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No Plans for Prison? Staying 922r Compliant

Arrested person and gavel

If you are looking to buy or build one of the world’s great battle rifles — most likely an AK — you are going to need a quick education in the ways of Title 18 Chapter 44 Section 922r of the United States Code, defined further by Title 27 Part 478.39 of the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR).

While we can help educate, it is important to understand that Cheaper Than Dirt! does not offer legal advice nor should any of the information presented be construed as legal advice.

My first thought when I jumped into this was, “Who cares? I will just buy a rifle or shotgun that is already built and not have to worry about the law.”

Not so fast. Sure, you can buy a firearm that is in compliance, but swapping out a part or two could later secure you a bed in the proverbial “Gray Bar Hotel.”

If you are going to own a firearm subject to these regulations, know the law — claiming ignorance later will not keep you from being prosecuted.

What is 922r?

Title 18 of the U.S. Code (18 USC), Chapter 44 Section 922 breaks down the unlawful acts — in other words the ways you will run afoul of the law. For instance, Section 922 Paragraph R states:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semi-automatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) of this chapter as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to: (1) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or (2) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General.”

Subsections one and two obviously shouldn’t apply to anyone reading here. If you are a manufacturer or have the blessing of the attorney general, you should already have a handle on this and a lawyer that specializes in firearms legislation.


Once you have determined that your rifle or shotgun (Saigas come to mind) is subject to 922r, you’ll want to study up on the laws focused on assembly. This will take you to Title 27 Chapter 1 Section 178.39, which states:

(a) No person shall assemble a semi-automatic rifle or any shotgun using more than 10 of the imported parts listed in paragraph (c) of this section if the assembled firearm is prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.

Essentially, this means if your firearm is subject to 925(d)(3) you can only use a limited number of the original parts (or more accurately, foreign-made parts), so you’ll swap out for U.S.-built aftermarket parts.

Poly Technologies Legend Series AK-47/S 922r Compliant
What can I say that has not already been written a million times? The AK-47 is the world’s assault rifle for a reason — it works!

Compliance parts (imported parts — those parts that will count as part of the 10) are defined in paragraph (c) and include the following:

  1. Frame, receiver, receiver casting, forging or stamping
  2. Barrel
  3. Barrel extension
  4. Operating rod
  5. Gas piston
  6. Forearm or handguard
  7. Mounting blocks (trunion)
  8. Muzzle attachment
  9. Bolt
  10. Bolt carrier
  1. Trigger
  2. Trigger housing
  3. Hammer
  4. Sear
  5. Disconnector
  6. Buttstock
  7. Pistol grip
  8. Magazine body
  9. Follower
  10. Floorplate

Making it Legal

Depending on whether you are building or modifying an AK or Saiga, you’ll likely be looking at replacing three to six parts (to U.S.-manufactured parts) to reach compliance.

If you are modifying a firearm that has already been made compliant, be careful. Changing a single part could land you in hot water with the feds.

A quick search of the firearms forums and gunsmiths used to working with these types of firearms have identified the following as the parts most often selected to reach 922r compliance:

  • Trigger
  • Hammer
  • Disconnector
  • Buttstock
  • Pistol grip
  • Handguard (upper and lower handguards on an AK only count as one compliance part)
  • Gas piston
  • Magazine parts — This is the most important item of the list. The body, follower and floorplate each count as one compliance part, but it comes with great risk. Swap a magazine or get caught with the wrong magazine, and you could find yourself holding a ticket for a one-way trip to the federal pokey.

The important thing to remember is the magic number based on the platform. That you need to research to ensure you are working off the latest data.

Then, you’ll need to continue to monitor the laws regarding your platform to ensure you remain in compliance.

As a personal recommendation, try not to push the limits. Use an extra part or two of U.S. manufacture. It is good for our economy and your relationship with federal agents.

Have you made your AK 922r compliant? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (50)

  1. to bring an idea to the table; have an additional background check requiring a state controlled issued permit with a small cost for “modern sporting rifles” or tactical rifle, whatever. Proceeds to go to a state fund to increase security in public schools. kind of a black rifle tax of sorts. Like when I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC, you had to get a state handgun permit, up to 5 per day for $5. ea. not sure if that is how much they are now. Small inconvenience for us, additional level of checks for someone with nefarious intent. Just an idea, at least something to bring to the table instead of all out no concessions thats going on and backfiring at least with public opinion…There are other ideas I have heard involving amnesty NFA registration and future sales requiring form 4 transfer, which doesn’t sit well with people that don’t want the ATF to track their guns, all my ARs are on the registry as they are SBR’s, and I have a bunch of suppressors on the registry as well. The ATF hasn’t been a problem for me… Increasing the age limit is something else that would have prevented the sale to the last shooter. – when I was 18, I wanted to shoot Assault rifles, belt fed weapons, recoilless rifles, miniguns, foreign weapons, etc. so I joined the Army. Not getting sympathy from me on that issue. Just doing nothing or not even starting a conversation will just leave room for the next AWB, or even worse.

    1. Uh, no. No more compromise, no more surrendering. I don’t give a flip if you joined the Army, you are not any kind of authority nor are you going to limit the rights of other people because you think it will appease the Constitution-haters. Newsflash: you can never please them, and they will always demand more.

    2. Krog, not my intent to restrict anybody’s right to pose with a AR-15, even wear 5.11’s, sawtooths, Oakleys and subdued flag ball caps. I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s right to play dress up and be a super special operator at their local range, just have been watching a parade of ignorance after these shootings that makes me really think about all the idiots locked and loaded with “tactical carbines” and what not, mostly un trained, weapons left unsecured, etc… Just because 2A protections grant responsible gun owners the right to keep and bear arms, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t scrutinize the mouth breathing booger eater with the Glock bumper sticker and 1000 yd. stare.

  2. Im glad the author of this article had the balls to call an AK an assault weapon and (even mistakenly) a battle rifle. The NSSF turds would have his head, but he used correct terminology. My tactical carbines are all Assault Rifles and I own them to protect myself from crazy people with assault rifles.

    1. All this time, I thought the rifles were doing the shooting by themselves. Thanks for the education…Right after a mass shooting, it’s always a good policy to correct people on your perceived titles. Its working out pretty well for the NRA. “You are wrong kid! The shooter schwacked your friends with a Modern Sporting Rifle! Get it right!”.. weather sport killing with an assault rifle, or assaulting people with a sporting rifle, semantics are playing a big role in the coming ban and putting 2A rights in jeapardy all together.

    2. This is the Shooter’s Log not the New York Times. Get over yourself and explain your fix for this problem.

    3. For the millionth time, both AK-47s and M-16s or M-4s are assault rifles – because they have selectors that can put the weapon in automatic fire mode (more than one shot fired for a single trigger pull). AK lookalikes and commercial AR-15 variants are NOT assault rifles. NOT. They fire in semi-automatic mode ONLY. The nimrods among the anti-gunners will no more differentiate between the two than they will between immigrants and illegal immigrants. It is the responsibility of the shooting community to educate and correct these people so that the black rifle will not become extinct thanks to laws instigated and written by people with a dishonest agenda, saying they want to reduce mass shootings/crime when what they want to do is ban guns altogether.

    4. So, to correct your millionth erroneous correction. AR-15 is simply a branding… M-16, M-4, XM-177, etc are military designations. When the military adopted the AR-15, even before the M-16 receiver roll markings were added, the AR-15 logo was stamped into the receiver and was issued. In fact, the first Soldiers issued the M-16’s simply called them AR-15’s and later, CAR-15s for the short bbl, collapsing stock carbine models. Barry Sadler, the Special Forces Soldier who wrote the Ballad of the Green Berets, wrote a song; One Son of a Gun of a Gun, where he sings about his AR-15 he had in vietnam. The AR-15 receiver stamped, select fire, weapons were issued well into the early 80s. Also for your education, it might be worth a Google search in military AR-15 receiver markings and the history of the AR-15, from the prototype engineered by Eugene Stoner and later scaled down by Jim Sullivan. The more you know.

  3. I am the creator of the Facebook group called “AK47 Variants “. We have over 3,400 members as of 1/28/2017 and started the group only less than a year ago. I have often wondered about 922r compliance and what happens if the authorities find out you are not 922r compliant even by just one or two parts. Well after almost a year someone I’m the group asked ” What happens if you are not 922r compliant? And when I done a Google search your blog on 922r compliance came up first?

    1. If caught, you would be in violation of federal statutes and subject to the penalties of the federal law. I have not heard of the feds going after someone specifically for 922r violations, but I am sure it has happened. More likely, someone posts something stupid to social media or in some other way attracts the attention of law enforcement and a 922r violation comes up during the investigation which results in charges. ~Dave Dolbee

  4. I just bought a pre-ban Chinese SKS. The gentleman that was helping me said that since its pre ban I could put a synthetic stock with the pistol grip and 20 rd detachable magazine and bipod on the rifle and not need a permit for the firearm. I live in Minnesota and I don’t have my permit to purchase.

  5. Leave a comment
    Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

    I don’t know about the actual definition of a “well regulated militia” or exactly what constitutes “bearing” arms: Open public carry by citizens during peace time or only in the context of a formed militia with an immediate goal of repelling government tyranny or foreign invader?
    However the word “keep” to me means that the government can’t take your guns. Period. You need to be able to keep your guns so you have them ready in the event a well regulated militia, capable of dealing with internal or external threats, is required.
    So at a minimum, I should be able to keep my guns at my home, assuming no warrant for my arrest/criminal behavior etc.
    Modification of a weapon which is kept at home is a sort of 5th amendment violation as well. You are essentially self incriminated if the government finds out you have an “illegal” modification or gun at your home when there is otherwise no probable cause to search your home or reason to believe you may have committed a crime.

  6. You folks should read Madison or at least buy the Second Amendment Primer from the NRA before making any more “interpretations”. Here is the Amendment. They meant for you to understand that well regulated militias or free standing armies we a necessary evil to protect a free state, and that the People should always have the right to bear arms AGAINST those armies or militias as arms or branches of a tyrannical government. Got it? Look at the next amendment and its protects against quavering troops. They hated standing armies, but understood that they were a necessary evil only to be tolerated if the People had a means of armed revolt.

  7. Terry: ATF must always have probable cause or some other reason to inspect a weapon….The most obvious problems come with the Chinese/Norinco SKS and AKs. If you see a Norinco SKS with a foldking or retractible stock it raises flags. If it still has the factory 10 round mag or if the new mag is not of the removable floor plate design…..then it raises flags and is probably illegal…….that is usually probable cause…once they sieze it they can take it apart….the only way for us to be safe is to follow the guidelines on say the Tapco site or SKS baords—which is just a guide. All of the folks who sell 922 compliant parts mark them “made in the Usa” SO YOU JUST PULL THE GUN APART AND IN 2 MINUTES you can prove compliance. Then there is the MAK 90 type problem…those guns were designed to be a “modified AK for 1990”. If you see one of them with say a folking stock, there is the probable cause……the gun has been modified….again, you then have to go thru the list and show the “made in USA” stamp on the parts…..Now your question was how would ATF know? Well if you buy one from an individual who later gets arrested–he could tell the cops he knows a guy with an illegal gun. Or if it gets stolen and is siezed and the local cops see that it appears illegal…folding stock etc they may check with ATF, or if it was later used in a crime and traced back to you…. or if some idiot takes a picture of you and puts it on facebook…….just saying….if you have one, take it apart today and get the parts to put it back or make it legal…. life is too short to pay a lawyer to keep you out of jail or worse get convicted and never be able to own guns again……..just my free legal advice……and I I tell clients dont do stupid stuff…..

    1. and don’t forget they now have to PROVE that it is in fact not a USA made part…. hand guards on an AK with no markings? prove they’re not custom made in the U.S…. the list goes on and on. It’s actually almost IMPOSSIBLE to prove beyond a reasonable doubt unless you have something STUPIDLY obvious. As a lawyer I’ll say this. seeing a folding stock on an AK doesn’t give probable cause. It just means other parts were used. many companies add aftermarket parts while still meeting 922r compliance and they would have to have ACTUAL cause that this weapon was violating those clauses. And without knowing what internal parts were modified to already meet those standards they have no cause. Which is why no one has been prosecuted on 922r outside of a tacked on charge for something bigger (and even then, the cases can be counted on one hand since 1989

  8. Just how does one tell if it is 922r compliant, if there are no markings on some of the parts? Really, is the ATF going to check your weapon at the range?

  9. I live in the Communist state of New York and now my Ar 15 is registered.
    Our Sate is bad real bad .
    Don’t come to NY boycott NY products, and write the Dictator Couomo and tell him your not spending your Hard earned cash there.
    Thank you
    Molon Labe

    1. That’s one of the reasons this NJ boy now lives in Georgia. NJ is NY’s communist friend & neighbor. Screw the north Bro ….move south where we can buy and carry guns without being harassed.

    2. It’s just NY and NJ that is the worst of the country in the North. Here in MN we’re doing pretty good…so far.

  10. The 10 foreign parts restriction no longer in the 2013 United States code! It is strictly an import restriction against NFA, GCA, FOPA, etc. restricted items.

    See for yourself in U.S.C. 2013 Title 18 Part I Chapter 44 Section 922(r) which references U.S.C. 2013 Title 18 Part I Chapter 44 Section 925(d)(3) which LATER references U.S.C. 2013 Title 26 Subtitle E Chapter 53 Sub-chapter B Part I Section 5845(a). The current United States Code is available online from the U.S Government Printing Office website.

    If it is not restricted under the 1934 NFA Title II (aka I.R.C. Chapter 53) it is fair game to import and and construct according to the current code. Firearms must also comply with the GCA of 1968 and the FOPA of 1986. There was no import ban or law in 1989, merely a reinterpretation of ATF regulations at the request of George H.W. Busch.

    I am no lawyer however and can provide no legal advice or counsel. I suggest you hire a lawyer if you want to know for sure. The important thing is to always use the CURRENT EDITION of the U.S. Code.

    1. While not governed by the USC, that ’89 reinterpretation of ATF regulations would be the CFR which still does hold the 10 foreign parts limit. So while it is effectively law, it is still a regulation conducted solely by the ATF.

      Rather than calling it 922r we shouldn’t confuse people with copied and uncited text and incomplete paths to it. It is the ATF’s CFR, not 922r.

    1. Yes Mark quick, it also says well regulated. That is “A well regulated militia being essential to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Those words were penned in 1789 in the English of the day. To update it we would say something like: A well trained people, being necessary to maintain freedom, the right of the people to keep and bear the same small arms as our military shall not be infringed.

    2. Learn the meaning of “well regulated” under original intent. Your statement is made all the more stupid by the fact that “well regulated” referred to the militias, not the weapons they carried. Idiot.

    3. The way I read this is that a “well regulated militia” is necessary to secure a free state. In order to assure a “well regulated militia” the people “must” keep and bear arms in order to make sure the militia is strong. It is our right and responsibility to keep a supply of arms and other supplies.

  11. John: As per my above post, I agree with Dave…..No lawyer would ever advise anyone to sell any gun that is illegal as it sits….I have not researched this exact issue under federal statutes, so I cannot cite a section of the law for you…..but if it is illegal to modify it then the logical nexus is it is illegal to possess. Not much differerent in my view than buying shotgun or rifle that is too short under federal law……one of the issues you face is that if you sell it to someone and hide the fact that it is non-compliant, then you have committed a fraud on the buyer. In my state you could be charged with a crime just for that act. Also if the buyer should later find out you scammed him, he could sue you, and of course that would bring you to the attention of the cops…..and then there is the issue of liability if say the guy you sold it to uses it in a crime, any victim could sue you….and probably recover….So my advice is always the same…first take it apart so it is not a gun, but a pile of pieces. Then decide if you want to make it compliant, or dispose of the parts….which you can sell…..this is the best advice I can give. A lawyer cannot advise you to destroy any evidence of any crime, so I just suggest you break it down quick and then make it legal before you put it back together…….

    1. If it is non compliant, disassemble it immediately. As long as it is in parts, you should not be at odds with the law. Then get the compliant part(s) to modify and make it 922(r) complaint. At that point and in accordance with local laws, you should be able to sell it. Please note, as the article noted, I cannot an do not give legal advice. Please check with a competent authority for legal advice. ~Dave Dolbee

  12. There’s also the practical matter of enforcement. Exactly how are the feds supposed to establish the fact that you’ve got more than 10 imported parts in your AK (unless, of course, you’re dumb enough to tell them)?
    The conversation would go like this:

    FED:”Excuse me, sir, but does that AK have more than 10 imported parts?”
    YOU: “I don’t know. Does it?”
    FED: “I want to inspect it to ensure compliance with Sec. 922r.”
    YOU: “Uh huh. Do you have probable cause to believe that my rifle is in violation of Sec. 922r?
    FED: “Uh, no.”
    YOU: “Pound sand.”

    Furthermore, the statute says that it is illegal to assemble your AK with too many foreign parts. Well, if you bought it at a gun show, for example, how would they ever prove you were the one who assembled it in violation of Sec. 922r (unless, of course, you’re dumb enough to tell them)?

    Finally, ALL federal jurisdiction over ANY criminal matter is based upon Article I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution, aka the Commerce Clause. This requires the federal government to prove at trial that your assembly of an AK in violation of Sec. 922r had some sort of nexus with interstate commerce. If you’ve built it for your personal use, as opposed to selling it to someone else (especially in another state), then Uncle Sam is going to have a real difficult time establishing this. If your attorney is even moderately competent, the odds of the case being dismissed are significantly in your favor.

    1. I agree with you, I’ve always wondered about exactly how the 922r compliance would be enforced. We don’t enforce gun laws we have in regrard to NICS, which are much easier to enforce. Who is ever going to know I have a noncompliant 922r rifle? And who is knowledgeable enough from the ATF to inspect my rifle and determine compliance?

  13. Many years ago I converted my Chinese MAK with a compliance set. Unfortunately, none of the parts were stamped in any way to indicate they are US made. How does that affect compliance?

  14. As a retired attorney, prosecutor, cop, and military guy I share the interest in the SKS and AK platforms……and I see guns often that appear on Armslist and other sites that are surely illegal…..I send a note to everyone I see and suggest they google the SKS Boards or Tapco for a list of complaince parts….Most people think the Assault Rifle Ban applied and when it sunsetted the modified AKs and SKS are legal…wrong!!!!!!!!!!Secton 922 is a 1989 import ban that has nothing to do with the assault rifle ban……so, anytime you see an SKS or AK with an aftermarket folding stock or some obvious modification… from it dont buy it……and if you have one put it back original immediately or take it apart until you can buy the correct parts to make it legal… all means dont sell it or take it to the range…….it only takes one cop one car wreck where it is found, or on person to advise the feds you may have an illegal gun……and their job is to prosecute those violations…….so nuff said,,,,,as I tell clients—don’t do stupid stuff…..

  15. Leo–Your post sounds like a line delivered by Clint Eastwood in the movie Unforgiven. He had been a gun fighter in the west around 1880–drank a lot. Then got married, had a couple of kids and became a Kansas pig farmer. When his wife died and he was going broke with the pigs there was a reward put up by some women of low repute in the town of Big Whiskey and he slowly returned to his former self. As he finished his business he yelled out of the billiard parlor words close to yours and rode away. I think it won some Academy Awards so you must be on the right track.

    You may want to think about what some survivalists have done. They got a parcel of land somewhat remote with few people around. These guys must have had extra bucks laying around because they hired an outfit in Texas to weld up an underground house. You could get some surplus military containers (much smaller & water proof) and bury some weapons in the back yard. When the Obama people come knocking (there won’t be any 4th amendment by then) they can search all they want, use a metal detector to find all those 1/2″ plates you buried 6″ below the surface as decoys, and leave empty handed.

    Of course if you live in an apartment you have to form a LLC, buy some cheap land under that name (ever notice all those vacant lots nobody built on in the suburbs?) and start your survival plan there. Those shipping containers that bring us all that stuff from China are sold used pretty cheap and can be moved by a flat bed car wrecker. Keep thinking and stay ahead of the gun grabbers.

  16. For those of us who don’t want to build anything, I wish CTD would comment here that any AK we buy on their website is already certified 922r compliant? I have bought 2 of them from CTD, so this is a real question.

    1. SS1,
      Yes. This article pertains to individuals interesting in building an AK. If you bought it from Cheaper Than Dirt, it is 922r compliant. You would only run into a problem if you further modified it after your purchase. Thank you for your business! ~Dave Dolbee

  17. None of this matters… if someone comes to mess with me and my guns, they’re going to die, the people that gave them the power are going to die, and everyone they ever knew is going to die for good measure.

    Molon labe.

    1. No doubt by his own hand!
      How are you going to verify who the people that gave them the power are that sent them?
      And how will you verify everyone they ever knew are going to die for good measure?
      And does that include the people they know who would not agree with them taking your guns?
      In reality you might get a few of the ground troups, but unless your world is a different one than the rest of us, you will not get far once the confrontation begins.

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