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Old July 22, 2018, 12:16 PM   #1
TXAZ
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“Zip Gun" vs. lawful “build your own” rifle

Assuming you don’t live in a state with oppressive gun statutes, what’s the difference in building an illegal “zip gun” (as a rifle) and buying or machining all the parts for a speciality rifle (like many here do for precision/ hunting rifles)?
Ie where is the line?
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Old July 22, 2018, 12:35 PM   #2
dogtown tom
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"The line" is........NFA or not NFA

No Federal law prohibits someone from making their own firearm.

Most "zip guns" are illegal not due to being a homemade firearm, but because they lack certain features that make them a Title I firearm.
Examples:
-No rifling in a handgun barrel.
-Barrel length of less than 16", OAL of less than 26" for a rifle.
-Barrel length of less than 18", OAL of less than 26" for a shotgun.
-OAL length of less than 26" for an Other Firearm.

Most common "zip guns" will utilize cheap, easily acquired items like lead pipe for the barrel/chamber, nails for the "firing pin", etc.

Home Depot doesn't sell rifled lead pipes. So if you want to make a firearm using that, you;ll need to attach a shoulder stock and have a barrel of at least 18". Any shorter and you'll have an illegal SBS.
OR
Build that smoothbore firearm without a shoulder stock and with an OAL of more than 26" to classify as an Other Firearm. Any shorter and you'll have an illegal AOW.
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Old July 22, 2018, 12:36 PM   #3
Jim Watson
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There is no federal legal definition of a zip gun.
Crude as you like, as long as it meets the requirements for rifle, pistol, or shotgun, it is legal to make for your own use. Just be sure that your piece of radio antenna is 18"+ long and the overall is 26"+ so it counts as a shotgun.
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Old July 23, 2018, 12:03 PM   #4
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If it does not fit the above federal definitions, then it may be a Title II (NFA) firearm that requires registration and tax payment. A Form 1 would need to be filed and approved before the build. If it meets the definition of a short barreled rifle (SBR) or short barreled shotgun (SBS), the tax is $200. If it meets the definition of an "any other weapon" (AOW), the tax is $5.
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Old July 23, 2018, 12:08 PM   #5
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I thought an AOW was $200 to build and $5 to transfer.
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Old July 24, 2018, 12:20 PM   #6
dogtown tom
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Quote:
zxcvbob I thought an AOW was $200 to build and $5 to transfer.
You are correct.
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Old July 24, 2018, 02:19 PM   #7
4V50 Gary
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Zip guns are generally made with limited tools and resources and almost always subquality materials. Their very nature makes them unsafe and highly unlikely that a mfg license will have been applied for. They may be good for one shot but their best application is for gun buybacks.
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Old July 24, 2018, 03:02 PM   #8
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Zip guns are almost always going to be smoothbore because making rifling is difficult and more expensive. So, because most will be smoothbore they have to have a barrel at least 18 inches long and overall 26 inches to not fall under NFA regs.

Easiest way to skirt that now is do what Franklin Armory did and make straight rifling (i.e. grooves) instead. Doesn't do anything to add accuracy or stabilize a bullet, but it makes any gun with a barrel under 16 inches legal.

Would probably work really well for a .45 Colt/.410 zip gun. Low pressures and 000 Buck multi projectiles not being spun by rifling.
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Old July 24, 2018, 05:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4V50 Gary View Post
... They may be good for one shot but their best application is for gun buybacks.
Never thought about that one.

Let's see:
1- 4" of 1/2" pipe from Home Depot 85 cents (barel)
1- 3" x 4" x 2" piece of wood from Home Depot 30 cents (grip)
1- Clothespin with metal spring 15 cents (hammer)
1/4 ounce of gorilla glue 25 cents (gold it all together)
5 minutes to put it together

So for $1.55 I can get $75 back?
Can I scale this up to do 12 an hour, that's $881.40 per hour!

Sounds like a franchise opportunity to me
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Old July 24, 2018, 06:30 PM   #10
dogtown tom
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Quote:
TXAZ Quote:
Originally Posted by 4V50 Gary View Post
Quote:
... They may be good for one shot but their best application is for gun buybacks.
Never thought about that one.

Let's see:
1- 4" of 1/2" pipe from Home Depot 85 cents (barel)
1- 3" x 4" x 2" piece of wood from Home Depot 30 cents (grip)
1- Clothespin with metal spring 15 cents (hammer)
1/4 ounce of gorilla glue 25 cents (gold it all together)
5 minutes to put it together

So for $1.55 I can get $75 back?
Can I scale this up to do 12 an hour, that's $881.40 per hour!

Sounds like a franchise opportunity to me
You think turning in an unregistered NFA firearm at a gun buy back is a good idea?
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Old July 24, 2018, 07:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Never thought about that one.

Let's see:
1- 4" of 1/2" pipe from Home Depot 85 cents (barel)
1- 3" x 4" x 2" piece of wood from Home Depot 30 cents (grip)
1- Clothespin with metal spring 15 cents (hammer)
1/4 ounce of gorilla glue 25 cents (gold it all together)
5 minutes to put it together

So for $1.55 I can get $75 back?
Can I scale this up to do 12 an hour, that's $881.40 per hour!

Sounds like a franchise opportunity to me
14-ish inch barrel, and a little longer scrap of wood to make a "raptor" style grip and you might be okay. Like the Predator firearms that look a lot like pistol shotguns. OAL needs to be at least 26 inches. It might add another dollar to your cost tho'...
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Old July 24, 2018, 08:01 PM   #12
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With Dogtown Tom as our compliance director and Zxcebob as the engineering director, I think we have a team!

(Sarcasm for the humor impaired)
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Old July 24, 2018, 09:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogtown tom View Post
You think turning in an unregistered NFA firearm at a gun buy back is a good idea?
Could make a broach and use it on a shop press to cut some straight rifling in. Would be even easier if there was a company who made broaches to do just this. That way the process stays entirely legal.
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Old July 27, 2018, 07:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zxcvbob
I thought an AOW was $200 to build and $5 to transfer.
I'm sorry. You are correct.
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Old July 27, 2018, 09:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Home Depot doesn't sell rifled lead pipes.
It dosen't sell lead pipe at all. You don't have to go back to ancient Rome to find it, but it has been many years since lead pipe was readily used or available, Flint Michigan notwithstanding.
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Old July 27, 2018, 06:40 PM   #16
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How many tons of lead pipe do you need? Here it is $3K a ton, buy bulk and save.

https://tjpbtd.en.made-in-china.com/...B-with-CE.html
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Old July 27, 2018, 08:04 PM   #17
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Good to know MTT TL. Everything you need in a gun barrel material; soft, heavy, and a low melting point.
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Old July 27, 2018, 09:38 PM   #18
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Numrich (Gun Parts Corp.) used to sell barrel blanks, in various lengths and calibers. Most were unchambered, and I think they were cut-offs from who knows what. Some were a bit pricey, and others were dirt cheap and would be a way to get a rifled barrel for a DIY project.
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Old July 28, 2018, 06:54 PM   #19
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Zip-Guns is and old term

Quote:
Zip guns are generally made with limited tools and resources and almost always subquality materials.
This is my understanding as well. We made these back in the 50's with what was at hand and that's as much detail as I wish to share. They were unsafe and we did encounter some production problems. All were .22 caliber. ….


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Old July 29, 2018, 12:31 PM   #20
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Home Depot doesn't sell lead pipes at all, but you don't have to go to ancient Rome. Lead piping was common in houses until the 1920's and in solder until 1986. If your house was built before then you may still have 'em.
Gunparts still sells barrel blanks and barrels.
A Google search for 'zip gun' returns 13,100,000 results. Including plans and how-to videos.
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