AR jig shootout – 5D Tactical vs 80 Percent Arms
Over the past few months, we used a couple of AR jigs to complete lowers. In this article, we are going to compare both the 5D Tactical and the 80 Percent Arms jig head to head and let you know how they stack up.
I am known to be hard on gear and equipment. Working with a product, I like to push the limits of what they can do. Using both of these jigs was no exception. I ran both products hard to see what problems I could find so that you can make an informed decision on your purchase.
These two AR jigs are going to be evaluated head to head based on look and feel, ease of use, product quality, features and options and price. Let’s see how they stack up.
AR jig – look and feel
Both jigs look alike and have similar characteristics. The weight of the 5D Tactical is more substantial due to the large sited plates that they use. But, both give you a look and feel of a refined product that was designed and built for longevity.
The winner of the look and feel category is 5D tactical by a slight margin. Their massive side plates are impressive compared to 80 Percent Arms.
AR jig – ease of use
Both the 5D Tactical and the 80 Percent Arms are relatively easy to use and have instructions that are easy to follow.
Looking at the jigs, it is relatively straight forward on how you would assemble them. Most steps are easy to understand without looking at the directions.
Cross jig screw
I do believe that the 5D Tactical jig is a little easier to use than the 80 Percent Arms jig. 80 Percent Arms uses a long cap screw to go between side plates to keep them from bowing during drilling. It is not difficult to put the screw in. However, you need to keep your screws in the top plate loose or you will cross-thread the long screw.
5D Tactical does not have this screw. Instead of using a screw to keep the side plates from bowing, they make their side plates oversized. The 5D Tactical side plates do not bend when drilling the holes for the selector, hammer and trigger pins.
Milling the rear shelf
I dislike that I need to add a pin in the rear takedown on the 80 Percent Arms to mill the shelf on the second depth gauge. If you forget to set your depth, you could run your mill against the pin and possibly damage both parts. It is tempting to mill without the pin in place for depth gauge two, but this could lead to problems with the fit of the upper receiver. The 5D Tactical eliminates this pin by using guide pins on the router adapter. It is not hard to change the pins from the first mill depth to the second.
I find 5D Tactical’s method of changing pins on the router adapter a little annoying. Dealing with small parts on an oily surface can be tricky at times. I feel that 80 Percent Arms has an advantage of going from depth gauge one to depth gauge two. However, moving from depth gauge two to depth gauge three on the 80 Percent Arms jig is where this advantage disappears. On an 80 Percent Arms jig you need to install the drill guide backward and upside down to finish the milling process. The 5D Tactical follows the same procedure regardless of what depth gauge you are using.
The constant changing of procedures on the 80 Percent Arms is a little frustrating and I think that the 5D Tactical is slightly better since they use the same process for milling all three depths.
The winner of the ease of use goes to 5D Tactical for their lack of a cross plate screw, which does make up for the small pin changes on the router plate.
AR jig – product quality
Although I like cap screws in the 80 Percent Arms jig over Philips in the 5D Tactical, the 80 Percent Arms jig seems to have a design that makes it easy to cross-thread the screws. Even though most of the cap screws can be purchased locally, the big screw that threads through the jig side plates can only be purchased from 80 Percent Arms.
Cross-threading is a problem that kept coming up when I used the 80 Percent Arms jig. It is easy to do and you need to make sure that all of your top plate jig screws are loose before you attempt to install the cross jig screw. When using the 5D Tactical jig, I didn’t have a problem with cross-threading and the elimination of the cross jig screw helps with that.
Hardened steel inserts
When purchasing jigs for 80% work, I like to see hardened steel inserts when I have a drill bit going through a jig. Having a hardened steel insert gives the jig a longer service life. I was critical of the 80 Percent Arms jig on this in my ADVENTURES WITH THE 80% ARMS AR 15 JIG article. However, 5D Tactical’s side plates have these hardened steel inserts giving their jig a clear advantage on longevity.
Pilot hole drill guide
I find that 5D Tactical’s implementation of the drill guide for the pilot hole to be a little flimsy and you need to be more conscious about drilling straight down. As you drill the pilot hole, you can see the drill guide move back and forth from the front to rear. I feel that 80 Percent Arms has a far superior drill guide. It is thicker and installs inside the jig instead of on top. Although it is not critical that you have this hole completely straight, on a 5D Tactical jig, you begin to wonder if you are going to break the drill guide as you drill.
If the jig is the body of the product, the endmill is the heart. I ran both of these endmills hard on these reviews. I have milled more than a hash mark (never went past two hash marks), as well as, milling too fast on both products. Both actions are against the manufacturer’s best practices. Although this was far from a scientific test, I was able to destroy a 5D Tactical endmill. The destruction happened almost immediately, leading me to believe that 80 Percent Arms has an endmill that is more forgiving of user error.
Even though 80 Percent Arms’ endmill seems to be more forgiving, it is harder to install. You need to install the end mill, place the router plate over it and then place a centering jig onto the shank of the endmill to make sure that everything is centered before screwing on the router plate. With 5D Tactical, you install the endmill and then install the router plate. I would say that the endmills are a toss-up between the two and could go either way.
Side by side, you can see the massiveness of 5D Tactical’s side plates. They build them big and have hardened steel inserts to increase longevity. The size of 5D Tactical’s side plates serves two functions. They keep the side plate in place without the need of a cross jig screw; making the install easier. They also allow the use of a power drill instead of a drill press. To use a power drill instead of a drill press with the 80 Percent Arms, you need to purchase drill stabilizers and attach them to the side plates.
Both jigs have their share of features, as well as, design flaws that affect quality. I would say that 5D Tactical has a slight edge over 80 Percent Arms with the side plate system pushing them over the top.
AR jig – features and options
Each manufacturer has a few products to serve your needs. Choosing the right one is an important decision.
80 Percent Arms jigs
80 Percent Arms has the Easy Jig Gen 2 Multiplatform (AR-15, AR-9 and .308), as well as, the AR-15 (AR-15, AR-9) only version. There is no upgrade path to doing a .308 AR if you buy the AR-15 only version. If you ever plan on doing a .308 AR, you want to purchase the multiplatform jig upfront to avoid a huge cost later.
5D Tactical jigs
5D Tactical has the Universal Jig in either AR-15 or .308, as well as, a multiplatform (AR-15, AR-9 and .308). If you buy a Universal Jig, it is essentially a multiplatform jig that only has the parts that are specific for the lower you are completing. If you decide later to complete the AR standard that you don’t have, a kit can be purchased to convert the jig to a multiplatform. For instance, you have the AR-15 jig and you want to complete an AR-10 lower, you just need to purchase the AR-10 upgrade to your jig.
The cost of doing the upgrade does not come at a premium. If you were to buy a Universal Jig and the conversion kit at the same time, your price would be the same as purchasing the multiplatform.
Hand drill stabilization
As stated above, 80 Percent Arms sells hand drill stabilizers for drilling with a hand drill. These stabilizers double the size of the side plate to an inch and a half. With these stabilizers, you get a stable platform to use a hand drill and prevent wobble. However, they are an additional purchase. The 5D Tactical is already almost an inch and a half thick.
5D Tactical wins the features and options category. For things that are options on the 80 Percent Arms jig, they are standard on the 5D Tactical.
AR jig – price comparison
There is no doubt that completing any 80% firearm is expensive. Sometimes you can purchase a completed lower for less than buying one that you need to complete. Add the cost of a jig and router to the build and you are definitely paying more. When building an 80% firearm, you are building for other reasons than price such as pride of doing it yourself or self-satisfaction of doing a project.
Below we compare the prices of the jigs. These are retail prices stated on the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes you can find these cheaper if you shop around.
Conversion AR-15 to AR-10
Conversion AR-10 to AR-15
Price is a difficult subject to score as the price you pay is subject to what you intend to do. In some situations, one jig has a price advantage over the other while in other situations the advantage switches.
For instance, if you are just going to do an AR-15 and have access to a drill press, 80 Percent Arms is the cheapest option. If you want to use a hand drill you would need to purchase the Hand Drill Stabilizers to have the thickness of the side plates of the 5D Tactical. That will add another $29.99 to the 80 Percent Arms jig making it slightly more expensive than the 5D Tactical. On the other hand, the 80 Percent Arms AR-15 jig is not upgradable. If you intend to ever do an AR-10 lower, you need to purchase the multiplatform jig upfront while the 5D Tactical jig is upgradable at a later time.
I feel that each have their advantages and disadvantages in pricing and score them equally on price.
AR jig – head to head scores
look and feel
80 Percent Arms – 4.3
5D Tactical – 4.5
Ease of use
80 Percent Arms – 4.0
5D Tactical – 4.3
80 Percent Arms – 4.0
5D Tactical – 4.1
Features and options
80 Percent Arms – 4.1
5D Tactical – 4.3
80 Percent Arms – 4.0
5D Tactical – 4.0
Both of these jigs are well built and produce good results. I think the 5D Tactical jig is slightly better than the 80 Percent Arms jig. However, both will get the job done and I wouldn’t fault someone for buying one over the other.
If you are going to purchase the 80 Percent Arms jig, you should strongly consider if you are ever going to build a .308 AR and purchase the multiplatform jig upfront.
I do tend to score the price of 80% jigs on the low side. I feel that the manufacturers generally do not come up with highly innovative designs that warrant the high price points they ask for. Even though I feel that both jigs are a quality product, I feel that both are slightly overpriced.
This is an unbiased article. I did not receive products from either manufacturer and all tools and jigs were either purchased or borrowed.
I did purchase the 5D tactical jig from JSD Supply and have an affiliate relationship with them while I borrowed the 80 Percent Arms jig from someone I know.
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