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AR15 pistol to rifle and back to pistol


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Spoke to the FTB branch today.

When building an AR-15 as a "pistol" first it is legal to reconfigure it as a "rifle". It is also legal to take that same "rifle" and return it to its "pistol" configuration from the "rifle" configuration. But during the swapping of parts no combination of parts can assmebled to create a NFA item.

But, as always, if an AR-15 is a rifle first it will always be a rifle. You cannot buy an AR-15 as a rifle then turn it into a pistol. And just a reminder if it is a lower that is sold with a shoulder stock attached it is a rifle even if no upper is attached.

Dolomite

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That's interesting. I didn't know that.

There has been a discussion going on lately regarding this. I was saying "once a rifle, always a rifle" which is how it has been for decades. But that is not the case anymore. It is now "first a rifle, always a rifle".

Dolomite

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When purchasing stripped lowers does it factor in how the dealer fills the form out or can a stripped lower be built into a pistol with all the proper paperwork and documentation regardless of how the 4473 is filled out?

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There has been a discussion going on lately regarding this. I was saying "once a rifle, always a rifle" which is how it has been for decades. But that is not the case anymore. It is now "first a rifle, always a rifle".

Dolomite

Yeh, I thought that way, too.
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It's probably still not something I would care to play around with. Lowers are cheap enough now that I think I'd just buy myself a pistol marked lower if I wanted to do my own AR pistol build.

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I have thought about it and when I get my next lower or two I will immediately assemble them in pistol configuration. Then I will take a picture with the receipt from that day in the pistol configuration. I might also have the news on in the background so it can't be said I found an older newspaper.

I am glad they changed the law and it is a relatively recent development in the scheme of things.

Dolomite

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I am glad they changed the law and it is a relatively recent development in the scheme of things.

The problem with this whole thing is it isn't really the law. It's not like they have to get this read into the Federal Register.

It's been "once a rifle - always a rifle" for decades. Now, they're saying differently. They can go back next week if they want with no real reprocussions.

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I have thought about it and when I get my next lower or two I will immediately assemble them in pistol configuration. Then I will take a picture with the receipt from that day in the pistol configuration. I might also have the news on in the background so it can't be said I found an older newspaper.

I am glad they changed the law and it is a relatively recent development in the scheme of things.

Dolomite

Great thing is all that is needed is the pistol buffer tube, so an easy $20 (that can be re-used, even) to give yourself the options of building anything out of a lower.

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....I am glad they changed the law and it is a relatively recent development in the scheme of things.

Just a note, Gordon, they have never actually changed the law. This is simply a further BATF ruling on the same question that came up during the Thompson thing 20 years ago, and the wording in the law after it went all the way to SCOTUS never changed either. The SCOTUS simply explained their own damn law to them. :)

Apparently, pressure from other manufacturers like Beretta with their NEOS and some other carbine/Glock kit makers prompted them to make it clear (or clearer) last year.

As has been linked in the other two threads, this is the current ruling on which the agents are now seemingly on the same page with, as you found talking to them. It came out 7/25/11.

http://www.atf.gov/r...ling-2011-4.pdf

Thanks so much for following up on this!

- OS

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Great thing is all that is needed is the pistol buffer tube, so an easy $20 (that can be re-used, even) to give yourself the options of building anything out of a lower.

Here's the deal with that. You can use a conventional rifle tube.

Gorden and I discussed that. The only problem might be with "constructive possession". Like, say, you were at the range, had your AR pistol with 6 position tube on it, and no separate rifle upper, but a buttstock in your bag too. This could well be seen as to:

"Serve no useful purpose other than to make a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length (e.g., a receiver, an attachable shoulder stock, and barrel of less than 16 inches in length)"

But it would be a legal useful purpose to use it to reconfigure to the legal length rifle upper you also had with you. Same as having, say, the entire Beretta NEOS pistol/rifle kit with you. And I suppose to the nth degree of paranoia, you wouldn't want an extra buttstock floating around your house if you had a rifle tube on the pistol.

So I admit it's true that the pistol buffer could short circuit any assertion that a spare stock you might have could even be used on it at all.

- OS

Edited by OhShoot
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It's probably still not something I would care to play around with. Lowers are cheap enough now that I think I'd just buy myself a pistol marked lower if I wanted to do my own AR pistol build.

It doesn't have to be marked in any way. You will just be paying for a stencil. All you have to do is get it transferred

as "other receiver" or whatever it says now. You can put a scratch in it yourself. :D

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It doesn't have to be marked in any way. You will just be paying for a stencil. All you have to do is get it transferred

as "other receiver" or whatever it says now. You can put a scratch in it yourself. :D

Yeah, options now on 4473 are "Handgun, Long Gun, Other Firearm (frame, receiver, etc)"

According to directions on the 4473 for this, the dealer is not supposed to use "handgun" or "long gun" for a receiver, even if it could ONLY be made into one or the other.

- OS

Edited by OhShoot
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  • 1 month later...
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So my stripped MEGA MATEN upper and lower set, when D&T registers it, will be registers as "other" instead of rifle because it is not configured as either a pistol or rifle yet?

Interesting if I got it right.


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[quote name='JohnC' timestamp='1355133160' post='857685']
So my stripped MEGA MATEN upper and lower set, when D&T registers it, will be registers as "other" instead of rifle because it is not configured as either a pistol or rifle yet?

Interesting if I got it right.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
[/quote]

Correct, except that the stripped upper doesn't have anything to do with it, only the serial numbered lower is the firearm.

Question 18 should be "other firearm" and question 29 should be "receiver".

Wow, a .308 pistol. Kewl. :)

- OS

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The way the rule is makes me want to make all future purchases "other" rather than rifle. In my case, it doesn't matter,
anyway, because I doubt I'll be buying any more lowers.

Ahh, they'll change the reg around again, just to keep us confused.
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[quote name='6.8 AR' timestamp='1355167319' post='857951']
The way the rule is makes me want to make all future purchases "other" rather than rifle. ....[/quote]

If FFL marks a lower as "rifle", he is not following BATF instructions on the 4473 itself. Says even if it's a receiver that can [i]only[/i] be made into a rifle, it's not to be checked as "long gun".

As we were kicking around at the gunshow, one of the quirks of this is let's say you are selling a used lower. The buyer has no idea what the thing was originally configured as, beyond the seller's word.

Further, what if you are selling it, but actually even transferring it through an FFL. According to the instructions on FFL, it's to be transferred as "other firearm", period. Even though according to the law, (1) if it were originally sold as a complete rifle, it would be illegal to make it into a pistol, or (2) same if the original owner had originally bought it as only a lower, and made a rifle with it before anything else. Difference there though is that should push come to shove, (1) could be verified, but (2) couldn't be, whether re-sold through FFL or privately.

- OS Edited by Oh Shoot
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  • 4 weeks later...

The same holds true with TC Condenter/Encore Variants. You can buy the pistol frame, then attach the rifle buttstock and longer barrel and be totally legal. But you can't do that if you bought a TC rifle and made it into a pistol.

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  • 10 months later...
I built an AR pistol and did some research on it and talked a lot to my FFL.

The lower doesn't have to be engraved "pistol". If you purchase a stripped lower then the FFL transfers it as "other" because it is not a pistol or a rifle. YOU can't tell the FFL what you want it marked. ExAmple, I asked my FFL to mark it pistol on the transfer but he couldn't because it wasn't a pistol.

So theoretically, yes you could convert a pistol to a rifle and back to a pistol later without any repercussions but if you have a lower that was transferred a "rifle", you cannot make it a pistol.

And no, it's not likely any local LEOs will have any idea unless they are an enthusiast like ourselves, the rules are vague, change and are subject to interpretation. On my AR pistol, the ATF has repeatedly issued statements saying the magpul AFG is legal but I don't cArry it in my car with an AFG on because I don't want to get in a "discussion" with an ill informed LEO on the side of the road. Easier just to leave it off.
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So theoretically, yes you could convert a pistol to a rifle and back to a pistol later without any repercussions but if you have a lower that was transferred a "rifle", you cannot make it a pistol.

 

If an FFL erroneously marks transfer of a virgin lower as "long gun" on 4473, his screw up does not make it illegal for you to make a pistol from it.  And yes, there are still idiot FFLs that will not put "other firearm" on the 4473, in direct opposition to ATF instructions -- you can see folks posting about it all the time on arfcom pistols forum.

 

Note that "other firearm" was not even an option until 8/2008 on the 4473. But of course it was still legal to build pistols from lowers before 2008 regardless of what was on the 4473, as long as the lower was indeed never first built as a rifle.

 

Note also, to further complicate things, that even used lowers which were indeed first built as rifles, if transferred used as lower only, are still to be marked "other firearm" on 4473, regardless of their history (which the FFL would not know anyway). A completed lower, even with a stock on it, is still to be transferred on 4473 as "other firearm" on question 18 and "receiver" on question 29, as a firearm cannot be a "long gun" or "handgun" without a barrel. If it indeed did not start life in rifle config, it is still legal to be made into a pistol.

 

- OS

Edited by Oh Shoot
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