The so-called ‘small arms expert,’ here, as noted in “The Rundown” linked from “The Woodpile Report,” here, is either an idiot, or has had his interview quotes thoroughly taken out of context through selective editing to increase the sensationalization to make him purposely look like an idiot.  If the latter was the goal, the reporter succeeded.

The Navy vet quoted in the piece claims the Dayton shooter (self-identified as ANTIFA) was using an illegally modified AR15 turning it into a SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) which are, in fact, illegal to own unless registered with the BATFE with the appropriate tax paid and owner background checks completed.  Right up front in the article the ‘small arms expert’ is shown to have very little ‘expertise’ by the first quote:

“A pistol/rifle hybrid is completely illegal on every level,” Jack Maxey told The Rundown. “It’s clearly illegal in its current configuration.”

In a word, “NONSENSE!”

It was used illegally to murder people, but as it’s configured, it’s pretty safe to say that it was built as an AR pistol.

So, as quoted, the ‘expert’ obviously NEVER heard of or has seen an AR PISTOL.  Mr. Maxey, if quoted incorrectly, should demand a retraction and subsequent correction, and if quoted correctly, take a firearms identification course and apologize to, ‘The Run Down.’

In the photo released by the Dayton PD, the firearm is easily identified as an AR pistol by ID of the Shockwave Blade Pistol Stabilizer in conjunction with the apparent 10.5″ barrel, which further indicates the configuration as an AR pistol, NOT an SBR, at least by appearances.  The only way it can be judged as a SBR is to see if the lower receiver was registered as a ‘pistol receiver.’  If it wasn’t, then it’s a SBR; if it was, it’s an AR Pistol.

Additionally, stabilizers, such as the one in the crime photo, cannot be installed on AR 15 carbines or rifles, because the installation shortens the overall length of the firearm below the legal minimums, again, making it a SBR.

The stabilizer itself sells for under $25 at most major firearms accessory retailers, and the one in the photo is thusly described:  “The Shockwave Technologies Blade Pistol Stabilizer is a lightweight, ergonomic, BATFE approved AR-15 pistol enhancement. This high-strength polymer brace fits all pistols equipped with a standard AR-15 pistol buffer tube (up to 1.25″ in diameter), for a secure, worry-free fit.”

Again, AR pistols are completely LEGAL so long as the owner registers it as a pistol when he or she meets the legal requirements to own it and follows their state protocol for registration when taking possession through a licensed FFL, who, by the way, is not going to risk legal jeopardy themselves by allowing a SBR to be possessed by a prospective owner that doesn’t have the appropriate clearance and approval.

Once the lower is registered as a pistol receiver, it cannot legally have a rifle upper installed on it without having the legal description changed from pistol to rifle, and then again, the owner must have BATFE notification of intent to change the designation and with their approval.  If the AR Pistol owner doesn’t jump through those hoops and installs a rifle upper on the pistol lower, or installs a rifle stock on the pistol lower, he or she has just converted a legal pistol to an illegal SBR.

From what I understand, it’s a PITA to jump through all the hoops to get an AR Pistol lower reclassified, being much easier to simply buy a new lower and build a new AR carbine/rifle.


9 thoughts on “Idiots…

  1. Jim

    I also am no expert on the whole pistol/rifle thing, but:
    1.) The lower is marked as an “Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 Multi Cal”. I do not know how this company marks their pistol lowers, if they make them at all, but the above markings would lead me to believe that there is a better that 50% probability that it is a rifle receiver.
    2.) I know nothing about the Shockwave Blade Stabilizer device other than a quick look at some pictures online, one of which showed the difference between the legal and illegal use of a stabilizer. To ignorant old me, it looks a lot like a stock.
    3.) Last time I checked, long barrelled pistols with a stock, fixed or detachable, are NOT illegal. The controlling factor is barrel length. A pistol with a barrel length of 16 inch or longer may have a stock attached. As evidence I would direct you to the Luger and Walther carbines produced by John Martz in the 70’s and 80’s. With a 16 inch barrel and stock they were a perfectly legal carbine. I do not know if the ar platform has different rules due to the
    4.) ease of switching uppers. The marking on the lower says it all–“Multi Cal”. Push out two pins and drop another upper in. Instant legal or illegal. If he stuck a stabilizer on a pistol, it is legal. If he put a 11.5 inch barrelled upper on a rifle lower, it is illegal.
    All of the above is irrelevant.
    The perpetrator, who should be known to history as Some Asshole (Google it), is a nut case. He could care less about the fine print of ATF rulings. He saw a way to make his weapon more compact and took it. Unless you are the US attorney prosecuting the case, it doesn’t matter.
    Our reaction should be outrage over Some Asshole committing murder rather than fussing over how he outfitted himself. We should also be outraged at every political hack who uses these murders to push gun control. Disarming everyone because of the loons out there is like banning cars because of road rage. The only way to deal with Some Assholes is with superior firepower followed by something like the following:

    Kill them.
    Burn the body.
    Scatter the ashes in a nameless place.
    Never speak of them again.


    Thus endeth the lesson/rant.

  2. Defensive Training Group Post author

    “We should also be outraged at every political hack who uses these murders to push gun control. Disarming everyone because of the loons out there is like banning cars because of road rage. The only way to deal with Some Assholes is with superior firepower followed by something like the following:

    Kill them.
    Burn the body.
    Scatter the ashes in a nameless place.
    Never speak of them again.”

    I am with you on the above.

    A few points:

    * All AR lowers can be registered as a pistol if so configured. There is no such thing as an AR ‘rifle’ or ‘pistol’ receiver, per se.

    * All available stabilizers for AR pistols (except the crutch tip – an it looks very similar to a real crutch tip) look like stocks.

    * In the case of the AR pistol, barrel lengths are typically 10 to 12 inches in length, and then in concert with the lower receiver, and the buffer tube, makes their overall length less than 26″, which, depending on design, makes the firearm in question a pistol. What makes one a pistol and the other a SBR, is what’s on the buffer tube. If it’s an actual AR stock (Magpul, standard 4 or 6 position, etc) it’s a SBR. If it’s a stabilizer, it can be registered as a pistol because it’s not designed to be used as a rifle.

    Technicalities in the law….just sayin’.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  3. John Crater

    It’s common practice in my experience to sell stripped receivers as ‘other’ and the first build determines the enduring configuration in which that serialized part is used. If first built as a rifle, it must remain a rifle; if first built as a pistol, it must remain a pistol. The use of the term “registered” is a little misleading as they only require a 4473 in most states so it’s not universal that they are “registered” in the usual meaning.

  4. Rick McColl

    Just another comment about registering. What about attaching a completed 80% lower with no serial number? I know of no requirement, at least in TN, to register one way or the other. I know if you want to use an 80% lower on a SBR then you must serialize it. The firearm in the picture is clearly an AR pistol.

  5. LowKey

    Two quibbles-
    First, where do you live that you need to “register” striped lower assembled into a pistol in order to make it legal? There is no federal requirement that you register a pistol or rifle you build from a stripped lower. You can purchase the stripped lower and check the box “receiver” on the 4473.

    Second, as long as the lower was first assembled as a pistol it can later legally be reconfigured into a rifle, and then back to a pistol. This is established by case law and the ATF, courtesy of the Thompson Center/Contender. Just be sure the reconfiguration take place in the right order (rifle barrel installed before the rifle stock, and rifle stock removed before the pistol barrel is installed) to prevent creating an SBR even temporarily.

  6. M. Sage

    couple of things from the comments:

    1: A lot of states don’t have registration, and the feds don’t for anything that’s not NFA. AR pistols are not NFA, so you don’t “register” them as anything… state laws notwithstanding. There are a lot of good sites that will give you an answer to whether or not your firearms have to be registered. Also keep in mind that if you live in one of those states, you may have to register it AFTER assembling it if you buy a stripped receiver.

    2: All stripped receivers are sold as “other.” So are shotguns that don’t have a butt stock (like the Mossberg 500 Cruiser). According to federal law, if it doesn’t have a butt stock attached at the time of sale and never has had one attached, it’s not a rifle or shotgun (and the buyer has to be at least 21 if this sale is from a dealer).

    3: “A pistol with a barrel length of 16 inch or longer may have a stock attached.” Because it’s not a pistol. The legal (federal) definition of a rifle is a >16″ barrel, a stock, AND overall length of at least 26″ (with stock fully extended or unfolded). Note that, legally, if you do modify a handgun into a rifle, you can’t turn it back into a handgun after that. Once a rifle, always a rifle. Just like once a machine gun always a machine gun (hence why M2 Carbine marked receivers are NFA even though they’re identical to M1 Carbine receivers).

    4: The “mult cal” marking means absolutely nothing legally-speaking. And all AR15 lowers have the same modular capability of pushing pins and swapping uppers in seconds.

    5: Anderson sells a LOT of stripped lowers. Odds are good that if you walk into a random gun store and ask for a sripped AR lower, they’ll come up with an Anderson. Without checking, I couldn’t tell you if they even sell complete firearms…

  7. Gator

    Saw this linked on Woodpile. A couple things – stripped lowers are marked as ‘firearms’ or ‘other’ on a form 4. This means you can build it as either a rifle or a pistol. They are not and do not have to be ‘registered’ in any way. As long as it is shipped to you (via FFL, obviously) in its stripped form, you can build it in whatever configuration you want, as long as your particular state allows it, and you have no requirement to register it in any way, much less notify anyone of how you decided to build it.

    There are a few things to note when building one, however. The simple way to think of it is ‘once a rifle, always a rifle’. If your lower receiver ever has a rifle stock attached to it, it must ALWAYS remain a rifle. You cannot legally put a pistol buffer and pistol brace on a lower receiver that was shipped to you as rifle. If it ever had a regular rifle stock mounted on the receiver at all, it is forever a rifle. If you decide you want a shorter barrel on your AR rifle, you can’t put a pistol brace on it and a shorter barrel and call that rifle a pistol. You have to submit the paperwork to make it an SBR. This means that if you buy something like a complete rifle receiver from somewhere like Palmetto State you can’t decide later to make it into a pistol, because a stock has been mounted on it. Forever a rifle. Same with building a rifle yourself out of a stripped lower. Even though the stripped lower was transferred to you as a ‘firearm’, not a rifle or pistol, once you put a stock on it, for even one second, its forever a rifle. Changing it out later is technically against the law. Now, it would be extremely unlikely that anyone like the ATF would know you first built your stripped lower into a rifle then later changed it to a pistol unless you told on yourself or did something stupid and talked about it on social media, but the best bet if you later decide you’d rather have a pistol is just buy another stripped lower or a pistol lower that was shipped to you like that.

    Pistol lowers are different. If you buy a built pistol lower, or build a pistol yourself out of a stripped lower shipped as a ‘firearm’ or ‘other’, you are legally allowed to make it into a rifle. However, again, once you put that rifle stock on it, it is illegal for you to put it back into its pistol configuration again, because in most cases, ‘once a rifle, always a rifle’. Since there is no requirement to ‘register’ it in any way, its unlikely you’d get yourself in trouble, but again, best just buy another one than run the risk, plus some states may have different laws.

    Hope that makes sense and I didn’t confuse the issue further.

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