Not a Rifle, Not a Shotgun—So What Is It?

Franklin Armory put out an ambiguous and intriguing teaser for it's new...firearm with an 11.5" barrel that doesn't require a tax stamp.

Details on the Reformation are sparse, but intriguing.
Details on the Reformation are sparse, but intriguing.mfg photo

You have to hand it to the marketing folks over at Franklin Armory—they got everybody talking about their soon-to-be released new gun with a simple graphic that teases what looks to be an AR-platform rifle, with an 11.5-inch barrel and the bold proclamation, “No Tax Stamp!” Plus, it's called Reformation.

A press release from the gunmaker was just as vague, though it offered some hints that people on social media have used to formulate a few theories on how FA is getting around NFA regulations, which require a tax stamp for a semi-auto rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, as it would be considered a Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR).

However, the release claims: "Not a Rifle! • Not a Shotgun! • No Tax Stamp!" Additionally, the release mentions another of FA's products, the Binary Firing System, which is a trigger that allows the shooter to fire a round each time the trigger is depressed and released, for extremely rapid fire.

“Having already received approval as a non-rifle from the Chief of the Firearms Technology Division, Reformation will be shipping without any onerous NFA paperwork required.

“Franklin Armory President, Jay Jacobsen, noted, “The patent pending technology employed in Reformation will create a whole new market segment that will not require NFA approval.”

Some have speculated the rifle comes with the company's Binary Trigger installed, allowing it to skirt NFA definitions.
Some have speculated the rifle comes with the company's Binary Trigger installed, allowing it to skirt NFA definitions.mfg photo

Plus, the graphic specifies that the gun has a Magpul buttstock, not a brace, so it can’t be classified as a pistol.

Theories online have ranged from “It’s a .410 smoothbore shotgun and that lets them get around the NFA regs” (this still wouldn’t preclude it from the barrel length requirement, as it has a buttstock) to the overall length having something to with it being classified as neither a shotgun nor a rifle.

The theory I like best is that the Reformation has a binary trigger. The NFA language specifies a trigger that fires only one round each time it’s pulled as part of it’s definition for a semi-auto rifle.

Since the factory-installed binary trigger fires two rounds each time it’s pulled, it might be able to skirt the definition and be classified as a “firearm,” much like the Mossberg 590 Shockwave and Remington TAC-14, and exempt from barrel length requirements. Since the ATF hasn't outlawed binary triggers, we know they don't consider firearms outfitted with one a machine gun either.

This would also explain the “whole new market segment” statement from the release, as I imagine binary triggers would get a bit more popular if installing one allowed you to put a SBR upper on your AR without a stamp.

Or it could have something to do with that odd-looking safety selector switch. Or it could be something else entirely.

Franklin Armory says we’ll find out for sure at the SHOT Show 2018 Range Day on Jan. 22.