AR-15 Pre-ban and Post-ban Match-up

rre0124rre0124 Member Posts: 8 ✭✭
edited March 2008 in Ask the Experts
I bought a Colt AR-15A2 Sporter rifle many moons ago, prior to 1990 before the Assault Rifle Ban came into existence. After the law came into existence, I was told by my local PD in NJ that in order to keep it (Grandfather clause) I had to get rid of the bolt carrier assembly, which I did. Throughout the years, I never really went back to playing with the AR-15 that I had, I completely forgot about the rifle. Recently, I was browsing the rifles in the local gun store and out of an old liking to AR type rifles (I was in the Army from '71 to '73), I bought a Bushmaster Varminter. After bringing it home, I started to play around with it and remembered the AR-15 I left in the attic and brought that out too. I did a little research and found that I can buy a completely new bolt assembly for the AR-15 and make it whole again... Or, I can take the AR-15 upper and mate that to the Bushmaster and sort of like having two rifles (1:7" and 1:9", shooting in 2 different styles), thanks to the different take-down pins available. However, this bring into a few questions:

1) Is it legal to mate a pre-ban Colt upper to a post-ban Bushmaster lower? If do it this way, then I would sort of like having 1 rifle with 2 barrels.
2) Do I have to convert the pre-ban Colt upper to post-ban spec in order to keep it?
3) Can I still keep the pre-ban Colt lower in NJ by buying a new post-ban upper for it? Or, do I really have to get rid of the pre-ban lower?

Any help or info is greatly appreciated...


  • givettegivette Member Posts: 10,886
    edited November -1
    rre0124: Welcome to the forums! Tons of info here!

    It all depends if your old (pre-ban) receiver is grandfathered in New Jersey. If so, you're good to go with pre-ban or post ban upper.

    Your new receiver may not be legal with the old upper on it. The problem arises with the threaded muzzle, and the flash surpressor on the pre-ban barrel, as well as the bayonet lug under the barrel.

    ...If pre-ban grandfathering is allowed, sell the post-ban lower, keep the post ban upper, and buy some ammo.

    Colt front pivot pins are larger than the standard AR "in spec" pins. You will need an adapter to use the new upper with the Colt receiver.

    And did the local PD examine the bolt carrier to determine it was an M16 part? If not, refer to the link below, your original carrier may still be legal, as Colt (in the '90's) wouldn't let an M16 part get mixed up with the civilian AR production line. Best, Joe

  • TxsTxs Member Posts: 18,801
    edited November -1
    Per Colt armorer's school, under federal law it's now legal to have an M16 style bolt carrier installed in an AR15. This became effective about a year and a half ago.
  • nmyersnmyers Member Posts: 16,247 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    You may have a problem.

    Are you sure that what you own is a "AR-15A2 Sporter"? Is that exactly what is stamped under Colt on the right side of the lower receiver?

    While the federal AWB has expired, I am unaware that NJ rescinded theirs. Is your rifle on the Attorney General's list of "assault firearms"? Should you have registered it in 1990? Could you possibly be in trouble now?

    You might want to check the website of the AG, Division of Criminal Justice, before going public with what you own.

  • rre0124rre0124 Member Posts: 8 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thanks nmyers, I checked with our local PD and surrendered the bolt assembly before the ban and got a receipt in the old days... Or, so the PD guys told me 18 years ago that mine was Grandfathered... Was I being led down the wrong path here by the local PD guy? This is the part that I am confused about -- I had to surrender the bolt but now I can buy one fresh off the production line; kinda contradicting...

    Thanks givette, First off, I appreciate the info and I will probably ask a local gunsmith to convert the pre-ban upper to a post-ban spec and use that on the Bushmaster lower... As to the bolt, gosh, I wouldn't know because I haven't seen it for over 18 years... Perhaps you're right that I should let my brother (in PA) have the pre-ban lower or just get rid of it...

    Thanks a lot guys...
  • dcs shootersdcs shooters Member Posts: 10,969
    edited November -1
    I agree with checking with the Attorney General's web site in NJ. You could also check with a good gun shop in your area that sells black rifles as to what is legal.
  • bobskibobski Member Posts: 17,868 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    surerender? you people really do that?
    why didnt you sell it or send it to relative?
    Retired Naval Aviation
    Former Member U.S. Navy Shooting Team
    Former NSSA All American
    Navy Distinguished Pistol Shot
    MO, CT, VA.
  • rre0124rre0124 Member Posts: 8 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Hey bobski, 18 yrs ago, we had to either surrender the rifle or as the PD guys said "you paid good money for it so you should keep it; and just to make sure you don't use it, we'll take your bolt carrier"... That was how it happened... I didn't have any choice because PD guys know I have an AR-15 due to the purchase registration... I just didn't think that after 18 yrs, the variation of the rifles can look you in the eyes and say - we are not assault rifles but we sure can swap parts with my originals... That is what lawyers say "not substantially identical to a prohibited firearm"; but, we know better...
  • matwormatwor Member Posts: 20,594
    edited November -1
    If you've got your receipt, and its now legal to own, I would go back and get it.
  • catpealer111catpealer111 Member Posts: 10,695
    edited November -1
    Wouldn't a bolt carrier from any other AR type rifle work?
  • rre0124rre0124 Member Posts: 8 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Any bolt from the AR-15 families (cousins included) would work on any upper receivers, pre-ban or post-ban...

    The problem with NJ is that we are still not out from the "state ban" yet... So, owning a pre-ban bolt together with a functioning pre-ban upper and lower is considered a crime...

    By getting a receipt 18 yrs ago for turning in a bolt from a working AR-15, I guess I was "Grandfathered" by my local PD... Unless, I was led down the wrong banned road...

    Whether I can get another bolt and slap it in the AR is just a gentleman's honor between me and the law... Gee, how I wiash I listened to by bro and moved to PA...
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