Are FRT-15 Trigglers Legal or Illegal?
By Attorney Marc J. Victor
February 23, 2022
“For everyone who currently owns one of these triggers, I have discussed the issue with legal counsel for the ATF. Their current position is that these triggers are fully automatic weapons and cannot be possessed without the proper credentials. Their recommendation is to completely destroy the trigger so it is permanently inoperable. I recommend that, if you select this option, you take a picture of the destroyed trigger and keep it. ATF also encourages people to turn them into ATF as another option. I’m informed ATF is likely to contact people who have purchased these triggers. Again, I recommend you do not take any chances with your freedom. Do not talk with the ATF without an attorney present.”
5/23/23 – Attorney Marc J. Victor Reacts to ATF Agents Coming for FRTs:
4/22/22 – Update from Attorney Marc J. Victor:
2/25/22 - Update from Attorney Marc J. Victor:
My Take on the Situation
We’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries regarding the Rare Breed FRT-15 triggers and whether they are legal or not. I would first like to note that I DO NOT have a dog in this fight, and I am not representing either side. It is also important for me to note that I am also not a technical firearms specialist, so I can’t tell you specifics of how this trigger works.
What I can do is provide you with information on the FRT-15 trigger, the differences between a semi-automatic weapon and an automatic weapon, and my opinion on whether you should purchase the FRT-trigger.
About the Rare Breed Triggers and FRT-15 Trigger
Rare Breed Triggers, LLC, is an Orlando-based trigger manufacturer that makes the drop-in FRT-15 (forced reset trigger). What makes the FRT-15 so unique is that the trigger is reset very quickly after a shot is fired when the bolt carrier group returns forward. This allows for extremely fast follow-up shots, but the trigger must still be pulled each time a round is fired.
Difference Between a Semi-automatic and Automatic Weapon
With a semi-automatic weapon, only one shot is fired every time the trigger is pulled. The shooter must manually release the trigger and allow it to travel to its reset point under light spring pressure before the trigger can be pulled again.
In contrast, an automatic weapon fires rounds continuously until the trigger is released. When the trigger of a fully automatic weapon is pulled and remains depressed, the firearm will continue to fire repeatedly until the trigger is released, the ammunition is gone, or the firearm is jammed.
ATF vs. Rare Breed Triggers
The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) wants Rare Breed Triggers to stop selling their FRT-15 trigger. In July of 2021, the ATF served Rare Breed Triggers with a cease-and-desist order, ordering the company to stop selling its popular FRT-15 trigger. Rare Breed Triggers refused to comply with the ATF’s demands and filed a lawsuit in federal court against the ATF.
In an initial order, ATF claimed that force reset triggers are machine guns. The ATF used its own discretion to determine that the FRT-15 is a machine gun. But Rare Breed Triggers claims the FRT-15 is a perfectly legal semi-automatic trigger because the trigger must be pulled for every bullet, so it is still semi-automatic.
According to 26 USC 5845(b):
“A machine gun is 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 machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.”
My Legal Opinion – Consider Risk Management
I am not sure how this will play out in the courts, but I want you to understand that you are DEFINITELY TAKING A RISK if you already have an FRT-15 trigger or you are considering purchasing it. Now, the courts could decide that the FRT-15 trigger could be perfectly legal, but if they decide that the FRT-15 trigger is in fact illegal, the ATF could arrest you and you could be charged with a criminal offense in federal court.
Did you know that if you get a felony conviction on your record in federal court, you will lose your right to possess a firearm forever and will be known as a prohibited possessor for the rest of your life?
What you could be risking if you currently have or are looking to purchase an FRT-15 trigger:
- All of your 2nd Amendment rights
- Your freedom
- Criminal convictions on your record
- Paying a lot of money for a criminal defense attorney
In my opinion, the most cautious thing for you to do is to NOT have a Rare Breed trigger in your possession. If you are thinking about purchasing an FRT-15 trigger, I think you should not buy it until the courts decide on whether this trigger is legal or not. If we are talking about your freedom, I think you should be making a conservative decision when it comes down to things that could deprive you of your independence.