How to Build a Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR)

By Suzanne Wiley published on in How To

A short-barreled rifle or SBR is legally defined as a “shoulder-fired, rifle bore” firearm with a barrel shorter than 16 inches or a firearm that overall length is less than 26 inches. An SBR is considered a Title 2 restricted firearm. It falls under the 1968 Gun Control Act of the National Firearms Act. You will also hear these Title 2 restricted items called Class 3 weapons. A suppressor is also considered a Class 3 item.

A Title 2/Class 3 item is legal to own in most states, but it must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The process of obtaining a Class 3 firearm requires paperwork, fees and a lot of patience.

This SBR is owned by CTD Ben.

This SBR is owned by CTD Ben.

Before purchasing the items that necessarty tomake  your gun an SBR, you must first fill out an Application to Make a Firearm form, called Form 1. This is your application to register your intent to build an SBR. If you already have all the pieces to make an SBR without filling out and receiving back the proper paper work, you are in violation of the Gun Control Act and could be charged with unlawful possession of a Class 3 weapon, often referred to as constructive intent.

First, consider whether you will file your paperwork as an individual, trust or corporation. If you file as an individual, the SBR only belongs to you. It requires passport photos, fingerprints, and a signature from a chief law enforcement officer. Choosing to have a trust or a corporation own the SBR, visit a lawyer who specializes in firearms law to legally set up a trust for you. A trust does not require photos, fingerprints or a signature. There will be costs associated with creating a binding trust, but it is the best route to go if you are planning on owning more than one Class 3 weapon or item.

You must mail a $200 tax fee with your Form 1 application. The fee goes towards a “tax stamp” that shows you legally own the Title 2 firearm. Form 1 is not very extensive and looks much like Form 4473 you fill out when buying a gun. Further, it comes with easy to read instructions.

Another form you must complete is the Certification of Compliance with 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) that proves you are either a legal citizen or resident of the United States.

After the paperwork is received by the ATF, your information will be processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is the same system used when you purchase a firearm.

Your short-barreled rifle’s receiver must also have your name engraved on it. There are legal requirements on the depth of the engraving, so your local trophy shop might not match those requirements. I recommend using Ident Marking Services.

A copy of your paperwork and tax stamp must be with your Class 3 weapon at all times. If you plan on crossing state lines with it, you must fill out the Application to Transport Interstate or to Temporarily Export Certain National Firearms Act (NFA) Firearms. You must have approval from the ATF before travelling with your SBR.

Add a stock, tax stamp and you would have an SBR.

Add a stock, tax stamp and you would have an SBR.

Receiving your paperwork and tax stamp is a slow process. Currently there is a 10-month waiting period before getting the okay to own an SBR. However, have patience. Owning an SBR is worth it, not only for the fun factor, but it can make an excellent home defense gun.


Century International Arms Zastava PAP M92 pistol is ready to build into an SBR. All you have to do is add a stock. With a stock, the gun’s 10 inch barrel makes it an SBR, but get your paperwork back from the ATF first!

Do you own an SBR? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Below is a video of me shooting an SBR for the first time.

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Comments (56)

  • JB


    It’s my understanding that it’s legal to have all the parts to build a SBR as long as you don’t assemble before receiving your tax stamp. As for the engraved name and address on the receiver, I’ve been told that this is now longer necessary since you must have your paper work on hand when in possession of your SBR. If I’m wrong in my statement, please refer me to a site where this can be verified.



    • Cam wescott


      Half right. No engraving needed. You can’t have the pieces before the stamp without committing a felony.


    • Russ


      Not true. Being that the only required part to turn your AR15 into a SBR is a Rifled Barrel that is less than 16″ long. It is legal to own the parts as long as they are not installed on a rife with a buttock. (i.e. AR15 Pistol) The moment you install the barrel onto a rifle with a buttock you are violation of the law.


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