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Holy NFA Violation, Batman! from Reddit

This popped up on Reddit this afternoon and since people are apparently actually buying that ridiculous SIG SAUER ACP device thing (review here), I wanted to offer a word of advice. If you have a handgun and you slap a forward vertical grip on it, the gun magically turns into a felony-worthy “Any Other Weapon” that’s regulated under the National Firearms Act. And while the tax stamp on those is only $5, it still takes 6 months to clear the paperwork. Another lovely example of the firearms laws we have here in the US, where the way something looks matters more than how lethal it actually is. So now you know. Don’t do it.

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  1. @foghorn

    Would it be possible to make a AOW out of nothing but an 870 receiver? Just the receiver, no stock/barrel on it, and have it registered as an AOW? Because it will be a pistol, with a smooth bore, firing 12 gauge shotgun shells, so it can’t be a pistol or a shotgun because its too short to be a shotgun, and doesn’t have rifling so it can’t be a pistol?

    Like you buy an 870 receiver or pay to have one made, and it never has a shoulder stock or barrel longer than 18 inches on it, can you register that receiver as an AOW? It seems like that would be the best/cheapest way to get an SBS without really having an SBS by the legal definition.

        • Randy,

          That’s where I got the idea from. But my understanding is you cannot register a Shotgun as an AOW, you can only register a “firearm” as an AOW. So if I buy an 870 or 500 at Wal-mart, it can only be a Shotgun, or a Short Barrel Shotgun.

          5 dollars to get a SBS sounds better than 200 dollars to get an SBS.

          I know you can BUY an AOW, but can you build one without a firearms manufactors permit? Serbu’s super shorty’s are like 900 dollars, a maverick 88/870/500 isn’t worth 900 dollars, even in a legal super short configuration. Hence the “can I register a receiver as an AOW”…

          I don’t think I’m asking right…

        • Yes. If you don’t want to buy a AOW, you could build your own receiver for a 870 (not easy, but doable), and register it… but you need to pay $200 for a tax stamp, vice transferring it for $5.

        • the shorty is classified as an AOW. They aren’t technically modified. Never had full length barrels on them.

        • The most recent “official letter” that only applies to the recipient and sometimes not even then from the A.T.EFF. is that the lovely little serbu is a “smoothbore pistol” and classified as AOW. But I also recall a case where a guy got nailed for having one even though he had a stamp for it and hadn’t done anything wrong. Trying to find a link, it was a while back.

  2. And this thing, as pictured, is good for . . . what exactly?

    Oh yeah, absolutely nothing.

      • I wouldn’t bank on that. AOW is a catch all for any weapon that does not meet the requirements of, you guessed it, any other weapon.

        In order for a firearm to be considered a pistol it needs to be designed to be fired from one hand (yeah, I know, we all use two, but they have one grip). Because the purpose of an AFG is to use as a grip, for a two handed grip, I would think that it would disqualify what we would colloquially refer to as a pistol from meeting the legal definition of a pistol. Now maybe there has been an ATF letter to clarify that I don’t know about, but otherwise I wouldn’t go out and buy an AFG for my Sig ACP just yet.

        • I do believe the ATF has specifically okay’d, in writing, the AFG on a pistol.

          Definitely don’t mess up! 10 years in Federal prison for NFA violation ain’t no joke!

        • Current ATF letters, which specifically name the Magpul AFG regard it in the same way as a “hand stop”. The do not currently consider putting an AFG on a pistol creation of an AOW.

    • That doesn’t make any sense… The powerful and mighty and perfect law enforcement can get NFA items, and I really doubt politicians would make it harder for the powerful and mighty and perfect law enforcement pay 200 dollars extra on their too-dangerous-for-us AOWs.


      You are correct. An ATF Form 1 is $200 no matter what you are making. AOW’s on an ATF Form 4 transfer are only $5.

  3. I saw one of these things locally on Armslist set up nice and illegal like with the grip.

    After about an hour the picture was replaced with one sans grip.

    Makes me wonder how many people out there are committing felonies in ignorance.

    It makes sense that in free society where no harm or damage is found no crime has occured. Sucks for those folks counting on reason and common sense to identify their felonious foolishness that America is not a free society.

  4. I did know about that law as I was interested in a Rock River PDS pistol. Laws made to F up a hobby are a real treat, Randy

  5. Alright! I can just look lethal and not actually have to be? So I just need a Hollywood stylist — not a gun.

    Now I understand California’s laws. The Heavens have opened.

    • Good question… I am not a lawayer or NFA expert at all, but I would think if you have a SBS and replace the less than 18 inch barrel with another less than 18 inch barrel, that is kosher.

      Similarly, from what I know, if you have an SBS and you put a regular 18+ inch barrel on your SBS, it is STILL considered to be a SBS regardless of it’s configuration, even with a 28 inch barrel on it, you still need to follow all NFA SBS rules.

      Essentially, once that firearm/receiver is NFA registered it stays that way forever no matter what you do to it.

      With all that said, I believe changing grips is acceptable… But I am just a layman. One of the Class 3 guys would know a whole lot more than me.

      • Ehh, not so much. A registered SBR/SBS is only a NFA weapon when it is configured with a barrel under 16″/18″ and/or OAL under 26″. The ATF has ruled that a SBR’ed AR-15 lower with a 16″ upper and greater than 26″ OAL is NOT a NFA item and can be transported across state lines w/o prior ATF approval on a form 5320-20. See ATF’s NFA FAQ.

      • Not true; if you PERMANENTLY modify an NFA item so it is non-NFA (i.e. replace the short barrel on an SBR/SBS with a compliant one and dispose of the short one), you can write an letter to the ATF (not sure exactly where you’d write it to, check their website I guess) and have it removed from the registry. It isn’t necessary to do it, as once it is no longer readily convertible to it’s NFA form it is no longer under any of the restrictions like authorization to transport it across state lines or form 4 for transfer, but they still recommend you notify them.

  6. Call me overly political, but a day after major exposure in one of the nation’s most read newspapers, presumably leading to new visitors, is that little monstrosity a good post-worth news bit? Enthusiasm for barrel-less shotguns? Mightn’t such items be left until, I don’t know, maybe next August? This is an important legislative season.

    • Could be worse. Bump/slide-fire stocks, for example.

      Still… Yes, this seems like a bad call to me as well.

  7. Wow this and that very helpful review of the Ruger 10/22 in the same day. You are the bread and butter of this site Nick, thank you for relevant info about guns that I cant get from watching Fox or CNN. Thats why you guys are in business.

  8. I’m going to just say it….. while that thing looks cool, how many people are willing to pony up $400 for what amounts to a rail and a sling? IMHO, a manufacturer that would want to destroy Sig in that market could simply design a vertical foregrip that has a “Shroud” around the slide (providing 3 pieces of rail) and perhaps a steel/polycarbonate U that swings around the back for a sling attachment point. Additionally, the only other question remaining is why not just buy a 10″ AR upper if I have to go through the NFA hassle anyways?

  9. Actually, it isn’t clear that ATF is acting within the law in treating rifled-bore handguns as AOWs just because of the addition of a vertical foregrip. It is explicit in the statutory definition that “Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.” See 26 USC §5845(e). At least one federal judge has agreed with this position:

    The Glock that is pictured is not a disguised firearm, and it isn’t a smoothbore handgun. The end. You may be harassed by ATF thugs if you flout their policy on this, and it may be prudent to avoid this harassment by bending to their dictate in this area, but they are not acting within the statutory authority granted to their agency.

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