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Reply from BATF regarding Thompson Encore question

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by <SLV>, Mar 14, 2008.

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  1. <SLV>

    <SLV> Member

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    I had submitted a question to the BATF regarding the legality of attaching a folding stock to a pistol with a 16" barrel. I had in mind a Thompson Encore 15" .30-06 w/permanently attached muzzle break (for 16" total). I thought the response was interesting and would be appreciated by the many Encore/Contender enthusiasts who have grappled with the legal ramifications of reconfiguration:

    -------------------------------

    Dear __________________:

    This is in reply to your correspondence which was received by the Firearms Technology Branch, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), on January 30, 2008. In your letter you inquire about the attachment of a folding stock to a pistol having a barrel length of 16 inches or greater.

    As background, 27 CFR Sec. 479.11 (Meaning of Terms) states, in part:

    The overall length of a weapon made from a shotgun or rifle is the distance between the extreme ends of the weapon measured along a line parallel to the center line of the bore.

    Based on this description of overall length and its correct measurement, ATF has taken the position that firearms having folding or collapsible stocks are properly measured for overall length with the stock fully extended.

    In the situation you present, the attachment of a folding shoulder stock to a pistol having a barrel length of 16 inches or greater would be lawful as long as the overall length of the resulting firearm is at least 26 inches with the stock fully extended. We caution that, because the configuration you have specified results in the manufacture of a rifle, a subsequent reconfiguration of the firearm to a pistol configuration would result in a weapon made from a rifle, which is a weapon controlled by the National Firearms Act (NFA).

    We thank you for your inquiry and trust that the foregoing has been responsive.

    Sincerely yours,

    John R. Spencer
    Chief, Firearms Technology Branch

    ------------------------------------

    I have heard T/C enthusiasts claim that if you purchase a pistol registered receiver that you could always attach a rifle stock and barrel to it. This is true, HOWEVER... according to this letter you could NEVER change it back because you had "manufactured" a rifle.

    I was thinking about getting a single receiver to use as both, but now I think I will just get two receivers.

    PS - It is ridiculous that they are so anal about the letter of the law even when it violates common sense.
     
  2. Grandpa Shooter

    Grandpa Shooter Member

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  3. Grizzly Adams

    Grizzly Adams Member

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    I was always taught to listen to my Grandpa!
     
  4. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    I don't understand why this is a surprise to anyone.

    The law says that pistols w/ shoulder stocks are NFA weapons which need a tax stamp.

    An encore pistol w/ a shoulder stock is therefore an NFA weapon which needs a tax stamp.

    The only misleading part of what they said was the part about guns made from rifles or shotguns being measured with the stock extended so it needed to be 26" overall. The measurement is true but not relevant because (at least as I understand it) a NFA pistol w/ shoulder stock does not need to meet the minimum overall length requirements of a rifle or shotgun.
     
  5. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    You just cannot get consistant answers from ATF. They have previously stated that you CAN convert a pistol into a rifle and then back into a pistol.

    For example: Glock pistol to rifle conversion.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    Not what the letter stated. It stated you could convert the pistol to a rifle if it met the minimum requirements of barrel length and overall length. They stated that once you did this, if you wanted to convert it back into a pistol, you must register it as a SBR because it cannot ever be a pistol again.

    Which they have stated the opposite of on other occassions.
     
  7. barnetmill

    barnetmill Member

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    A possible issue is that a contender with folding stock could be fired with the stock folded. Does it become a pistol when so used and have you manufactured a rifle in doing so?

    There was a few years ago a supreme court case involving thompson contendors on a related issue.
    "Respondent Thompson/Center Arms Company manufactures a single shot pistol called the "Contender," designed so that its handle and barrel can be removed from its "receiver," the metal frame housing the trigger, hammer and firing mechanism. See 27 CFR § 179.11 (1991) (definition of frame or receiver). For a short time in 1985 Thompson/Center also manufactured a carbine conversion kit consisting of a 21 inch barrel, a rifle stock, and a wooden fore end. If one joins the receiver with the conversion kit's rifle stock, the 21 inch barrel, and the rifle fore end, the product is a carbine rifle with a 21 inch barrel. If, however, the shorter, pistol length barrel is not removed from the receiver when the rifle stock is added, one is left with a 10-inch or "short barreled" carbine rifle. The entire conversion, from pistol to long barreled rifle takes only a few minutes; conversion to a short barreled rifle takes even less time."
    "..... It is proper, therefore, to apply the rule of lenity and resolve the ambiguity in Thompson/Center's favor. " Read website for details
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-0164.ZO.html
     
  8. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    Ask them a couple more times till they give you the answer you want. Then keep that letter and discard the rest.
     
  9. LB7_Driver

    LB7_Driver Member

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    Contradict themselves? Never!
    :scrutiny:
     
  10. DFW1911

    DFW1911 Member

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    That's the way I'm reading it. Take it hunting, attach the stock, remove the stock when you're done and it's now a SBR.

    Yep, makes perfect sense :rolleyes:

    Thanks,
    DFW1911
     
  11. Gator

    Gator Member

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    This is why it is dangerous to ask the ATF questions they have answered before; you never know what they will come up with. I don't think TC owners will thank you for this.
     
  12. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    "I don't think TC owners will thank you for this."



    Bingo!!!!!
     
  13. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Yeah, but next week, it'll be different. Keep in mind that the induhvidual responding may have never seen a TC pistol or rifle...

    IMHO, as long as you are not making a short barreled rifle (i.e., affix the 16+" barrel before you affix the shoulder stock), you should be good. But I'm not with F-Troop.
     
  14. moosehunt

    moosehunt Member

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    There is nothing new here. What they told you has been law for quite some time. The Contender and Encore present a rather unique situation. People make the changes back and forth regularly. There is no way to know that Encore pistol A has ever been a rifle or not. The ATF knows this, and basically said so if you carefully read the statement quoted already regarding the 1980's case. The smart thing to do, is don't rock the boat. If it becomes something of significance on the ATF radar, a bad result is all that can occur.
     
  15. jrfoxx

    jrfoxx Member

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    I agree that this seems to be a kind of odd opinion on their part, and they have stated just the opposite before.cant say I'm surprised by any of it though.Based on this letter though, seems like adding the folding stock to a T/C woud just be kinda pointless, as it would have to stay a rifle, which it seems kinda defeats the whole purpose here, as juts buying a regular rifle would be easier, leaglly safer, and probly cheaper, so they kind of make the whole thing pointless with this opnion.And it's a stupid opinion at that anyways. if it was OK as a pistol when you bought it, why does it beome an evil NFA weapon because you added a stock, whch was ok and then later take the stock off, making just like it was when it was bought as a title 1 frearm! why is it now an SBR? oh, thats right, beause they make up the rules as thy go along, and this deision creates crimnals out of law abiding people, so it gives them people thecan bust, fin, and confiscat property from, generates some $200 tax stamp sales, and crerates hassles for gun owners.NOW I can see why they said what they said....it's all win-win and $$ for them :rolleyes:


    -sorry, the tinfoil got a little tight at the end there, but its REALLY hard to not dislike the BATFE and be REAL suspicious of ANYTHINY they do or say IMHO
     
  16. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    This conflicts with previous statements given by them.

    A pistol could have a 16"+ barrel put on it, and then have a shoulder stock attached (totaling over 26" overall). It could then be disassembled removing the shoulder stock first to once again create a legal pistol.

    This is a very new interpretation that once someone puts thier encore in carbine setup it can never be undone.

    Nobody is going to thank you for this new interpretation. This interpretation would essentialy kill the carbine market where people enjoy converting pistols and carbines back and forth to suite different roles, such as the encore.
     
  17. Wes Janson

    Wes Janson Member

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    I'm not surprised by this interpretation, because it falls in line with prior statements that define a rifle as a firearm that has ever had a stock placed on it. The catch is (and what I really want to know): if you take a 16" Contender pistol (PISTOL), add a stock (RIFLE), and then remove the stock ( ??? ) what does it become? It's not a pistol, it's (presumably) not an AOW, and it's not an SBR because the length is still 16". Title 1? And on a similar note, what happens if you buy an AR-15, and then throw away the collapsible stock and shoot it like an AR pistol?
     
  18. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    You still have the overall length of 26" issue. If it falls below that, it is a SBR.

    The problem with this interpretation is that ATF has prevoiusly stated you can go from a pistol to a rifle and back to a pistol. There are conversions on the market to convert both Glock and 1911 handguns into rifles where ATF has stated it is ok to go back to pistol mode.
     
  19. Wes Janson

    Wes Janson Member

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    Ahh, SBR then, you're right.

    But that still leaves the question...if I pull the stock off of an AR-15, and leave it off, haven't I illegally created an SBR (assuming overall length is under 26" with a 16" bbl)?
     
  20. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    Yep. ATF has always held that once a rifle, always a rifle. Once a shotgun, always a shotgun. Once a machinegun, always a machinegun. Once a pistol, always a pistol.

    Now they say that a pistol can turn into a rifle and never go back.
     
  21. <SLV>

    <SLV> Member

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    Several posters have misunderstood my intentions -- I'm not looking for praise or thanks from T/C owners. I wasn't even asking a question of the BATF regarding converting from a pistol to a rifle. I was merely asking if it was legal to attach a folding stock to a pistol with a 16" barrel. The extra answer came without inquiry, and I do believe that when the DOJ issues a response it is of value to T/C owners.

    The fact that it took @ 10 weeks for them to get back with me indicates that they didn't have a ready and clear answer.
     
  22. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Nope. It means it sat on someone's desk for 9.5 weeks while they went out and had their nails done.
     
  23. Gator

    Gator Member

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    The answer to that question is widely known and you could have easily found the answer without writing to the ATF. The point of many posts here is that the ATF should not be consulted without a good reason. They make up rules as they go along and constantly contradict themselves and/or the law; rarely with good results to gun owners.
     
  24. Bad Voodoo

    Bad Voodoo Member

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    Yeah, but this letter was signed by the Chief! :rolleyes:
     
  25. Daryl Licht

    Daryl Licht Member

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    I thought this was all settled in United States v. Thompson Center Arms. Halbrook's comments are at http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/tc.html. Does a SCOTUS decision not trump a bureaucrat's opinion?
     
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