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Old June 6, 2012, 09:53 AM   #1
belveflowslykh20
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8-10" upper receiver on stripped lower

I am obviosly very new to this so i was just wondering the legality of putting less then a 16" upper receiver on a stripped lower. I know that makes it an sbr and i have to get the tax stamp but my question is what if i put it o a lower without a buttstock? Does that make it a pistol similar to a kel tec plr-16? Also I was wondering if anyone can inform me of the laws or restrictions of purchasing just the upper receiver is there any tax stamp requirements in doing so? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance
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Old June 6, 2012, 10:36 PM   #2
David Hineline
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A stripped receiver never assembled as a rifle can go either way pistol or rifle.

If you go rifle then a short barrel makes it a short rifle and it can not go pistol.

If you go pistol the short barrel is ok, and it can go rifle if you put more than 16" barrel on it, then it can return to pistol as long as the stock is not on when the short barrel is on.

There is no requlation prohibition on ordering short barrels, but make sure you have a legal reason to have it.

Possesion of a rifle with a short barrel can show intent to break the law.
If you have a legal pistol then you have a reason to own the short barrel.
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Old June 7, 2012, 08:48 AM   #3
belveflowslykh20
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dave thank you very much. Just out of curiosity can i put it on a lower that came with a stock, if i remove the stock and add just the buffer?
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Old June 10, 2012, 12:32 PM   #4
jclayto
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You cannot place it on a receiver that has ever had a stock attached without registering as a SBR. I know that it doesn't make a lot of sense but once it has had a stock, then it is always a rifle lower even if the stock is removed.

The good news is stripped virgin lowers can be had for 69-79$ pretty easily. You have two options available: You can send in a Form 1 w/ $200 tax requesting to build a sbr. Once the stamp comes back you can buy the upper and drop it on. You could also just sell that lower or use it for another project and buy a stripped lower + the short upper + the pistol parts kit and build it as a pistol with no tax required.

Lastly, and this is just personal opinion. If you decide to go the pistol route I would probably make sure that you sell that lower that had a stock attached. There is no law against owning the pistol or the stocked lower or really both at the same time but if any questions ever arose I would not want to have an ar pistol in my house with a stocked lower just sitting around and nothing to go on it. Again, not illegal, but could be perceived as intent to use it as a unregistered SBR.
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Old June 12, 2012, 11:03 AM   #5
tepin
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To ensure you have a clean lower ready to be made into a pistol, the manufacturer of the lower would need to provide you with a letter describing the lower as 'virgin' i.e. neither a pistol nor rifle. Then you have to go to the dealer you purchased the lower from and ensure the receiver was not recorded as a "long-gun" on your form 4473. If you build a pistol on a lower recorded as a long-gun (rifle), you have made a SBR.

Generally, the only way someone would get busted by not following the steps above ^^^ would be if your "pistol" were stolen and later recovered by the cops and through the process of tracing the serial number from manufacturer to dealer would the cops discover an illegal SBR if "long-gun" appears on your 4473. Shortly thereafter you'll have the local SWAT & ATF kicking your door in. You'll be charged with unlawful manufacture of a firearm, unlawful possession of a SBR and falsifying a police report (you claimed your "pistol" was stolen when in fact it was your rifle).

Something else, you can also use a 6 position buffer tube on your pistol (stock removed) but ideally you sell the stock or give it away. As others have said, just having all the parts to build a SBR is the same as being in possession of a SBR which is a violation of the NFA. Here is a copy of an ATF letter I found via AR15.com

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Old June 12, 2012, 10:45 PM   #6
rjrivero
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Dave Hineline has it right.

A receiver is transferred on a 4473 as "Other." Doesn't matter if it's stripped, or has the LPK put in it or even if it has a stock on it. Until it's built into a "complete" firearm, it's a receiver, and transferred on a 4473 as "Other."

Therefore, you can build it into any complete firearm you would like to build it into. If you want to build it into a pistol, go ahead and build it into a pistol. Even if you have to take the stock off of it you are allowed to do so. (per the letter tepin posted above.)

If you buy a stripped lower, and build it into a PISTOL FIRST, then you can go ahead and re-configure it into a LEGAL RIFLE. You are then free to convert it back and forth from pistol to rifle and back again as you wish. (See ATF Ruling 2011-4)

The question then comes up: How do you PROVE the build was a PISTOL FIRST?

I recommend taking a picture of the firearm using todays newspaper as a backdrop. That way you have visual proof of the date you built the pistol. The burden to refute this is much harder. Even better, IMVHO, is to also take a short video of the built pistol that zooms into the serial number, and back out to the newspaper backdrop, showing the date clearly.

To best avoid "sticky issues" I always make it a point to transfer my lowers through a FFL/SOT (aka Class III Dealer) who is familiar with NFA rules and regulations. That way you know for sure your transfer is logged correctly, and they can help you wade through these grey areas of NFA nuance.

I believe the 2011-4 Opinion letter makes moot the constructive possession issues for an illegal SBR as well, but be advised, I am NOT a lawyer, and none of this is legal advice.
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Old June 13, 2012, 11:39 AM   #7
tepin
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Good info rjrivero. I have two local dealers that I buy from. In 2008 I purchased 4 stripped lowers and he wrote "rifle" on my 4473 and when he called in for the NICS he said, "long-gun". My other FFL uses "Other" as he should. Probably still a good practice to verify with the dealer how the lowers are represented on the 4473.
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Old June 13, 2012, 12:36 PM   #8
mingheemouse
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If you are really concerned, you can buy a lower that was marked "pistol" by the manufacturer. Logged into their books as a "pistol". Logged in at the FFL as a "pistol". Then transferred to you on the 4473 as a "pistol". This should reduce the chances of there ever being confusion about the fact that what you bought was indeed a "pistol". I know it's not all strictly necessary, but will certainly save time in the event any questions arise.

I did that through Sun Devil Mfg. for a pistol build to let me take my SBR upper out of state without having to file a form 5320.20 every time I wanted to go out of state with a 10.3" barrel. It even wears a bullet button and 10 round mag for California use.
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Old June 14, 2012, 08:46 AM   #9
rjrivero
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If your dealers are transferring stripped lowers as anything else but "Other" on the 4473, then they're doing it wrong.

Their audit time will suck hard.
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Old June 14, 2012, 09:01 AM   #10
Brian Pfleuger
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rjrivero,

Thanks for posting the link to that letter.

I was not aware that ATF had ever (finally!) made that matter as clear as the obvious logic of it always should have been. There have been several discussions on this board, previous to the time of that letter, regarding the legalities of converting from rifle to pistol.

I did extensive research before I bought my Encore in 2010 and those questions were decidedly open.

That is excellent information.
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Old June 14, 2012, 09:50 AM   #11
rjrivero
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Pfleuger
Thanks for posting the link to that letter.
Glad to be able to contribute. Prior to that letter, the ATF held strong to the "once a rifle, always a rifle" mantra. Of course the Thompson Center court ruling suggested that the ATF was making up law, but the ATF held that this ruling ONLY applied to the Thompson Center kits.

That's all water under the bridge at this point. I wonder what their ulterior motive is. Maybe I'm being sceptical, but rarely does a gift like this to gun owners come without cost.

But I digress. Again, Glad to help.
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