AR15.Com Archives
 License needed to build AR's for myself or friends? EDIT - CALLED ATF
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 9:09:16 AM EST
Please link sticky if this is covered as I looked around and couldn't find it. Do I need any type of license to put together an AR from a stripped receiver and stripped upper? What about taking possession of a legally transfered stripped lower from a friend and putting together their rifle from parts? I do not plan to make any money in any of these deals, just want to be able to save myself and friends money by building them myself. If I do need an FFL license, which one fits the bill and how much money and hassle is it to get said license? Thanks.
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RPM509  [Member]
9/14/2011 9:10:46 AM EST
Building for yourself ONLY is OK without a license.
If you build for anyone else you need an FFL.

http://www.atf.gov for specifics on a manufacturing license. Yea, they're that anal about it.
gunner01  [Life Member]
9/14/2011 9:18:08 AM EST
If you are going to use a stripped lower you just need to purchase it through a FFL. If you are going to build your own or start with a 80% lower you are legal to build one yourself. You can even sell one you have build yourself after a year. However you can't make a habit of selling the ones you build or you could be guilty of manufacturing without a license!
RotaryJihad  [Member]
9/14/2011 9:24:02 AM EST
To be clear, it should be OK if your friends buy the receiver then bring it to your shop and hang out and you put it together. If you buy the receiver, put it together then resell it too soon or do it a lot then you might be pushing the legal limits.
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 9:27:42 AM EST
All stripped lowers were bought stripped and sent to my FFL and were registered there under my name. So, I can buy parts and build the entire rifle without any licenses and can do the same for friends and family? Up until now, I have been only putting together lower receivers and slapping complete uppers on them. Now I want to build the complete gun. Let's say that I really enjoy this and would like to start a home business where I would build rifles for clients but they would have to purchase the stripped lower and then bring it to me, then I would charge a fee for ordering the parts they wanted and building their rifle; what then? Again, thanks.
RPM509  [Member]
9/14/2011 9:32:20 AM EST
Unless you plan on going into a profit based business, the licenses are not worth spending the money on getting and renewing generally (your call), but if you build for anyone besides yourself, technically you'll need a license.
What will the ATF do to you for building one for one buddy? Maybe not a thing, but they could...again, your call.

Read what is available on the ATF's website concerning manufacturing/building and possibly consult with an actual attorney before you slide down a real slippery and potentially dangerous slope.
toren25333  [Member]
9/14/2011 10:19:49 AM EST
Doesn't becoming an FFL make it legal for you to own all the fun stuff? Full-Auto, Silencers, etc? If so how much does a FFL license cost?
Aimless  [Site Staff]
9/14/2011 10:24:39 AM EST

Originally Posted By bobweaver:
All stripped lowers were bought stripped and sent to my FFL and were registered there under my name. So, I can buy parts and build the entire rifle without any licenses and can do the same for friends and family? Up until now, I have been only putting together lower receivers and slapping complete uppers on them. Now I want to build the complete gun. Let's say that I really enjoy this and would like to start a home business where I would build rifles for clients but they would have to purchase the stripped lower and then bring it to me, then I would charge a fee for ordering the parts they wanted and building their rifle; what then? Again, thanks.

No. You need a license from the batf for what you want to do, it doesn't matter who buys the lower.
RPM509  [Member]
9/14/2011 10:55:20 AM EST
Originally Posted By toren25333:
Doesn't becoming an FFL make it legal for you to own all the fun stuff? Full-Auto, Silencers, etc? If so how much does a FFL license cost?


There are different license and 'tax stamps' you would purchase for various items and what you intend to do. A single license does NOT cover it all.
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 11:25:49 AM EST
Originally Posted By Aimless:

Originally Posted By bobweaver:
All stripped lowers were bought stripped and sent to my FFL and were registered there under my name. So, I can buy parts and build the entire rifle without any licenses and can do the same for friends and family? Up until now, I have been only putting together lower receivers and slapping complete uppers on them. Now I want to build the complete gun. Let's say that I really enjoy this and would like to start a home business where I would build rifles for clients but they would have to purchase the stripped lower and then bring it to me, then I would charge a fee for ordering the parts they wanted and building their rifle; what then? Again, thanks.

No. You need a license from the batf for what you want to do, it doesn't matter who buys the lower.



First official penguin reply in one of my own threads. I'm honored

Thanks for the replies. So in order to take possession of someone else's lower and build a rifle on said lower, I would need which license from the ATF. Is that the FFL 1? I've been surfing the ATF site and to be honest, it is not too informative.
FredMan  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 12:26:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
All stripped lowers were bought stripped and sent to my FFL and were registered there under my name. So, I can buy parts and build the entire rifle without any licenses and can do the same for friends and family? Up until now, I have been only putting together lower receivers and slapping complete uppers on them. Now I want to build the complete gun. Let's say that I really enjoy this and would like to start a home business where I would build rifles for clients but they would have to purchase the stripped lower and then bring it to me, then I would charge a fee for ordering the parts they wanted and building their rifle; what then? Again, thanks.


First off, the guns aren't "registered" in any sense of the word. They're on the FFL's books and 4473 as having been transferred to you, but that doesn't make them "registered".

Second, building guns for others, even with no profit motive, can get you into hot water vis a vis manufacturing without a license. A better method would be to:
1. Have your friends buy the stripped lower from the FFL.
2. Invite your friends over and have THEM assemble the weapon with your guidance. That way it's all nice and legal.

What you doing now could easily be construed as:
1. Straw purchase (i..e you're buying lowers for another, not yourself. Eligibility to own a forearm has NOTHING to do with straw purchases)
2. Manufacturing without a license.
altopwescap  [Member]
9/14/2011 12:31:59 PM EST
If I understand correctly, if an FFL purchases a lower reciever it is not a possession of the firearm until it is sold and the federal paperwork filed. If the reciever is then sold to a customer and they have you assemble it for them, I'm not so sure it could be considered manufacturing as long as it is assembled after the sale. At that point the onus of "selling" a manufactured weapon is on the registered owner.

I could be wrong, I've built a few myself. I just can't bring myself to sell any off them LOL.
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 12:41:44 PM EST
I called around to a few TX field offices and am disappointed at their lack of knowledge concerning this matter, and was quite shocked at their ignorance. I simply asked if I needed to have any type of license in order to put together a complete rifle from a legally registered/transferred stripped lower receiver and if I could also put together other individuals' rifles from same said type receivers. I told them I was in no way making any income or trade value from the building of these rifles. On two occasions I was asked what a lower receiver was and even had to give a long explanation of what stripped meant. One agent told me that I needed to have a FFL license to purchase the lower. I was told by two different agents that I could not build an assault rifle per federal regulations. I asked what was considered an assault rifle they said that it was illegal to build a gun with high capacity magazines, fore grips, collapsible stocks and flash hiders. I finally spoke with a gentleman that knew his shit at a Houston field office. He said that I needed no license in order to put together my own rifles or if I had a friend or family member bring me their lower and stayed with me while completing the rifle, but couldn't tell me whether or not I was safe if I kept the person's rifle over night and they left and returned to get it at a later date.

Basically, if I bought stripped lower receivers and built them into partial or complete guns with the intention of selling them as a substantial part of my yearly income I most definitely needed a license, and if I planned on building even a few rifles in order to sell them, I was encouraged to get a license. Which exact license though? Couldn't tell me

What a mess the ATF is.

RandyStacyE  [Member]
9/14/2011 12:54:55 PM EST
I just checked my local state laws and there is no law prohibiting the trade, sale or purchase of a pistol or rifle from person to person unless I have 'reason to believe' that the person is a felon, going to harm someone or declared a mental case (I forget the proper term), etc... Check your local laws.

There is no law against building your own AR-15 (not in my state). There is no law against trading, giving or selling an AR-15 (not in my state). There is no law against trading, giving or selling an AR-15 that I assembled (not in my state).

If your intent is to make and sell them them (like a side business) then you might want to look into it properly. It would be like some guy opening up a back door gun shop ... holy shit the sky would wall No forms to fill out and no background check. Background checks are not for the purpose of making anyone safe ... they are done so that gun shops can protect themselves from losing their license. They have no way of knowing whether you are a felon without running a check.

Check your local laws and you will likely find that there is no law prohibiting you from selling an AR-15 whether you assembled it or not.

Think about it like this ... there is nothing illegal about growing strawberries right? Nothing illegal about giving strawberries to your buddy right? If you want to start a business selling strawberries then that is a different story. Personally I think that's BS, but so is our government.
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 1:06:41 PM EST
I buy, sell and trade firearms face to face ALL the time here locally; not worried about that at all. I've sold a few rifles to individuals that I built myself, although I was in possession of those rifles for at least a year each before selling. I'm more concerned with building rifles for friends and as long as I'm not running a business or making money I think I'm fine.
NoMoAMMO  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 1:17:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
I finally spoke with a gentleman that knew his shit at a Houston field office. He said that I needed no license in order to put together my own rifles or if I had a friend or family member bring me their lower and stayed with me while completing the rifle, but couldn't tell me whether or not I was safe if I kept the person's rifle over night and they left and returned to get it at a later date.




This guy used to be a member here, he's a good dude and is like the rest of us and tries to work around the BS.

hotdog250j  [Member]
9/14/2011 1:57:44 PM EST
don't ask, don't tell
warpig8654  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 2:05:53 PM EST
If you are simply assembling a lower for someone else that the someone else purchased then you are ok. However, I don't see why that someone else couldn't assemble their own lower with the instructions posted on this site or elsewhere.
rookie421  [Member]
9/14/2011 2:17:44 PM EST
this might help. Here is a link to the BATF's application for a FFL. It lists all of the different types of licenses. From the type provided on the application, I would say you would want a manufacturing license.

BATF FFL Application


thebomber  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 2:21:53 PM EST
Originally Posted By warpig8654:
If you are simply assembling a lower for someone else that the someone else purchased then you are ok. However, I don't see why that someone else couldn't assemble their own lower with the instructions posted on this site or elsewhere.


I am an 07 FFL and 02 SOT. You are entering shaky ground. If you are putting together lowers and adding uppers you are in fact manufacturing from the perspective of FET. Once you build 50 you owe FET back to rifle number 1.

There are several ways the ATF could construe this.

1. Manufacturing without a license and selling them has nothing to do with it.
2. Gunsmithing which doesn't require an FFL per say but the type of alterations you are talking about is considered manufacturing there for you need an 07 FFL. You will also need insurance and may violate zoning and subdivision regulations.


My advise, don't try and take this to big. If you're helping out buddies from time to time you're good. If this becomes friends of friends and becomes a regular activity do it legally.
thebomber  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 2:35:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By RPM509:
Originally Posted By toren25333:
Doesn't becoming an FFL make it legal for you to own all the fun stuff? Full-Auto, Silencers, etc? If so how much does a FFL license cost?


There are different license and 'tax stamps' you would purchase for various items and what you intend to do. A single license does NOT cover it all.


An FFL cost $300 for 3 years or $100/yr. And SOT cost $500/yr if your business is under $500,000 per yr and $1,000 if over $500k. So at a minimum it's costing you $600/yr. Now with that you can only by MGs with a love letter from a PD or other qualifying Agency. And with that you can only keep them as long as you have your ffl. As far as buying silencers most manufacturers won't sell direct to you unless you have an actual business. IOW they will want a copy of your business license and or state resellers license. So now you need a business license meaning more money out.
coldair  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 2:41:29 PM EST
do you own a dog?
Aimless  [Site Staff]
9/14/2011 2:42:32 PM EST
Bob I really don't think this is a good idea, sure the odds of trouble are low, but it's bad trouble if you get the wrong asshole agent on the day he found out his wife is fucking the UPS guy.
RandyStacyE  [Member]
9/14/2011 2:56:57 PM EST
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
I buy, sell and trade firearms face to face ALL the time here locally; not worried about that at all. I've sold a few rifles to individuals that I built myself, although I was in possession of those rifles for at least a year each before selling. I'm more concerned with building rifles for friends and as long as I'm not running a business or making money I think I'm fine.


I agree 100% I wouldn't hesitate to build one for a friend. I'd personally prefer that he purchased the lower himself though. No one gives a damn about who tightened the barrel nut or who indexed the flash hider It's just all about tax & control. If we were talking about engines then people would be griping about running a garage without a license, insurance, tax and all that stuff too.

I'll be building a Mega MA-TEN for one of my buddies here very soon. I plan on having him bring me the lower.
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 3:07:36 PM EST
I absolutely have no intention of starting any kind of business or even building more than one here or there for friends, I was really just wondering what the laws were on this subject and wondered what everyone else on the build it yourself forum was doing when building for themselves. I just started what I hope to become a very sucessful business in an arena very far away from anything firearm related and barely have time to start on another build at this time and if it goes like I'm hoping, my toys might not come out of the safe for some time. Just curious that's all. Thanks for the replies.
Herknav90  [Member]
9/14/2011 3:11:00 PM EST
To me, lots of numbers, lots of talk, and lots of if this then that. Contact the ATF and get the real answer, or contact a corporate lawyer and find out the truth.

In God we trust, all others we evaluate.
coldair  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 3:13:33 PM EST
what you are doing is illegal without the proper licenses. right now reading your posts you are trying to circumvent the laws and with the current attitude of the BATF you are looking for a good screwing by the BATF
alphawingnut  [Member]
9/14/2011 3:16:36 PM EST
My understanding this that to even get an FFL, you have to have a storefront. Even if its out of your garage. then your getting into zoning laws, starting a small business, etc. too much hassle for what you want to do IMHO
bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 3:49:41 PM EST
Originally Posted By coldair:
what you are doing is illegal without the proper licenses. right now reading your posts you are trying to circumvent the laws and with the current attitude of the BATF you are looking for a good screwing by the BATF


I'm not doing or trying anything. This was hypothetical. I wasn't sure what the exact laws were and so that's why I asked and gave different scenarios to get answers to my different questions. I recently bought a couple stripped lowers and overheard a guy at my FFL tell his buddy that he needed a FFL license if he wanted to build AR's even if it was for himself. As always, I wanted to be sure I wasn't breaking any laws and that's why I asked the hive. I'm not circumventing any laws and never have and the BATF would have no reason to give me any kind of screwing. I own a bunch of AR's and have put together a few over the years; a couple of which I have sold or traded legally to individuals along with other types of firearms. I built up most of my collection this way and there was nothing illegal about it.
thebomber  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 3:53:22 PM EST
Originally Posted By Herknav90:
To me, lots of numbers, lots of talk, and lots of if this then that. Contact the ATF and get the real answer, or contact a corporate lawyer and find out the truth.

In God we trust, all others we evaluate.



Dude I was thru all that and gave the op the benefit of a lot of research to set up my business

bobweaver  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 4:05:10 PM EST
Originally Posted By warpig8654:
If you are simply assembling a lower for someone else that the someone else purchased then you are ok. However, I don't see why that someone else couldn't assemble their own lower with the instructions posted on this site or elsewhere.


Absolutely! I wouldn't even consider buying a lower for someone else's build, or even if we went back to a FFL to register it in their name. It took me a few years before I tried to build one; for some reason it was a little intimidating. I've had a buddy or two ask if I'd build theirs for them while they watch so as to learn the process, nothing more. Little different than building a dog house. A poorly built dog house means a cold and wet dog, but a poorly built rifle could have dramatic consequences.
thebomber  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 4:49:35 PM EST
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
Originally Posted By warpig8654:
If you are simply assembling a lower for someone else that the someone else purchased then you are ok. However, I don't see why that someone else couldn't assemble their own lower with the instructions posted on this site or elsewhere.


Absolutely! I wouldn't even consider buying a lower for someone else's build, or even if we went back to a FFL to register it in their name. It took me a few years before I tried to build one; for some reason it was a little intimidating. I've had a buddy or two ask if I'd build theirs for them while they watch so as to learn the process, nothing more. Little different than building a dog house. A poorly built dog house means a cold and wet dog, but a poorly built rifle could have dramatic consequences.


No offense brother but you should just let this fiasco die. You've been given a good reading by folks inside and out of the business. You have only replied to those who support what you want to hear. Then you come back with talk of registration. Unless you're in a very few states registration doesn't exist and that was pointed out to you earlier. As stated earlier, I'm a relatively small manufacturer. IM me and we can trade phone numbers and candidly talk.

What you're doing as described in your early posts comes across as skirting the law. If you're helping a buddy or two assemble their lower you're gtg but that's not what you originally described.
thebomber  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 4:53:18 PM EST
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
All stripped lowers were bought stripped and sent to my FFL and were registered there under my name. So, I can buy parts and build the entire rifle without any licenses and can do the same for friends and family? Up until now, I have been only putting together lower receivers and slapping complete uppers on them. Now I want to build the complete gun. Let's say that I really enjoy this and would like to start a home business where I would build rifles for clients but they would have to purchase the stripped lower and then bring it to me, then I would charge a fee for ordering the parts they wanted and building their rifle; what then? Again, thanks.


See my above post. You talk of a business. What is described above is manufacturing or gunsmithing that requires an 07 FFL.

thebomber  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 4:56:05 PM EST
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
I called around to a few TX field offices and am disappointed at their lack of knowledge concerning this matter, and was quite shocked at their ignorance. I simply asked if I needed to have any type of license in order to put together a complete rifle from a legally registered/transferred stripped lower receiver and if I could also put together other individuals' rifles from same said type receivers. I told them I was in no way making any income or trade value from the building of these rifles. On two occasions I was asked what a lower receiver was and even had to give a long explanation of what stripped meant. One agent told me that I needed to have a FFL license to purchase the lower. I was told by two different agents that I could not build an assault rifle per federal regulations. I asked what was considered an assault rifle they said that it was illegal to build a gun with high capacity magazines, fore grips, collapsible stocks and flash hiders. I finally spoke with a gentleman that knew his shit at a Houston field office. He said that I needed no license in order to put together my own rifles or if I had a friend or family member bring me their lower and stayed with me while completing the rifle, but couldn't tell me whether or not I was safe if I kept the person's rifle over night and they left and returned to get it at a later date.

Basically, if I bought stripped lower receivers and built them into partial or complete guns with the intention of selling them as a substantial part of my yearly income I most definitely needed a license, and if I planned on building even a few rifles in order to sell them, I was encouraged to get a license. Which exact license though? Couldn't tell me

What a mess the ATF is.



You didn't contact the right branch of the ATF is why you didn't get the answer you were looking for. Contact the licensing branch in Atlanta

akethan  [Life Member]
9/14/2011 4:58:39 PM EST
Congratulations, you invited the man into your life.
iNeXile556  [Team Member]
9/14/2011 5:02:36 PM EST

Originally Posted By RandyStacyE:
... If we were talking about engines then people would be griping about running a garage without a license, insurance, tax and all that stuff too.


Except you won't get a 10 prison sentence for each engine you build.
Aimless  [Site Staff]
9/14/2011 5:05:15 PM EST
Bob, I know thebomber, he's a sharp guy and wouldn't steer you wrong.
SYSTEM  
9/14/2011 5:05:34 PM EST
not a tech thread, question answered etc
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