Recycling At Its Best: Working Aluminum Can AR-15

The crew at FarmCraf101, a YouTube channel, just proved that with the right will and know-how it’s possible to turn empty cans into working guns.

Starting with nearly two gross of empties, FarmCraft101’s Jon machined a more-or-less standard cast aluminum lower AR-15-pattern receiver. He even serialized the rifle: “FC101.”

Because the lower receiver is the serialized part on AR-based guns, for legal purposes it’s the firearm. The other components are just unregulated replaceable parts.

Of course, in the video he shows the mechanical aptitude to make a lower out of a billet of aluminum, too. But that defeats the purpose of building an AR literally from scratch.

Ironically one of the parts he used to make his aluminum can receiver was a standard stripped lower. Jon used the stripped lower as a template throughout the manufacturing process.

See Also: Bullet Casting 101

Here’s something you can do with your empties. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

This build took 265 cans. Better start drinking? (Photo: FarmCraft101)


Jon melted the cans down in a small foundry. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

The molten aluminum is poured into ingots. (Photo: FarmCraft101)


The ingots are easier to store and handle. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

The next step is to make an insert for the molds. (Photo: FarmCraft101)


The inserts include spacers for sand plugs. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Sand is poured around the inserts to make the casting. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

He will remove the inserts before pouring aluminum into the cast. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Filling the mold with molten aluminum takes a steady hand. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Once the casting has cooled it’s time to break it out of the mold. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

At this point it’s a pretty dogged 80 percent receiver. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Here it is with the flashing, sprue and vent channels trimmed off. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Time to start machining! Quite a bit of work left to do. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

After more milling, drilling, and filing, the casting almost looks like the real thing. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

And it’s finished. One 100 percent lower made from cans. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Assembled and ready to test. (Photo: FarmCraft101)

Success! (Photo: FarmCraft101)

The video gives you an idea of how much work it takes to tackle a project of this scale but just a taste. The good news is that the FarmCraft101 team is working on a series based on this that will have step-by-step directions for the home gunsmithing/recycling enthusiast.

If you would like to know more about this and other FarmCraft101 projects check out the YouTube channel.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • ejharb October 10, 2017, 6:09 pm

    Very cool,no flies on him
    But in the time it took him to make that I could arm a squad with shotguns that would allow them to aquire nice government weapons from those who don’t need them anymore. Using 2 sizes of pipe some caps and screws a power drill and pipe threader.

  • Jay September 23, 2017, 7:30 am

    Now that’s proper “Gun Control” Amen!

  • John September 22, 2017, 11:28 am

    Cool, but someone has to much time on there hands.

  • Tommygun851 September 22, 2017, 11:10 am

    I admire talent and innovative thinking and I’m jealous of his equipment that he has on hand. I would love to have a Bridgeport and a metal lathe! I would probably never leave the shop! But he is working with molten aluminum wearing only shorts!!! That is just beyond stupid! I make bullets and when I work with molten lead, I wear long pants and long shirt sleeves along with a leather shop apron, leather gloves and eye protection. I also do my work in front of a vent fan to take all the toxic fumes away. Better safe than sorry!

  • Rich September 22, 2017, 10:03 am

    Which shows that total gun control is an exercise in futility. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

  • Tim September 22, 2017, 6:56 am

    This dude is one bad MOFO!

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