The Best Way to Legally Build a Short-Barreled Rifle
300 Blackout was originally designed to function as a short-barreled rifle, or SBR. That’s the way the military wanted it, that’s how the cartridge was designed to function, and let’s face it, that’s what you really want to build deep down. The same holds true for new weapon platforms chambered in 5.56. Plenty of them are SBRs. You want one? We’re going to explain how to do it! There are two ways to go about the process – one involves official stuff, like paperwork, tax stamps, and actually owning an SBR as defined by the ATF. One involves not building at all. Confused? Keep reading.
Building an AR-15 SBR – it Starts with a Pistol!
Once a weapon is registered as an SBR, it must always remain so. But, lucky for you, any other weapon can be converted to an SBR and all you need to do is have your legal ducks in a row. That is, to legally build an SBR, you’ll need to do the following:
1. Submit ATF Form 1
ATF Form 1 is the official “SBR paperwork” which will allow you to legally own one. You’ll need this paperwork before you can actually, physically own your SBR. In order to submit ATF Form 1, you’ll need the signature of your local Chief Law Enforcement Officer.
In addition to submitting your ATF Form 1, you’ll need to pay the ATF a cool $200. Submitting ATF Form 1 and hearing back from said agency can take months, so it’s best that you do this before you even start building your SBR.
Keep this in mind, though: When you submit ATF Form 1, you’ll need to fill out all sorts of details, like barrel length, cartridge, and serial number. It’s best to have all that stuff concerning your SBR build figured out before you submit the paperwork.
2. Build Your AR-15 SBR as an AR Pistol
Here’s the fun part: You can legally “own an SBR” before you even get the paperwork. It just can’t have a real buttstock on it. You can build your entire SBR, be it chambered in .308, 5.56, .223, or 300 Blackout, and all you’ve gotta do is avoid slapping a buttstock on the thing until you’ve got the tax stamp from your recently submitted ATF Form 1.
In lieu of that fancy buttstock, you can instead use a pistol brace. The ATF even recently stated that you can shoulder a pistol brace just like a buttstock – no worries about posting those photos of you at the range, plinking with that AR pistol tucked against your chest.
3. When You Get Your Tax Stamp, Get the Buttstock!
It really is that easy. Once you’ve got your ATF Form 1 approved and your tax stamp has been received, you can now legally own and operate your AR-15 as an SBR. That means you can affix the buttstock of your choice with that sub-16” barrel.
About that Second Way…
Now, we mentioned there are two ways of building an SBR and the second method avoids all the paperwork and simply keeping your AR-15 legally defined as a pistol. The market has gotten quite good as offering up some very nifty, functional (and comfortable) pistol braces that emulate the functionality of a buttstock. If you’re not interested in the paperwork and officially owning an SBR, you could get away with a pistol brace. Now you know!
Contributed by James Walton “I Am Liberty Show“