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AR-15 14.5" barrel. is it pistol or rifle?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Russianfist, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Russianfist

    Russianfist Sweet home, Oregon Active Member

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    I am getting a composite AR lower (rifle) and was looking for the lightest upper I could find to keep the balance as center as possible. I thought about using a 14.5" upper but the law seems a bit hazy as far as what I can install on a rifle lower. Do I have to stick with 16" above uppers or can I use the 14.5" without getting tax stamp?
     
  2. supergenius

    supergenius 206 Active Member

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    Without a pinned and welded FH or the like its a pistol (SBR)
     
  3. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    You can always use the 14.5" with a permanently attached flash hider to bring the total length to over 16".
     
  4. HollisOR

    HollisOR Rural OR, South of Dallas Active Member

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    On a pistol stock, it is a pistol. On a rifle lower or with a stock it is a short barrel rifle, class III item. Only way to use it as a rifle that I know of (a class dealer would be a better source of information) is to add a fixed flash suppressor, extension, etc, that makes the barrel over 16 inches.
     
  5. supergenius

    supergenius 206 Active Member

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    Thats what i did... 14.5 with troy brake= 16.1". Yoou DO live n OR too... Lucky bastards can do SBR, but id have more like a 10" at that point.
     
  6. PhysicsGuy

    PhysicsGuy Corvallis, OR Resident Science Nut

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    The barrel must be 16" overall. This doesn't mean the rifling has to be 16", but the metal unit itself (in its most disassembled form). This means that the 16" length can be achieved by permanently attaching a muzzle device to a barrel. These devices typically are muzzle breaks, flash hiders, or suppressors (obviously would need a tax stamp).

    Typically you can add a 1.5" or longer flash hider and have it permanently attached, this means it cannot be removed using hand tools. The ATF has specs somewhere on proper methods of attaching. But you cant just simply screw on a flash hider and call it good, this would be illegal.

    So to answer your question, no you cannot put the 14.5 upper on as is, unless it has a flash hider permanently attached already, or do so yourself. (long enough to make it a 16")
     
  7. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Unless you're looking for a certain look just for fun or if you intend to obtain a suppressor for the rifle the 16 inch is far more practical barrel length and provides enough velocity to make the caliber (assuming it's 5.56) effective
     
  8. joeroket

    joeroket Everett,Wa. Active Member

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    So which is it? A pistol or a short barreled rifle? It can't possibly be both.
     
  9. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    Depends on which lower it was put on. Pistol lower and rifle lower, while mechanically the same, are not equal in the eyes of the Feds (for some asinine reason).
     
  10. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    If the lower has never been registered as a pistol or a rifle the correct answer is it is neither, until you make it one or the other, it is not the barrel length that makes it a rifle or a pistol it is the stock. If you put a rifle stock on the lower it is then a rifle and must have either no barrel or a 16" plus barrel to be a legal firearm.
     
  11. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    Not really true, lowers are now sold as receivers and can be built into a rifle or a pistol, even if it the lower is marked pistol or rifle it can still be built into either so long as it was sold as a receiver.
     
  12. Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates WA Member

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    If the overall barrel length (this can be a regular barrel on its own OR a barrel with a permanently fixed* muzzle device) is OVER 16":

    - it is a legal rifle, accessorize it how you like.

    If the overall barrel length is LESS THAN 16", then:

    - if it has a stock, then it is an SBR.
    - if it has no stock but was built on a lower that used to be part of a rifle, then it is an SBR.
    - if it has no stock and was built off a virgin receiver** or pistol receiver, then it is a pistol, UNLESS: it has a vertical foregrip, in which case it becomes an AOW.


    * For ATF purposes, 'permanently fixed' means pinned and/or welded. Silver solder is acceptable. (EDIT: A poster below has informed me that silver solder may no longer be acceptable. Pin + spot weld is the easiest guaranteed way to be safe)
    ** Any stripped receiver new from a manufacturer counts as a virgin receiver and can be legally built into a pistol. Complete lower assemblies often come with a stock and are therefore rifle receivers, so avoid those on pistol builds.
     
  13. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    Right, I understand that...but isn't there still "it was once a rifle, so it's ALWAYS gotta be a rifle now despite mechanical intricacies that would allow you to use a pistol OR rifle length upper equally easily" crap?
     
  14. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    I heard that ATF is no longer allowing silver solder, it must be welded. I'm not an expert but I did read it recently from what seemed to be a reputable poster on another site
     
  15. Russianfist

    Russianfist Sweet home, Oregon Active Member

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    So to make sure I understand this correctly.

    If I built the rifle from a stripped lower it would be ok to use a 14.5" upper?
    However, if I buy a built lower the 14.5" would be an SBR?
    also, it cannot be a pistol lower.
    OR
    Add a supresser or brake to bring it up to 16".

    I think I would rather go with a 16" barrel insted of adding supresser.
     
  16. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    No that is not correct. Here is the very basic answer.

    Rifle = Stock + 16" barrel or longer
    SBR = Stock + 15.9" barrel or shorter
    Pistol = No stock + any length barrel

    To be a pistol the receiver can never have been built into a rifle.
     
  17. Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates WA Member

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    Let's break this down, line by line.

    As long as you don't put a stock on it, yes, you would be legally building an AR pistol this way.

    Only because of ATF's opinion that once something is a rifle, it is always a rifle. Built lowers tend to come with a stock fixed, and a receiver with a buttstock is a rifle receiver. It's very silly how the presence of something so non-permanent that can be added or removed by hand legally changes everything in the ATF's eyes, but there you have it.

    Here's where it gets really stupid. You can convert a pistol to a rifle with no problems, as long as you do it by the letter of the law. Throwing just a buttstock on a pistol makes it an SBR (with a few notable exceptions, see below), but throwing a 16"+ barrel and a buttstock on a pistol receiver to make it a proper rifle is A-OK and totally cool. It's a one-way trip, though - you can't turn it back into a pistol after you've done this (unless it's one of those notable exceptions). That's the ATF for ya.

    As long as they're permanently fixed, then yes, this will make it a legal rifle length. Permanently fixing a suppressor is kind of an iffy proposition for practical reasons, though. For one, it costs more and takes as much time and effort as SBRing the thing, and for another, constantly cleaning a suppressor because you can't fire the gun without it gets really old really fast.

    Probably your best choice. Going shorter than 16" is a hassle, no matter how you do it.

    Exceptions to SBR laws: the Thompson Contender is a convertible single shot pistol/rifle that has been specifically allowed, by name, by the ATF, because it has a deliberate sporting purpose. The Browning Hi-Power and Mauser C96 have similar exemptions: assuming the pistol is original and the stock is an original (not a repro), you can go ahead and throw a buttstock on your vintage Hi Power or Broomhandle. Again, these specifically are exempted by name.

    And that's today's ATF lesson!
     
  18. huntpotter

    huntpotter SW WA Negotiator Bronze Supporter

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    Wrong. I own an AOW. I know lots of WA residents that legally own AOWs.
    SBR is illegal in WA. AOW is perfecly fine.

    This op is asking about AR barrel length. Bottom line, if you have to have a 14.5" barrel, get a phantom flash hider pinned and welded, and you are good to go. If you want the option of having intact threads, to switch around your muzzle attachment, then get a 16"

    If you really want to see a big flame ball, and have a lead sprayer, then build an AR pistol. AR pistol has no Butt stock.

    AOW and sound supressors have nothing to do with the op's question.
     
  19. Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates WA Member

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    I just removed that whole last paragraph. You're absolutely right, I was mistaken about AOWs in WA and suppressor discussion doesn't really belong here as it's not directly related to the OP.
     
  20. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    or stop being a cheapskate and drop the $200 to make it whatever the **** you want.

    and for what it's worth, i've seen absolutely nothing come down the pipe that would indicate the ATF has a problem with HIGH-TEMP silver solder. unless you can cite a source, don't post gay bubblegum like that. regardless, high-temp silver solder is the second most reterded way to permanently attach a muzzle device, so you don't want to use that method anyway.