Short AR Laws
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Short AR Laws


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Old 02-07-2012, 03:38 PM   #1
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Default Short AR Laws

Sorry if this isn't necessarily the right section, but I need some help on figuring out the length of the AR I want to build before I order the upper.

Simply, I want to build the shortest AR I can, legally. (Yes, I fully understand all the repercussions that come with a shorter barrel regarding aim and velocity, not looking to defend why I chose to build this, just need the help.)

So, Wisconsin state law states:

"(b) "Short-barreled rifle" means a rifle having one or more barrels having a length of less than 16 inches measured from closed breech or bolt face to muzzle or a rifle having an overall length of less than 26 inches. "

So my question is, I've read that if you have a 14" barrel with a flash hider or muzzle break you are then technically just over 16". Also, if I put on a 11" upper with a muzzle break, would that make the rifle over 26", making it legal? I can't find any info on the over all length of the upper.

Any help would be great, thanks guys.
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:47 PM   #2
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You can buy a 14.5" upper but have to have the muzzle device be at least 1.5" and it then needs to be pinned and welded This makes it just over 16" total length and legal. An 11" barrel is a short barrel rifle regardless of overall length. The 26" is for the overall gun which means you need at least the 14.5" barrel with pinned, welded muzzle device and a rifle stock to make it over 26".
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:48 PM   #3
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As far as I know the barrel length is key. If you have a 14" barrel you must have at least a 2" flash hider permanently attached (pinned and welded) then comes the overall length law even if your barrel is at least 16" you still have to meet the overall length. That's how I understand it.
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:51 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick responses guys, this seems pretty cut and dry, 16" upper or 14.5" with pinned and welded break. Looks like it's an 16" upper or nothing for me.

Just out of curiosity, what's to stop me from getting an 11" upper and slapping it on my lower. If I never take it to the range, or anywhere that might get me in trouble, is there any fitting issues I should be worried about?
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:59 PM   #5
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Him- this is covered not only under state law, but under Federal law- the 1934 Gun Control Act. In order for it NOT to be a Short Barreled Rifle, it must have (1) a barrel that is at least 16 inches long, AND (2) and overall lenght of at least 26 inches.

As has been said, that is length of assembled rifle in firing configuration, not just the upper. And if you are relying on a muzzle brake, flash hider etc etc to meet barrel length, it must be permanently attached, and not removable.

Way the ATF measures length of barrel on anything other than a revolver-
1. Cock weapon so that firing pin is not protruding into chamber
2. With action closed/ in battery, insert a dowel that is near bore diameter from the muzzle until it rests agaisnt the bolt/ face of action.
3. Mark dowel at the muzzle, withdraw, meaure.

By their method, the chamber length is part of the barrel length. (Revolvers are measured to the face of the forcing cone, BTW)

EDIT: What would get you in trouble is that by putting a pistol length upper on a stocked lower, you just committed a Federal felony punished by confinement in a Federal prison for 10 years (no probation, no parole) and a fine of $10,000. This is enforced by the same people that shot Randy Weaver's wife, and brought you the Branch Davidian debacle- The BATFE. HAVING both in your possession has been held to have shown intent to manufacture a SBR. REALLY bad idea.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:00 PM   #6
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I'm not sure anyone is going to be willing to give advice about breaking very strict laws over the Internet on a public forum. I'm not sure but I do believe that would be a felony and potential to lose all gun rights. You can legally build a short barrel rifle by filling out some paperwork and paying a tax stamp of $200 I believe. I really don't know too much about SBR but someone here will be able to help with a legal SBR.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:13 PM   #7
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Fair enough guys, thanks again for all your help appreciate it. And no, I have no plans of breaking federal laws, just a simple inquiry.
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:50 PM   #8
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I built a M4 with a 14.5 inch barrel and permanently attached a AAC 51 tooth blackout on for a friend to the legal 16 inch limit NFA calls for but this is Tennessee I don't know about the laws in other states
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