View Full Version : full auto questions

January 26, 2009, 04:49 PM
first time posting on here & trying to get some information to keep me out of trouble. bare with me if this all seems a bit trivial, but I want to remain fully within the law & not cause any trouble.

I want to throw this out to all of you more knoledgeable members & pick your brains....

I have already ordered my lower from CMMG, I expect it to be here in 3-6 months :eek:

while doing my research, I came across this quote in an article about AR15's, "One really neat thing about the CMMG, is that the M16 bolt carrier is a free option. Just click it in the drop-down menu and it's yours". I like the idea of delaying the action just a tad, "thus giving a bit more accuracy"...to quote the article further.:cool:

As I'm trying to save for the upper, I thought I'd configure one & see how much I need to save: didn't see the option for an M16 bolt carrier, so I asked CMMG; The reply back was simply, "I double checked; the option is on the rifle and the upper to change to full auto carrier at no additional cost."

uhhhhhhhhhhhh I live in WA, which is a non-NFA country....I can't have a full auto!

or is it something else, other than just the bolt carrier that makes it full auto?

will ordering it with the full auto carrier still make it legal to own in WA...

is it the actual bolt that determines whether or not it's full auto? trigger group? "other" internal parts?

any insight would help to alleviate any of my concerns as well as edumacate me more


January 26, 2009, 04:57 PM
The M16 bolt carrier alone will not make your AR15 full auto. Other parts and modifications are needed (and would, of course, be quite illegal in most cases). The consensus of what I have heard is that it's OK to have an M16 bolt carrier in your AR without running afoul of the BATFE. Until they arbitrarily change their minds about it, of course.

Disclaimer: I don't own an M16 or any other NFA gun. This being the NFA forum, I suspect someone will find some fault in what I just wrote; so be it.

January 26, 2009, 05:06 PM
I did read in the article something to the effect of, "It does NOT make your rifle somehow "illegal" for having an M16 part in the rifle. That is a myth.", but, as I said, I'm still "getting into" the AR world & have some learning to do..wanted to make sure that the carrier wasn't what made it FA. I'm sure you're all aware of the article of which I speak, but just in case, here's the link:


I considered it to be an excellent, well-written article & I, personally, learned a lot from it.


January 26, 2009, 09:16 PM
Its ok to have an M16 carrier in an Ar15. Actually I think Colt ships them in their ARs anyway.

January 26, 2009, 10:09 PM
ATF highly recommends that your AR-15 have no full auto parts installed. If for any reason you do have full auto parts and they can make your gun fire more than one round per trigger pull, you will be in deep poo.

However, the full auto bolt carrier will not make your AR go full auto by itself. As stated, some manufacturers sell their ARs with the full auto carrier installed. ATF is never consistant in their rulings and there is an off chance that some day they may rule an AR-15 with a single full auto part installed is a machinegun. They have in the past ruled a piece of string was a machinegun, only to later reverse themselves and rule that the piece of string must be tied to your semi-auto rifle before it becomes a machinegun. But for now, it is not illegal to have a full auto bolt carrier.

January 27, 2009, 10:55 AM
You can “auto” your completed AR legally, prices start around $7500 for a link and $13,500 or so for a DIAS.

Ever since the “green box” Colts I think they mill the entire bottom off the carrier. If they didn’t the block that is blind pinned into the receiver would impair function a bit.

January 28, 2009, 12:24 AM
Two points:

a) there is federal law and BATFE regulations

b) and then there is state law

both laws apply and should be obeyed as the consequences are pretty significant!

In Washington State, it is a violation of state law to possess an AR-15 with a M-16 or full-auto bolt carrier installed. Under state law the M-16 or full-auto bolt carrier is defined by law as a machine-gun. So, please don't put a M16 (full-auto) bolt carrier in your rifle. Don't complain to me, I didn't write or vote for this law.

As a side note, legal opinion varies on whether mere possession of the full-auto (M-16) bolt-carrier is a violation of State law. Until there is case law on this point I would advise against pushing the envelop.

In Washington State, you can no longer own machine guns or SBR's or AOW's. Existing weapons are grand-fathered but new weapons can not be brought into the State of Washington by ordinary citizens. There are exceptions, for police, military and manufactures, but that is a different can of worms.

Just reminder to all, state law(s) can vary greatly from state to state and may be more restrictive than federal law.

As always, YMMV

January 28, 2009, 01:03 AM
In Washington State, it is a violation of state law to possess an AR-15 with a M-16 or full-auto bolt carrier installed. Under state law the M-16 or full-auto bolt carrier is defined by law as a machine-gun. So, please don't put a M16 (full-auto) bolt carrier in your rifle. Don't complain to me, I didn't write or vote for this law.

Can you cite the law for that? From my research you appear to be wrong. An M16 bolt carrier isn't design or intended solely for a machine gun. Colt sells their guns in WA state and ships them with M16 bolt carriers.


RCW 9.41.190
Unlawful firearms — Exceptions.

(1) It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or to assemble or repair any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle.

RCW 9.41.220
Unlawful firearms and parts contraband.

All machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, or short-barreled rifles, or any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, illegally held or illegally possessed are hereby declared to be contraband, and it shall be the duty of all peace officers, and/or any officer or member of the armed forces of the United States or the state of Washington, to seize said machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or parts thereof, wherever and whenever found.

January 28, 2009, 01:29 AM
You qoute :

RCW 9.41.220

but, your interpretation is incorrect.

I don't have the Attorney General of Washington State, letter and opinion handy at home, or the state court ruling that was upheld the M16 bolt carrier is contraband, but when I get to the office I hunt it up again.

I know, I had the same reaction as you until this was brought to my attention.

I promise, I'll be back with references.

January 28, 2009, 02:38 AM
RCW 9.41.190 and RCW 9.41.220 which the legislature modified in 1994, and a criminal Court case in Tacoma subsequently in 1994 changed the lay of the land in Washington State.

The specific clause which stands on its own from RCW 9.41.190:

"or to assemble or repair any machine gun".

The specific clasue which stands on its own from RCW 9.41.220:

"or in converting a weapon into a machine gun"

Since, 1994 it has been illegal in Washington to own, possess or have any of the five M-16 parts as listed by the BATFE as machine gun parts.

There is also the prosecution in Tacoma Court of a Al Woodbridge who was convicted of 12 counts of possessing machine guns because of the possession of these parts, and an AR15 with a M16 bolt as both the BATFE and the Washington State Attorney General testified as to possessing a machine gun by possessing parts. As I understand the Attorney General's testimony and with the concurrence of the BATFE, the cited clauses was in the opinion of the Attorney General of the State of Washington a violation of law.

I don't have the actual ruling in front of me, the judge or docket number, but again this is from my relevant practice notes as the result of this case and ruling. Which by the way went through the Washington State appeals process, the district court ruling was upheld.

Since this case, no FFL I'm aware of will ship M16 parts whether installed or not into Washington state, with out proof of a Tax Stamp. I don't presume to speak for what Colt has or has not done, is doing, will do or to legality of that action under and in Washington State.

I'm not saying I agree with the current state of the law, I'm just trying to state very clearly what the law appears to be as interpreted by the Court.

I will check once I get into office and see if I can find the relevant citations, I'm not sure they are publicly available on the web (Lexus, etc), but I will see what I can do.

Note: This is intend for informational purposes only, if you require a legal opinion seek one from a licensed attorney. Feel free to ignore my caution, but that is the basis for my opinion. Please consult a licensed attorney in the State of Washington rather than accept my opinion, however, I will be surprised if he or she disagrees.

Best Wishes, and not trying to rain on anyone's parade.

As always, YMMV.

January 28, 2009, 09:03 PM
I appreciate the information, and it will definately give me some "thinking information". I'm actually trying to stay within the law, so I've been doing my share of calling, emailing & writing letters.

I attempted to contact the Attorney general's office & spoke with 3 different people...each of them told me that that question should be posed to the Firearms division of the Department of Licensing. Bruce Tanaka, Supervisor of that division, after going over & over RCW 9.41.220 clearly stated that because the M16 bolt carrier was not an "exclusive" part to a machine gun & could be used in a semi-automatic weapon, that it did not fall within the "or any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun" category. Furthermore, he stated that because it would be being used in a semi-automatic rifle, and that my intentions are not to modify the AR15 to become FA, that it would not be classified as a "machine gun part".

For added Clarification, I have written BATFE with a full explanation of not only my intentions, but the opinions of Mr. Tanaka with a request for complete clarification.

Fortunately I tend to over analyze things, but one of my favorite quotes from all my classes in criminal justice is "ignorance is no excuse". I'd rather write 20 letters & find out I'd be in violation that ASSume I'm in compliance & end up with my a$$ in the grey bar hotel.


January 28, 2009, 10:42 PM
Best Wishes, and not trying to rain on anyone's parade.

Nope that's why I asked, because there can always be some idiot AG who will interpret things he has no clue about.

January 29, 2009, 02:32 AM

I have one other thought for you, in my AR15s, I use CMT semi-auto bolt carrier group with an MPI bolt. That way I get a bolt carrier group that has the same weight as the M-16 bolt carrier, yet I'm not using the M-16.

"Bolt carrier group for your semi automatic AR-15. Parkerized exterior, chrome lined inside carrier, with heavier profile at rear of carrier group and under firing pin. Manufactured and assembled by USGI Contractor CMT. Completely assembled, includes bolt carrier, bolt, firing pin, cam pin, and retaining pin."

Here the link:


Like I said, I went this route to avoid trouble with the man. As an example, when I bought my Bushmaster back in the early eighties it was common to see M-16 bolt carriers and hammers where the auto-sear catch was ground off.

When I did my DMPS varmint rifle I bought the DPMS upper without bolt carrier group and the DPMS lower separately. I then bought the bolt-carrier group and MPI bolt from Bravo Company.

I ended up with the correct weight (mass) bolt carrier group, and yet a semi-auto bolt carrier. That keeps the gun nazis at bay. I understand the M-16 bolt with additional machining to make it a semi-auto doesn't have the right mass, and your goal is to get the right mass so you have the correct cycle rate, etc, and stay legal.

Until, there is a different court ruling on the matter, I'm not confident of the out come in Court. I still owe you the citations and I will get that to you, only today at work was crisis mode.

However, if you get anything in writing and you are willing to share, I would love a copy. I for one, appreciate that effort you are making in getting a solid answer to this question. Send me a private message, and I'll send you my email address if you are willing to share.

Thanks for sharing what you have discovered. Like I said, I don't agree with the Court, and in general the state has not gone crazy enforcing it, but every now and then something does make it to court that doesn't seem to make sense or jive with the facts.

As always, I enjoy the give and take, thanks for views.

January 29, 2009, 10:29 AM
a quick lesson on the different bolt carriers.


Note: you can have full auto without an m16 carrier. A registered link cost around $7500