Final Rule ATF 2021-05F: The BATFE on 80% Frames

Polymer 80: 80% Glock kits
January 1, 2023
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Categories:Stuff and Things

FINAL RULE ATF: Last week, the BATFE issued new guidance on the legality of 80% frame lowers like those manufactured by Polymer 80, Lone Wolf Arms, Nomad Defense, and Matrix Arms. It’s rarely a Good Thing when we have to report ATF news, and this time is no different. 

ATF Changes its Mind. Again.

Once again, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has changed its mind. Remember how 80 percent frames and lowers were legal until Joe Biden’s ATF decided that they weren’t? You know, like the ATF always does.

That question was shaking out as part of the Vanderstok v. Garland case in federal court, with the ATF agreeing that the frames and receivers in question were indeed legal so long as they didn’t ship with “associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials.”

So, basically, the frames and receivers are only firearms under the Gun Control Act (GCA) if they are packaged with those “non-firearm objects” (NFO). Strange, but okay. Companies had already incorporated that change and were continuing to ship their products. NFO sold separately.

Then, out of the blue, ATF dropped a new rule on FFLs by way of a December 27 open letter. The letter stated that “these partially complete pistol frames are ‘frames’ and ‘firearms’ as defined in the GCA and its implementing regulations.” Even if they don’t include the NFO items.

ATF bases this change on the definition of the word “readily,” as in whether these frames can be “readily converted” to fully functioning firearms.

ATF open letter on GLock 80 frames

Here’s an excerpt from that statement:

Applying the regulatory text of Final Rule 2021-05F, partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar striker-fired semiautomatic pistol frames, including, but not limited to, those sold within parts kits, have reached a stage of manufacture where they “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional frame. This definition of “readily” applies to each and every classification of a partially complete frame or receiver under this Rule, whether sold alone or as part of a kit. Therefore, even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are “frames” and also “firearms” as defined in the GCA and its implementing regulations, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3)(B) and 27 CFR 478.12(a)(1), (c).

The following are some examples of companies that build 80% frames. 

•  Polymer 80 

Nomad Defense

•  Matrix Arms

•  Lone Wolf Arms

 

Now learn about the sizes of handguns!

 

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