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View Full Version : Is it legal to change barrels??


happy_gunner
04-26-2009, 10:13 PM
I've been eyeballing a rimfire semi auto pistol that shoots .22WMR which is on the drop list, but I actually want to have is the same pistol in .17HMR and of course it's not on the drop list. If I get this pistol, would it be illegal to do the conversion to a .17HMR??? Thanks for the help guys.

kermit315
04-26-2009, 10:17 PM
no, caliber conversion after you buy it is fine. there are lots of people that buy .40 caliber guns and switch between 9mm, .40 and .357 sig.

your fine, have fun shooting.

Matt C
04-26-2009, 10:20 PM
You are may be manufacturing an unsafe handgun, but I know of zero prosecutions for it and I don't think it will ever happen except as a tacked on charge if you get in trouble for something else.

kermit315
04-26-2009, 10:38 PM
according to an old post by bill, he should be clear, since he is starting with a frame that passed the safety tests' and is on the list.

I dont think 12125 comes into play unless he mills it from scratch/80% receiver.

Has this line of thought changed?

Link to the post I am talking about (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=19257)

CalNRA
04-26-2009, 10:41 PM
that would be as illegal as putting on a 22 conversion kit for a 1911, which is none. As long as the barrel is not "threaded" and all that junk.:thumbsup:

Matt C
04-26-2009, 10:50 PM
according to an old post by bill, he should be clear, since he is starting with a frame that passed the safety tests' and is on the list.

A "Frame" cannot pass the safety tests

I dont think 12125 comes into play unless he mills it from scratch/80% receiver.
Has this line of thought changed?
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It's subject to debate since the law is apparently unclear (although it reads pretty clear to me) and it has never been addressed by an appeals court.

12125. (a) Commencing January 1, 2001, any person in this state who manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state for sale, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, gives, or lends
any unsafe handgun shall be punished by imprisonment in a county
jail not exceeding one year

Since "manufacture" is not one of terms defined in this section I would assume that they are using the dictionary definition, but other people are of the opinion that is a term of art which can only apply to persons who hold a manufacturing license. Until it is addressed by an appeals court, the matter will remain unresolved. It has also been extensively discussed in the NERF thread, I repeat myself here not to restart that argument but simply because that thread is 1000 pages long and I don't want to make anyone go read the whole thing.

happy_gunner
04-26-2009, 11:17 PM
sounds very good, thanks for the info guys:thumbsup:

grahlaika
04-26-2009, 11:37 PM
Since "manufacture" is not one of terms defined in this section I would assume that they are using the dictionary definition, but other people are of the opinion that is a term of art which can only apply to persons who hold a manufacturing license.

I would also think it's reasonable to assume 'manufacture' involves some sort of tooling required in the process. While unscrewing an old barrel and screwing a new one in would be considered manufacture because it involves tooling, simply changing drop-in pistol barrels for a new caliber would require no tooling, so it wouldn't be 'manufacturing' in my mind, simply an adaptation or a modification. Splitting hairs or course, but in my opinion it's an important distinction.

CalNRA
04-27-2009, 2:19 AM
don't forget that there was a recent BFTAE memo/ruling regarding "manufacturing" which indicated that installing parts that are designed to fit a gun is not considered manufacturing. I don't have the link on hand but that's the short of it(I think). Someone please correct me if I remembered wrong. But I ain't gonna argue with the Feds:thumbsup:

pullnshoot25
04-27-2009, 8:18 AM
Here is a big question and a member on here posed it to me at the last OC gathering...

Say you have a Sig with a .40S&W and .357SIG barrels, but the gun on your CCW permit states the Sig, the serial number and the .40S&W designation. The question is if it is legal to CC the Sig in .357Sig configuration, given that the gun maintains the same serial number in all instances.

kermit315
04-27-2009, 7:23 PM
A "Frame" cannot pass the safety tests

But in this instance, the frame starts as a whole gun that is on the list, it is only later modified to a different caliber.

pullnshoot, I dont know on the caliber change, but I dont know that I would risk it. If you are lucky enough to be able to get a CCW, you might be able to get them to list multi for the caliber, since it is interchangeable.

slappomatt
04-27-2009, 7:27 PM
Here we go yet again. people on calguns making up laws that don't exsist. Put whatever barrel you want on it.

kermit315
04-27-2009, 7:36 PM
really. So, which law did we make up?

jimh
04-27-2009, 7:45 PM
If you change the barrel you need to get the new caliber added to the permit. In some counties that means qualifying with it as if it is a new gun...

If you are lucky they will write the permit as one gun with two calibers..

Matt C
04-27-2009, 10:10 PM
I would also think it's reasonable to assume 'manufacture' involves some sort of tooling required in the process. While unscrewing an old barrel and screwing a new one in would be considered manufacture because it involves tooling, simply changing drop-in pistol barrels for a new caliber would require no tooling, so it wouldn't be 'manufacturing' in my mind, simply an adaptation or a modification. Splitting hairs or course, but in my opinion it's an important distinction.

So I guess I can't manufacture a large capacity magazine? Just putting parts together.

don't forget that there was a recent BFTAE memo/ruling regarding "manufacturing" which indicated that installing parts that are designed to fit a gun is not considered manufacturing. I don't have the link on hand but that's the short of it(I think). Someone please correct me if I remembered wrong. But I ain't gonna argue with the Feds:thumbsup:

So you sure you can't manufacture a machine gun? In any case this is state law.

CalNRA
04-27-2009, 10:55 PM
So you sure you can't manufacture a machine gun? In any case this is state law.

possession of dedicated full auto parts is already a federal offense, ain't it?

Matt C
04-27-2009, 11:00 PM
possession of dedicated full auto parts is already a federal offense, ain't it?

Yup. Things like shoelaces tied a certain way. Can't manufacture those either right? And again it is a red herring argument that does not matter, fed and state law are two different animals. A better argument would be other areas of the state penal code relating to firearms that tend to imply that manufacture refers to something done by a licensed manufacturer. It still does not make the definition of manufacture in this section crystal clear.

But like they say, it's only a misdemeanor, and you probably won't get prosecuted. :rolleyes:

FortCourageArmory
04-28-2009, 9:31 AM
Changing a barrel is "manufacturing " about as much as giving someone asprin is practicing medicine.

With large capacity magazine parts kits, you have to start and end with the same number. If you have 5 now and you buy 5 parts kits and then suddenly come up with ten tomorrow....well, it's illegal and we all know it. That's an apples and oranges comparison using hi-cap mags.

Go ahead and change the barrel on your gun.

Matt C
04-28-2009, 9:41 AM
With large capacity magazine parts kits, you have to start and end with the same number. If you have 5 now and you buy 5 parts kits and then suddenly come up with ten tomorrow....well, it's illegal and we all know it.

Right, because you manufactured a large capacity magazine. If you modify a 10 rounds magazine to accept 11 rounds it is the same thing.

Question, how many unsafe handguns did you start with?

demnogis
04-28-2009, 10:34 AM
For the "manufacturing" aspect of swapping parts.

I think of it in this sense:

When replacing parts on your car, are you manufacturing or causing to manufacture your car?

No. You're replacing parts.

Unless of course You're working in your machine shop, cutting new parts on your mill or CNCing new parts in your garage. Manufacturing usually means from raw materials to end product. Not end product replacement.

Matt C
04-28-2009, 10:40 AM
When replacing parts on your car, are you manufacturing or causing to manufacture your car?

No. You're replacing parts.


Right, because your car was just a car before you started working on it and was still just a car when you were done. In this case you are taking a gun that is "safe" and turning into something that did not previously exist, an "unsafe handgun".

The legal properties of the gun actually change. For example, if you move out of state and sold the gun, and the buyer tried to sell it to someone in CA (say over gunbroker), he could not, because the gun in that configuration is not on the safe list.

You can think of it in whatever sense you want, I'm playing just devils playing devils advocate here because I know the law is not as clear on this (and NERFs) as some here would have you believe. All that really matters is what sense a DA and eventually a jury of your "peers" will see it in. If you can afford to go all the way with an appeal than please disregard this, you can go ahead and make the case law for the rest of us.

zatoh
04-28-2009, 10:49 AM
Yeah, I guess 99% of us would be guilty of "manufacturing" b/c adding or changing grips, sights, springs etc alter significantly the appearance or functionality of the gun.

DOJ memo anyone? Who is responsible for defining "manufacturing"?

RomanDad
04-28-2009, 10:57 AM
I believe BATF recently released an opinion on the definition of "Manufacturing" with regards to drop in parts that require no tooling. Should be easy to look up.

Matt C
04-28-2009, 11:09 AM
I believe BATF recently released an opinion on the definition of "Manufacturing" with regards to drop in parts that require no tooling.

It's a separate issue. The legal status of the gun does not change by virtue of the drop in parts added, regardless of the licensing status of the person making the modifications. Thus the question on the federal level is "Did the person manufacture the same gun with the same legal properties as was already manufactured by another manufacturer simply by adding drop in parts?". The answer to that should obviously be NO.

Here we are talking about the manufacturer of an "unsafe handgun" where there was no unsafe handgun manufactured by anyone until the parts were added, at which time the unsafe handgun came to be. Was it manufactured? It's not clear.

bwiese
04-28-2009, 12:29 PM
Folks,

Please feel safe to change a barrel to another length or another caliber (as long as such bbl does not result in a separate illegal configuration (threaded bbl on pistol, unrifled or shotgun-shell-capable bbl on pistol, etc.)