Outlaw Gunsmithing [guest post by a former sniper and current pw reader]
Did you know that you can walk into a shop, plunk down $200, and walk out 20 minutes later with an AR15 lower receiver (or actually a completely finished rifle, if you have the scratch) that has no serial number, no FFL records, no government intervention, and it is all COMPLETELY LEGAL?
Welcome to the world of “Outlaw Gunsmithing.”
According the BATF website:
For your information, per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution.
The GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), defines the term “firearm” to include the following:
… (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive: (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.
I am going to focus on the AR15 here, since these are the evil black assault rifles (EBARs) that everyone is so afraid of and that go out and cause people to commit mass murder sprees, whether they want to or not.
According to the BATF, the lower receiver of the AR15 is the gun. You can get lower receiver part kits, complete upper receivers, barrels, stocks, whatever you want, without anyone’s permission, and through the internet (at least you WERE able to before the panic buying). What you cannot do is to go online, pay some money and get a lower receiver. That requires going through an FFL.
Unless, you make it yourself.
I point you to the section quoted above:
Per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a “firearm” as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution.
In the case of an AR15, the lower receiver is the “firearm.” So, if you could just make an AR15 lower receiver yourself, you could keep it for personal use, as long as you did not sell or distribute it.
So, how do you make an AR15 lower receiver?
There are places that make castings of an AR15 lower receiver, then, say drill out the magazine well, leaving something that looks like this:
Now, it is a bit hard to tell from the picture of the single receiver, but the area where the hammer, the trigger assembly, and the sear normally go is solid metal. Also note that there is no place for the trigger to exit the receiver. This is not a lower receiver, this is something known by the technical term “a chunk of aluminum” or, more colloquially, “a paperweight.” You may freely buy something like this with no restrictions. There is no possible way even the most idiot gun grabbing moron could call this a “gun.”
Now, the place where I bought this little beauty (for $135) is also a machine shop. For another $80, they will allow you to use their 3-axis CNC mill to do a little work on your paperweight. As it happens, they have a couple of nifty milling programs that will gut the inside of the receiver, cut a hole for the trigger, stuff like that. But, and this is the critical part, you are the person who pushes the button to work the machine. In total, I think you make three cuts to the receiver, and then you have to drill about 4 holes. At each step, there is an expert machinist there to help you, but you are the person who pushes the button to start the cutting, you are the person who works the drill press to drill the holes. When you are finished, the paperweight is indistinguishable from a commercial AR15 lower receiver, except, there are no identifying marks. This is what the finished lower receiver looks like:
This is how you make an AR15 lower receiver. The machine shop requires you to sign an affidavit stating that you are legally allowed to own a firearm, and they take a copy of your drivers license. However, all this is simply for the purpose of CYA. They do not report the information to the government, and when you are finished with the lower receiver, there are no markings on the thing and no but you and the machinist know you have it.
There are various other legal issues that apply here, and if there is enough interest, maybe I will try and get Jeff to let me post about those another time.
addendum: Sorry, forgot a couple of things.
The best way to find out about these sorts of services is to do a search on 80% receivers on bing. If you can’t find anything in your neighborhood, don’t panic. You can still make one of these things without access to a machine shop. Some people sell the 80% lower receivers, and they also sell a set of jigs that let you complete the lower on your own using only the jigs and a standard drill press.