Three Rules for Staying Out of Prison When Building a Firearm at Home

There’s only one thing better than buying a new gun:  Making your own custom firearm at home.

Stick to Alex Kincaid’s “Three Rules for Staying Out of Prison” below, and you stand a good chance of not violating one of the many gun-control laws that can affect well-intentioned, law-abiding Americans.

What are the three rules?

  1. Be Selfish:  Build firearms for your personal use
  2. Know what you’re buying
  3. Know what you’re making

1.         Build for Your Personal Use

The ATF has published an opinion that “Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the Gun Control Act provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms.”

If you start helping other people finish their firearms and, especially, if you take money from them for doing so, you can wind up accused, prosecuted, and convicted of violating the federal Gun Control Act.

On top of it, if you purchase an 80% lower, and pay someone to finish it, the ATF has now said that the person finishing the lower into a firearm must have a federal firearms license to do so.

The safest route to ensure that you are not violating federal (and sometimes, state) law is to only build firearms for your own, personal use. If a friend or family member would like your guidance as they build their own rifle, instruct and assist them as they complete the task, rather than do it for them.

2.         Know What You’re Buying

Just because something is for sale, doesn’t mean it’s legal. Think about drugs or child porn. These items are easily found and bought, but they are not legal. The same goes for firearms parts that you might find on the internet. Some parts, by themselves, may be legal, but depending on how you install them, they may may a firearm illegal.

If you buy a foregrip, is it angled, vertical, or unknown? Our laws distinguish between these different parts, and you can easily violate the federal law known as the National Firearms Act by installing certain parts on an AR-style pistol and turning it into an “any other weapon” or “AOW.”

To make matters worse, if you lawfully purchase parts for your non-sporting rifle and install them in certain states, you may have turned a legal, non-sporting rifle into an illegal “assault weapon” under your state’s laws, just by adding cosmetic parts. Gun control laws don’t usually make much sense, and these “cosmetic feature” laws are an excellent example of how little sense gun control laws can make. Gun owners know that a flash suppressor, a foregrip, a collapsible stock, and other parts of a rifle don’t make it more deadly, but more states continue to pass “assault weapon” bans, which make adding these parts to a non-sporting rifle illegal.

So, know what you’re buying and whether the parts are legal in your state.

3.         Know What You’re Making

Do you know if the parts and pieces you will be assembling will create a pistol, a rifle, or short-barreled rifle (SBR)?

You need to know the rules before you start your build. Buying a lower receiver is like buying a blank slate. Technically, your lower receiver is your firearm, but before you add parts to it, it is generic firearm. If you create an SBR, you cannot go backwards and turn that same lower receiver into a pistol without processing additional paperwork.

If you create a firearm designed to shoot from your shoulder, you have usually created a rifle. If you create a firearm designed to shoot with one hand, you have usually built a pistol. You can easily turn a pistol into an AOW by adding a vertical foregrip, as stated above.  In some states, if you add certain cosmetic features, you may turn a legal rifle into an illegal “assault weapon.”

If you add a shoulder stock and a barrel that is under 16” in length, you are building an SBR, and you had better pay the $200 tax, put your name on the registry, notify your chief law enforcement officer, send in photographs and fingerprints, and wait 6-9 months to get your approved tax stamp before building this firearm.  If you don’t, you are violating federal law.

If you’re building an NFA firearm – make sure you download a free copy of Alex Kincaid’s Form 1 Guide.   This guide will walk you through filling out Form 1 with your gun trust name.

Please watch our YouTube channel to hear more about how to build a rifle and stay out of prison, watch Alex Kincaid build her Grendel 6.5mm rifle, and see a fabulous blooper reel. We also recommend a few detailed videos showing you how to insert small part into small part during your build. We like to shop at Brownell’s, where you can watch more how-to build videos on Brownell’s website.

To help you get started on your build journey, click here to check out Brownell’s build list for free. This build list will help you make sure you purchase the essential parts to a non-sporting rifle. It’s essentially a shopping list for your non-sporting rifle build. If you intend to build a firearm that will be subject to the National Firearms Act, be sure to contact us for a gun trust and also, download Alex Kincaid’s Form 1 Guide for free, which will walk you through the steps of using your gun trust to get your tax stamp for your new NFA firearm.

Feel free to post pictures of your build! We love to see what other good Americans are up to!  If you have questions, please call us for a free consultation.

We would love to meet with you and answer your questions.   Call us at 208-345-6308 to schedule your free consultation, where you can ask all your questions about Idaho gun trusts, Oregon gun trusts, and Idaho gun laws and Oregon gun laws and make an informed decision before you start a project.  We serve clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Star, Emmett, the Treasure Valley, the Magic Valley, Twin Falls, Mountain Home in Idaho, including Ada County, Canyon County, Gem County, Twin Falls County and elsewhere in Idaho.  We also service client in Portland, Lake Oswego, Gold Beach, Brookings, Port Orford, Medford, Oregon, and all over the Pacific Northwest!