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View Full Version : Legal length or definition of a "finger stop"?


ENTHUSIAST
01-23-2011, 9:32 PM
What makes a "Finger Stop" for an AR/Ak pistol unique and different from a "Forward Grip"?

Is there a PC or ATF letter that gives specifics on a maximum size or length as to NOT be mistaken for a "Forward Grip"?

I am NOT asking about a Magpul gizmo being good to go.

My question is specifcally related to making a home made finger stop and what guidelines to go by dimension wise?

Thanks

CaliB&R
01-23-2011, 10:43 PM
IANAL, but if you can't grap it with your hand you should be ok. So I'd assume (dangerous thing todo) that 1" should be a safe size.

wash
01-24-2011, 7:25 AM
I've been told that the Ergo hand stop could make a pistol an AOW. It's not very big. Tread lightly here.

ke6guj
01-24-2011, 10:33 AM
I've never seen any ATF letter that describes what dimensions of the forward item would make the handgun a firearm "designed to be fired with two hands". We know that they consider a standard VFG to be large enough to make an AOW. We also know that they don't consider that a Magpul AFG would make an AOW.

wash
01-24-2011, 10:42 AM
Is "designed to be fired with two hands" the criteria for an AOW? That doesn't sound right.

I was planning to do something on an AR pistol that's not a VFG but would enhance the grip on the hand guard (think three point sling but not like a MAC 10 strap). The hand stop was plan A but that got shot down. I want to make sure plan B is legal.

ke6guj
01-24-2011, 11:01 AM
here is the definition of AOW:

479.11 Meaning of terms.
Any other weapon. Any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

what that means is that basically all firearms that are less than 26" OAL (26" is the cut-off of "concealable firearm") that don't have a shoulder stock are considered to be an AOW. The definition then exempts pistols and revolvers from the AOW classification.

So then you have to look up the defiintion of pistol and you find this:

478.11 Meaning of terms.
Pistol. A weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having (a) a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s); and (b) a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Revolver. A projectile weapon, of the pistol type, having a breechloading chambered cylinder so arranged that the cocking of the hammer or movement of the trigger rotates it and brings the next cartridge in line with the barrel for firing.

so, what ATF has done is decided that a pistol that has a VFG is not a pistol anymore since, if it is designed to be gripped with two hands, it doesn't meet the defintion of a pistol. If it isn't a pistol, then it doesn't fall under the pistol exemption to the AOW defintion, and is therefore an AOW.

the point in which it is determined that it is no longer designed to be gripped with one hand is the issue.

the fact that a standard AR-pistol has a large gripping surface up front doesn't matter. The fact that many other "target-type" handguns have a forearm under the barrel that can be held onto doesn't matter.

wash
01-24-2011, 11:20 AM
Thanks, I think plan B will be OK.

ENTHUSIAST
01-24-2011, 12:47 PM
I've never seen any ATF letter that describes what dimensions of the forward item would make the handgun a firearm "designed to be fired with two hands". We know that they consider a standard VFG to be large enough to make an AOW. We also know that they don't consider that a Magpul AFG would make an AOW.

So any "Hand Stop" shorter than the front stop of a Magpul AFG should be without controversy does that sound correct... or is it more of a "do you wanna be the test case" type thing? :confused:

http://www.airsplat.com/Images/MAGPUL-AFG-AK2.Jpg
Can someone measure this here? ^

Is there any documantation on Magpul's AFG being declared as a NON-VFG?

ke6guj
01-24-2011, 12:57 PM
So any "Hand Stop" shorter than the front stop of a Magpul AFG should be without controversy does that sound correct... or is it more of a "do you wanna be the test case" type thing? :confused: try it and potentially become a test case, or write to ATF and get a ruling to determine if it would make it an AOW or not.

Is there any documantation on Magul's AFG being declared as a NON-VFG?

yes, there is an ATF letter that says that an AFG on an AR-pistol does not make an AOW.

ENTHUSIAST
01-24-2011, 1:01 PM
yes, there is an ATF letter that says that an AFG on an AR-pistol does not make an AOW.

Link please? Thank You sir. :)

ENTHUSIAST
01-24-2011, 1:05 PM
One last question what is the address where you send corresponce to get answers back from the ATF?

ke6guj
01-24-2011, 1:16 PM
One last question what is the address where you send corresponce to get answers back from the ATF?basically, if you send a letter to ATF asking about something, they will forward it to the correct dept. In the case of this letter, it was forwarded to the Firearms Technology Branch, which is in charge or determining classifications of firearms.

the direct address to the FTB is:

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Firearms Technology Branch
244 Needy Road
Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405 USA

be aware that the FTB is running around 2 months or so to get a response back.

yellowfin
01-24-2011, 2:25 PM
Finger stop: when a cop pulls you over for flicking them off.

Fate
01-24-2011, 4:57 PM
yes, there is an ATF letter that says that an AFG on an AR-pistol does not make an AOW.

That's FEDERAL. We don't have a ruling from the CA DOJ on the AFG. But as documented in several other massive posts by me, the fact that it's called a grip and has the potential to be grasped like one makes it less than settled.

In those same threads, I documented the CA Penal Code that covers exceptions to the definition of a FPG (handstops, bipods, monopods, light or sling mounts).
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=3777402&postcount=48
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=4636318&postcount=58
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=5192846&postcount=6

As to the OP's question, I would think if your homemade handstop resembles any of the commercially available versions, you're good to go (for compliance with CA law). Just never call it a grip ;)

ke6guj
01-24-2011, 5:15 PM
That's FEDERAL. We don't have a ruling from the CA DOJ on the AFG. But as documented in several other massive posts by me, the fact that it's called a grip and has the potential to be grasped like one makes it less than settled.

In those same threads, I documented the CA Penal Code that covers exceptions to the definition of a FPG (handstops, bipods, monopods, light or sling mounts).
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=3777402&postcount=48
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=4636318&postcount=58
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showpost.php?p=5192846&postcount=6

As to the OP's question, I would think if your homemade handstop resembles any of the commercially available versions, you're good to go (for compliance with CA law). Just never call it a grip ;)

correct, that is federal. But with regards to pistols like an AR-pistol, which already have a maglock, it doesn't matter what CADOJ thinks about it. Now, if you wanted to put one on a non-maglocked semi-auto pistol or on a featureless rifle, then CADOJ's position does matter if they would consider it an "evil" feature.

wash
01-24-2011, 5:21 PM
I would think if your homemade handstop resembles any of the commercially available versions, you're good to go (for compliance with CA law). Just never call it a grip ;)
Unless it looks like the Ergo brand hand stop which I was told is too close to a VFG.

I might send a letter to ATF to see.

Fate
01-24-2011, 8:39 PM
correct, that is federal. But with regards to pistols like an AR-pistol, which already have a maglock, it doesn't matter what CADOJ thinks about it. Now, if you wanted to put one on a non-maglocked semi-auto pistol or on a featureless rifle, then CADOJ's position does matter if they would consider it an "evil" feature.
You're absolutely right!

But now my head is spinning a little. Is it true that a VFG on a fixed mag AR pistol is CA legal and not an AOW according to CA law? LOL Reading the PC at first blush, it seems so (not that it helps with Federal definitions though).

12276.1. (a) Notwithstanding Section 12276, "assault weapon" shall
also mean any of the following:
...
(4) A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a
detachable magazine and any one of the following:
(A) A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor,
forward handgrip, or silencer.
(B) A second handgrip.
(C) A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely
encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon
without burning his or her hand, except a slide that encloses the
barrel.
(D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location
outside of the pistol grip.
(5) A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the
capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

Thread jack:
I also vaguely recollect seeing a letter from the ATF stating that a VFG on an AR pistol did NOT make it an AOW. It was on AR15.com a few years ago.

So if that is true and can be found again, it could seem that the original question would be moot.

ke6guj
01-24-2011, 8:50 PM
You're absolutely right!

But now my head is spinning a little. Is it true that a VFG on a fixed mag AR pistol is CA legal and not an AOW according to CA law? LOL Reading the PC at first blush, it seems so (not that it helps with Federal definitions though).
a VFG on a fixed mag AR pistol is CA legal. CA has no AOW definition of its own, so it wouldn't be an AOW under any sort of CA law. But federally, ATF considers that VFG on a pistol to be an AOW. So, get a tax stamp to put a VFG on the pistol and you are covered federally, and CA doesn't regulate VFGs on fixed-mag pistols.



Thread jack:
I also vaguely recollect seeing a letter from the ATF stating that a VFG on an AR pistol did NOT make it an AOW. It was on AR15.com a few years ago.

So if that is true and can be found again, it could seem that the original question would be moot.I Haven't seen any letter like that, it would nice to find.

Fate
01-24-2011, 10:01 PM
Actually, digging in ar15.com since I last posted, I came across some interesting discussions that harkened back to what I recollected.

One cite mentioned U.S. V. Fix , 4 Fed. appx. 324 (9th Cir. 2001)
-----------
From the decision:

"Fix argues that the government did not prove the Calico Liberty III, found during a search of his home and business, was a weapon that required registration. Fix was convicted under 26 U.S.C. 5861(d) of possession of an unregistered firearm. In a related provision, HN2"firearm" is defined by a list of eight weapons and a catchall provision of "any other weapon." See 26 U.S.C. 5845(a). "Any other weapon" includes "any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive," but not "a pistol . . . having a rifled bore . . ." See 26 U.S.C. 5845(e). Weapons not included in the definition of firearm in 5845 need not be registered under 5861(d). Fix argues that his Calico was a pistol, [**5] met the exception in 5845(e), and did not need to be registered under 5861.

We agree that the Government failed to prove a violation of 5861(d) for two reasons.

First, the weapon does not fit the definition required by the statute. HN3The provision defining "pistol" for the purposes of the statute is 27 C.F.R. 179.11, which defines a pistol as "a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand . . . ." The government argues that because the Calico was modified to be fired with two hands, it "falls out" of the definition of pistol and falls back into the definition of "any other weapon" in 5845. This argument ignores the definition's requirement that the weapon be capable of being held with one hand at the time it was originally designed and made. As written, this definition does not consider modifications of the weapon by the owner. The Calico was originally designed and made to be fired with one hand, and still could be, despite the addition of a foregrip.

Second, the definition of "any other weapon" in 5845(a) and (e) expressly excludes weapons with a rifled [**6] bore. We assume that the "any other weapon" provision was intended as a catch-all category in which to gather sawed-off shotguns and other hybrid weapons. A sawed off shotgun may be concealed like a pistol, but would have the smooth bore of a shotgun. The Government's witness stated that the Calico Liberty III had a rifled bore, and thus, cannot be considered "any other weapon."

Accordingly, the conviction on Count V must be reversed for insufficiency of the evidence."

To quote Title26, Subtitle E, Chapter 53, Subchapter B, Part I, 5845
5845. Definitions
(e) Any other weapon
The term “any other weapon” means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

There is also this advisement ruling from a federal judge stating the addition of a vertical grip to a pistol (no reference to handguns in that ruling) did not make an AOW. http://www.constitution.org/2ll/bardwell/us_v_davis2.txt

This one is particularly of interest in the difference of pistol vs. handgun in the U.S.C.: http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=122&t=519349

-------------

To me, it sounds like adding a VFG to an AR pistol is legal and does NOT require a tax stamp (as it's not an AOW, nor could it be). This makes sense with the recent letter posted on the Magpul AFG being OK on an AR pistol. I especially like that it was the 9th Circuit that issued that ruling in U.S. v. Fix.

unusedusername
01-24-2011, 11:27 PM
Wow, anyone know if the case law cited by Fate is still current?

Putting a VFG on my ar pistol would be awesome if legal.