AR-15: Pistol? Rifle?

AR-15: Pistol? Rifle?

This is a discussion on AR-15: Pistol? Rifle? within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Other than the barrel length, I don't see any difference between the rifle and the pistol. So my question is, what is it about the ...

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Thread: AR-15: Pistol? Rifle?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array RedSafety's Avatar
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    AR-15: Pistol? Rifle?

    Other than the barrel length, I don't see any difference between the rifle and the pistol. So my question is, what is it about the lower in an AR-15 that makes it a pistol rather than a rifle? And then, is the jig to finish an 80% lower pistol different than for the rifle?
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    Nothing about the lower makes it a pistol or rifle. A pistol lower should be:

    1) Bought and assembled for either a rifle or pistol upper. IIRC you can change the upper to a 16 inch barrel and back to a pistol length barreled upper, but a rifle should not be converted to an upper with a pistol length barrel. If that makes no sense to you, welcome to the rather large club.

    2) A pistol should have one of the "brace" type stocks.

    All AR lowers are all the same. The only different lower is the AR-10 version for .308 Winchester and other cartridges of that size. All AR lowers, except the 308 size, are machined exactly alike.
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    Distinguished Member Array RedSafety's Avatar
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    So it's the upper that determines if its a rifle or a pistol?
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedSafety View Post
    So it's the upper that determines if its a rifle or a pistol?
    Basically yes...however a pistol lower will never in it's lifetime have been "constructed" as a lower for a rifle. It must have been assembled initially (after casting or forging) as a pistol, and of course, it must have the brace style stock. Everything else is identical.

    I always just buy and assemble a new stripped lower when I need a pistol AR.

    And a quick example of where the problems lie. I just assembled an AR-10 (308 Winchester) lower for an 18 inch barreled rifle upper. If I put a .308 upper with a barrel less than 16 inches on it, I have created a short barreled rifle and it becomes a Class III weapon (SBR) and needs a tax stamp. If I originally had assembled it with a brace stock for a pistol application, I could swap an 18 inch barreled upper onto it and it would remain a pistol - albeit one with a very long barrel!

    The fact that none of this makes any sense is just another excellent example of the lunacy our federal government has become.
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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    The only difference between an AR rifle and pistol is the velocity of the bullet.
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LimaCharlie View Post
    The only difference between an AR rifle and pistol is the velocity of the bullet.
    Yup. And if you choose a caliber like 300 Blackout, you get performance that equals and in some cases exceeds the rifle (carbine) velocity from a whole 8.5 inches of barrel.
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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    My favorite AR is my Alexander Arms AR-15 rifle in .50 Beowulf.
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    VIP Member Array Havok's Avatar
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    there are a lot of differences in the laws, however, when it comes down to it, a pistol can not have a stock, or a vertical handgrip(unless over 26” OAL or something like that), and must never have been transferred as a rifle. If you buy just a lower it will be transferred as “other” and you can do what you want with it. If you buy a pistol, you can change that back and forth to a rifle as much as you want, but if it’s transferred as a pistol it has to stay a pistol. So no, there is really no difference in the firearm itself and how it functions, but there is a huge difference when it comes to the laws surrounding them.
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    VIP Member Array OldVet's Avatar
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a "pistol" lower cannot have a rifle stock. Yes/No?

    Other than that, only how the receiver is registered (pistol or rifle) is the difference. All this stuff can be confusing and primarily the reason I don't indulge in AR pistols/SBRs.
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    @OldVet Yes that is correct. You can put a rifle stock on it, but it must evermore remain a rifle and can never be made into a pistol again. A stripped lower, is, as Havok said, transferred as neither pistol nor rifle. You can make it either one.

    @Havok Brother...you said that so much better than I did!
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    VIP Member Array WrongRecroom's Avatar
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    In some states lowers have to be marked for pistol only or permited differently ( I think MI was at one point like this were you could put a AR pistol or bullpup on your pistol carry permit or something ) and I know CA is why there is so few legal AR pistols

    In terms of the lower the others are right nothing difference in a stripped lower from a pistol to rifle ..It is the upper and how the other stuff makes it something elese .... Ie does it is have a under 16inch barrel does it have a VFG etc
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    Distinguished Member Array RedSafety's Avatar
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    Clear as the Mississippi. Best to just stick to a 16" barrel and just call it a rifle.

    Interesting side issue though. If its set up as a pistol, can it be use in any pistol competitions?
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedSafety View Post
    Clear as the Mississippi. Best to just stick to a 16" barrel and just call it a rifle.

    Interesting side issue though. If its set up as a pistol, can it be use in any pistol competitions?
    I would doubt it. Pretty unfair.

    I'm still wondering what CA has to do with so few legal AR pistols?
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedSafety View Post
    Clear as the Mississippi. Best to just stick to a 16" barrel and just call it a rifle.

    Interesting side issue though. If its set up as a pistol, can it be use in any pistol competitions?
    Put a pistol brace and a 10.5" barrel on it with a fresh build and its a pistol.

    I use mine in rifle matches. No pistol matches that I know of.
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    VIP Member Array WrongRecroom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldChap View Post
    I would doubt it. Pretty unfair.

    I'm still wondering what CA has to do with so few legal AR pistols?
    There laws are different for OAL and pistol AWB verus rifle ... Ie harder esp now to make a legal AR pistol or any thing like that there like AK pistol etc ..Ie it has something to do with how guns are bought and recorded by the state
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