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By Rick Vasquez

“80% Receivers” Myths and Truths


In the world of firearms there are many unique firearms and many techniques in which a firearm can be made. A modern trend in the manufacturing process of firearms is to use what is called an “80% firearm receiver,” which is a partially complete casting or metal form that resembles a firearm. Recent opinions and rulings from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have created controversy on whether or not it is legal to make firearms from these items. In the following article, we will dispel the myths and elaborate on the truths of the laws and regulations pertaining to these so-called 80% firearms receivers.

What is an 80% receiver?

For ATF regulatory purposes there is no such thing as an 80% firearm receiver. It is either an item that is not classified as a firearm or an item that has reached a stage of manufacturing in which ATF can classify it as a firearm. It is ATF’s responsibility, based on statutes and previous classifications, to subjectively determine if an item can be classified as a firearm. Additionally, all machining processes are not required to be completed to be classified as a firearm. When a laymen thinks of a firearm they think of a weapon that can be loaded with a cartridge mounted in the hand or shoulder and fired. Also, it can be a weapon completely dis-assembled and the weapon is a bare receiver with all of the correct mounting holes to assemble a complete firearm. On the other hand a partially complete casting can neither be loaded to shoot nor assembled with components to fire a shot. So what is it called if it’s incapable of function as a firearm as defined by conventional standards?

Historically the basis of where this “80% receiver” concept originated is twofold. First, manufacturers are always trying to find ways to save money in the manufacturing processes. If a manufacturer could purchase a partially complete firearm casting or forging from a metals distributor they could cut cost by reducing their manufacturing time and personnel. Second,...


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