What?!?!? AR-15s Eligible for C&R FFL Transfers

I think its safe to say that many of our readers view the AR-15 as a thoroughly modern weapon system. Admittedly, it’s hard not to with various companies and innovations popping up all the time. Various improvements to the base design, newer materials, and modern CNC milling have given this actually antique platform a long lease on life.

However, the ATF agrees that early AR-15s are now eligible for transfer under Curio and Relic status. Originally offered in 1964, Colt SP1 rifles are now considered C&R firearms due to their age. Per the ATF:

To be recognized as C&R items, 478.11 specifies that firearms must fall within one of the following categories:

  1. Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas of such firearms;
  2. Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; and
  3. Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event.

Specifically, firearms up to and including those manufactured in 1967 are eligible for transfer which puts more than 10,000 eligible serial numbers in circulation, per Colt via Forgotten Weapons.

Colt SP1 receivers are fully compatible with modern offerings, assuming they have been manufactured to the same military specifications common to the AR platform.

If you are a C&R FFL, various receivers are available for sale on a semi-regular basis through the various auction websites. Or, the rifle shown in the video will be available soon through Rock Island Auctions available here. 



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Jared Vynn

    Hard to believe a design over twice your age is still in use and considered modern.

    • Dougscamo

      Not really…think planes, trains, and automobiles….just improvements of the original concepts….

      • Brick

        Some modern cars are still sold with rear drum brakes. Same basic design from 1900.

      • Mystick

        There have been very few true innovations since the times of Maxim, Colt, and Browning… but a plethora of variations on a theme.

    • Bookoodinkydow

      I resemble that remark. Actually, the design isn’t even my age.

  • Noishkel

    Hah! I was hoping that this would eventually happen. It isn’t like it fits the law as intended.

  • TechnoTriticale

    For those who don’t get around to watching the video, the only part of that particular SP-1 that might be original is the lower receiver. If the SP-1 product line ever got forward assists, it was well into the 1970s. Ian speculates that the one in the video was retrofitted with an M16A1 upper at some point.

    • codfilet

      My SP1 was made in the early ’80s, and it does not have a forward assist.

      • TechnoTriticale

        re: My SP1 was made in the early ’80s, and it does not have a forward assist.

        Thanks. That would be consistent with Ian’s statement that the SP-1 never got FA (or a mag release fence).

        But I won’t be surprised if your SP-1 BCG has serrations for an FA.

        Is it supposed that Colt was stuck with a huge number of non-FA uppers when the Army decided they wanted FA? Or were they just controlling parts cost for a feature of dubious market value?

        • codfilet

          Yes, the BC has the notches for a Forward assist.

    • Mystick

      Well, the ATF does insist that only the lower is a firearm…

  • Nandor

    The irony is that C&Rs are what’s still allowed to be transfered in to NY after the SAFE Act. So you can now get an AR-15 in NY if you can find an old enough one, even though this was exactly what was supposed to be banned. Sigh.

  • Swarf

    50 is the new black.

    • A.WChuck

      Once you go 50, you never go back.

      • You’d never know it to read the comments any time politics comes up.

  • nova3930

    There’s lots of neat stuff that’s getting C&R eligible. The glory days of imported milsurp may basically be over but there’s about to be a renaissance of domestic C&R eligible weapons. Think of the domestic weapons introduced in the 50s, 60s and 70s and all of it is or soon will be C&R….

    A fun one is that early production Ruger 10/22s are now C&R….

    • jcitizen

      Heck even 50 cal HBMGs are on C&R lists, but you’d still have to transfer through a dealer, and pay the tax stamp. Unless the item is already in the state or local with friendly laws on that, then maybe it could possible to buy directly from another stamp holder, and pay the tax, I’d imagine it would still require the BATF form for stamp transfers of course.

  • Eric

    Welcome to the party FTB! Your only a week late this time. Winning!

  • AZgunner

    Anyone know what the going rate for these receivers is? I’ve been wanting a retro build for a long time.

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    An SP1 lower isn’t really 100% “fully compatible with modern offerings” as you have to use either an offset front pin or drill out the pin hole of the milspec upper.

    • Pod

      A friend of mine has a full-auto registered receiver from the 1970s. PMAGs will not fit in it unless one applies a considerable amount of force. Seems to be that in general, older ARs need milling and such to take modern accessories.

  • Matt

    A C&R firearm has to be kept in the original configuration to remain legal (if purchased as a C&R). I would imagine that limits you to a fix buttstock, plastic handguard, front sight gas block, etc.

    • Kevin Craig

      That is incorrect.

      Any firearm manufactured more than 50 years earlier is C&R. There are other ways to be C&R, such as being put on “the list” by ATF; this includes many military arms that were less than 50 years old when GCA ‘ 68 became law. It’s the latter that ATF declared must remain in “orginal military configuration”.

      ATF being ATF, they then somehow created a ruling that said that no matter how old it is (unless it’s a pre-1899 antique), a former military rifle must remain in “original military configuration” to be C&R. They’re wrong, but when aren’t they?

      Original configuration has never applied to non-military firearms, and these early SP-1s are not military.

      • Matt

        I read that section again and…i think you are right. But the same paragraph goes on to say frames and receivers are not “generally” considered C&R. I wonder if they will make an exception for these

        • Kevin Craig

          To the best of my knowledge, they’ve only applied that “frames and receivers” rule literally. They’ve issued letters saying that only complete firearms are are C&R, not bare frames or receivers.

          I’d argue that they’re wrong in making that a blanket rule, because there are certain frames and receivers that are of huge collectible value, but… again, it’s ATF. Logic is anathema.

  • Core

    What’s the benefit of a curio or relic?

    • Mike Reed

      I assume you’re asking about the license? It depends on where you live. I have mine but here in Texas it just means I do the transfer based on my FFL vs. using my CHL to bypass a NICS requirement from an FFL dealer. One thing it might help avoid is a transfer fee. If you don’t have a state or method to bypass NICS it can help avoid transfer fees on older weapons – both parties enter the transactions in their bound books.

  • frankspeak

    i’ve got at least one of these around here [no forward assist]..so does that mean it suddenly went up in value???