Minor gunsmithing legal question...


Jim March
April 5, 2004, 11:28 PM
Do I understand correctly that a machinist/welder/whatever who is NOT a gunsmith can legally take delivery of and work on gun parts that are NOT serialized frames/recievers/etc?

Why I ask: I plan on scoring a Ruger Blackhawk soon...got it pinned down to a specific used gun. I intend to take the grip frame off, strip the "black paint" off and have it cut and re-welded in a specific pattern. Any decent aluminum welder will be able to cope, as I won't be re-locating the lower mainspring mounting point.

I assuming leaving the grip frame alone with a local aluminum welder or mailing it to a more distant one won't be a legal problem for either party (him or me)?

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April 6, 2004, 12:02 AM
As long as it is not a firearm (ie a frame with a serial number), have at it...the grip frame is not a firearm!


April 6, 2004, 06:15 AM
Yep. WildAlaska nailed it. If it can be bought without paperwork, work can
be performed on it without an FFL. Only the frame or receiver is a gun, according to BATF guidelines. Everything else is an accessory.

Of course, in today's political watershed, that's all subject to change without notice.:rolleyes:



Old Fuff
April 6, 2004, 11:18 AM
I don't believe there is any Federal law that requires that ONLY (FFL) licensed gunsmiths can work on a serial numbered receiver or frame. There are restrictions on removing serial numbers and those that identify the manufacturer and/or importer. If one engaged in the business of working on other people's guns they might have to get an FFL, particularly if they kept the firearm for more then 24 hours or received and returned guns from outside the state where they lived. I know of many instances where a gunowner has taken a handgun to a local (unlicensed) machine shop to get it bead-blasted in the process of refinishing.

However I have no knowledge of what's required in California at state or local levels.

April 6, 2004, 12:28 PM
In short, the FIREARM is the part with the serial no. on it, usually the receiver or frame. All the rest is PARTS.

Except EuroWeenie guns that have s #s on every friggin part! :uhoh:

Jim K
April 6, 2004, 10:05 PM
The law specifically says "frame or receiver", but there are a couple of little tricks. On a Luger, BATFE has ruled that the receiver is the part the barrel screws into, since it can be fired without the grip frame. And on the Ruger .22 autos, the serial numbered part is the receiver, not the grip frame, even though no one could fire the gun without the grip frame. So some confusion.

There are also rulings on C&R eligibility that a receiver alone is not a C&R firearm (on the theory that no one collects receivers) and that a pre-ban "assault weapon" is grandfathered only in its pre-ban configuration, so there again, the gun is more than the receiver.


April 7, 2004, 02:51 PM
Seeing that you and I live in the repressed PRK, best bet would be to email the DOJ. That way your covered on all ends.


April 7, 2004, 03:41 PM
There was a time...and I miss it real bad...that honest gents could
buy, trade, swap, loan, give, and gunsmith with and for one another with nary a suspicious glance. Even though they were techincally in violation of a few BATF guidelines. My father was the neighborhood gunsmith, and did
work for some LEOs and even a couple of county Sheriffs. If you had
asked him about an FFL, he wouldn't have even know what you meant.
He and I both have bought, sold and traded with one Sherrif and a few
of his deputies. If a Gi pistol was confiscated from some scofflaw, we got
first dibs on it.

But that was long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Times have changed.

Even now, a guy can do a little smithin' for a good friend, and though he's
in viloation....it's only rarely enforced, if ever...At least around my neck of the woods. Now, strangers are viewed with suspicion, and any request for gun repair by an unknown party is met with a blank stare and a denial of any such skill. "Sorry neighbor. Ya heard wrong. I don't even own a gun."



Jim March
April 7, 2004, 08:30 PM
I'd be more concerned, except the part in question is clearly NOT the gun's "central part" nor is it serialized.

And I should be able to find a local (Sacramento) aluminum welder easily enough so no mail involved.

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