OK. Let's get "old-school" on this. It really depends on what you want to accomplish. Whether you want them to run for a long time, or just for a while... And consider this information "very" general. As you know, you are never sure until you look.
If they are no-oil starts, since the factory puts oil in to test run and then sucks it back out to ship them, chances are good that the lower bearing is intact. Odds are the upper bearing is probably not really that bad either since it's probably running on a bronze sleeve (not positive because of the model number issue, Briggs and everyone else in this industry keeps cheapening equipment up so it'll sell through the big box stores). The most likely damage is between the rod and crank. More pressure. Aluminum rod. More heat. If you get transfer to the rod journal, they may seize when they're hot (expansion), then break loose once they cool down (contraction). It's a crap shoot how long they last after that if they free up. Maybe minutes. Maybe hours. Maybe years.
I'm not sure how low the compression is you're talking about. These engines do have a compression release, so a leakdown test actually tells you more, but try a "springback" test. Turn the flywheel counterclockwise from above until you get compression, then see if it springs back with a pretty good snap when you let go. A "thumb-in-the-sparkplug-hole" test works pretty well too. If you fall below 60 psi on your compression test I'd be worried. You might also check for a sticking valve. The guide got hot, right?
You can take the head off, but the cylinder is part of the crankcase. So broken rings means you got to take off the sump and loosen the connecting rod from inside. Then you push it out through the head side.
A couple of really good parts breakdown sites are:
There's a lot of units returned to the stores. You probably won't get rich, but it's sure kept a roof over may head and food on the table fo 23 years now.
Best of luck!