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Legality of putting airsoft gun into a real gun conversion kit?? Answered

Hey Instructables, I have a question about the legality of a project that I'm designing, as I don't want to make something illegal.

As those who follow me on this site know, I play a lot of airsoft. I've recently been trying to design a new kind of airsoft rifle, and I would like a bullpup design (the magazine well is located behind the trigger to make a shorter gun).

I was looking around on the net and I found this http://www.mountsplus.com/AR-15_Accessories/AR-15_Scope_Rings/MZ-1022.html  
It's a bullpup conversion for your standard Ruger 10/.22 rifle. i checked the legality of this conversion for the state I live in, California, and found that it IS in fact legal, as long as you only use a 10.22 in it, don't use an automatic, your magazine contains 10 rounds or less, and the barrel over 18 inches, with an overall gun length of 25 inches. Normally bullpup guns are illegal in California, but since the 10/.22 is a rimfire instead of a centerfire, and the ban only applies to centerfire guns, this conversion falls into a neat loophole, and is legal for sale on a normal license. 

HOWEVER: I don't plan on putting a 10/.22 in this thing, I plan on tearing out all the internals of the conversion rendering it permanently effectively useless for a real-steel gun, and building a field-spec airsoft gun system inside it, making it basically a nonlethal toy for sports like any other airsoft gun. The final design would be built to the legal specs of a airsoft gun in the united states, with an orange barrel tip and a non-ballistic caliber. 
I can even make the final gun fit into the real steel size requirements if that would help the legality.

Basically, I don't know if this is legal or not, and haven't been able to find it online. As far as I can figure, it would be legal because the conversion kit counts as a STOCK, rather than a receiver or firearm in and of itself, so that gives a lot more leeway I would think. 

I just want to be doubly sure before I begin this project, due to the heightened paranoia over guns and gun laws at this point, I don't want to be thrown in jail for making a toy. 


15 Replies

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John_the_Builder (author)2014-02-23

Call the ATF. I suspect that Airsoft guns are not controlled by the ATF. Then again, California is the exception to nearly every rule.

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crapflinger (author)2013-12-23

typically the legality of gunsmithing/modification revolves around the actual modifications and the EXACT parts that you're modifying.

in general, the component that's considered "the gun" is the part with the federal serial number on it. which is TYPICALLY the lower receiver or the action.

stocks, barrels, and the like (unless they're integral to the serialize component.....like the lower receiver) aren't considered part of "the gun" and can typically be modified or used OFF of "the gun" (with certain restrictions....like you can't shorten the barrel of a gun beyond a certain length of barrel for a certain type of gun or to a point where the total length of the gun is bellow a certain length etc...)

as this contraption is designed to CONTAIN the action from a "the gun" and doesn't seem to require any modifications to the serialized portion of "the gun", then you wouldn't need a license to do the smithing of this thing if you WERE to be using the actual 10/22 in this case.

since you wouldn't need a license to legally modify a real "the gun", then i'd imagine you'd be even more legally ok mucking about with this thing to make a fake "the gun". assuming you include all of the other safety caveats required for legal operation of fake "the guns"

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mpilchfamily (author)2013-12-18

Only legal issue you may need to consider is having an air-soft gun that looks exactly like a real gun. There is a legal reason for why air-soft guns either look like a plastic toy version of a real gun or have the bright orange bits on the barrel. States may differ on this sort of thing.

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kelseymh (author)mpilchfamily2013-12-18

As long as this chucklehead doesn't carry his extremely real and terrorist/drug-dealer looking Airsoft gun around Santa Rosa, he'll probably be okay.

(Google "Santa Rosa Airsoft" if you want all the details.)

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ilpug (author)kelseymh2013-12-19

Who's a chucklehead?

But yeah, I live very near to that area. The kid was brandishing a really high-realism airsoft AK-47 in public, without an orange tip, and magazine loaded,

Not saying he deserved what he got, but he definitely stepped outside the legality of what you can do with an airsoft gun.

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kelseymh (author)ilpug2013-12-19

:-/ Yeah. When I first heard the story and they showed a picture of his weapon, it seemed quite reasonable that a police officer would feel threatened. As more information came out, the response sounds like it was excessive.

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ilpug (author)mpilchfamily2013-12-19

Actually, airsoft guns are usually made to look as real as possible, and most are cosmetically indistinguishable from normal guns with the safety tip removed. In California, as long as it has the red tip, anything goes really. It's not the gun appearance I'm worried about, it's the legality of modifying a real gun upgrade into an airsoft gun

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mpilchfamily (author)ilpug2013-12-19

It's not a real gun it's an upgrade for a real gun. The item doesn't carry any serial numbers that have to be registered. So you can do what you want with it.

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user

People play airsoft so that they can simulate military stuff. You don't see real Soldiers running around with red and orange tips on their weapons. :-P http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Army.mil-2007-09-24-164542.jpg

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thematthatter (author)2013-12-19

They may have an issue selling it to you if your under 21 because of the pistol grip.
I got carded once because I wanted to look at an AR15 at the Academy.

Other than that, go for it. The ATF is not going to kick your door in or set fire to your house, unless you also start a church. (that was a Waco reference)
Just keep it in a nice zippered gun case while outside and while your going to your Airsoft matches, keep it in your trunk and (and only if) you get pulled over and the cop decides to search your car, let him know what you got.
But like others have said, this is just a stock, its not a major weapon assembly that would have to have a serial number on it and require an FFL.
It would be the same thing if you took the heavy @%% wood stock off your grand pappy hunting rifle and put it on your air soft rifle.
But hey, we are not lawyers, if you mess up its not our doors getting kicked in or our face book photos on CNN. :)

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Dearden805 (author)2013-12-19

No you're perfectly legal. Now if you were down in your basement making airsoft guns into real guns there would be a problem. You're simply thinking about it in the wrong direction. Airsoft Gun -> Real Gun = Highly Illegal Real Gun STOCK(Not gun) -> Airsoft gun = Fine I have actually seen people modify 10/22 stocks to hold a KJW 10/22 so you're fine don't worry. It's a very ambitious project I'm excited to see how it turns out. Just be careful you don't send the wrong message. For example, I have a carbine conversion kit for my Glock series airsoft gun. If I were to try and use it on a real gun: 1.Highly Illegal in California 2. It would almost immediately explode. Hope I could help. Project looks cool and I hope it works out for you.

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ilpug (author)Dearden8052013-12-19

I see what you are saying, although just because you've seen people modify them doesn't mean it's illegal though.

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Kiteman (author)2013-12-19

In the UK, this would be absolutely illegal.

"Toy" guns must not be easily mistakeable for a real gun.

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ilpug (author)Kiteman2013-12-19

I'm in California. Definitely though, this would be extremely illegal across the pond.

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