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Old January 11, 2016, 11:18 AM   #1
gyvel
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An odd question about rifle receivers.

This came up in a discussion the other day, and I am curious about the correct answer:

If a person purchased an unbarreled rifle receiver from the factory as was the case a number of years ago, would it be legal to manufacture that receiver as a pistol. My contention was that, if you can do it with an AR receiver, and you have the necessary receipts to show that it was purchased as a receiver only, then no laws would be broken.

In other words, would this violate any provision of the NFA?

What say you?
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Old January 11, 2016, 12:37 PM   #2
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If it's a receiver then it can be made into either a rifle or a pistol. If it was made into a rifle first, then it can't ever be a pistol. If it was made into a pistol first, then it can go back and forth as a pistol or a rifle.

I suppose you could run into problems if the FFL mistakenly listed it as a rifle instead of a receiver, but that would probably be something that would only come up during a criminal investigation. And even then I would think that further tracing of the gun would find that it originally left the factory as a receiver.
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Old January 12, 2016, 01:22 AM   #3
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That's what logic would dictate, but we are dealing with an agency that classified a shoelace as a machine gun.
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Old January 12, 2016, 06:26 AM   #4
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Only if that shoelace is tied around the trigger and the charging handle.

If you bought a 10/22 receiver (4473'd as a receiver). You could make either a 10/22 rifle OR a Charger pistol out of it.
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Old January 12, 2016, 07:49 AM   #5
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If it was first built as a pistol then it can always be a pistol. Depending on how long ago it was purchased the 4473 might not have had the option for anything other than rifle or handgun.

All this is regarding federal law: your state may have rules I am unaware of.
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Old January 12, 2016, 10:53 AM   #6
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If a person purchased an unbarreled rifle receiver...
No. It's a rifle and cannot be made into a pistol without registering it on a form 1. Whether the barrel is attached or not is irrelevant.

I once owned a M10 carbine (open bolt). It came from the factory with a carbine length barrel. You could easily replace the barreled upper with a pistol barrel, but that would make it an unregistered SBR.
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Old January 12, 2016, 11:58 AM   #7
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No. It's a rifle and cannot be made into a pistol without registering it on a form 1. Whether the barrel is attached or not is irrelevant.

I once owned a M10 carbine (open bolt). It came from the factory with a carbine length barrel. You could easily replace the barreled upper with a pistol barrel, but that would make it an unregistered SBR.
No.

I am talking about a receiver, purchased new from the maker that has never had a barrel installed. In years past, some manufacturers would sell you just an action for you to install a barrel in your choice of calibre. Additionally, I included the proviso that all receipts and paperwork would indicate that it was a bare UNBARRELED receiver.

You are talking about something completely different. Your MAC 10 was already barreled and sold as a long gun. I think you're thinking of a barreled action.
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Old January 12, 2016, 12:16 PM   #8
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No. It's a rifle and cannot be made into a pistol without registering it on a form 1.
Not true Skans. Remington sold Model 7 bare receivers which people legally made into home-versions of the XP100R pistol.
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Old January 12, 2016, 12:17 PM   #9
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Gyvel, you said it was a rifle receiver. Yes, it can be just an undesignated receiver, but that's not what you said.

Some rifle receivers have a designation on the receiver (as on my M10) indicating that it is intended to be configured as a rifle. On my M10, a small "c" was stamped next to the serial number indicating that the receiver is specifically for a carbine. I'm assuming that the "c" designation was there before any barrel was installed. Therefore, with or without the barrel installed from the factory, it was a rifle receiver.
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Old January 12, 2016, 12:23 PM   #10
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As far as the ATF is concerned, there is no such thing as a "rifle receiver", just as there is no such thing as a "pistol receiver". There is simply a "receiver". The manufacturer can put whatever markings they want on their receivers, but that doesn't change anything. And because they are receivers, they can be made into either a pistol or a rifle.
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Old January 12, 2016, 12:54 PM   #11
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You might want to read this from BATFE:

Nonetheless, if a handgun or other weapon with an overall length of less than 26 inches, or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length is assembled or otherwise produced from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle, such a weapon is a “weapon made from a rifle” as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(4). Such a weapon would not be a “pistol” because the weapon was not originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by one hand.

https://www.atf.gov/file/55526/download

And, focus on the part that says "...or otherwise produced from a weapon originally....produced only as a rifle..."

So, I'd think twice about assembling a pistol from receiver that is somehow designated as a carbine or rifle receiver. Whether or not it's a rifle is not limited to the installation of a certain length barrel from the factory.
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Old January 12, 2016, 01:11 PM   #12
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What are the markings? If the receiver is new and there never were any, it can be made into either. But AFAIK, if it is identified by the markings as a rifle (Remington Model 700, or Ruger 10/22), then it is considered a rifle even though it never had a barrel of any length installed. That is what the regulation Skans quotes means. If that were not the position, anyone could cut off a barrel and claim that he bought the receiver and put the short barrel on it.

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Old January 12, 2016, 01:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Gyvel, you said it was a rifle receiver. Yes, it can be just an undesignated receiver, but that's not what you said.
I specified an unbarreled rifle receiver that was sold as such and thoroughly documented, and I used the word "rifle" in a generic sense (thinking of something bolt action). For example, Frank deHaas always mentions some brands of rifle actions that could be purchased for custom builds. At that point, that action has never been a rifle, but is an action that may be used for a rifle build. However, it does not become a rifle until you install a barrel.

As far as I can see, it's the same situation as an AR15 receiver that can be made into a pistol. Another example is the "Mare's Leg" pistol that uses a Winchester style rifle action. If one were to purchase a new unbarreled action from Chiappa, with receipts/invoices showing it as such, then you, too, could make your own "Winchester" pistol.

[QUOTE]...is assembled or otherwise produced from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle...[/QUOTE

I have always assumed that this means exactly what Jim is talking about, that somebody has taken a rifle and rebarreled as a pistol, or "sawed off" the barrel. In other words, like your MAC 10, it left the factory assembled as a rifle. Changing it by installing a pistol length barrel then becomes a no-no, and you have an illegal SBR.

Quote:
That is what the regulation Skans quotes means. If that were not the position, anyone could cut off a barrel and claim that he bought the receiver and put the short barrel on it.
Nope. Not gonna happen. The guy has no proof he bought it that way, and that's the whole crux of my point. If you have the proper receipts, etc. from the maker, then you have the proof said receiver was never made into a rifle, no?

I think a lot of the confusion here is the fact that you must have proof that it was sold, by the maker, as an action only, and was never completed as a rifle.
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Old January 12, 2016, 04:02 PM   #14
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Be careful on the FFL transfer. Some will transfer a stripped receiver as a rifle by default.

Also, if you buy a "pistol" assembled on rifle format and it is transferred as such it might then be a rifle only.

There is no barrel length limit on a pistol. Even if the receiver has an 18" barrel it could still be a pistol.
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Old January 12, 2016, 04:18 PM   #15
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Be careful on the FFL transfer. Some will transfer a stripped receiver as a rifle by default.
This is not something that I would do, as a large, cumbersome pistol based on a rifle action is of no interest to me. It was brought up in a discussion at my LGS, with the point being that, if it can be done with an AR (and the "Winchester"), then why not some bolt action rifle receiver that never got barreled? (And, of course, was properly documented as such.)

It still has interesting potential for some, I would imagine.
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Old January 12, 2016, 08:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyvel
then why not some bolt action rifle receiver that never got barreled? (And, of course, was properly documented as such.)

It still has interesting potential for some, I would imagine.
The relevent part of the law is the specification of "from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle". Some firearms are produced as both, some are produced only as rifle. If it's produced only as a rifle, it doesn't matter if that particular receiver ever got a barrel or not, it is legally a rifle.

As an example, Ruger does not and never has made a handgun based on an M77 MkII receiver. A "blank" unbarrel receiver can not be made into a handgun. However, Thompson Center produces Encore receivers that are made into both rifles and handguns and a so a "blank" receiver can be made into either.

On the matter of the Encore... what it can be made into AFTER it is first made into a handgun is a whole 'nother can of worms....
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Old January 12, 2016, 09:26 PM   #17
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If it's produced only as a rifle, it doesn't matter if that particular receiver ever got a barrel or not, it is legally a rifle.
Quote:
"from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle".
And I have to disagree here. I had this same conversation earlier this afternoon in the LGS, and was shown some pistols made up on Remington receivers by MacMillan that were not "assembled" (the key word here) as rifles. Also, the reg says "produced" as in a receiver that has already been barreled and assembled, not "will possibly be."

It's pretty clear that a new, virgin unbarreled and never has been barreled receiver is not a weapon. Making a pistol, as I stated earlier from an assembled "weapon," i.e. a completed item that was produced and meant to be sold as a completed rifle, is making an illegal SBR. It's not the same if the receiver has never been made into a rifle.

If what you say is true then there can't be AR15 pistols since the AR 15 "is produced as a rifle." The Ruger Challenger can't be made as a pistol either since 10/22s are "produced as a rifle." Same deal for the Chiappa Mare's Legs, since the Winchester copy receivers are "produced as a rifle."

And since Ruger has seen fit to make a 10/22 pistol, I don't see why they can't use their 77 actions to make a bolt action pistol. Agreed?

I'm guessing that they are not rifles as far as BATF is concerned until they are barreled as such.
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Old January 12, 2016, 11:38 PM   #18
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Hi, gyvel,

I am willing to bet a small coffee that Ruger's pistols may have receivers that look like 10/22's but are not marked 10/22, since that is a rifle.

BATFE generally takes two basic positions that undercut your argument. One is that the receiver is the gun; the other is that a gun is what it says it is.

Ruger says a Model 77 is a rifle, not a handgun, so BATFE says that a rifle receiver marked as a Ruger 77 is a Ruger 77 and that is a rifle, barrel or no barrel.

If Macmillan or anyone else modifies or changes (re-manufactures) a Model 700 receiver, then it is not a Remington 700 any more, and should be re-marked by the re-manufacturer. But the Remington 700 is a rifle and I would like to see something from BATFE that says a Remington 700 action can be used to build a pistol.

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Old January 12, 2016, 11:48 PM   #19
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What action was the XP-100?
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Old January 13, 2016, 03:56 AM   #20
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The XP-100 was a single-shot Remington 600 receiver, essentially the same receiver as the current Model 7.

When an action is transferred to a buyer on a 4473, it is transferred as "other" (not rifle or pistol) and "caliber" is listed as Multi or None, or whatever the receiver is marked as.

Many rifles are sold only as complete rifles, not as actions. Ruger only sells complete Ruger 77 rifles, Winchester only sells complete Winchester Model 70 rifles. Those actions could not legally be used to make a pistol. Sako, Remington, Zastava, and several others sell bare actions that could be used for either.

Ruger's Charger pistol's receiver is slightly different from the 10/22, and it is marked "Charger" not "10/22".
Quote:
It's pretty clear that a new, virgin unbarreled and never has been barreled receiver is not a weapon.
BATFE says the action or receiver is a firearm. That is why it is transferred on a 4473. It may not be a rifle or pistol, but it is a firearm. In fact, it is the only part of a firearm that is the firearm, the rest of the parts are accessories.
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Old January 13, 2016, 12:49 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyvel
If what you say is true then there can't be AR15 pistols since the AR 15 "is produced as a rifle." The Ruger Challenger can't be made as a pistol either since 10/22s are "produced as a rifle." Same deal for the Chiappa Mare's Legs, since the Winchester copy receivers are "produced as a rifle."
The word you're missing is "only". Not produced "as a rifle", but "produced only as a rifle".

AR15 *are* manufactured as handguns and Ruger *does* make 10/22 handguns and Chiappa *is* a manufacturer and they manufacturer handguns from those receivers.

Nobody is saying that manufacturers can't do it. Obviously they can. It's the *individual* who can't take a receiver that is not made into a handgun *by a manufacturer* and make it into a handgun.

The language of the law is crystal clear. It's really not logically refutable.
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Old January 13, 2016, 03:11 PM   #22
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The language of the law is crystal clear. It's really not logically refutable.
And again I have to disagree. The wording is vague and ambiguous. My interpretation of "only as a rifle" means a fully assembled shootable rifle. That weapon is not fully functional as a rifle until it is barreled.

At any rate, this all stems from a now rather heated discussion at my LGS, so I will see what the latest argument is later this afternoon.

Quote:
It's pretty clear that a new, virgin unbarreled and never has been barreled receiver is not a weapon.
OK, I know that, but I was again, using "weapon" in the generic sense as in a weapon that is capable of discharging a round. I know that Fed laws still classifiy a receiver (or other serial numbered part) as a firearm.

I think the only ones that can answer this question is BATF themselves, and it will be interesting to see what they have to say.
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Old January 13, 2016, 03:19 PM   #23
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Hi, gyvel,

I am willing to bet a small coffee that Ruger's pistols may have receivers that look like 10/22's but are not marked 10/22, since that is a rifle.

BATFE generally takes two basic positions that undercut your argument. One is that the receiver is the gun; the other is that a gun is what it says it is.

Ruger says a Model 77 is a rifle, not a handgun, so BATFE says that a rifle receiver marked as a Ruger 77 is a Ruger 77 and that is a rifle, barrel or no barrel.
All very interesting points, but does the application of a name or model designation have any legal standing in any sense?

But, like I said, today's meeting at the LGS should prove interesting, as the discussion is becoming very heated and very intense.

I'm too lazy to contact BATF, but maybe one of the other guys at the shop can shoot off a letter and get a final answer on this.
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Old January 13, 2016, 04:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyvel
My interpretation of "only as a rifle" means a fully assembled shootable rifle. That weapon is not fully functional as a rifle until it is barreled.
You're mixing two different concepts. "The receiver", as in the exact one in question laying on the desk at the LGS is not what is under consideration of "only as a rifle". It's how the manufacturer sells that generic product. If they sell THAT KIND of receiver "only as a rifle" then it makes no difference whether or not THAT SPECIFIC receiver has ever been anything at all. It IS, by definition, "only a rifle".

If it is "produced only as a rifle" then it IS a rifle and putting a short barrel on it (without the requisite paperwork) makes it an illegal Short Barreled Rifle.

In any case, the whole opinion as written by the ATF (in Skan's link) makes it all pretty clear to me. You should read it, if you haven't. If you have, well, neither one of us is an authoritative opinion so we could argue it until the cows come home without any meaningful result.
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Old January 14, 2016, 09:00 PM   #25
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What did the original 4473 say? If it was not "rifle," then you should be able to configure it as any legal firearm (non-NFA rifle or pistol).

Also, why are you going on about barrels? The stock is the make or break issue here, no?
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