Guide to Antique Firearms – The Legal Brief ~ VIDEO

The Gun Collective
The Gun Collective

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)-   Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world. I’m your host Adam Kraut and you should have received your ballot for the NRA Board of Directors election, so go vote! If you aren’t sure how to vote, be sure to check out the video I did on that.

Today we’re talking about antique firearms. And no this is not the C&R License episode, you’re going to have to keep waiting for that one.

When it comes to firearms, one of the least discussed are antique firearms. And these aren’t from your mother’s antique collection.

So what exactly is an antique firearm?

The definition in the Gun Control Act or GCA tells us that an antique firearm is;

(1) any firearm, including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system which was manufactured in or before 1898 (2) any replica of any firearm that I just described if the replica is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade and lastly (3) any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition.

Pretty simple right? It’s important to note, that the law specifically states that an antique firearm shall not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof. Simply put, if the receiver is capable of being utilized as both a muzzle loader or a firearm that uses modern ammunition, it puts it outside of the scope of an antique firearm. Likewise, if a firearm was converted into a muzzle loader, it is not an antique firearm.

A similar definition is found in the National Firearms Act or NFA. So what’s the big deal? Well, if we look at the definition of a firearm in both we see that an antique firearm is not a firearm for the purposes of the GCA or NFA (a little bit more on the NFA part in a second). In other words, the restrictions on the transfer, possession, sale, transport, etc. of firearms does not apply with regard to antique firearms.

Antique firearms can be shipped to you directly, sold by anyone and owned by anyone. So if an individual is a prohibited person due to a federal prohibition, they are still able to use and possess antique firearms. Just a note of caution, state law may vary on that point.

So I know what some of you are probably thinking. Great! The NFA says that an antique firearm is not a firearm for the purposes of the NFA, that must mean that I can have an antique machine gun or destructive device! First, I’d like to commend you for really thinking outside the box, especially in relation to the machine gun aspect. Unfortunately for you, the NFA states that “the term ‘firearm’ shall not include an antique firearm or any device (other than a machinegun or destructive device) which, although designed as a weapon, the Secretary finds by reason of the date of its manufacture, value, design, and other characteristics is primarily a collector’s item and is not likely to be used as a weapon.” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it sounds like Congress already thought of that idea and said no way. So no blunderbuss mini guns for you.

Then what does this mean in relation to barrel length? If you haven’t already, be sure to go check out the episodes on the NFA and Short barrel Rifles and Shotguns. As you may remember a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches is a short barrel rifle and a shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches is a short barrel shotgun. If you have an antique firearm, it is legal to have a barrel length less than 16 inches if it is a rifle and less than 18 inches if it is a shotgun, provided that the firearm employs a primitive ignition system identified as an exempting characteristic and is not modified to accept modern ammunition. I’ve included a link in the description to a guide that ATF published on the matter. Why is that? Again, like it’s GCA counterpart, the term firearm in the NFA exempts antique firearms, with the exception of machine guns and destructive devices.

While antique firearms are not nearly as popular as their modern counterparts, there certainly are a number of people who enjoy using and owning them. They are not regulated like their modern day cousins and as such individuals who are prohibited from owning modern firearms may still use them for activities such as hunting. Again, state law may differ.

Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of antique firearms and what they are. If you guys liked this episode and the blunder buss mini gun, 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!

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Links for this episode:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 921 – Antique Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921
  • 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 – Antique Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/478.11
  • 26 U.S.C. § 5845 – Antique Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
  • 27 C.F.R. § 479.11 – Antique Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/479.11
  • 18 U.S.C. § 921 – Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921
  • 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 – Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/478.11
  • 26 U.S.C. § 5845 – Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/5845
  • 27 C.F.R. § 479.11 – Firearm : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/27/479.11
  • Antique NFA Classifications : https://www.atf.gov/firearms/firearms-guides-importation-verification-firearms-national-firearms-act-definitions-antique
  • ATF Q&A : https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/docs/0813-firearms-top-12-qaspdf/download

 

Guide to Antique Firearms – The Legal Brief ~ VIDEO
Guide to Antique Firearms – The Legal Brief ~ VIDEO

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The Gun Collective is dedicated to bringing you the highest quality, fast paced gun content possible. Started in June 2015 by Jon Patton, TGC has rapidly taken off to become a go-to source for the things you need to know without a bunch of BS. Please check out TheGunCollective.com to learn more and see what the hype is all about!

6 Comments
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Mike
Mike
4 years ago

Please cite the ATF site which states that a pre 1899 item is not subject to the NFA without the wording including center fire ammo or readily available in commercial trade.

Jim Irwin
Jim Irwin
4 years ago

Correct as far as Federal law is concerned. State laws may be more restrictive. California has long held that antique revolvers with metal frames are restricted, for example. Old long guns made before 1899 are antiques. Beware, however of trapper length long guns, even if antiques. Many of these are specifically exempted , but you have to dig for these by serial number, and can apply to have an old trapper added to the list if you can show that it was originally made in this length, and not converted later. There are many more subtleties to be considered.

Crotalus Maxximus
Crotalus Maxximus
4 years ago

Adam, what about my 1892 Winchester? The serial number indicates it was manufactured in 1898. Pre 98 Winchesters are classified antiques and can be shipped interstate. Correct? I’m not up on C&R Law.

Colonialgirl
Colonialgirl
4 years ago

Time to end ALL the stupidity from ALL the governments and delete all the asinine laws. What part of “Shall NOT be Infringed” do they NOT understand. Americans were always entitled to and able to carry any and all the firearms the US Military had and carried. Y9ou can thank the jackass politicians of the democrap party for the restrictions.

kevikens
kevikens
4 years ago

I wish I could get straight answers from NJ authorities on what is permissible within the state of Nj as to purchase, sale and possession of antique firearms. Do I need a the Firearms card to purchase these antiques within ? May I lawfully purchase them in other states and lawfully bring them back to NJ? Is there a distinction between antique long guns and handguns? Why may I not order them by mail?

Whodaty
Whodaty
4 years ago
Reply to  kevikens

K, I recall and article here last year or so (can’t find search function so you will have to dig) about a rather elderly collector from or at least traveling through NJ that had a very antique and fancy pistol in car when stopped by cops. As I recall he ended up in jail for a while and had his valuable antique confiscated. I think he got it back after much legal expense , fines etc. Perhaps someone else can point you to that article. In any event, from that, it would seem that the chances of fulfilling your desire… Read more »