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Old December 4, 2012, 09:02 AM   #1
Fleas
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Circuit Judge Pistol

I converted a Circuit Judge into a pistol by removing the stock and fabricating a wooden pistol grip for it (along the lines of a Buntline Colt). It's my first revolver and I thought it would make a nice hunting handgun. I'm using the Buffalo Bore standard pressure 255gr. .45 Long Colt ammo and it shoots great! I haven't found a local range with a chronograph, but that ammo hits 1,200 fps out of an 8" barrel. I have to think I get a bit more out of an 18" barrel. If anyone has that data I'd appreciate you sharing it.

I got my first deer with it last week. This button buck stepped out at about 30 yds. and it was 4pm on our last day so I took the shot.

I think it will be effective well past 50 yds. if I can make the shot.

Shooting .410's out of it - you sorta need 2 hands, but it swings and points pretty easily.
For quick draws, it's a tad unwieldy.

It turns out there is one area of concern. I was informed by several people that if my finished length was under 26" that it would qualify as a "National Firearms Act" (NFA) weapon and subject to registration and taxes and other complications:

A firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(4), is made when a handgun or other weapon with an overall length of less than 26 inches, or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length, is assembled or produced from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle.

This was news to me, and it's just dumb luck that the total length is 26-1/8".

Thanks for reading,
-F
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Old December 4, 2012, 02:02 PM   #2
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Nice deer... good shooting. I imagine if the accuracy is sufficient, you should be good out to 100yds with it.

I cannot speak with authority on the National Firearms Act, but I imagine there are those on this board that know about it. I have heard that if you buy a T/C Contender as a "carbine", it is supposed to be illegal to put a pistol grip and barrel on it. I don't know how the "26 inch" rule comes in to play... or if it is, indeed, a rule.
I would email the ATF, or whatever they call themselves now, and try to get an answer from them in writing. I don't think I'd mention that I'd already DONE the conversion, though.
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Old December 6, 2012, 11:23 AM   #3
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Here is the document provided by TFL staffer, Tom Servo that I quoted from above.

If I was under 26" I would be in possession of an NFA weapon (even though every Judge pistol is under 26" and is NOT an NFA weapon). It sounds like I would be violating the "letter of the law" but not the intent of the law. Could I plead that way in court?

-F
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Nonetheless, if a handgun or other weapon with an overall length of less than 26 inches, or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length is assembled or otherwise produced from a weapon originally assembled or produced only as a rifle, such a weapon is a “weapon made from a rifle” as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(4). Such a weapon would not be a “pistol” because the weapon was not originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile by one hand.
Sounds like, if your barrel is longer than 16", and the overall is longer than 26", you are ok...

I need to read that more thoroughly, since it addresses the T/C Contender issue... thank you for providing the link to it..
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Old December 6, 2012, 09:00 PM   #5
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Good job on the deer.
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Old December 7, 2012, 12:15 PM   #6
thelonelychild
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Im a circuit judge fan and i must say i find this rather amusing nice job on the gun idk if its illigle now or not allthough im not exactly sure why you cut down the circuit judge and not buy a regular handgun did you just want a longer barrel leangth?
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Old December 7, 2012, 04:03 PM   #7
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I always say "I'll try to keep it short"...
nevermind

It was a circuitous route I took to owning this gun. Last year I destroyed almost both entire shoulders of the deer I killed with one 1-1/4oz. 12 ga. Lightfield slug. The deer was slightly quartering away uphill so even though I shot a little low on purpose, I shot a little too forward by accident and the exit messed it up badly. It was quite a few lost hamburgers. I figured I could get the job done more "neatly" with a .410 as my father has been doing for several years with his Winchester 9410. I just couldn't settle on a .410, but when I saw the flexibility the Circuit Judge offered, I thought I wanted one. ...until I found out it was not legal for deer hunting in Ohio. ...unless it was a pistol. ...and shot .45's.
The .45 seems suitable for any game that I'll see in Ohio, and with the 18" barrel I figured I'm getting good velocity (still not verified), and probably good accuracy (pre-purchase confidence inspired somewhat by Jeff Quinn's review)
Once I had a plan to configure it as a pistol I bought it. I never even shot it with the stock on it, but in pistol form it is really cool. I am still working on the grip a little to make it more secure when firing one-handed. .45's are no prob., esp. shooting SA, but it jumps pretty good with the .410's. Anyway, I still use two hands for accuracy. It swings sorta like a shotgun rather than pointing like a pistol, but I think practice will help that.

Thanks everybody,
-F
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Old December 14, 2012, 11:07 AM   #8
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Fleas: Four PM on the last day is cutting it close. Congrats on putting meat in the freezer. Taking it with a hangun, just adds to the experience.
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Old December 15, 2012, 11:47 AM   #9
Newton24b
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got the atf paperwork? it really does qualify as a sbr now ya know... at least you didnt cut the stock off the smoothbore .410 only version, that woulda been an extra 5 years in the federal hotel.
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Old December 16, 2012, 09:03 PM   #10
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Newton, how so?

No matter how I read it, I can't find a hole to fall into.
(that certainly doesn't mean that the hole isn't there)

-F
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Old December 16, 2012, 09:56 PM   #11
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dah

Question. It still would not be a pistol. it has a barrel over 16 inches. Better check your laws. You can not legally turn a rifle into a handgun without a tax stamp.

doesn't sound quite right, but not sure. Also the Judge pistol is not a shotgun because it is rifled.

By law it is still a rifle.... not a handgun. therefore not legal

Ohio is a shotgun, pistol, and muzzle loader only state when it comes to deer hunting.

Your gun is not a shotgun. it is a rifle. I do not think it can be used legally in Ohio

Awful lot of gray area here. I would call and have the legality checked.


steve

Last edited by stolivar; December 16, 2012 at 10:09 PM.
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Old December 16, 2012, 10:08 PM   #12
Bill DeShivs
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The gun started life as a rifle, yes?
You can't make a pistol out of a rifle, without the $200 federal tax stamp. If you do, it's a felony.
If the barrel is 16" minimum, AND the overall length is 26" minimum, you're OK.
You got very lucky if it met the minimum length.
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Old December 16, 2012, 10:17 PM   #13
stolivar
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another duh moment

by your own quote

"but when I saw the flexibility the Circuit Judge offered, I thought I wanted one. ...until I found out it was not legal for deer hunting in Ohio. ...unless it was a pistol. ...and shot .45's."

The law states that in order for it to be a pistol it means "a firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand." There is no limit on length so long as it does not have a butt stock, in which case it ceases to be a pistol. However, as I am sure you know, you cannot take a rifle, cut the stock off and make it a pistol. Pretty much, once a rifle, always a rifle and the only way to make it shorter (16" bbl, 26" OAL) is to SBR it. There is no catagory for a long barreled pistol like there is for a short barreled rifle.


It is still a rifle........ anyway you cut it.



steve

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Old December 17, 2012, 07:34 AM   #14
Newton24b
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the serial number exists in the federal system as a RIFLE. and it takes a 200 dollar tax stamp to make it a pistol. no stamp,, its a cut down rifle. and thats an issue that cant be gotten around.
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Old December 17, 2012, 08:58 AM   #15
Fleas
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So Stolivar's opinion is that it is NOT an NFA weapon, but it is still not legal for deer in Ohio because it is considered a rifle. (?)
(regardless of what ammo I'm using)
A long-barreled pistol category would probably clear this up.

Bill's opinion is that it is NOT an NFA weapon because it exceeds the minimum length requirements. (?)

Newton's opinion is that it IS an NFA weapon because it was mfr'd as a rifle and was converted to a pistol, regardless of its dimensions.


Ignorance WAS bliss.

I guess I could remedy the situation by hunting with one of these:

or


Somehow these are more legal, even though they're even shorter.


-F
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Old December 17, 2012, 09:37 AM   #16
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Fleas, is GTG. The law is posted in the first post and he meets both 26" total length and 16"+ barrel.

I don't see where the argument is?

Quote:
) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of
less than 16 inches in length;” (“short-barreled rifle”) and “(4) a weapon made from a rifle
if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or
barrels of less than 16 inches in length” (“weapon made from a rifle”). The term “rifle” is
defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(c) and 27 CFR 479.11
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Old December 17, 2012, 11:53 PM   #17
stolivar
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xfire it is because

It is not a legal handgun. You can not hunt where he is with a rifle... it must be a pistol, shotgun or muzzle loader. Not hard to understand at all.

That might be the law as posted for a rifle. BUT HE CAN'T HUNT WITH ONE IN HIS STATE........

Do you understand now.

Your gun is not a pistol by law. it is also not a SBR by the law. A gun that started off as a rifle can only be a rifle or a SBR. It can never be converted to a pistol.

What I stated was not an opinion but law as it is written.

If I was you, I would take down your picture before A game warden sees it and cites you for hunting with an unapproved weapon.



steve

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Old December 17, 2012, 11:58 PM   #18
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Got it. Yes I understand it's the State law being broken not the federal NFA rule.

It really is kind of funny though. The gun maker took a revolver and put a long barrel and stock on it and called it a rifle and he takes the stock down and cuts the barrel can't call it a revolver! LOL
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Old December 18, 2012, 12:01 AM   #19
stolivar
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An AH Ha moment

Now if we can get him to understand.




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Old December 18, 2012, 10:04 AM   #20
Fleas
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(Is there a quotes button someplace? I had to type in my quotes.)

I think I summed up the issue up there ^^^:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleas
So Stolivar's opinion is that it is NOT an NFA weapon, but it is still not legal for deer in Ohio because it is considered a rifle. (?)
(regardless of what ammo I'm using)
I should have said "...legally considered a rifle." I get that.

This IS funny:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xfire68
It really is kind of funny though. The gun maker took a revolver and put a long barrel and stock on it and called it a rifle and he takes the stock down and cuts the barrel can't call it a revolver! LOL
...because that's where my mind was when I started off on this project. I don't get that.
btw - I didn't cut the barrel.

This is likely OT in my own thread...
As long as I'm here, let me muddy the waters further:
I'll put the stock back on the CJ, mechanically plug two of the chambers, and hunt deer with .410 slugs. That's legal, right?
Or do I still have to call it a "rifle".
Then is my Dad's Winchester .410 lever gun a "rifle"? It has a rifled bore.
Then are they both illegal for deer?
How 'bout a muzzle loading rifle? Has rifle ballistics, but is completely legal in Ohio, while a .30-30 Winchester is illegal for hunting.

I'm not arguing with you guys. My point is that the laws are sooooo convoluted that even the people who wrote them could not determine right from wrong. They need a third (or even a fourth) party to figure it all out for them.

duh.

Thanks everyone,
-F

PS - I came across some .357 data that suggests that the same ammo fired through an 18" carbine compared to a 4" pistol sees about a 40% increase in velocity, which is almost double the energy.
I'd like to think that also applies to the CJ using the 255gr. Buffalo Bore ammo --> ~1400+ fps and ~1100 lb-ft.
Which is another reason for the long barrel.
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Old December 18, 2012, 09:44 PM   #21
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You might be legal if you used

shotgun rounds only and had no other rounds with you. I am not sure. but to be sure call your local game warden and ask him to be sure.

You can used rifled bores for slugs in your state can't ya



steve
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Old December 19, 2012, 12:27 AM   #22
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Dang, I should not have read this thread. Now I know the rules.

I like to keep myself ignorant when hunting.
Ignorance while hunting is like a tree that falls in the wild. Does it really make a noise if no one is there to hear it?
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Old December 19, 2012, 05:53 AM   #23
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Quote:
I like to keep myself ignorant when hunting.
Ignorance while hunting is like a tree that falls in the wild. Does it really make a noise if no one is there to hear it?
Not a good way to go about it. A DNR officer won't let you off the hook just because you have not taken the time to inform yourself.

A well educated hunter is the best hunter. It can keep you out of trouble.

To the OP I don't think that the presence of "Rifling" alone makes a gun a rifle? Pistols have rifling as do shotguns and black powder guns.

Your right the rules and regs are more than a bit ridiculous and complicated.
I don't know how many times I have read a hunter gets into trouble over some crazy rules that not only makes no sense but is so hard to understand you would need a lawyer to explain it to you.
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Old December 19, 2012, 08:30 AM   #24
Fleas
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Yes, rifled barrels are legal in Ohio. Shotguns, handguns, muzzle loaders...
My point about rifling is simply the word or name "rifle".

Just my sour grapes at the tangled web of contradicting rules.

And yeah, skidder, the game wardens take their jobs pretty seriously. They have heard every excuse, they know pretty much every trick, they know all the rules, and they sometimes deal with some unsavory people. The guys we've met have been professional and not rude, but definitely serious. One guy checked our shotguns for plugs and none of us had them. We were only loaded with 3 rounds (he counted), but the guns held 5. He said if we put something - anything - in there to take up the space he'd forget all about it. We all ended up with cut off corn stalks in our magazines to be compliant before he moved on.

-F
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Old December 19, 2012, 02:47 PM   #25
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Quote:
Not a good way to go about it. A DNR officer won't let you off the hook just because you have not taken the time to inform yourself.
Just be careful Xfire68. Loyalty to the system is a fragile pedestal.
I've hunted with several Johny do-goods who thought they had all their I's dotted and T's crossed who later found a different attitude.

One guy I hunted with had a Fish & Game halo... he would turn people in any chance he got. He stopped at game check one time and his whole family went through hell, lost his Elk, and his radio no longer plays the same song.

I'm not saying "break the law", by no means. I'm just saying be aware if you think a system without Ignorance will show you any grace.
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