Convert an AR Carbine to Pistol

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

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  1. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    As I've been described by the ATF in building Weapons made from rifles, sbr's and pistols from what would traditionally be considered rifle actions - the OAL matters as well.
     
  2. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    so no buttstock and OAL > 26" is not a pistol?
     
  3. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    There is no overall length limit on a pistol.

    Now, the overall length of a pistol DOES matter when you're putting a vertical foregrip on it: If the pistol has an overall length less than 26", the addition of a vertical foregrip makes it into an NFA-regulated AOW and needs a tax stamp to be legal. However, the addition of a vertical foregrip to a pistol with an overall length greater than 26" makes that pistol into a non-NFA "firearm".
     
  4. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    No stock and a length over 26" would transfer as an "other firearm", vertical foregrip or not.
     
  5. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    so is it legal to make it an "other firearm" first and then a pistol sometime later?
     
  6. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    No, that's a common misconception (I used to think that, too), but that's incorrect. The vertical foregrip is what changes the designation, not the length. Until the vertical foregrip is added, it's still a pistol.

    Like I said before, there is no overall length limit on a pistol. An AR pistol with an overall length greater than 26" is still a pistol. If a vertical foregrip is attached, it then changes into an "other firearm", but not before that. And if the overall length is less than 26", the addition of the vertical foregrip makes it into an AOW.

    Here's an excerpt from an ATF letter regarding this subject:

    [​IMG]

    The two firearms mentioned in this letter -- the Thompson Model 1927-A5 and the Franklin Armory SE-SSP -- are both pistols with an overall length greater than 26" and a vertical foregrip, which makes them not actually pistols. Notice that the ATF's determination of what makes them not pistols is the fact that they both have a vertical foregrip, since a vertical foregrip means it's no longer "designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand", which is part of the legal definition of a pistol. The overall length simply determines if they're AOWs or regular non-NFA "firearms".

    While there is no place in federal law or in any ATF publications that states an overall limit on the length of a pistol, I suppose if you had a pistol without a vertical foregrip that was long enough, the ATF might decide it was no longer designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand and therefore not a pistol anymore, but there's no specific threshold for what this length would be.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
  7. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    BATFE changes their minds regularly, but if that's still the current interpretation, then every stripped lower would be built as a pistol first as long as there is some instant at which it has no vertical fore grip and no buttstock, but is otherwise complete.
     
  8. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    Maybe, though that's a question for a lawyer. Not being a lawyer, I can only guess that it depends on whether you could convince the appropriate authorities that your intent was to build an AR pistol with a 16" barrel and a carbine buffer tube. I suppose whether or not you had a stock lying around during this process that was in "close proximity" could also make a difference. But like I said, I'm not a lawyer so those are just guesses.

    I can tell you that there's no federal law or ATF opinion stating that you can't make an AR pistol with a 16" barrel and a regular carbine buffer tube. As long as you don't possess a compatible stock that's in "close proximity" with no other "useful purpose" for having it, that firearm is a pistol in theory. Now, the ATF might decide that it was simply too long to meet the definition of being "designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand" even though it doesn't have a vertical foregrip, but that would be a regulatory opinion that -- as far as I know -- the ATF hasn't made before.
     
  9. Ibmikey

    Ibmikey Member

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    My 300 BO pistol was created as such, originally with a 12.5" CMMG barrel it now has an 8.5" Model 1 barrel. I marked the receiver on the interior with the word "pistol" stamped along with the last four of the S/n. On the outside right side mag well i stamped my name , City and State. The lug on the upper is also stamped with the last four of the serial number.
    I know all the marking is not a requirement but if anyone should have some curosity regaring it's official status I think they can satisfy themselves by examining the weapon.
     
  10. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Legalities aside, it's a little late in the game to start thinking about hunting with a handgun. It's not something that should be entered into lightly and the AR does not exactly make an ideal platform for a hunting pistol. Might be a better idea to save some money for a proper hunting handgun and spend the next year getting proficient with it.
     
  11. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    The ATF takes the view that whatever is marked on the weapon has nothing to do with how they would interpret it. Nada. Someone looking on a firearm with "pistol" engraved on the lower which has a stock and 20" barrel won't help one bit. It's useless.

    Case in point, and one where constructive possession was actually prosecuted even tho not by the owner - a gun case carrying a rifle and pistol AR, both broken down, was seized in an investigation where the cops at the station assembled it into an SBR, took pictures which they forwarded to the ATF, who prosecuted. His lawyer didn't do a good job and he was convicted, it's still working thru appeals.

    While some write up all sorts of ways to skirt the ATF and do whatever, the better attitude is avoidance which can be readily shown in court if needed. I built my pistol with a pistol buffer tube, kept the OAL under 26", and don't need to inflate my ego poking the bear. All the advice and finesse trying to make the gun visually appear as if it's a spec ops submachine gun is where a lot of the problems exist. Most of it is exactly that - aesthetics, not actual function that will make the gun more reliable or perform better. For the most part the 10.5" barrels have a limit - in 5.56 they only carry 1,000 foot pound out to 80m max, which is where ethics and common sense should tell the shooter to limit his range. In the Ozarks hunting broken woodland, that is just about as far as you can see under the canopy. It's my primary hunting gun now, rifle or pistol season, and I find it's plenty gun for the task at hand.

    Turning it into a political statement? Let's stick to the real intent - hunting the alternative pistol season. In that regard, I built it with iron sites no scope, and hunt with a 10 round Lancer mag. At the ranges I kick up whitetail in the brush, I don't need a 350m magnum rifle with scope so magnified that all I see is fur in the eyepiece. And holding nose to the charging handle with my grip braced FORWARD to reduce the minimal recoil is all that is needed for the first shot.

    Buy a new lower and get with it, times running out and you want it done by opening day.
     
  12. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Yes, the rules are silly, but they are the rules.

    I have built 3 stripped lowers this year. The first two were assembled as pistols, one with an 8.5" 300 AAC upper, the second with a same length 5.56 upper. I also built a 3rd stripped upper, and even though it is now a carbine (rifle) I first assembled it using one of my pistol buffer tubes and pistol uppers. So, it started life as a pistol, is now a carbine, but I could legally convert it back to a pistol any time in the future should I desire.

    On the other hand, my Bushmaster, which started life as a rifle, must always remain a rifle.
     
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    All that stamping may work to assuage a local police officer who doesn't really know what the law is, but THINKS s/he knows that this gun is somehow illegal because it's short and looks rifle-ish. In other words, impressing the ignorant enough to maybe, perhaps, get them to decide to leave you alone.

    However, there is no legal weight in any of the things you stamped on the gun. The literally don't mean anything at all, nada, in the eyes of the law. If you were to strip everything off that lower and sell it to a dealer, it would transfer as an "other firearm." Not a pistol. If for some reason you were ever to be (probably the only guy on earth, ha!) brought under ATF scrutiny because they thought you built it first as a rifle and thus have an unregistered NFA "firearm made from a rifle," stamping "pistol" all over it wouldn't make it so in their eyes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
  14. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    Hopefully the OP now has enough info on this ridiculous law to decide his path forward for himself.
     
  15. savanahsdad

    savanahsdad Member

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    So if I buy a complete lower and my paper work says "Other" it can be built into a pistol . What if that lower came with a stock on it? I have a lower stamped "Multi caliber" new in the box never had an upper on it , and it came with a stock.
     
  16. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Take the stock off before installing an upper to make a complete firearm, and you have technically assembled a pistol first.
     
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  17. savanahsdad

    savanahsdad Member

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    That's what I thought. But with it being sold with the stock on it I was wondering if the intent was for it to be a rifle. . . Thanks
     
  18. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    A new lower receiver with a stock on it doesn't meet the definition of a rifle since there's no action or barrel. So it's still just an "other" and it can't transfer as a rifle on the 4473. The ATF has been clear on this.

    [​IMG]
     
    savanahsdad likes this.
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