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View Full Version : Pistol to Rifle Conversions and SBR Law?


JeffM
09-08-2008, 1:11 AM
As a cheap son-of-a-gun(:)) I like the idea of modularity. Two guns for the price of one.

In US v. Thompson/Center (http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-0164.ZO.html) it was made clear that having the parts to make a pistol into a rifle, as long as you are able to assemble the parts into a legal configuration, is not considered to fall under constructive possession.

In my search for the answer to my original question (which I've long forgotten), I've seen quoted, but not cited as law, that the parts must be able to be "readily assembled". I'm not sure if this is fact or fiction. If anyone has links to the quote, or a legal definition of "readily assembled" as it applies to this case, I would appreciate it.

Hypothetical situations that this could fall under:

1. Owning an AR pistol, as well as a separate stock/hardware, but only a stripped rifle barrel. One could theoretically remove the pistol barrel from the upper (lets say it's 14.5" so that all the other parts are interchangeable) and install the 16" barrel with no other parts needed. Installing the rifle barrel of course would come before attaching the stock to the lower receiver. Is it an SBR?

2. Owning an AK pistol, but made with a rifle rear trunnion rather than a pistol trunnion, as well as a separate stock/hardware, and also possessing a rifle length front end assembly. One could theoretically push out the barrel pin, remove the pistol barrel assembly, and install the rifle barrel assembly before attaching the stock. Is it an SBR?

3. Owning any pistol (Glocks and 1911s come to mind as I have seen 16" barrels and stocks advertised for both) as well as a rifle length barrel and stock. However there are some barrels that are not "drop-in" but require fitting. If the rifle length barrel does not drop in, is it an SBR?

The above cases are assumed to be in compliance with the CA AWB.

Obviously this is pushing it, so simple "I wouldn't do that" posts are not helpful. All of the above cases are not meant to depict any factual circumstance, but all the AR/AK pistol threads lately have me thinking about where the line is drawn.

NeoWeird
09-08-2008, 1:27 AM
Going from pistol to rifle is fine and legal as long as the barrel is extended to 16"+ first and THEN the stock removed. Likewise, going back to to pistol, the stock must be removed prior to the barrel being changed back to the shorter barrel.

You could then have a Thompson style pistol with a 16" barrel and have the removable stock as once the stock is removed it falls into the pistol category but once the stock is added it falls into rifle category.

California has it's own other items to worry about. Specifically such laws as if you turn a 1911 into a carbine you've created an assault weapon as it now a centerfire semi-auto rifle with a pistol grip and removable magazine.

It won't be an SBR as long as the stock is NEVER on the firearm with a barrel of less than 16" or less. The pistol can have any length barrel you want, so the stock is the real key - it can ONLY go on once the barrel is 16" or more and that is permanent length; you can't just screw on a 10" muzzle attachment and think you're done.

This is perfectly legal and is one of the selling points of the Encore pistol/rifle system.

aplinker
09-08-2008, 11:33 AM
I wouldn't put a rifle trunnion on an AK pistol or a carbine buffer tube bare on an AR.

That's above my threshold.

You're in the zone where I wouldn't act without direct OKs from the Feds.

trinydex
09-08-2008, 12:48 PM
if you put a stock onto a pistol lower does it become a rifle lower for life?

when people say you can make a pistol into a rifle but never a rifle into a pistol do they mean for that lower too or is that only in reference to cutting down barrels?

aplinker
09-08-2008, 12:59 PM
if you put a stock onto a pistol lower does it become a rifle lower for life?

when people say you can make a pistol into a rifle but never a rifle into a pistol do they mean for that lower too or is that only in reference to cutting down barrels?

No.

Pistol or rifle is defined at the moment of DROS (for new) and from its original use if old.

Once it's a pistol it can be converted to a (legal configuration - non-SBR) rifle, but a rifle cannot be converted to a pistol.

technique
09-08-2008, 1:20 PM
No.

Pistol or rifle is defined at the moment of DROS (for new) and from its original use if old.

Once it's a pistol it can be converted to a (legal configuration - non-SBR) rifle, but a rifle cannot be converted to a pistol.

Really? I don't know if I agree with that. Your saying that I can walk into a shop that stocks lowers and ask them to run it as a single shot pistol instead of a rifle? This is what I'm interpreting from your statement in bold.

I thought it was how it was noted at and by the manufacturer. Not by the shop selling it. I thought it is based on how it was "booked" by manufacturer.

Please do elaborate:)!

trinydex
09-08-2008, 1:28 PM
Really? I don't know if I agree with that. Your saying that I can walk into a shop that stocks lowers and ask them to run it as a single shot pistol instead of a rifle? This is what I'm interpreting from your statement in bold.

i thought the same

JeffM
09-08-2008, 4:45 PM
it could be turned into an aow also right?that gives you the ability to shoot it like a pistol but fold out the stock when you want.i know an aow is like a glock with a forward pistol grip but does aow include rifles with less than overall length?sometimes you have to sbr and aow a firearm to get it like you want it and sometimes you only have to sbr it right?

AOW = Pistol with a forward hand grip, pistol-grip only shotgun w/short barrel etc. Requires a $5 tax stamp from the feds to transfer ($200 to manufacture) and are CA legal.

As soon as you put a stock on a pistol (<16" barrel) or shotgun (<18" barrel) then you have a SBR or SBS. Require a $200 tax stamp from the feds and are only CA legal if they are C&R.

aplinker
09-08-2008, 8:52 PM
Yes, I am saying that. Assuming it's never been built into a rifle it's completely correct.

Those markings on ARs are completely meaningless - they're just there for "comfort level" - just like caliber markings.

Plenty of AR unmarked stripped lowers are sold as pistols in other states.

Really? I don't know if I agree with that. Your saying that I can walk into a shop that stocks lowers and ask them to run it as a single shot pistol instead of a rifle? This is what I'm interpreting from your statement in bold.

I thought it was how it was noted at and by the manufacturer. Not by the shop selling it. I thought it is based on how it was "booked" by manufacturer.

Please do elaborate:)!

technique
09-08-2008, 9:02 PM
Yes, I am saying that. Assuming it's never been built into a rifle it's completely correct.

Those markings on ARs are completely meaningless - they're just there for "comfort level" - just like caliber markings.

Plenty of AR unmarked stripped lowers are sold as pistols in other states.

Well, if that is the case the FFL that those lowers are shipped to needs to log those lowers into their bound books as such when the arrive in to that FFL. And not into the bound books as long guns. Thanks for the help. There seems to be a lot of conflicting advise about AR pistols. I have attempted to read every thread possible regarding the subject, and still I'm learning something new.

aplinker
09-08-2008, 9:33 PM
Well, if that is the case the FFL that those lowers are shipped to needs to log those lowers into their bound books as such when the arrive in to that FFL. And not into the bound books as long guns. Thanks for the help. There seems to be a lot of conflicting advise about AR pistols. I have attempted to read every thread possible regarding the subject, and still I'm learning something new.

Much of what is done, and should be done, is to err on the side of caution and minimal confusion. It's best to present the simplest version, which is: pistol marked lower, single shot complete pistol for DROS. ;)

JeffM
09-08-2008, 9:36 PM
Back on topic:

Even if they don't have comments about their interpretation of the law and what they would, or would not do, does anyone have court case, BATF memo, etc. that address how "readily" a pistol must accept a 16" barrel if it is almost immediately able to accept a rear stock, as in the examples above?

technique
09-08-2008, 9:51 PM
Here is a link to a post in the AR pistol pic thread. I'm not sure if this is of any help as it was a source for debate there.:)

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=1429159&postcount=56

JeffM
09-08-2008, 9:58 PM
Here is a link to a post in the AR pistol pic thread. I'm not sure if this is of any help as it was a source for debate there.:)

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=1429159&postcount=56

Thanks Technique. I hadn't read that letter yet.

Still looking for more info as well that addresses the US v. Thompson case regarding possession of a rifle barrel disqualifying the constructive possession rule.

technique
09-08-2008, 10:04 PM
No prob, Doubt it helped much, but 69Mach1 is a good member to start questioning about it...he is doing exactly what you are asking about. He may hold the answer your looking for.

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=1428360&postcount=53

JeffM
09-08-2008, 10:07 PM
No prob, Doubt it helped much, but 69Mach1 is a good member to start questioning about it...he is doing exactly what you are asking about. He may hold the answer your looking for.

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=1428360&postcount=53

That's similar to what I've thinking of, but I want to know if a stripped barrel, rather than a complete upper that simply drops in, is enough to pass muster.

Cali-V
09-08-2008, 10:07 PM
Today, I just got a Mech-Tech CCU for a 1911,
Before I mount my pistol frame to the CCU, I'll install a mag release lock...
It'll be fun...

http://www.pifusa.com/sales/images/My%20Guns/small%20photos/Mech%20Tech%201911%20Carbine%20mini.JPG

bohoki
09-08-2008, 10:19 PM
AOW = Pistol with a forward hand grip, pistol-grip only shotgun w/short barrel etc. Requires a $5 tax stamp from the feds to transfer ($200 to manufacture) and are CA legal.

As soon as you put a stock on a pistol (<16" barrel) or shotgun (<18" barrel) then you have a SBR or SBS. Require a $200 tax stamp from the feds and are only CA legal if they are C&R.

there is some weird scenarios i could bring up

first off a does a foward hand grip = second verticle pistol grip? or does it include a handguard or the front of a stock such as on a remington xp or the new ruger challenger also can the bipod be used as a verticle pistol grip? its easy and offers extra control to grab one of the legs

with the ar-7 it is illegal to install the barrel before the stock? you would think they would put a big notice on them about how you must attach the buttstock before the barrel otherwise you have a firearm under 26 oal

now when it comes to a shoulder stocked pistol

i see companys selling ar-pistols with a foamy pad on the rear tube it sure looks like it would be fairly comfy to fire with that on your shoulder is that a buttstock?

or is a buttstock only limited to that oval shape

what if you use a rifle buffer tube with no stock? is there a rule that you have to use the really short special pistol buffers?

if you use a rifle tube and wear a shotgun vest with shoulder pad does that make it a pistol with a stock?

Mssr. Eleganté
09-08-2008, 10:28 PM
Yes, I am saying that. Assuming it's never been built into a rifle it's completely correct.

Those markings on ARs are completely meaningless - they're just there for "comfort level" - just like caliber markings.

Plenty of AR unmarked stripped lowers are sold as pistols in other states.

Wait a minute. Firearms manufacturers pay a different Federal excise tax rate for handguns than they do for long guns. I thought that Licensed Manufacturers had to declare each firearm to be either a "PISTOL/REVOLVER" or a "LONG GUN" at time of manufacture so that the Feds could charge them the correct excise tax. And once the manufacturer says it is a long gun receiver then it is a long gun receiver forever.

Am I mistaken here?

motorhead
09-08-2008, 10:30 PM
constructive posession is like religion, you either believe in it or not.

technique
09-08-2008, 10:31 PM
Wait a minute. Firearms manufacturers pay a different Federal excise tax rate for handguns than they do for long guns. I thought that Licensed Manufacturers had to declare each firearm to be either a "PISTOL/REVOLVER" or a "LONG GUN" at time of manufacture so that the Feds could charge them the correct excise tax. And once the manufacturer says it is a long gun receiver then it is a long gun receiver forever.

Am I mistaken here?

:eek: Oh no!!!!! That is exactly what I thought....And I know a manufacturer:eek:

Mssr. Eleganté
09-08-2008, 10:36 PM
constructive posession is like religion, you either believe in it or not.

Constructive possession is like religion, but more like religion was 500 years ago. You either believe in it or not. And if your choice is "not" then you get burned at the stake. :p

dfletcher
09-08-2008, 10:49 PM
Just a few odds & ends, but so far as I know from reading the case, in US v T/C ATF took the position that once a handgun is configured as a rifle it can not subsequently be reconfigured as a handgun; ATF did not allow for a gun being readily convertible.

For example, if an XP100 handgun is taken to a gunsmith, a 16.5" bbl and stock added the gun can not later be reconfigured as a handgun. The same applies to a T/C Encore handgun - configure it as a rifle with a stock & 16.5" bbl and so far as ATF is concerned it must remain as a rifle. Again, this was my having read the case about 15 years ago, if ATF has abandoned this position I'd be grateful to know that. I have T/C handgun frames and frames that are dedicated as rifles only. As a practical matter, short of watching a gun owner do it in their presence, I can not imagine ATF making a case against someone unless they had only a rifle frame & handgun barrels.

Also, how a gun is DROS'd or written up on a 4473 does not determine whether the gun is a rifle or handgun - T/C makes their frames as handguns or rifles. However a rifle frame being sold a few times as a handgun might afford some protection to the present owner.

trinydex
09-08-2008, 11:06 PM
Well, if that is the case the FFL that those lowers are shipped to needs to log those lowers into their bound books as such when the arrive in to that FFL. And not into the bound books as long guns. Thanks for the help. There seems to be a lot of conflicting advise about AR pistols. I have attempted to read every thread possible regarding the subject, and still I'm learning something new.

so anyone in the bay area do that? IA?

technique
09-08-2008, 11:09 PM
SJGE I know will for sure if its a complete pistol. If you want call
(408) 265-GUNS ask for Mike S. aka younger Mike. Tell him technique sent you!

I still think you have to have the manuf. designate the lower as a pistol.

Edit, support Bay Area Gun Vault....in MT View, PM THE 0NE, tell him technique sent you.

trinydex
09-08-2008, 11:23 PM
thanks for the tips!

aplinker
09-08-2008, 11:51 PM
Wait a minute. Firearms manufacturers pay a different Federal excise tax rate for handguns than they do for long guns. I thought that Licensed Manufacturers had to declare each firearm to be either a "PISTOL/REVOLVER" or a "LONG GUN" at time of manufacture so that the Feds could charge them the correct excise tax. And once the manufacturer says it is a long gun receiver then it is a long gun receiver forever.

Am I mistaken here?

I can only give as much information as I do know... I don't know how receivers are struck by the ATF w.r.t. classification when they're made. I do know it doesn't matter until the moment they're either built (pre-sale) or sold as receivers, as it's common practice for people to buy/build pistols from non-marked receivers within shops out of CA.

Remember you're technically manufacturing the gun when you build up a receiver.

If we're going to continue discussing this I'd suggest we begin a new thread as it's really not relevant to the OP, and I'm also waiting for someone with letters and/or info regarding the ATFE OK'd permissives.

technique
09-08-2008, 11:57 PM
But the thing is...Pistols are registered on a Federal level. Even when home built.

bobfried
09-09-2008, 7:02 AM
I can only give as much information as I do know... I don't know how receivers are struck by the ATF w.r.t. classification when they're made. I do know it doesn't matter until the moment they're either built (pre-sale) or sold as receivers, as it's common practice for people to buy/build pistols from non-marked receivers within shops out of CA.

Remember you're technically manufacturing the gun when you build up a receiver.

If we're going to continue discussing this I'd suggest we begin a new thread as it's really not relevant to the OP, and I'm also waiting for someone with letters and/or info regarding the ATFE OK'd permissives.

I had a chat about this with Ameetec a few years back about this subject. Generally the lower must be marked Pistol but that is not strictly required, just a safety clause to protect the consumer later on. What is required however is that when any lower (stripped, complete, built into a firearm) is sold that it be recorded either as a rifle or a pistol.

When regular Joe buy's a stripped lower, he has to either buy it as a rifle or a pistol, no exception to this. If said Joe thinks he can build his stripped lower (bought as a rifle) into a Pistol, he will be spending some time at Club Fed. We're talking strict ATF rules here, not some vague CA DOJ misinformation.

And as stated before, once you built a pistol into a rifle there's no going back. This is due to the constructive possession that ATF can apply to anyone. Essentially, if you HAD a pistol lower but built it into a rifle, than decide to go back, at some point in the conversion process you will have parts for a rifle sitting next to the pistol to be converted back. By having those parts you are in violation of SBR laws. The threshold of proof is very narrow since you would have an upper with a barrel of less than 16" and the lower (now a rifle) would have to be re-registered with the ATF as a pistol. ATF however, will not accept your application to convert your newly built rifle back into a pistol, so you have now manufactured an SBR no matter your intent.

To sum it up:

1) Any firearm has to be sold by an FFL (an 07 type) as either a pistol or a rifle (stripped, complete, fully built) must be logged as such when sold, no exception.

2) You can convert a pistol into a rifle, going back is where it get's dicey. You certainly can but doing so is at your own risk and it's off to Leavenworth with you if ATF decides to pursue the matter.