ATF Issues Open Letter to Crack Down on FFLs Selling Unserialized Frames, Receivers

(Photo: ATF)


WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued an open letter today to all federal firearms licensees regarding the application of Final Rule 2021-05F, Definition of “Frame or Receiver” and Identification of Firearms, on partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar semiautomatic pistol frames.

In April 2022, the Department of Justice announced a new “Frame or Receiver” final rule, which modernizes the definition of a firearm. The final rule, which went into effect in August 2022, clarifies that parts kits that are readily convertible to firearms are subject to the same regulations as firearms made by a federal firearms licensed manufacturer.

Today’s open letter clarifies to the firearm industry and the public how the August 2022 final rule addresses partially complete, disassembled or nonfunctional semiautomatic striker-fired pistol frames or parts kits manufactured, sold or distributed by Polymer80, Lone Wolf and others.

SEE ALSO: California Adds ‘Unfinished Frames or Receivers’ to List of Items Confiscated After Red Flag Order

Partially complete Polymer80, Lone Wolf, and similar striker-fired semiautomatic pistol frames, including, but not limited to, those sold within parts kits, are regulated by the Gun Control Act (GCA) because they have reached a stage of manufacture where they “may readily be completed, assembled, restored, or otherwise converted” to a functional frame.

This definition of “readily” applies to each classification of a partially complete frame or receiver under this rule, whether sold alone or as part of a kit; therefore, even without any associated templates, jigs, molds, equipment, tools, instructions, guides, or marketing materials, these partially complete pistol frames are “frames” and “firearms” as defined in the GCA and its implementing regulations.

“Today’s open letter is another important step in implementing the crucial public safety rule regarding privately made firearms, or Ghost Guns,” said ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. “The partially completed pistol frames described in this open letter are readily convertible to functioning firearms under the Gun Control Act. Ghost Guns can kill like other firearms if they are in the wrong hands, so they are treated as firearms under the law. This means that they must have serial numbers so that law enforcement can trace if they are used in crimes like other guns, and also that those engaged in the business of selling them must be licensed dealers and run background checks.”

If anyone remains unclear about a specific model or configuration, they may submit a request with a sample to ATF, who can only render a formal determination upon receipt of a formal request and physically examining a submitted sample. 

ATF regulates the firearm industry and is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms and violent crimes. More information about ATF and its programs is available at

The ATF’s Open Letter:

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  • Geronimo January 3, 2023, 10:53 am

    Seems to me that since US v Randy Price ruling that stated that removing serial numbers is not punishable by law then not having serial numbers at all should likewise not be illegal either.

  • Tyrant Exterminator December 30, 2022, 1:31 pm


    • TN December 30, 2022, 6:26 pm

      I sympathize with your emotional response to the ATF’s behavior and even its existence [you are not wrong in thinking so], but must offer some free legal advice.
      As to my bona fides, I’m a long time socially and politically active Pro2A, pro NRA, firearms rights supporter within the California criminal [in]justice ‘legal’ system, as well as a corporate officer and part time salesman in an FFL retail store.

      I admire your ‘passion’, but urge you to use a better way to present our public message and truths in a ‘civil’ and thoughtful manner that doesn’t make our many enemies, or ‘moderate’ neutrals, or even our supporters, discount and disregard your message as an out of control ‘rant’ similar to what some do to exaggeratedly demonize ‘libtards’ and ‘deranged’ Progressives. See the point? Rants don’t change anyone’s minds for the better. Our arguments and public speech needs to be persuasive, factually accurate, truthfully and rationally presented, but not an ’emotional rant’ and rambling insults. Save that for when you are in the private company of friends over beers and brats, and who understand your frustrations, that we all share. That’s how I get to vent my frustrations. You could too.

      And on what I hope is a helpful to you and others, but ominous reminder, our high tech overlords, like you refer to, now have and use the capability to automatically search, surveil, and monitor the ‘web’ through web search histories, phone calls, texts, and postings like these, for any references to what they deem to be ‘threats’ by criminals, ‘terrorists’ or ‘white supremacists’, which descriptions they use in the regime media to refer to gun owners. Rants like yours could bring down law enforcement and prosecution on you. You don’t have to be paranoid to know you have enemies. Exercise caution. We no longer have ‘free speech’ or freedom in this country. Big brother is indeed watching, and growing in strength.

      Take responsibility yourself to do what you can to ensure election fraud is not allowed in future. That and vote the bastards out.

  • Dr. Roger L Meyer December 30, 2022, 10:43 am

    This (along with almost ALL gun laws) is a BLATANT violation of the Constitution.
    Not only does it violate the right to own a firearm, but it regulates a simple piece of plastic that is NOT capable of firing a chemically propelled projectile, or any other projectile unless the owner throws the piece of plastic.
    Likewise, this piece of plastic is NOT easily converted to a firearm. It takes very specialized tools and training (I know because I am a Master Gunsmith) to be able to manufacture a functional firearm from this piece of plastic.
    The ONLY reason for this UNLEGISLATED RULE is to extend the dictatorial powers of the Democrat party and the current administration.

    • TN December 30, 2022, 6:45 pm

      All knowledgeable firearm owners realize that the ATF is ridiculously, unconditionally out of control and tyrannically anti-gun. So is the rest of the Progressive [marxist] uniparty swamp we call ‘government’. But, they are quite correct in saying that P80 frames can ‘easily’ be made into firearms. If you have done it, you know that It takes only a few minutes with a cheap drill, two drill bits, and a sharp knife or file. Denying the obvious is not going to fool or persuade anyone differently, or get ATF and other swamp dwellers to change their little minds or their course of action. We are left with politics and voting as the only remedy to restore our rights and our country. I used to say ‘ballots or bullets’, but no longer, as choice #2 means the immediate end of civilized society. If we each do not personally participate in governance and election protection, instead of bitching and complaining to the TV, nothing is going to change or prevent the uniparty swamp from attaining total control. I’m doing my part. Each of you must do yours.

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