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radkins
01-23-2009, 12:23 PM
How about a discussion on the paper work and legalities involved in building your own firearm from scratch? I keep hearing some widely conflicting versions of just what the BATF has to say about this matter and although probably the best way to obtain the facts would just be to call the Feds I thought it might be interesting to hear about experiences others may have had with these guys.

gunsmither
01-23-2009, 12:43 PM
Lot's of info here; the best!

http://www.homegunsmith.com

G.A. Ewen
01-23-2009, 12:54 PM
It all depends where you live. One of the reasons that I only work on airguns.

JCHannum
01-23-2009, 02:37 PM
In the US, as long as the gun complies with requisite laws concerning barrel length, non silenced, non fully automatic, caliber and so forth, an individual can make a gun for his own use, not for resale, with no problems. As far as I know, there is no limit on the number allowed to be manufactured.

If a home made gun is sold on an occasional basis, it must be marked with the maker's name and serially numbered. I don't know just what would constitute an occasional basis, but probably one per year would not be a bad guess.

radkins
01-23-2009, 02:51 PM
I am interested in this subject because I have built muzzle loaders in the past but I would like to build a custom falling block action single shot chambered in one of the 50 caliber black powder chamberings.

BigBoy1
01-23-2009, 03:16 PM
There have been and are for sale many parts kits from guns, consisting of everything but the receiver of the firearm. The majority of these kits were machine guns in their original lives. These can be used to build semi-automatic firearms.

There is the very big temptation to make a new receiver and just mount the parts on the receiver and you have your firearm. There-in lies the problem. The BATFE has ruled, if a machine gun parts kit is used to make a new firearm, that firearm must be semi-automatic AND fire from a close bolt. It is illegal to currently manufacture a semi-auto firearm that fires from an open-bolt. If the parts kit was a submachine gun, firing with the open-bolt method of operation, that operation can not be replicated when the sem-automatic firearm is manufactured. The open-bolt method of operation HAS to be changes so the firing method of operatioin is closed-bolt.

Bill

andy_b
01-23-2009, 05:05 PM
There have been and are for sale many parts kits from guns, consisting of everything but the receiver of the firearm. The majority of these kits were machine guns in their original lives. These can be used to build semi-automatic firearms.

There is the very big temptation to make a new receiver and just mount the parts on the receiver and you have your firearm. There-in lies the problem. The BATFE has ruled, if a machine gun parts kit is used to make a new firearm, that firearm must be semi-automatic AND fire from a close bolt. It is illegal to currently manufacture a semi-auto firearm that fires from an open-bolt. If the parts kit was a submachine gun, firing with the open-bolt method of operation, that operation can not be replicated when the sem-automatic firearm is manufactured. The open-bolt method of operation HAS to be changes so the firing method of operatioin is closed-bolt.

Bill

man, i hope radkins isn't hoping to build one of those old falling-block machine guns. :)

seriously though, JC covered it as to how i also interpret the current laws.

andy b.

JCHannum
01-23-2009, 08:06 PM
I don't know all the regulations as applied to true full automatic firearms, and assembly of the de-milled parts kits. I have looked at a few and decided it was in my better interests to avoid them.

I am interested in the older single shots myself, and have a high wall casting kit nearly finished. If you are considering the build of a falling block BPCR, you are on safe ground. What action do you plan making?

radkins
01-23-2009, 08:46 PM
I have been thinking something along the lines of the Sharpes but I actually would like to build something unique or maybe a modified Sharpes.

G.A. Ewen
01-23-2009, 09:48 PM
Lot's of info here; the best!

http://www.homegunsmith.com

Looks like a great forum,,,,,,,,, to bad that I can't participate without a server email.

loose nut
01-24-2009, 11:12 AM
In the U.S. to build your own firearms you have mountains of paper work to do and hoops to be jumped through.

In Canada it's much simpler. You can't, no way, no how and no appeal, go directly to jail, do not collect $200.00.

radkins
01-24-2009, 11:40 AM
As I understand it in the U.S. a person can build just about any gun he wants as long as it is not full auto, meets barrel length requirements, is less than 50 caliber (I think any caliber can be built in blackpowder firearms) and does not otherwise fall into a "destructive device" catagory. This is of course a much simplified explanation and there may be some exceptions to the rules in various cases but they are quite clear about full auto weapons, saying in effect that any application to build a fully automatic weapon unless for law enforcement purposes will be denied.

rdesign
01-24-2009, 01:57 PM
I think radkins pretty much has it. If you want to build something do yourself a favor and carefully check the ATF rules and your state rules, there is so much heresay and conjecture in these areas, don't trust anything that did not come from the ATF. For me (not that you should trust me either), I have determined as long as I can own a gun legally and I am not building an NFA weapon or destructive device I feel ok.

The ATF online FAQ is here:
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faqindex.htm

Quote from part A6:
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/faq2.htm#a6

"With certain exceptions a firearm may be made by a non-licensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms. However, a person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting semi-automatic rifle or non-sporting shotgun from imported parts. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and approval by ATF. An application to make a machine gun will not be approved unless documentation is submitted showing that the firearm is being made for a Federal or State agency.

[18 U.S.C. 922(o) and (r), 26 U.S.C. 5822, 27 CFR 478.39, 479.62 and 479.105]"

State rules are here:
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/statelaws/

Optics Curmudgeon
01-25-2009, 02:02 AM
Just curious, I don't do any gunsmithing but I'm familiar with some of the actions you're discussing. What I wonder about is why the ATF is worried about actions that fire from an open bolt. The only two I'm familiar with are the Thompson SMG and the BAR, is it because an open bolt semi auto can be easily converted to full auto?

Joe

Uncle O
01-25-2009, 08:22 AM
Just curious, I don't do any gunsmithing but I'm familiar with some of the actions you're discussing. What I wonder about is why the ATF is worried about actions that fire from an open bolt. The only two I'm familiar with are the Thompson SMG and the BAR, is it because an open bolt semi auto can be easily converted to full auto?

Joe



Simply put........yes.

andy_b
01-25-2009, 08:25 AM
Joe,

exactly! but the two firearms you mention aren't the real reason. those two require some involved machining to build a receiver, even if you had a "parts kit" that had all of the other components. the two that pose the biggest problems are the STEN and the MAC family of firearms. the STEN receiver is just a piece of round tubing with a few cuts in it, and the MAC receiver is just a piece of square tubing. there are parts still available for both of these, and a person could build there own receiver in a few minutes. the STEN and MAC also have a fixed firing pin. what that means is that a round is fired as soon as the bolt is in the fully forward position because the firing pin always protrudes from the face of the bolt. it is not like a bolt-action hunting rifle where the firing pin doesn't move forward until you pull the trigger and either release the spring-loaded firing pin or the hammer falls and hits it.

to covert a semi-auto open-bolt firearm to full-auto only requires that you remove the piece that operates the sear. in other words, you might end up with a firearm that once you pull the trigger, it just fires every round in the magazine, even if you release the trigger. the BATFE doesn't care HOW MANY rounds it fires, just that one pull of the trigger fires MORE THAN one round.

andy b.

JCHannum
01-25-2009, 09:18 AM
That and the little hook in the BATF answer that refers to non-sporting semi-automatic rifle or shotgun from imported parts is what keeps me away from building any of the de-milled kits that are available.

Optics Curmudgeon
01-25-2009, 12:08 PM
Thanks, guys, It's as I suspected.

Joe

BigBoy1
01-25-2009, 01:09 PM
Just curious, I don't do any gunsmithing but I'm familiar with some of the actions you're discussing. What I wonder about is why the ATF is worried about actions that fire from an open bolt. The only two I'm familiar with are the Thompson SMG and the BAR, is it because an open bolt semi auto can be easily converted to full auto?

Joe

Joe,

Almost every submachine gun (SMG) made through out the rest of the world fires from the open bolt: SMGs such as MP40, PPSh41, MP34, MP35, MP38A, MP41, MP28, Swedish K, Madsen, STEN, and whole bunch more.

The reason the BATFE banned the manufacture of open-bolt (slam-fire) guns resulted from the ease at which semi-automatic open-bolt guns can be converted to full-auto operation. (There were several open-bolt firing pistols on the US commercial market that were being converted.) Most of the time it took about 5 minutes of filing on the sear and the gun became a full-auto firearm. The gang members were converting semi-auto open-bolt guns into slam-fire SMG. This was the reason for the ban on the production of open-bolt guns. Firearms that fire from a closed-bolt are much more difficult to convert to full-auto.

Bill

radkins
09-17-2009, 12:44 PM
I dug up this early post rather than start a new one because I am doing a follow-up. I have been checking laws and even reading the BATF FAQs I just get more confused and trying to call them is a waste of time (try it and you will see what I mean!) Without consulting an attorney, which I may have to do, how do I find out just what is legal about building my own receiver. I have been told "submit the proper paperwork and that's all there is to it", "submit the proper paperwork AND pay the tax ($200) and THAT's all there is to it" and I have also been told that as long as I don't intend to sell it I don't have to do anything. BUT I have been told that transfer is not always the same as sell? :confused:


The last part about transfer/sell does not mean much to me because I would have no intention of parting with the thing if for no other reason than legal liabilities if someone managed to get hurt with it! So what's the deal if I build a falling block BP cartridge rifle and NEVER transfer/sell it? Do I need to file any kind of form at all? If so where do I start?

I have even been advised to build the thing and never let the authorities find out about it so there would be no problem but I would never do anything that dumb, if I build this rifle I will do it legally or I will not do it at all.

JCHannum
09-17-2009, 01:03 PM
I think the confusion comes from the difference between building a single firearm for your own use and manufacturing firearms for sale.

The paperwork, $200 tax and such pertain to manufacture, not personal use. The question asked can prompt a different answer depending on who is being asked and how he interprets it.

I think there is also a further exclusion when making an action that replicates a pre 1898 action as most fall into the curio & relic category. The Sharpes action would fall into this category, making it even less of a problem.

radkins
09-17-2009, 01:49 PM
What I have in mind would borrow heavily from the Sharpes design but would be modified to the point of being much different in appearance so I doubt it would be considered a replica. I just want to build it for my own personal use and to have it with my other guns, it will never be transferred or sold and will never leave my ownership unless it is destroyed or stolen. I would assume a gun built by me could make me liable for damages if someone got hurt from a malfunction or failure so for that reason I would destroy it rather than transfer it in any manner.

scatter cat
09-17-2009, 03:10 PM
Unless you live in Washington D.C. or some other lunitic place you should be fine building a firearm for your own use.For a rifle make sure the barrel is at least 16" long and overall length is 26" and a max of 50cal bore you are building a modern rifle even if you are using a black powder cartridge. Put a serial # on it. Not required on a homemade gun but if it gets stolen you have a way to identify it. I usually use the date I complete the reciever plus maybe a another # example 09170901 As to the liscense for manufacturing incase you want to sell a bunch of homemade guns the gov. wants there cut ie taxes 11percent on rifles unless it has gone up. If you like gun building, military style semiautos, parts kits are a cheap way to get a lot of the parts you need cheaply. there are many manufacturers who make compilance parts to satisfy the 922r parts counts. Most of the gun boards have covered this extensivly and can explain it better than I can not to mention others on this board. Happy building, Cat

radkins
09-17-2009, 04:15 PM
Cat, apparently you are experienced at doing this so you are saying that as long as the gun meets legalities that would be defined for a factory rifle of the same type Then I don't need to do anything except build it? Since I will not EVER be transferring it I don't need to contact the BATF and file any paperwork? That would simplify things a bunch!


BTW, I could not agree with you more on DC being THE place for lunatics! :D

andy_b
09-17-2009, 06:56 PM
I have even been advised to build the thing and never let the authorities find out about it so there would be no problem but I would never do anything that dumb, if I build this rifle I will do it legally or I will not do it at all.

Cat pretty much covered it, but i want to add something. if you build this for your own use and don't sell it, the only federal laws that pertain to you are the "restricted weapons" laws for things like machineguns and short-barreled shotguns and such. as such, there is absolutely no reason to notify anyone, not the local sheriff, not the BATFE, not your town's mayor, not even your grandmother. :) stating "never let the authorities find out" is not only redundant, but if you actually TRIED to alert the BATFE that you were building a firearm for your own use, you would be causing yourself much more trouble than you realize. the BATFE laws ONLY govern firearms manufacturers, people engaging in the business of selling firearms, and NFA weapons.

several years ago i wrote a letter to the BATFE asking what happens if i want to sell a homebuilt firearm. here is their reply:

http://home.ptd.net/~hamrdog/images/atf_homebuilt_reply_page1_web.JPG

http://home.ptd.net/~hamrdog/images/atf_homebuilt_reply_page2_web.JPG

note the phrase "There is no GCA provision allowing an unlicensed individual...". as was pointed out to me, what this means is that the BATFE has no laws governing this, since it is out of their jurisdiction. as a private individual not engaged in the business of manufacturing or selling firearms, the BATFE only has jurisdiction over restricted weapons through the NFA (machineguns and such) and the "assault weapon ban" which expired.

the world of firearms laws is very complicated, but you are allowed to build your own rifle. many of my friends (as well as myself) have built everything from Sharps rifles to AR-15 and semi-auto AK-47 variants. we are well within the law doing so.

your state or municipality may have laws that supersede federal laws, and it would be your responsibility to look into those.

andy b.

scatter cat
09-17-2009, 09:38 PM
Thanks Andy for finishing up what I left out. Radkins build it shoot it have fun.If anybody asks where they can get one.You can tell them you built it yourself but they have to build there own:D Cat

radkins
09-18-2009, 12:28 PM
Will do! I have been wanting to get started on this thing and I will make some chips today. :)

I will take some pics as I go along and then after I reach a point that I am sure I can finish this project I will post them for opinions. Right off I am going to have some questions on color case hardening the receiver but that can wait until I am ready to do that step, right now all I have is a bunch of drawings, a pile of 4150 and some big plans that I hope work out.

Al Messer
09-18-2009, 11:06 PM
Look, make an appointment with your local BATF office and take your drawings and let them look at them and explain that you are building a single shot firearm for your own use and not for sale. Then you can find out from the horse's mouth as to what you can and cannot do lawfully. Personally, as many modern single shots that have been made in home shops for personal use the past number of years have raised no eyebrows of which I am aware.

madokie
09-19-2009, 07:28 PM
black powder muzzle loaders are exempt from all gun laws as they arent firearms ,they are black powder muzzle loaders! and are not a modern firearm as far as federal law is conserned.most states follow federal law in this regard.if your sharp replica uses paper rolled BP ammo,and is not capable of chambering modern ammo then it is exempt.some modern sharps replicas use modern ammo like 45-70 and are considered modern firearms,regardless that they are a replica.pre 1898 guns are considered BP and exempt from federal law,but they changed the law as to what constitutes modern ammo,4 parts make up modern ammo,case primer,powder & bullet.if you make up ammo using any one of the 4 its considered modern ammo,and if you have felony record they will arrest you for illegily possessing modern ammo, yet they wont arrest you for a pre 1898 gun!!so you can collect pre 1898 guns but you cant shoot them because you have felony record & cant legaly possess ammo and also they changed the posession law so if you live in a house where modern firearms are kept that is considered possesion and a felony crime.so if you have felony record but your wife doesnt you still cant have modern firearm in the house!!

Seastar
09-29-2009, 01:07 PM
As long as you follow the rules about no full automatic and 50 cal or less you can build all the guns you want for your own personal use.
I have built two Browning 30 cal 1919A4's, two Browning 50 cal M2HB's, two 7.62X39 AK47's (all semiautomatic) and 5 cannons/mortars in the last three years.
All are fun to shoot and build.
You can build SBR's and AOW's by paying the tax in advance.
You do need to know your local laws.
Check the BATF website posted earlier for info about what's legal.

Forestgnome
10-04-2009, 12:40 PM
In California you just have to watch out for the "zip gun" law. Your build has to be based on a gun designed by a manufacturer, even though many manufactured guns were originally designed by non-manufacturers.:confused: Even if your design is the most sophisticated design ever built, the way the law is written it could be called a zip gun. In my day, a zip gun was built from pipe and used rubber bands as springs. It's a ridiculous law, but I'm on the left coast. Anyway, base it on a common design and you'll be okay.

Brownbomber2
10-12-2009, 09:26 AM
I am not sure of the legalities of building an old sharps. I guess my first question would be, do the ones currently being built come with serial numbers on the receivers. If they do, that would lend me to think that anything you build will have to have the serial number and would have to be registered as a firearm. I would also guess that would require you to have a FFL and a SOT (special occupation tax) to build a firearm. In order for a person to build automatic weapons ( I know this is not your question) you are require to have the FFL and SOT and a business set up. You are allowed to build them for yourself or you can sell them to law enforcemnt or the government. After the National Firearms act of 1986, civilians cannot own automatic weapons built after 1986. Anyone caught converting one without the license is playing with fire. You could receive a fine of $250,000, ten years in federal prison and lose the right to ever own a firearm again and if you are a military retiree, you can lose your pension and benefits. As for the Sharps, I would go to the NRA site and check with some of their legal interpretations of the BATFE rulings, they are a pretty helpful. Sorry for being so windy on the answer.

Brownbomber2
10-12-2009, 09:50 AM
Here is a link to a BATFE ruling that was in 2009 that might shed some light on building your rifle. Hope it helps.
http://www.atf.gov/firearms/rules/atf_ruling2009-1.pdf

38_Cal
10-12-2009, 11:31 AM
The key phrases here are "business" and "purposes of distribution"... There are rules regarding building a firearm for your own use...best bet is to contact BATFE by letter to the HQ in Washington, D.C., and in the letter, explain that you wish to build a rifle for your own personal use, NOT for sale or giveaway or whatever, and ask what you need to do to comply with the law regarding markings, etc., as it is NOT FOR SALE. Good luck!

JCHannum
10-12-2009, 11:34 AM
The differences between building a firearm for personal use and manufacturing for sale have been presented several times in this thread. Again, an individual can make a firearm for his own use without the need of serial number, FFL licensing or any other regulation as far as the BATF is concerned.

The various laws covering prohibited firearms apply and must be followed as well as any applicable state or local laws.