Understanding 922r Compliance

by Ryan Cleckner

March 26, 2024



If you been looking to purchase or modify an imported firearm, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about 922r or 922r Compliance. There’s also a chance that you may not know what 922r is nor how to have a 922r compliant firearm.

We’ve got some bad news and some good news.

First, the bad news: 922r compliance can be a little complicated if you don’t know the basic rules.

Now, the good news: Because I’m an actual firearms attorney (but not YOUR attorney so this is not legal advice) with years of experience with helping clients with federal firearms laws, I’m going to teach you the basic section 922r rules so that you know everything that you need to know about 922r and you’ll see that it’s not that hard to be 922r compliant with your firearm.

In this article we’re going to cover:

What is 922r?

When someone mentions “922r,” they’re referring to a section of federal law governing imported rifles and shotguns. Note: 922r does not apply to handguns.

The US Code, under Title 18, governs Crimes and Criminal Procedure. The 44th chapter of Title 18 governs firearms and section 922 (18 USC 922) explains what can be done, and not be done, with firearms.

So, when someone refers to “922r,” they’re referring to subsection “R” of section 922. We’ll include it here for you in case you’re a glutton for punishment and like reading the US Code. However, if you’d just rather have us explain 922r to you, please feel free to skip the full text of 18 USC 922r and the following regulation and just go straight to 922r in Plain Language section.

18 USC 922r:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semiautomatic rifle shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) of this chapter as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to –

(1) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or

(2) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General.”

As you may already know, laws made by Congress are put into effect by regulations made by federal agencies (yes, that’s the difference).

The ATF, in the Code of Federal Regulations under Title 27, has helped define which parts may not be foreign in the banned foreign firearms in order to have certain features:


27 CFR 178.39:

(a) No person shall assemble a semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun using more than 10 of the imported parts listed in paragraph (c) of this section if the assembled firearm is prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(1) The assembly of such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or
(2) The assembly of such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Director under the provisions of §178.151; or
(3) The repair of any rifle or shotgun which had been imported into or assembled in the United States prior to November 30, 1990, or the replacement of any part of such firearm.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term imported parts are:

(1) Frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings or stampings
(2) Barrels
(3) Barrel extensions
(4) Mounting blocks (trunions)
(5) Muzzle attachments
(6) Bolts
(7) Bolt carriers
(8) Operating rods
(9) Gas pistons
(10) Trigger housings
(11) Triggers
(12) Hammers
(13) Sears
(14) Disconnectors
(15) Buttstocks
(16) Pistol grips
(17) Forearms, handguards
(18) Magazine bodies
(19) Followers
(20) Floorplates

922r in Plain Language

Here’s the plain-language version of 922r (and its implementing regs): There are certain rifles and shotguns that may NOT be imported because they are not “suitable … for sporting purposes” and it is illegal to assemble one of these banned rifles or shotguns from too many imported parts.

Note the nuance there: you can build/assemble an otherwise illegal to import firearm IF you use enough US Made parts (there aren’t too many foreign parts). These parts include things like magazine parts, muzzle device, and more – keep reading to see all of the listed parts of which you can’t have too many foreign made parts.

So, it is all about making sure that you replace the right foreign part from the list of 20 specific parts with a compliant part.

922r Compliance

Ok, so you know what 922r is, what it covers, and also the regulations that help explain what 922r does.

So, how do you comply with 922r and what does it really mean?

Here’s the basics of 922r compliance: If you’re going to assemble a firearm that is either one of the prohibited foreign firearms, or it will be identical to one of the prohibited foreign firearms, then no more than 10 of the parts from the list can be foreign.

That’s it. You’ve got to know the list of parts and you need to make sure that only 10 (or less) are foreign.

Here’s the list for your reference:

922r Part
Barrel Extension
Muzzle Attachment
Bolt Carrier
Operating Rod
Gas Piston
Trigger Housing
Pistol Grip
Magazine Body
Magazine Follower
Magazine Floorplate

Unfortunately, the law doesn’t list a minimum of US parts needed – that would be easy. You could just add that many parts and be done.

Instead, 922r requires that there’s no more than 10 imported parts out of a list of 20 parts. This means that 922r compliance requires counting up the foreign parts in a firearm (or a planned firearm) from the list and then replacing them until there are less than 10 from the list from a foreign country.

How is this different? Well, one firearm may have 11 foreign parts as planned and only one part needs to be swapped out for a US part. However, another firearm may have 16 foreign parts from the list and at least 6 parts ned to be replaced.

There’s no easy answer other than going to the list and making a determination on 922r compliance for each firearm.

So, if you want to make an AK-47 style rifle, then you better look at the list of 20 parts and count how many are foreign parts. As long as the maximum number of foreign parts off of that list (not total in the rifle) are foreign, then you have complied with 922r.

Some of the most common parts for gun owners to replace with US parts if they have an imported rifle or shotgun are the butt stock, muzzle brake (assuming it has a threaded barrel), and hand guard.

One big problem here is when someone takes a firearm that was imported in a 922r compliant configuration and then adds noncompliant parts.

For example, if you take a Saiga sporter rifle and you want to add a pistol grip or a magazine with a capacity over 10 rounds, then you need to make the resulting firearm 922r compliant. The sporter configuration of this rifle exists because they removed certain features so that it could be imported – if you add those features back without making sure that the rifle is 922r compliant, you just broke federal law.

Thankfully, buttstocks and forearms are two separate parts on the list so these are very common parts to change out to US Made parts. Also, US made magazines can count for three parts because the magazine body, follower, and floorplate are three separate parts on the list. However, be careful with magazines – if the firearm exists in an otherwise prohibited configuration and you are using a different (foreign) magazine at the time, then you lose the benefit of being compliant with 922r. Another popular part to convert is muzzle devices.

922r Compliant Firearms

It’s very difficult to list what is a “922r compliant firearm”

922r compliance is different for every different type of firearm – you must follow the 922r compliance steps above.

We ave found a neat list of common types of firearms and their configurations of parts here at 922r.com and some guidance about FAL rules and parts.

Also, if you’re looking for parts to make your firearm 922r compliant, here’s a great collection of 922r parts.

Every AK-style rifle, as just one example, has to be 922r compliant. A very popular budget AK rifle, the WASR-10 is a GREAT example. This rifle is imported by Century Arms from Romania in a “sporting configuration” that only accepts 10 round magazines. The importer then modifies the rifle to accept 30 round magazines (cuts a bigger mag well) but only after swapping out many of the parts for US Made parts. Then, and only then, can it be sold into the US market as an AK-47 style rifle. If you look closely, you’ll see “US Made” stamped on many parts … now you know why.

This is also why foreign semi-auto shotguns (Benelli and Beretta for two examples) are not sold with magazine extensions. Before the magazines can be extended like they can on US Made shotguns, enough parts must be swapped out to US Made parts in order to not violate 922.

How to Make Sure You Comply With 922r

If you’re an individual, pay attention to the list and be careful!

Before starting, ensure that you are dealing with a foreign firearm that is subject to the sporting purpose test.

Step 1: Count how many parts from the list are foreign (not American made parts).

Step 2: Replace the foreign parts with US Made parts (a compliance part) until the foreign parts count is 10 or less.

We cover everything you need to know about 922r compliance - what it is (in plain language) and how to comply with it. 922r isn't that complicated afterall.

If you’re an FFL, you can (and should) get some guidance to make sure that the firearms you’re importing, making, and/or selling are compliant with 922r.

RocketFFL has a program that gives you access to all sorts of ATF Compliance help (including 922r compliance) in an easy to understand format. If you need help with 922r or ATF compliance, check them out.


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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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