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Old April 21, 2018, 06:55 PM   #1
kymasabe
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The fine line between AR pistol and SBR. Someone school me please.

Admin, I'm not sure this is in the right place, so please move it if it isn't.

Ok, so, I saw a good deal on a 10.5 inch barreled upper in 5.56 and it got me thinking...what the heck would I use it for. First thought was it might make a cool little SBR if I could build it affordably, but then I really don't have a need for one, and the thought of the $200 tax stamp kinda killed the idea. Then, I was thinking "what if..." and thought of maybe an AR pistol with the "brace" that looks remarkably like a stock and thought....before I do anything illegal, I better inquire about what's legal, what's not, what constitutes a pistol or SBR, where's a good place to the arm brace stock kinda thing (I really have no idea what it's called or who makes it). Do I want pistol length gas system? Carbine length? (The one I looked at was carbine length gas tube and had F-marked front sight). I'm assuming I'm going to need to play with buffer weights and springs?
School me.
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Old April 21, 2018, 07:13 PM   #2
marine6680
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You can not convert an existing AR rifle into a pistol.

You can build a new receiver into a pistol, and then you are fine. The rule of thumb (while not perfect) is... Once a rifle, always a rifle... A pistol can be converted into a rifle, then back into a pistol, so long as you do not make an illegal SBR configuration while doing the conversion... Meaning If you have a pistol, and want to turn it into a rifle, you can not put the stock on first, you must put on the longer barrel first. If you put on a stock first, you have briefly made it an SBR.


Generally, you just have to build the receiver with the brace. Then throw on the upper of your choice.

In 5.56 anything below 10.5in is generally impractical, due to the reduction in velocity and the huge fireball from the muzzle. Good for a range toy, not so good for defense.


A carbine gas system would likely work fine on a 10.5 barrel, but I am no expert in the short barrel configurations, others may disagree.


SB Tactical makes a new brace that has adjustability built in, like a stock. That would be a good brace to go with. Generally, you will have a shorter length of pull than a stock, due to the ATF stating that longer length of pull gets into rifle territory. Think a stock that is fully collapsed or a notch or two out at most.
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Old April 21, 2018, 08:38 PM   #3
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I gave it all a lot of thought, and in the end decided the $200 tax stamp made the headaches of what can I do legally go away. For me it was money well spent.

Now I can do pretty much anything I want with my registered receivers and not have to worry about some new ATFE ruling making what I did last month verboten this month.

I will note that I keep a pistol lower hanging on the wall of my gun room, just in case I decide at the last minute, that I need to take a short upper out of the state, as SBRs require you notify ATFE if you are taking them across state lines.

Luckily I rarely have any reason to leave the state I'm in, so it hasn't been an issue so far.
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Old April 21, 2018, 08:51 PM   #4
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Start with a lower that has not been a rifle. Add pistol brace. Add barrel length of choice. DO NOT add a stock. DO NOT add a vertical foregrip if the firearm is less than 26in in length (makes an NFA AOW). (State/local laws may vary...)
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Old April 21, 2018, 09:40 PM   #5
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The SBR stamp does also create more headaches. Want to travel out of state with your SBR? Ask the ATF if you can first. Want to loan your SBR to someone for a class? You better be there in person. Want to use it for home defence? Again you better be there if your wife has to use it.

If you have a pistol, odds are you will be just fine. I say odds b/c you still have deal with state laws.

Here is the newest brace from SB Tactical...it fits on a carbine buffer tube. It is a stock that is legally labeled a brace b/c you can wrap it around your forearm.

https://www.sb-tactical.com/product/sba3/

It is really a choice you need to make based on your intended use of it.
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Old April 21, 2018, 09:49 PM   #6
FrankenMauser
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The fine line between AR pistol and SBR. Someone school me please.
(...)
Then, I was thinking "what if..." and thought of maybe an AR pistol with the "brace" that looks remarkably like a stock and thought....before I do anything illegal, I better inquire about what's legal, what's not, what constitutes a pistol or SBR
It isn't really a fine line.
The difference is a shoulder stock combined with a barrel shorter than 16" (or overall length shorter than 26"); rather than any barrel length with no shoulder stock. (You can have a 30" barrel on a "handgun" if you want, and it's still a handgun.)

Other factors come into play for AOW consideration.

Arm braces... That's a whole 'nother ball of worms and can of ear wax. In my opinion, they're all pretty useless, will eventually be banned (unless you are 'certified' as disabled), and, contrary to the currently predominant opinion on the interwebs, still aren't legal to intentionally shoulder.
I played the arm brace game. I found it to be boring and pointless. I'd rather have 'just a pistol', or a go for a real SBR. (In my case, I do have 'just a pistol'; and will also have at least one SBR'd lower. The paperwork is being filed next week. )
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Old April 22, 2018, 02:42 AM   #7
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As far as the tax stamp thing goes - personally it's not the $200 for me rather it's a list I do not want to be on, especially considering the current climate in gun politics. Where I live there's no reason to even have a license to carry (open or concealed OK no permit), so basically as far as I know I'm not even a gun owner as far as government records they keep at their fingertips, and I like it that way. Say they pass the wrong sort of ban - I'd rather be in a position to tell them what I own versus the other way around.

Now as far as what I think - and I'm not a lawyer so read your own laws..

First warning - my understanding of the law, unless you have a lower which was originally a pistol or you have a lower that has not be designated (ie stripped lower which came with no stock) then you are not even supposed to have the short barrel upper in the first place - it's considered basically (not the legal term they use) conspiracy to break the law even if it's not mounted to anything. Simple fix there - step #1, if you feel you must have the SBR/pistol upper then get yourself a pistol lower or a stripped lower.

As far as an AR pistol goes, that is what you have with a barrel < 16 inches but no stock no vertical grip, it is kinda a goofy pistol. I don't really get the concept - rather buy a pair of actual pistols that have a 15 round capacity. But you can absolutely build one you just gotta know and follow the rules (see rules before doing this!)..

An SBR well that's got all sorts of purpose but tax stamp required. Not just tax stamp but all sorts of laws about how to store it, who has access, stress and drama if you ask me but it's a great gun to own.

If you just want the upper to add to your collection of random gun things for when the zombies come, like the 5000 tracer rounds you are storing in perpetuity - make sure you have a legit pistol lower, buy the upper, fondle it from time to time, if the zombies ever come since at that point civilization will have fallen - go ahead and slap it on any lower you want ..

My own plan, at some point I'm going to get a lightweight pencil barreled upper that has a pinned/welded flash hider for an overall barrel length of 16, setup only for close range maybe a red dot open sight, or just iron sights, and a laser. Should feel and operate as close to an SBR as you can get without the hassle.

Last edited by riffraff; April 22, 2018 at 02:55 AM.
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Old April 22, 2018, 04:40 PM   #8
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An SBR well that's got all sorts of purpose but tax stamp required. Not just tax stamp but all sorts of laws about how to store it, who has access, stress and drama if you ask me but it's a great gun to own.
Do you have a safe?
Do you know how to not hand your firearm(s) to random strangers or convicted felons?
Are you capable of filing a form once a year that tells the ATF, "I intend to travel with my SBR to [any legal location -- say, Motel 6 in Moab, Utah] between November 23, 2018 and November 22, 2019; for all lawful purposes."?

...'Cause that's all the "stress and drama" there is with an SBR.
Yes, a 5320.20 must be filed for each state that will be visited, but they can run for an entire year and the address given in each state is not the only place you can visit.

Is it more complicated than a braced pistol? Absolutely.
...But not by much, and there's nowhere near as much "grey area" or looming political shift to make your toy illegal overnight.


If a person doesn't want a true SBR and the legal requirements that come with it, that's fine. But it isn't the dreaded black hole of red tape and second-mortgage-worthy expense that people make it out to be...
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Old April 22, 2018, 10:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankenMauser View Post
Do you have a safe?
Do you know how to not hand your firearm(s) to random strangers or convicted felons?
Are you capable of filing a form once a year that tells the ATF, "I intend to travel with my SBR to [any legal location -- say, Motel 6 in Moab, Utah] between November 23, 2018 and November 22, 2019; for all lawful purposes."?

...'Cause that's all the "stress and drama" there is with an SBR.
Yes, a 5320.20 must be filed for each state that will be visited, but they can run for an entire year and the address given in each state is not the only place you can visit.

Is it more complicated than a braced pistol? Absolutely.
...But not by much, and there's nowhere near as much "grey area" or looming political shift to make your toy illegal overnight.


If a person doesn't want a true SBR and the legal requirements that come with it, that's fine. But it isn't the dreaded black hole of red tape and second-mortgage-worthy expense that people make it out to be...
Sure it's do-able, BTW I'm a commercial fisherman and some of the paperwork involved there makes owning an SBR sound real easy, god forbid you have a captains license or crew.

You are right and I agree with your point - not a terrible process.

I'll specify a bit more - my issue generally is I see it as a liability. Call me paranoid but here are a few scenario's:

1. They succeed with a ban on high capacity magazines without a grandfather provision. It appears compliance is 1% so they decide to more aggressively contact gun owners. My guess is anyone w/ the tax stamp makes the short list as there's not much else to go on.

2. You have a legal problem - in many places the police are not going to come by default to take your guns, however with an NFA item they are going to know you have guns and it very well may prompt such when otherwise nobody would even ask. Even if you become a prohibited person, it's much better to be able to have a friend some put your guns in safe storage and see to selling them, versus what happens if the police end up with them.

3. Someone is found dead in the town you live in - full of holes of the same caliber as your NFA item. Guess who they very well may ask about it first and what may become (at least for awhile) of your NFA item.
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Old April 22, 2018, 10:21 PM   #10
Nathan
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Start with a lower that has not been a rifle. Add pistol brace. Add barrel length of choice. DO NOT add a stock. DO NOT add a vertical foregrip if the firearm is less than 26in in length (makes an NFA AOW). (State/local laws may vary...)
Lots of good info here. The difference is a pistol has no stock. A rifle has a buttstock. A brace is not a stock. A brace should not be used incorrectly, but doing so does not manufacture another class of firearm.

Crystal clear, right?
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Old April 22, 2018, 10:54 PM   #11
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If you like a big muzzle flash, go for the pistol and save money for a hearing aid later.

My 14.5" M16 barrel was never as bad as the pistol i seen last week.
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Old April 22, 2018, 11:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
I'll specify a bit more - my issue generally is I see it as a liability. Call me paranoid but here are a few scenario's:

1. They succeed with a ban on high capacity magazines without a grandfather provision. It appears compliance is 1% so they decide to more aggressively contact gun owners. My guess is anyone w/ the tax stamp makes the short list as there's not much else to go on.

2. You have a legal problem - in many places the police are not going to come by default to take your guns, however with an NFA item they are going to know you have guns and it very well may prompt such when otherwise nobody would even ask. Even if you become a prohibited person, it's much better to be able to have a friend some put your guns in safe storage and see to selling them, versus what happens if the police end up with them.

3. Someone is found dead in the town you live in - full of holes of the same caliber as your NFA item. Guess who they very well may ask about it first and what may become (at least for awhile) of your NFA item.
Nah.
Improbable.
Bordering on implausible.

Don't live in fear of improbable conspiracies that have had chances to play out in numerous places around the country, but have never taken place.

When government agencies want compliance with regulations, or leads in investigations, they don't turn to registration. They ask for tattle-tales (with rewards, often).
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Old April 23, 2018, 02:34 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by FrankenMauser View Post
When government agencies want compliance with regulations, or leads in investigations, they don't turn to registration. They ask for tattle-tales (with rewards, often).
Ratting out people is what has me concerned the most. If it basically comes down to a neighbor with an axe to grind to anonymously call the police and say you have illegal weapons or whatever, is that enough for the police to come ransack your house? Even if the axe grinding neighbor has to identify themselves, if the police find illegal weapons or whatever, they are in the clear and if not, then they can just say they were mistaken with no consequences. Kind of like heads they win, tails you lose scenario.
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Old April 23, 2018, 05:01 AM   #14
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A short-barrelled rifle is a short-barrelled rifle. A pistol is a pistol. Hope that clears things up.
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Old April 23, 2018, 08:37 AM   #15
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my issue generally is I see it as a liability. Call me paranoid........
Which the wildly improbable scenarios you are worried about, perhaps gun ownership isn’t right for you. Maybe a whistle and some pepper spray instead?
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Old April 23, 2018, 08:46 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by riffraff
a lower that has not be designated (ie stripped lower which came with no stock)
A lower with a stock attached has the exact same legal designation as a stripped lower: they’re both simply receivers. And as long as neither were assembled first into rifles, they can be made into pistols and then back into rifles at will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by riffraff
An SBR well that's got all sorts of purpose but tax stamp required. Not just tax stamp but all sorts of laws about how to store it, who has access, stress and drama if you ask me but it's a great gun to own.
There are no federal laws regarding storage. Federally, the only thing big things you need to worry about are the following: You can’t take an SBR across state lines without prior approval, and you can’t let someone else borrow it (or otherwise have access to it) without you around (unless you have the SBR on a trust and that person is on the trust with you).

I can completely understand not wanting an extra level of restrictions and registration on your firearms, but many people who don’t fully understand how the process works make it out to be more difficult and restrictive than it really is. I’ve got 7 tax stamps and I’ve transferred probably thousands more to customers. It’s a fairy simple process. The only real difficult part is the cost and the wait.
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Old April 23, 2018, 09:37 AM   #17
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If you like a big muzzle flash, go for the pistol and save money for a hearing aid later.

My 14.5" M16 barrel was never as bad as the pistol i seen last week.
Not sure where this comes from....An SBR and pistol could have the same barrel length.

If you don't like blast and flash, quit shooting long barrel rounds from a short barrel. Perhaps something like 300 AAC Blackout or similar would be more to your liking. Or perhaps adding a linear comp?

I find my 300 BO much more tolerable than my 20" 5.56 with a muzzle brake!
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Old April 23, 2018, 09:56 AM   #18
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Theo - thanks for that, I've both read and been told multiple times that if you have an NFA item in your home, you literally either must have your wife in the trust or she must not have access to it for instance. That could easily be completely wrong and thanks for the clarification.

(not regarding Theo's info): I don't think those scenario's are even close to "wildly improbable" - improbable sure I hope so! But bottom line if you have an NFA item you are on the radar. Without an NFA item in most states nobody knows you even own guns.
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Old April 23, 2018, 10:17 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by riffraff
I've both read and been told multiple times that if you have an NFA item in your home, you literally either must have your wife in the trust or she must not have access to it for instance. That could easily be completely wrong and thanks for the clarification.
From what I understand, that’s technically true. Aaron Baker, a gun trust lawyer who posts on THR, says that if you have an NFA item as an individual (or your have a trust but your wife isn’t in it), technically your wife can’t have access to that NFA item when you’re not around. But he also says that it’s very unlikely that would ever be an issue, so he says it’s not a good reason in and of itself to get a gun trust (and he sells gun trusts).

But I have a trust and my wife is on it, so that’s not an issue for me. Also, my trust has a provision to easily add people to it, so I could loan an NFA item to a friend by simply adding him to a page and us both signing it. Then when he gives it back I get rid of that page.
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Old April 23, 2018, 10:14 PM   #20
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(Not a lawyer) From what reading I have done, adding names to a trust after the stamp has been issued is allowed without further BATFE involvement. That is why Silencer Shop had their "single shot trusts." If you have a trust, and want to add more NFA items, all "responsible persons" in the trust need to comply with the 41F paperwork requirements (prints, photos, notification form to local CLEO).

Quote:
contrary to the currently predominant opinion on the interwebs, still aren't legal to intentionally shoulder
No need to post personal opinions. Just go to the BATFE letter. https://www.sigsauer.com/wp-content/...ch-21-2017.pdf
Incidental, sporadic, or situational shouldering is not a "redesign" under the NFA.
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Old April 24, 2018, 12:18 AM   #21
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No need to post personal opinions. Just go to the BATFE letter. https://www.sigsauer.com/wp-content/...ch-21-2017.pdf
Incidental, sporadic, or situational shouldering is not a "redesign" under the NFA.
That letter applies to the individual it is addressed to (Mark Barnes, representing SB Tactical), not the entire country, or me, or you (unless you're Mark Barnes or SB Tactical).
And... it's still political babble.
Read the whole thing.
Comprehend EVERYTHING that is being said - not just what you want to see.

Bottom line in ALL of the ATF letters, determinations, opinions, and decisions:
The ATF wants people to think that they're "okay" with faux SBRS ('arm brace pistols') being shouldered as standard operating procedure, while allowing themselves the opportunity to reverse the decision (opinion!) or pounce on an individual any time they please.
None of the determinations, decisions, or opinions provided by the ATF on arm brace pistols actually say it's perfectly legal. At best, they say, "We'll leave you alone until we change out minds."

A faux SBR, err... arm brace pistol ... is a sand castle. (Or snowman, if you prefer.)
It looks cool.
It's fun while it lasts.
But like all other modern AR toys, it will be washed (or melted) away by political change sooner than later.
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