When is an AOW not an AOW

Apparently, when you convert it to a legal sporting firearm in a very specific order.  Essentially, if you bought a Mossberg 500 with a 10 inch barrel and a pistol grip on ATF form 4 and registered it as an AOW (because that’s what you’d have to do) you can legally convert it to a standard sporting firearm following these steps:

  2. Remove the pistol grip
  3. Install the standard barrel
  4. Install the shoulder stock

The reason you remove the AOW barrel first is that if you accidentally forget to do that and put the shoulder stock on while you’ve got the 10 inch barrel on the gun then you’ve unintentionally created an unregistered short barreled shotgun.  That’s why the steps are laid out exactly as above.

I can think of a couple reasons why you’d want to convert your AOW to a sporting shotgun, however the real purpose of this post is to illustrate the byzantine and ridiculous nature of the ATF’s rules and regulations governing NFA weapons.  We desperately need reform of NFA laws, as the current laws are such that an owner of a T/C Encore imperils their livelihood every time they change it from a pistol to a rifle.


  1. Beretta makes a carbine kit for their Neos pistol that comes with a stock and a longer barrel you can swap out. I can see how easy it would be for a casual gun owner unaware of NFA rules to install the stock without the barrel and get themselves into a load of trouble. I find it irritating and frustrating that in order to be a gun owner and collector I practically need to have a minor in law.

    No joke I had a friend that is a member of the state police call me to ask about procedure to legally obtain a full auto weapon for his barracks. Apparently he and the other state police officers were debating whether they could and how they could. Some of them were were unaware of the fact that it is legal to own full auto weapons in MD. When the laws are so contrived the people we pay to enforce the laws don’t even know they exist then something is wrong.

  2. Well,we now have a lot more supposedly conservative congress , maybe we will have a chance to over turn some of the idiotic laws made by knee jerk lawmakers that came before them ,some day in the not to distant future after they are not so busy with emergencies like taxes and Obamacare.
    Well I can dream of a free America can’t I …

  3. What part of “Shall not be infringed” is unclear? I think any gun law that applies to honest American citizens should be repealed.

    I can understand laws against criminal use of guns and possession by criminals and somewhat the laws against ex-cons owning weapons, altho once their debt to society has been paid I’m not so sure if even they should be limited or not.

    But someone who does not violate the law should be able to buy, own, make, whatever they want to have. Hell if you want a howitzer and fire it in a safe manner why should some pencil pusher in Washington be able to say you cant? Really, why?

    And I still can’t figure out why I need a permit to exercise my Right to carry a gun. Anyone?
    Are they planning to issue free speech or religion permits too? How about having a permit to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure?
    Makes just as much sense.

  4. +1 on the various pistol-to-carbine kits where the barrel and shoulder-stock are not one-peice.

    Of course for even more confusion and stupidity, is you can buy a Browning Hi-Power, and if you want to attach a shoulder stock to it with a standard barrel you need a $200 permission slip.

    But if they Hi-Power happens to be made 50+ years ago, and the shoulder-stock is also original, you have yourself a Kosher gun.


    Hey does anybody know if NFA applies to Pre-1900 guns? Can I convert and old Mauser or Mosin Nagant, or Krag to a pistol without the government permission slip, given that it isn’t a gun in the first place?

    Gun laws are made of Durrrr.

    1. “Can I convert and old Mauser or Mosin Nagant, or Krag to a pistol without the government permission slip, given that it isn’t a gun in the first place?”

      Yes, but only if you post the video to YouTube before you go to the hospital…

    2. Since the alteration of a gun into an NFA configuration is considered “making” (or, if you are a licensed FFL/SOT manufacturer, “manufacturing”) a “firearm”, a pre-1896 gun (“antique”) that is altered into an NFA weapon is no longer considered to have been manufactured before 1898 — the pre-1898 gun legally became your “stock material” with which you made a “brand new” NFA “firearm”.

      That’s along the same lines of, once you make it into an NFA “firearm”, YOU are the “maker” (or “manufacturer”), not the original company. That’s also why you have to mark any NFA “firearm” you make with your info (NFA “firearms” are one of TWO cases where a gun that is “made” – as opposed to “manufacturered” — has to be serialized and marked as the regs require for FFL manufacturers to do.)

      If the pre-1898 gun was altered (or originally made) in what would now be classified as an NFA “firearm”, and that occurred pre-1898, then it is still a NON-NFA “antique”. The work was done during the period that qualified the gun as “antique”, so doing that work doesn’t alter its “antique” status.

      Likewise, guns that are modern manufacture, but are classified as “antiques” (the most common example — muzzleloaders), can be configured as what would be an NFA “firearm” if it was done to an off the shelf Title I firearm. Since these “antiques” are classified by the design features of their operating and feeding system rather than age, sawing the barrel off doesn’t change that, and the retain their status as “antiques”.

      Before you rush out and build a suppressor for your muzzle loader, ATFE considers “silencers” that CAN be removed from a non-firearm without destorying them to be “silencers” that COULD fit a firearm, and thus NFA-regulated. The airgun and paintball guys jumped through hoops and hoops to finally get some suppressors classified by ATF as NOT being “silencers”, so you need to get NFA Tech Branch to sign off on any proposed “muzzleloader silencers” BEFORE you “make” one — OR, you had better fill out the paperwork, pay the $200, wait for it to come back “approved”, build it, send it to Tech Branch and ask for classification as being a non-NFA item, and requesting a tax refund (IN THAT ORDER!). (If you’re a licensed NFA manufacturer, you can “manufacture” one, and send it to ATFE for classification, since FFL/SOTs don’t have to pay the $200 per firearm making and registration tax — its covered under their FFL/SOT fees and taxes.)

  5. The ATF still maintains that you can convert a pistol into a rifle configuration (NEOS or T/C for instance) but that you cannot convert the rifle back into a pistol, as that would be defined as “making” a firearm under the terms of the NFA. It’s bogus, but ask them and that’s what they’ll tell you.

    1. They can maintain that, but the Supreme Court says they’re wrong.

      They like to pretend that that case was only specific to ONE model of gun from ONE company, and ONE time.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: