What you see above is my CZ Scorpion Evo SBR. It’s a paperweight. Look closely and you’ll notice the trigger pack has been removed from the rifle entirely, and there’s no Scorpion magazine in sight. Removing these parts was necessary to assemble it as a rifle while also complying with 18 U.S.C. § 922(r) of the 1968 Gun Control Act. What on earth does that mean? Glad you asked. . .
First, I’m not a lawyer. Although I am married to one and I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once, please don’t bank on the following as legal advice. I believe it to be true and accurate, albeit simplifying subsections upon subsections of U.S. Code into a bottom line “how does this affect me?” summary, but I’m hereby absolving myself of responsibility…CYA…etc etc.
Semi-automatic rifles and all shotguns are only approved for importation into the U.S. if they meet certain criteria required for being “suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes” [18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3)]. Ridiculous, arbitrary, and subjective or not, it has been the state of affairs since 1968. It is for this reason — lack of approval, either due to denial or simply the long wait as the gears of government grind on — that companies like CZ may choose to first import a pistol variant of what is usually a carbine (Scorpion, 805 BREN).
In section 922(r) and further detailed in section 27 C.F.R. § 478.39, “no person shall assemble a semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun” if the end product is a firearm that would otherwise be banned from importation under 925(d)(3) or under further restrictions added in ~1989 that defined certain specific features (detachable mag, pistol grip, folding/telescoping stock, flash suppressor, and more) as “nonsporting.” For instance, configuring my CZ Scorpion into an SBR turns it into a semi-automatic rifle, and since the Scorpion Evo is not approved for importation in this form, configuring it as such would be a violation of the Gun Control Act.
Yes, the lead photo is that very Scorpion configured as an SBR. No, I’m not breaking the law. Section 27 C.F.R. § 478.39 effectively stipulates that the firearm is only considered imported, or only considered the same as the otherwise-banned foreign version, if it has “more than 10” of the following 20 imported parts on it [from 478.39(c)].
(1) Frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings, or castings.
(3) Barrel extensions.
(4) Mounting blocks (trunnions).
(5) Muzzle attachments.
(7) Bolt carriers.
(8) Operating rods.
(9) Gas pistons.
(10) Trigger housings.
(16) Pistol grips.
(17) Forearms, handguards.
(18) Magazine bodies.
(20) Floor plates.
In bold are the ones that I believe the BATFE says apply to the CZ Scorpion Evo in rifle form (includes SBR). [Edit: Confirmed. CZ-USA has since posted the following chart on its Facebook page:]
That focus on parts origin is basically the positive in all of this, if there is one, as folks like me or dealers/importers can build/sell/import the gun they want as long as no more than 10 of these 20 parts were imported. Removing an imported part — for example, simply taking the muzzle attachment off the Scorpion — knocks your parts count down by one. To be clear, it has nothing to do with adding U.S.-made parts; a common misconception. It isn’t a domestic-to-imported ratio, it’s just a straight imported parts count.
Of course, removing the grip or the fire control group doesn’t leave a usable rifle behind, so the only option is replacing them with domestically-manufactured parts. For an importer of, for instance, a foreign-made AK-47, it must be imported with only 10 of these parts and missing any others, whether they’re necessary to the firearm’s operation or not. The remainder needed to make the rifle functional, while maintaining 922(r) compliance, will be U.S.-made.
And this brings us full circle to my Scorpion SBR paperweight. In order to configure it as an SBR, I had to drop the parts count from 15 (in pistol form it had 15 since there’s no imported stock on it) down to 10 or less. The muzzle device was removed in exchange for a U.S.-made suppressor mount from Liberty Suppressors for my Mystic, the trigger pack was removed (contains trigger, hammer, sear, disconnector), and the magazines have been banished (contains body, follower, floor plate). As the ACE M4 SOCOM stock is made in the U.S. and isn’t replacing a foreign one, it has no effect on the parts count. This brings my Scorpion’s current 922(r) parts count all the way down to 7.
It’s a paperweight until enough U.S.-made parts are available. Likely candidates for the aftermarket or for CZ-USA itself to swoop in and save me are magazines (3 parts), fire control groups (4 parts), pistol grips (1 part), and muzzle devices (1 part, although this one can be removed without any need to replace it with another). As I’m at 7 right now, I could actually add 3 foreign parts back onto the gun — the magazine could have been in the photo after all. The actual factory folding stock would be a great choice to add, of course (not that the M4 SOCOM, possibly the strongest AR stock on the market, isn’t freaking sweet! Review on it coming soon enough).