"Sawed-off shotgun", any weapon made from a shotgun, whether by alteration, modification or otherwise, if such weapon as modified has one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length or as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches.
"Shotgun", a weapon having a smooth bore with a barrel length equal to or greater than 18 inches with an overall length equal to or greater than 26 inches, and capable of discharging a shot or bullet for each pull of the trigger.
A modified shotgun is more maneuverable and lighter than a full size shotgun while retaining much of the destructive power. Decreasing the length will, however, reduce accuracy and increase recoil.
This guide is applicable only to citizens of the United States of America. Please check the laws in your country of citizenship prior to modifying your shotgun.
1. - Choose the shotgun you want to modify. Single and double barreled shotguns are often cheaper, but pump-actions and semi-auto shotguns have higher capacities.
2. - Decide on the length of the barrel. The barrel must be no less 18 inches unless you fill out the appropriate NFA forms and pay the $200 tax (at that point, after getting approval from the ATF, the barrel can be any length), while the overall length must be a minimum of 26 inches. It is advised to err on the side of legality by having a barrel length of 18 1/2 inches. Accuracy is only severely affected when over 50% of the barrel is removed. Often the best place to stop is anywhere after the hand-guard or magazine tube ends. Less length equals less weight and slightly increased recoil.
3. - Cut the barrel to your chosen length. The metal is not hardened steel and will cut easily. You can use a hacksaw, bandsaw or a circular saw equipped with a suitable blade.
4. - Put your shotgun in a vice being very careful to protect the barrel from the vice. Measure the barrel to your preferred length and wrap some masking tape around the barrel. Measure again and make several marks on the tape. Connect the marks, making a line completely around the barrel. Carefully cut the barrel using the line as a guide.
5. - File any imperfections made by cutting the barrel. Using a tubing cutter will result in a ridge on the inside of the barrel, this ridge should be filed smooth.
6. - Dress up the cut with emory cloth.
7. - Decide on a length of the stock. A stock allows the increased recoil to be controlled more easily. Keep in mind that the overall length of your modified shotgun must not be less than 26 inches.
- Apply with the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prior to modifying your shotgun, this is only required if you are creating a Short Barreled Shotgun (SBS) or Any Other Weapon (AOW), namely a shotgun less than 26" OAL, or 18" barrel.
- It is not suggested to use an expensive or beloved shotgun for this as it will ruin the resale value and you cannot undo this.
- Do not try to use the shotgun one-handed without at least learning how to control the recoil.
- SBS's can be a great deal of fun! Do your research, and with some simple paper work with the BATFE, you too can join the NFA world for a small fee. Don't listen to all the naysayers, or the great deal of Misinformation scattered across the internet. Do your research directly with BATFE, call them when needed, fill out the simple form, wait 60ish days, and you are well on your way to having a powerful, compact, sawed off shotgun!
- Modified shotguns may be illegal in some places. As noted above local and federal laws apply. Visit BATFE's website for more info, or call them and request to speak with an NFA specialist. They are very helpful, and will answer any difficult or obscure questions.
- Always follow basic safety rules when handling firearms.