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Posted: 10/29/2015 1:50:03 PM EST
HI guys,

Now I'm new to the AR scene here, and I've been reading up on some laws regarding AR pistols, rifle, SBR conversions. Yet I still have a few questions that I couldn't find answers for. I know this has been talked about endlessly.

But from my understanding:

-pistols can be converted to rifles or SBR (with paperwork) and back to pistols again

-ARs registered as rifles cannot be converted to pistols

-ARs built as rifles first cannot be converted to pistols

I'm planning on just getting a stripped lower, but I'm not sure how they are registered. Are they registered as pistols, pistols, or other, etc.?
From what I gathered it seems the dealer would have designate it as "other", but then how would anyone know if it would be built as a rifle first or a pistol first?

What is stopping someone from getting a stripped lower, building a rifle out of it first and decides to convert it to a pistol later? Unless I misunderstood something...
Link Posted: 10/29/2015 3:16:34 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2015 3:17:53 PM EST by OhShoot]
Originally Posted By 2010ngojo:
HI guys,

Now I'm new to the AR scene here, and I've been reading up on some laws regarding AR pistols, rifle, SBR conversions. Yet I still have a few questions that I couldn't find answers for. I know this has been talked about endlessly.

But from my understanding:

-pistols can be converted to rifles or SBR (with paperwork) and back to pistols again

-ARs registered as rifles cannot be converted to pistols

-ARs built as rifles first cannot be converted to pistols

I'm planning on just getting a stripped lower, but I'm not sure how they are registered. Are they registered as pistols, pistols, or other, etc.?
From what I gathered it seems the dealer would have designate it as "other", but then how would anyone know if it would be built as a rifle first or a pistol first?

What is stopping someone from getting a stripped lower, building a rifle out of it first and decides to convert it to a pistol later? Unless I misunderstood something...
View Quote


Federally, nothing except an NFA firearm is "registered". The only permanent records are in manufacturer/distributor's records of how transferred to final FFL and in that FFL's storage of the 4473. An AR lower, same as any other receiver, is supposed to be transferred as "other firearm". It can't be a rifle or pistol until configured with a barrel, or barrel and stock.

However, what your FFL correctly or incorrectly marks on a 4473 does not ultimately determine the legal classification of a firearm, nor the legality of any given future configuration of it.

So your statement, "ARs built as rifles first cannot be converted to pistols" sums it up best.

- OS








Link Posted: 10/29/2015 4:39:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By 2010ngojo:
What is stopping someone from getting a stripped lower, building a rifle out of it first and decides to convert it to a pistol later? Unless I misunderstood something...
View Quote

The same thing that keeps us from exceeding the speed limit while driving. Honesty.
Link Posted: 10/29/2015 5:08:19 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/30/2015 12:23:13 PM EST by VA-gunnut]
[Deleted]
Link Posted: 10/29/2015 10:21:13 PM EST
And "you" can be your own worst enemy.

Stripped lowers are presently pretty cheap - forged cheaper than polymer, who's selling point was at one time being less expensive. Not any more.

Could you, yes, but the issue is that all too often human character likes to brag about flouting the law and can come back to bite you. As long as we have the NFA the universal AR15 lower doesn't exist. With them being so cheap why look for trouble?

There is also another factor, very much human based, not tech: We might all talk about swapping uppers, or having interchangeable barrels. or using magazines with different ammo, etc. Nobody really much does it - the pistols and rifles tend to acquire their own accessories and morph into complete guns with a specific mission. We talk like AR's are Legos but nobody is really doing it that much. AR's are modular and can be building blocks but for the most part nobody even retails a switch barrel set with case. They do with handguns now and then, and there is the Thompson Contender, but most of us just keep getting another complete gun and moving on to the next.

We understand that some of the talk is just that. Like having a hot motor to run in your car in CA, not too many are swapping the original parts back in every three years for a sniff test. Too much work! We just build another, ready to go.

The break down rifle/carbine/pistol switch barrel any caliber gun is really just a myth. Having just one lower doesn't cut it. Until the AR we thought it was because all the guns were different, but now we know it was just an excuse - we just want more different guns.

I strongly suspect that's why the ATF doesn't much care. And they have much more important things to do, too.
Link Posted: 11/2/2015 6:54:09 AM EST
Other than any photo documentation you might keep, there's no real telling if the lower was made into a rifle or pistol first. I was in that situation and picked up a pistol upper. I thought about slapping it on a lower that I had in place and don't think I would have had any issues while out in the wild. But then again, why risk it. Instead of doing that, I simply picked up a lower for $49, made sure it was recorded as "other" and asked the FFL if I could take a pic of the paperwork. They were fine with that. Documented it, took it home and took a pic of everything disassembled, then documented the build with everything date stamped by the photos.

Probably WAY overkill but being my first pistol, I didn't want to leave anything to chance.
Link Posted: 11/2/2015 3:22:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/2/2015 3:23:49 PM EST by OhShoot]
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Originally Posted By BillyJack:
... Instead of doing that, I simply picked up a lower for $49, made sure it was recorded as "other" and asked the FFL if I could take a pic of the paperwork. They were fine with that. Documented it, ...
View Quote


Proves nothing in and of itself. A used lower would have been transferred as "other firearm" also, but might well not have been legal to make into a pistol.

- OS
Link Posted: 11/3/2015 3:31:30 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2015 3:31:49 PM EST by Alex_F]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By OhShoot:


Proves nothing in and of itself. A used lower would have been transferred as "other firearm" also, but might well not have been legal to make into a pistol.

- OS
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Originally Posted By OhShoot:
Originally Posted By BillyJack:
... Instead of doing that, I simply picked up a lower for $49, made sure it was recorded as "other" and asked the FFL if I could take a pic of the paperwork. They were fine with that. Documented it, ...


Proves nothing in and of itself. A used lower would have been transferred as "other firearm" also, but might well not have been legal to make into a pistol.

- OS


I actually bought a complete lower from a rifle (shipped from the factory as a rifle) and the FFL transferred it to me as a receiver (their choice).

/edit: In a brick and mortar gun shop
Link Posted: 11/3/2015 3:36:53 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2015 3:37:30 PM EST by D_Man]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Alex_F:

I actually bought a complete lower from a rifle (shipped from the factory as a rifle) and the FFL transferred it to me as a receiver (their choice).

/edit: In a brick and mortar gun shop
View Quote

If the above in red is true, then the receiver was first built into a complete rifle as it's first configuration, and thus legally can never be a pistol...

How the FFL transfers the receiver on the 4473 holds no legal bearing, only how and in what order the receiver was actually built up, and in this case, there will be a paper trail from the manufacturer saying that receiver left them as a rifle...
Link Posted: 11/3/2015 4:40:34 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2015 4:48:25 PM EST by OhShoot]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Alex_F:


I actually bought a complete lower from a rifle (shipped from the factory as a rifle) and the FFL transferred it to me as a receiver (their choice)....
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Originally Posted By Alex_F:
Originally Posted By OhShoot:
Originally Posted By BillyJack:
... Instead of doing that, I simply picked up a lower for $49, made sure it was recorded as "other" and asked the FFL if I could take a pic of the paperwork. They were fine with that. Documented it, ...


Proves nothing in and of itself. A used lower would have been transferred as "other firearm" also, but might well not have been legal to make into a pistol.

- OS


I actually bought a complete lower from a rifle (shipped from the factory as a rifle) and the FFL transferred it to me as a receiver (their choice)....


No, it is NOT "their choice". All lowers (new, used, complete, even with a stock attached) are by ATF directions to be transferred as "other firearm" under question 18, and "receiver, lower, etc" under question 29.

As the directions on 4473 plainly say, even if a receiver can only be used to make a rifle, it is still to be transferred as "other firearm".

Again, though, the fact that is is "other firearm" when you receive it does not determine the legality of making it into a pistol or not. As D Man says, if that baby left the factory as a complete rifle, that's easily verified should push come to shove, and you would be guilty of making an illegal NFA firearm, ie, "firearm made from a rifle". Especially easy since you've shown knowledge of its origin on the internet.

Again, what an FFL correctly or incorrectly marks on a 4473 does not ultimately determine the legal classification of a firearm, nor the legality of any given future configuration of it.

- OS
Link Posted: 11/3/2015 6:01:22 PM EST
I wasn't planning on using the lower for a pistol build. I was just adding to the conversation.

Interesting that it had to be transferred that way. I was only confused because in VA we have to show a third ID for "assault weapons", and I didn't for the complete lower, although I was ready with an additional form of ID.

*shrug*
Link Posted: 11/3/2015 6:05:17 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Alex_F:
I wasn't planning on using the lower for a pistol build. I was just adding to the conversation....
View Quote


Wouldn't have said anything except for your mention that it was "their choice" to do it that way. If they "choose" to do things other than by ATF guidelines, they could face repercussions, up to losing their license completely.

- OS
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 11:59:41 AM EST
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Originally Posted By OhShoot:


Wouldn't have said anything except for your mention that it was "their choice" to do it that way. If they "choose" to do things other than by ATF guidelines, they could face repercussions, up to losing their license completely.

- OS
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Originally Posted By OhShoot:
Originally Posted By Alex_F:
I wasn't planning on using the lower for a pistol build. I was just adding to the conversation....


Wouldn't have said anything except for your mention that it was "their choice" to do it that way. If they "choose" to do things other than by ATF guidelines, they could face repercussions, up to losing their license completely.

- OS


I agree with you completely. I was unaware that they had to list the lower like that, hence my confusion. Well, that plus it's a newer shop so they might not have known better.
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 2:57:49 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/4/2015 3:13:55 PM EST by OhShoot]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Alex_F:


I agree with you completely. I was unaware that they had to list the lower like that, hence my confusion. Well, that plus it's a newer shop so they might not have known better.
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Originally Posted By Alex_F:
Originally Posted By OhShoot:
Originally Posted By Alex_F:
I wasn't planning on using the lower for a pistol build. I was just adding to the conversation....


Wouldn't have said anything except for your mention that it was "their choice" to do it that way. If they "choose" to do things other than by ATF guidelines, they could face repercussions, up to losing their license completely.

- OS


I agree with you completely. I was unaware that they had to list the lower like that, hence my confusion. Well, that plus it's a newer shop so they might not have known better.


One reason transfers for receivers was clarified and the category "other firearm" was added in 2008, was because ATF realized it was allowing dealers to illegally sell firearms both to out of state residents and people younger than 21 that were not in fact "rifles" or "shotguns".

- OS
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 10:37:11 PM EST
As for it being made into an SBR, I've read here where that process makes it a rifle once and for all. It can't go back to being a pistol.

Again, it's quite a workaround and not worth the effort. Build it one way and leave it. Multiple uppers and just one lower - even when it's a rifle - are another internet theory. In practice they all eventually get their own lower and the resulting firearm is purpose built to maximize it's use for that cartridge and it's ballistic envelope.

Just because you can move the lower around doesn't mean you should - but if you do, build and document it as a pistol first. It opens up your opportunities rather than limit them.

In the big picture the ATF isn't looking for this as an issue - they are after bigger travesties of the law to enhance their career opportunities and add the charge to the list for the prosecutor to drill down thru or negotiate away. They are working to get something on you at that point. I see no benefit in breaking the law and it's dumber to add to the problems by giving them more legal ammo.

Like the CO resident who threatened someone and when arrested they found he was in possession of "high capacity" magazines, so they threw that charge at him, too. Yet to be proven it wasn't a pre-ban but it's just more work for the attorney. He had to post what? on the internet? where everybody could read it?

Don't be that guy. Buy another lower and enjoy being part of the AR nation.
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 11:05:40 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By tirod:
As for it being made into an SBR, I've read here where that process makes it a rifle once and for all. It can't go back to being a pistol.

Again, it's quite a workaround and not worth the effort. Build it one way and leave it. Multiple uppers and just one lower - even when it's a rifle - are another internet theory. In practice they all eventually get their own lower and the resulting firearm is purpose built to maximize it's use for that cartridge and it's ballistic envelope.

Just because you can move the lower around doesn't mean you should - but if you do, build and document it as a pistol first. It opens up your opportunities rather than limit them.

In the big picture the ATF isn't looking for this as an issue - they are after bigger travesties of the law to enhance their career opportunities and add the charge to the list for the prosecutor to drill down thru or negotiate away. They are working to get something on you at that point. I see no benefit in breaking the law and it's dumber to add to the problems by giving them more legal ammo.

Like the CO resident who threatened someone and when arrested they found he was in possession of "high capacity" magazines, so they threw that charge at him, too. Yet to be proven it wasn't a pre-ban but it's just more work for the attorney. He had to post what? on the internet? where everybody could read it?

Don't be that guy. Buy another lower and enjoy being part of the AR nation.
View Quote


There is not any way to document that a stripped lower was built as a pistol first, short of videoing the stripped lower being picked up at an FFL, and immediately being built as a pistol as one continuous video. Otherwise, it can only document that it was a pistol at that particular point in time. This documentation cannot prove what was done to the lower between pickup from the FFL and it being built as a pistol.
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 11:39:11 PM EST
I always take a photo when I buy a stripped lower to show it was a "virgin lower". When I start the assembly I build it as a complete pistol and take a second set of pictures from different angles of the finalized pistol. If applicable, I will then remove the pistol buffer tube, pistol upper, and any other components not being used for a rifle build. Lastly, I assemble the rifle parts and take the final photos from various angles showing the completed rifle. I like to have as much documentation as possible God forbid something crazy happens, such as using the pistol in a home defense situation.
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 11:52:29 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/5/2015 12:05:06 AM EST by OhShoot]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By MadeintheUSA:
I always take a photo when I buy a stripped lower to show it was a "virgin lower". When I start the assembly I build it as a complete pistol and take a second set of pictures from different angles of the finalized pistol. If applicable, I will then remove the pistol buffer tube, pistol upper, and any other components not being used for a rifle build. Lastly, I assemble the rifle parts and take the final photos from various angles showing the completed rifle. I like to have as much documentation as possible God forbid something crazy happens, such as using the pistol in a home defense situation.
View Quote


None of that matters a bit. The pictures do not prove it was a virgin lower. Neither does a copy of the 4473.

Only the paper trail from the manufacturer/distributor to first FFL is conclusive to prove it didn't start life as a rifle up to that point. The best "documentation" you can have in your possession is simply the retailer's receipt to you.

- OS
Link Posted: 11/4/2015 11:57:58 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/5/2015 12:02:14 AM EST by Dave_A]
Originally Posted By 2010ngojo:
HI guys,

Now I'm new to the AR scene here, and I've been reading up on some laws regarding AR pistols, rifle, SBR conversions. Yet I still have a few questions that I couldn't find answers for. I know this has been talked about endlessly.

But from my understanding:

-pistols can be converted to rifles or SBR (with paperwork) and back to pistols again

-ARs registered as rifles cannot be converted to pistols

-ARs built as rifles first cannot be converted to pistols

I'm planning on just getting a stripped lower, but I'm not sure how they are registered. Are they registered as pistols, pistols, or other, etc.?
From what I gathered it seems the dealer would have designate it as "other", but then how would anyone know if it would be built as a rifle first or a pistol first?

What is stopping someone from getting a stripped lower, building a rifle out of it first and decides to convert it to a pistol later? Unless I misunderstood something...
View Quote

The law, as it is written. Specifically, the definitions of 'rifle', 'pistol', 'short-barreled rifle' and 'any other weapon' - plus some ATF rulings, et-al.

If you assemble an AR15 lower into a rifle, it is 'a rifle forever'. Attachment of a short-barrel upper would require an NFA stamp. Period. Even if you take the stock off, the ATF still considers it a rifle & you can be prosecuted for an unregistered NFA item if you don't put it on paper/get your stamp.

If you assemble it into a pistol first, then you can make it into a rifle configuration (and take it back to pistol) legally - you just can't put your short 'pistol' upper on it while it has a stock.

Nothing else matters. Having 'pistol' stamped into the side, or similar markings from the manufacturer/FFL/etc, is completely worthless under the law. What matters is the config of the first build.

It doesn't have to make sense. It's just how the law is written. Same thing with machine-gun receivers in semi-auto config (once a machine gun? Always a machine gun. Even if cut to pieces & re-welded up to fire semi-only).

As for 'but how will they catch me?', that doesn't matter!

The RIGHT question to ask is, 'IS it worth the risk of no-guns-for-life due to a felony conviction'? And the answer is NO!
Link Posted: 11/5/2015 12:03:33 AM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By OhShoot:


None of that matters a bit. The pictures do not prove it was a virgin lower.

Only the paper trail from the manufacturer/distributor to first FFL is conclusive to prove it didn't start life as a rifle up to that point. The best "documentation" you can have in your possession is simply the retailer's receipt to you.

- OS
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Originally Posted By OhShoot:
Originally Posted By MadeintheUSA:
I always take a photo when I buy a stripped lower to show it was a "virgin lower". When I start the assembly I build it as a complete pistol and take a second set of pictures from different angles of the finalized pistol. If applicable, I will then remove the pistol buffer tube, pistol upper, and any other components not being used for a rifle build. Lastly, I assemble the rifle parts and take the final photos from various angles showing the completed rifle. I like to have as much documentation as possible God forbid something crazy happens, such as using the pistol in a home defense situation.


None of that matters a bit. The pictures do not prove it was a virgin lower.

Only the paper trail from the manufacturer/distributor to first FFL is conclusive to prove it didn't start life as a rifle up to that point. The best "documentation" you can have in your possession is simply the retailer's receipt to you.

- OS


^^^^^ This.

Plus, the second set of photos does not prive anything either, because it cannot account for the timeframe between when the lower was picked up and when assembly began. The lower could have been assembled as a rifle in the interim.
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