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Rare Breed Triggers & ATF Battle Over FRT-15 Trigger

Rare Breed Triggers squares off against the ATF in a battle over its FRT-15 trigger system, challenging The Bureau’s assertion that its trigger falls under the NFA.

This comes after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives notified Rare Breed in early July 2021 that its FRT-15 meets the ATF’s definition of a machine gun.

Rare Breed FRT-15
Rare Breed FRT-15 (Photo: Rare Breed Triggers)

As such, the trigger would be classified under the National Firearms Act.

But why would a trigger be considered a machine gun, and what is the implication for those who already have an FRT-15?

Keep reading to find out.

Table of Contents


What is the FRT-15?

At the center of this war between manufacturer and the ATF stands the FRT-15, or Forced Reset Trigger.

Announced in 2020, the FRT-15 offers a drop-in style assembly but adds a unique feature to it.

The FRT-15 assembly works by forcibly resetting the gun’s trigger after each round fires.

In essence it works like this, the round fires and bolt cycles, then the FRT-15 cocks the hammer and resets the trigger simultaneously.

This allows for quick firing of the gun by the user.

Rare Breed Triggers FRT – Animation from RARE BREED TRIGGERS on Vimeo.

The ATF’s Position

The ATF sent a letter to Rare Breed Triggers in July 2021, informing the company that the FRT-15 would be classified as a machine gun per the National Firearms Act.

According to the NFA, a machine gun constitutes “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.”

ATF Legal seagulls

Classification under the NFA means users must register the trigger assembly and pay a fee to legally own it.

But hold on, there’s more. The Hughes Amendment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act precludes average citizens from owning machine guns.

(Learn more about the Hughes Amendment and machine guns in our guide here!)

Travis M240B Machine Gun Military
Unless you’re in the military or have a lot of money to throw in, you probably won’t get to own a true machine gun.

Therefore, the classification would effectively render the FRT-15 inaccessible to most Americans as the possession or sale of the FRT-15 would result in civil or criminal prosecution.

But Rare Breed contends the FRT-15 is not a machine gun.

Rare Breed Challenges the ATF

Rare Breed’s owner and lead counsel Kevin Maxwell filed court documents in early August 2021, arguing that per the ATF’s definition, a machine gun must fire more than one shot by a single function of the trigger – which the FRT-15 does not do.

While the FRT-15 does enable users to fire a firearm quicker, the company says the trigger assembly is still a semi-automatic trigger capable of only one round per trigger pull.

“In other words, a ‘machinegun’ is not defined under federal law by how fast it can fire – but rather by the method in which it can fire fast,” the filing says.

Further, Rare Breed clarifies that the FRT-15 does not act as an auto sear – a tool most often seen alongside machine guns resulting in full-auto function.

A drop-in auto sear that sold for over $28,000. Best AR-15 accessory ever.
A drop-in auto sear that sold for over $28,000. Best AR-15 accessory ever.

“Thus, by definition, the FRT-15 does not make a semiautomatic rifle into a ‘machinegun.’ Rather, the only thing the FRT-15 does is enable a shooter to accomplish a faster follow-up shot because of the speed at which the trigger resets.”

To see the FRT-15 in action and to hear Rare Breed’s response to the ATF claims, check out the video from Rare Breed below.

Rare Breed Triggers FRT – Full Video from RARE BREED TRIGGERS on Vimeo.


Rare Breed’s request for emergency injunction is still pending, waiting for an official decision in the U.S. District Court system, meaning no official actions have been taken against FRT-15 owners.

Rare Breed FRT-15
Rare Breed FRT-15

Pew Pew Tactical will stay on top of this developing story and bring you updates as they come.

Is the FRT-15 a machine gun or just a fun part? Let us know in the comments below. For more on gun laws as they relate to the NFA, check out our guides to the National Firearms Act and The Hughes Amendment. Or see what else the ATF is up to in attempting to reclassify frames/receiver and pistol braces.  

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39 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Issiah Casto

    So can I get one & not get in trouble for it or not?

    December 8, 2021 6:49 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Christopher Donovin

    I agree it is simply a forced reset set trigger. I'm sorry if the ATF feels differently just because I can now shoot a little faster. I under stand the bump stock you did leave your depressed finger on the trigger. I own a Sig P226 with a short reset trigger and yes I can unload a double stack quite quickly and having fun doing it

    October 27, 2021 7:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Richard O Dunham

    No it's not a machine gun, anybody that has fired a true machine will tell you the same thing. These gun hating political appointees think they can just make up laws. If it was up to them we would be back to sticks and stones. This is still a free country, one of only a very few left. Those at the top want total control over us lowly workers. While they all have paid bodyguards (we pay for ) our lives are not important enough that we should be protected. Too many of us anyway, they have put 80% of the black men behind bars already. Concentration camps for the rest of us.

    October 2, 2021 6:02 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Greg s

    It's fast but not a machine gun my old Ithaca 37 is more of a machine gun going by the definitions

    August 31, 2021 6:15 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ronald D

    Perhaps someone on here can explain to me why is it that the current administration feels it is ok to try and disarm all of its people but it is ok to arm our enemies with $83 billion in military arms as well as Blackhawk’s. This whole mess that is currently going on both here and abroad sickens me.

    August 28, 2021 8:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      dennis hawxhurst

      Amen brother! Retired from mil 7 yrs ago. I'm most pissed about mil leadership and lack of balls.

      September 2, 2021 8:03 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Pearce

    There is no way this is more than a semi-automatic rifle. I had one for a little while and could never master the quick shots they show. The guy I sold it too was able but did confess he had to work at it. I had better quickness with the Fostech AR II. This is merely the government trying to flex their anti-constitutional muscles.

    August 23, 2021 6:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kylie J

    It’s literally impossible for the trigger itself to be considered a “machine gun”, as a machine gun constitutes the whole, not the individual small part. Otherwise, where do the bullets go? How is the machine gun held? On and on….

    August 23, 2021 4:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris Nosser

    Then why is the bump fire illegal.. it also is 1 single trigger pull each time and is now band..

    August 23, 2021 11:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      A bump stock essentially allows the user to hold the trigger down and uses the gun’s own recoil to move the weapon itself forward and backward, firing a round each time it does so.

      The FRT-15 trigger does not do that.

      August 23, 2021 3:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      They are also not illegal anymore.

      August 26, 2021 10:23 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      They just ruled that bump stocks are not machine guns and hopefully it will be over tuned soon

      September 16, 2021 6:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar


    August 23, 2021 10:43 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor


      August 24, 2021 7:38 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        Hi Jacki,

        Please let me know if it is legal to buy frt trigger or no

        August 26, 2021 7:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    P John

    The NFA needs to GO bye bye. So does the BATFE. Alcohol and tobacco goes to USDA and explosives go back to FBI, leave firearms out of it! All commenters need our voice to be heard beyond this thread. As far as the trigger being "defined" as a machine gun? Let's leave definitions to Merriam-Webster not an appointed government bureaucracy attempting to rule over us.

    August 23, 2021 7:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mark Campbell

      Defund the BATFE!!!! Oooo, that feels goooood!!!!

      August 24, 2021 8:23 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve Waltermire

    Not a machine gun. But Biden's "AFT" is trying to move the goalposts. We all know they don't like America's sporting rifle.

    August 23, 2021 6:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Brother dekates

      The ar is not a sporting rifle.

      August 29, 2021 5:21 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        R D

        Have you ever seen or shot a three gun match

        September 13, 2021 1:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jo Tiedeman

    Have you ever seen the head of the BATFE (ATF) ? He hates the 2A, and thinks he'll decide what we the people can have.

    August 23, 2021 4:50 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      There's no head, yet. David Chipman is just Biden's nominee (for now at least). Hopefully the only thing he ever becomes in charge of is a drive-thru window.

      August 23, 2021 10:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark Campbell

    Not a machine gun, shouldn't matter, RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. Besides, Daddy always said NEVER GIVE UP YOUR GUNS. Molon Labe.

    August 23, 2021 4:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Who asked the atf to do this?

    August 23, 2021 2:34 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    This trigger does not make a machine gun.
    But then again, neither did the bump-stock, and that did not stop it from being banned.

    August 22, 2021 7:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chris Nosser


      August 23, 2021 11:56 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    On the surface, the ATF decision makes sense - if it walks, talks, acts like a duck...it must be a duck. But the law does not always include common sense. By law, the FRT-15 does not a machine gun make. I would love to see this go to the Supreme Court and have them rule there shall be no infringement of gun ownership, thereby negating the NFA.

    August 22, 2021 7:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Steve Waltermire

      That would be neat. Except I am still not convinced this court is conservative.

      August 23, 2021 6:15 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    As The law is written, rare breed trigger system is NOT A machine gun by any imagination.
    One shot per pull or action of the trigger is maintained. Period!
    We all know the action of the ATF against rare breed trigger company as well as all law abiding Americans are nothing more than political manipulation and attack to disarm Americans so the government can steam roll over the citizens.
    All about government control.

    August 22, 2021 4:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I wonder if this is seen as a distinction without a difference, at least to the gun-ignorant useful idiots. If you haven't seen the Babylon Bee's "story" on an AR-15 have a look - it's pretty hilarious:

    H T P P S :// babylonbee.com/news/op-ed-i-tried-firing-an-ar-15-yesterday-and-i-still-havent-stopped-soiling-myself

    August 22, 2021 4:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dennis Sumner

    They started out with "baby steps", now they're takin full strides!! They've been empowered don't ya know!?

    August 22, 2021 4:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Abolishing the ATF really needs to be on the agenda the next time the pendulum swings back to the right.

    August 22, 2021 4:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar


      August 22, 2021 7:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      The pendulum hasn't swung right in over a hundred years.

      August 29, 2021 5:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Candido E DeLeon

    I have fired a few machine guns in my time. I don't remember the trigger bouncing back and forth while I was shredding the enemy's vehicles. If the trigger moves forwards, and you take your finger off, and it doesn't fire another round, "that ain't a machine gun."

    August 22, 2021 3:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I think its 'fun' but in reality I don't think a machine gun is needed to secure my homestead so I don't really care. However, it really doesn't matter what I think, what matters is what the courts think and that determines what the ATF will do to crack down on this part.

    August 22, 2021 11:40 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Actually what the court thinks is utterly irrelevant. The second amendment says shall not be infringed.

      August 29, 2021 5:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ricardo Cabeza

      Until the civil war comes to your door. This is what they fear and want you disarmed.

      December 19, 2021 8:24 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    The world has gone insane...

    August 21, 2021 10:39 pm
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