I get a lot of questions from customers about the “new” ATF ruling regarding pistol-grip-only (PGO) firearms with 14″ barrels that aren’t considered NFA items.
Well, first off, let me say, it’s not a new ruling. It’s the same position that ATF has always taken regarding PGO firearms that fire a fixed shotgun shell that have NEVER had a buttstock attached to them—they’re NOT shotguns! They’re simply firearms. As such, they don’t necessarily need to have 18″+ barrels on them to remain out of the purview of the NFA.
You see, the very definition of a “shotgun” requires that it be “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder…” Without a buttstock ever having been fitted to the PGO firearms in question, they can’t be fired from the shoulder and are therefore not shotguns. Hence, with a 14″ barrel, they can’t be considered short-barreled shotguns, as they aren’t shotguns to begin with. Read the full definition of a shotgun here.
PGO firearms that remain longer than 26″ in overall length also can’t be defined as AOWs. That’s because the term “any other weapon” (AOW) means “any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person…” And ATF maintains that to be concealed, the firearm needs to be shorter than 26″. Read the full definition of an AOW here.
More on the subject is available in these two letters to Len Savage—the guy who will be making a lot of these non-NFA firearms in the coming months and years:
- July 20, 2010 letter from NFA Tech Branch to Mr. Len Savage
- October 27, 2010 letter from NFA Tech Branch to Mr. Len Savage
- Page 1 of third letter
- Page 2 of third letter
All that said, I’m not a firearms attorney. And I’m not offering legal advice here. I am simply relating things the way I understand them. Be sure you check with all the appropriate agencies.
Now, a pistol-grip-only Mossberg 500 with a 14″ barrel and the Raptor Grip installed measures 26.5″ in overall length (measured parallel to the bore).