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Can I add a collapsable stock to an AR-15 pistol?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by jkittle99, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. jkittle99

    jkittle99 New Member

    May 4, 2008
    I recently purchased a Bushmaster Carbon 15 pistol in 9mm for $725 - I'm happy. Fun to shoot.

    Is it legal to install a collapsable stock on it in place of the rubberized buffer tube cover that's on it now? Like a 6 position T6 or the like?

    It would look identical to the Carbon 15 shown here.


    ... What makes it a pistol anyway? The fact that Bushmaster calls it one?

    Just curious.

    BTW - I'm in Ohio.
  2. swampshooter

    swampshooter New Member

    Sep 7, 2008
    It would not be legal if the overall length was less than 27", or the barrel less than 16". A firearm is designated a pistol if it is designed to be fired with one hand.
  3. Eightball

    Eightball Senior Member

    May 31, 2005
    Louisville, KY
    No, unless it's a registered SBR, you're creating a quick trip to prison.
  4. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Active Member

    Oct 28, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Your link goes to a law-enforcement/military only gun, which is the first clue that your conversion might not be a good idea. What makes your gun a pistol is the length of the barrel, the overall length of the gun, and the lack of a buttstock. It is not allowed to put stocks on pistols because that makes them short-barreled rifles, which fall into a different regulatory class than pistols or rifles.

    Wikipedia has a brief description here:


    So, sure, you could put the collapsing stock on your pistol, but you'd have some paperwork to file and fees to pay and it would probably be too much of a pain to be worth it. Also even if you followed the federal rules, your state and local rules might get you into trouble. You might even find yourself in trouble if you just happened to own an extra stock that would fit your pistol. If you ever decided to sell your modified gun, you might find additional problems. Moving could be a hassle too.

    In general, it's a bad idea to change the class of a gun (rifle to pistol, pistol to short-barreled rifle, rifle to short-barreled rifle, semi-auto to full auto, shotgun to sawed-off shotgun) because you first have to be able to do the conversion legally and then be able to own and transport and use it legally.

    If you have some extra cash sitting around and really have your heart set on putting a stock on your pistol, you could probably call your local BATFE office and ask them what you'd need to do in your state to get the ball rolling. They'd tell you if it's just a matter of fees and paperwork or if it is a huge process. You might also want to hire a lawyer in your state to make sure that there aren't any local laws that make the project a no-go.

    Good luck.

  5. jkittle99

    jkittle99 New Member

    May 4, 2008
    Thanks guys. I really appreciate the feedback. I sort of thought the whole SBR thing was going to come into play here, I was curious what made it so that they could call it a pistol to begin with - I would have assumed it was already a SBR.

    So basically, it sounds like the way this thing comes stock (with the buffer tube cover wrapped in a sort of rubber / foam pad) it's just barely falling into the category of pistol anyway. Still cool to shoot though :)
  6. HankB

    HankB Mentor

    Mar 29, 2003
    Central Texas
    Not only can you not add a stock to an AR-based pistol that has a less than 16" barrel, you can't add an additional pistol grip to the forend, either; that would make it an "AOW" - Any Other Weapon - and require additional paperwork before you proceed.
  7. divemedic

    divemedic Participating Member

    Nov 18, 2007
    30 minute drive from Disney World
    Link here

    Q: Ok, I'm gonna buy my virgin receiver next week from my buddy FFL, but I wanna get a barrel today at the gunshow, say, one of these real nice 7" ones that are on sale.
    A: If you already have an AR-15 rifle at home, even a stripped rifle receiver, DON'T buy a pistol barrel!

    Q: Why not? They're on sale. This barrel will be the perfect addition to my AR-15 family.
    A: Yep, by possessing a pistol length (under 16") barrel without owning a pistol receiver, while owning a rifle receiver, you are in possession of a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR) and are enrolling in the Federal Golf Improvement Progam - say, for like 10 years.

    Q: But I wasn't gonna put the pistol barrel on my rifle!
    A: But without owning a pistol receiver, just the mere possesion of the parts and a compatible rifle receiver proves your intent to assemble a Short Barrel Rifle without paying the $200 tax, and you'll get the silver hookup.

    Q: Ok, I won't buy the barrel today. But I'm gonna turn this pistol into a rifle someday, so I'll go ahead & pick up this buttstock at the show.
    A: As long as that's a spare part for your other AR-15 rifles, you're ok. But what if you don't have any AR-15 rifles?

    Q: Ok, suppose I don't have any other AR-15 rifles. I'm gonna build my AR pistol into a rifle someday, so I need this buttstock I just bought. I'm getting my virgin receiver transferred to me as a pistol next week, and then at the next gun show, I'm gonna pick up a 7" pistol barrel.
    A: Yep, when you buy that 7" pistol barrel, you are in possession of a Short Barrel Rifle (SBR). Because you already have a buttstock, and you don't have any other rifles that buttstock fits on - it only fits your 7" barreled pistol.

    Q: This is getting ridiculous.
    A: I agree, but it's been the law since the 1930's, so there's no excuse to break it.

    Q: Wait a minute. You said I could build a rifle from my pistol? But I can't build a pistol from a rifle?
    A: Correct.

    Q: What if I built it as a pistol first, then a rifle?
    A: That's the only exception. If you build a pistol from a virgin receiver first, take some pictures and date them. Hang on to them. Then build your rifle. If you ever want to turn it back into a pistol, take the stock off FIRST, then put the pistol barrel back on.
  8. Ragnar Danneskjold

    Ragnar Danneskjold Senior Member

    Feb 1, 2007
    Arlington, Republic of Texas
    Isn't government just wonderful? Don't you wish the people who made that crap up were in charge of other parts of your life?
  9. skidmark

    skidmark Member

    Aug 25, 2004
    I thought that once you made a pistol a rifle it was forever a rifle, even if you swapped parts around. Did I miss something on that lecture?

    stay safe.

  10. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig member

    Oct 8, 2008
    No, you can't. Those "assault pistols" are cool, but you can't add a stock to them unless you first go through the process with the ATF to get a short barreled rifle. And, just in case you didn't know.....and this goes back to a thread I made...you can't add a front pistol grip to it either......that would make it an "Any Other Weapon". Of course there is specific law that says you can't add a stock to it without making it a Title 2, there is no law on the pistol grip thing....but the ATF will crush you anyway if you do it.

    Here's your same pistol without the stock on it, making it legal to buy without ATF harrassment:


    The safest way to go about things is this: Don't add anything to the "assault pistol" guns that isn't a scope, laser dot, or light, and you won't be breaking a law. Modify it in any other way, and you're probably breaking a law. You can however, add a front grip to a rifle. And keep in mind that the ATF doesn't understand the word "mercy".....they will put you in prison for 10 years on any machine gun, short barreled rifle, or front forward grip violation, regardless of an imaculate background and your ignorance on the law. They put one guy in jail because his AR-15 malfunctioned and burst fired. Screw up, and they will bury you.
  11. Taurus92 in KyleTX

    Taurus92 in KyleTX New Member

    Apr 29, 2006
    Central TX
    Here's a question I didn't see answered...

    If I buy a stripped lower, and it's not marked "pistol", can I still build it as a pistol?
  12. highorder

    highorder Senior Member

    Oct 7, 2007
    How was it sold to you on the 4473?
  13. Taurus92 in KyleTX

    Taurus92 in KyleTX New Member

    Apr 29, 2006
    Central TX
    Haven't bought one yet, but can I request any stripped lower to be sold as a pistol?
  14. yongxingfreesty

    yongxingfreesty Participating Member

    Oct 3, 2005
    i would suggest not to and look into it more. if can get you 10 years and fined which is not cool.
  15. waterhouse

    waterhouse Senior Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Round Rock, TX
    Last week, yes. This week, no. A dealer used to have to classify the type of firearm being sold as either a hand gun or a long gun. People could buy stripped receivers and ask the dealer to sell them as hand guns.

    Starting on the 15th of this month, there is now a 3rd option for stripped receivers, so that is how your dealer will mark them down.

    If it is a stripped receiver (it has never had a stock on it) you can build it up into any legal configuration (rifle or pistol) but you can't make it an SBR without filing the additional paperwork and paying the tax.
  16. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 25, 2002
    Down East in NC
    Just be careful that that rubber/foam pad doesn't allow you to shoot it from the shoulder, because if it does, you've likely created an unregistered SBR even if it's not a traditional looking stock. A padded buffer tube is a stock, functionally.
  17. Zoogster

    Zoogster Senior Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    According the the Supreme Court of the United States you can freely use your firearm as decided in the Thompson case.

    The Supreme Court of the United States acknowledged that the usefulness of a contender pistol with rifle conversion parts was to have both a pistol and a rifle, not just convert it one time:
    They clearly acknowledge thier understanding of the issue. That they were deciding on the legal standing of an item that would be used as both a pistol and a rifle at different times. That is the "obvious utility" of having "both" which share the same reciever.
    So when making thier decision they were of the understanding the decision was regarding an item that would be used as both a pistol and a rifle at different times.

    The ATF can be stubborn though.
    The ATF can have different opinions. I have heard a couple of them. Sometimes they choose to say the issue was so narrow as to only be applying to that particular firearm made by that particular company, rather than case law for all similar situations.
    Clearly the way our system works that is wrong. If a contender pistol can legaly have a 16+ inch barrel attached, and then a buttstock, then something like an AR or AK pistol would be no different under the decision.
    If the Court acknowledged the "utility" of being able to have "both" pistol and rifle then they meant for you to be able to change them back and forth as long as they were assembled into something that is not an NFA item.

    So the ATF is clearly wrong on the issue. However understandably few want to openly defy or challenge the ATF.

    So according the the Supreme Court decion you can enjoy the 'utility' of 'both' the rifle and pistol after starting with a pistol and then converting your pistol.
    According to one of the ATF statements you cannot.

    Very scary. This sounds like thier way of more clearly getting around the Supreme Court decision in the Thompson case.
    It allows the BATFE to argue that whatever it was originaly turned into is what it legaly is, rather than what it officialy is on paper. So they could have created more standing that once a rifle or pistol always a rifle or pistol by adding a third option to confuse the legality of the issue.
    So rather than purchasing the lower as a pistol, which under Thompson would give you great freedom, you purchase it as a third option.
    The ATF can then in court argue you purchased it as the third option, created a rifle, and then any change to a pistol from there was illegal.
    So if possible it would still be better under the Thompson ruling to have it as officialy a "pistol" (which of course requires someone to be 21 to purchase from an FFL and to comply with handgun laws rather than rifle laws.)
    Of course according to the ATF it makes no difference as they already officialy stated that as thier position in defiance of the Thompson case even regarding pistols.

    The only difference is if a lawyer is referencing the Thompson case while dealing with a pistol if someone did end up in court facing the ATF. The Thompson case applies to something that was originaly a pistol, and is converted to a rifle and back to a pistol giving the utility of both. Rather than a third option, which the ATF can claim was aways a rifle, so not subject to the Thompson ruling.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2008

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