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View Full Version : Building Sten


johnwilliamson062
May 19, 2008, 07:29 PM
Well my letter below I am sending to ATF pretty much sums it up. Someone else I was talking to on here said it is absolutely impossible to manufacture your own SMG. I was under the impression that if I paid a the tax to buy one, and possibly a ?$500? fee for licensing a small scale manufacturer I could. Anyone want to weigh in on this.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
99 New York Ave. NE
Mail Stop 5S144
Washington, DC 20226

Dear ATFE representative,
I am a soon to graduate economics major and in a recent class I looked at mass production and how it affected different countries war machines in World War Two. As a result I have decided I would like to try to produce a Sten SMG. Obviously there are some legal concerns I would like to cover before I start.
1.What forms do I need to have approved? What are the related taxes for these forms? I have talked to my local Sheriff and he agreed to sign whatever is required for the LEO. I have also passed several FBI checks lately for insurance and security licenses.
2.I would not intend on making it in 9X19 Parabellum due to the increasing price of this cartridge. Someone indicated I would have to be careful to use a pistol cartridge as limitations on machine guns were much tighter than for SMGs. Is this true? I find it hard to believe I would have more trouble making what was technically a machine gun in .22LR, as opposed to say, a sub-machine gun in .357 magnum.
3.Does it matter where I do the machining? I am beginning to build a machine shop, but have access to several relatively advanced facilities through clients. Is there a problem if I do work at their facilities?

B. Lahey
May 19, 2008, 07:38 PM
1. You can't build your own machine gun. Civilian ownership of any MG made after 1986 is not legal unless that civilian is making them for mil/LEO or is a distributor/dealer for military/cop sales. You can only build them if you are going to sell them to mil/LEO, and then you need a manufacturer's license.

2. Untrue. An MG is an MG, no matter what it's chambered for.

3. It doesn't matter because any manufacturing is illegal no matter where you do it unless you are going to sell to mil/cops. If you are going to sell to mil/cops, then it may matter, there is at least one manufacturer that has been in some legal trouble lately for manufacturing parts off-site (among other things)

If you are really going to go all-out and build MGs for mil/cops, you may want to take a look at building something other than a Sten. I don't think they are used much anymore outside of third-world nations.

VUPDblue
May 19, 2008, 07:50 PM
:rolleyes:

B. Lahey
May 19, 2008, 08:01 PM
You can't blame him for asking, for all we know he may be the next John Browning.:)

johnwilliamson062
May 19, 2008, 08:17 PM
VUPDBlue was the one who clued me in on the total illegality of this to begin with. I went and talked to my Sheriff about it, and he said no problem. He seemed to dwel on the fact that it was in fact a collectible reproduction of a historical weapon. He seemed to think WCS I have to pay the extra tax for the manufacture license (which is only like $500 for a company with less than $100k sales).

I actually hate SMGs for almost all practical personal purposes. I would never want to rely on one in a tight situation. Shotty for in the home, rifle for out of it. Close to mid-range silenced is the only place I see an SMG really being the best gun for the situation.
I am going to have to find a way around this.

Any MG used currently will probably have patent issues and require a much more extensive manufacturing process. I already have one business and two others rising, I don't need to start manufacturing guns more complicated than the average automobile.
Anyone know if a security contractor for State Department can buy? Maybe I can make it then sell it to a friend immediately. I am sure he would let me shoot it every once in a while:)

Of course I could build one for sale and just hold it in inventory... Hope no one calls up and orders ten:) If anyone ever called I would have to sell it, but oh well. Of course I would have to fire it for promotional videos every once in a while... Can the Gov't slam you for crappy marketing?

Or maybe I will just have to build a time machine first:(

I won't launch a lecture on the erosion of the second amendment, just insert one you have read before here instead.

W. C. Quantrill
May 19, 2008, 09:06 PM
Two or three years ago, almost every gun publication had the "kits" for the build it your self Stens. Also were Brens, as well as CZ's. They had the receivers cut.

Are you saying that there is no way to legally put one of those kits back together?

Soooooooooooooooooo tens of thousands of people who bought those kits are felons????

Tell me more about this...

And,,,,,,no. I do not have any. I just know that a lot of people bought them. I am not a fan of full auto. I much prefer silencers.

cue7467
May 19, 2008, 09:12 PM
most people that buy those kits build semi auto's out of them others hope that one day machine guns will be legal (sota speek) again.

guntotin_fool
May 20, 2008, 01:34 AM
Google the 80% rule, LOTS of 80%'ers out there making their own legal guns.

freakshow10mm
May 20, 2008, 08:54 AM
1.What forms do I need to have approved? What are the related taxes for these forms? I have talked to my local Sheriff and he agreed to sign whatever is required for the LEO. I have also passed several FBI checks lately for insurance and security licenses.
A type 07 FFL is required and you need to pay a SOT tax of $1000 per year to be able to manufacture NFA weapons like machine guns and suppressors. You also need to register with the State Department for ITAR. That fee is $1750 per year and it doesn't matter if you don't import/export, the law clearly says you need to register no matter what. There is R&D exceptions, but you have to submit a letter to the State Department and get it approved. I have my 07 FFL pending right now. I plan on becoming a class II manufacturer to make NFA weapons.


2.I would not intend on making it in 9X19 Parabellum due to the increasing price of this cartridge. Someone indicated I would have to be careful to use a pistol cartridge as limitations on machine guns were much tighter than for SMGs. Is this true? I find it hard to believe I would have more trouble making what was technically a machine gun in .22LR, as opposed to say, a sub-machine gun in .357 magnum.
Doesn't matter what caliber it is. If the machine gun was manufactured after May 19, 1986 a mere civilian can't possess it or make it. Only LE and government agencies can possess them, as well as the special dealers that pay the SOT tax to deal in all NFA weapons.


3.Does it matter where I do the machining? I am beginning to build a machine shop, but have access to several relatively advanced facilities through clients. Is there a problem if I do work at their facilities?
If you are properly licensed, you can only perform the manufacturing, including making parts or finishing parts, on the premises that is listed on the license. If you perform work at more than just that location, a separate FFL and SOT tax needs to be paid. If you subcontract any work out, even for a simple part, that subcontractor must have a type 07 FFL, pay the class II SOT, and register with ITAR. The laws are very specific and there is no leeway.

If you are not going to be selling to LE or government agencies or even if you are merely doing R&D, don't get the license. If you are not engaged in a legitimate firearms business, the ATF will shut you down and hang you.

Anyone know if a security contractor for State Department can buy? Maybe I can make it then sell it to a friend immediately.
No. The weapon may be transfered to the State Department and they can issue it to anyone, but your friend cannot own it or buy it.

hoytinak
May 20, 2008, 09:20 AM
Two or three years ago, almost every gun publication had the "kits" for the build it your self Stens. Also were Brens, as well as CZ's. They had the receivers cut.

Are you saying that there is no way to legally put one of those kits back together?

Soooooooooooooooooo tens of thousands of people who bought those kits are felons????

Tell me more about this...

And,,,,,,no. I do not have any. I just know that a lot of people bought them. I am not a fan of full auto. I much prefer silencers.


I have two Sten MKII's that I put together using parts kits and homemade receivers. You can't legally make them full-auto, it's perfectly legal to make a semi-auto for yourself though. Back when I put them together, I think it cost me about $100 each total....man the price on the kits has gone up and you can actually buy 80% receivers too now....that would have been alot easier on me. :cool:

ISC
May 20, 2008, 09:54 AM
it's legal to build a semiauto as long as it meets certain restrictions.

Just a couple are that it can't be:

1) a Short barrel rifle.
2) fired from an open bolt
3) made with so many foriegn parts that it isn't 922r compliant
4) capable of the reciever having original FA parts installed into it

To do all that, you have to make a reciever with a smaller I.D. or permanently welded obstruction that would prevent an original bolt from being installed.

Then you'd have to modify or make a new bolt that fired from a closed bolt

then you'd have to make a pistol grip to make it a functional pistol or make the barrel 16" long to make it a rifle.

UniversalFrost
May 20, 2008, 04:44 PM
yes, the kits must be CLOSED BOLT and must be permanently semi auto, not just blocking the selector from going to the full or burst setting and with the kits you need to either get an SBR stamp for the receiver or put on a 16" barrel. and make sure about the parts count as mentioned previously.

Also, if bulding a sten kit make sure about the tubing. some kits are using thin wall tubing which is crap and will only give you problems.

freakshow10mm
May 20, 2008, 06:09 PM
Just a couple are that it can't be:
...
4) capable of the reciever having original FA parts installed into it
Not sure about this one. My SA AR15 can have M16 FA parts dropped right in it. It can have original FA parts installed very readily, as can every other AR15 type rifle. They are legal. I don't understand your 4th criteria.

hoytinak
May 20, 2008, 07:54 PM
My SA AR15 can have M16 FA parts dropped right in it. It can have original FA parts installed very readily, as can every other AR15 type rifle. They are legal. I don't understand your 4th criteria.

Not exactly true cause your AR15 doesn't have the cutout for the auto sear and isn't drilled for the sear pin.

freakshow10mm
May 20, 2008, 09:41 PM
Let's see:

I can put in an M16 bolt carrier.

Or I can put in an M16 hammer. Or trigger.

None of which require any modifications to the receiver.

The DIAS don't require receiver mods.

hoytinak
May 20, 2008, 09:58 PM
The DIAS don't require receiver mods.

Yeah that is a good point, you got me there as I don't know anything about the drop in's. Didn't even think about them. :o

ISC
May 20, 2008, 10:53 PM
If you have a reciever that will accept a FA bolt and posess a FA bolt the ATF will classify it as a machinegun and can send you to jail.

freakshow10mm
May 21, 2008, 12:29 AM
No. You can have an M16 bolt carrier group in your AR15 and it is perfectly legal because adding the M16 BCG will NOT make your gun fire full auto. The ATF has made a ruling on this some time ago. Colt has always shipped their semi auto AR15s with an M16 BCG. That is what prompted the letter. Several other AR15 makers do this as well, like CMMG, Noveske, Stag, sometimes Bushmaster, etc.

Take the M1/M2 Carbine for example. You need 7 parts to make a M1 carbine fire full auto. You can have 6 of the 7 parts, but once you complete the 7 part collection, you have a machine gun. That is why you will never see a full M2 kit with all 7 pieces on the same table, unless they are serialized and registered/transferable.

When I get my 07/02 none of this will apply to me.

johnwilliamson062
May 21, 2008, 12:46 AM
You know what, I have a few friends around the world, it seems it would be easier for me to just take a few months vacation somewhere and do this.

SDC
May 21, 2008, 07:16 AM
Colt has always shipped their semi auto AR15s with an M16 BCG.

No, there are a number of differences between the current AR-15 and current M-16 carriers, most of which were specifically designed to prevent easy conversion. The most visible difference is that the bottom of the carrier at the rear is milled away on the semi carriers, thereby removing the trip surface that is supposed to activate the FA sear; putting an FA carrier in a current-production Colt AR also won't let you close the rifle, as that trip surface is blocked by part of the sear block that Colt added. The anchor pin for that block is also centred off of where the FA sear pivot pin would have to be located in order to function properly.

freakshow10mm
May 21, 2008, 08:53 AM
Look at this chart. The 6th line from the top is the M16 bolt carrier. Note how many AR15 manufacturers include this in their semi automatic AR15 type rifles, two of which have them as an option. The ATF's position is that an M16 bolt carrier group in a semi automatic AR15 rifle will NOT cause the weapon to fire more than one shot with a single function or manipulation of the trigger. It never has and it never will. The parts that convert an AR16 to an M16 are in the FCG, not the BCG.

http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q111/rob_s/gun%20stuff/071120-AR-Comparison-Chart.jpg

SDC
May 21, 2008, 09:54 AM
No doubt, but this is VASTLY different from claiming that "Colt has always shipped their semi auto AR15s with an M16 BCG." Though many manufacturers don't care one way or the other, it has long been Colt's policy to throw as many roadblocks in the way of conversions as possible, and one of those roadblocks is a semi-auto-only carrier.

freakshow10mm
May 21, 2008, 10:20 AM
All the testimony from Colt AR15 owners states they came with an M16 bolt carriers, reporting guns bought as far back as the 80's. To the best of my knowledge Colt never sold ARs with a SA BCG.

ISC
May 21, 2008, 11:45 AM
I'm talking about a STEN, which is the original topic of this post, not an M16/AR 15. If you have a STEN that you built that will accept an original fixed firing pin bolt, the ATF can arrest you for possession of a machinegun reciever.

SWITCHING TOPICS

If you've followed the Olafsen case you'd know that the ATF can also arrest and prosecute you for having an AR 15 with certain M16 parts in it even if that's how it came from the manufacturer if they can contrive a test where it will malfunction and slamfire.

I'm telling you that playing with technicalities and hoping that it will get you off if you have a problem is a recipe for disaster.

Don't take the chance.

freakshow10mm
May 21, 2008, 11:59 AM
If the part won't allow the weapon to fire in FA mode by installing the part itself, then it is not a MG.

Eghad
May 21, 2008, 02:52 PM
I remember reading an article in a respectable gun magazine about a guy building a Sten. He had some original parts and was machining the rest. I don't think it was a full auto gun.

ISC
May 21, 2008, 04:23 PM
If the part won't allow the weapon to fire in FA mode by installing the part itself, then it is not a MG.


have you read the Olafsen thread?
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=275955

I assure you that if you make a gun out of a STEN kit and it can be modified quickly modified or tested under special conditions by ATF to fire more than one round with one trigger pull they can and will throw you in jail.

Every open bolt gun is considered a FA by ATF definition.

there is no way to install a STEN bolt in a gun unless it is heavily modified and have it fired from the closed bolt position.

SDC
May 21, 2008, 05:15 PM
All the testimony from Colt AR15 owners states they came with an M16 bolt carriers, reporting guns bought as far back as the 80's. To the best of my knowledge Colt never sold ARs with a SA BCG.

Perhaps they don't KNOW what an M16 carrier looks like? Colt has always manufactured SA-only parts for shipment in its SA-only AR rifles, going back to the SP1 in the early 1960s. Those parts (and the consequent ease of conversion) have changed over time, but Colt's intent was always to prevent illicit conversions.

From 1963-85, the AR-15 SP1 (shipped as a semi-auto rifle) was also shipped with a carrier that had been relieved at the lower rear, so that even if you were to drill the sear pin hole and mount a set of FA parts in the lower, the carrier wouldn't trip that sear. That style was carried over into the AR-15 Sporter II and the AR-15A2 in 1986. When Clinton's Ugly Gun Ban passed, Colt almost dropped the AR for civilian sales entirely, but Colt changed hands and the new owners started producing the Sporter/AR-15A2 Sporter/HBAR Sporter rifles, and added the lower sear block in 1989; the rifles shipped with the sear block can only be used with a SA-only carrier that has been milled to allow it to pass that block.
Sorry for the thread hijack; one of the things you're going to have to do to produce a legal semi STEN is to make a two-piece bolt that operates via a striker.