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AR rifle to pistol conversion before SBR

Discussion in 'NFA Weapon Discussion' started by munkel, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. munkel

    munkel PDX Active Member

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    Ultimate plan is to assemble a AR SBR, I have a 10 inch upper and no lower, lower came up that is assembled with stock. Is it still illegal to remove stock and make it a pistol lower? I have a pistol tube ready to go with brace. Wasn't sure if this law changed with lowers no longer having to be marked "pistol only". I have tried finding reference to law unsuccessfully. Can anyone help? Thanks!
     
  2. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is illegal to convert a rifle into a pistol.
    There was never a law that said lowers must be engraved with "pistol".

    If the lower was never assembled into a rifle, as in, the lower was assembled but not mated to an upper, then it is legal to turn it into a pistol. So if this is a brand new lower "component", then convert away. But if it's a used lower, then it's a no go.
     
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  3. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Exactly.
     
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  4. munkel

    munkel PDX Active Member

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    Thanks, I think.... :D
     
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  5. Max713

    Max713 Albany Active Member

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    To expand on that even further, if the lower was sold as a "rifle", as in the dealer who transferred it to the new owner sold it under the "rifle" designation... The lower can never be made into a pistol, no matter if it has ever had a stock affixed or not.
    But in my opinion, who will ever know?? Although I would HIGHLY suggest not using a firearm with any doubt of legality in any type of defensive situation or purpose.
     
  6. etrain16

    etrain16 Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I did some research on this a little while ago. What I learned is that if the lower was not transferred as a 'rifle' on the paperwork and if the lower is built first as a pistol, then you could turn the lower into a rifle and back to a pistol again. If the lower is first built as a rifle, then it's stuck as a rifle from that point on. Make sense? Not to me either, but that's how it works. So, for me, any new lower will always be built first as a pistol, documented (photographed) for my own records (with a time/date stamp) and then I do what I want after that. It keeps with the letter of the law and it's easy insurance that you don't accidentally do something that could get you in trouble.

    But then again, as others have already noted, how is anyone really going to know how it was first built? If it wasn't transferred as a 'rifle' in the first place, I think it would be hard to prove one way or another.

    I came across this explanation on a website that I think summed it up nicely:

    Once a Rifle, Always a Rifle
    The BATFE has made it very clear that once a receiver is built into a rifle, whether by a factory or by you, it is always a rifle and converting it to a pistol is illegal. However, it is perfectly legal to build the receiver into a pistol first and then convert it to a rifle. If the receiver is built into a pistol first, you can configure it back and forth from handgun to rifle and back again as much as you want. However, you must be vigilant to ensure that a shorter than 16″ barrel is never on the receiver at the same time as a stock.

    The proper order for converting an AR pistol to a rifle is to remove the short barrel (usually done by removing the entire upper receiver group), installed the 16″+ barrel (usually done by installing an entire upper receiver group), and then installing the stock. I repeat, the stock and short barrel must never be on the receiver at the same time or you will have created an illegal short barreled rifle (SBR).

    The proper order for converting a rifle BACK to an AR pistol is to remove the stock, remove the 16″+ barrel, and finally install the <16″ barrel.

    There is some wisdom in building every AR-15 lower receiver that you purchase into a pistol first. That way you have the maximum versatility should you want to convert it to a pistol later.


    Source: http://jerkingthetrigger.com/2013/11/20/ar-15-pistols-clearing-up-some-misconceptions/

    And he cites this ATF document for his answer: https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/2...red-rifles-rifles-configured-pistols/download
     
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  7. coop44

    coop44 Tacoma ,WA Well-Known Member

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    basically the same issue came up with the TC/Contender years ago. just gotta be careful with what parts are installed first when converting from a pistol to a rifle, you don't want to even briefly have an undocumented sbr.
     
  8. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    It makes my head hurt just reading all this.
     
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  9. 2A2Dend

    2A2Dend .. Well-Known Member

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    You're not alone.
    I've researched the topic in the past. IIRC, scenarios as the original poster above. What seemed a simple question (to me) was answered within half dozen replies. As the topic continued on, the more confused I was.

    Etrain puts it out just as written (see PDF) by the BATF, and it's still afoul.

    This is a catchy I came up with now.
    A pistol is a pistol, or a rifle, one of two.
    A rifle is a rifle, not a pistol, shame on you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
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  10. Garg

    Garg east of portland metro Hold my beer..... watch this Bronze Supporter

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    I have been doing this for sometime now. have a pistol tube, and upper, just for that purpose. Install the tube, then the upper, photograph, which gets a date/time stamp, and then build it up into whatever I want, without fear of later, making it into a pistol illegally. Note: Also important to buy the stripped lower as an other.
     
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  11. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    A stripped lower is ALWAYS an other/component on the 4473. Despite that there are FFLs that will document them as pistols or rifles.
     
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  12. Norm0931

    Norm0931 Hillsboro, OR Sgt. Sheep Silver Vendor 2016 Volunteer

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    You can't go back. If it's EVER a rifle, it's ALWAYS a rifle.
     
  13. SCARed

    SCARed Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    No. If it started as a pistol, it can be configured as a rifle and be changed back to a pistol. The Thompson Contender lawsuit eliminated any ambiguity in that.
     
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  14. etrain16

    etrain16 Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I'm always open to correction, especially when it comes to the ATF, but as I read the excerpt below, so long as the gun was not originally assembled as a rifle specifically, you can go back and forth. But then, I'm no expert, but I have tried to do some diligence in researching this topic:

    Therefore, so long as a parts kit or collection of parts is not used to make a firearm regulated under the NFA (e.g., a short-barreled rifle or “any other weapon” as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(e)), no NFA firearm is made when the same parts are assembled or re- assembled in a configuration not regulated under the NFA (e.g., a pistol, or a rifle with a barrel of 16 inches or more in length). Merely assembling and disassembling such a rifle does not result in the making of a new weapon; rather, it is the same rifle in a knockdown condition (i.e., complete as to all component parts). Likewise, because it is the same weapon when reconfigured as a pistol, no “weapon made from a rifle” subject to the NFA has been made.

    Nonetheless, if a handgun or other weapon with an overall length of less than 26 inches, or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length is assembled or otherwise produced from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle, such a weapon is a “weapon made from a rifle” as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(4). Such a weapon would not be a “pistol” because the weapon was not originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by one hand.


    Source of this is linked in my post above.
     
  15. Norm0931

    Norm0931 Hillsboro, OR Sgt. Sheep Silver Vendor 2016 Volunteer

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    Just read the decision. Interesting ruling.

    Nope, you are correct Etrain, mostly. It seems the ATF does get more leeway on machine guns, some AOWs, and 922 (import) items. For ARs you are correct though.

    Official ATF statement from 2011, https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/2...red-rifles-rifles-configured-pistols/download

    A firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(3) and (a)(4), is not made when parts within a kit that were originally designed to be configured as both a pistol and a rifle are assembled or re-assembled in a configuration not regulated under the NFA (e.g., as a pistol, or a rifle with a barrel or barrels of 16 inches or more in length). A firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(3) and (a)(4), is not made when a pistol is attached to a part or parts designed to convert the pistol into a rifle with a barrel or barrels of 16 inches or more in length, and the parts are later unassembled in a configuration not regulated under the NFA (e.g., as a pistol).
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016