Building Your Own Firearms

posted Thursday, August 14th 2014 at 1:00 PM by

80% AR15 Lower Receiver

A few folks have asked me about DIY firearms, like this beauty here. I'll share what I know, what it boils down to is that an individual can make their own firearms provided they are not made with the intent to sell and they are made in accordance with all other local, state, and federal laws. One first reminder, this information is only intended to provide further reading and external sources. Nothing here is legal advice.

BATFE & Laws on Building for Personal Use

Can an individual make their own firearms?

Yes. When I say "make" I'm talking about making something from an 80% lower, or 0% source. Making in this sense is converting something from a raw source into what the BATFE defines as a firearm. For example, this includes bending an 80% AK47 receiver flat and making it into a completed firearm. It does not include assembling an AR15 lower receiver and parts kit. Many folks confuse terms when they say things like "I built an AR15" when they're talking only about assembling a lower receiver and a lower parts kit. There is a clear legal distinction between making something, and assembling parts.

Now that we're clear on what making actually means, lets get into the details. An individual can make a firearm provided it is for their own use and does not violate any other laws. For example, if a person is a convicted felon and unable to legally possess a firearm, they are also forbidden from making a firearm. Making your own firearms does not provide relief from other laws and regulations, such as H.R. 4332 a.k.a. The Hughes Amendment. H.R. 4332 prohibits the manufacture of fully automatic firearms, and it would be illegal for someone to build their own firearm that had such capabilities.

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. https://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/firearms-technology.html#commercial-parts-assembly

Additionally, 18 U.S. Code § 921 contains the definitions cited above by the BATFE regarding individuals, manufacturing, engaged in the business, et. al.

BATFE Transfer & 4473 Requirement for Individuals

Does a firearm need to ship to an FFL/4473 if its from an individual for the purposes of repair, restoration, engraving, customization, etc?

What about shipping for repair work? Good question. For things like engraving, parkerizing, anodizing, refinishing, etc, an individual does not need to be an FFL holder nor does the individual need to complete a 4473 to ship the firearm. The firearm can ship directly to the repairing entity, and back to the individual. No transfer is required. Keep in mind that the repairing entity needs to be licensed to conduct the repairs in accordance with 27 CFR 478.11.

Is an ATF Form 4473 required when a gunsmith returns a repaired firearm? No, provided the firearm is returned to the person from whom it was received. https://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/gunsmiths.html#atf-f-4473

Again, 27 CFR 478.124 is the law that supports the information above.

BATFE Engraving Requirements for Individuals

What engraving requirements are there for an individual?

None. The BATFE only suggests the individual engrave the firearm with identifiable information (serial number & model number) in case the firearm is stolen, but there is no requirement to do so.

Individuals manufacturing sporting-type firearms for their own use need not hold Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs). However, we suggest that the manufacturer at least identify the firearm with a serial number as a safeguard in the event that the firearm is lost or stolen. Also, the firearm should be identified as required in 27 CFR 478.92 if it is sold or otherwise lawfully transferred in the future. http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/firearms-technology.html#commercial-parts-assembly

The above information from the BATFE is what they suggest, but there is no requirement. Stating the firearms should be identified as described in 27 CFR 478.92 is only a recommendation, not a requirement. 27 CFR 478.92 only contains laws that apply to licensed manufacturers, not individuals.

One last reminder, none of this is intended to be legal advice. These are only links to further reading and information.

Share This:



View (1) Comments Post a Comment
  • Replying to Adam Konieska on Building Your Own Firearms

  • tony lapatka
    Tony LaPatka
    Saturday, April 16th 2016 at 8:37 PM

    I might be an automaton but never a robot!!!
    Enjoyed talking to you on Friday. Thanks for the info. I'll be reading the FAQs at the BATFE website for the next several days.

    • Replying to Tony LaPatka