80 percent Receiver Blanks Pic 2

Press Release on the legalities of converting 80% lowers into finished firearms from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (and Really Big Fires) [via ammoland.com]:

1. Is ATF aware of the receiver blanks, commonly referred to as 80% receivers?
ATF routinely collaborates with the firearms industry and law enforcement to monitor new technologies and current manufacturing trends that could potentially impact the safety of the public.

2. What is an “80%” or “unfinished” receiver?
“80% receiver,” “80% finished,” “80% complete,” “unfinished receiver” are all terms referring to an item that some may believe has not yet reached a stage of manufacture that meets the definition of firearm frame or receiver found in the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). These are not statutory terms or terms ATF employs or endorses.

3. Are “80%” or “unfinished” receivers illegal?
Receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under the GCA. The ATF has long held that items such as receiver blanks, “castings” or “machined bodies” in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and un-machined have not reached the “stage of manufacture” which would result in the classification of a firearm per the GCA.

See comparison examples:

80 percent Receiver Blanks Pic 1
80 percent Receiver Blanks Pic 1
80 percent Receiver Blanks Pic 2
80 percent Receiver Blanks Pic 3
80 percent Receiver Blanks Pic 3

4. Are there restrictions on who can purchase receiver blank?
The GCA does not impose restrictions on receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm.”

5. When does a receiver need to have markings and/or serial numbers?
Receivers that meet the definition of a “firearm” must have markings, including a serial number. See 27 CFR § 478.92 (Firearm manufacturers marking requirements).

6. Can functioning firearms made from receiver blanks be traced?
ATF successfully traces crime guns to the first retail purchaser in most instances. ATF starts with the manufacturer and goes through the entire chain of distribution to find who first bought the firearm from a licensed dealer.  Because receiver blanks do not have markings or serial numbers, when firearms made from such receiver blanks are found at a crime scene, it is usually not possible to trace the firearm or determine its history, which hinders crime gun investigations jeopardizing public safety.

7. Have firearms made from unmarked receiver blanks been recovered after being used in a crime?
Yes, firearms that began as receiver blanks have been recovered after shooting incidents, from gang members and from prohibited people after they have been used to commit crimes.

8. Are some items being marketed as non-firearm “unfinished” or “80%” receivers actually considered firearms?
Yes, in some cases, items being marketed as unfinished or “80%” receivers do meet the definition of a “firearm” as defined in the GCA. Persons who are unsure about whether an item they are planning to buy or sell is considered a firearm under the GCA should contact ATF’s Firearms Technology Branch (FTB).

9. What is ATF doing in regard to people making firearms?
There are no federal restrictions on an individual making a firearm for personal use, as long as it does not violate the GCA or National Firearms Act (NFA).

10. What is the National Firearms Act (NFA)?
The NFA imposes a tax on the making, transfer or import of certain firearms recognized to present a greater risk to public safety. The law also requires the registration of all NFA firearms as defined in title 26 USC 5845(a):

(1) a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
(2) a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
(3) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
(4) a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length;
(5) any other weapon, as defined in subsection (e);
(6) a machinegun;
(7) any silencer (as defined in section 921 of title 18, United States Code); and
(8) a destructive device.
(Under the NFA the term “firearm” does not include an antique firearm or any device (other than a machinegun or destructive device) which, although designed as a weapon, the [Attorney General] finds by reason of the date of its manufacture, value, design, and other characteristics is primarily a collector’s item and is not likely to be used as a weapon.

11. Can an individual make large quantities of firearms and sell them?
If an individual is “engaged in the business” (defined below) as a manufacturer or seller of firearms then that person must obtain a federal firearms license.  In addition, manufacturers have a variety of specific responsibilities under the Gun Control Act, such as including a serial number and other markings on all firearms.

Under 18 U.S.C. 921 (a)(21)(A), the term “engaged in the business” means— as applied to a manufacturer of firearms, a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to manufacturing firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the firearms manufactured.

12. Can anyone make firearms and sell them?
With certain exceptions, and subject to any state law that might apply, as long as an individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, he or she can make a firearm for personal use. If an individual wants to manufacture and sell firearms, he or she is required to obtain a license, and mark each firearm manufactured in accordance with 27 CFR 478.92. [18 U.S.C. 923(i), 26 U.S.C. 5822]

13. Who can obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL)?
ATF will approve a properly executed application if the applicant:

  • Submits fingerprint cards;
  • Submits a frontal view photograph;
  • Is 21 years of age or older;
  • Is not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce;
  • Has not willfully violated the GCA or its regulations;
  • Has not willfully failed to disclose material information or willfully made false statements concerning material facts in connection with his application;
  • Has premises for conducting the business
  • The applicant certifies that:
    • the business to be conducted under the license is not prohibited by State or local law in the place where the licensed premises is located;
    • within 30 days after the application is approved the business will comply with the requirements of State and local law applicable to the conduct of the business;
    • the business will not be conducted under the license until the requirements of State and local law applicable to the business have been met;
    • the applicant has sent or delivered a form to the chief law enforcement officer where the premises is located notifying the officer that the applicant intends to apply for a license; and
    • secure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place in which firearms are sold under the license to persons who are not licensees (“secure gun storage or safety device” is defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(34)).

[18 U.S.C. 923(d)(1), 27 CFR 478.47(b)]
Under federal law, an application shall be approved if an applicant for a federal firearms license or a manufacturing license meets all of the licensing requirements and criteria.

14. How does one apply for a Federal Firearms License?
Submit ATF Form 7 (5310.12), Application for License, with the appropriate fee in accordance with the instructions on the form to ATF.

68 Responses to From the Horse’s Mouth: ATF Q & A on 8068 Lowers

      • What are you guys taking about? With the exception of item #1 those were all fairly concise and explicit. Except the one about the NFA, but only if you subscribe to the “NFA is bullshit” thing, which most rational people do.

  1. Let’s eliminate the ATF, save taxpayer money, and eliminate needless bureaucracy. That could happen with a Rand Paul / Ted Cruz 2016.

    The Ares Armor lawsuit, and details that would answer relevant question thereof, is conspicuously absent.

        • Not if Cruz gives up on the Drug War (Rand’s already on board, I’m sure), and runs on legalizing pot. This is the Republican’s one chance to steal the issue from Democrats, the way they stole Civil Rights back in the 60’s after decades of fierce opposition. They saw the writing on the wall, that the issue was lost, and leap-frogged over the Republicans to advocate for it (seemingly out of the blue). Republicans were left having to oppose what they’d previously promoted less-strongly, and had to ally themselves with the dissaffected groups opposed to desegration/civil rights reforms.

          Republicans advocating for pot would likely sweep all fifty states, so long as the other aspects of their brand remained intact.

        • Republican’s advocating legalizing pot is about as likely as them finally accepting separation of church and state.

        • @ Grindstone: Seeing is that the U.S. doesn’t currently have an established State Church/Religion but still retains the freedom of religion in accordance with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, I don’t know why this constant yelping of “separation of Church and State” keeps coming up.

  2. Because receiver blanks do not have markings or serial numbers, when firearms made from such receiver blanks are found at a crime scene, it is usually not possible to trace the firearm or determine its history, which hinders crime gun investigations jeopardizing public safety. Can the government prove this statement? Does gun registration really improve public safety? I know it improves Nazi safety.

    • I do not understand how they are able to trace a firearm back to the place of retail purchase if it is illegal for the guv to maintain a registry per the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. How does they do that?

      • They trace the 4473 forms from manufacturer to dealers to individual buyers, and so on until they run out of paperwork. Presumably if it stops at you, they will ask you what happened to the firearm.

        • Someone should develop a service where people can find others in their State that have recently purchased the same firearm as them and trade/swap it. That would end the paper-trail for a great many firearms.

      • It is called “forward tracing” and what happens is that the ATF starts at the manufacture and traces the FFL-to-FFL transfers forward to the point of retail, and then they start talking to the person of record on the first 4473, and then they start down the chain (as far as possible) of private sales.

        This is why FFL’s are told that when the ATF shows up on your doorstep and they have a forward trace inquiry, you have 24 hours to respond. If you don’t, chances are you don’t get your FFL renewed easily.

    • It is vitally important that all firearms used in a crime be traceable from their point of manufacture and first sale through to the most recent recorded transfer, so that ATF can officially certify “this firearm was stolen. We have no idea how many hands it has passed among before the crime took place.” This is a large part of BATFE’s mission. How much clearer do you want the explanation to be?

      It would be nice if the f’g government would simply keep those convicted of armed robbery and aggravated assault, forcible rape, and such crimes…behind bars for an extra ten years. Let the stoners go. They can sit on park benches and collect food stamps. It would be cheaper for us, and safer.

      • “This is a large part of BATFE’s mission.”

        Bull. The ATF is a tax-enforcement/regulation agency. Technically, the only interest they’d have in stolen guns is if the “transfer” went across state lines outside the FFL system. Their actual mandate is to collect and issue tax stamps on NFA weapons, and maintain/regulate the FFL system. The ‘beat-cop crime angle’ they now have is something completely divorced from their original, constitutionally justified purpose as tax regulators. I would have to wonder if an arrest of a prohibited person in possession would even stand up in court, if all aspects of the crime were contained within a state and the arrest/prosecution carried out by Federal authorities. I don’t think the ATF would even have jurisdiction to prosecute in that case (no interstate commerce; the whole ‘justification’ behind the ATF’s existence. A homemade gun made totally in-state for illegal personal possession can not affect interstate commerce, by definition; what, was commerce affected by the guy not buying an illegal gun out of state by way of his manufacture? Of course not. But that’s the reasoning behind regulation of legal, homemade guns for personal use in state)

  3. “1. Is ATF aware of the receiver blanks, commonly referred to as 80% receivers?”

    Ask Ares Armor,Im pretty sure a raid says “Big Brother is watching” like none other.

  4. Funny.. there are atf letters floating around the web stating that a weapon built by yourself, for yourself does *not* require a serial number. The same determination advises home-builders to apply a serial # anyway, in case the gun is later stolen.

    • That was exactly what I was thinking. It is my understanding that homebuilt firearms for personal use do not require a serial number as long as they are not NFA items. Could TTAG get to truth about this?

      See what I did there?

      • You don’t need a serial number unless you try to transfer the weapon to someone else. If you do try to transfer it, then a serial number is the least of your worries (since you’ll be considered a manufacturer, you’ll also need an FFL, etc, as described later in the Q&A).

        • It’s not your fault, since this is complicated law, intentionally muddled by the ATF, but this is utter bullshit. Unserialed guns can most assuredly be transferred and sold (how do you think an ATF form on a pre-68 gun with no manufacturer’s serial is filled out? NVSA; no visible serial number). What you cannot do is “manufacturer” them, which legally speaking, is make them for the purpose of sale/transfer. Compensation, profit, barter, or for free, if you aren’t the “intended recipient” of the gun being made for your own personal use, it’s an issue. Otherwise, there’s no problem making your own gun, then later deciding to sell it as-is to someone for cash, or to make room, or even for profit –you can’t make it for that reason.

          The “rub” of the issue is perception; even if your guns are made for personal use, if you sell them all days after completion, it’d be hard to defend against allegations of being in the business in court. Same thing if a guy you sell even a single gun to after making it claims he asked you to make it for him. So many people will keep their made guns for a year or two, and use them at least a little, before selling/transferring them in order to remove any doubts about impropriety. Same rules as regards serialed/FFL’d guns; if you’re buying and selling a ton of them without a license, that can get you into hot water as well, since the ATF could easily argue you are engaged in the business, but operating without a license (which as we all know, is all too common at gun-sales venues)

    • Why the fuck silencers are restricted beats the shit out of me. It’s a safety device. A muffler, like on a car or leaf blower. Almost every consumer or industrial product that emits loud noises includes some kind of noise suppression – most are required by OSHA regulation. But on guns, they are restricted and in some states, prohibited. I’d love to hear somebody have to explain that to a SC Justice.

      Are silencers used by criminals or useful in the commission of crimes? If they were, criminals would have them and use them. They’re easy enough to make. You can buy the materials at any hardware store or home center. Or just use an oil filter with a commonly available adapter.

      • have you never seen a James Bond movie or any crime television show? Those pesky hit men ALWAYS use a silencer to execute people!

      • Silencers were banned to ensure starving refugees of the Great Depression could not keep themselves alive on poached animals (wild or ranched). Basically an anti-looting measure disguised as an anti-gangster measure (since the Feds were very busy denying the horrors of the Depression at the time; so much they sent an entire generation of youngsters to work as near-forced manual labor on public works in remote places, far from where they could organize and riot for bread & revolution)

      • ditto for SBR’s – obviously much more dangerous than anything “pistol” sized.

        Oh… and also much more dangerous than anything longer than precisely 16″

        It’s like a “dangerous” sweet spot.

        But… if it has a “stock” that you call an “arm brace”… it’s ok, and not super dangerous.

        SERIOUSLY?!?!!! I mean, it’s like somebody put a government agency in charge of…. oh wait…

  5. Whatevah. Check it out. The ATF is now manufacturing completed 80% lowers!

    Questions:

    What is the lead time when placing an order?

    Can you anodize in colors other than black?

    Do you also offer uppers in .300 Blackout?

    Will there be a pistol lower with a Sig Brace compatible buffer tube?

    Is there a weekend that would be best for having a build party? Can we bring beer?

    Do we write the check out to ATF or the Treasury?

    Notice scary video title: Untraceabke Firearm. Eeek! Your tax dollars paid for this video to be made by the ATF in what I suppose is an attempt to smear what is a perfectly legal thing to do, but one which they obviously don’t like.

    • My favorite part (other than it looks like it was filmed by a 5 year old) is the agent at the end doesn’t even bother to aim it while test firing. Doesn’t look down the sights, doesn’t even bother with a good cheek weld. I guess I should be happy he didn’t do the 1980’s fire from the hip.

      Maybe next week they can show us how to build a barrel shroud shoulder thing that goes up?

    • “Hi, I’m Larry Potterfield, and this is the ATF Instructional Gunsmithing Video Series…”

      Scary overtones aside, this is exactly the type of thing the ATF should be producing videos on; how to completely abide by the ATF rules in order to maintain fully compliant with the law, while treading through a complicated and at times legally hazardous hobby with tons of regulation

  6. “7. Have firearms made from unmarked receiver blanks been recovered after being used in a crime?
    Yes, firearms that began as receiver blanks have been recovered after shooting incidents, from gang members and from prohibited people after they have been used to commit crimes.”

    I’m curious has a firearm made from an 80% lower over been used to commited a crime?

    • Well it seems to me that Fast and Furious was about 2000 guns they let go. I’m sure the number of 80% receivers found at crime scenes is much less then that. Like in the single digits.

      • Thats seriously like the only one. Every other incident has involved someone either stealing one or legally buying one. I’d be tempted to take a bet that more people have been killed by house cats than 80% receivers turned into rifles.

  7. 4. Are there restrictions on who can purchase receiver blank?
    The GCA does not impose restrictions on receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm.”

    Coupled with the fact that all the parts of an upper are unregulated (save barrel length), just like that, the effectiveness and stated purpose of background checks has been completely nullified.

  8. “Coupled with the fact that all the parts of an upper are unregulated (save barrel length), just like that, the effectiveness and stated purpose of background checks has been completely nullified.”

    Now that folks in Washington state have voted away a good chunk of their 2nd Amendment rights I would
    suggest getting familiar with with your favorite brand of 80% lower if you live in that state.

  9. Someone needs to explain to the ATF the difference between “can” and “may”. Career criminals may not possess firearms. But in fact they CAN possess them, and often do.

    • Making a law against a lesser crime like a felon possessing a firearm reduces the amount of felons committing murder with illegal weapons. Right? I mean, there’s no point if it doesn’t it. Unless reducing murders isn’t the point of the government having a list of every single gun.

      • Actually, it does; I just figured it out. Possession charges give serious criminals something to plea down to, thus lowering the metrics of severe crimes.

  10. “Yes, firearms that began as receiver blanks have been recovered after shooting incidents, from gang members and from prohibited people after they have been used to commit crimes.”

    Ha! Pictures and documentation or didn’t happen. Nice try liars.

    • Why would this not be the case? Of course they’ve been used. The real question is whether it is significant. I suspect it is not (compared to guns with scratched off serials, or ancient crap guns whose manufacturers don’t exist to run traces from, if they even have serials in the first place)

      • I’ll wager rarer than legitimate “in the case of rape or incest”. On the order of a unicorn with packsaddle load of 22LR walking down Madison Avenue.

  11. #5, ATF’s intentionally omitting specifics to make it sound like home-finished receivers need serial numbers…again. They do not, though the ATF always makes sure they remember to “encourage” it in the most authoritarian verbiage they can think of. The only receivers legally needing serials are NFA items so they can be registered, and guns produced by licensed manufacturers for the purpose of sale/transfer. Your garage build is not intended for sale/transfer (it’d better not be at the time of building)

    #7 is straight hyperbole; I’d love to hear the numbers on how many “ghost guns” are used in crimes…especially as compared to guns with defaced serial numbers, or those outright stolen, or those otherwise untraceable. At least this wasn’t #1, which makes me think the sole purpose of this really is information rather than propaganda (even if the ATF can’t help but dip into the latter)

    #9, way to bury the lead, ATF

    #11, the ATF, AGAIN, refuses to actually define what “engaged in business” or “large quantities” is for the home builder. 10? 20? 3 annually? 5 in a lifetime? 1000? It is in fact whatever they think they can convince a judge/jury constitutes being in business. The same judges/juries that don’t know what muzzle loader bullets are.

    I’d have appreciated some questions regarding the rebuilding of demilled parts kits (i.e 80% AK receivers and rewelds) since there is a quite a number of people involved in that side of the hobby, and shear metric tons of ignorance, contradiction, and misunderstanding from many people; hobbyists, as well as the ATF. Makes the hobby much more risky and worrisome than it should or needs to be.

    • #11 To be “fair” to the ATF NOONE in the Fed gov’t has any idea what “business” is other than it’s evil.

  12. Can I please get a receiver with every surface covered by the (extremely long) serial number? The ATF computer systems probably can’t accommodate a non-sequential random 400 digit serial number.

  13. “With certain exceptions, and subject to any state law that might apply, as long as an individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm, he or she can make a firearm for personal use. If an individual wants to manufacture and sell firearms, he or she is required to obtain a license, and mark each firearm manufactured in accordance with 27 CFR 478.92. [18 U.S.C. 923(i), 26 U.S.C. 5822]”

    But you can build for personal use and then at some point you can sell what you built, but (per the ATF) you would need to meet the minimum requirements of marking the receiver (serial, etc); however, you would not be required to get a FFL.

    • Here’s the primary source:

      OMB No. 1140-0018
      U.S. Department of Justice
      Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
      Application for Federal Firearms License
      ATF E-Form 7 (5310-12)
      Revised May 2005
      https://www.atf.gov/file/61506/download

      Here’s a little FYI: firearms manufacturers are also required to register with the U.S. Department of State under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR):

      Registration

      All manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense articles, related technical data and defense services as defined on the United States Munitions List (Part 121 of the ITAR) (PDF, 7MB) are required to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). Registration is primarily a means to provide the U.S. Government with necessary information on who is involved in certain manufacturing, exporting and brokering activities. Registration does not confer any export rights or privileges, but is a precondition for the issuance of any license or other approval for export.
      https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/regulations_laws/documents/official_itar/ITAR_Part_121.pdf

      VALIDITY PERIOD

      The period of validity for new and renewal registrations is twelve months from the date of issuance. The expiration date is included in the registration letter issued by DDTC.

      REVIEW TIMES

      The average review time for a registration request is 45 days. We recommend you send your complete registration package electronically through the Electronic Form Submission (EFS) up to a maximum of 60 days in advance of the renewal expiration. Intended registrants will save time and money on mail delivery and receive an acknowledgement that their submission has been received. Electronic submission will improve review and adjudication of your registration request. Effective January 1, 2014 registration submissions must be submitted electronically.

      GENERAL QUESTIONS

      For general questions on registration and brokering matters, review our FAQs.

      https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/registration/

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