement.
      In public, they speak to “reasonable” or “sensible” gun laws, in private there has been leaked statements and videos of promises for a total ban.
      One such outfit even changed it’s name when they realized that the general public wasn’t up for a total ban on handguns, so they went to a “stop gun violence” theme (hey, we ALL want that, right?), but that hasn’t changed their mission. Nor their mindset.
      It is the epitome of naiveté to believe that after all these years and all their shenanigans in Congress that they have changed in ANY way.
      Matters NOT what we do, they hate guns, and they hate YOU for wanting them.
      And they’re bound determined to bring YOU into line with THEIR mindset.

  • Jay September 11, 2017, 10:05 am

    The original Spectre hand grip was made for gorilla hands. I hand to sand mine down and reshape it to fit normal hand sizes. The newer version also has a metal insert for the rear rails, the originals are just the polymer! I inquired about purchasing the rear rail separately to upgrade the one I built and guess what, they wont sell you one, they want you to buy the whole new kit! Those of us that purchased the original ones are getting cheated and forgotten about after all the money we threw at these guys waiting for the production to start and receive these kits from the get go! Thanks for nothing Polymer 80 no more business for you! They’re just trying to get rid of all these older overstock ones and sell new buyers short when the new ones are made differently and better!

  • G Low September 11, 2017, 9:25 am

    You forgot to add the most important thing to this article for people who are new to the 80% concept.
    If you build a 80% pistol/rifle, YOU CAN NEVER SELL IT / TRANSFER IT (doing so is a felony). Heck you aren’t even supposed to have any help building it, ie; renting a friend’s drillpress.
    I’m not sure why you would want to sell it after building it (as the point is to have an unregistered piece) but the question has arose with some newbies at the range. So this should probably be mentioned somewhere in the article so that the uniformed public won’t be breaking the law accidentally.

    • Mark N. September 12, 2017, 12:37 am

      Yes you CAN sell these pistols, but they must have some sort of a serial number inscribed, etched, whatever on them before sale. Second, you cannot build these pistols with the intent of selling them, so more than a couple of isolated sales will get scrutinized as an attempt to avoid manufacturer licensing laws.

  • Alan September 11, 2017, 9:22 am

    HOOWEE!!! And I thought regular Glocks were ugly!!! (Oh, admit it!! There is nothing pretty about a Glock,)
    Sorry, that’s just plain butt ugly.
    Yes, it’s supposed to be functional, but that doesn’t preclude the maker from doing a little more to dress it up.

    • Chris Baker September 13, 2017, 3:26 pm

      Function is far more important than form. A well crafted item of pretty much anything that does it’s job correctly and reliably has a beauty all it’s own. Look at how many old style VW bugs are still on the road. On the other hand, how long has it been since you’ve seen a Corvair.

  • ToddB September 11, 2017, 8:34 am

    I always did dislike Glocks, it was the grip angle. I had several, sold them all off but one frame to use with a mechtech upper. The grip angle is not much of an issue on a rifle. I looked at the polymer 80, but the cost. As pointed out, it ends up being more than just buying a glock. I caught a frame on sale thru Midway, where it was $90 for a frame and lower parts kit. So as is I might have $400 in mine and that includes night sights. I was looking at buying a guide rod to use Wolff springs, but ended up making one out of brass on my lathe. Right now it shoots 40 and 9, will get a 357 sig barrel, be interesting if you could get a 45 gap barrel for a 40 cal slide. Has the same grip as all my other pistols. Nice aftermarket trigger in it. Actually came out really well.

  • Alex September 11, 2017, 8:15 am

    I’d like to see a way to upgrade 1st gen with rear polymer rails to metal rails instead…..I bought the 1st and feel somewhat cheated.Great idea, quick buck marketing.

    • Jay September 11, 2017, 10:11 am

      Agreed, this article makes the writer seem like a Pitch agent to help them sell the originals left on hand when the newer ones are much better!

  • Robert September 11, 2017, 7:44 am

    So I did this build and here is the rest of the story. The build is not hard just take your time. The down side is the cost. About $600 if you shop around for sales or cheaper parts. Ebay/// midway usa// amazon is where I got all my parts. Be carful with lone wolfe barrels. They will not function with reloads. The throat is too tight. They will open it up for another $30. or just buy a working barrel at midway… It also will not work with .22 conversion kits, at least mine wont. Advantage arms /// barrel wont lock in… In the end, I like it but wont do it again. I can buy a factory glock with a warranty for less money. With my Military background and other registered guns the Gov. already knows who I am… PS; you also can never sell it because it has no serial number(unless you get one and go through ATF), Technically no one else should even touch it except the builder, per ATF laws.. hope this helps

    • Mark N. September 12, 2017, 12:40 am

      You do not have to get the serial number from the ATF unless you want to become a manufacturer and build with the intent of reselling–which given the cost of these kits, just ain’t gonna be happening. California, of course, has its own rules.

    • Chris Baker September 13, 2017, 3:29 pm

      I suspect, from having been shooting my own reloads for the past 35 years or so, that you simply need to adjust your reloading dies so that there is a bit more jump to the lands.

  • Michael Evanchik September 11, 2017, 7:08 am

    Only thing I don’t like is I’ve tried to price it out even with some good sales. Seems more expensive then just buying a factory glock. I know I know the unregistered thing. But still.

  • Mike h September 8, 2017, 8:45 am

    I did one with only the included jig, both included bits, a cheap pair of locking pliers, and a hacksaw blade. If you want to be picky, also a pencil.

    No power tools, files, paper etc.
    Less than 2 hours.
    Works fine.

    Fun build. I recommend the kit.

    • Mark Are September 11, 2017, 8:37 am

      And now yours is no longer a “Ghost” gun. Fact is, if “they” start confiscating them, why would anyone care if it is a ghost gun or “normal” gun? I’m going hunting if they start confiscating. Got that NSA? CIA? Whoever? Make sure you understand…MANY of us are going to go from punching holes in paper to punching them in your HEADS.

      • Common Sense September 11, 2017, 1:58 pm

        You sir are a fool. Seriously, who posts stupid rants like this on the internet? I’m about as pro 2A as anybody else out there but geeze.. Just because you figured out how to “do internet” shouldn’t give you the right to give everyone else right-wing, conservative, or patriotic a bad name. Ever wonder why “they” would want to take away your guns? Because you outwardly project yourself as being ignorant, tinfoil-hat-wearing trash, that’s why. For the rest of our sake, please refrain from commenting or get someone with a brain to help you.

        Disappointed in mankind,
        Common Sense

        • Alan September 12, 2017, 12:46 pm

          Sorry there brother-in-arms, but you too have missed the real deal when it comes to the Anti’s.
          They may USE your claim of certain ‘gun nuts’ being some form of ignoramus as a ‘reason’ to confiscate or ban, but they don’t give a hill of beans about any one gun nuts state of mind or lifestyle.
          You could be the most reasonable, logical person on earth, and the Anti’s would STILL try to take them away.
          It has NOTHING to do with the YOU, it has to do with THEM, and their idea that YOU should live as they think best for you and society at large.
          Just as one poster spoke to giving then “ammo”, it has absolutely no impact on their ‘reasoning’ what you, or any other gun nut might say, they simply don’t like guns, don’t like the fact that you do, and don’t want you to have them.
          It’s THEIR state of mind, not ours, that directly effects their thinking and their response.
          They don’t care what you think, do or feel. Nor are they concerned with your rights, or whether or not you have served or how ‘Patriotic’ you are.
          They are SOCIALISTS, and very close to Fascists.
          The history of socialism is rife with a near total disregard for the rights of others, all in the name of the collective, which THEY will run.
          And the Anti’s are NO different.
          Socialism won’t and can’t work in an armed society, and they know it.
          And the thing is, MOST of them have no clue they are working toward that kind of socialism.
          And THAT’S the scary part. Their ignorance. Not ours.

          • lj September 16, 2017, 9:18 pm

            Well said Alan …

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