So, You Just Bought an M2 Carbine at a Pawn Shop for $200…Now What?

M2 Receiver

I recently heard an intriguing story. After hearing it, I turned to Google and apparently this isn’t the only time this has happened. The story goes that a guy walks into a pawn shop/gun store. The guy sees what he thinks is an M1 carbine on the shelf. He asks to see it and notices a reasonable figure on the price tag. Upon further inspection, the guy notices the receiver is clearly marked “M2”. The guy seems to remember something about M2’s being full-auto and asks the clerk about it. The clerk assures him the carbine only fires semi-auto, has no selector switch and although originally an M2, has been converted to an M1 and is legal. Haggling ensues and the guy walks out with what he thinks is an M1 carbine, yet is marked M2.

Sound fishy? It is.

I thought it sounded like an exaggerated gun legend. So I did some research. The internet is, of course, replete with stories of people that know people who bought a semi-auto M2 or were offered one for purchase. Most of the forums I found were people asking for advice. On a sidenote, asking for legal advice on internet gun forums is probably not a good idea. Still, I found some results. I’ll tell you some of the backstory and then the reality.

The back story seems to revolve around a company called Plainfield. I am intentionally not giving all the details because they are irrelevant and, at this point, moot. If you do want to know the storied history of Plainfield, here is a link to a very thorough site:

If you want to know about the M1 carbine itself, you could also look up some information about David “Carbine” Williams, or watch the incredibly boring 1952 film, “Carbine Williams”, starring Jimmy Stewart. Fortunately, Jimmy Stewart did not have a carbine in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, otherwise he may have shot Mr. Potter, who in my opinion was the only legit man in Bedford Falls.

Jimmy Stewart, who played “Carbine” Williams, mean-mugging the real “Carbine” Williams.

As best I can tell, Plainfield made M1 and M2 carbines for several decades. The M2’s were all exported. It appears that some of the M2’s made it back with semi-auto parts kits. Someone must have been under the impression that dropping a semi-auto parts kit in an M2 would magically make it an M1. Some of the Plainfield M2’s did in fact make it back to the US with semi-auto parts kits. That is without question.

$79.95? Those were the days…

My search through the depths of the interwebs yielded advice from “get rid of it” to “don’t tell anybody” to “buy an M2 parts kit for it and have fun”. Not surprisingly, there was no supporting evidence as to exactly why a semi-auto M2 was illegal.

The reality is this: Possession of an unregistered M2 receiver is contraband per se. That means, unless it’s registered per the NFA, it’s illegal. It does not matter if it is semi or stripped. Again, unless it is demilled per BATFE specs or registered, it is illegal.

From BATFE's website

From BATFE’s website:

I know that’s grainy, so here’s what it says:

“M-1 Carbines altered by substitution of M-2 kits to permit automatic fire are also machine guns. Carbine receivers marked M-2 are machine guns, even though they may only be capable of semiautomatic fire.

Possession of an unregistered M-2 conversion kit, which consists of the following seven parts, constitutes possession of an unregistered NFA firearm; regardless of whether or not assembled;

  1. selector
  2. selector spring
  3. selector lever assembly
  4. hammer
  5. disconnector
  6. disconnector spring
  7. disconnector plunger”

So, an M2 receiver will always be subject to the NFA, as will M2 conversion kits. Again, here’s the link to BATFE’s site for this:

My understanding is that BATFE will not allow “new” M2 receivers to be registered. There are M2’s that were allowed to be registered during an amnesty period decades ago. To make a long story even longer, if you’re in possession of one that isn’t registered, you’re committing at least one felony. I certainly don’t want to see any historical item get destroyed, but that’s the law.

M2's selector switch

M2’s selector switch

Something is either legal or not. We can talk about the NFA all day, but now you know. Your safest bet to avoid prosecution, should one be in your possession, would be to inform BATFE and turn it over to them. They will most likely destroy the receiver. Just a warning. I certainly would never want to see a piece of history destroyed (or any gun for that matter), but blame your parents and grandparents. It was their generation that produced the NFA.

As always, if anyone has any additional information to contribute about this subject, please do.




GD Crocker is a proud Southerner who has been shooting for decades. He is a competitive shooter, armorer, instructor and collector. He recently passed the bar exam and deals primarily with securities law. GD’s proudest moments are seeing his kids shoot and get excited about their 2nd Amendment rights. He’s no Rick Taylor, but then again, who is?


  • JT

    Include NFA items in the Firearms Freedom Acts passed among the various states and be done with it. NFA is run on commerce (tax stamp) and FFA’s seek end runs around that clause. If a state is going to pass the law and get opposition for it anyway, might as well go big

    • JT

      on a seperate note, why are there so few people who want to aim for the stars, so to speak? NFA, GCA, 86 ban, the goal should be 1800’s level gun rights with 21st century NICS until we have a society, culturally, where we won’t need background checks

      • GD

        Agreed. However, that would need to take place on the legislative level. Until then, unregistered NFA items are illegal. This was just an “FYI”. I can assure you that the high point of my legal career would be to have the NFA overturned.

      • GD

        Agreed. However, that would need to take place on the legislative level. Until then, unregistered NFA items are illegal. This was just an “FYI”. I can assure you that the high point of my legal career would be to have the NFA overturned.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Um, perhaps you forget that just this year we came the closest we since 94 to losing standard capacity capacity mags and semi-auto rifles.

        The political landscape will have to change before any amount of advancing could be considered.

        • HSR47

          “came the closest.”

          And yet we still soundly defeated it. The political landscape IS changing, as is the judicial landscape. When the last major federal gun control statute that is still on the books was passed nearly 30 years ago, we didn’t have Heller or McDonald.

          Current pending cases mostly cover carry/possession (in no-carry zones like DC, carry by resident aliens, and challenges to may-issue permitting systems in NY, NJ, MD, and CA), but there is at least one pending case challenging feature (AWB) bans.

          Looking at it, it might take 20-30 years, but it is possible the SCOTUS will overturn some of the current gun control statutes. If I had to guess, SAF will probably oppose the bans on carry on federal property first, then outright bans like the Hughes Amendment.

          Additionally, in the interim I wouldn’t be surprised to see “silencers” federally deregulated.

      • BryanS

        Because we have a media that has a Progressive agenda. The progressives came up with the NFA in the first place.

      • Patrick Henry,The2nd

        Because the culture and media won’t allow it. Normal people are terrified of MGs because that’s what the media promotes. We can’t directly attack the NFA or GCA or the Hughes Amendment- not yet.

        The model we have to follow is the CCW movement. They started out with little to nothing, and now all 50 states have CCW, most are shall and FIVE! are no permits at all. We changed the culture, one by one, to get that. The next step would be to either repeal or challenge the Hughes amendment. Once MGs are plentiful again, then we can attack the NFA. We should also work to get SBRs and suppressors out of the NFA too.

        Its possible, and many people want them gone, but we have to go about it in a strategically and tactically sound way.

        • Samuel Suggs

          yeah it won’t be like that, they will lose their minds the first time you try to do it on a state level if you want to be free you’re going to have to take that freedom bye force. deal with it the democratic process is polluted by a wide variety of institutions chiefly the propaganda corps we call a media. The current state of this country is exactly why the 2nd amendment exists the fear that would motivate someone to turn in a machinegun voltarily is the only thing that gives them power stop cowering in fear and wipe the slate clean

          • Robert

            Samuel…posting that here is begging for an early morning visit from your local Fed alphabet agency. I’m not saying you’re wrong…just saying you’re choosing a terrible place to discuss it.

          • Samuel Suggs


        • mike gee

          Maybe you’ve NEVER seen firearms violence perpetrated on innocent people, or seen police officers OUTGUNNED -have. All that “defense against an unjust government spew” to justify wanting a powerful,weapon to mow,down your neighbors is sad

          The semi auto weapons on the market are effective enough as it is. You are not going to war and there will be no second civil war in this country or some mad max apocalyptic disaster, nor a zombie invasion. Full auto is an ammo waste first off, and with modern rapid fire semi auto weapons, if I am in a situation where I have to spray,and pray, I am :

          1) S.O.L.
          2) too stupid to survive as I didn’t plan or think ahead

          I don’t agree with quite a few weapons laws, but on anti material weapons,(.50 cal sniper and MGs,), explosives, and full auto assualt rifles I am in agreement on control.

          We have enough problems with IDIOTS who pick up guns and do harm .

          • Dirty Old Armorer

            “Bag of dicks.”

            Find one, Mikie, and start sucking ’em.

  • PK

    “Your safest bet to avoid prosecution, should one be found in your possession, would be to inform BATFE and turn it over to them.”

    That’s adorable. You trust the BATFE not to arrest and prosecute someone over an honest mistake.

    • GD

      As opposed to what?

    • Jeff Smith

      They wouldn’t have a case. “Buyer in the Ordinary Course of Business” laws SHOULD protect the buyer in this case. After all, the person bought the gun from a gun dealer after being assured it was legal.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        “Having a case”… Has has never stopped the ATF from going ahead with arrest, trial, and sometimes conviniction. At best… If they try you and you win, you’re still almost certainly going to be bankrupted.

        If you find yourself in the possession of an unregistered machine gun, there are only two options in reality. Bury it and hope one day you might be able to dig it up and own without consequence. Or, part it out, and destroy the receiver.

        If you find yourself in your grandfathers attic and come across an Mg42, destroy the receiver, sell the parts, and have a nice payday. Or call the ATF, and get nothing but best case of them taking it from you nicely.

        • Sneed

          You are exactly right. Advising someone to voluntarily bring such an illegal part to any branch of the government is borderline insane. “Trust them, ” yeah, right. Other than inviting the public to a live fire demonstration bringing one to BATFE voluntarily is about the worst possible course of action possible!

        • Samuel Suggs

          why would you destroy anything hide it they dont have cameras everywhere espcially under the ground just get over your fear of these animals they cant control you unless you let them use that fear to that effect

          • Samuel I really wouldn’t post those kinds of comments on any blog. No they don’t have cameras everywhere but they do read blogs. I’m not saying they read ours but better safe than sorry.
            That and having an unregistered NFA gun isn’t worth the risk.

          • Samuel Suggs

            that kinda relative but point taken firearms not politics

          • Samuel Suggs

            whether its worth it depends on your priorites and goals in life again its all about fear they have nothing else

          • Samuel Suggs

            yes the NSA is watching (hi NSA hows it goin) what diffenrence will that make “ow we new he was going to do these things based on the following posts therfore we can stop it from happening rite” well no they cant they either have power over people or they dont they live off fear and percieved omnipitonce thats why they read your emails and phone calls they want you to know they know so you stop commiting thouht crimes as tin foil hatty as that may be

          • Samuel Suggs

            hmm my diqus account alerted me of this response twice (dam you NSA i know it was you)

          • GlockLove

            nicely put and vary true any unregistered full auto firearm isn’t worth 50 years of your life being “friends” with big butch in a tiny cell eating c*ck meat sandwiches ….for 350$ just buy the slide fire ..u dont have to break the law for uncle SAM not to know what u have ..

        • ThomasD

          Cosmoline and schedule 40 PVC pipe.

          The main reason I’d shy away from any M2 is their propensity to fire out of battery.

          • Samuel Suggs

            if you came into one for two hundred dollars would you throuw it away? its not a range toy thats for sure, its a hide and keep for the historical value thing. why douse your post begin with “Cos moline.”

          • Samuel Suggs

            Cosmoline is the traditional choice but their are better cheaper options now and it’s not really easy to source more of a historical thing than something you should use now

          • So can a Universal M1 Carbine, had it happen to a friend once, who was very lucky and only got a few minor cuts from exploding gun pieces…..

      • Samuel Suggs

        so what their poltical funtionarys dont support their exisistance bye giving away a tool of freedom for no other reason than irrational fear they want you to feel. its not hard to hide illegal items if you dont decide to show it off

    • Anonymous

      I’ve personally known cases of this happening, and ATF has shown zero interest in prosecuting or harassing the individuals who contacted them. In several instances, the ATF agents involved tried to find ways to preserve some or all of the weapon for the owner by changing out the barrel, removing parts that render it illegal, etc. Maybe in California they just arrest you for asking questions, but not around this part of the country.

      • CrankyFool

        I turned in an unregistered assault weapon (by their definitions) (just a stripped lower receiver) to a CA police department voluntarily with zero adverse results. I also had a dealing with the same police department (and the DA) about a few other unregistered assault weapons where they treated me pretty damn well (and ended up deciding not to prosecute me despite having me dead to rights).

        • Samuel Suggs


          • CrankyFool

            Use more words, please :). Why what?

          • Samuel Suggs

            why would he do any of those things he said he did in his above comment? why must I clairify I was trying to use it to a particular effect

      • Samuel Suggs

        they are not consistent and they have recently been rather bold in their persecution of freedom loving groups and individulas so you never know why would you even think about destroying a pecie of history just to avoid prosecution

      • mike gee

        Actually here in California, they don’t arrest or prosecute you. While some sheriffs and police depts have “gun turn in day”( probably the best way to get rid of an inoperable firearm, and at least get some thing out of it, like a gift or gas card) you can also drop by your local dept and turn over the gun( jist don’t walk in with it-an officer or deputy will probably walk out to your car and take it, then give you a receipt for it)

        The firearm will be test fired and recorded for ballistics( to insure it wasn’t used in a crime), and eventually destroyed. I know, turned in a Norinco MAK 90 bought in 1991, after getting sick of haggling with LGS employees freaking out about it being “banned”, instead of helping broker an out of state sale!

        Took it to my local PD, they simply booked it and got a call from a Detective asking “why I turned it in”. Told him I held on to it after the ban, can’t register it, and don’t want it. Same Detective said he wish he could give it back, but that the gun would be destroyed under current law. That was 4 yrs ago- no warrants for my arrest or BATFE “boogey men” at my door.

        PS. Since then , I have two 922r legal and CA compliant Saiga AKs….

        • Dirty Old Armorer

          Ha, ha. You fucking idiot.

          You do know that you could have sold that MAK90 to anyone with an FFL outside of California. Either in person, or via mail or UPS.

          Glad you lost hundreds of dollars. You probably would have donated it to Feinstein.

    • GD

      I know three people who have turned in NFA items. Two were brought back from foreign conflicts and one was an inadvertent NFA purchase. Other than asking them if the guns had been involved in a crime, the ATF didn’t ask any questions. It’s similar to a “buy-back” that local police do in urban areas. I simply offered that as one possibility based on what they told me and my legal experience.

      I can assure you that while you will most likely not be arrested or prosecuted for voluntarily surrendering an inadvertently acquired NFA item, you will almost certainly be prosecuted if you are found in possession of one.

      Just a thought.

  • Frosty_The_White_Man

    If I’m not mistaken, this is the same law keeping surplus M14s from reaching the civilian market. *RAGE*

    • Samuel Suggs

      its actually a ruling bye the ATF pertaining to the interpritation of a law so why sould we listen to it if you are fortunate enogh to come into one of these then hide it and defend it with your life as it will be usefull some time in the future

  • SnJohnson

    What about the 4473? Wouldn’t it have already been registered with the ATF?

    • HSR47

      At issue isn’t the disposition of form 4473, but of form 2/3/4.

      NFA/GCA requires that MG, SBR, SBS, AOW, and silencers be registered; Legal ownership of said items requires a specific type of tax stamp. Without such a stamp, possession is illegal.

      Still, if they were manufactured domestically, it seems to me that there should have been a form 2 filed with the ATF, therefore this case may be more akin to the issue of South Korean M1 carbines than to the average unregistered GI-bringback MG.

    • John

      IIRC 4473 forms are not turned into the ATF but rather kept in the gun shop’s books until the they surrender their FFL license (aka closes shop). It is also a sale record, not a registration of the firearm. A firearm can change hands any number of times after its sale.

  • vitor roma

    I recently imported a pair of boots, expecting to receive the letter saying they would be held at the customs til I pay the 60% importation tax. For some reason they just arrived at home with no issues at all.

    And guess what? I didnt went the brazilian IRS asking why they didnt charge me or asking to be charged. I was just glad and silent.

  • GD

    I know three instances where people turned items into the ATF. Two were bring-backs from foreign conflicts and one was an inadvertent NFA purchase. The ATF didn’t ask any questions, other than if they had any knowledge of the guns being used in crimes. This is similar to “gun buy backs” that local law enforcement routinely does in urban areas with no questions asked.

    Based on the experiences of these people who I know and based on my legal experience, I offer advising ATF as a suggestion.

    But I can assure you that while voluntarily handing over an inadvertently purchased NFA item will most likely never result in an arrest or prosecution by Federal law enforcement, being caught with one in your possession most likely will.

    Just a thought.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    I was always under the impression that unlike the M14, M16 and other full-auto guns, the M2 carbine receiver was IDENTICAL to an M1 carbine receiver and the M2 full auto bits were bolt-on’s. I was always led to believe that this is why the M1 carbine is so easy to convert to an M2. Is that not the case? Is the receiver actually different?

    • It doesn’t matter the receiver is marked M2 and that’s all that matters.

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        Yeah that didn’t actually answer my question at all.

        • Truth’s a Bastard

          An M1 carbine has a receiver with “M1” stamped on it.

          An M2 has that same receiver with “M2” stamped on it.

  • M Gallo

    Go to Arfcom and read preban’s post “So you found a MG in the attic.” There are plenty of ways to get a “found” MG on the registry; remember that the registry is only something like 40% accurate. Talk to an attorney that specializes in NFA work, or to a good SOT (ask around and you’ll find one).

    • Chrome Dragon

      Would you please post a link to the thread? Search isn’t working for me.

  • Jeff

    Inform the ATF? Stick to securities law. Those of us in criminal defense would never give such advice. If you are really worried about prosecution, slice the receiver with a bandsaw and dispose of each half in two different wooded areas. Calling the ATF is an invitation for them to investigate you. Even if they don’t prosecute this charge (which is far from certain) they may well discover some other crime that you unknowingly committed.

    • GD

      Spoken like a true defense attorney. You’re probably right. However, the people I know who have turned in NFA items have never had an issue.

    • kingghidorah

      Yep. Didn’t cult leader David Koresh called the ATF and asked them about owning a ‘lightning link’? I believe they said they’d get back to him.

  • Samuel Suggs

    Hide the gun, please just let it go, you are not helping yourself and you’re destroying a piece of history and a tool of freedom because you want to follow criminal laws. You will be forced to do so eventually with the weapons you already own legally so it’s time to get used to it. look there are many options when it comes to weapon caching they include but are far from limited too underground caches that you can make yourself from copper, PVC or lead pipes as well as any aluminum or stainless steel container you can safely weld or solder closed without damaging the contents remember preservative solutions are the key to a succeful long term cache this too can be accomplished in a myriad of ways including disassembling the gun and placing the metal parts in a motor oil filled caching container or simply coating them in wheel bearing grease or similar. Wood parts are the biggest challenge however furniture grease and a vacuum sealed bags seems to work well when done properly. rubber, plastic and polymer parts vary widely however sealing rubber in vacume bags after rubbing them in a small quantity of oil helps. most polymers are fine over time with just grease and theirs qutie a bit of information on preserving P-mags and polymer handguns availible so before attempting anything check that out. The classic “inside residential walsl” cache is trickyer and basically inferior in every way as your cache is threatened by everything from fire to flooding however the really well hidden wall safes are a defend story entirely and probably serve as sufficient protection for an “illegal” full auto and you have many options including simply installing a standard safe inside a convenient wall then building your own access system. Professionally made versions range from moderately “concealed” gun cabinets to entire hidden rooms with convoluted locking systems that would screw you if you happened to lose power anyway my point is that you never have to follow laws relating to the ownership of anything and that it is becoming increasingly clear that you should actively avoid doing so. Giving up a piece of history like that is inconceivable to me the only reason to do so would be out of petty fear. Do your own research on caches and make your own choices but always remember that it is your obedience that gives them their power.

  • Brandon

    “Carbine receivers marked M-2 are machine guns, even though they may only be capable of semiautomatic fire.”

    I thought the definition of a machin- oh never mind. Should know better than try to apply logic to BATFE rules…

    • Samuel Suggs

      why would we follow illogical rules

      • Karina

        Because until the time comes when the law shall change or the society falls apart, whichever comes first, breaking the law on the guise of them being judged illogical, whether they actually are or not, is being an idiot.

        So yes, your question is legitimate, but incitation to committing what amounts as a crime in your country, is not what I’d call an intelligent idea. And you can come up with whatever arguments you like, you know it’s true.

        • Samuel Suggs

          Are you saying that I know it’s true that I’m an idiot or that I know it’s true that encouraging people to break the law is illegal?

        • A Critic

          The refusal to submit to the illogical, immoral, and illegal demands of tyrants is not a sign of a deficit of intelligence.

  • unclezip

    This is why we can have nice things.

  • PARAMEDIC70002

    How did these M-2s manage to be reimported into the American market?

    • Samuel Suggs

      we gave quite a few away to the south koreans and the south vienamese and similar but we kept quite a few also and they got sold off to plice departements and the like

  • AKSapper

    I see alot of NFA stuff at the range that isnt papered at all. You casually ask how long they had to wait for paperwork and they look at you with the dear in headlights look. I also routinely see people in gun shops selling NFA stuff when they arent NFA dealers

    • Samuel Suggs

      why would you tell us about this? I mean thats good for you but quiet down

      • AKSapper

        Its not good for me , its BAD for all gun owners and just goes to show that . I follow the law and wait the ridiculous amount of time ..Like NFA rules say to do..Bottom line breaking gun laws because someone doesnt like them paints all gun owners with a bad brush

  • Adam

    You know the gun grabbers really really love people that say things like:
    1. The only way to change gun laws is by force!

    2. You should hide your machine guns and other illegal items from the law!

    3. The government is evil and only wishes to subjugate the people and the police are their way of keeping us oppressed!

    You know why they love those people? It’s kinda the “one bad apple situation”. Because for every 10,000 law-abiding, reasonable people with their CCW permits and properly submitted NFA forms that we line up and point to and say, “See look! We’re normal folks just like you, but we happen to enjoy guns as a hobby and we appreciate our 2nd Amendment rights!” all the grabbers have to do is find that guy and ask, “What about that dude in his bunker with the machine guns buried in his yard and his borderline anarchist rantings?” And then we look down, kick the dirt, and mumble something about how we don’t actually play with him, he just sort of hangs around all the time but we really wish he would leave. Because the only legitimate answer to that question is: “Yup, we got some crazy mofo’s that love guns too, and we really hope he doesn’t snatch a kid off a school bus and take him hostage.” Unfortunately that doesn’t exactly play well on the news. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love a lot more leeway when it comes to these things, but until we can get more average Joes at the front of our argument, I don’t see that happening.

    • Samuel Suggs

      You realize that the gun laws represent a tiny slice of the problem right, I mean it’s a classic prerequisite to more traditional tyrannical pursuits that’s what the second amdenment exists to prevent and that’s why it’s taken down first allways. I am aware that Obama is nothing like Hitler I find those posters ridiculous I view him as more of an engineered Kurt von Schleicher to a lesser degree that is a pre requisite to a process that ends in something we don’t want. dictatorship NO diluted and ineffectual false republic yes you get the idea we are not crazy and I don’t live in a bunker and what do you think a conspiracy theory is anyway

    • Samuel Suggs

      Changinggun laws is not why revolution is a possible solution to our growing problem dood it’s a “long train of abuses” a wiser man once wrote as “crazy”
      as that may make me sound .

  • Samuel Suggs

    They will never allow full auto deregulation. The lifting of the absolute ban that existed on the carrying of firearms in some areas changes nothing. their where arguments in favor of that regulation that haven’t already been demonized by the media as “crazy” and
    “stupid” that is arguments other than “we may need to overthrow the government some day” and “because it’s fun” and “because the second amendment says so for the following reasons……” these people don’t care about the bill of rights look at how the 4th amendment is treated come on that thing was unceremoniously ignored until it became a meaningless sentence they don’t do so with the second amendment because they it’s got its own support group and people pay attention but it’s still a rule un-followed as it where the letter of the laws espoused in the bill of rights hasn’t been followed since before the turn of the century their where war powers exception before that but that’s beside the point, they will never let it happen the way they let “constitutional” well actually heavily regulated carry happen

  • RV

    I had a similar experience with an Egyptian AK. Bought it at a gun show fairly cheap. The guy had bought a lot of them. Stuck it in the rack and a few years later went out shooting it and found it full auto. Luckily I had the knowledge to disable the full auto function semi-permenatly. I wonder how many others hit the market full auto

  • Ben Branam

    Safest way to avoid prosecution is destroy it yourself. Blow torches have always been popular for destroying guns. Don’t trust the BATFE not to prosecute you if you tell them about the feloney you are committing.

    Some cases they have been sane and others they have been completely crazy! It’s your freedom.

  • Darren Brimhall

    You can also remove the seven little pieces

    • Capt. Billy Whizbang

      Bottom line. If the receiver is stamped M2, it is illegal unless registered.
      Even if all you have is the receiver, no other parts, (barrel, stock etc) it is considered a mg.

  • GlockLove

    i wonder how many people found this out and milled of the number 2

  • Ryan

    There was a story I heard about back in the 80s or 90s, one of the bigger sporting goods stores here in Australia selling a large number of M2 carbines to the public by accident after acquiring what they thought were surplus M1s. After the people that bought them started noticing the selector switch and having too much they had a recall.

  • J scott

    On Ebay currently there several auctions for the selector parts mentioned here as
    “illegal” Whats with that!

  • Dave

    This is not relevant to this article in particular (except that I own an old M1 that my grandfather restored), but I just wanted to applaud you for having a thoughtful, well-written blog that discusses guns without every post devolving into conspiracy theory mongering, hateful political rhetoric, and downright ignorance. I’m a left-leaning guy and one who has no particular attachment to firearms, but I also grew up in The South, grew up around guns, and I hate that we can’t just have a discussion anymore about the history or functionality of an infinitely intriguing machine without it immediately becoming a political issue.

  • Troy

    I found a Trijicon ACOG flawless at They also have a Savage SCP110 .338 Lapua and a Bushmaster Carbon AR15. Wow! The things you can find online these day!

  • Michael

    Once again, common sense does (not) prevail.

  • Eric Blatter

    This is an accurate and excellent article. The information regarding receiver stampings is 100% correct, and I’ve known of this fact for over 30 years because I was involved in such an incident. The advice given is intelligent and legally correct.

    As a licensed dealer I can only say that I’ve never had any issues with the ATF. They have always been helpful and allowed me to correct errors without issue. They have always told me in so many words, “We understand no ones perfect. Good faith mistakes are understandable. “Bad faith” mistakes are usually pretty apparent and we don’t like those.” And like any company, organization, or bureaucracy, there will be a few of the ATF that abuse, or mis-understand the driving tenants of the organization, which may end up having some poor schmoe get hauled into court for an honest mistake.

    The problem is that it may have just been a mistake. The agents may have been over zealous. There may be some “fudging” of the law, on both sides. So we must trust that our system is just and it will be resolved. But, nothings perfect. Honest people go to prison all the time. Such is life. It isn’t perfect, but allow me to at least think “It’ll do.”

  • Dirty Old Armorer

    The unregistered M2s assembled with M1 parts offer a chance to demolish the BATF’s “once a machinegun, always a machinegun” rule that has been used to justify denial of importation for most post-WWII military rifles and was used to prevent M14s from being released to the CMP (instead, they were sent to “Captain Crunch” to be turned into scrap).

    If you find yourself with one of these (and they are out there — quite a few were converted with M1 parts before being re-imported to the US and sold long before the BATF invented their “once a machinegun…” rule) contact the BATF and let them seize it as contraband. But do not relinquish ownership. Take them to court over their illegal seizure of your property, and let them (finally) try to justify their illogical rule in front of a judge and jury.

    They are going to be laughed out of the courtroom when they try to claim that having a “2” rather than a “1” stamped in the metal of an otherwise identical receiver is what makes one a machinegun and the other a non-machinegun.