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California 2nd Amend. Political Discussion & Activism Discuss gun rights activism and 2A related political topics here. All advice given is NOT legal counsel.

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  #1  
Old 09-24-2010, 2:39 PM
jink122 jink122 is offline
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Default AR Pistols, What is legal?

Ive been looking to buy an AR pistol but i've run into quite a few legal laws that I am not sure about and before I make any dumb mistakes, I would like to become an educated gun owner.

From what I know:

1 AR pistol are legal in California as long as they adhere to the AW laws.
2 You cannot purchase a AR pistol lower in the state of California from an FFL.
3 You may purchase a AR pistol lower in the state of CA in a PPT.
4 You may NOT build an AR pistol from a normal AR lower. Must say PISTOL.
5. You may not own a pistol upper if you do not own an AR pistol.

My questions:
1. What is NFS rules? I keep seeing something like all NFS rules apply.
2. What is this about sleds? If they ship they have to put a sled in, what does it do and if it restricts the pistol to single shot, can i remove it legally after i get it back?
3. Any other information anyone would like to give me, I would love to know.

Thank you all in advance.
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  #2  
Old 09-24-2010, 2:46 PM
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It doesn't have to say PISTOL, it just has to be drosed as one.

I think owning the upper without a pistol lower only applies if you have rifle lowers in you possession but I could be wrong.

The sled is used to make the pistol single shot to get past the Roster. You can convert your pistol to semi after it is yours.

There are already a few threads on AR pistols that have some good information on them. Well worth finding.
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  #3  
Old 09-24-2010, 2:52 PM
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My answers in-line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jink122 View Post
Ive been looking to buy an AR pistol but i've run into quite a few legal laws that I am not sure about and before I make any dumb mistakes, I would like to become an educated gun owner.

From what I know:

1 AR pistol are legal in California as long as they adhere to the AW laws.True. They must also adhere to the "safe-handgun roster" rules (whenever an AR pistol is sold or assembled, it must do so in a single-shot configuration).
2 You cannot purchase a AR pistol lower in the state of California from an FFL.True. FFL's in CA can only sell/transfer a pistol as an entire firearm.
3 You may purchase a AR pistol lower in the state of CA in a PPT.
4 You may NOT build an AR pistol from a normal AR lower. Must say PISTOL. Not true. The lower can not ever have been configured or sold as a rifle. There is no need for an explicit "pistol" mark though.
5. You may not own a pistol upper if you do not own an AR pistol.You can't legally possess a short AR barrel <16" and an AR rifle lower unless you also own an AR pistol lower. If you do, you have fallen into constructive possession of a short barreled rifle. If you don't own an AR rifle, the short barrel is fine. If you own an AR pistol lower, the short barrel is fine.

My questions:
1. What is NFS rules? I keep seeing something like all NFS rules apply.NFA rules. Short barreled rifles are NFA (National Firearms Act) items, basically can't have in CA. If you have an AR pistol lower, you are no longer at risk of violating NFA rules when you buy a short AR barrel.
2. What is this about sleds? If they ship they have to put a sled in, what does it do and if it restricts the pistol to single shot, can i remove it legally after i get it back?Yes. The pistol must be in a single-shot configuration when it is transferred or initially assembled, but can then be immediately modified by the owner to hold a multi-shot magazine.
3. Any other information anyone would like to give me, I would love to know.You're doing fine. Keep asking questions

Thank you all in advance.
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Old 09-24-2010, 3:28 PM
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Thank you for the responses guys.

So I can buy a AR lower from Mega Machines that has not been marked "PISTOL" as long as when i dros it, I dross it as a PISTOL?

But I cannot dros it as a pistol unless i am a LEO right?

Assuming that the above is correct, if I get a LEO friend to dros it under his name as a pistol lower, then dros it off of him, is that legal? And i just need to retain paperwork saying that it was drosed as a pistol?
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Old 09-24-2010, 3:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jink122 View Post
Thank you for the responses guys.

So I can buy a AR lower from Mega Machines that has not been marked "PISTOL" as long as when i dros it, I dross it as a PISTOL?

But I cannot dros it as a pistol unless i am a LEO right?

Assuming that the above is correct, if I get a LEO friend to dros it under his name as a pistol lower, then dros it off of him, is that legal? And i just need to retain paperwork saying that it was drosed as a pistol?
No, he can't DROS it as a pistol because the DROS form requires the gun to be sold to him in a complete state as well. Basically, you can't get a bare lower as a pistol in CA.*

[EDIT: I don't know the LEO rules for off-roster firearms and bare frames. I withdraw my statement as speculation. Rest of the post stands, maybe someone else can chime in authoritatively re: the FFL rules for sale of a bare AR pistol lower to a LEO.]

Either buy an assembled pistol with a single shot sled and bullet button (you could possibly send a cooperative AR lower maker your pistol upper that they assemble with their lower before sending it to the CA FFL) or complete an 80% lower and make your AR pistol from that.

* It's not completely clear if a plain jane AR lower, listed on the 4473 as a "receiver" and on the DROS as a "long gun" is disqualified for assembly into a pistol. CA DOJ seems to rely on the BATFE definition, and the BATFE only cares if the firearm is sold as a "rifle" (not a CA "long gun") or assembled into a "rifle" before it's disqualified for ever being assembled into a pistol (the BATFE position is well documented, it's the CA DOJ position that isn't so cut and dry).

So if you don't mind brushing right up against the raggedy edge of the letter of the law: Buy a bare AR receiver. Buy your lower parts kit, short barrel AR upper, sled, pistol receiver extension, bullet button, etc. Assemble it as a single shot pistol. Pull the sled, drop in the magazine. Optionally (but a good idea for all pistols in CA), voluntarily register the gun as a pistol with the volreg form. Wait for the acknowledgement paperwork from CA DOJ. Go shooting.

If you volreg'ed the gun and a LEO challenges you with your pistol at the range or happens to find it through some other means, if he then runs a check on the pistol, he'll find it registered as a pistol in your name. This may reduce LEO friction.
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Last edited by rabagley; 09-24-2010 at 4:01 PM..
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  #6  
Old 09-24-2010, 4:13 PM
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Can I PPT my stripped lower as a pistol? A PPT doesn't have to be on the roster or dimensionally compliant or single shot etc., correct?
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  #7  
Old 09-24-2010, 4:32 PM
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Dan, don't "mfgr" a non-Rostered handgun via PPT.
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  #8  
Old 09-24-2010, 4:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
Can I PPT my stripped lower as a pistol? A PPT doesn't have to be on the roster or dimensionally compliant or single shot etc., correct?
Yes, provided that it is in a legal condition to be built into a pistol.

If it was entered into the DROS system as a "long gun" at any time, then no.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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  #9  
Old 09-24-2010, 4:50 PM
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Cokebottle isn't correct but I'm mobile and can't elucidate. To restate: don't push this issue, we're working on some "fixes" but until it's done there is some risk. Spend the extra $50 and buy a factory single-shot, or be prepared to spend $15k.
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  #10  
Old 09-24-2010, 5:26 PM
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Originally Posted by wildhawker View Post
Cokebottle isn't correct but I'm mobile and can't elucidate. To restate: don't push this issue, we're working on some "fixes" but until it's done there is some risk. Spend the extra $50 and buy a factory single-shot, or be prepared to spend $15k.
Interesting.... awaiting elaboration when you get to a terminal.
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Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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  #11  
Old 09-24-2010, 6:13 PM
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Do barrel attachments need to be pinned or does the bullet button suffice?
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Old 09-24-2010, 6:16 PM
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Since it is a pistol AR, you do not need to meet requirements for a pinned/welded muzzle.
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Old 09-24-2010, 9:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabagley View Post
So if you don't mind brushing right up against the raggedy edge of the letter of the law: Buy a bare AR receiver. Buy your lower parts kit, short barrel AR upper, sled, pistol receiver extension, bullet button, etc. Assemble it as a single shot pistol. Pull the sled, drop in the magazine. Optionally (but a good idea for all pistols in CA), voluntarily register the gun as a pistol with the volreg form. Wait for the acknowledgement paperwork from CA DOJ. Go shooting.
The issue on this is......when stripped lower is transferred in Ca, it is transferred as a "rifle or long gun" via the state DROS system. This makes it a rifle and you need a NFA tax stamp and a CA approval to make a pistol out of it.......Good Luck!

A stripped "pistol" lower can not be sold since they are not on the handgun roster for CA. That is why a complete "single shot pistol" must be tendered by an FFL so the single shot exception may be applied and then the receiver does not need to be on the roster.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhanson View Post
The issue on this is......when stripped lower is transferred in Ca, it is transferred as a "rifle or long gun" via the state DROS system. This makes it a rifle and you need a NFA tax stamp and a CA approval to make a pistol out of it.......Good Luck!

A stripped "pistol" lower can not be sold since they are not on the handgun roster for CA. That is why a complete "single shot pistol" must be tendered by an FFL so the single shot exception may be applied and then the receiver does not need to be on the roster.
If i get one direct from manufat. Say from Mega, and a LEO recieves it and droses it as a PISTOL from the start, this would solve the NFA stamp issue right?
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jink122 View Post
If i get one direct from manufat. Say from Mega, and a LEO recieves it and droses it as a PISTOL from the start, this would solve the NFA stamp issue right?
Whaaaaat?
Sorry bro, no NFA guns for mortals in CA. Stay away from SBR territory.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhanson View Post
The issue on this is......when stripped lower is transferred in Ca, it is transferred as a "rifle or long gun" via the state DROS system. This makes it a rifle and you need a NFA tax stamp and a CA approval to make a pistol out of it.......Good Luck!
This is not true. While a rifle may not be made into a pistol there is no statute against turning a non-rifle, non-shotgun, long gun into a pistol. It simply isn't on the books. I am also fairly certain there is no path from a rifle to a pistol even with an NFA stamp, the NFA stamp will permit a SBS not a pistol. The only exception I am aware of is the Thompson Contender and that is only if the whole kit is purchased at one time so that the pistol and rifle "constructive possession" is created simultaneously.
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:41 PM
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The act of getting a LEO to purchase the stripped lower as a pistol and then PPT to you is called a straw sale.

Don't do that.

You have two options, buy a complete AR pistol or machine an AR pistol lower from an 80% paperweight. Both methods give you a clean CA legal pistol without a straw sale or questionable transfer practice.

There is no easy way out, that's why we are fighting the roster in the Pena case.
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Old 09-27-2010, 1:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wash View Post
or machine an AR pistol lower from an 80% paperweight.
I've got access to AR lowers that are not complete - meaning the magwell, trigger pins and selector need to be drilled out.

I assume that since I'm finishing the lower reciever that I can build an AR pistol and treat it as a 'home build', correct?

Can someone clarify what's needed from a paperwork stance for this option?
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Old 09-27-2010, 1:19 PM
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No paperwork required.

Just build it as a dimensionally compliant single shot pistol first, then make sure you comply with the "assault weapon" ban when you make it semi-auto.

Voluntary registration can be done. I am not going to because it's not required and I'm not going to illegally carry it concealed.
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Old 09-27-2010, 1:29 PM
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Quote:
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No paperwork required.

Just build it as a dimensionally compliant single shot pistol first, then make sure you comply with the "assault weapon" ban when you make it semi-auto.
Do you know why it would have to be a single-shot pistol first? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me - that a home-built gun has to be built as a single-shot first and then I can swap out my regular .223 mags for it.

I can understand when purchasing from a vendor (like the Hendersen Defense CALGUNS Single-shot AK (wtg guys )) that they need to ship it with a single-shot mag. But a home-build?

Quote:
Voluntary registration can be done. I am not going to because it's not required and I'm not going to illegally carry it concealed.
Same here, it's for the fun of it and just because I can.
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Old 09-27-2010, 2:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m4rty View Post
Do you know why it would have to be a single-shot pistol first? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me - that a home-built gun has to be built as a single-shot first and then I can swap out my regular .223 mags for it.
It also needs a bullet button and can only use 10 round mags (to avoid AW status).

Tim
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Old 09-27-2010, 2:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m4rty View Post
Do you know why it would have to be a single-shot pistol first? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me - that a home-built gun has to be built as a single-shot first and then I can swap out my regular .223 mags for it.

I can understand when purchasing from a vendor (like the Hendersen Defense CALGUNS Single-shot AK (wtg guys )) that they need to ship it with a single-shot mag. But a home-build?



Same here, it's for the fun of it and just because I can.
It has to be a single shot pistol first so that you're not manufacturing an "unsafe handgun".

Building as a single shot pistol gets you through an exemption in the roster.

If you don't do it, you've comitted a crime but to be convicted of that crime the state would have to prove that you did manufacture an "unsafe handgun" and that would be difficult unless they had a confession.
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Old 09-27-2010, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
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It has to be a single shot pistol first so that you're not manufacturing an "unsafe handgun".

Building as a single shot pistol gets you through an exemption in the roster.

If you don't do it, you've comitted a crime but to be convicted of that crime the state would have to prove that you did manufacture an "unsafe handgun" and that would be difficult unless they had a confession.
Thanks for the clarification. I apprecciate it very much.
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Old 09-27-2010, 2:11 PM
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It also needs a bullet button and can only use 10 round mags (to avoid AW status).

Tim
I'd already assumed those restrictions and had planned on a BB...
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Old 09-27-2010, 2:56 PM
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If you don't know exactly what you're doing here, you're likely best off buying an AR pistol from any of our fine Calguns-friendly FFLs.
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Old 09-27-2010, 6:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m4rty View Post
Do you know why it would have to be a single-shot pistol first? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me - that a home-built gun has to be built as a single-shot first and then I can swap out my regular .223 mags for it.

I can understand when purchasing from a vendor (like the Hendersen Defense CALGUNS Single-shot AK (wtg guys )) that they need to ship it with a single-shot mag. But a home-build?
The homebuild must follow the same rules as a dealer purchase.
The roster is the roster, and it is unlawful to manufacture an "unsafe handgun" in California.
There are a number of exemptions, including single action, long barrel "cowboy" style revolvers, as well as "single shot, dimensionally compliant".

When manufactured, the handgun must EITHER be on the roster, submitted to the DOJ for testing and addition to the roster (means you have to build at least 3, DOJ wants two, and about $20k), or roster-exempt.

Once manufactured, the gun may be modified into a non-exempt form.

Some used to recommend disabling the gas system itself by soldering a plug into the gas block for there to be no question as to the single shot status... effectively rendering it a bolt action gun, but the zero-round sled also satisfies the requirement without creating the need to change the gas block later. It is a single-shot, self extracting gun.
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Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 09-27-2010, 7:15 PM
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I have a hypothetical question regarding AR pistols.

Say I have a registered Ar pistol lower here in California and I sell the upper to someone out of state. I no longer have the upper. Can I add a 16 inch upper and a butstock(carbine lenght)? Or will it for ever be only a pistol lower?

What If I moved out of state? can that lower now be turned into a carbine length rifle?
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Old 09-27-2010, 7:27 PM
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Originally Posted by FNH5-7 View Post
I have a hypothetical question regarding AR pistols.

Say I have a registered Ar pistol lower here in California and I sell the upper to someone out of state. I no longer have the upper. Can I add a 16 inch upper and a butstock(carbine lenght)? Or will it for ever be only a pistol lower?

What If I moved out of state? can that lower now be turned into a carbine length rifle?
The pistol lower can be turned into a rifle at any time.

It cannot be changed back without being an SBR.
That is a federal law... doesn't matter what state you are in.

The reason it is so much easier to build an AR pistol in a free state is because the 4473 lists the stripped lower as "other"... it is neither a rifle nor a handgun.
Once you install a 16"+ barrel and a buttstock, it becomes a rifle forever.

In California, due to the roster, a stripped lower cannot be entered into the DROS system as a "handgun". Since the CA DROS system does not have an option for "other", it goes in as a "long gun"... even though physically, the stripped lower is neither.
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A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 09-27-2010, 7:39 PM
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To what Bill and Brandon have stated. Just buy an AR pistol from these guys. These guys will build you a single shot AR pistol and ship it to your local FFL. They are priced fairly and their lowers are solid! OC armory and Riflegear.com will both do the transfer for you. These guys are in AZ, but are very CA friendly. The owner is a Calgunner. This way, you avoid any "Drama".

http://quentin-laser.com/store/index.php
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Last edited by Exposed; 09-27-2010 at 7:43 PM..
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Old 09-27-2010, 7:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Cokebottle View Post
In California, due to the roster, a stripped lower cannot be entered into the DROS system as a "handgun". Since the CA DROS system does not have an option for "other", it goes in as a "long gun"... even though physically, the stripped lower is neither.
As others have pointed out, a CA "long gun" is not defined the same way as a BATFE "rifle". CA says you can't have an SBR but doesn't seem to define anything rules separate from the BATFE definitions of SBR. The BATFE only cares if a firearm was ever classified as a "rifle".
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Old 09-27-2010, 8:07 PM
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As others have pointed out, a CA "long gun" is not defined the same way as a BATFE "rifle". CA says you can't have an SBR but doesn't seem to define anything rules separate from the BATFE definitions of SBR. The BATFE only cares if a firearm was ever classified as a "rifle".
Ya... it's a touchy situation.
The BATFE says that it's a "rifle" when it has a 16"+ barrel and a buttstock designed to be fired from the shoulder.

Federally, it's fine to build a pistol from a stripped lower, but it is unclear enough in California so as to be treading on thin ice.

In California, a "Cruiser" shotgun is classified as a "long gun", even though it lacks a shoulder stock, and the 4473 lists it as "other".
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:50 PM
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What happens when you build the pistol single shot it, take it to the range to check it out, dial it in...convert it to a 10 round semi, take it back to the range...and than officer friendly, who happens to be in the next bay qualifying happens to see the gun, and upon closer inspection sees no markings or visible serial number, and asks WTF is that and how did you happen to come across it?

I'd like to answer I built it, but when they try to run a check on it, no registration pops up and they seize the gun...at least thats the scenario I see happening.

I know its a hypothetical, but I wonder what Officer Friendly will do when he finds out you have a bard ars looking AR pistol and its not on the radar. I think that will lead to some sort of confrontation with an eager beaver parinoid legal beagle.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Cokebottle View Post
Ya... it's a touchy situation.
The BATFE says that it's a "rifle" when it has a 16"+ barrel and a buttstock designed to be fired from the shoulder.

Federally, it's fine to build a pistol from a stripped lower, but it is unclear enough in California so as to be treading on thin ice.

In California, a "Cruiser" shotgun is classified as a "long gun", even though it lacks a shoulder stock, and the 4473 lists it as "other".
I don't disagree with any of your points, and that's why I think there is a nice little gap between the definitions where you can purchase a CA "long gun" that is never a "rifle" and make it into a "pistol".

I also completely agree that "treading on thin ice" isn't too far off. I personally would volreg the resulting firearm as a pistol getting it into the CA registry as a registered pistol, putting a permanent record into the DOJ's database that any LEO will see if they run the serial number. I think volreg'ing any pistol is a good plan anyway since Johnny law may get excitable coming across an unregistered handgun.
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Last edited by rabagley; 09-28-2010 at 12:00 AM..
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:48 PM
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What happens when you build the pistol single shot it, take it to the range to check it out, dial it in...convert it to a 10 round semi, take it back to the range...and than officer friendly, who happens to be in the next bay qualifying happens to see the gun, and upon closer inspection sees no markings or visible serial number, and asks WTF is that and how did you happen to come across it?

I'd like to answer I built it, but when they try to run a check on it, no registration pops up and they seize the gun...at least thats the scenario I see happening.

I know its a hypothetical, but I wonder what Officer Friendly will do when he finds out you have a bard ars looking AR pistol and its not on the radar. I think that will lead to some sort of confrontation with an eager beaver parinoid legal beagle.
If there's no serial number (and the serial number area isn't defaced), there's nothing to run and no evidence indicating any wrongdoing. Your assertion that you made the gun is all there needs to be.

Also, the single-shot configuration only needs to last for a moment: the moment that the gun is first assembled or transferred to you. Immediately after that moment, you can remove the sled and put in the 10-round magazine (the bullet button needs to stay).

If you are worried about the registration not showing up, have legal markings put on the gun (your name, city and state of manufacture, caliber ("cal: multi" is fine), serial number, .003 deep, >= 1/16" high clearly legible text) and volreg the firearm after assembly. If they run those numbers, they'll see your name attached to that record and it's my guess that that will go a long way to appeasing Johnny Eager LEO.
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Last edited by rabagley; 09-27-2010 at 11:59 PM.. Reason: improved info on legal markings
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Old 09-28-2010, 4:18 PM
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Have there been any incidents between leo's and owners of guns built from 80% lowers recently? It's really simple to build a single shot pistol- just leave the vise mag in the lower which helps with the installation of the buffer tube.

It's also very rewarding to mill out your own lower. I'm just not looking foward to educating over eager legal beagles.

Does anyone have the ATF statue allowing one to build out an 80% lower? I'm going to engrave it on my lowers.
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Old 09-28-2010, 7:35 PM
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moment that the gun is first assembled or transferred to you. Immediately after that moment, you can remove the sled and put in the 10-round magazine (the bullet button needs to stay).

Gun store t&a armory said that you cannot take the sled out. Any evidence that you can in the law? This is the only reason i want a AR pistol, for the semi-auto function. I would not want to have to cock it each time.
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Old 09-28-2010, 7:38 PM
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Gun store t&a armory said that you cannot take the sled out. Any evidence that you can in the law? This is the only reason i want a AR pistol, for the semi-auto function. I would not want to have to cock it each time.
They're wrong. When you take it home. You can use any magazine <11 rounds.
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Old 09-28-2010, 7:39 PM
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Gun store t&a armory said that you cannot take the sled out. Any evidence that you can in the law? This is the only reason i want a AR pistol, for the semi-auto function. I would not want to have to cock it each time.
penal code normally works in the opposite direction. Any evidence in the PC that says you can't take the sled out and put in a magazine?
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Old 09-28-2010, 8:16 PM
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Bingo.

Taking the sled out makes it a non-exempt, unrostered handgun.

The same would be true if you bought a rostered 1911, and swapped the slide and barrel from a non-rostered 1911. Perfectly legal.
My RIA 1911 Tactical now has a GI guide rod and no longer has an ambi safety.
That is not a combination available on the roster from RIA, but it is perfectly legal.
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Originally Posted by dantodd View Post
A just gov't will not be overthrown by force or violence because the people have no incentive to overthrow a just gov't. If a minority of people attempt such an insurrection to grab power and enslave the people, the RKBA is our insurance against their success.
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Old 09-30-2010, 1:17 AM
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Any legal evidence of the comment that it is LEGAL to remove sled once at home? Not challenging your comment, more so being safer with my decisions with firearms. DOJ wont find pitty or budge if i say "Someone from calguns said it was ok."
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