Author Topic: Questions on NFA definition of a "Firearm"  (Read 1182 times)


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Questions on NFA definition of a "Firearm"
« on: August 10, 2017, 12:41:26 PM »

I’m a new member and wondering if this is the forum in which to ask a question about buying/building short barreled firearms that are NFA legal.

If this is not the correct venue could someone please point me to it?

The question revolves around building an AR type firearm and if there is a weird combination of laws that lead it to the status of “firearm” which is not NFA regulated vs a Short Barrled Rifle (SBR) or Other weapon (AOW).

If you take an new AR Receiver (which has never been built as a rifle) and put a 8-10 inch barrel on it, one of the Sig Braces (or ones from other companies) so that it is greater than 26” in length AND a forward grip. Does that combination make it a “Firearm” and not subject to NFA registration and approval.

The reading I’ve done on this is somewhat dizzying.
Apparently because it doesn’t have a stock (it’s a brace) its not a SBR.
The overall length takes it out of the pistol category.
The short barrel means it can’t be a rifle.
The forward grip makes it a who knows what.

Finally if you had one of these whatever’s what would the legality be of carrying it around concealed in backpack or car?


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Re: Questions on NFA definition of a "Firearm"
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 02:19:26 PM »

AR receivers are considered firearms. Under federal law, items that may be readily converted to expel a projectile by explosive force are considered firearms. This includes a receiver because it can readily combined with a barrel and stock and trigger to make a rifle. You are correct to be concerned about the classification of your combination of firearm components and it can be confusing.

Federal law defines a rifle as a weapon designed or remade to be fired from the shoulder. You are right in thinking that because an AR receiver is not yet a rifle is not technically designed to be fired from the shoulder. By putting an 8-10” barrel on your AR receiver you are effectively creating an AR pistol, not a rifle.

A pistol is a firearm with a short stock designed to be fired with one hand. An AR receiver with an 8-10” barrel would likely qualify as a pistol. But, the addition of a vertical grip or a shoulder stock would render it not a pistol.

Short-Barrel Rifle:
A short barrel rifle is a rifle that has a barrel shorter than 16”. This type of rifle is restricted by the NFA and requires a tax stamp. Please note: if making or modifying a short-barrel rifle, the firearm must be registered and tax paid BEFORE the rifle is modified.


You cannot attach a shoulder stock to your AR pistol. A shoulder stock would make your AR pistol a short barrel rifle. Despite the overall length, the stock makes it a rifle because it is designed to be fired from the shoulder. As a short barrel rifle, you would be in possession of an illegal firearm under the NFA.
Unfortunately, it is also probably illegal to attach a vertical grip to your AR pistol. Under the federal law, a pistol is a firearm designed to be fired with one hand. Attaching a vertical grip means your firearm will no longer be “designed” to be fired with one hand. In this case your firearm will not be a rifle or a pistol and will likely be classified as an AOW.

The combination you described would either be a short-barrel rifle or an AOW. It is likely an NFA restricted firearm and should not be carried. Possession of this firearm, whether on your person or in your car or at home, would be illegal without the proper registration and tax stamp.