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Illegal AR-15 to M-16 conversions

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by WhiteKnight, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Well-Known Member

    I see replacement M-16 parts for sale online all the time with no restrictions on purchase. Granted I have little knowledge about the AR system but it seems that these parts are pretty much drop-in and can be accomplished in not a whole lot of time.

    Why exactly is this? It seems to me that dozens of full-auto (illegal) conversions have got to by happening every minute.
  2. cane

    cane Well-Known Member

    M-16 parts are not "drop in" conversions for AR-15s. You must do some milling to the lower reciever.
  3. nvshooter

    nvshooter member

    An M-16 and an AR-15 share a common outward appearance, but the internals are quite different. The fire control group is one such difference. An M-16 has a third hole in the side of the receiver, right above the safety selector. This is where the autosear is. An AR does not have this hole. The autosear needs to have metal machined out of the lower receiver for it to fit into the space directly below the bolt carrier. An AR does not have this space machined and cannot, therefore, have an M-16 autosear dropped in at that point. The bolt carrier of an M-16 varies from that of an AR. An M-16 bolt will function in an AR; an AR bolt will not function fully automatically in an M-16. The trigger parts are different, as well. Triggers, safeties and disconnectors are similar in appearance, but quite different in actual function.

    The most important thing to understand about these kits is that owning stuff for an M-16 while in ownership/possession of an AR-15 type rifle is an area of legal ground upon which you'd rather not find yourself. To just have an upper receiver unit with a barrel of less than 16 inches and a complete, functioning lower is a felony, because in the eyes of Big Brother, you "intend" to mate the two and create a Class III weapon. Why keeping a shotgun in the guncase upstairs and a hacksaw downstairs on the tool board is not "intent" to create a sawn-off shotgun, I don't know, but we are talking "the Government" and reasonable, rational thought goes right out the window.

    So, keep your money, never mate any M-16 parts that control fire or involve barrel lengths of less than 16 inches to any AR-15, and you'll stay out of trouble.
  4. pcf

    pcf Well-Known Member

    Thompson Center Arms has already taken that case to the Supreme Court and won. The mere possesion of parts that could be assembled into a SBR/SBS/or Machine gun does not constitute the possesion of a SBS/SBR/ machine gun.

  5. nvshooter

    nvshooter member

    I recall the case being in the papers, but I don't read the liberal media anymore, nor do I watch it on TV. Please throw me a bone here and fill me in a little on what actually went down. I own a T/C Encore rifle (love it, too).

    OK, I read most of it. It comes down to just having the parts does not constitute the actual assembling of the parts into a functioning firearm. On its face, one would assume having everything on hand to put together a full-auto AR-15 would not be illegal. But law can be forked in its tongue. The case was about T/C, not about AR versus M-16. If you got snagged on that one, no doubt you'd use the T/C precedent in your defense, but my guess is you'd have to go all the way through the court system, get to SCOTUS and once there, only then would you learn if you're going to jail for a long time or you're back on the firing range.
  6. whm1974

    whm1974 Well-Known Member

    This still doesn't mean that that the ATF will not press charges against someone if he had a complete lower and and upper with a less then 16" barrel. Or he just has some M16 FA parts.

    I would play it safe...

  7. Gary G23

    Gary G23 Well-Known Member

    "It seems to me that dozens of full-auto (illegal) conversions have got to by happening every minute."
    It doesn't happen often because most sane people don't want to spend ten years in the federal pen.
  8. nvshooter

    nvshooter member

    Bill is right. Why give them an opening?
  9. LaEscopeta

    LaEscopeta Well-Known Member

    The following is my incomplete understanding of what an AR-15 and a M-16 are; I would appreciate anyone who can correct/complete my understanding:

    Fairchild Industries created the Armalite division to use their knowledge and skills in precision machining of lightweight high-strength materials for aircraft in the design and construction of firearms, particularly for the military. Armalite developed a .223 caliber select fire rifle that they called the AR-15. This weapon was chosen in the mid-sixties by the U.S. military as their new main rifle, and the U.S. Military called it the M-16. Armalite made a civilian of their AR-15 that was semi-auto only, for sale to the public. This original semi-auto AR-15 COULD be modified to select fire (choice between semi or full auto) with just a single drop in part. Fairchild decide to get out of the small-arms biz, and sold the design, rights and parents for the original AR-15/M-16 to Colt, who has made most of the M-16s over the years. The patents for the original AR-15/M-16 have since expired, and now everyone and his brother (Bushmaster, Rock River arms, etc) can make rifles based on this design for sale to the general public. However these rifles made now-a-days, that are called AR-15s, have DIFFERENT lower receivers and fire control mechanisms then the original design AR-15 and the true M-16. As outlined in the above post by nvshooter you can not just drop M-16 parts into the new style AR-15s and have them be fill auto.

    Hopefully someone with more knowledge then me can correct the above; I’m here to learn.

    On a slightly different matter:

    To my mind, the hacksaw can be used for a lot of different things, but upper part of AR-15 or M-16 with a barrel less then 16 inches can only serve a useful function when it is mated with a fully functioning lower, and becomes a NFA Class III short-barrel-rifle. (A 16” upper may have a collector’s or historic value by itself, but not a useful value.) I’m still trying to wade through the legal language in the SCOTUS case in the link above, but it appears the government has to prove you have assembled a short barrel rifle out of the pieces you own before you can be convicted.
  10. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Well-Known Member

    Bad news boys, but you are very much wrong. The T/C case is an exception to the rule. ATF does consider having the parts to assemble an illegal weapon the same as having assembled that weapon and the courts do back them.

    Read a few of these:




  11. nvshooter

    nvshooter member

    About the only difference in the lowers is the machining where the autosear would go. The original ARs had the machining done, but the hole wasn't drilled. Semi-auto fire was achieved by the use of semi-auto parts. To get full-auto, just drill the little hole, drop in the auto parts and empty magazines. That all changed with later versions. Now, the machining isn't done and any shop you take it to is going to ask you some very pointed questions if you don't have an approved Form 4. There was something in the early 1980s called the "drop-in autosear." It was a small assemblage of parts that replicated the original M-16 autosear. It came in one piece; you just dropped it into the upper and fired away with the usual complement of M-16 parts. BATF said it was a machinegun in and of itself, and banned it as of Novemeber 1, 1981. You still see them being sold as "pre-81 autosears," but save your money. You may never get one. If you do, it may be cheap junk. If you do, the BATF will storm your house 15 minutes after you get it and have subsequently put it in your rifle.

    Another difference is that Colt has gone to a slightly larger pin diameter for the hammer and trigger pins. I guess this is to keep people from putting aftermarket trigger groups into Colt lowers and thereby exposing Colt to some kind of third-party liability in the event some crazy shoots up a schoolyard or something.

    I feel it's time for me to head out into the desert and do some shooting. I love Nevada-- I am just five minutes from open desert and thousands of empty acres on which to blast away. And no one will give me any guff about the color of my guns...
  12. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Well-Known Member

    Do you mean "aftermarket trigger groups" as in Jewells or National Match AR-15 replacements or illegal M16 parts?
  13. kfranz

    kfranz Well-Known Member

    You've bought into the big lie... :(
  14. WhiteKnight

    WhiteKnight Well-Known Member

    Actually one isn't buying into anything if he asks knowledgeable folk for the truth the first possible moment.
  15. kfranz

    kfranz Well-Known Member

    I took your comments to mean that different small steel pieces made things bad.
  16. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Well-Known Member

    I have seem M16 partsets without the M16 lower receiver
    advertised for sale.

    M16 parts sets (outside the fire control parts) can be used
    to build perfectly legal semi-auto AR15 style rifles with a
    AR15 lower receiver. There are five critical M16 parts that
    should not used in an AR15 build. M16 bolt carrier and
    hammer are two. M16 hammer I believe can be CUT to AR15
    hammer configuration losing the projections that engage the
    autosear. There are AR15 buffs who know more about this
    than I do, but possession of an M16 parts set is not necessarily
    proof of constructive possession of an illegal M16: it may mean
    constructive possession of a legal AR15.

    Now, possession of a CAR15 14 inch barrel upper and an
    AR15 lower without a pre-approved ATF Form 1 to make
    a Short Barrel Rifle is a BIG no-no.
  17. Byron Quick

    Byron Quick Moderator In Memoriam


    The way you phrased your initial comments about many illegal auto weapons being made is exactly how gun grabbers present the issue. That's most likely why kfranz responded as he did.

    A question of semantics. Gun grabbers froth about high capacity magazines. I never use the term. I prefer to refer to standard capacity magazines versus reduced capacity magazines or neutered magazines.

    In any debate, using the terminology introduced by your opponent is most likely a bad tactical move.
  18. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Well-Known Member

    The Thompson Center case covered kits for converting a
    Thompson center pistol tio a single shot rifle. Even though
    you could theoretically assemble the shoulder stock to the
    frame with the pistol barrel in place giving a "short
    barrel rifle" the Supremes felt that drime use of single shot
    pistols, single shot rifles and singleshot Short Barrel Rifles
    is so minimal that allowing Thompson Center owners to
    convet single shot pistols to single shot rifles and back
    again would not mean the end of civilization as we know it.

    When a gunsmith "retubes" a double barrel or single shot
    shotgun, he is temporarily in possession of a Short Barrel
    Shotgun SBS or "sawn-off gangster weapon from hades...
    with PMS." Usually they silver solder new tubes to the
    monoblock and nobody knows or cares.
  19. pcf

    pcf Well-Known Member

    The ATF, Supreme Court, nor the NFA make any distinction between single shot firearms, and semi auto ones. Read the case, particularly the dissent, and you should see that no consideration was given to TC on the basis that it was a single shot.

    Can you provide a courtcase(s) where someone has been convicted under the NFA for possesing parts for a SBR/SBS/Machine gun?
  20. blackhawk2000

    blackhawk2000 member

    As I understand it an M16 bolt carrier is perfectly legal to install in an AR15.

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