Now this is a tricky question and one that unfortunately does not have a clear answer. First, let’s define what we mean by build. You can basically build an AR-15 using two popular methods. You can build an AR-15 from a stripped lower receiver and assemble it. Or you can purchase an AR-15 80 percent lower and finish the lower, and then build your rifle. Both methods require you to follow the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act.
Regardless of which way you go, the laws regarding selling your AR-15 rifle are similar in terms of the Federal government. However, you need to research your state's laws. This is superbly important before you consider selling any gun. The NRA host’s an excellent website that provides excellent information regarding state gun sale laws. Check here, and of course follow up on the information you find and double check it.
I can’t speak for every state and their laws. However, the Federal laws are just as important to know. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer when it comes to selling AR-15s you've build at home. The ATF and DOJ haven’t been very clear on the answer and been somewhat ambiguous.
The clearest answer they've given involves becoming a firearms manufacturer and obtain a federal firearms license. The ATF says on their website that,
“If an individual is engaged in the business as a manufacturer or seller of firearms then that person must obtain a federal firearms license.”
This specifically says the person selling and manufacturing the firearm must be engaged in the business of firearms. Being in the business of selling firearms means a person ‘devotes time, attention, and labor into manufacturing firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of the firearms manufactured.’
So you can sell as many AR-15s built from 80% lowers as you want, as long as you are a standard FFL, and a weapon’s manufacturer. You’ll also have to engrave serial numbers on each and every one of them to be in compliance.
As an individual, most of us who build an AR-15 80% lower build kit are not willing to spend the time and money to become firearms manufacturers, or even get an FFL. Can you still sell an 80% lower receiver?
Did you build the AR-15 with the express intent of selling it? Or did you build it with the intent to keep it for personal use, and then later decided to sell it? This is where things get superbly murky. If you built it with the intent of personal use, and then later decided to sell it, you should be okay to do so. Check your state laws!
However, depending on state laws you may have to go through an FFL. This may be difficult if the FFL does not want to process the 4473 Firearms Transfer Record and transfer. This would be up to the discretion of the FFL to process the transfer.
The main issue we face is that there hasn’t been any court cases of precedents set for selling complete AR-15 rifles manufactured at home. The ATF has also not released or answered the question definitely. The best thing to do, consult a lawyer.
If you have any other questions, check out our FAQ here, http://www.ar-15lowerreceivers.com/faqs/DISCLAIMER: If you are new to the world of DIY AR-15 building, you likely have a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s an area that has a lot of questions that, without the correct answers, could have some serious implications. We are by no means providing this content on our website to serve as legal advice or legal counsel. We encourage each and every builder to perform their own research around their respective State laws as well as educating themselves on the Federal laws. When performing your own research, please be sure that you are getting your information from a reliable source.