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Legalities on building your own AK

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  • Legalities on building your own AK

    Here is a document I created as part of the instructions for our receivers. Thought you might find it interesting.

    It is in pdf format, so you will need Adobe Acrobat reader to see it.

    As with all of my advice, it is free, and carries a full double-your-money-back guarantee.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by TR Graham; 04-16-2007, 06:15 PM.

  • #2
    Here is the text of the pdf for those of you who have trouble with the attachments.

    Building Your Own AK—Legal Requirements

    Federal law clearly allows you to build your own firearm for personal use. State and local laws may restrict this. This document deals only with Federal regulations.

    There are three bodies of Federal law that you must comply with to legally build a semi-automatic AK rifle.

    1. The National Firearms Act This law was passed in the 1930’s, and deals with the restrictions on machineguns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and suppressors (silencers). There are two parts you need to worry about. First, don’t build a machinegun. There are two definitions of a machinegun in the regulations. The first is a firearm that will discharge more than one shot with one pull of the trigger. So don’t install the full-auto fire control from your parts set in the rifle. If your rifle “double taps” because you had a problem with your semi-auto trigger set, fix it right away.

    A second definition of a machinegun is the receiver for a machinegun. In the context of the AK receiver, you have created a machinegun receiver if you drill the third axis hole for the auto-sear, or if you machine the bolt rail to accept an autosear. We do not sell any of our receivers with either of these machining operations done. So if you don’t do it, you won’t have to worry about this.

    The second part of the National Firearms Act you must watch is the prohibition on building a rifle with a barrel less than 16”, or a firearm with an overall length less than 26”. The standard barrel on an AK is 16 ¼” long, so this is not a problem. However, some special versions of the AK have shorter barrels, including the Krinkov with an 8½” barrel, and the AMD-65 with an approximately 12” barrel. If you build a rifle with one of these barrels, you must permanently weld onto the barrel an extension that brings the overall length to 16” or more. This is measured from the end of the barrel or extension to the face of the bolt. If the end of the extension is not even, like a slant muzzle brake, measure from the shortest portion of the extension. If your rifle has a folding stock, the correct measurement to ensure that it meets the 26” minimum length is to measure with the buttstock extended!

    2. The Crime Bill on 1994 (27 C.F.R. section 478.40, formerly section 178.40 )
    Note: This act ceased to be in effect on September 13th, 2004. It does not apply to any firearms assembled now, and it also does not apply to any firearms previously assembled. I left this part in only for information purposes.
    This bill was passed in 1994, and the relevant part for our discussion prohibits the assembly of a semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine (of any capacity) and having more than one of the following features.
    a. a folding or telescoping stock
    b. a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
    c. a bayonet mount
    d. a flash suppressor or a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor
    e. a grenade launcher

    There are a few exceptions to this definition in the statute, but very few currently assembled AKs meet any of the exceptions.

    In just about any version you contemplate, you will be assembling a rifle with a pistol grip. Note for this purpose of this statute a thumbhole stock is still considered to have a pistol grip. So with the pistol grip you will have used up your allowable “assault rifle feature.” You must then make sure you don’t have a bayonet mount, a folding stock, a threaded muzzle, or a grenade launcher.

    If your kit has a folding stock, you must pin or weld it so it cannot fold. If your kit has a bayonet lug, remove it by grinding so that a bayonet cannot be locked into place.

    Most AK parts sets have a threaded muzzle, so you must deal with this to build a legal rifle. One way is to simply grind the threads from the end of the barrel.

    If you want to retain the threads, you must permanently install a device over the threads. The ATF has approved three methods of doing this.
    1. Welding
    2. Silver solder with a melting point over 1100 degrees F
    3. Blind pinning. To do this, you must pin the muzzle device in place with a pin that is driven down below the surface of the metal, and the hole for the pin filled in with weld.

    The test for permanently installed includes the idea that the attachment must not be easily broken loose.

    Also, remember that the definition here is actually addressed at prohibiting a flash hider, so a flash hider no matter how it is attached meets this definition. Fortunately, very few AK muzzle brakes are classified as flash hiders.

    Finally, since the next law that I will be discussing requires a certain number of US parts, in most cases the device you fasten over the threads will need to be made in the United States.
    Note again—The section above has ceased to exist due to the 10-year “Sunset” provision in the bill. Make sure your US Congressman and US Senators know that you oppose any re-enactment of this bill.

    3. 27 C.F.R. section 478.38, formerly section 178.38 Also known as “Section 922r”

    This section is also referred to as the “10 parts rule.” Put as simply as possible, it states that if a semi-automatic rifle that is not eligible for importation under the Gun Control Act of 1968 is assembled using imported parts, no more than 10 of the parts in the assembly can be imported. This needs some explanation for interpretation, so I will try to make this a little clearer.

    A. Not eligible for importation This concept is a part of the 1968 Gun Control Act, and it prohibits the importation of any firearm that is not “particularly suitable or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” The history of this definition is too long and complicated to go into here, but the current definition prohibits the importation of any AK-type weapon that has a “military appearance,” the relevant part here includes any pistol grip type stock (thumbhole stocks are OK under this definition). So if you are building a rifle with a pistol grip, you must comply with this section.
    In 1998, the requirements for importation were expanded. Under this study, it was concluded that any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a magazine holding more than 10 rounds was also not a “sporting rifle” under this stature, and therefore not importable. If you open the mag well of a 10-round AK to accept hi-capacity magazines, you also must comply with this stature.

    B. Imported Parts In this case, parts are not necessarily parts. Only 20 parts are listed, and four of these do not exist in a finished AK. So of the 20 listed parts, only 14-16 exist in a fully assembled AK. Here are the 20 parts as listed in the statute:
    1. Frames, receiver castings, receiver castings, forgings, or stampings
    2. Barrels
    3. Barrel extensions
    4. Mounting blocks (trunnions)
    5. Muzzle attachments
    6. Bolts
    7. Bolt carriers
    8. Operating rods
    9. Gas pistons
    10. Trigger housings
    11. Triggers
    12. Hammers
    13. Sears
    14. Disconnectors
    15. Buttstocks
    16. Pistol grips
    17. Forearms, handguards
    18. Magazine bodies
    20. Floorplates
    No other parts of the rifle matter for purposes of this statute. A stamped receiver AK with a muzzle attachment of any kind (including any sleeve or nut, whether welded or threaded on) has 16 of these parts. It would not have number 3, 8, 10, or 13. A milled receiver rifle with a muzzle attachment does not have a barrel trunnion (item 4) so it has only 15 parts. If they do not have any type of muzzle attachment, the stamped rifle has 15 parts, the milled rifle 14.

    If you put a barrel extension on your AMD-65, then it has part 3, and your total parts count will be 17, likewise a fake suppressor on your Krinkov.

    The result of all of this is the need to have 5-6 US parts on most AKs we assemble today. Since this is a stamped receiver, and you will want to fasten something over your threaded muzzle, the bottom line is that you will usually need 6 US-made parts on your rifle. Any combination is legal, as long as you do not have more than 10 imported parts in your rifle out of the parts listed above.

    Also note that the magazine has three parts. This is why some rifles use US-made floorplates or followers to meet the US-parts requirements. But always remember that the rule specifies the maximum number of imported parts, not the number of US parts. The US parts requirement is calculated by subtracting 10 from the total number of listed parts in the assembled rifle.

    Please do not let the complexity of the requirements scare you. It is possible to build a perfectly legal semi-automatic AK rifle. A little care and caution is all you need to comply with the rules.
    If you have questions about these regulations, please contact the BATF for clarifications.