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  /  Firearms   /  Is Building Your Own Gun Legal? Pretty much yes.

Is Building Your Own Gun Legal? Pretty much yes.

Gun control laws can often be quite confusing. For example, look at California. Read some of their confusing laws and you’ll begin to see that they are a literal maze of red tape. With gun control being so confusing some fine folks may not understand some of the finer points of both Federal and State law.  One such often misunderstood facet of guns is building your own. This leads us to the subject of today’s article. Is it legal to build your own gun?

We can answer this pretty quickly. Yep. At least Federally it’s legal to build to a gun without a license. Only one state has prohibited building supposed, ‘untraceable, firearms and that is New Jersey. Other states like California and Connecticut require you to serialize your firearm which does result in a de facto registration. That does suck, but for those of us living in more free states we can build guns for personal use as long as we obey the NFA. The NFA, of course, regulates machine guns, short barreled rifles, suppressors, etc. Also, the gun has to be detectable by metal detectors.

The ATF states this on their website:

No, a license is not required to make a firearm solely for personal use. However, a license is required to manufacture firearms for sale or distribution. The law prohibits a person from assembling a non–sporting semiautomatic rifle or shotgun from 10 or more imported parts, as well as firearms that cannot be detected by metal detectors or x–ray machines. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and advance approval by ATF.

[18 U.S.C. 922(o), (p) and (r); 26 U.S.C. 5822; 27 CFR 478.39, 479.62 and 479.105]

What Guns to Build

Okay so you can build a gun, but what gun should you build? The most common would be a AR 15 style rifle. That starts with an 80 percent lower, an 80 lower jig, a route or drill press, and a few other tools. You can build a 1911 from an 80% frame as well, and even a Glock.

The Glock is actually the easiest to build and can be done relatively easily with very few tools. Those are all basic builds that replicate some of the more common weapons on the market. What about something more interesting?

There is always the shotgun 80% receiver we wrote about a few months ago. That’s a slick and easy build.

Lot’s of other guns exist in 80 percent receiver status. This includes AK receivers, as well as Ruger 10/22 receivers. Beyond that, you can even build Sten guns, but you gotta be handy with a welder. The 80% world is likely more massive than you know. It’s also growing with more and more builders looking beyond the common 1911, Glock, and AR platforms.

Why Build Your Own Gun?

The best reason is because it’s fun. At least to me, it’s a fun project. The end result is worth it as well, but overall the journey is important. You’ll also learn about your firearm as well as firearms in general. You’ll learn and observe how they work and what makes them tick.

This 80% AR lower was built as a 9mm pistol with a CMMG RipBrace and a Stern Defense upper, buffer and magwell conversion. It uses both SIG P320 and M&P magazines. The suppressor is a GSL Scorpion and the sight is a Nikon P-Spur.

It’s a bit of an adventure overall and what’s better than getting a gun at the end of an adventure?

About the Author /

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. Today, Travis serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.


  • combat arms

    August 5, 2019

    Thanks for clearing this up. There is a lot of propaganda and disinformation about legal home made guns. Keep on building!

  • Steven

    October 5, 2019

    Police officers have to make life and death decisions in fractions of a second. They should always get the benefit of the doubt.

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