Bad Idea

Ry Jones reports that the Sportsman Guide is selling a Ruger Charger Kit that converts it into a carbine.  The problem?  It’s 10 inch barrel makes it a Short-Barreled-Rifle under the National Firearms Act, which means if you don’t fill out your ATF form to register it and pay for the tax stamp, you’re a felon.  If Sportsman’s Guide is going to sell these, they need to warn gun owners about the legal requirements.  Otherwise someone is going to go to prison for a very long time, figuring if they were selling the kit, it must be legal right?

UPDATE: Whoops… looks like what this kit does is convert a 10/22 into a pistol.  Actually, I think you can legally do this.  Let me check into it.

UPDATE: Yeah, I’m pretty sure this falls under United States v. Thompson Center Arms.  This kit should be legal.

UPDATE: Wrong again.  It seems ATF asserts that you can convert a handgun into a rifle, as long as you add a barrel longer than 16″, but you can’t convert a rifle into a handgun.  That would be making an NFA item, and you need the registration and tax stamp to do so.

Do the Brady Campaign folks want to come on here and try to tell me these are reasonable gun laws?

UPDATE: See here, here and here.  Given the case of US v. Thompson Center Arms, I don’t think ATF is likely to prevail in court here, but I wouldn’t risk it.  You can be arrested and prosecuted.

UPDATE: Looks like they updated it with a warning.  Good.

16 Responses to “Bad Idea”

  1. SayUncle says:

    Nope. Once a receiver is a rifle, it is always a rifle according to ATF. I believe the court once ruled otherwise regarding thompson contenders but it’s not like ATF listens to the courts.

  2. Matt says:

    Thompson Center doesn’t cover this. Thompson Center dealt with a firearm that was already a pistol being converted to a rifle. So the Court ruled correctly. But the reverse is not true. As someone else commented elsewhere, “Once a rifle, always a rifle.”.

    Seems you can convert a short barreled pistol into a long barreled rifle but not a long barreled rifle into a short barrel pistol. One is legal despite the BATFEs views to the contrary, the other will land you 10 years in prison.

    Cheaper than Dirt is sitting in the middle of a very dangerous minefield here. A disclaimer would be highly appropriate.

  3. Dave Hardy says:

    I’d agree it’s a minefield. As I remember, haven’t read it in years, Thompson Center dealt with whether having rifle and pistol kits constituted a short barreled rifle — since you could put on both buttstock and pistol barrel. I wouldn’t count on that covering having a receiver that began as a rifle attached to a 10″ barrel. *Probably* Thompson would cover it, but on a felony risk I’d like a lot more than “probably.”

    (Definition of victory in a felony case: you’re out tens of thousands of dollars and months of worry. Defeat is that, and a lot worse.)

  4. Cybrludite says:

    So, what happens if I buy a cherry Volquartsen receiver to build myself a custom tack-driver version of a Ruger Charger using this kit?

  5. ParatrooperJJ says:

    I would not want to risk it. ATF would definitly make an arrest.

  6. Tom Gunn says:

    Can someone explain how the ATF could consider this a SBR

    And this is not?

    That makes no sense what-so-ever but then . . .

    Even a liberal judge would have to scratch his head looking at a ruger manufactured 10-22 rifle and a Ruger manufactured 10-22 charger swapping the receivers and determining the difference.

    tom gunn

  7. Matt says:


    Technically, there is no difference between a Charger receiver and a 10/22 rifle receiver. Same part. It’s the law that creates the head scratching when you apply the serial number and label one as “pistol” and the other as “rifle”. From a logical technical perspective, this is nuts. But because the people that wrote the law don’t care about silly things like logic, we have the quagmire that exists which goes all the way back to the 1930s.

    But the BATF doesn’t care. Put the wrong part on a gun and they’ll send you to prison for it. The law and regulations are rife with such stupid examples. Such as the ban on the use of imported parts in guns. One $2 piece of US steel is legal but the same part from Russia will get you 5-10 years and permanent loss of your 2nd Amendment rights.

    It doesn’t have to make sense and even a liberal judge after the head scratching and shaking, unless he was supremely confident in his ability to set new precedent, would side with the law and send you to prison.

  8. Tom Gunn says:


    If the law is an ass what does that make the folks who administer it.

    I thought most of what we are dicussing here was administrative rule making. IANAL

  9. TheGunGeek says:

    So, if you stick a long barrel on a Charger, it makes it into a 10/22 rifle. What happens if you stick the original barrel back on it? Have you now done an illegal conversion of a rifle into a pistol?

  10. Sebastian says:

    As best as I know:

    You can stick a long barrel on a charger, and it’s still a pistol. What makes a rifle a rifle is that it’s designed to be fired from the shoulder, meaning it has a stock. What Thompson says, is basically if you add a stock to a charger or other like pistol, it’s fine as long as the barrel is greater than 16″. Thompson appears to allow you to also retain possession of the shorter barrel and pistol stock, even though, for all intents and purposes, you could potentially use the shorter barrel to make an SBR. Basically, as long as the combination of parts could be used to make two lawful firearms, they are fine even though they could also be used to make a third firearm that’s unlawful. Now, that doesn’t apply if you have a stock that fits on the pistol, but fits on nothing else. Then you have a combination of parts for making a short barreled rifle, and you’re a felon.

    However, ATF claims that only applies to guns who’s marked receivers started out as pistols. If it started out as a rifle, if you make a pistol out of it, that’s creating a short barreled rifle, and requires the NFA dance.

    Hope that clears things up ;)

  11. Tom Gunn says:

    Last question:

    Is there a max length for a pistol and barrel?

    I know that there is a minimum length for a rifle barrel and overall length for the arm.

    I’m guessing that some 10-22 receivers and barrel combos mounted on a charger stock will meet the rifle minimums but obviously fail the fired from the shoulder requirement for definition as a rifle, is it then just a legal long barrel pistol?

    IANAL But I thought at one time the law had to be clear so as not to ensnare one over a misunderstanding.

  12. Sebastian says:

    Federal definition of a pistol, IIRC, is that it’s designed to be fired by a single hand. There’s no such thing federally as a long barreled pistol, but if you put a foregrip on a pistol, then it becomes an AOW, and is subject to the NFA dance.

  13. Matt says:

    Same applies for a shoulder stock made for the pistol. Put that stock onto a regular pistol and you have an NFA short barrel rifle if the barrel of the pistol is less than 16 inches.

    If you mount a regular 10/22 receiver in a Charger stock, you better make sure that the barrel is 16″ or longer and the overall length of the weapon is 26″. Fail in either of those areas and you have a short barrel rifle.

    The law itself is actually pretty clear on this. Where it gets muddy are the details over the regulations written to govern them. At least the Thompson case did one thing and it did give a body blow to the whole concept of “constructive possession” provided you could demonstrate other legal, benign uses of the parts. The BATF interpreted (and still does) the law to mean if you had the parts that could be potentially be assembled into a machine gun, SBR, AOW, etc, then you had done so in spirit and thus were guilty in body.

    The minefield is dangerous because there are NO WRITTEN REGULATIONS that the ATF is required to follow in making technical determinations. It is all on a whim and their word is taken as gospel. Even if you’re Eugene Stoner and designed the AR-15, they would still convict you for a technical reason since they obviously know more about your gun than you do.

  14. Tom Gunn says:

    My standard Rugerâ„¢ 10-22 has an 18″ barrel. It is 24″ to the rear of the receiver. It is 28″ to the end of the pistol grip beginning of the ‘comb’.

    I understand Rugersâ„¢ came standard with 18″, 20″, and 22″ barrels. The 22″ barrel models sold surprisingly enough exclusively by WalMart. Based on the pics of the charger and the after market pistol stock they would appear to meet the law. The bipod from Rugerâ„¢ would make for some interesting varmiting.

    For Sebatian: AOW Any other weapon if memory serves is a $5 fee though I haven’t read the regs in a while. Here’s a pic of the charger:
    If you click the pic you will see the bipod attached.
    Is that distinctive forend a foregrip, what about with the bipod?
    Here’s the ‘Wiki” page read variations for barrel lenghts:

    For Matt you are right the law seems clear it is the rule making that carries the weight of law and jail time that bother me. The atf is no wallflower when it comes to rule making. They even make rules they override a few month later.


  15. Cybrludite says:

    Ah, constructive possession. The theory that if you have a shotgun & a hacksaw, you have an unregistered SBS. (And gods help you if you’ve got an empty 2 liter bottle in the trash and a .22 rifle in the closet…)

  16. Kevin says:

    OK, now you guys have me wondering.
    I have two contender receivers. One I bought face to face – not from a dealer, it was a .223 rifle with two shoulder stocks and a spare 18″ .22LR barrel.
    The other Contender I purchased from an FFL, and it is my “pistol frame” and I have the typical collection of barrels and grips. I was always under the impression that as long as I had a shoulder stock on a receiver, I had to have a long barrel attached, and all was good. If I sold all the long barrels, I had to sell the shoulder stocks too, or risk felony possession.

    If what I am reading here is true, I can never screw up and put a pistol grip and 14″ barrel on the Receiver that started life as a rifle.

    For that matter, my Encore .50 back powder carbine is in the same boat, I can’t convert it into a pistol, since it was sold as a rifle, my only muzzle loader with a 4473. Is it now and forever mated to the long barrels? Or does the TC exemption mean that I can buy a Pistol grip and a pistol barrel for the Encore?



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