View Full Version : Do autocannons count as NFA firearms or destructive devices, or both?

March 15, 2011, 06:54 PM
Found a couple FlaK 38 trailers missing the barrel and reciever, which is supposedly the easiest part to get (I want to get into re-enacting and also restoration). So I would have to find a reciever elsewhere. Are they NFA firearms, and I'd have to obtain a registered reciever, or are they destructive devices in which case I could import one (with the proper paperwork)?

March 15, 2011, 11:47 PM
I think this needs to be moved to the NFA Guns and Gear forum.

Al Norris
March 16, 2011, 07:30 AM
I think you're right..... NFA, her we go!

Willie Lowman
March 16, 2011, 10:56 AM
By definition a destructive device (cannon) is a NFA firearm.

If it will fire more than one round per pull of the trigger, it is a machine gun. If it has a bore bigger than .5 inch and no "sporting purpose" it is a destructive device. I don't think that guns get put into more than one category. I base this on an ad for a 30mm AT gun that was registered as a post-may machine gun. The seller stated that he could convert the weapon to single fire and sell it as a Destructive Device.

All that said, If you want to start restoring old cannons, good for you. There is to much history going to the scrap yard these days. For WWII reenactments a de-milled weapon should work fine. If you want one that fires, now you are talking about some very tall cash.

edit: I don't think the ATF is allowing working anti-air cannons (destructive devices) to be imported without being de-milled first.

44 AMP
March 16, 2011, 02:49 PM
Interesting question. I don't have a good answer, you ought to ask the BATFE.
I do recall that at one time, back in the 1950s-60s, they did NOT worry about cannons (even modern breech loading ones). You could even buy a surplus tank with its cannon intact. You couldn't get the tank's machineguns without the usual NFA stuff, but the tank cannon (or artillery piece) was a no-nevermind. And that was because they registered each round of ammo (the exploding stuff) as a destructive device. You could have a cannon, and ammo with solid shot, and they didn't much care.

I'm fairly confidant that they have changed their interpretation of the rules by now, but back then, the gun itself, was no big deal.

Now, an automatic gun (AA or aircraft) was a different matter. While each round of exploding ammo (20mm and up) was a destructive device, the gun was a machine gun, IIRC.

For re-enactment, does the gun actually need to fire? I would think the best thing to do would be to find a couple barrels, and have someone make up a dummy reciever for your display. It could even be made to take the magazines and the bolt move back and forth, if you wanted, as long as it was a non-firing replica, I can't see the Feds getting involved, provided you had no live ammo.

Just my opinion, and worth what you paid for it.

Now that I think further on it, it may be that the artillery/cannons had their breechblocks pulled before being released for sale, I just don't remember for certain. If so, that would explain why the Feds didn't much worry about them.

March 16, 2011, 09:42 PM
Thanks guys. I will send a letter to the BATFE, and try to find the owners of the two FlaKs I have seen at reenactments. So, if I got it converted, or a new reciever built, that was semi-automatic only, I could own it as a Destructive Device? That sounds best, it also keeps anyone from wasting blanks. If I have to I could get a sub-caliber device, but I really want to make it at least appear to fire. As for importation, are destructive devices importable? There's alot of German wartime stuff coming out of Russia now that they have a market available, and if I can get one modified to semi-auto in Russia I wouldn't be importing a machine gun.

David Hineline
March 16, 2011, 11:04 PM
It definatly would be a machinegun if live. All imported NFA is restricted to Agency usage only. So you would have to have a semi receiver built, and get barrels already in country as barrels from imported parts kits must now have barrels removed or de-milled before importation. Then you could assemble as a semi auto destructive device.

March 20, 2011, 12:29 AM
How long does it typically take for the BATFE to reply? Does it take multiple e-mails? I still have not recieved a reply, may send another.

Willie Lowman
March 20, 2011, 09:29 AM
You expect a prompt response from a government agency? You don't get out much do you?

March 20, 2011, 09:55 AM
What about building a propane gun built to look like the real thing? That would give you the effect of live fire without the costs and hassles.

March 20, 2011, 10:25 PM
I never bother with contacting them any other way than talking to a person. The # to the NFA branch is 304-616-4500, unlike almost every other government office a real person will answer.

Here is a bowling ball cannon I built using compressed air and a ball valve.

http://i121.photobucket.com/albums/o213/jmorrismetal/reloading/bbc/th_40psi.jpg (http://s121.photobucket.com/albums/o213/jmorrismetal/reloading/bbc/?action=view&current=40psi.mp4)

Smooth bore BP morters are also OK without stamps.