shortening a rifle barrel - legally
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  1. #1
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    guys i have a 16" barrel tha I'd like to cut down around 14 and affix a permanet brake.

    I assume a threaded attachment wont keep the powers that be satisfied. What are the options for "permanent attachment" ?

    Roll pin? Blind pin? etc.

    Thanks in advance

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    Damonfg,
    You can solder with high temperature solder, weld with four large welds, weld half way around or blind pin. In other words permanently attached. The barrel and muzzle extension must exceed 16" to the bolt face using a rod inserted from the muzzle.

    Please comment if I forgot anything.

    Paul

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    I wouldn't mess with it. You are better off to leave it alone or take it to a qualified gunsmith.

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    To use a threaded mount, drill and tap a hole through the bottom of the brake in the thread area. You will need a setscrew with a point. Screw on the brake, clamp it, and mark or drill using the hole for reference. A setscrew shorter than the threaded hole is needed. You must have a recess in the barrel for the setscrew to go into! After checking fit, use a high strength loc-tite on the setscrew thread and tighten it. Might consider some on the brake threads if it's not a real good snug fit. Finally, you need to fill the hole that the setscrew is in. Welding/brazing is best for Gov satisfaction. Running another screw into the hole (with loc-tite), and then cutting off flush, should also work. The idea is they don't want the muzzle piece to be removeable with ordinary hand tools. They expect you to have to resort to saws and or drills to accomplish this.
    BTW, if this is a purchased brake, check with the maker, they may already have this situation covered, and will have the latest Gov reqs noted.

    Will

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    Thanks guys, I'm debating a blind pin or a setscrew covered with a braze.


    There will be a point where the barrel is cut to ~14" and not yet permanently affixed to the brake. I assume this is all legal as long as the parts are unassembled.

    So a barrel off the frame does not make it a SBR, correct?

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    I wrote to the ATF in northern Illinois about this but as regards an 18" 20 ga. barrel I wanted to fit with a Cutts compensator or something functionally similar so the OAL was still 18". They suggested I write to the national HQ for info.

    Here's the problem: If you have a shortened "illegal" barrel in close proximity to the mating receiver you could be declared to have the intent of making a sawed off whatever.

    If you are a pro-gun militant who aggravates the local establishment enough and publicly say something about pointless regulations of short barreled longarms, and if you say the whole population should be armed to beat back Arab camel cavalry attacking from forward bases in Mexico across the Arizona border, a local LE official can convince someone this is the time to act (on various grounds), and polish up a case against you with perjured testimony, and with warrant in hand you could wind up with black helicopters landing on your roof and back yard.

    You will be accused of rabble rousing violating state and local civil rights or race laws and will be found illegally making or conspiring to manufacture with intent to distribute illegal weapons. All because you wanted a shortened barrel with a permanent muzzle break or flash hider. Make a perfunctory inquiry with the ATF and leave it to a gunsmith the first time around.

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    Why don't you put your barrel in the mill and drill it in an indexing head. I have a couple rifles with intergral brakes.
    Butch

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    not suggesting this is a good idea, but there are shorty AKs with welded "flash hiders" on them.

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    I appreciate all the ideas. And I wouldn't hesitate to weld the brake on with some very judicious tig welding.

    I'm likely to make a muzzle brake for this rifle just because it sounds fun. Will need to machine one to increase effective barrel OD.

    I came up with a way to add the new brake before shortening the barrel- so the last steps will be to bore out the end of the barrel and screw in an end baffle - never violating the min length rules.

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    The simplest way to legally shorten a barrel is to just take it off ........Shorten, add extension and reinstall. If you are really worried, take receiver to a neighbor, than work on barrel. When finished pick up receiver and assemble. That removes any chance of constructive possession (having a short barrel AND a receiver in your possession at the same time with the INTENT to assemble an unregistered (non Tax Paid NFA WeaponShort Barreled Shotgun/Rifle.......) Short barrels are fine as long as you don't have a long gun receiver to put them on.......Or an approved ATF Form 1 (200.00 tax, fingerprints , photo, local laws allowing, and Local Chief Law Enforcement Officer signoff).

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    If the barrel dia. is large enough you could back-bore it, slot the vents, and install a screw-in muzzle plug w/exit hole.

    This brake would be almost invisible.

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    You can legally own a rifle with a barrel less than 16", provided you live in a state that allows short barreled rifles.

    All it takes is to fill out an ATF form 1, get the local sherrif to sign it, then send it in with the $200 tax, fingerprint cards and photos.

    I would go with welding or soldering on the brake, something wider than the barrel is more effective than merely porting it.

    Ranb

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    I guess I'm behind the times. I always knew it was illegal to have a shotgun too short, but I didn't know it applied to rifles. Hell, isn't a shortened rifle just a pistol? What about stuff like Thompson Contenders, which you can get chambered in all kinds of rifle calibers?

    Is this sawing off rifle barrels a relatively new legal issue?

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    To be safe,i would have your work done by a gunsmith,as one has to have a FFL lic. to alter any firearms. As per reference in barrel lenght,i always measured from the tip of the muzzle to the reciever,then i knew i was safe. As BATF laws states A rifle barrel no less than 16" and a shotgun barrel 18". Both rifle and shotguns overall lenght can be no less than 26" in total lenght. vano

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    no you do not need a FFL to alter a firearm... you can work on your own firearms without a FFL.
    You, as an individual american, can go build a gun from barstock and the ATF wouldn't care.

    abarnsley, there are times when ATF declares that "parts alone" is intention to complete. There have been numerous cases along those lines with the black rifles. You can own an auto sear, or M16 disconnector or bolt carrier- all legally. BUT if you own them AND an AR15, you are in hot water. Not true of all firearms, but the AR has been a big target. Probably due to the millions of DIAS sold back in the day and the many ways to missassemble a semi and end up with a MG.


    Yes I can file the papers and pay the tax and wait and legally shorten to 14" or whatever but I just want a rifle, not a NFA-registered rifle. Been there, and the paperwork was killer. You are required to file a form14 I think every time you transport the rifle. I believe now it has been relaxed to file when you transport across state lines. This rifle would see at least 2 trips across state lines every week. Lord forbid I forgot the paperwork or needed to make en extra stop... not worth the hastle for me.


    A shortened rifle is not just a pistol.

    A rifle with the barrel trimmed <16" is a short barrel rifle - NFA registration, transfer/creation tax
    Rifle with butt trimmed total length <26" is 'any other weapon'. Again NFA & tax.

    Rifle cut down barrel & short stock = not sure if it stays 'any other weapon' or becomes 'destructive device' at that point.


    Works for pistols too, like a 18" barrel on a 1911 is NFA+tax. But on a pistol you can add a barrel and stock at the same time and make a rifle - legally. BUT you can't shorten a rifle into a pistol.


    Contenders are pistols, I believe, and most of the barrels are 10-15.5". Pretty sure there is a note in their literature to always use the buttstocks with rifle barrels 16"+ and never with the shorter barrels.


    If you buy a new, bare receiver, you must declare on the first transfer and logbooks if it is a pistol or rifle receiver. If it's a rifle receiver, you can't later "make" it into a pistol, regardles of what parts you put on it.


    Just like once a firearm is a machine gun, you can't "unmake" it. I went around and around with ATF for a while on this one- I was issued a M14 with the selector brazed in semi-auto. Their stand is that is was a MG regardless of any subsequent alterations. Manufacturer paperwork upgraded it to 'MG' and there it sat, impossible to downgrade.


    I know this isn't a super mainstream question, but ATF has a zillion subcategories for what happens when. Based on their prior "parts = intent" convictions, I wasn't in a hurry to dive in blindly. I think I've got my answer now, based on prior examples.

    Of course as a machinist, even "permanent attachment" is an issue. What's permanent ? I've got CNC mills, tig welders & bandsaws. Nothing is really all that permanent. I could weld a brake on today, and pop it in the lathe and machine out the weld tomorrow...

    Oh IANAL but hope to not be prosecuted by one either.

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    So to clarify, I am wondering what special I need to do or not do during the 45 minutes that the barrel is under 16 inches and not attached to the receiver....

    clearly not do = attach to receiver
    clearly do = lengthen > 16"

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    I would recommend that you AVOID type of welding,brazing or even high temperature silver soldering on the end of your gun barrel. High temperatures can do funny things to the metallurcy of your rifle barrel!

    One bad thing about overheating the metal of your barrel is that it will cause your completed rifle w/compensator to "walk" its groups as the barrel heats up during a shooting session.

    Back in the late 1970's when Parker-Hale came out with their repro of the 1858 Enfield Naval Rifle they made the mistake of brazing the bayonet lug on to the barrel. On many guns, this literally ruined those barrels for any type of serious target shooting. So even gun manufacturers can "botch" things occasionally!

    The RIGHT way to attach a compensator to your barrel is to thread it on, and then "lock" the compensator "in place" with a set screw. Use plenty of "High Temperature Loc-Tite." With the exception of Loc Tite, this was the way the Cutts Compesators were attached to the end of the barrels of the M1921 & M1928 Thompson SMG's.
    Those engineers at Colt knew how to do it right!

    Another pitfall to avoid is to make sure that you attach the compensator on STREIGHT! If it is "off centered" even just a little bit, it might throw the accuracy of your rifle off. This is especially true IF the bullet emerging from the barrel contacts one side or the other of the compensator.

    Last but not least, keep in mind that your rifle will sound a lot LOUDER when it is fired with a compensator attached to the end of the barrel. This is because of the re-directed shock/sound wave of the bullet as it passes thru the compensator. Get a good pair of hearing protectors!

    GOOD LUCK with your project! Keep us informed!

  18. #18
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    Welding , silver brazing and the pin and weld are the only acceptable ways of permently attaching any an extension on a short barrel to make it 16". Threading and "locktighting" are not accepted by feds. I know this is not good for a barrel but the feds want it this way so that's what you must do. Of course you can do what you want. If it was me I wouldn't want a short barrel as it is louder and the bullets are slower. M4's don't shoot as far as A2.
    Damonfg if you take your barrel off and shorten it and then thread and weld, silver braze or pin and weld your attachment then you should be alright. Cut your barrel and then leave it laaying next to your reciver and then have a BATFE raid then you could be in trouble.
    What you need to do is cut the crown square with the bore and the threads conctric with the bore.

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    As a FFL I follow the rules, here is a copy of A (There may be more) letter:

    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
    Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
    Washington, D.C. 20226

    JUN 18 1998 F:FPD:FTB:RAT
    3311


    Dear Mr. :

    This refers to your letter of March 31, 1998, in which you ask
    about permanently attaching a muzzle device to various firearms.

    A muzzle device, such as a muzzle brake or BARREL EXTENSION, which
    is attached to a barrel by means of welding or high temperature
    silver solder having a melting point of at least 1,100 degrees
    Fahrenheit, is considered to be part of the barrel for purposes of
    measurement. A seam weld extending at least one-half the
    circumference of the barrel or four equidistant tack welds around
    the circumference of the barrel are adequate for this purpose.

    A firearm having a muzzle brake, cap, or barrel extension
    permanently attached by those same methods to cover the threads on
    a barrel, would not be considered to have a threaded muzzle.
    Please note, however, that any muzzle device or barrel extension
    which functions as a flash suppressor or grenade launcher would
    still constitute one of the qualifying features of a semiautomatic
    assault weapon as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C. section
    921(a)(30(B). Industrial adhesive products are not an acceptable
    method for permanently attaching a muzzle device.

    - 2 -

    Mr.

    We trust that the foregoing has been responsive to your inquiry.
    If you have further questions concerning this matter, please
    contact us.


    Sincerely yours,

    [signed]

    Edward M. Owen, Jr.
    Chief, Firearms Technology Branch


    The assault weapon part has thankfully expired....
    Not the best for accuracy but short barrels are not 1000 yd guns anyway.......Blind pinning is acceptable BUT THE PINS MUST STILL BE WELDED/1,100F Silver soldered.......
    In regards to metallurgy, Think how many guns are held together by welding/brazing, TC Contenders,
    Fine European Shotguns, Spot welds on HK rifles. Every Remington 700 bolt handle is brazed on.....Common sense and testing as required. Each case should be examined individually........Most American factory high power bolt rifle front sight ramps are brazed on..........This is not a job for someone that has an oxyacetlyene torch and no training/experience

  20. #20
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    Rifled bbl >16", stock [any length] = Rifle
    rifled bbl <16", stock = SBR
    rifled bbl any length, no stock = pistol

    smoothbore >18", stock = shotgun
    smoothbore <18", stock = SBS
    smoothbore <18", no stock [never had one, never can] = AOW [e.g. Serbu Super Shorty]

    26" OAL also applies, under 26" OAL would make it SBR or SBS. Most repeaters aren't affected by this as the receiver plus minimum bbl length usually give you >26".

    If you're in the process of working on it, I wouldn't worry myself for the short time it's less than 16". AR's tend to be singled out for the fact that they're modular and don't require tools to change configurations. Say one lower with a 20" upper assy and a 7" upper assy, you may have problems. Just a 7" bbl and no upper receiver. Hard to say that would be constructive possession. Not that the ATF couldn't make it up...

    Don't have much experience with soldering/brazing. But wouldn't you be heating the brake until the braze melts? The bbl shouldn't heat up too much. Bbl's get brazed soldered all the time. As for accuracy, I can't see a setscrew pressing on the bbl being much better.

    I say go for it [img]smile.gif[/img]


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