Bootleg Enhanced Lightweight AR-15 Upper Receiver Review – “Conventional” Lightweight AR15 Build

Bootleg Enhanced Lightweight AR-15 Upper Receiver Review – “Conventional” Lightweight AR15 Build Bootleg Inc. Bootleg’s participation in the Lightweight AR Project came about through twist and turns in the road. […]

Bootleg Enhanced Lightweight AR-15 Upper Receiver Review – “Conventional” Lightweight AR15 Build

Bootleg Inc.

Bootleg’s participation in the Lightweight AR Project came about through twist and turns in the road. Originally we talked to Primary Weapon Systems about the Summit 22lr straight pull rifle, which I have been really interested in for The 22lr Project. As it turns out there is a connection in between Bootleg, Inc. and P.W.S. We all agreed that the Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver was a good fit for our lightweight build.

Bootleg’s lightweight AR15 upper receiver starts as forged aluminum with full thickness walls. Bootleg mills the upper walls thinner, but with strategically set thicker veins to maintain the needed rigidity and strength. Another Bootleg Inc eliminates weight in the upper receiver is by not including the forward assist, thus eliminating a snag possibility.

Lighter… but is the Bootleg Inc upper receiver strong enough?

I struggle with some of the secondary market offerings of skeletonized receivers. There are many creative CNC operators that are offering some interesting skeletonizing work. But I wonder, how many of them do the homework to ensure a structurally sound receiver that will not affect the accuracy of a rifle in order to save weight. So, far, it appears the Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver is sufficiently strong and durable.

Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver specs

  • Machined from forged 7075 aluminum
  • Mil spec hard anodizing
  • Captured dust cover door pin eliminating the need for the E clip
  • 6.2 oz stripped
  • Comes with the door installed
  • MSRP $174.95

Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver review

I have assembled and disassembled the AR15 upper built on the Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver multiple times as this project has evolved. This has given me ample opportunity to inspect the workmanship or the Bootleg lightweight upper. Here are my findings:

  • The color and texture of the receiver is nice and even
  • There are no blemishes or markings of any kind
  • The mating surfaces to the lower receiver, pin locations, dust cover and charging handle provided, all work as they should, do not have any binding, and are smooth to operate.
  • The threading for the barrel and handguard assembly is within specs, as I have changed between the two barrels and handguards featured in this build without problems

A weighty decision

The advertised weight is 6.2 oz (175.8 grams) stripped with an estimate 1.7 oz lighter than a standard receiver. Our measured weight is 6.94 oz (196.8 grams). I agree with the thought process of weight reduction by omitting the forward assist. The forward assist was a military request for field use. I doubt such a thing is needed on a lightweight range gun build.

In order to save more weight, I would have done away with the dust cover. In my opinion a dust cover is not necessary for a lightweight range rifle. Another feature I would eliminate is the brass deflector, if (and only if) there is a left handed option. As the lefty reviewer for Gear-Report, the brass deflector serves its purpose. Don’t believe me? Try shooting your right handed AR as a lefty… that brass deflector is the only thing keeping hot brass from landing in your mouth. But with the newer CNC machines and software making the left handed version for the AR should be an easy process… making the brass deflector largely un-needed.

Bootleg upper link

Where to get Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver

For now, it looks like the Bootleg inc website is your best bet for this specific product. However, Brownells carries some Bootleg items. Might be good to check there to see if they have added the Enhanced Lightweight AR upper.

Gears rating

Gear Score
Bootleg Inc Enhanced Lightweight AR15 upper receiver has worked perfectly and adheres to specs. The fit and finish is great and I like that the weight savings doesn't come by cutting holes through the receiver which could allow reat finish and fully walled lightweight. I rate it at.

Lightweight AR15 Review Project

With so many brands introducing light weight parts and rifles, we put together two AR15s that barely tip the scales. We call this series of reviews… the Lightweight AR Review Project.

The two rifles are:

  • “Conventional” Lightweight AR15 – mostly aluminum that has been aggressively lightened.
  • “Carbon fiber” Lightweight AR15 – combo of lightened aluminum and carbon fiber

This is our “Conventional” Lightweight Build

Each brand that sent parts for this build is featured in a separate article. This one is for Mission First Tactical Battlelink stock.

Ammo for testing provided by

Without the support of our ammo suppliers we would not be able to do nearly the amount of gun reviews that we do today.

Defender Ammunition CompanyDefender Ammunition Company

Big thanks go to our primary Ammo Sponsor Defender Ammunition Company for supplying ammo for our tests and reviews on an ongoing basis. Defender provided a variety of calibers and types of ammo for this test. is a proud member of Team Defender

Sig Sauer

SIG provided .223 ammo for this test.

Gorilla Ammunition

Gorilla Ammo provided reman and factory .223 rifle rounds for this test.

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About JJ

JJ - Senior Firearms Review Specialist & Project Coordinator A long time friend of, and frequent behind-the-scenes instigator…I mean contributor, JJ joined the Gear Report team in 2014 in a more formal capacity. Expect to see JJ’s ongoing contributions to reviews, while he coordinates with manufacturers and retailers to review their products. If you want to see what it takes to make the cut here at Gear Report, look no further than JJ. Part inventor, part outdoorsman, JJ brings a wealth of experience to the Gear Report team, as well as some fancy book learning. A Structural Designer by day, JJ spends his nights and weekends on a massively broad range of outdoor and active interests. Whether making hunting knives, bamboo frame canoes, hunting platforms or various other creations, or hunting, fishing, paddling, boating, teaching martial arts, or re-engineering ammunition reloading equipment, JJ is always up to something interesting. Usually several somethings. A native of Guatemala, JJ brings a valuable different perspective to Gear Report. We will see if we can get him to add some Spanish language content to the site, as the need for fair, trusted information on outdoor gear is not limited to English speaking readers.