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The bell of the SHOT Show ball this year is the Franklin Armory Reformation. It’s an AR15 with an 11.5” barrel but not subject to the NFA. I got to shoot it yesterday and it felt like a well-sorted 11.5″ SBR with a binary trigger. In other words, it felt great. I was not able to do any accuracy testing, so minute of barn or otherwise is strictly speculation at this point. The big debate has been how are they able to waive a big fully extended middle finger towards the NFA Branch?

Finally the guys at Franklin Armory have some frank answers.

First, what we knew up until this morning:

  • 11.5″ barrel
  • Accepts AR furniture
  • Includes Franklin’s Binary Trigger
  • Takes AR Mags
  • Not an NFA item
  • It’s at Booth #20365

What we know now:

  • Its 11.5″ barrel has lands and groves cut straight down the bore.
  • yada
  • yada

The important bit is the barrel is not considered “rifled” by the ATF, even though it has lands and groves.

So how is this non-SBR not an SBR?

Good question. According to the numbers and letters below, the Reformation isn’t a rifle, because the bore isn’t rifled.

18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(7) and 27 CFR § 478.11

The term “Rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

The Reformation isn’t subject to the National Firearms Act, So the Reformation can’t be a short barreled rifle because it’s not a rifle.

§ 5845(a)(4) — The term “Firearm” means 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;

So then what is it?  Well, it depends on who you ask. It doesn’t meet the Gun Control Act’s guidelines to be considered a pistol, rifle or shotgun so the ATF is calling it a “firearm.” However, it’s over 26” long and not made from a rifle so it can’t be considered a “firearm” according to National Firearms Act. So it’s a firearm and not a firearm at the same time. Physicists are already using the Reformation to study Quantum mechanics, and apparently the multiverse theory is correct. Is there no problem guns can’t solve? The NFA branch of the ATF simply gave up and went home.

I know what you’re asking, because I was asking the same thing. How accurate could an 11.5″ non-rifled “firearm” chambered in 300 BLK possibly be?

Well, according to the Franklin rep they are achieving 4 MOA with off-the-shelf ammo, so it’s minute of bad guy. They are releasing fin-stabilized projectiles that, from their testing, have produced near MOA accuracy.

The initial release will be in 300 Blackout with 5.56 to follow. Ammo will be released when the not-SBR is released.

Watch this space for updates.

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  1. I was wondering how long it would take for FSDS ammo to get to the small arms market. There’s nothing inherently magical about rifling. It’s one of many ways to stabilize a projectile and FSDS ammo could the the solution to lots of NFA shenanigans.

    • It’s not like no-one’s had the idea before, its been tried… many times. The reason it hasn’t seen wide adoption is there are (or have been to this point) some serious issues that need to be resolved. Things like greater projectile (and hence loaded cartridge) length, mass and terminal effects of projectiles, accuracy issues related to saboting, etc. Now it’s certainly possible Franklin have come up with some novel game-changing solution, but if not my guess is we’ll see ammunition that suffers markedly in one aspect of performance or another vs traditional gyroscopically stabilized bullets.

    • its not FSDS, its just FS. No sabot.
      Though I agree, seeing what you could do with a sabotted cartridge would be interesting, there were issues with separation, cost, and debries from the sabot during project SALVO, that MAY be solved by more modern tech. I like the fact that they are taking a page out of the smooth bore tank cannon concept. If you look at their fin stabilized HEAT projectiles, they have a similar overall profile to the “nerf football bullets”…not quite as slick, but same concept.
      We live in interesting times indeed.

  2. so…..that’s a curveball for all the prognosticators…

    how long until all the speculated variants (oval bore, binary-only, etc) arrive?

    • If you only need minute of asshole accuracy, it sounds like it works just fine with factory ammo. Realistically a NOT-SBR in 300 AAC is a CQB defensive weapon anyway. If you’re using it past 200 yards, you’ve got the wrong gun for the job.

      • Compact and good for 1-200 yards? Why not get a shockwave? Or a bullpup? Or a stock less pistol caliber ar? It seems like there are practical solutions without having to dance around a precarious legal status.

    • In the short-term, you’re right. This is a design that, I think, was intended to be short lived:
      1. Bring out a gun that dances around all legal definitions while whistling and giving both fingers to the .gov
      2. Sell a butt load of them.
      3. Hope that it becomes the go-to defensive firearm for homes all across the fruited plain.
      4. Wait for the newly enlightened populace to collectively ask the Feds “hey, WTF is up with us not being able to buy a more accurate version of my house-gun?”
      Yeah, it’s a long shot by any definition. But I have to agree that any opportunity to give the Feds a fat raspberry is a good thing.

  3. So here’s my question: How would the forthcoming fin-stabilized rounds act out of a traditionally rifled bore…?

    Pretty neat though. If they make a 7.5″ 300BLK version with a PDW stock, I’d save my pennies for one…

    • “How would the forthcoming fin-stabilized rounds act out of a traditionally rifled bore…?”

      As to your question, airflow will try to straighten the spinning flight, in that effort, turbulence at the trailing edge of the fin(s) will slow the projectile until straight flight is achieved. Aerodynamic drag is not good for range or terminal performance of the projectile.

      I’d like to know how they plan on engaging the fins in the grooves while chambering without mangling them, adding *tons* of drag, and really slowing them.

      • So, in summary, not well. Noted.

        So effectively what they’ve done is build a gun that’s accurate enough with standard ammo for home defense, and will use specialized ammo for longer-range accuracy.

        Neat. And always fun to watch companies give the NFA an ol’ kidney punch…

        • And I neglected to add that the fins sticking out will allow gas blow-by around the projectile in the bore, instead of pushing on the base of the bullet.

          There are few free lunches in launching lead. The two reliable ones are to maximize how dense the bullet is (sectional density), and how ‘slippery’ it is in the air it flies. (Ballistic coefficient)

          Giving the finger to ‘The Man’ is *always* sweet…

        • “And I neglected to add that the fins sticking out will allow gas blow-by around the projectile in the bore,…”

          Duh, me. Scratch that.

          That won’t be an issue since the fins will be in the grooves. improving the gas seal. My brain was frozen on fins in a smoothbore.

          (I really should engage brain before shifting comments into ‘gear’…)

      • If you look at tank projectiles, there are two ways to achieve it. One is a saboted round that protects the fins and prevents blow by, the other is to have the fins deployed by springs after the projectile leaves the barrel. Obviously the latter would present problems that are easily handled with a large cannon round/rocket but not a bullet.

      • if you look at the design of the projectile, instead of speculating, its shaped more like a football with a fin assembly at the back. The air flows around the nose, and the fins never contact the barrel. Tanks do the same thing with HEAT rounds out of their smooth bore cannons. In fact, it looks a lot like a very tiny mortar projectile. The fins do not “fit in the grooves” as each shell would have to be loaded to key to those and that would be tedious and silly. They just never contact the barrel. The bearing surface is on the main body of the projectile up front. I could see them using “driving bands” down the road to reduce friction perhaps.

    • It needs to be over 26″ OAL without the muzzle device (unless permanently attached) or it would be considered a “handgun,” and then you wouldn’t be able to shoulder it. I’m pretty sure a smoothbore pistol is still a pistol unless it is chambered for a caliber over .50 (like the Serbu Super Shorty). To get a 26″ OAL, you can pin a muzzle device on a 10.5″ barrel, use an 11.5″ barrel, or use a ~10″ barrel with a rifle buffer tube. Doing that with a normal rifled barrel gives you a generic Title 1 firearm, and Franklin Armory has been selling those for a while as the “XOW.” Then you can put a VFG on there without having to pay $5 for an AOW stamp, but you can no longer use it as a “handgun” for legal purposes (like CC or car-carry, depending on your state laws) while the VFG is attached.

    • So might the straight grooves actually going to make small fins on the bullet so you effecively have a finned round? Small fins, but maybe it helps marginaly or maybe even significantly?

  4. If they aren’t spin-stabilizing the projectile, why land-and-groove the bore in the first place? Smooth-bore it like those ultra-high velocity battle-cannons and transfer the rifling friction into additional velocity. And as a bonus, you won’t have gas blow-by losses from the grooves for an even higher ‘bump’ in muzzle velocity.

    That would be (dare I say it?), (non)-groovy…

    *snicker* 😉

    EDIT – To get even more funky, go with a feather-weight (30 grain) projectile for a more outrageous muzzle velocity. Add it up, maybe a total 4,000 fps?

  5. Wait, if this isn’t a rifle, pistol, firearm, AOW or shotgun, does that mean it doesn’t need a 4473 and background check? Can I get it shipped right to my house?

    • The reason you’ll still need to do a 4473 is because that is required for a “firearm” as defined by the GCA, which is a much more broad definition than the one in NFA, which only specifies ones that full under its regulation.

      With laws, it’s all in the definitions. They don’t always (and frequently don’t) line up across different laws despite using identical terms.

      This intricacy was how some folks were trying to submit form 1’s for new machine guns a while back because there was a difference in the definition of “person” in FOPA and NFA.

      • I was reading about the machine gun thing earlier this week.

        A trust can make and posses a new machine gun under the NFA. Under the GCA, the trustee is still a person, that machine gun would still be built after 1986, and that trustee would still not be able to possess it.

        It’s pretty simple and obvious once one thinks about it. Courts don’t always do the simple and obvious thing, so it was worth a try.

  6. So here’s the skinny- confirmed by their rep-
    It’s only good to 50 yards. That’s where it starts keyholing. And, it costs $2000. LMAO.
    Just buy a pistol with a beace for a third of the price.

    Here’s the cringe worthy reveal. These guys made themselves into the biggest laughingstocks in the industry.

    • Good to 50 yards is what he said AND it was 4 to 5MOA at that distance.

      So yeah. If you want to pay $2,000 for a gun that can only shoot 2.5″ groups at 50 yards, then go for it.

      I also have a bridge for sale, if you’d like it.

      • 2.5″ groups at 50 yards is, obviously, 5″ grouping at 100 yards. That’s 2.5″ off center in any direction.
        Better than minute-of-perp.
        And that’s really all that’s needed, unless you’re shooting to impress people (which, I understand, is what the majority of recreational shooting is).

        • Forgive me. I often use the word you when I should use the word one. I should have said “the shooter often being the person one wants to impress the most,” or “the shooter often being the person the shooter wants to impress the most.”

          Sadly, they can’t all be as impressive as the two of us. If they were, we might not even be impressive.

          (For anyone not taking this as the joke that it obviously is, well, that’s your problem).

        • I would caution against thinking that 4 MOA at 50 yards (2″ groups at 50 yards) equates to 4 MOA at 100 yards (4″ groups at 100 yards). Keep in mind, accuracy can and does degrade over distance, particularly when a projectile is unstable and begins to tumble. All we know for certain is that they claim it makes a 2″ group at 50 yards (4 MOA @ 50 Y), but who knows – Maybe the bullet begins tumbling at 51 yards? Your “minute of bad guy” 2″ group at 50 yards could’ve tumbled it’s way into opening up to 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 MOA at 100 yards – Missing your target entirely.

          I really think the true potential of this platform won’t be known until there is thorough testing done with the matching fin-stabilized projectile, and what advantages if any that round holds over traditional ammo

      • It’s a short barrel 300blk….you were expecting to reach out and touch someone with it?

        If it’s aimed at house defense (big, slow, quiet bullets) then 7 yards is about the most it’ll be asked to do.

        • What are you talking about? I was a very early adopter of the 300blk and own one of the original AAC 9” 300blk pistols. With supers I can very accurately reach out to 400 yards. With subs to 200. I’m sure better shooters can do better and go farther. This reformation is useless. Only a moron would buy this over a pistol and brace. Good equipment can be had at a 3rd of the price and reach out accurately 8times the distance. Franklin made a laughingstock if themselves industry wide.

    • I really don’t think this anything other than a middle finger to the ATF.

      They’re just showing ways to exploit the regulations.

  7. I’d still prefer my rifled SBRs or adding a a brace that’s a stock in all but the legal sense to a rifled AR-pistol, CZ Scorpion pistol, etc.

    The SBR route is a lot more effort, but produces the best result. The pistol brace route produces a close second for results, with almost no extra effort.

    This route has a similarly low overhead, but the results are almost assuredly a tumbling, keyholing bullet.

  8. Yawn. At least it’s creative thinking and giving a middle finger to the ATF is at least mildly humorous.

    That being said the price is outrageous at over 2k. If they offered one without the binary trigger for around 1k they would probably sell quite well. However, unless one is completely determined to stay off the ATF files you might as well pony up the $200 for an SBR stamp. You could get a better quality gun, with a rifled barrel and upgrade/optics of your choice for less than 2k.

    • “However, unless one is completely determined to stay off the ATF files you might as well pony up the $200 for an SBR stamp.” Even then, a brace is probably a better option for staying off the NFA registry.

    This “Firearm” needs ad hoc regulation immediately save us from ourselves!

  10. Someone should take this idea to the next level and make a short smoothbore barrel and make some kind of barrel extender (not legally a barrel) that has the rifling that the bullet transitions to.

    • The tricky bit of that is the rifled barrel extension. If it’s not really part of the barrel, then you risk the rest of the gun being too short and becoming a pistol. If it /is/ really part of the barrel, then you risk it being long enough to be a rifle.

  11. Some thoughts.

    If you got this, you could swap barrels, and ILLEGALLY have an SBR that could pass for this “not a rifle.” Just keep the ATF’s letter with you.

    If someone plans on getting a bunch of lowers, they should have a pistol brace. The first time you put the lower together to create a finished gun, do it in a pistol configuration (or just say you did, that’d be perjury, so you better be a good liar). Then it’s a pistol that can be converted to a rifle and back to a pistol. If you build it into a rifle first, it’s a rifle no matter what.

    • Also, I could probably build an SBR that exceeds all my requirements and be at least halfway to a nice suppressor for it for $2,000, including both tax stamps. For one that meets all my requirements, I’d probably have a suppressed SBR and $300-$400.

  12. If straight rifling isn’t rifling, but also not smoothbore, then could this also be a work around with shotguns? Could we have short barrel shotguns with straight rifled bores that are 26.1 inches OAL and have 14 inch barrels?

    Obviously this thing isn’t all that accurate, but with a shotgun accuracy isn’t a concern, it’s just throwing shot out the barrel in a decent patten.

    • Now THIS is an idea that sounds interesting…You’re absolutely right, with shotshells you don’t need spin for accuracy anyway, and traditionally rifled barrels actually end up rapidly expanding the shot pattern. But with this straight rifling that makes it not a rifle/shotgun, you wouldn’t disrupt the shot pattern at all…

      I predict we’ll see “not a shotgun” firearms with short barrels and this type of straight rifling within a year or two

    • Someone needs to do this immediately. Perhaps Mossberg’s new 590M? Because that’s an area that detachable mag shotguns really shine, short barrels but still high-capacity.

    • I’d like to see a ‘straight rifled’ 1911 .45ACP barrel for shot – great rabbit squirrel grouse gun for thick stuff!

  13. Well it won’t be long until these “firearms” are discovered, maligned, regulated, ex
    post facto banned, then confiscated. Along with SBR’s and SBS’s because that’s how it works, we lose More that we would’ve gained originally trying to split hairs with laws.
    Now we have single feature Assault weapon classification.
    bullet button, bump stock ban, ugly ass featureless rifles, 10rd magazenes limit, ammo control, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera


    I’m sick of listening to NRA pukes say we have to pick our battles, They’re not even on the battlefield field hell I think they’re giving our enemy our secrets
    I-594 passed. where where they?
    Ammo regulation passed in CA. where were they?
    Springfield armory carve outs. where were they?
    bump stock ban. Where were they?
    featureless rifles had to be created. where were they?

    • We’re being used by Mitch in the Senate. Otherwise national reciprocity and SHARE (revised HPA) would’ve been brought up for a vote, hopefully pass, and signed by President Trump already. There’ll probably be a vote near election time and if the Dems filibuster, it’ll be fresh in voter’s minds. What happened in Vegas didn’t help our cause either. It’s exactly what Schumer is doing to the so called dreamers with DACA.

    • Seriously? If you could travel back to 2005 when a basic Olympic Arms AR-15 was selling for $1,500 and Glock magazines we’re selling for $120 each and tell people that in 2018 AR-15s could be had for $400 and magazines more plentiful and available for $7 each they’d look at you like you’re crazy. The expiration of AWB and free market demand drove the industry to produce better and more varied products. Now with a less hostile POTUS, the market has softened to where everything appears to be on sale. Add on top of that the recent popularization and wide acceptance of suppressors, and functional NFA hacks such as the Mossberg Shockwave and the SB arm brace and we are living in Good Times.

  14. The guy in the TFB video said that when they make a model with a forged lower instead of billet the price will be around $1k. The next question is how good the dart ammo will be and what it will cost.

  15. Consider this:
    You can put a rifled choke in a shotgun and it is still a shotgun.
    Could you put a rifled muzzle device on this and it still would not be NFA?
    MY IDEA!
    I claim Intellectual Property!

    • In the movie No Country for Old Men, why did the Josh Brolin character scratch up the barrel bore from his SBS in the hotel room? What benefit did that that serve?

      • He didn’t.
        I watched the movie again last night; what he did was use a file to smooth the hacksaw cut. Most people do that after cutting anything with a hacksaw.
        Or even wood (but using sandpaper) after a saw cut.
        It’s normal.

  16. What I want to know is how long until idiots start inundating the ATF with letters like they did with the Sig brace asking if it’s ok.

  17. Strangely enough, for all the calisthenics, this how the good guys get around the law. The bad guys are still zero fV<ks given.

  18. Okay, now all I have to do is wait for someone else to follow suit with the same idea in a gun that won’t cost $2000(I’m guessing. Franklin armory is a bit to rich for my blood).

    Or maybe an upper. I know it’s not legal to convert a rifle to a handgun or SBR without hoop jumping, but what about converting a rifle to a “firearm” or “other”?

    Or should I just wait until the ATF changes their mind and makes this thing and anything like it illegal with a letter saying something akin to, “We didn’t think you’d actually do it”?

    • You can get a lower, classified as an “other,” build a pistol, then use the same lower to build a lower, then go back to a pistol. That’s my understanding anyway.

      GENERAL DISCLAIMER BASED ON GENERAL EXPERIENCE: Don’t try this at home because most people are too dumb to follow very simple instructions.

  19. This is marketed to scofflaws and scoundrels.

    I happen to like scofflaws and scoundrels.

    But my personal opinion is that it’s an inaccurate gimmick, and will not sell in large numbers. There are too many other good alternatives for two grand.

  20. no thanks

    my shockwaved 10.5 in 5.56 twist puts them all touching at 50 yards and less than 9″ grouping at 300 with $7.57 a box wal mart ammo and a red dot and bone stock single stage mil spec trigger shooting from a bench rest

    total invested: less than $900 all in including the optic

    upper receiver: hardened arms sdx mk ll mlok rail 1/7 twist
    lower receiver: edc tactical sniper gray cerakoted cnc billet
    lower parts kit: black rain ordinance
    bolt carrier group: palmetto state armory
    complete stock kit: kak industries
    red dot optic: vortex sparc ar
    weapon light: streamlight 350 lumen
    furniture: hera arms pistol grip guntec mlok rail panels mako hand stop
    linear comp: rj tactical bmc ultralight

    • Yes, but the pistol brace is still floppy and you’d be “shouldering” the buffer tube and can’t with brace’s straps if you wanted a higher hold because you had a long neck. You also can’t have an adjustable for length brace either and would be uncomfortable if you had really long arms. It’s not all peaches and cream with AR pistols and braces. Granted, not everyone has a body shaped like a giraffe.

      • None of these current pistols braces are floppy. They weren’t ever “floppy”, even the first gen Sig braces. But now, there are very sturdy braces on the market, including the Tailhook, which is entirely aluminum. Fwiw

      • What straps? KAK Shockwave is made of hard plastic and comes with zero straps. Lenght is adjustable with set screw to eliminate any wobble. Being much cheaper than sig brace sweetens it even more.

  21. Why can’t folks just realize that the bad guys don’t give a heck about doing illegal stuff? How hard is it to see that we’re only tying the hands of the good guys who follow the law by having all of these nonsensical rules?

    What will it take for the Feds to tell the ignorant Left to shut the hell up and lift all of the illegal laws that conflict with the prime directive: “Thou shalt not infringe!”)?

    Aren’t we (the good guys) far more wrong for attempting to follow illegal laws that contradict each other and CANNOT make sense, than for rejecting them to align ONLY with the 2A?! —Doing this BASS ACKWARDS like we are inherently makes US the bad guys —while effectively making the BAD guys into GOOD guys for following the unadulterated 2nd Amendment (not giving a care about the illegal laws so that their ability to own a gun isn’t infringed upon)!

    Don’t listen to me—I am obviously too crazy to own a gun regardless of which rules I follow. :-/

  22. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since it debuted and have come to a conclusion – As I see it, currently, this offering does nothing different/better than an AR pistol, is not as accurate, and costs more. Therefore there is no incentive to purchase one – Again, that’s *currently*.

    In my estimation, had they waited to debut this firearm until after they had even a prototype of specialty fin-stabilized/flechette ammunition that they could present with it, the overall interest in this platform (and justification for the price) would be much more significant. It would be a specialty platform, yes, but it would at least have some specific advantages over traditional 5.56 rifles (or “firearms”) and much fewer disadvantages.

    Right now, they are offering a platform and saying “Give us $2,000+ now and we promise someone will produce the ammunition to make it work properly sometime in the future.” As it stands, for me personally, that investment isn’t worth the gamble of some future additional product that will make this function properly. When I start seeing manufacturers supporting this platform by producing fin-stabilized/flechette rounds, then I will very seriously consider making that investment. But for now, I’ll stick with an AR pistol…

  23. In wonder how a rifled muzzle device would affect the bullet. Would a few inches of rifling be able to.impart enough spin without destroying accuracy of the bullet that already was engraved with straight grooves? Shotguns have rifled chokes, so it would be similar. Unless it were welded on, it wouldn’t be part of the barrel and shouldn’t affect the firearm ruling.

  24. The reasoning around “rifle” = “rifled bore” is like mental Viagra.
    If they get away with this, I suspect it will open the doors for a variety of manufacturers to make similar offerings- which will drive the engineering towards greater accuracy.

    This reminds me of a tank 120 mm smoothbore.

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.


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