What is a firearm?
18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3)
The term "firearm" means
(A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel
a projectile by the action of an explosive;
(B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon;
(C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or
(D) any destructive device.
Such term does not include an antique firearm.
But what is an "antique firearm"?
18 U.S.C. 921(a)(16)
(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.
But there are a number of firearms with receivers that can be used with both muzzleloading and standard
fixed barrel. Such firearms are not classified as antiques. Examples:
- Savage Model 10ML (early, 1st version)
- Mossberg 500 shotgun with muzzle loading barrel
- Remington 870 shotgun with muzzle loading barrel
- Mauser 98 rifle with muzzle loading barrel
- SKS rifle with muzzle loading barrel
- RPB sM10 pistol with muzzle loading barrel
- H&R/New England Firearm Huntsman
- Thompson Center Encore/Contender
- Rossi .50 muzzle loading rifle
What is a rifle?
26 U.S.C. 5845
The term "rifle" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made
or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.
18 U.S.C. 921
The term "short-barreled rifle" means a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle
(whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
Short-barreled rifles are ILLEGAL is the state of Washington (RCW 9.41.190). It is a class C felony to have one in one’s possession.
What is a shotgun?
26 U.S.C. 5845
The term "shotgun" means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or
redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single
projectile for each single pull of the trigger.
18 U.S.C. 921
The term "short-barreled shotgun" means a shotgun having one or more barrels less than eighteen inches in length and any weapon made
from a shotgun (whether by alteration, modification or otherwise) if such a weapon as modified has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.
Short-barreled shotguns are ILLEGAL is the state of Washington (RCW 9.41.190). It is a class C felony to have one in one’s possession.
What is a handgun?
27 CFR 478.11
(a) Any firearm which has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand; and
(b) Any combination of parts from which a firearm described in paragraph (a) can be assembled.
What is a "curio and relic" (C&R) firearm?
27 CFR 478.11
Firearms which are of special interest to collectors by reason of some quality other than is associated with
firearms intended for sporting use or as offensive or defensive weapons. To be recognized as curios or relics,
firearms must fall within one of the following categories:
(a) Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas thereof;
(b) Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms
to be curios or relics of museum interest; and
(c) Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel,
rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event. Proof of qualification
of a particular firearm under this category may be established by evidence of present value and evidence that like
firearms are not available except as collector's items, or that the value of like firearms available in ordinary
commercial channels is substantially less.
ATF maintains the list of C&R firearms here: http://www.atf.gov/publications/firearms/curios-relics/
A few examples...
- A paintball gun is NOT a firearm (it does not use explosive to expel the projectile)
- An airgun is NOT a firearm (it does not use explosive to expel the projectile)
- A Mosin Nagant made before 1898 is an antique firearm
- A Mosin Nagant made on a receiver manufactured prior to 1898 (even if the gun itself was made in 1977!) is an antique firearm (firearm is defined by the receiver!)
- A Mosin Nagant made in 1900 is NOT an antique firearm
- A Yugo SKS made in 1988 is a C&R (on the list!)
- A CZ-82 made in 1984 is a C&R (on the list!)
- Mossberg M44 made in 1946 is a C&R (older than 50 years AND in original condition!)
- Mosin Nagant barreled receiver is a C&R (on the list and easily restorable to original condition)
- Mosin Nagant receiver made in 1943 is NOT a C&R (not in original condition!)
- All of the folowing are handguns (not designed to be fired from a shoulder):
- Draco (no stock)
- PPS 43c (stock welded closed)
- Rossi Ranch Hand (stock too short to be held to the shoulder)