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Thread: AR Pistol Build Question

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    Member Sharpshooterassassin's Avatar
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    Default AR Pistol Build Question

    I don't know if this question has been asked before or if this is the right thread for this question.

    I would like to start an AR 15 Pistol build. I've been looking online for complete lower receivers marked "pistol" to start my build. My question is, do I have to find a complete lower receiver marked "pistol" or can I buy a complete lower receiver with stock and then remove the stock to start my pistol build? I'm using the word "complete" because I want the LPK, Grip, and Buffer to already be in the receiver and it would be less parts that I would need to put together. So basically I just want to buy a complete lower and buy a complete 10.5" upper so I guess it's not really a build per say, LOL. I've seen mixed info on different forums and blogs and I don't want to get into any legal troubles. Thanks


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    I don't know about the "pistol" part. I've built a couple of ARs on bare lowers. The grip and buffer are on the "screw in a lightbulb" scale. The only parts I had any worry with was the detent on the front where the two receivers join up. I bought a special tool from Brownells for my last build. Zero problems with it. There are a few parts that can zing across the room if you're not careful. I bought extras of these small spring loaded parts. You never loose a part if you've got an extra handy. My first AR I built was done in a clear plastic bag. I didn't need it, but it was extra insurance.

    AR15.com has excellent instructions on building the AR. Glen D. Zediker has a wonderful book on building the AR; covering from plain jane to full blown competition styles. (Edit: Zediker doesn't cover the pistol.)

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    Easiest thing to remember is "once a rifle, always a rifle".

    Stripped lower? Not a rifle. Lower with buttstock attached? Rifle.

    Lowers don't have to be stamped anything, however if there were EVER a buttstock on it, it was technically a rifle and with a 10" barrel would be a short barreled rifle.

    Easiest way to stay legal is buy a stripped lower, and assemble yourself, or buy one sold with a pistol buffer and marketed as a pistol.
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    Either buy a stripped lower, lower parts kit and pistol buffer assy and assemble it as a pistol, or buy a complete pistol lower.

    DO NOT buy a complete rifle lower and convert it to a pistol as you will be converting a rifle to a pistol which is a big no no and the 4473 form you filled out when you bought the "rifle" will be your unduing.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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  5. #5

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    Rock River Arms has complete lowers marked "PISTOL ONLY". Not required to be so marked. But, they generally need a higher quality trigger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    Easiest thing to remember is "once a rifle, always a rifle".

    Stripped lower? Not a rifle. Lower with buttstock attached? Rifle.

    Lowers don't have to be stamped anything, however if there were EVER a buttstock on it, it was technically a rifle and with a 10" barrel would be a short barreled rifle.

    Easiest way to stay legal is buy a stripped lower, and assemble yourself, or buy one sold with a pistol buffer and marketed as a pistol.
    Thanks for all the help. I found a complete lower with pistol buffer, grip, and LPK. It is marked "Pistol".

    I have another question though. When my FFL does the paperwork while I'm filling out the form 4473, does he write it down as a pistol since the receiver is marked pistol or does he write down "other" or is writing down "other" only for stripped lower receivers?


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    Suggest you request the FFL person state it is other. I gives you more options. Avoids you being trapped, should your desires change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpshooterassassin View Post
    Thanks for all the help. I found a complete lower with pistol buffer, grip, and LPK. It is marked "Pistol".

    I have another question though. When my FFL does the paperwork while I'm filling out the form 4473, does he write it down as a pistol since the receiver is marked pistol or does he write down "other" or is writing down "other" only for stripped lower receivers?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpshooterassassin View Post
    Thanks for all the help. I found a complete lower with pistol buffer, grip, and LPK. It is marked "Pistol".

    I have another question though. When my FFL does the paperwork while I'm filling out the form 4473, does he write it down as a pistol since the receiver is marked pistol or does he write down "other" or is writing down "other" only for stripped lower receivers?


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    If it is not a complete firearm that goes bang it must be marked other. The pistol engraving on the lower means nothing. You will run into FFL's sometimes that don't read the directions (4473 Page 5 Question 18 Instructions) but that doesn't make it right, or legal ALL frames/receivers must be "other" and only transferred to in state residents at least 21 years old.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdmak View Post
    If it is not a complete firearm that goes bang it must be marked other. The pistol engraving on the lower means nothing. You will run into FFL's sometimes that don't read the directions (4473 Page 5 Question 18 Instructions) but that doesn't make it right, or legal ALL frames/receivers must be "other" and only transferred to in state residents at least 21 years old.
    Ok, does that mean if I was to buy a complete lower receiver with a "stock" attached, and then remove the stock to build an AR pistol, does that mean the FFL writes in "rifle" or "other" since it's not a firearm yet?


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    Caution is usually the best way to go. The line once a rifle always a rifle is not always true. When TC came out with the butt stocks and long barrels for the Contender the ATF claimed to be the know all and be all of gun regulations and told TC if the guns were moved back and forth between rifles and handguns that would be illegal. TC, having been previously fooled into stop making their .410 barrels by ATF say so, said not this time and took it to court...all the way to the top. The court said people could have both rifle and handgun parts for the Contender as long as when put together it was either a full rifle or a full handgun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpshooterassassin View Post
    Ok, does that mean if I was to buy a complete lower receiver with a "stock" attached, and then remove the stock to build an AR pistol, does that mean the FFL writes in "rifle" or "other" since it's not a firearm yet?


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    Correct. A lower with a stock attached is not a rifle. It needs an upper. If you never attach an upper to it then it was never a rifle. A word of caution though possession of a lower in that configuration and a upper <16" could be considered constructive intent. Besides if you buy a lower with a stock and a buffer tube capable of supporting stock you are buying parts you aren't going to use so why waste the money. I would purchase a lower with the parts you want on it, it's not like there are a shortage of built lowers in the world right now.

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    https://www.atf.gov/file/55526/download

    From the horses mouth:

    Pay attention to the last paragraph on page 2 and continues to page 3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdmak View Post
    Correct. A lower with a stock attached is not a rifle. It needs an upper. If you never attach an upper to it then it was never a rifle. A word of caution though possession of a lower in that configuration and a upper <16" could be considered constructive intent. Besides if you buy a lower with a stock and a buffer tube capable of supporting stock you are buying parts you aren't going to use so why waste the money. I would purchase a lower with the parts you want on it, it's not like there are a shortage of built lowers in the world right now.
    I already found and ordered a complete lower that is marked "pistol" on the receiver. I just wanted to know some answers if I had decided to go the other route.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    https://www.atf.gov/file/55526/download

    From the horses mouth:

    Pay attention to the last paragraph on page 2 and continues to page 3
    Thanks for the heads up. I do have a legal 16" barreled AR rifle already so if I was to go the other route, I would've saved the stock or switched it out to my rifle but never had the stock on the AR pistol.


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