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ATF Rules FRT Triggers are Machine Guns

Alphonso Hughes, the ATF’s Assistant Director for Enforcement Programs and Services, and George Lauder, ATF’s Assistant Director of Field Operations have issued an open letter to all federal firearms licensees regarding forced reset triggers, notifying them that “some of them” are now officially considered firearms and machine guns under the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act.

This was most likely inevitable and not surprising as the ”Forced Reset Triggers” function unlike any other trigger including Binary Triggers. They can best [perhaps] be described as having a fast forced reset mechanism after the first trigger pull allowing subsequent pulls of the trigger to fling rounds down range faster than usually possible with your slow fast sausage fingers. For a technical explanation and videos go to Rare Breed’s site at

What is very suprising is that apparently the ATF has ruled ”some” of these triggers release multiple rounds with 1 trigger pull. It is unclear in the open letter if those are triggers functioning as designed as a “sub group” of FRT triggers, triggers that failed or triggers manipulated outside their designed intention. Further, how does an owner know if their trigger is one of the targeted some, unless it obviously functions as the ATF has described each time it’s fired? However, if its sitting in your safe un installed, you would not know and then could be in violation with a potential $10,000 fine and jail time if it was confiscated and tested [presumably—we’re not lawyers or offering legal advice in a blog].

What is surprising is that the ATF didn’t provide clear instructions in this initial notification to Dealers. Perhaps thats’ due to the prickly nature of this particular decisIon. The ATF sent a cease and desist to Rare Breed Triggers who responded with a politely worded legal—Nope. The ATF then raided RBT and confiscated their inventory. At some point RBT filed a lawsuit against the ATF. Without additional clarity it’s difficult to see how the ATF will be able to enforce this position without clear and distinct published guidance on the differing characteristics and defining components that make ”some” FRT’s fall into the forbidden fruit machine gun category (but apparently not all)?

26 U.S.C. § 5845(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(23) as

Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

The Title 18 above has traditionally meant that either a frame, receiver or the trigger pack itself can become registered as a “machine gun”. You’‘ve seen “registered sears” [distinct trigger packs] available and usually transferrable going for the reasonable price of $30k+ 😳. As such this open letter puts a FRT pack in that same category, albeit illegal and ultimately [we presume] not transferable except amongst properly licensed FFLs with an SOT tax stamp etc. Take specific note that just having possession of the trigger pack and/or “combination of parts” makes it illegal. Whether the parts are assembled or disassembled you could be in violation for possessing the “machine gun”-aka trigger pack.

Generally the ATF has published recall, surrender or registration guidance in situations like this [bump stocks]. In this case ATF is directing owners of FRT’s to their local ATF office. Presumably dealers/manufacturer license holders could go through the hassle of registering the FRT as a machine gun and holding it for demo purposes. Again this would only occur if they tested it and “knew” it was one of the “some” referenced in the letter. With the law on not making new machine guns for civilian ownership I don’t see a path where, if this ruling holds, civilians could retain the trigger legally [again-we’re not offering legal advice]. We doubt civilians will run to their local ATF with their $500-$1000 triggers in hand ready to freely surrender it. It will be very prudent to keep an eye on this and follow the subsequent publications and instructions that are sure to come if you are currently in possession of one of these trigger types.

Rare Breed Triggers in AZ should be applauded for the industry innovation. It’s critical that new explorations, technology and design are not stifled in the firearm business. Innovation is the path to safety, reliability and effectiveness. As of today I don’t see a specific update on this ruling on Rare Breed’s website and the “buy now“ link is still available but they do have multiple videos describing their position on why these are not machine guns.

ATF Open Letter

Keep Ukraine in your thoughts as they show the world true Leadership, Perseverance, Strength and the price of Freedom.


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