Is it legal to install a muzzle brake if not a gunsmith?


October 16, 2013, 12:58 AM
I've been asked by many people to install muzzle brakes on their barrels and keep turning them down. They are willing to pay. I am not a gunsmith nor do I have an FFL. I do have a lathe and mill and do my own benchrest stuff for myself only. Chamber, brakes, bedding and whatever else I need done machine wise.

I know I can't possess another persons receiver, but what about barrels only? What if they bring a barreled action over, I take the barrel off and they take the recover with them?

If you enjoyed reading about "Is it legal to install a muzzle brake if not a gunsmith?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
October 16, 2013, 06:00 AM
To me this would be equivalent to handloading for someone else. Whether you need an FFL or not, the real concern would be if a Ka-Boom ever happens on a weapon you've modified how fast and hard are they going to come after you?

October 16, 2013, 06:21 AM
The receiver is the gun. So barrels only, you are good to go. There may be other issues you may want to consider as the previous post suggest.

Carl N. Brown
October 16, 2013, 07:00 AM
Totally unrelated to gun laws: if you accept money for services you could be considered engaging in a business under business taxing and licensing laws. If I considered doing work for others, I would ask my (or my wife's) lawyer for advice. It may be considered like mowing a neighbor's yard occassionally (not engaged in the business); but do it often enough, government (or taxed and licensed businesses) might get involved. Local attitudes come into play also.

October 16, 2013, 07:35 AM
The feds get real funny about machines and things that go on the end of a barrel. Don't be surprised if you get a knock on the door just for asking the question here.

I would not do it. I had a machine shop do some work for me the other day, and asked about light gunsmith work out of him - flat said no for just this reason. He said he had an employee working on a tuner for himself, and the feds came busting in; he was afraid he was going to loose his machines over it.


October 16, 2013, 08:13 AM
Well, here in CA if you are doing a job for less than $300 you do not need any sort of license at all.
I also understand that a gunsmith only needs an FFL license if he is taking posession of the if the owner of the firearm is present while you do the work then no FFL needed.

Liability is a whole other issue. Whether you are comfortable with taking that kind of risk is up to you. I personally would only be doing this kind of thing for good friends, people that I trusted.

Jim K
October 16, 2013, 09:35 PM
BATFE deliberately blurs the regulations as to what constitutes "engaging in the business" of gunsmithing. They want to be able to crack down on the guy making illegal MGs for the local terrorists while not bothering the guy who fixes a gun for a friend. The problem is that if an agent wants to be an AH, why give him an excuse?

Even so, the story of the feds "busting in" the machine shop sounds like it was made up to justify saying no to a customer. (How did the feds know what was being done if it was a one-off job for the boss?)


October 16, 2013, 09:35 PM
Thanks guys...few things that were mentioned that I didn't think about.

Are you serious about the guy making a tuner? How in the world would they know he was making one? A tuner is no t even remotely questionable legal wise.

October 16, 2013, 10:04 PM
What's a tuner?

October 16, 2013, 11:31 PM
Its a device that gets threaded to the end of your muzzle. There are many designs, but basically its adjustable in a way that you turn it to change how the barrel vibrates. Many short range bench rest shooters use them.

Here is some good technical info on how they work.

I personally never messed with one, but the next 1k BR barrel I chamber, I might thread it to install a Harrells "tuner/brake" to mess with.

More info with nice pictures...

October 17, 2013, 01:23 AM
What's a tuner?

Browning/Winchester BOSS system is a factory installed tuner.

October 17, 2013, 04:36 PM
If you are taking money for working on guns, you need an FFL. It doesn't matter how long you have it or how much it costs. If it is a gun business, then you need the FFL.

Here is what ATF has to say about it. See number 1.

Willie Sutton
October 17, 2013, 07:44 PM
The OP's question was "what about barrels only", and not complete firearms, or barreled actions.

To that:

You can do what is essentially a simple second operation machining procedure on all the barrels you like without a FFL. You're not working on firearms, or doing anything a FFL is required for. It's just a machine shop operation....



If you enjoyed reading about "Is it legal to install a muzzle brake if not a gunsmith?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!