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Gunsmithing and FFL's

4377 Views 20 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  hill
I received my FFL app in the mail today. Is it really necessary to have an FFL to do gunsmithing work, or more for convenience to have it and not need it. I've read the regs, but its still kind of confusing. I want to operate within the law, but not go overboard with it. Maybe I should see what direction the business takes me in first, then decide. Comments?
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Edit: Ya know what? Don't listen to me. :)
I thought now it been a long time so i might be wrong .. but i thought if you were keeping it over a day you needed a FFL to log the gun in to a book .. I would check the ATF website.. it should tell you
From what I understand you need an ffl if you keep the serialed part overnight, but not if you do the work while the customer is waiting. I am not certain on that and will see if I can find where I read it.

Heh, you beat me while I was typing Bud.:)
If it is the entire pistol yes you need a FLL, if you get just the slide you don't need a FLL. Just either the frame or the entire pistol is what is required
Here we go right from the ATF


(I1) Is a license needed to engage in the business of engraving, customizing, refinishing or repairing firearms? [Back]

Yes. A person conducting such activities as a business is considered to be a gunsmith within the definition of a dealer. See Item 16, “Federal Excise Tax” in the General Information section of this publication.
Haha, ask my uncle about that. Years ago when they were in CA and he had a construction business he bought into the "it's illegal for them to collect taxes" crowd. It may be but they spent a lot of years taking it back from him.
Ha ha Jerry, The frame has the serial number which you can't replace or tamper with. The slide but it is not legal to ship by itself.
I think I'll do the app just to be on the safe side.
Technically not illegal as long as:

The gun never leaves the owner's control and nothing of value changes hands. No money, no trade of parts...not even "Lunch on me" for your efforts.

Moreover...Reimbursement for parts used...even if no profit is made...is construed as doing business and thus subject to federal firearms guidelines.
Talked with an ATF friend of mine who works in the regulation part of things, She said;

As per 27 CFR (Code of Fed. Regulations) sec 478.11, there are two areas to look at,

1) Definition of dealer which is;

Dealer. Any person engaged in the business of selling firearms at
wholesale or retail; any person engaged in the business of repairing
firearms or of making or fitting special barrels, stocks, or trigger
mechanisms to firearms; or any person who is a pawnbroker. The term
shall include any person who engages in such business or occupation on a
part-time basis.

2) Definition of Gunsmith is;

Gunsmith. A person who devotes time, attention, and labor to
engaging in such activity as a regular course of trade or business with
the principal objective of livelihood and profit, but such a term shall
not include a person who makes occasional repairs of firearms or who
occasionally fits special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to

So there you have it.........kinda, sorta, roughly. If you're not in it for a livelyhood, regular biz, profit etc., one does not need to have a FFL.

So now you may ask, what constitutes the above? Answer???? There's no dollar figure or the like so that would be up for interpretation.
But they said, if you are investigated and they can show a substantial profit from gunsmithing, you'd better have a license.

Also you can keep a firearm overnight, without the owner being around as long as you didn't receive it thru the mail.
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Another thing you might want to look at other then the ATF slant. A lot of the manufactures won't sell you certain parts without a FFL. At least they wouldn't back in the 70's when I got mine.
Well, I finally got it. Only took seven weeks, a three hour in my house interview, and 200 bucks, but I'm good for three years as long as I keep my nose clean. Lot of hoops, lot of paperwork, but I think well worth it in the end. I have to say that after all the horror stories I read about concerning the ATF, I found them to be very nice and helpful people.
How did you go about getting your FFL? Apply on line or?
I went to www.atf.gov and requested an application and fingerprint card from their forms section ATf Form 7(5310.12) for the app and two or three fingerprint cards just in case the police make a mistake fingerprinting you. Then get a passport size picture for the app (don't forget the info on the back of the picture). Fill it out COMPLETELY pay 200 bucks, and wait for 2-3 months. I got through rather quickly for some reason in 7 weeks.
Do you have a store front or work out of your home? The reason I'm asking is that I had an FFL for years and ran a gunsmith business out of my garage and I'm thinking of applying for one again.
Out of my home. I have my machinery set up in the unfinished part of my basement. Should I bring anyone in, it would be to the finished side. I'm not interested in keeping much of a parts inventory so it won't be a sales area so to speak. Computer,desk,table,chairs, etc. Right now I'm setting up my suppliers. I think for now I'm going to stick with buying, refurbing, and reselling. Maybe some upgrades and prototype work, till I get my feet wet and see which way the business takes me. I'm finding that I can't compete with the local big box gun stores on certain pistols, but on others I'm very competitive. Just depends on the gun.
Basically going over the application, line by line. They want to make sure you are not just getting the FFL for your own personal use. They go over a huge stack of manuals,forms,etc. Like I said, very nice people, at least the person I had.

On a side note, the business seems to be taking a heading for the internet. Ecommerce, you gotta love it. I'm currently meeting with a web designer to set up the site. Could be a fair number of new 1911 pistols and the parts for them will be represented for starters. After that, we'll see what we have requests for. I do know there will not be any holsters. The well is deep, but not that deep. Way too many to inventory. Don't know how much time I'll have left for making chips, but I suppose I can hire that done if need be. Oh well, and all I wanted to do was a little lathe work.
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