This is a question that has been asked time and time, over and over again. We are starting to believe that people have been bothering the ATF so much with this question that they took a similar approach to how they handled the massive influx of questions regarding the inadvertent shouldering of pistol braces. In a letter released by John R. Spencer, Chief of Firearms Technology Branch at the ATF he clarifies how to measure the 26″ overall length of an AR pistol if you want to check if your compliant with adding a vertical grip: “extend or fold out the shoulder stock to it’s extreme length. The overall length of the firearm can be measured from the muzzle mark to the right angle corner nearest the butt of the stock or the extreme rearward point of the firearm.” Many pistol owners are celebrating while many believe its a word game meant to entrap those who aren’t weary with NFA laws, terms, and guidelines.
You can view the letter below:
One user pointed out that the letter at no point says pistol. It may be referring to the firearm classification that many guns have fallen under such as the Franklin Armory reformation or the mossberg shockwave which fall under the classification for different reasons. While the Reformation has a stock, adding a stock to the Shockwave can land you in hot water real quick. Confused? Yeah, that’s why some people are a little hesitant on this letter. However, it does say at the rearward most point of the firearm. Assuming this is not referring to the Firearm classification but just firearms in general this would mean you are good to go so long as your pistols overall length is over 26″. But there may be another catch…
Now there is one other factor that plays into staying legal with a pistol. Length of Pull on your pistol with an overall length of 26″ needs to STAY BELOW 13.5″ if you still want to be considered pistol and stay out of legal obstacles if your OAL is over 26″ and your LOP is over 13.5 and adding a foregrip would reclassify your pistol into a “firearm”. Keep in mind adding adapters could put you into this territory. Proceed with caution.
If your OAL is below 26″ and you add a foregrip you have just created an NFA AOW and you better hope you have the stamp.
You can see just how quickly things can get confusing.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Tam @tamfamgram