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where does a pistol end and a rifle begin?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by guns'ahoy, Feb 16, 2004.

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  1. guns'ahoy

    guns'ahoy Member

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    how does the governemnt classify something as a rifle vs. a pistol.

    and why is something with a 12 inch barrel a rifle that is illegally-short, rather than a pistol with a really long barrel ?
     
  2. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

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    if it can be fired from the shoulder (and left the factory that way) then its a rifle ... otherwise its just a pistol
     
  3. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    Aren't there some restrictions on total barrel length? Doesn't a rifle have to have a barrel at least 16" (including things like muzzle breaks) to be ATF legal.

    Just Askin' cuz I'm interested too...
     
  4. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

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    IIRC = Rifles must be at least 26" long and have a barrel that exceeds 16" and A Shotgun must be 28" long and have a barrel that exceeds 18". If these specifications are not complied with a for a rifle it must have a $200 tax stamp for a Short barreled rifle and a Shotgun can get by with a $5 Any Other Weapon or AOW tax stamp.


    Not sure about handguns with removable shoulder stocks. Some old ones have been grandfathered in, like an Artillery model Luger or a Broomhandle Mauser.

    You can put and uber long barrel on a handgun but you can not shorten a rifle. unless you pay the taxes.....
     
  5. CleverNickname

    CleverNickname Member

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    Perfessr has it pretty much correct, except I believe the OAL for a shotgun is still 26" even though the minimum barrel length is 18" for a shotgun versus 16" for a rifle. Interesting side note, the minimum barrel length used to be 18" for rifles too, but was decreased to 16" sometime in the 1950s.

    If a receiver starts out it's life w/o a shoulder stock, then it can be a pistol. Guns can go from pistols to rifles, but if it starts out its life as a rifle, it can't go to being a pistol. Once a rifle, always a rifle. A pistol with a shoulder stock (ala a Glock or a BHP) has to be registered as a short-barreled rifle to be legal, or it has to have a >=16" barrel, unless it's one of the grandfathered C&R guns Perfessr mentioned. Note it has to be the original Luger/Mauser stock for it to qualify under the exemption.

    You'd think that turning a pistol into a short-barreled rifle would be a good thing in the eyes of the antis (concealable guns are evil doncha know, and the shoulder stock makes them less concealable.) Originally the NFA was going to include all guns, but just tax them at different levels. "Normal" longer-barreled rifles and shotguns would have been taxed at a much lower rate than the $200 for the evil concealable short-barreled rifles and shotguns. However the regulations for long-barreled rifles and shotguns and for pistols were taken out of the NFA bill before it passed, but the short-barreled regulations were left in.

    If they really thought about it, they'd ban the longer-barreled guns because bullets typically develop more velocity out of longer barrels and therefore are more deadly/evil. Which would you rather be shot with, 5.56mm out of a non-evil 20" AR, or 5.56mm out of an evil 11.5" Commando? :evil:
     
  6. Politically Incorrect

    Politically Incorrect Member

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    So if you bought a Thompson Contender or Encore as a rifle and then put a pistol barrel and grip on it, then it would be considered an AOW and illegal if not possessing the proper permit for it, but...

    Buying an Encore in pistol form and putting a shoulder stock on it and long enough barrel on it, and that's legal?
     
  7. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    Once again, the time, effort and angst of good, honest Americans is completely and utterly wasted pondering arcane and pointless pronouncements from on high.

    {cartoon Yosemite Sam wanders in, wearing an ATFE badge, starts shooting at people's feet:}

    {Pow! Pow!} Dance, varmints, dance! If yer wanna stay outta jail, dance faster! {Pow!}


    I know it might be a bit tiresome to some folks that I tune in with this sentiment pretty regularly in this context, but the simple fact of the matter is that too many folks just take it for granted that there is something just, sensible, and of value to all this nonsense.

    There just plain ain't any.
     
  8. Publicola

    Publicola Member

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    Actually the NFA was going to include all handguns originally (as well as short barrled longarms, machine guns & sound suppressors), not all firearms.
    But at the time some congresscritter opined that if they taxed everyone's handgun at $200 (which was a lot of cash back then) there might be another revolution.
     
  9. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    Where's it say all that in the Second Amendment?
     
  10. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    If I could pay the $200 Fed tax stamp and have one here in CA, I'd be happy to pay it. But Kalif. doesn't want me or anyone else to have one. :(
     
  11. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

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    Shoulder stock + rifled bore = rifle
    Shoulder stock + smooth bore = shotgun
    Shoulder stock + rifled bore under 16" = short-barreled rifle (SBR, $200 transfer tax)
    Shoulder stock + smooth bore under 18" = short-barreled shotgun (SBS, $200 transfer tax)
    Pistol grip + rifled bore under 16" = pistol
    Pistol grip + smooth bore under 18" = smoothbore pistol (AOW, $5 transfer tax)
     
  12. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

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    Funny.

    I've a 14" bbl Contender .30 cal wildcat that'll do 1/3 MOA at 200 yards - as a handgun.

    If I put a "rifle stock" on it, it becomes illegal & a way bad thing, but if I "rifle stock" it & pay the Bat-Man tax, I'm fuzzy, or just get the 16" bbl. :rolleyes: as in why bother? the thing's already way accurate enough .....

    Every bit of this comes from the hysteria caused by Prohibition = short-bbl'ed anything, silencers, machine guns - every bit was an hysterical response to the ban on alcohol - & congress's response to further control something they never could, or should have.

    Whole thing is stupid.

    Never was the "The Guns," it was the criminal aspect - used for illegal purposes - as is today.

    The law-abiding have never been, nor ever will be, the problem, & no amount of legislation will ever remove the criminal element.

    The only thing extra laws will do is make more law-abiding into illegals & further broaden the schism between the good guys (the law-abiding) & the other good guys (the decent cops).

    & at every one at our peril - to pit these two groups against another.
     
  13. dustind

    dustind Member

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    Wow, I thought SBSs and SBRs where only $5.
     
  14. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Ya, you can turn a pisol into a rifle any time you want without paperwork, and change it back to a legal handgun configuration just as easy...as long as it's a full conversion each way.

    Hmmmm...what happens if you lengthen it all the way to full rifle specs, sell it that way as a rifle (can you do that?) and then the buyer converts it back?

    Another wrinkle: manufacturers can build handguns based on rifle recievers any time they want. Remington has done so with the 700 (XP101 handgun) and Marlin or another levergun maker could re-create the old Vulcan lever-handgun that's the real ancestor of the Henry and Winchester leverguns. I think a very short-action, short-stroke 45ACP lever-handgun with about a 7rd capacity and 6" barrel would be WAY COOL :cool:. Or 44Spl, if you need the rim.

    Any small handgun maker like Gary Reeder could buy recievers off of Marlin or whoever with no serial numbers, finish them as handguns and put new handgun registration data on them. Rossi would almost certainly be willing to sell 92 actions that way...a 454 version would be GREAT for bear country!
     
  15. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

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    Random comments:

    Read the NFA FAQ for all the gory details.

    Only AOWs get the $5 tax, the rest are $200.

    More definitions:
    Rifle modified to length under 26" = short-barreled rifle ($200 tax) (even if the barrel is over the 16" limit)
    Shotgun modified to length under 26" = short-barreled shotgun ($200 tax) (even if the barrel is over the 18" limit)
    Pistol with more than one vertical grip = AOW ($5 tax)
    Doesn't look like a gun = AOW ($5 tax)
    Holster which permits firing gun when holstered = AOW ($5 tax)
    Shoulder-fired rifle/shotgun combo, manually reloaded, barrels between 12" and 18" = AOW ($5 tax)

    The "pistol with two grips" definition is being used to make new legal (for $5 tax) "assault pistols". As an AOW it is not an AW, and hence can have all the "pre-ban" features.

    The "fireable holster" includes the HK-MP5 Briefcase.

    Ya, you can turn a pisol into a rifle any time you want without paperwork, and change it back to a legal handgun configuration just as easy...as long as it's a full conversion each way.

    Yes, with a heavy dose of paranoia. AT NO TIME MAY IT BE IN AN ILLEGAL CONFIGURATION. T/C won a case arguing that a kit including receiver, pistol grip, shoulder stock, short barrel, and long barrel is legal SO LONG AS the owner NEVER assembles it with short-barrel-and-shoulder-stock configuration, unless it the $200 tax has been paid.

    ... sell it that way as a rifle (can you do that?)

    No. Once registered as something "bad", it is eternally officially "bad". If once a pistol, always a pistol, must be sold as such. (Case: yesterday saw a "Glock carbine" (rifle with G17 receiver) - was marked as "must be registered as pistol".)

    manufacturers can build handguns based on rifle recievers any time they want.

    True. Virgin receivers are not anything in particular until built into a particular configuration - then they are that thing forever, even if stripped. If you could persuade a manufacturer to sell you a virgin receiver, you could build whatever you wanted (taxes as appropriate).
     
  16. labgrade

    labgrade Member In Memoriam

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    "Another wrinkle: manufacturers can build handguns based on rifle recievers any time they want."

    Only if those receivers are ear-marked as handguns right from the git-go.

    One can certainly not make a handgun from a rifle receiver once it's been dedicated as such - even the factory.
     
  17. tyme

    tyme Member

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    Sorry to dredge this up, but I'm curious (and annoyed):

    The only difference between a new AR-15 SBR and a new AR-style pistol (post-AWB sunset) is that the SBR has a stock instead of a buffer tube?

    (Edit... apparently some sites are just being overly cautious, and in trying to avoid selling uppers for SBRs, they end up refusing to sell to people who are using SBR uppers on pistols.)

    1) If an ar-15 has its upper removed, has its stock replaced with a buffer tube, and then has an 11.5" upper added, what is the status of that *thing*? I gather it's still a SBR and is illegal, because the NFA language talks about modifying a rifle to have a short barrel... it doesn't seem to make an exception if the thing is no longer a rifle. It's an SBR, right?

    2) If the same thing is constructed from a stripped, new, lower receiver, what is it then? A pistol, no SBR stamp needed? Or do only FFLs have the right to create such a pistol?

    I'm so confused.
     
  18. boofus

    boofus Guest

    There are ways to 'unbadify' NFA weapons... You can have SBR or MG status removed from a weapon if you convert it back to a non-NFA configuration (people do this all the time when they 'divorce' a registered sear from a weapon) and then get the ATF to cancel the registration in their database. Or you can cut the receiver in the ATF approved way and it will instantly unbadify it.
     
  19. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

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    I seem to recall a few years ago Thompson Center sold a Contender kit that contained one reciever, a pistol grip, rifle stock, long rifle barrel and short pistol barrel. IIRC ATF didn't take kindly to it, said someone could "build" an "illegal" rifle by combining the pistol barrel with the rifle stock. I think it got thrown out in court, the judge basically said anyone with a rifle and hacksaw could do the same thing, and besides, how many instances are there of BGs using single-shots?

    Anyone else remember this?
     
  20. Harry Tuttle

    Harry Tuttle Member

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    the other fun thing with the TCs is that you can buy one as a blackpowder rifle

    theoretically you should be able to buy that sans 4473 form

    but no, they want it on paper
     
  21. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    You are correct. With an 11.5" barrel, it becomes a SBR.

    It is a handgun and can be made by anyone (no FFL needed other than getting the receiver). A few months ago, Badger Arms made a pistol from a virgin 10/22 receiver.

    On a side note, adding a vertical foregrip turns the pistol into an AOW while adding it to a rifle or SBR does not change its status.

    Why tell them what you are going to use the upper for?
     
  22. tyme

    tyme Member

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