Is it Legal to Make, Build or Manufacture a Gun?

I know, ever since my post about Chad Person and his underground bunker, you’ve all been itching to build a super sketchy shotgun out of steel conduit and twine, much like Chad did.

I remember seeing a “homemade” shotgun as a kid in one of the old Death Wish movies. One of Charles Bronson’s SHTF homeboys had one and they ran around blasting street thugs. I don’t remember which Death Wish movie it was, those movies were never a big hit with me. I like Bronson’s Death Hunt much better, much more survival-like – but I digress – when I read about Chad building one, Death Wish came to mind.

For those of you thinking about building one as a survival project, you’re inevitably going to wonder – is it even legal? Rushman suspected when he wrote in the comments section of my Chad Person post:

The homemade shotgun really? What good is a bunker if you got the ATF coming down on you for making illegal firearms on top of how stupid are you for putting a video about it.

Guess what – the ATF came. They came to one of his artwork exhibits and took the homemade shotgun. Read his blog post about the incident where he writes:

The officers also requested the current location and bills of lading of recently shipped work of a similar nature. I assume they plan to seize these works as well … As of this posting, I have not received any official complaint, cease & desist, nor notice of any kind from the BATFE …

I am an conceptual artist. My highly public and often controversial works have at time created both challenging and meaningful public discourse. This is the nature of my purpose …

Everything you can learn about me is here. It is in the combined effort of my labor and the illustration of my ideas. My works are my words, my passions, and my livelihood. Draw your own conclusions and pass this along if you refuse to believe in an America where questioning culture is a crime.

“Where questioning culture is a crime?”

Seriously? I don’t buy the “questioning culture is a crime” homemade shotgun link, but whatever. The question is – is it legal? Based on the ATF showing up to take his shotgun, that looks like a big fat – NO – it is NOT legal to make your own gun. But actually, there are exceptions.

For more detailed information, readers at his site posted links to lengthy ATF publications, but I just went to the FAQ section of the website where it states:

Q: Does the GCA prohibit anyone from making a handgun, shotgun or rifle?

With certain exceptions a firearm may be made by a non-licensee provided it is not for sale and the maker is not prohibited from possessing firearms. However, a person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting semi-automatic rifle or non-sporting shotgun from imported parts. In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and approval by ATF. An application to make a machine gun will not be approved unless documentation is submitted showing that the firearm is being made for a Federal or State agency.

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

Looks like it’s pretty clear – you need two things to make your own shotgun, a tax payment and ATF approval. I bet Chad had neither.

- Ranger Man

13 comments… add one

  • Spook45 November 23, 2010, 9:28 am

    This is the ONLY time in history that I have to say ATF got this one RIGHT! CHAD is either a lunatic or an idiot, or perhaps may fall into the catagory of BOTH?! I saw his earlier posts that seem almost childlike and stupid. This person is a threat to himself and the people around him(which is what his first posts were about). In times of crisis people are always faced with trying situations in which you may have to choose between You or someone else. My rule is that if means staying alive, it is ALWAYS the other guy, but to maliciously OUT your neighbors as targets is just low down and COMMON. The idea is that we are supposed to stick together and support each other in times of crisis. This is what America was built on and it is what has sustained our country for over 200 years. CHAD needsto get a clue………AS soon as he makes BAIL:)

  • GoneWithTheWind November 23, 2010, 12:07 pm

    I believe it is correct that you can build a black powder muzzle loader without any licensing or permissions. There is a limit on the bore size I think but probably recreating any antique rifle would meet the standard that they judge by. I am not suggesting that a muzzle loader is a good choice for a defensive situation merely elaborating on the issue of legality of home made firearms. In fact I think the limitations of this kind of gun is exactly why it qualifies for special treatment from the ATF.

  • BURTGUMMER November 23, 2010, 4:58 pm

    Let get this right. For once batfe raided the home of a of criminal and not just a gun owner. No they just asked a criminal if he would be so kind as too tell them where the guns are and it only took them about a year.
    But if you own too many guns (and too them one can be too many) or they dont like you (the fact that you have not broken any law does not come in to it) they raid your home and shoot any one in it (look it up they are know for it).
    Under federal law you can make a shotgun, rifle or handgun without a payment or approval but only for yourself. You can not sell it or give it away, you can not get let any one fire it or handly it.

    • Anonymous August 5, 2015, 10:48 pm

      This is what i have read.

  • No ME Preppy November 23, 2010, 10:24 pm

    It’s Death Wish 3. He used the Wildey .475handgun in it. Not to mention the LOZ rocket. The homemade shotgun was pretty neat.

  • NorthIdaho November 24, 2010, 8:38 am

    According to your quote of the ATF web site:

    “…In addition, the making of an NFA firearm requires a tax payment and approval by ATF.”

    So it seems it is only the NFA firearms which require tax and approval.

    Here’s the definition of an NFA firearm:

  • Spook45 November 24, 2010, 9:31 am

    If you go read US CODE posted on ATF website and the other gorverning rules and laws on this issue, what you will find is that it is legal to build your own gun. IT has to fit within the legal definitions and rules that manufacturers are bound to, and there are some other rulse sppecific to building your own. For instance, it is legal for you as an individual(barring an state or local ordicance) to order a kit or individual parts and go to the gun shop or mill out your self a lower reciever and assemble an AR15. IT must be of legal length OR it falls under NFA rules for an SBR(short barreled rifle) if it is an NFA weapon, it must have the tax stamp and approval from ATF. Then you have the 922(r) clause that limits the use of foreign made parts, so if you use a kit from a foreign made weapon, it must be 922(r) compliant(no more than ten parts made outside of the US; parts specified) What CHAD built was what we in the gun world refer too as a “zip gun” it is a piece of junk made from whatever you can find. This might be something you would in a BROWNFAN situation to stay alive, but in all reality its a bad idea if you still have a working govt and a working court system. You can do the research and build your own LEGAL gun and have a lot fun and a great learning experiance as well as building a nice gun for less than you can buy it for, but to what CHAD has done you are ASKING FOR TROUBLE. MERRY CHRISTMAS:)

  • Rusty November 24, 2010, 12:02 pm

    Ranger Man,

    You got it all wrong, making a shotgun is legal as long as you are not making it for resale. ( and it meets all the requirements not to be a NFA weapon, barrel length, overall length etc.) The fact that this guy appears to have been selling his shotguns is more the problem.

  • Dave November 24, 2010, 5:13 pm

    Hey, this is off-topic but I just wanted to show this to you since its pretty serious. I think sh*t is about to get bad!!! All that prep is really starting to make sense.

    Russia and China quits the dollar

  • Chefbear58 December 9, 2010, 12:17 am

    Spook45 has it right, that is DEFINATELY a “zip gun”, when I was a kid we ised a .22 “zip gun” for plinking. This is not a “weapon” that is for anyone outside of a complete desperation situation, they are unreliable and can even blow up in your hands (how much would that suck in a TEOTWAWKI situation?!), and are VERY inaccurate.
    On a side note, I never could figure out how that guy in the movie was able to shoot several times without protection for his hands…. that “barrel” would get REALLY hot after a couple shots!

    • lance June 19, 2015, 2:12 am

      im being called to court for making a zip gun,, a spud launcher pototo cannon,there calling it a zip gun im scared seriously calif sux

  • james July 19, 2015, 8:02 pm

    takeing a class one ar 15 to class 3 from atf stand point I become a manafackur of guns,
    if this is the case under atf laws I should be able to buld a machingun
    throw atf sees no need make me pay tax stamp every year as a dealer would
    but dose it not open the door to classfie a person a manfacker of guns
    when they just putting premade parts togather

    2ed part is about gun trust gun trust is not a person but a manafacker of guns,

    atf made very bad mistake they won cort case saying assult wepons that are milatery graded there for not coverd under the 2ed admement
    then by there own defenion there breaking the law we not alow to own milatery grade guns, there for they broke the 2ed admememt all togather,
    in there own words they broke the laws and in cort no less throw no one seen this
    atf wont alow us to own military grade guns they breaking the laws in there own words

    people has right to say a law is unjust and make it so where cant be enfoce

    also like point out atf is a enforment they don’t make laws cant chose what laws to enforce
    they allowing states to grow sell pot there direct link to stronger gun control laws in them states is to odd I must ask they traiding drugs for guns if so again they breaking the laws what pot have do with guns everything atf cant decied what laws enforce them choceing not enforce the drug laws makes them partners in the crime
    under the law would be very interesting to see some one take atf to cort on this

    the people also have the right to close any government breach that is a threat
    throw never done is a first time and we can close them down by force

    atf saying they wont alow us to own military grade guns breaks the laws
    there own words guns must be milltary grade to met the 2ed admemeent laws
    they put there foot in the door and I hope some one sees this and takes atf to cort
    be interesting to ack take the constation in cort and read it
    equal right being broken so is grand father cause

    as laws changing and new parts being built I sujest u keep a full accounting of every thing and dates u got them may keep u out troble I not lawyer have adhd
    but I see that atf is not stable now they want to break trust
    but when trust been grandfather in don’t they have use the old laws ?

  • Phantoms July 21, 2015, 10:34 am

    James, First, seriously you need to use spell check and use proper grammar if ever want anyone to take you seriously. You sound like an uneducated hick that doesn’t have a clue to what he is talking about. Do some research don’t just take “Bubba’s” word for it. Not everything on the internet is accurate, find GOOD sources.
    The ATF does in fact say you can make your own rifles, pistols and shotguns, provided of course you stay within their guidelines. For title 3 items, the tax stamp is for the item, ie; suppressor, short barreled rifle etc. and it is a one time fee unless you sell it, then the person buying it has to get a tax stamp of his/her own for that item.
    Oh and you must have the tax stamp BEFORE you build or buy a title 3 item. No one is allowed to build or possess the parts to build a Full auto machine gun, unless they are a properly licensed FFL dealer and it is being made for a law enforcement or military agency. There is no such thing as a “military grade” gun, there is however “mil-spec” firearms and all that is , is the firearm being made to certain specifications set by the military for what they want and it will not matter who makes it, the parts will all be the same and interchangeable with any other manufacturers parts for the same firearm.There are a lot of different manufacturers of AR 15s for example, not all of them build mil-spec AR 15s. Some are chambered in 5.56 and some are chambered for .223 – THESE ARE NOT THE SAME! Both will however fire the other’s ammunition. It is generally not safe to use 5.56 ammunition in a rifle chambered for .223 because the gas pressures are much higher in the 5.56 than the .223 and can be dangerous.

    So, do yourself a favor and do some research before you start writing stuff on a blog that you really know nothing about and make yourself look stupid. Also take a good English class and learn how to speak and write properly, it will help you a lot in life!
    I do not say there things to be a smart a** or be mean, just a little advice. Good luck!


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