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06/01/2007 Archived Entry: "Parts kits"
Blogispondent Ian here, just back from picking up a couple AK kits from a craigslist ad. Parts kits are one of the items right on the legal edge right now...so if you're interested in them, it's a good time to act.
For those of you not familiar with them, a "parts kit" is a machine gun imported into the country with its receiver destroyed, but all other parts intact. Because the receivers are destroyed, nothing in the kit is legally a "firearm", and they can be imported and transferred without going through an FFL.
What good is a destroyed machine gun, you ask? Well...
In a couple cases - most notably the AK - it is a comparatively simple process to fabricate a new receiver and build the kit back into a perfectly legal, unpapered, semiauto firearm. In some other cases - like the FAL - there are domestic companies making new receivers, and you can assemble a kit with one to get a perfectly legal, semiauto rifle (maybe unpapered, depending on where you get the receiver and your state laws).
Kits for different guns vary wildly in price, but the AKs are some of the cheapest. There are still a bunch of Romanian AK kits on the market, currently creeping over $100 (most places retail them for $125 right now). Some submachinegun kits go for as little as $50, though they tend to be difficult, expensive, and impractical to make into legal guns. The low prices will not last, however - the BATFE goons have been steadily tightening the regs on kits.
At first, receivers could be legally destroyed by simply sawing them in half. Then the feds noticed that people could just reweld the thing back together and have a very functional (very illegal) machine gun. So they changed the rules, and required the cutting to be done by torches, which leave a cut much more difficult to repair. Currently the regs require a receiver to be torch cut in two places - and the results are total scrap metal - usually impossible to even use to get dimensions on the original complete receiver (something necessary for the folks who design new semiauto receivers for the more obscure guns).
Worse, the goons have recently made two more changes. First, they have started declaring the trunnions (the part the barrel attaches to; separate from the receiver) of some guns to be machine guns, and they have issued recalls of those kits as well as requiring kits being sold to not include the trunnions (making assembly of legal guns much more difficult). Second, they have stopped allowing importation of kits with intact barrels. when current stocks of imported kits run out, this barrel ban will dramatically reduce the utility of parts kits. US-made barrels for military-style rifles will become expensive commodities, the demand for such neutered kits will dry up, and there will be a lot fewer imported.
So - if you have the money and inclination, this is an excellent time to pick up a few kits, either for future assembly or as investments (pretty much everything has double in price in the last few years). I would stick to AKs and FALs, unless you really want to really get into it, in which case you should start reading Weaponeer.net.
Posted by Ian @ 10:23 PM CST