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rifle without a shoulder stock, legal question

Discussion in 'Legal' started by cpileri, Jul 21, 2009.

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  1. cpileri

    cpileri Member

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    If I were to take a rifle, a normal rifle, and cut off the shoulder stock down to a pistol grip; (or, similarly, to install a pistol grip stock- same idea) and leave the barrel length >16 inches, and the AOL >26 inches; will I have a legal rifle?

    or, have i now made a really long pistol, similar to a Thompson Contender pistol?

    Thanks,
    C-

    p.s. of course, if it is now a pistol, then since it was not built as one from the ground up but rather cut back from rifle configuration, it is now a SBR; yes?
     
  2. TiredOleMan

    TiredOleMan Member

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    Not sure if this answers your question but while I was in Dick's Sporting Goods buying some ammo I asked the clerk if they ever carried the Mossberg shotgun (unsure of the actual model #) that came with the optional pistol grip, he said that was classified as a handgun and they didnt stock handguns.
     
  3. cratti

    cratti Member

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    I'm not 100% certain, but I think it'd still be legally a rifle as long as the length requirements are met. Think of all the folding-stock rifles on the market; are they considered pistols, unless they're especially short?
     
  4. cratti

    cratti Member

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    Also, a PGO shotgun is NOT a pistol. That's absolutely ridiculous.
     
  5. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    Nope. Pistol Gripped shotguns are NOT handguns. They are firearms.


    The Mossberg 500 has an 18.5 inch barrel and is 28 inches overall.

    It is NOT a handgun.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
  6. deadin

    deadin Member

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    You might run into a problem here:
    Rifles with folding or extendable stocks can be said that they are still "intended" to be shoulder fired. If no shoulder stock exists, it doesn't meet the definition of a rifle. I'm not quite sure what it would be under the law. Possibly a rifle illegally converted to a very large pistol??
    However shotguns have the same "fired from the shoulder" definition and PGO shotguns seem to be OK as long as the dimension requirements are met.

    Maybe an opinion from the BATFE would be in order??
     
  7. herohog

    herohog Member

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    Perfect, if not comical, example of what you are talking about albeit with a folding stock:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. cpileri

    cpileri Member

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    right

    its the "intended to be fired from the shoulder" clause I was thinking of.

    I could see a 'current administration leaning' officer of the law taking the stance that it is no longer a rifle since it has no shoulder stock(*) and asking for Tax Stamp papers.

    C-

    (*) how PG-only shotguns get away with it, I don't know.
     
  9. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    It would still not meet the definition of "pistol".

    We did this a while back in reference to the M2 semi automatic belt fed.

    It's not a rifle since it was not intended to be fired from the shoulder, but it's not a handgun because of the length.

    It's simply a "firearm".

    I'm unable to find where it is illegal to convert a rifle to a "firearm".

    It's illegal to make one into a pistol, or an SBR, (without tax stamps) but I can't see anywhere that it's illegal to simply make a "firearm".


    Same thing, it's a "firearm" but not a "handgun".

    Definition of "firearm":


    So, there are rifles, shotguns, handguns, and firearms.

    On the NFA side there are SBS and SBR which have specific length definitions.

    A rifle or shotgun without a shoulder stock, but longer than the NFA lengths, don't seem to fit into any definition other than "firearm".

    Like this, a "firearm". Can't be a rifle, too long to be an NFA weapon. So, merely a "firearm".

    [​IMG]


    So the question is then, is it legal to convert a "rifle" to a "firearm" or does it even matter?

    I have never seen anything prohibiting that. You can't make a pistol, you can't make an SBR, but not a word about making a "firearm" out of a rifle.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
  10. HKUSP45C

    HKUSP45C Member

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    First, you can't make a rifle a pistol. The designation of Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun are given to the firearm at "birth" in the manufacturers facility. You can, however, make a new NFA item without knowing it, if you're not careful.

    If you buy a rifle and cut it down so as to have a barrel length >16" and an overall length >26" it's still a rifle. If you take a pistol and affix a butt stock to it and install a barrel >16" it's still a pistol.

    Things get hinky when you start changing configurations in certain ways though.

    If you affix a Tango Down foregrip to a pistol, you've made an AOW. If you install a buttstock on a pistol and leave the barrel <16" you've made an SBR. If you saw the barrel of a rifle, or shotgun to <16" or 18" repectively you also manufactured a SBR or SBS, respectively. If you saw a buttstock on a rifle or shotgun in such a way as to make the OAL <26" I think it's considered an AOW (I know it's illegal).

    The rule of thumb is that all long guns must be over the federally defined lengths and all handguns must be devoid of buttstocks unless the barrel is above the defined lengths.

    "Constructive Possesion" also plays a part in the law. If you have a pistol length upper for you AR pistol AND an AR rifle that will accept it, even if they aren't installed on each other you can be found to be in "constructive possesion" of an SBR, for what that's worth.

    So, a rifle with a barrel cut down to 16.1 inches (from the bolt face to the barrel's end) with an overall length that is >than 26" is perfectly legal. Same goes for a shotgun with 18" and 26" OAL.

    BTW all rifles and SGs with folding stocks are measured with stocks folded, and all rifles with barrel attachments that aren't permanent are measured without them. All barrel lengths are measured with the bolt closed from the bolt face to the barrels end.

    ETA: As usual TRM has a good explanation. The term "firearm" as it's defined in the law is what I was missing in my explanation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
  11. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    The BATFE classifies a PGO shotgun as "not a shotgun" and, therefore, can only be sold to persons 21+ and also cannot be purchased under the 18 USC 922 (b)(3) exceptions for out of state purchase from FFLs.

    See the August 1998 BATFE newsletter to FFLs:
    http://www.atf.gov/pub/fflnews_pub/ffl0898.pdf

    The same is true for shotguns with removable stocks and optional pistol grips. If the pistol grip is installed, it is not a shotgun and therefore must be sold to 21+ persons. If the shoulder stock is installed, now it is a shotgun. An FFL can sell a shotgun with a shoulder stock installed to a 19 year old. They can also sell the pistol grip only to a 19 year old. They cannot sell the shotgun with the pistol grip only installed to a 19 year old, however.
     
  12. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    The specific part NavyLT references.

    So, a "firearm" only.

    It appears legal to convert a shotgun to a PGO "firearm" so I can't figure out why it wouldn't be legal to do the same to a rifle.

    Can't find a single mention of it anywhere.
     
  13. Supertac45

    Supertac45 Member

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    If it's OAL is between 26 and 30 inches in Michigan, it is a handgun. A shotgun under 26 inches is illegal.
     
  14. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    Correct. Just to have a reference:

    Michigan code 750.222

     
  15. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    So if you move to Michigan with one of the standard 18" barrel HD marketed shotguns you need to legaly have a pistol permit even though the average person would think they were breaking no laws? The overall length of most standard defensive models is under 30".


    While citing state laws that differ I will include California.
    Under 30 inches on a semi-auto rifle in California is an illegal unregistered "assault weapon" (unless it was of course registered before the close of the registry or within a window of a grandfathering exemption of a newly classified assault weapon.)
    Shotgun length on the other hand is the same as federal law.


    Shotguns are also in a strange area legaly at the federal level. Since most are over .50 inches bore diameter they are at the discretion of the BATFE. If determined "unsporting" they are destructive devices, another NFA item created by the 1968 GCA Amending the definition of the 1934 NFA items.
    For example they threatened to consider the Saiga a destructive device just as they had the Amsel striker or "street sweeper", if someone made a drum for it. Now several 20 round drums exist and that has yet to hapen.
    Once declared a destructive device, with no passing of any new laws, merely at the whim of a federal agency the item is legaly little different from a 30MM cannon or an RPG launcher.
     
  16. deadin

    deadin Member

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    Ah yes, the great foggy gray area of Federal and State regulations. All I know is I don't want to be the one that establishes "Case Law" in respect to the gun under discussion.

    Any volunteers??:evil:
     
  17. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    For their to ever be "case law" established a law has to be broken.

    I can't find a single law that would be broken by this.

    Anyone?
     
  18. deadin

    deadin Member

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    The BATFE might just decide to enforce the "intended to be fired from the shoulder" bit. (Wouldn't be the first time they decided to re-interpret the regs.)

    Then it would be a matter of going to court for a judgment and establishing "case law".
     
  19. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    But we have already established that they can't necessarily use that for all long arms, since the M2 semi auto was clearly never intended to be shoulder fired.

    So though the law says rifles and shotguns have to be shoulder fired, "firearms" do not.

    So we know there exists a class of guns called simply "firearms" that don't meet the definition of either rifle or handgun, again the belt feds.

    The question is then, can you convert a "rifle" to a "firearm" and that's where I cannot find a reference.

    You can convert a "firearm" to a rifle at least temporarily since you can attach a stock to an M1919 semi auto Browning. Not originally intended to be shoulder fired, but shoulder stocks are sold for it. Does it then become a "rifle" or does it stay a "firearm" but with a shoulder stock?

    And then, if that's OK, can you go the other way, removing a stock from a rifle and making it into a firearm?

    The shoulder fired thing just defines a rifle and cutting the stock off a rifle clearly breaks that definition, but does it matter since as long as the overall length stays long enough you're making a "firearm".

    It's an odd situation but I can't see where it would violate any laws.

    Would have to get tech branch to weigh in on it to be sure I suspect.
     
  20. BTR

    BTR Member

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    I am pretty sure the feds measure the length of a rifle or shotgun with the stock extended, not folded or collapsed.
     
  21. Guns and more

    Guns and more member

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    Where did this quote come from?
    Is it a dictionary definition or a BATF definition?
     
  22. shotgunjoel

    shotgunjoel Member

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    Wrong, you can make a pistol into a rifle, just not a rifle into a pistol.

    I thought that it was shortest length (folded). As long as the overall length is ok, it not a problem. The real problem here is if it needs a stock to be a rifle or not.
     
  23. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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