NFA Rules on Pistols, PDWs, AOWs, and SBRs

The National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted in 1934 in an attempt to control weapons popular in Prohibition era gang warfare. After eighty years its implementation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has become rather strange, and its controls on items like short barrels and suppressors seem archaic.

The following infographic shows a variant of the XCR with a 10″ barrel. This is a piston-operated autoloading firearm that can chamber a variety of light rifle cartridges. Under federal law the top three configurations are considered pistols, and no special controls apply to their construction, sale, or possession. (State laws can vary widely on these matters, so those are not addressed here.)

Something weird happens in the fourth configuration: Adding a second vertical grip turns it into an NFA-regulated firearm called an “Any Other Weapon” (AOW), and would be a felony if the receiver were not already registered as an AOW.

To comply with the NFA I had to use a different receiver registered as a Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR) for the last picture.

Infographic: NFA Rules on Pistols, AOW, and SBR

7 thoughts on “NFA Rules on Pistols, PDWs, AOWs, and SBRs

  1. Pingback: AR-15 “Pistol” PDW | EmptorMaven

  2. federalist

    AR-15 Pistol and Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR) lowersRight: You can equip a pistol with a buffer tube or “arm brace” and it will legally remain a pistol, even though in a pinch those can serve stock-like functions. See next post for more on this.

  3. HSR47

    Also dropping by via Says Uncle…

    Your quoted fees for Title II registration are incorrect, at least as far as AOW goes. A form 1 (what you would file to make an AOW, SBR, SBS, DD, Firearm muffler, etc.) is $200 regardless of what you’re registering. The only difference in fees is when you’re transferring (form 4) something that has already been registered, in which case AOW is $5, and everything else is $200.

  4. browcs

    Very simple and easy to understand infographic; bravo and thank you for posting this. As an XCR-L pistol owner, I recently found after some scouring the internet, a folding stock adapter. My next purchases will be a SIGTAC arm brace and buffer tube specifically made for the brace like the Phase 5 HEX-2 (when it comes out) or KAK Super SIG SB-15 tubes, until I get my SBR paperwork approved.


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