View Full Version : Deactivated M16 - reactivate?

June 18, 2010, 09:43 AM
I was offered to purchase a replica m16. I'm assuming it just deactivated is it possible to just replace the upper of the deactivated rifle with a modern upper to make it a functional weapon again?

June 18, 2010, 09:47 AM

A true M16 is a machine gun. It cannot be legally transferred unless you go through a special type of FFL that is authorized to process machine gun transfers. Then there's a special background check on you, and a $200 fee to the ATF.

If it's a replica, then it doesn't work. Making a replica to work will involve manufacture of a firearm. Manufacturing a firearm is getting into grey areas of law that most folks don't want to stray into, without a license.

If it's a replica and you want a replica then buy it. If you want a real M16, save up about $15,000 and buy one on the used market legitimately.

June 18, 2010, 09:57 AM
You can’t “deactivate” an M16 in the eyes of the NFA branch of the BATFE. See the shiny pin above the safety in the photo below. That is for the auto sear and you can’t have that hole in the receiver even if you don’t own any of the parts required to make it run FA. This is known as constructive intent and illegal, again that is just for the hole.


I guess you could say the AR15 is a replica of the M16 and will work fine, there is no difference in the uppers just the bolt carrier. If you are talking about a stage prop type replica, pass on that deal if you want a shooter.

June 18, 2010, 10:01 AM
Well what if I just replaced the upper (if it is a deactivated weapon); would it the older m16 model match up with a modern upper?

June 18, 2010, 10:03 AM
It would behoove you to talk to a lawyer competent in dealing with fully automatic weaponry and transfers between individuals.

You aren't understanding that the receiver itself, regardless of whatever parts you swap around, is a machine gun and has special laws that apply to it.

June 18, 2010, 10:05 AM
If the reciever has the hole for the auto sear, it is illegal by itself. Even without any upper.

June 18, 2010, 10:15 AM
Alright, I understand that there are legal issues.

Let's say it's a deactivated AR15, that are within the guidelines/rules/regulations/etc. If the model happened to be older, would swapping the upper still make it active

June 18, 2010, 10:20 AM

June 18, 2010, 10:32 AM
As far as I know there are no "deactivated" m16s. I believe they are destroyed. If it is a real m16 it will probably be upwards of $16,000.

If its a stage prop I doubt It would be able to shoot if you change the upper and if it does it would most likely break. If It is a stage prop/replica gun that is able to shoot full auto and you attach a upper. You'll be in federal prison for the next 10 years even if you dont get it to work, just by trying to manufacture an illlegal machine gun.

June 18, 2010, 10:35 AM
It would depend on how it was deactivated if the receiver is FA the BATF considers cutting it into at least three sections “deactivated”. No amount of upper changes will cure this problem. If it was just a regular AR someone made into a dummy rifle, they could have just plugged the barrel so it couldn’t chamber a round. In that case just install a new barrel and go shooting.

June 18, 2010, 10:43 AM
I'll bet this is what they are selling:


You are seriously wasting your time and money.

June 18, 2010, 10:45 AM
I was offered to purchase a replica m16. I'm assuming it just deactivated is it possible to just replace the upper of the deactivated rifle with a modern upper to make it a functional weapon again?

1) If we are actually talking about a REPLICA "rifle" then probably not since most of the REPLICA M-16 units that I've seen are actually assembled on a solid cast receive (http://www.hardscrabblefarm.com/vn/replica-weapons.html)r (one solid piece, no holes or moving parts).

2) If you want a working firearm why don't you just go out and buy a working firearm? Asking about doing it this way tends to make me think you are either trying to be really cheap or possibly ineligible to purchase a real firearm.

June 18, 2010, 10:51 AM
If it's like the photo navy posted that one was never "activated" in the first place.

June 18, 2010, 11:08 AM
I gotta get the popcorn out for this one.

My bet is that the OP is ineligible to possess firearms and is looking for a way to circumvent that.

1. Like the others have said, the receiver of an M16, the part with the serial number, is technically the regulated "gun." If it has the little pinhole for an auto sear, it is a "machine gun," and hence subject to all applicable NFA rules and state law.
2. If, and it is highly unlikely, this "deactivated M16" is in fact a functional rifle with the barrel plugged, it is STILL legally a machine gun. If it does not have NFA paperwork, it will by law have to be destroyed.
3. If, as is more likely, this replica M16 is rubber, plastic, or cast aluminum or pot metal, the OP is more than welcome to attempt to attach an AR-15 upper to it and try to make it shoot. I hope he posts YouTube videos.

June 18, 2010, 11:33 AM
lol, I'm eligible to purchase a firearm..that's ridiculous. I'm just asking this question because I have an opportunity to purchase something like or similar to an AR15/M16. I have little information besides it doesn't function.

So put away your popcorn and please stop ridiculing me. I come here to ask questions seeing as how I have little knowledge about AR15 type rifles.

So I ask again: Is it possible to swap the upper to an older AR15 type rifle with a more modern type upper. Simple Yes/No will suffice

June 18, 2010, 12:03 PM
True lowers and uppers swap to a degree - if it's a mixed pin Colt then some work around pins will be necessary.

The term deactivated is at question. It implies it's US surplus, which is only sold if certain damaging and nearly irreversible cuts are made through the magazine well and trigger. Replica is actually worse or better - it's simply a rubber or diecast toy. There's no real way to make them functional. Using both terms to describe it means its a very confused wall hanger. It can't really be both.

When things are described in that inaccurate or confusing manner, something's wrong somewhere. Complete documentation of previous ownership would be a good thing to confirm.

June 18, 2010, 12:44 PM
lol, I'm eligible to purchase a firearm..that's ridiculous.
You can legally own and that's fine but before you get upset you have to understand that there have been plenty of "fishing expeditions" by ineligible persons (or Brady types) who come around trying to gather information about loopholes and the way you were asking had a strong resemblance to other fishing expeditions I've seen here and on other sites.

Is it possible to swap the upper to an older AR15 type rifle with a more modern type upper. Simple Yes/No will suffice

The actual question that you need to answer is does the "rifle" in question have an actual, functional, lower in the first place.

June 18, 2010, 01:13 PM
another point, I haven't the answer, but isn't the capacity for full auto that would define the M16 going to be found in the upper?

June 18, 2010, 01:15 PM
isn't the capacity for full auto that would define the M16 going to be found in the upper?
No, the parts that result in a full-auto gun are all in the lower.

June 18, 2010, 01:28 PM
Why bother trying to "fix" this so called M16 and just buy a good AR15 and call it a day?

June 18, 2010, 01:28 PM
No, the parts that result in a full-auto gun are all in the lower.

And the bolt carrier.

June 18, 2010, 01:31 PM
Well, the army/atf/everyoneelse are not stupid.

The question is whether the de-milled rifle can be repaired. Since all fire control components would have been destroyed in the de-mil process, upper and lower, you have to assume that there would have been cuts or burns done to the key components on both parts, as well as to the upper and lower receiver themselves.

Doesn't it stand to reason that they are going to take every component that contributes to the functioning, and destroy it completely, rather than just bust the firing pin and snip the gas tubes?

I had the opportunity to buy a de-mil sten 20 years or so ago; they had been cut in half through the receiver with a cutting torch and came to you in pieces. Whatever was done with this military rifle was probably just as permanent, I would guess.

June 18, 2010, 01:47 PM
No one can give you ANY credible advice on this without first SEEING the "replica." Most "replica's" that I've seen will have a solid, hard rubber lower with the breech and barrel filled with lead, making it completely unusable for anything other than a training aid. Other replica's have a piece of rebar like metal for the barrel and hard rubber outter covering that makes it appear like an M-16.

Once again, without seeing the weapon up close and personal, there's simply no way to know what type of replica this is and personally, I seriously doubt that any replica could be made to fire. There is an Airsoft AR15 that can be made to fire, but by the time to buy the parts to get it functional, you could have bought a real, yet used, AR15. Also, the Airsoft AR15's barrel isn't made as well as that of a real weapon and people have had them break up on them after just a couple hundred rounds.

June 18, 2010, 01:53 PM
What part of the bolt carrier makes the rifle full auto capable? If you have a regular AR lower, and a bolt carrier from one of these rifles is it illegal? That part doesnt make sense to me

June 18, 2010, 02:10 PM
The M16 bolt carrier has a small cutout for the auto sear. Well, IIRC.

June 18, 2010, 02:25 PM

Top is AR carrier
Middle is the SP1 carrier that works with the lightning link
Bottom is M16 carrier

The little little cut out is to clear the buffer retainer in the stock, that is why the all have it. The carrier has more metal to trip the auto sear at the correct time. The SP1 bolt and lightning link move the piviot behind the rear takedown pin (further back than the auto sear on an m16).

June 18, 2010, 02:32 PM
Good thread at Calguns. (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=200584)

June 18, 2010, 02:37 PM
The rear shroud of the bolt carrier. It helps trip or reset the full auto sear. On commercial guns, the shroud is cut down as it no longer serves a purpose.

Commercial AR-15: top two, M16 FA: bottom

It's not illegal to have an FA carrier, they are easily available. Some like them for the added weight.

To the OP: the real question is how was it deactivated? Is it a complete upper half on a fake or semi-auto lower? Is it a mock-up? There was a batch of M16A1's recently imported from Vietnam as parts kits less barrels and lower receivers. They were offered with replacement barrels as complete guns and build kits.

June 18, 2010, 05:22 PM
This is how a properly de-activated M-16 will look...


June 18, 2010, 09:28 PM
The Lower Parts Kit for full auto M16/M4's are available from lots of vendors, including Brownell's. The lower requires an additional pin hole as previously pictured. Surplus kits are available, to my knowledge the BATF doesn't require destruction of the specific disconnector and allows possession and resale.

It's when they are possessed at the same time as a potentially functioning lower that the BATF gets interested.

The OP does have an interesting dilemma, but as said, what the goods are, or are suspected to be, aren't known.

June 18, 2010, 09:32 PM
Why would you want one? You couldn't feasibly convert it without massive tooling skills and equipment.