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View Full Version : At what point does a receiver become a rifle?


timdps
12-17-2009, 9:09 PM
When building a rifle starting with a bare receiver, at what point does it legally become a rifle? Obviously the stock has to be mounted, so it becomes a rifle when the stock is mounted? When adding the barrel, trigger group and bolt, somewhere along the way it becomes a rifle as opposed to bunch of parts...

Tim

elrcastor
12-18-2009, 7:01 AM
Well, in CA it's probably when it gets DROS'ed because there is no "other" choice in DROS, it's only handgun or longgun.

QuarterBoreGunner
12-18-2009, 9:22 AM
As soon as it's marked 'rifle' on the DROS, even if it's a bare stripped receiver. At that moment... it's a rifle.

Sgt Raven
12-18-2009, 10:10 AM
As soon as it's marked 'rifle' on the DROS, even if it's a bare stripped receiver. At that moment... it's a rifle.

Depends if you're talking state or federal law. A stripped receiver on a 4473 is an 'other'. :rolleyes:

dustoff31
12-18-2009, 10:23 AM
Depends if you're talking state or federal law. A stripped receiver on a 4473 is an 'other'. :rolleyes:

Yes, in fact wasn't there a thread fairly recently about how at least one of the FFLs, 10% I think, was told by BATF that stripped receivers did not become rifles until a barrel was attached? And that the fact that a buttstock was attached (w/o a barrel) didn't matter?

lorax3
12-18-2009, 10:37 AM
As soon as it's marked 'rifle' on the DROS, even if it's a bare stripped receiver. At that moment... it's a rifle.

TBH, I do not if we know this for sure. I would say stripped receiver that has gone though the DROS process as a 'long gun' may no longer be pistol eligible, but would not truly be a rifle until a shoulder stock is attached.

I will still say it is not technically a rifle until a buttstock is attached, but it would not be wise to play games with a long gun DROS'ed receiver and banned features with a detachable magazines as it is not a 'rifle'. Same logic goes for pistol configurations.

I brought this up in another thread, but let us say that a stripped receiver is accidentally marked 'rifle' on the 4473. Can this receiver be still built into a pistol even though it has never had a shoulder stock attached? (This question assumes there is no DROS process, as in other states)

Does the ATF say it is a rifle only if it had a shoulder stock? Or if it was 4473'ed as a rifle even if it never had a stock?

I ask as this bring up the question of wether or not paperwork alone can change the type of weapon it is.

stripped receivers did not become rifles until a barrel was attached? And that the fact that a buttstock was attached (w/o a barrel) didn't matter?

Although I'm sure that is what the ATF agent told Wes, I really doubt that is the case.The ATF is basically saying something with a butt-stock and no barrel is not a rifle. Which lets you really some interesting games.

Until there is an ATF letter on that, I will assume a buttstock equates to rifle, at least on a federal level once again ignoring the CA DROS options.

Greg-Dawg
12-18-2009, 10:38 AM
A complete rifle.

Quiet
12-18-2009, 6:40 PM
A reciever needs a shoulder stock, the ability to expel a single projectile through the use of energy from an explosive and a rifled barrel to be considered a "rifle".


18 USC 921
(a) As used in this chapter—
(7) The term “rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

Penal Code 12020
(c)(20) As used in this section, a "rifle" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

Rob454
12-18-2009, 7:15 PM
When it becomes a piece of metal that is READY to accept any parts to make it into a working weapon. its also the ONLY part of weapon rifle that is considered the weapon
barrel trigger slide firing pin hand guard etc are all parts

ke6guj
12-18-2009, 7:31 PM
When it becomes a piece of metal that is READY to accept any parts to make it into a working weapon. its also the ONLY part of weapon rifle that is considered the weapon
barrel trigger slide firing pin hand guard etc are all partsthat is when it becomes a "firearm", but its type of firearm is not determined untill it is assembled as such.

lorax3
12-18-2009, 7:49 PM
I was talking to Grammaton76 about it and he seemed to notice that the ATF's stance on this was due mostly to drawing the line between a rifle and a pistol.
i.e. rifle = buttstock, makes it easy.

AFAIK the current ATF stance is once it has a stock, even without a barrel it is a rifle.

So the current stance would dictate that if I had a complete lower with an already attached shoulder stock and I removed the stock and attached a barrel less than 16" it would be an SBR.

Although the law seems to say it requires a rifled bore. Unless one wants to make the 'intended to be designed' argument.

Wes' Agent stance says that I can make a complete lower that already had a shoulder stock into a pistol. As it was never actually a rifle.

The above issue assumes items were 4473'ed as other and there was no CA DROS process.

I am really interested in things like this. Thinking about writing a letter to the ATF and DOJ containing some clarifying 'what makes a rifle' questions. I dislike the fact there are conflicting reports.

Any one have ideas? I know some of you others are up for this too. It will definitely help clarify some AR pistol stuff.

QuarterBoreGunner
12-18-2009, 7:50 PM
Ah ratz... I'm so used to thinking short term (CA state law) as opposed to long term (US code) that I do believe I am mistaken.

tenpercentfirearms
12-18-2009, 7:51 PM
Initially they stated juts a buttstock, but in the code reference above, you will not it mentions a barrel. It must have a buttstock and a barrel to be a rifle. Until then, it is still other.

lorax3
12-18-2009, 7:55 PM
Initially they stated juts a buttstock, but in the code reference above, you will not it mentions a barrel. It must have a buttstock and a barrel to be a rifle. Until then, it is still other.

So you are saying I can take a complete lower with a shoulder stock, remove the stock and attach a pistol upper and not have an SBR on a federal level? I had always read otherwise

Cokebottle
12-18-2009, 8:02 PM
Riddle me this Batman...


I have a stripped Calguns lower in jail. Of course, it is DROS'd as a long gun.
If I pick it up and do nothing with it, then move out of state, the ATF still considers it "other" and Kommiefornia no longer has any input as to it's status.

So I then, as a resident of NewTexarkomazona, I assemble that receiver as a BATF-legal pistol.


What happens if I return to California?
It is technically still a rifle, and thus, a SBR in California, BUT, the DOJ doesn't maintain records of long guns, so it would not be likely they would know, but a dealer audit could put it on their radar.
Also, since NewTexarkomazona and the BATF don't have any kind of handgun registration, I have no way to prove that my "other" didn't become a pistol (or SBR) until after I originally left California... or that I assembled the pistol while a resident of NewTexarkomazona.

Scary.

lorax3
12-19-2009, 1:07 PM
I'm going to bump this as I think it's important.
It seems there is a diving line on 'what makes a rifle'.

Title 18 and some members claim it needs a rifled bore to become a rifle.

All the ATF literature i've read to this point partially suggests otherwise. That only a shoulder stock is required.

Again I will reiterate a scenario. Option one says a complete lower without an upper ever attached can be made into an AR pistol by removing stock and attaching a pistol upper without worry of federal SBR laws. This would not be an SBR because option one claims since it was never a rifle, it cannot be a short-barreled rifle.

Option 2 says once the stock is attached it becomes a rifle. Once a rifle, always a rifle. So if you were to remove the stock and attach an barrel less than 16" it would indeed be an SBR.

Anyone have more thought on this? Even though CA DROS may make this irrelevant anyway, I would like to know for the sake of knowledge.

dustoff31
12-19-2009, 2:31 PM
Anyone have more thought on this? Even though CA DROS may make this irrelevant anyway, I would like to know for the sake of knowledge.


FWIW, I was visiting a local gunshop here in AZ this morning and mentioned the stripped receiver issue to the owner.

He said he just finished a five day "visit" from BATFE, and the agent told him the same thing that Wes was told regarding bare receivers. It must have a barrel and a stock to be a rifle.

Roy (the FFL) pointed to an open letter to FFLs dated July 2009 on the subject which only mentions buttstocks. The agent told him "we know that, a new letter will be issued shortly."

Not trying to spread BS, this is just what the guy told me. I've known him for a long time, he's not the type to spread BS.

lorax3
12-21-2009, 2:16 PM
FWIW, I was visiting a local gunshop here in AZ this morning and mentioned the stripped receiver issue to the owner.


Good to have more reports from out of state FFL's. I wonder if this is truly the new ruling.

Anyone have a letter on this? I posted a similar thread on ARFCOM to see if some more out of state FFL's could input.

tenpercentfirearms
12-21-2009, 5:16 PM
So you are saying I can take a complete lower with a shoulder stock, remove the stock and attach a pistol upper and not have an SBR on a federal level? I had always read otherwise

I am not familar with federal laws regarding how a rifle can become a pistol. According to the fairly clear code above18 USC 921
(a) As used in this chapter—
(7) The term “rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.a rifle is only a rifle when it is fired from the shoulder (has a buttstock) and has a rifle bore. So a complete lower receiver that was initially not a rifle, would still not be a rifle. It would still be other. Whether you can turn it into a pistol and not have an SBR on your hands is over my current level of understanding.

I would not use a previous ATF letter as a basis for a lower with a buttstock being a rifle as the USC is fairly clear that it must fire a projectile through a rifled bore, something a complete lower cannot do.

lorax3
12-21-2009, 9:13 PM
So a complete lower receiver that was initially not a rifle, would still not be a rifle. It would still be other. Whether you can turn it into a pistol and not have an SBR on your hands is over my current level of understanding.

Right, that is what I want to find out on this quest.


I would not use a previous ATF letter as a basis for a lower with a buttstock being a rifle as the USC is fairly clear that it must fire a projectile through a rifled bore, something a complete lower cannot do.

The USC has said that for a while, and for the longest time the ATF drew their own definition probably based on a line to differentiate from rifles and pistols. If they are going off what the Title 18 definition actually says now, then that would be a change from what they have said in the past. This of course is totally possible.

Some days 'sporting' means one thing, the next day it means another.