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Convert an AR Carbine to Pistol

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by MrGiggles, Dec 4, 2016.

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  1. MrGiggles

    MrGiggles Member

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    My firearms season always falls during a very busy time of year. I did get a buck, but was only able to hunt a couple days after that. The anterless portion wrapped up tonight, and I would like to get another deer.

    That leaves the alternative methods season later this month. Centerfire pistols are legal in this state. I'm sure where you can see where this is going.

    I have two ARs, a S&W MP15 that has been converted to 300 BLK, and a mostly Anderson lower/upper built with the old barrel from the MP15.

    If I bought a short barrel for 300 BLK, what else would I need to convert one of them into a pistol? Pistol gas system?

    As far as the lower is concerned, is it just a matter of removing the butt stock, or does a whole new buffer tube need to be installed? If that is the case, it would make sense to just build a whole pistol upper, and just slip off the butt stock on a lower whenever I want to use it.
     
  2. AndyP

    AndyP Member

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    Legally you cannot convert a rifle to a pistol. You will have to buy a new lower, build it as a pistol first, to have a firearm that can be switched back and forth without issue.
     
    Merle1, Jackal and Malamute like this.
  3. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    ^^^ This is my understanding also. It may not seem to make sense, but its the way the law is written. For the pretty reasonable price of lowers today, just buy a spare for pistol use. When the FFL fills out the paperwork, be sure it isn't listed as a rifle, but as "Other" I believe.
     
  4. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

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    Aero Precision offers "pistol" marked lowers, which is what I built my pistol with. The Federal 4473 form was marked as "other" but I also had my FFL report it to the state (WA) as a pistol. It's not necessary to have a "pistol" marked lower but I figured it might make things easier for me if I had an encounter with a law enforcement officer who mistakenly believed it's an SBR. It's marked "pistol" and was purchased as a pistol.
     
  5. Acera

    Acera Member

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    As others have said, buy a new lower. Not worth the minor cost savings to risk a felony.


    The question about the length of the gas system, that depends on the length of the barrel. If you go with a 10.5 barrel, you can use the generally more reliable carbine length system. That is the route I went with my pistol build while waiting on a SBR stamp to come in.

    .
     
  6. Acera

    Acera Member

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  7. MrGiggles

    MrGiggles Member

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    The stripped lower I bought for the Anderson rifle should have been marked as other.

    So it would be technically unlawful to take that lower, lose the stock, and install a pistol upper, even though it's papered for either? How would anyone be able to prove it was built as rifle first, or ever a rifle at all?

    I'm all for building another complete pistol, but I don't have the money for that right now.
     
  8. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    Yes, its technically illegal to do that. Once assembled into a rifle, its legally a rifle.

    Well, other than talking about it on an open gun forum, I guess not much to prove it. Nobody may beat a direct path to your door, but once its out on the net, it will be there forever. Some time down the road some situation may develop and somebody starts doing homework....

    This is not really as anonymous as most think.

    Whatever trivial amount the lower would cost, its vastly cheaper than a lawyer even if you won easily.
     
  9. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    All mine were built as a pistol first.

    I screwed in a pistol buffer tube and slapped on a pistol upper, then immediately took it apart and put it back together with the rifle parts.

    Are you sure you didn't as well?
     
  10. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Labeling on the side is nothing but marketing. It does not legally classify the lower as a pistol, and it is illegal for the seller to mark it as a pistol on the 4473 (not a crime, but incorrect filing of the FTR, as described in plain English on the very page).

    ALL STRIPPED RECEIVERS SOLD NEW HAVING NEVER BEEN ASSEMBLED MUST BE SOLD AS "OTHER" ON THE 4473 FTR.

    From there, it's effectively honor code whether you assembled it as a pistol first or not - at least for a stripped lower.

    Since you purchased yours as assembled rifles, a pistol they can never be. At best, you could apply to classify it as a weapon made from a rifle, costing you a lot of money and headache to create an NFA arm, but the cheaper option is to buy a stripped lower or pistol lower, and build from there. $50 for the lower, ~$80 for a pistol extension assy, take a picture with today's paper, then build it into a rifle - forevermore able to swap back and forth.

    Just don't put the sub-16" barreled upper onto your pistol extension lower. Don't ever sell the pistol extension parts if you still have a pistol length barrel (just to be safe, since technically that constitutes only owning parts which could be illegally configured if assembled), and don't put a rifle/carbine upper with a vertical fore grip onto your pistol lower. Don't feed it after midnight, don't get it wet, and keep it away from bright lights... No wait... That's something else...
     
  11. MrGiggles

    MrGiggles Member

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    Only was the MP was purchased assembled. The Anderson rifle was assembled by me, from a stripped lower.
     
  12. rjrivero

    rjrivero Member

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    With regards to your stripped lower:

    According to ATF 2011-4 you must build it into a pistol first, then can convert it to a legal rifle, and then back to a pistol at will.
    How would the .gov know if you built it into a pistol first or a rifle first? Your guess is as good as mine.


    For your reference: ATF 2011-4 https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/r...red-rifles-rifles-configured-pistols/download
     
  13. rjrivero

    rjrivero Member

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    There is a letter out there that says you can even use the rifle buffer tube, provided you don't put a stock on it. http://www.jcweaponry.com/images/ar15/BB.JPG
     
  14. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Provided you don't OWN a stock, not just provided you don't install it. Since he owns the rifle stock and would convert this back and forth, he'd really need to own a pistol extension to avoid finding himself reliant upon the interpretation of his owned possessions. Note, the letter of the law confirms if you own only the parts to assemble an NFA configuration, it constitutes an NFA firearm, whether it has ever been assembled as such or not. In simple terms, if you have materials to make a bomb, the law says the agent is able to interpret as if you own a bomb.

    On the other hand - it's well worth the $200 to NFA at least one lower in your life so you can have an SBR, especially if you're planning to swap between rifle and pistol configurations, might as well have the best of both worlds in an SBR too. It's really not so much of a hassle, and $200 in the long run is really just a few trips to the range.
     
  15. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Sounds like you've already barreled and stocked it, so it's too late. The fact it started as a stripped lower doesn't matter now - once it has been barreled and stocked as a rifle, it's forever and always a rifle, and cannot be converted to a pistol. Even if you pay for an NFA tax stamp, it will not be a pistol (despite looking exactly like one), it'll be a weapon made from a rifle.

    As silly as it seems, we should be grateful the BATFE is so trusting. I'd rather not have folks lie and break the law on the premise, "they'll never know," then end up ruining it for all of us. I'd rather continue to be allowed to operate on the honor code, own a pistol extension, screw it to every lower I build (over 200 so far) to classify it as a pistol. I do the same with all of my bare bolt action receivers I build as well, legally, most of my Rem 700's and all of my custom bolt action "rifles" are actually pistols.
     
  16. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Ok, hold on. That's going a little too far, maybe. The way things have been interpreted, the benefit of the doubt must be given, wherever possible. If the person owns parts that ONLY could be used to construct an unlawful device, yes. If you own a pile of parts, SOME of which could be put together in an illegal way, but which could be constructed into lawful devices, then no.
     
  17. giggitygiggity

    giggitygiggity Member

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    I agree with Sam1911.

    People get all spun up over constructive possession and it is unnecessary on the basis of case law... What I mean is start showing me cases in which people have been charged with constructive possession or 922r compliance so we know how big a deal it is... You'll have trouble finding cases. If I buy an AR pistol, am I in constructive possession if I had a rifle buffer tube and stock laying around from an AR rifle whose buffer tube and stock I updated? Does that mean I can never buy an AR pistol until I either destroy those excess parts or put them on a rifle because having the would suggest that I am going to make an SBR? Maybe, maybe not, but based on case law, you will find that unless you are doing something else illegal then you probably won't have anyone break into your house and arrest you for constructive possession. It's a gray area and is constantly debatable what constitutes constructive possession, hence why you won't find an abundance of cases.

    To answer the OPs question, a receiver is a receiver when bought as such. Once a rifle, it must remain a rifle unless you submit a form 1. If you have a pistol AR, you can convert it to a rifle so long as you are not making an SBR without first getting you approved tax stamp. Also, the type of buffer tube (pistol or rifle) makes no difference. The only thing that matters is whether a stock is attached to the tube... You still have a pistol even if you put a 6 position buffer tube on it so long as you don't add a stock.

    That's why when you assemble an AR from parts, you should always configure it as a pistol first so you can legally go back and forth between a pistol and rifle if you so choose. How would anyone know what it was originally? Only you will know. Yes, it is one of the many insanely stupid gun laws with which democrats love to restrict good people all the while doing nothing to stop the true criminals.
     
  18. MrGiggles

    MrGiggles Member

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    Wow, this turned out to be a can of worms.

    I may just buy another lower, "configure it as a pistol" (carbine buffer, no stock), slap a short barrel and peripherals on a stripped upper, borrow a BCG from one of my other ARs, and call it good. Since the end goal is to have a whole separate AR pistol, it makes sense to get another lower anyway.
     
  19. Cannibul

    Cannibul Member

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    I sure hope that President Elect Trump does something to fix this.

    The only reason that short barreled rifles are in the NFA is because the NFA originally was to also include handguns and they didn't want people to circumvent the law by purchasing a rifle and cutting it down.

    It's a senseless law at best.
     
  20. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Sam1911 - how have you said anything I did not? Don't find yourself possessing only parts which could constitute an NFA item, and don't ruin it for all of us by becoming a precedence.

    We all stood witness to the hullabaloo over the TC receivers, those rulings stand, and the law is written as it is - possession of the parts which can only be assembled as an NFA item constitutes an NFA item.

    For many of us who have racks on racks of spare parts, benefit of the doubt stands for any reasonable agent. For a guy who owns only 2 complete rifles, a short barreled upper, and uses a rifle extension as a pistol extension by simply removing the stock, I wouldn't take the risk of being a precedence setting case. $90 is cheap insurance.
     
  21. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    I'm not certain we're disagreeing. I just saw a point of confusion there. It isn't that you can't own this or that stock, the misnamed "constructive possession" idea would only come into play if there was no legal way those parts could be configured. But I think I'm re-hashing the point.
     
  22. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    "How would anyone know" is a pretty low integrity game. How would anyone know if you walked into a country home, killed the residents, and stole all of their possessions of value?

    It's an honor code. We have the luxury of relatively easy ruling on conversion right now, cheating the law based on a low probability of getting caught will drive tighter regulation. Don't be an enemy of the lawful gun owner by being an unlawful one.
     
  23. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    You said something different than what he said: You claimed that merely owning the parts to make an illegal NFA firearm was enough to get someone in trouble, but it's not, at least not according to the ATF and the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court case US v. Thompson-Center Arms Co. (further clarified in ATF ruling 2011-4) specifically states that those parts must meet two criteria: First, you must have "no useful purpose" for having those parts (i.e., you don't have a pistol lower to go along with your short-barrel upper), and second, those parts must be in "close proximity" to each other.

    Now, the question over what "close proximity" actually means is a different issue, but if you don't meet those two requirements you're not in constructive possession of an SBR, at least not according to the Supreme Court and the ATF.
     
  24. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    refusing to stick some pistol parts on a lower receiver before removing them and sticking the rifle parts on 30 seconds later is a little different than murder
     
  25. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    Something else I was thinking about...

    There's not a limit on the length of a pistol barrel, right? As long as it doesn't have a buttstock and isn't designed to be fired from the shoulder, then it's a pistol, even if the barrel is 16+". So pretty much every stripped lower is assembled as a pistol first as long as we assume that the buttstock was slid on the buffer tube as the final step of assembly, right? Sliding the buttstock on the buffer tube is the magical moment that it becomes a rifle.

    This would at least provide plausible deniability to anyone who started with a stripped lower.
     
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