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View Full Version : "gray area L1A1" - Canada - sear cut receiver - Century


GOVT1911
May 09, 2010, 10:11
What can you guys tell me about the "gray area" L1A1s? From what I remember reading, (can't find it now) they were Brit rifles imported by someone (through Canada???) and sold to individual LEOs, who eventually sold them to someone else....

Are the receivers cut for the safety sear? Did they come in with semi or FA EBs?

Are there any actual "legal classification" of these? Should they be avoided like the plague?

The reason I ask is a buddy knows I'm interested in FN/FALs and he ran across a private sale for a decent price (he hasn't bought it).

He said it appears to be all original Brit and there are no import markings on it that he can find.

I mentioned to him I had read something about these here, but after searching I couldn't find anything....

Windustsearch
May 09, 2010, 10:15
Not sure of the legality, it has been debated here.

Century imported them in the 90s and I think there should be an import mark on the barrel.

gunplumber
May 09, 2010, 10:26
there is no freaking gray area. Cops aren't allowed to buy machineguns over the counter. They were imported after the '89 import ban and before the '94 AW ban (now expired) established marking requirements. The only reason they were LE-only was because of not being 922 compliant. The sear cut is no different than the sear cut on any of the thousands of steyr imports.

Brian in MN
May 09, 2010, 10:28
Originally posted by Windustsearch
Not sure of the legality, it has been debated here.

Century imported them in the 90s and I think there should be an import mark on the barrel.

+1

Yes, they are sear cut. There are also plenty that came here without a paper trail in the trunk of cars from Canada. Those will have no import marks. The legal status of the guns that came from Canada is not the least bit fuzzy.

Brian in MN
May 09, 2010, 10:59
I disagree, Mark. The difference is that ATF has given their blessing to the Steyr guns. The L1A1's were a mistake, ATF has made it very clear that they view such rifles as non-importable as issued. As you well know ATF has a history of being all over the map on how they handle their mistakes. More than once they have decided to recall and destroy. While I don't think that owning one of the LEO guns will land anyone in prison, you may well lose your investment if the monster wakes up one day and there is a paper trail leading to your gun safe.

gunplumber
May 09, 2010, 11:13
Originally posted by Brian in MN
I disagree, Mark. The difference is that ATF has given their blessing to the Steyr guns.

Really - when was that?

C2A1
May 09, 2010, 11:56
I think gunplumer is right. I don't have the case here but there was a case involving a "sear" cut FAL in Maryland ( don't remember if it was an L1A1 or one of the metric rifles). I saw that durning the case the G series were brought up and the defense attorney asked what was the difference between a G and the thousands of sear cut rifles let in later. Amazingly the Judge thru the Feds case out based on not having a clear defintion of " machinegun" for the FAL. The Feds dropped the case rather than appeal because it would open pardora's box on the "once a machinegun" rules.
The issue here isn't the rifle but the subjectivness of the ATF. Any kind of logic would point to the G series and then the Steyers and even some argies and say there is a clear history that these rifle are go to go based on the ATF approval, ignoring them etc. This "gray" gun thing is just too weird. I have seen mauser carbines that have 15 (14.75) inch barrels that were imported, that's OK. I saw a S&W M-59 back in the 70s (new out of the box) that would sometimes fire 2, 3 or the whole magazine ( real POS). How is that any different than the AR-15 that double fires and someone gets their knickers in a bundle? Today it may be the sear cut rifles. next week it is the rifles that the selector rotates into all three postions and some carrer flunky needs points on his 201 file for political/career resons and away we go.
If you play with military looking firearms in many people's view you are already in the "gray" and it comes down to the shade which is pretty had to tell sometimes and changes daily or by the phase of the moon.

gunplumber
May 09, 2010, 12:04
Some people are confused by the G series "amnesty" list.

Stating that items on a list are good, does not mean that items not on the list are bad.

garandguy10
May 09, 2010, 12:10
Originally posted by gunplumber
there is no freaking gray area. Cops aren't allowed to buy machineguns over the counter. They were imported after the '89 import ban and before the '94 AW ban (now expired) established marking requirements. The only reason they were LE-only was because of not being 922 compliant. The sear cut is no different than the sear cut on any of the thousands of steyr imports.


I was wondering, do the sear cut, semiauto Steyrs have a ejector block that can accept a safety sear and are they imported and distributed with a safety sear? Do the C.A.I. imported LEO only L1A1's have a ejector block that accepts a safety sear and did they come from Century Arms with a safety sear installed??

Just wondering

gunplumber
May 09, 2010, 12:38
I was wondering

No you weren't. You'd not be able to formulate the question if you didn't already know the answers.

do the sear cut, semiauto Steyrs have a ejector block that can accept a safety sear.

No - the e-block, which is not part of the receiver, is semi.

and are they imported and distributed with a safety sear?

no.

Do the C.A.I. imported LEO only L1A1's have a ejector block that accepts a safety sear

yes, the easily replaceable e-block accepts a sear. And as you damn well know, the addition or removal of the sear will not make the gun fire automatically.

and did they come from Century Arms with a safety sear installed??

That's a good question - I've never seen one installed, but that doesn't mean that CAI did or did not include it, or it was or was not added afterwards.

The meaningful question is "in what way, does a steyr sear cut receiver differ from a CAI import brit sear-cut receiver?" Excluding the cosmetic differnce - of a lightening cuts, NONE. They are identical and interchangeable.

The difference between the two, as far as the time taken to make an illegal conversion on either, is driving out two additional pins on the steyr. Maybe 3 minutes. Of course, it only takes me 20 minutes to convert an IMBEL into a machinegun.

NEITHER is capable of automatic fire without modification. The Steyr needs a safety sear, E-block, bolt carrier, trigger return plunger, and selector. The CAI needs a safety sear, a selector, and a trigger return plunger. Oh - and on many of them, a lower receiver as well - at least for relaible function, as there is not a detent for the A in many. All common, inexpensive parts.

GOVT1911
May 09, 2010, 13:06
Thanks for the responses guys. I'll email him and probably advise him to stay away, just to be on the safe side.

BUT......

Now this has brought up more questions in my mind about these rifles.

Windy said there will be import markings on the barrel...what did C.A.I. stamp on the barrels, and where?

Mark, you confused me. I understand completely about LEO not being any different than us for individual rifle purchases. You're saying that the Brit rifles had semi (non cut) receivers and the issue that caused people to call them "gray" was just that they wern't 922 compliant?

Is there such a thing as a semi Brit receiver, or did all the "real" inch guns have a cut for the safety sear?

gunplumber
May 09, 2010, 13:32
All brit receivers have the cut for the safety sear. All brit L1A1s were issued semiauto.

The '89 import ban kept regular configuration Fals/L1A1s from being imported. The exeption was if they were modified with a thumbhole stock or were imported for LE sales. ATF came out with the 922 requirements as well. Around 1994, ATF changed the interpretation exempting thumbholes. In 1994, with the (expired) AW ban, ATF also came out witht he marking requirements of "restricted/GOV LE ONly" in response to some police officers buying import restricted guns for the purpose of reselling them, not of using them for duty.

Those officers purchasing LE only guns that were exempt from 922 had no prohibition to reselling them. The issue with Giles Stock and the other "AUG Officers" fired from Phx PD, was that they purchased these guns with the sole intent of reselling them.

So if I were to come across one of these L1A1s, I'd swap out the e-block and make it 922 compliant. But that's just my comfort zone.

Windustsearch
May 09, 2010, 15:12
GOVT1911, I based that on this example which I think is the type of rifle we are talking about. OP says it has an import marked barrel.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=6&f=7&t=313132

Scott V2
May 09, 2010, 15:45
I have run into an individual who claims that Canadian shops used to sell kit parts.

In Canada the lower was the "registered" or "controlled" part and the upper was not.

He claims that many uppers came across the border years ago as concealed cargo.

I am only passing along a gunshow story, it is worthy of gossip.

gunplumber
May 09, 2010, 16:17
Not a myth. Can't remember the guy's name, but I remember reading about it 10+ years ago - he'd bring truckloads of gun stuff in from Canada until he got busted.

W.E.G.
May 09, 2010, 16:40
topic heading amended - moved to FAQ

BUFF
May 09, 2010, 20:55
Originally posted by gunplumber
So if I were to come across one of these L1A1s, I'd swap out the e-block and make it 922 compliant. But that's just my comfort zone.

I would leave it alone. Swapping anything, especially something pinned in place, in the upper might lead an examiner (BATFE) to suspect that someone had attempted to alter it to full auto. Sure, it would be even further from F/A like Mark describes, but sometimesthe alphabet boys aren't always on top of things like that.

GOVT1911
May 09, 2010, 22:48
Thanks guys.

Now, I'm a bit fuzzy on the whole semi/FA ejector block. (I'm sitting in A-stan right now and don't have my rifles accessible to look for myself.) I'm also on a govt computer that won't show pictures, just big'ol red X.

So, the semi EB isn't clearanced for the safety sear and the FA one is, right?

Also, if I understand correctly, the Brit rifles, being semi only, came from the factory with semi EBs and selectors??

thanks guys.

Brian in MN
May 10, 2010, 00:08
[QUOTE]Originally posted by gunplumber
Some people are confused by the G series "amnesty" list.

Stating that items on a list are good, does not mean that items not on the list are bad. [/QUOTE

Mark, I don't have a problem with your reasoning. What I have a problem with is that ATF does not operate consistently or reasonably.

http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=113286&highlight=cabela


I held that rifle in my hands. REASON has nothing to do with how they make decisions. We have had this discussion many times before. What makes me crazy is that you seem to expect ATF to treat you the same way you would expect me to treat you. That is where we part company. Honor and reason have NOTHING to do with how we should expect to be treated by this or any other govt. organization. It really pains me to write that because I really believe in this country and you could not pay me enough to renounce my citizenship. But there it is. ATF behavior speaks for itself. If there is any one thing that characterizes BATF behavior it is their consistent disregard for individual rights and the second amendment.


To this: "Really - when was that?"

Go to page 309 of the Stevens' book. According to Stevens, "The ATF at this writing ( August, 1981) has agreed that these rifles will be judged on an individual basis, and that as long as no tampering is evident in the ejector block area, the rifles will be classed as semi-auto only." I appreciate that this is not a primary source. However, I kinda trust Stevens and it is late and I am tired.

def90
May 10, 2010, 02:19
Look at what is on GB..

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=168541069

http://pics.gunbroker.com/GB/168541000/168541069/pix2095899640.jpg

Andy the Aussie
May 10, 2010, 02:36
Originally posted by GOVT1911
Thanks guys.

Now, I'm a bit fuzzy on the whole semi/FA ejector block. (I'm sitting in A-stan right now and don't have my rifles accessible to look for myself.) I'm also on a govt computer that won't show pictures, just big'ol red X.

So, the semi EB isn't clearanced for the safety sear and the FA one is, right?

Also, if I understand correctly, the Brit rifles, being semi only, came from the factory with semi EBs and selectors??

thanks guys. ......nope... Brit/Aussie/Canadian rifles were fitted as standard with ejector blocks that accommodated the safety sear (and the sear was always fitted as this was considered part of the safety mechanism). All that stopped a Brit/Aussie/Canadian rifle from being FA was the selector and trigger plunger (about 1/8th longer than that of the L2/C2 rifles so preventing enough rearward travel of the trigger to allow FA fire even when a L2/C2 selector is fitted). It was errrrr....not ....errrr...uncommon to find L1A1s with shortened plungers which was a bit of a give that its owner (or a previous one) also had an L2 selector.

"Matchstick" conversions were also prevalent in the ADF, especially on blank fire exercises as it was easy to remove and left little or no trace.....;) Or so I "hear"...

"Semi ejector blocks" are not machined to accept the safety sear at all and were only ever fitted (to my knowledge) to the L1A1A rifles and receivers destine for the US.

Andy :cool:

KBAR04
May 13, 2010, 09:44
Nobody can explain bureaucratic thought, especially involving the BATFE. In my mind it is either a machinegun or not..i.e. capable of full automatic fire or not. I do believe this was articulated in a court ruling in the last few years. Just having a sear cut or full auto bolt carrier(ar15) or pushpin receiver(HK) does not make it a machinegun. I dont own a G series but I do own a 1966 vintage HK 41 with a pushpin lower. The only functional difference between it and an HK 91 is that it has a pushpin lower. It is, of course, "grandfathered" by the BATFE...

gauraprema
May 15, 2010, 05:49
A century l1a1 sear cut was just sold for 1400 buck on gunbroker it had a short bbl with a steyr flash hider.I almost bought it but thout hard and because so many here say it not legal I didnt take the chance but someone did and if it is legal then they got a good rifle for a fair price.

Tim Dreas
May 15, 2010, 10:23
I've seen British L1A1's imported for law enforcement sales but these can later be sold to the public just like pocket pistols. They were never machine guns. I have seen near the Canadian border Indian FAL's that were brought across the border illegally. These show up at gun shows and even at dealers' shops. The early Canadian-owned Indian FAL's were not controlled, at least not the upper receivers. Later Canada did start controlling them and even required the later registered ones to have the sear cut filled with weld. The early ones have no paperwork and have sear cuts. They were suppose to be registered later. That's when they started showing up in the US. I guess the owners didn't want to pay registration or weren't allowed to own firearms. Since they didn't have registration before, they just brought them across the border and sold them. In Canada I saw a legal semi auto Norinco M-14 that had a select fire receiver with the selector lug removed.

gary bud
May 30, 2010, 23:59
Could some one clarify something for me. If the upper receiver is machined for a safety sear, but does not have one installed, with a semi ejector block, or a full auto block with weld in it, then it is still considered a machine gun, per ATF. But you can have a full auto ejector block, but no clearence for the safety sear, and that is legal. Thanks Gary Bud

English Mike
June 02, 2010, 20:39
Originally posted by gary bud
Could some one clarify something for me. If the upper receiver is machined for a safety sear, but does not have one installed, with a semi ejector block, or a full auto block with weld in it, then it is still considered a machine gun, per ATF. But you can have a full auto ejector block, but no clearence for the safety sear, and that is legal. Thanks Gary Bud

If the ejector block doesn't have the cut made for the safety sear, then it isn't a "full auto" ejector block - not that it is anyway, as the ATF has merely made the "compliant" FAL less safe to operate by their actions, rather than banning one of those oh-so scary "machine guns".....