All shooters should be aware that if you buy a Contender or an Encore as a pistol, then it is illegal to convert it into a rifle.
By the same token, if you buy a Contender of an Encore as a rifle, then it is illegal to convert it into a pistol.
My understanding is that this is partially true. A pistol frame cannot be used for a rifle, but a rifle frame can be used for a pistol. Once converted, it cannot be used as a rifle anymore.
There has been a lot of discussion on this, and the water is pretty muddy as to ATF enforcement. A lot of folks are using frames interchangeably, and while I can't say that that is fine, I have heard of noone being brought up on charges for doing so. That may well change after the next election.
Can you show evidence of a rifle action being converted from rifle to pistol legally, without buying the tax stamp? Has anybody else seen this? I've been around firearms for many years, and have yet to see anything even remotely like that, anywhere.
Shooters being how they are, loving to experiment, if it were legal I think we would all have been seeing it on a regular basis.
The criteria as I understand it, is how the receiver with serial number is designated by the manufacturer. (Pistol or rifle) Thus we have pistols with rifle receivers legally sold by manufacturers, like the Remington XP-100, AR pistols, and the Ruger Charger for example. An inverse example was when Thompson-Center started offering Contender rifles.
I got my information from ATF agents who noticed a Contender in my shop, and other ATF agents at the ATF office when I called and asked about it by way of verification. There was no mud in the water, they made it very plain and were emphatic about it. Then I asked the county Sheriff and he had the same story. Federal law is not a casual thing to push the envelope on, as the push-back when you do so can be quite severe.
If you cannot back up your claim with evidence, then what you are doing here is trying to talk fellow shooters into having their lives ruined, on the strength of your "opinion". Twenty years in a federal pen is no joke. Opinions mean nothing, compared to federal law.
You have to be careful about giving out bogus information... If somebody wound up in trouble because they believed your "opinion", then later on they or some of their family might be looking you up. - Get the picture? Injured families are a lot like the feds, in that they will not accept ignorance as an excuse.
Personally, I do not agree with this particular law... Whether you or I agree with the law or not will have no bearing though, when they drag you off to prison while your family wonders how they are going to get by without you for the next couple of decades or so. Then, when you do get out, you cannot legally own any kind of firearm at all.
I have owned a number of Contenders over the years - but I've never been stupid enough to try to convert one from pistol to rifle, or visa versa.
The fact that T/C does not encourage buyers to do home conversions is a significant clue. If it were legal, they'd be advertising and encouraging the practice as a special feature of the Encore and Contender.
- But they don't, do they?
There are circumstances where parts can legally be swapped out:
With a rifle, you can take off the butt-stock and install a pistol grip instead - as long as the barrel is over 16 inches, and
the overall length is 27 inches or better. (Same goes for shotguns like the Mossberg Cruiser, but with shotguns the minimum barrel length is 18".)
With a pistol, you can have any length barrel you like - but you cannot put a rifle butt-stock on it.