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What To Know Before Buying An AR-15 Rifle

What to Know Before Buying an AR-15


Gregg F. Swift

There are several states that have restrictions on basic AR-15 rifles. These states may not completely restrict rifle sales but may require modifications to the AR-15 to make it compliant to your state’s laws. Currently, due to restrictions, many manufacturers do not sell AR-15′s to the following states: CA, HI, NY, NJ, MD & MA. Check with your local FFL dealer to determine if your state allows the purchase and possession of an AR-15.

There are many types of AR-15′s on the market today. They are not all the same. The parts and pieces of an AR-15 are the heart and soul of the rifle and quality parts are a must. Unfortunately, in today’s market the individual buyer is not going to know where parts like the bolt carrier group or barrel extension were made. They are not going to know if the ejection port cover assembly came from a reputable manufacturer or just some guy starting up a new company. The same is true with all the parts, including the lower, upper receiver and the barrel. The key is to try to find out the quality of the parts. Once you have an idea about the quality aspect based on parts and components you will have a better idea of what type of AR-15 you should get. When you find out who puts what on their guns the choices for a quality AR-15 begin to narrow helping in your decision.

There are hundreds of companies making lower receivers. There are, however, only a few that make them well. Most AR-15 lower receivers are made from a forging then milled on a CNC machine. The quality of the lower receiver is determined by the attention to detail. Smaller shops may not change the tools on their CNC machines as frequently as a larger, more reputable shop. This results in “tool wear” which affects the final product. We are talking about measurements in the.001 of an inch range and a tool that is slightly worn may affect how a spring or a detent fits into the lower or upper receiver. As a rule quality parts come from reputable manufacturers. Unless you have a relationship with these reputable manufactures you can’t get parts from them.

AR-15′s are shipped to an FFL holder of the customer’s choice in the general vicinity where the customer would like to pick up the rifle. You cannot purchase a firearm from a dealer and have it sent to your home. That is illegal. Make sure when you order your firearm over the telephone or on the internet that you obtain a tracking number so that you are able to track your firearm. This will enable you to know when your firearm is delivered to the dealer where you will fill out the required paperwork before taking possession of your firearm. Always take a copy of your receipt and a state issued photo I.D. with your current residence address in order to properly fill out your paperwork.

Every state has different requirements relating to the registration of firearms. You need to check with your local FFL dealer for your state’s laws that may require registration of a firearm. Florida has no registration of firearms. What this means is that when you purchase a firearm in Florida from a bona fide FFL holder you fill out a Form 4473 (this form is filled out in every state). This form lists your personal information and information about the firearm. In Florida a background check is done by calling the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The FFL dealer provides the FDLE with your name, race, sex, date of birth, and social security number (providing the social security number on the 4473 is optional). In Florida the FDLE does not ask what type of weapon is being purchased or the serial number for that weapon. This means that the state of Florida and the BATFE have no idea what type of firearm you purchased. They also do not have a record that a background check was done on your behalf. That information remains on the 4473 form which stays with the FFL dealer for 20 years. Law enforcement is not entitled to any of the information on your form unless investigating a crime relating to your weapon or your name. Then, and only then, can they ask to see your 4473 which will list your personal information and the serial number and type of firearm you purchased. Every state is different with regard to firearms rules and regulations. Check with a knowledgeable attorney for specific information relating to your state laws.


Gregg Swift, J.D., IACSP is the Director of Operations for Tactical Weapons Solutions, an AR-15 manufacturer. Mr. Swift graduated from Barry Law School in 2001 and has written numerous articles relating to the manufacturing and selling of high quality AR-15 parts, components, rifles, 2nd Amendment rights, the political environment relating to guns, and survival related topics. Visit Tactical Weapons Solutions at http://twsarms.com/.  For more on MilSpec parts and high quality AR-15 rifles and to enter a monthly drawing for a FREE AR-15 at http://twsarms.com/ar-15-monthly-drawing/.

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