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Old September 3, 2011, 01:38 PM   #1
cjwils
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Different definitions of "antique" firearm

Right now on the internet, several different sellers on several different gun auction sites are listing old single shot pistols from various manufacturers, similar to the one in the attached photo. Most were made in the mid to late 1800s, generally prior to 1899. Many of these are capable of shooting widely available .22 rimfire ammo.

Most buyers and sellers of these apparently assume that these are all “antiques” under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (also known as Title 1 of the federal firearms laws); and as “antiques” made prior to 1899; they can be sold, transferred, and owned without federal restrictions. I have seen comments on the internet to the effect that any gun made prior to 1899 is exempt from federal regulation.

But here is my concern: Many of these single shot pocket pistols were made with smooth bores. Title 2 of the federal firearms laws (the Federal Firearms Act of 1934), has a category entitled Any Other Weapons, which seems to indicate that smooth bore cartridge pistols are regulated regardless of their age. Title 2’s definition of antiques is different from the definition in Title 1. Title 2 says (paraphrasing) that a gun made prior to 1899 is not an antique if it uses widely available cartridge ammo. So, are old smooth bore .22 pistols like the example in the photo regulated under Title 2 or are they exempt from all federal regulation like most other antique firearms? If you own one of these (I don't), what must you do?
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File Type: jpg Eclipse single shot.jpg (46.2 KB, 54 views)
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Old September 3, 2011, 05:04 PM   #2
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So long as it isn't a machine gun then being made before 1899 would exempt it from the NFA.
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Old September 4, 2011, 12:11 AM   #3
cjwils
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Hi Chasep255. Can you give a legal citation to back up what you said? If not, then it is difficult to be persuaded. Thanks
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Old September 4, 2011, 12:23 AM   #4
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I didn't mean to sound too abrupt. Sorry.
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Old September 4, 2011, 01:41 AM   #5
gyvel
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Your best bet is to contact BATF for a definitive answer. Mention the Eclipse specifically, but make reference to similar single shots AND revolvers from the same period.
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Old September 30, 2011, 07:01 PM   #6
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I am bumping this to the top in hopes that someone out there has an answer to the original question in this thread.
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Old September 30, 2011, 08:44 PM   #7
James K
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The definition of an AOW says in part that the term includes a smoothbore pistol or revolver designed to fire a fixed shotgun shell. In theory that could include a .22 since there are .22 shot shells, but it would not include other calibers.

Also, most of the little "derringers" I have seen did have rifled barrels, although corrosion and time has often almost eliminated the rifling, and proving that the smooth bore is not the result of wear and tear would be difficult.

Realistically, I can't see BATFE, with all their other duties and problems (some self-created), worrying about prosecuting someone for selling or possessing a gun of that type, smooth bore or not.

Jim
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Old October 12, 2011, 04:58 AM   #8
subsonicenthusiast
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Quote:
Section 2.2 Antique firearm. Firearms defined by the NFA as “antique firearms” are not subject to
any controls under the NFA.22 The NFA defines antique firearms based on their date of manufacture
and the type of ignition system used to fire a projectile. Any firearm manufactured in or before 1898
that is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed
ammunition is an antique firearm. Additionally, any firearm using a matchlock, flintlock, percussion
cap or similar type ignition system, irrespective of the actual date of manufacture of the firearm, is also
an antique firearm.
NFA firearms using fixed ammunition are antique firearms only if the weapon was actually
manufactured in or before 1898 and the ammunition for the firearm is no longer manufactured in the
United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. To qualify as an
antique firearm, a fixed cartridge firing NFA weapon must meet both the age and ammunition
availability standards of the definition.
Concerning ammunition availability, it is important to note that a specific type of fixed ammunition that
has been out of production for many years may again become available due to increasing interest in
older firearms. Therefore, the classification of a specific NFA firearm as an antique can change if
ammunition for the weapon becomes readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
Quote:
As defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(16) the term “antique firearm” means —…
A.any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or
B.any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if such replica —
i.is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or
ii.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; or
C.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. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term ‘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.
"Any firearm" is why we are allowed to have cannons. Looks to me like your pre 1899 pistols are good to go as long as they are not using currently manufactured ammunition.
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Last edited by subsonicenthusiast; October 12, 2011 at 05:16 AM.
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Old October 12, 2011, 09:07 AM   #9
Rifleman1776
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Quote:
Realistically, I can't see BATFE, with all their other duties and problems (some self-created), worrying about prosecuting someone for selling or possessing a gun of that type, smooth bore or not.
Don't count on it. A successful arrest and prosecution is a career booster.
Right/wrong, logic and common sense do not play a role in their world.
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Old October 13, 2011, 08:02 PM   #10
cjwils
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Dear Subsonic: I appreciate all the info that you quoted, but you missed the point of my original concern. The pre-1898 smooth bore pistols I am concerned about are capable of firing off the shelf .22 rimfire ammo. I am hoping that someone might know if BATF ever granted an exemption for these, as they have exempted some other firearms.
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Old October 13, 2011, 08:50 PM   #11
subsonicenthusiast
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Yeh, your right. I missed the part about them being able to fire modern rimfire ammunition. Looks like your concern is justified. So my Taurus Public defender pistol (.410 shotshell & 45 colt) is OK. However, your smoothbore pre 1999 rimfire pistol is not.
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