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Old May 8, 2019, 08:35 PM   #20
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Join Date: April 19, 2012
Location: Western PA
Posts: 3,802
Originally Posted by rep1954 View Post
Wouldn't it be a rifled barrel or smooth bore barrel that determined if it was a pistol or a firearm? I know it sounds dumb but if a gun was built to be non shoulder fired, longer than 26", and with a barrel less than 16" chambered for let's say 44 magnum with a smooth bore be a "firearm"?
The federal definition of “pistol” can be found in 18 U.S.C., § 921(A)(29) and 27 CFR § 478.11:

“A weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having (a) a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s); and (b) a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand and at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).”

Notice that a rifled bore isn’t mentioned anywhere in that definition. So unless there is some case law or regulation that I’m not aware of, there is nothing in federal law that requires a pistol to have a rifled barrel. The reason Taurus doesn’t make a Judge with a smooth bore is because then it would be designed and intended to fire a .410 shotgun shell and therefore it wouldn’t fit the definition of a pistol. But with a rifled barrel Taurus can claim that it’s designed and intended to fire .45 Colt ammo and therefore it’s a pistol; the fact that it can also shoot .410 shotgun shells is secondary.

I also used to think that a smooth bore made a pistol into an AOW (or a generic firearm if over 26” OAL). But it doesn’t appear that a pistol needs to have rifling to legally be a pistol. But that’s just based on my layman’s reading of the relevant laws; I’m no lawyer.
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