Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Additional Thoughts on the AR Pistol

Obviously, in my last SHOOTING GALLERY episode where I talked about an AR platform pistol in the context of a firearm someone might carry in a vehicle, I generated more confusion than answers. One of the problems of doing a show like SG is that we appeal to a very broad cross-section of shooters, and sometimes we take too many shortcuts in explaining things assuming they viewers have te background knowledge. That's especially a problem with you're filming what is going to be a short segment.

First, here's an epic infographic that's been floating round the last few days. Click on it for a bigger image.

An AR-15 platform pistol is a pistol, no different than a Glock 19 or an S&W J-Frame revolver. The buffer tube at the back of the gun is necessary for its operation. Here's another infographic that's been around for a while, but is useful nonetheless:

What I was talking about in the last episode of SHOOTING GALLERY is the difference between an AR-15 pistol and an AR-15 based Short Barreled Rifle (SBR), which is controlled under the National Firearms Act. Here's a great picture from the EmptorMaven blog (which you should be reading) illustrating the difference:

Notice the only difference between the pistol, which can be purchased over the counter just like the proverbial Glock, and the SBR, which requires you to fill out federal forms, include (usually) a mugshot and a fingerprint card, get a sign-off from your chief law enforcement officer in your area (that will change in July, BTW),  pay a $200 tax and wait until you receive your tax stamp, which will take months before you can take possession of the SBR, is the stock.

On long car trips I like to travel with an AR pistol, which offers a lot of firepower in a small package. It's maneuverable in a vehicle; I've shot them out to 100 yards and they feature 30-round magazines. I especially like the .300 Blackout, because it is a cartridge specifically designed for the shorter barrel. My set-up will run with either 125-gr supersonic or the 220-gr subsonic rounds designed for a suppressor.

I could make my pistol an SBR by filling out the paperwork (and doing some measurements), pay the appropriate $200 tax, then when my tax stamp arrived — and ONLY after it arrives! — I could put a stock on the pistol. However, because now I have an SBR, which is a controlled weapon, I am subject to all the rules that apply to such a firearm. For example, if I want to take the gun across a state line, say driving from Colorado to Wyoming, I need to notify the ATF in advance of that move (I believe it's a Form 5320.20). In some cases there are states that prohibit SBRs, but not AR pistols.

My contention is the pistol will do about 95% of all the things an SBR will do without the paperwork or the $200 tax. I can shoulder or cheek the pistol on the buffer tube for a longer shot, which is why my buffer tubes have soft foam on them. There are the various "braces," such as the Sig Stabilizing brace or the Shockwave brace, that attach to the buffer tube to make the gun easier to shoot one-handed. Only a complete lunatic would try to explain the ATF rules on braces (see the first infographic). It has been my experience that shouldering or placing the buffer against your cheek to site the gun works just fine.

If I decide to put an angled foregrip like the Magpul on my pistol (see infographic #2), no problemo. If I decide to put a bipod on my pistol, once again, I'm within the law. In fact, I have a Ruger Charger pistol with a bipod sitting on my desk, perfectly legal like. I can even use the bipod as a gripping point, just like a vertical foregrip. However, if I add a vertical forgery to my pistol, I have created another NFA regulated firearm called "Any Other Weapon," which is illegal to own unless — you guessed it! — you have filled out the paperwork, paid the $200 tax and gotten the stamp. If you bought the gun configured as an AOW, you would all of the above, except that the tax would be $5 instead of $200...from the ATF:

 NOTE: there is often confusion concerning the tax on “any other weapons.” The majority of NFA weapons are subject to a making tax of $200 and a transfer tax of $200. Many individuals have the mistaken belief that the rate of tax for making an “any other weapon” is $5 because the transfer tax on “any other weapons” is $5. As discussed in Section 4.1.1, the making tax on all types of NFA firearms is $200. 
Okay...does that make more sense why I like AR pistols???????


Sasquatch said...

Just for even MORE clarification: when I have purchased stripped lowers the FFL has marked on the sales receipt and 4473 that it is "other". They have said this is cause you could potentially build it out as a rifle OR pistol. BUT this "other " is different from an NFA AOW. Correct?

Michael Bane said...

Correct. My understanding is that technically all stripped lowers that have NEVER been built into a gun are "other." Once it's built into a rifle, it will always be a rifle. If you decide to make your rifle a pistol, nope. No deal. You can make it an SBR after the paperwork and $200. If it's built into a pistol, you can turn it into a rifle, then back into a pistol. Maybe even an aardvark if you can get the parts.

Some manufacturers mark some of their lowers as "Pistol." The DoubleStar lower on my .300 Blackout is marked "5.56 Pistol," which, of course, it isn't.

None of this makes a wit of sense, and I haven't even started in on the "other" that exceeds 26 inches overall…


bgary said...

In one of the cute edge-cases of the NFA, you can convert a pistol to a rifle but you cannot (legally) convert a rifle to a pistol. Once it has had a buttstock on it, it can be made into an SBR, but it can't be made into a pistol.

The "way around this", I'm told, is to make a receiver as a pistol first. Take pictures of it, showing that the initial build was as a pistol. Then (I'm told) you can always "restore" it to being a pistol. But if you were to buy a rifle - or even if the "long gun" box is checked on the 4473 when you buy a stripped lower - taking off the buttstock and converting it to a pistol is a legal conundrum.

Aren't gun laws fun?

bgary said...

you beat me to it.

ddjojoc said...

in some states someone with a valid ccw/chl can keep a loaded AR pistol in the vehicle with them. Cant do that with a rifle/sbr. so there is that.

Michael Bane said...

It's a hot mess, to be sure. We're doing a whole show on AR pistols next season on SHOOTING GALLERY next season. My .300 blackout is the very best of the many I've shot. It's crazy accurate, but that's because it's an early AAC upper marked "Knight's Armament." They know how to build a gun!

I' changing my Spike's 9mm pistol from a blocked standard lower to a dedicated Glock lower, probably running a JP bolt and captive recoil spring.

For the show I'm also building as small a 9mm pistol as I can. KAK is doing the upper on a 4.5 inch barrel. Probably a Quarter Circle 10 Glock lower. I' m thinking of trying one of those Law Tactical folding devices to make an itsy bitty package that should fit in a Maxpedition Versapack ( the goal). Planning on SilencerCo Omega 9k to keep it quiet. Nice to have that muc firepower as an EDC, eh? Magazines interchangeable with my G19.


AndrewM said...

Correct me if I am wrong - but it is not just the buttstock on a pistol length barrel that is illegal. Just putting on a buffer tube that can accept a buttstock will get you the same punishment.

Andy Moon

Anonymous said...

Thank you mb for the AR pistol refresh , I am more understanding now but what was the optimal barrel length and twist for that set up I saw on the show ? whatever equipment that is good enough for you is good enough for me . thanks again for the wealth of info you share every week .

Anonymous said...

To add further to the discussion, my state of Michigan issues a "CPL", or license to carry a concealed pistol. It DOES NOT license you to carry a "concealed weapon". Many states issue similar licenses. That is further justification to use an AR pistol for the reasons you stated. Having an uncased and loaded SBR in your car is a crime here. It would have to be "carried" as any other rifle; unloaded, cased and in accessible to occupants of the vehicle. Rifles cannot be carried for self-protection in any vehicle either and you can be cited for even having a loaded gun on the tailgate of you truck when you eat your lunch while out hunting.(This is a clever "trick" COs use here.)

All of these laws were drawn-up by mostly ignorant people looking only to either entrap unsuspecting people, or to make owning any gun as uncomfortable as possible, hoping that they will choose to not go through the bother. Other laws are written to simply control everything.

If they dropped most of these confusing laws, crime would probably not go up, as the laws have no affect on natural-born criminals.

Take away guns from everyone and killers will find even more horrendous means to carry out their evil deeds.

Life Member

Stu Nod said...

IMHO we have to be carfeful with smarmy infographics that openly mock our overlords the BATmen at BATFE. These wonderful AR pistols are easily ban-able by edict from the bureaucrats. And don't expect to win on appeal with the Hillary Clinton DOJ and Obama/Clinton SCOTUS replacements for Scalia, Ginsberg, Breyer, and Kennedy. Enjoy your AR pistols as I do mine, but for gosh sakes stop pointing out the idiocy of the current enforcement regime. Stop sending letters asking the BATmen what is legal.

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