Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- I’m your host Adam Kraut and today we’re talking about the NFA firearm that nobody understands also known as Any Other Weapons or AOWs.
AOWs are the bastard child of NFA firearms. Unlike every other NFA firearm for which you are paying a $200 tax to transfer, you are only paying a $5 tax to transfer an AOW.
However, if you wish to make one, you will still be paying the $200 making tax. While in some instances, they are easy to identify, other times they can be rather confusing.
Let’s begin by looking at the Any Other Weapons definition as a whole and then we will break it down into segments.
Get ready, this is a little bit more complex than some of the topics we talk about. An AOW is defined as “any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.”
Nothing to it right? If you’re head is spinning, that’s ok, you aren’t alone. Let’s take a look at this piece by piece in an attempt to clear up the confusion. The definition begins with “any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive.” These would include your gadget devices such as a pengun, knife gun, umbrella gun, cane gun, belt buckle gun and so on. If you want to see a wall with a bunch of cool AOWs, be sure to check out the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. It’s worth the price of admission and there is a whole section dedicated to everyone’s favorite spy, James Bond.
The definition goes on to say that a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell is also an AOW. An example of this is the H&R Handygun which was produced from about 1921 until 1934. The handygun was available in 410 or 28 gauge with a 8 inch or 12 ¼ barrel thus putting it into the definition of a pistol. And since it was originally built in that configuration rather than being remade from a shotgun, it is not a weapon made from a shotgun nor is it a shotgun. As a result, it is an AOW because it was a smooth bore pistol and was designed to fire a fixed shotgun shell. The Ithaca Auto and Burglar gun is another example of this types of AOW. But Adam, what about the Taurus Judge or Smith and Wesson Governor? They both fire shotgun shells and are revolvers! This is true, but the barrels on those guns are rifled, thus removing them from the purview of an AOW and also making them a less effective shotgun.
Moving along to the last part of the definition we see that weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels which are between 12 and 18 inches from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading are also AOWs. The most commonly associated gun with this definition is the Marble’s Game Getter, a gun which had a rifle barrel over a shotgun barrel that was typically between 12 and 18 inches. As the firearm fired both shotgun and rifle ammunition and could only shoot one round without manual reloading, it fit into this definition. There were some versions which had an 18 inch barrel and shoulder stock. Those were not AOWs because the barrels were 18 inches in length and the overall length was more than 26 inches. However, if the stock was removed, you then had an NFA firearm because you had a weapon less than 26 inches in length made from a shotgun/rifle.
By way of example for current guns on the market, the Savage Model 42 takedown which has a .22 rimfire barrel on top and a .410 ga shotgun barrel on the bottom is not an AOW because the barrel is greater than 18 inches.
Lastly, the definition states that AOWs shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore or bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.
With all of that said, I understand that this can be a bit confusing. Let’s have some fun and do a little quiz to see if you guys are learning. I’m going to toss some images up on the screen and we’ll see if you can determine whether it is an AOW or not. I’ll give you about 5 seconds for each image and you can feel free to pause the video if you need to.
This is a wallet holster gun. Is this an AOW or not?
ATF has determined that this is an AOW when it is in the wallet holster because it disguises the handgun and is able to be fired from concealment. The wallet holster itself is not an AOW.
This is a Springfield Armory M6 Scout and it happens to be one of the ones that they made with 14 inch barrels. What do you think? AOW or not?
This is an AOW because it is a weapon made from combination shotgun and rifle barrels between 12 and 18 inches in length and can only shoot one round from either barrel without manual reloading.
This is the Shockwave Technologies raptor grip on a pistol grip only firearm. It has a 26.5 inch overall length and a barrel length of 14 inches. Is this an AOW?
For this one you’d need to know a bit more information. Did it start life as a shotgun or not? In this instance it was a pistol grip only firearm, as a shotgun requires that it be “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder…” Without having a buttstock attached it doesn’t meet the criteria of being a shotgun. Since it is not a shotgun, the barrel length is inconsequential as it can’t be classified as a short barrel shotgun (in its current configuration). Because it is longer than 26 inches in overall length, ATF TYPICALLY does not consider it to be concealable on a person. I’ve included a determination letter to this effect in the description. That said, I’d like to note that ATF did say that because the law does not specify a maximum overall length, a firearm measuring greater than 26 inches MAY be classified as an AOW if it otherwise satisfies the definition and there was evidence the firearm was actually concealed on a person.
This time we have two guns, a glock which has a vertical foregrip attached and an AR-15 pistol which has a vertical foregrip attached. Neither of them are machine guns. What do you think? AOWs or not?
ATF has stated that adding a vertical grip to a pistol turns it into an AOW because it no longer meets the definition of a pistol. Specifically, since a pistol is designed to be fired when held in one hand, the addition of the vertical foregrip changes its classification. I’ve included an open letter from ATF regarding this subject in the description.
Hopefully that gives you some idea as to what an AOW is. I know it is a confusing topic so we will most likely do another episode to dig deeper if you guys want to see that. If you guys liked this episode, you know what to do, hit that like button and share it around with your friends. Have a question you want answered on this show, head over to The Legal Brief section on theguncollective.com. Be sure to check out my website adamkraut.com for more information on my quest to serve YOU on the NRA Board of Directors. Don’t forget to like The Gun Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Full 30, Snap Chat and wherever else you can catch us on social media.
And as always thanks for watching!
Links for this episode:
- ATF NFA Handbook | AOWs – Page 7 : https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/atf-national-firearms-act-handbook-chapter-2/download
- Firearm – 26 USC § 5845(a) : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
- Firearm – 27 CFR § 479.11 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/479.11
- Any Other Weapon – 26 USC § 5845(e) : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
- Any Other Weapon – 27 CFR § 479.11 : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/479.11
- ATF Determination Letter Pertaining to OAL : http://www.nfaoa.org/documents/PistolGrippedShotgunLike.pdf
- ATF Open Letter Pertaining to Vertical Grip on a Pistol : https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/open-letter/all-ffls-may2006-open-letter-adding-vertical-fore-grip-handgun/download
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