Where Is Statute That Makes Obsolete Calibers = Pre-1899 Guns
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Thread: Where Is Statute That Makes Obsolete Calibers = Pre-1899 Guns

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    Where Is Statute That Makes Obsolete Calibers = Pre-1899 Guns

    There are a number of dealers and auction houses that classify such as the 41 Colt as not requiring transfer through an FFL Dealer. I was told that Tommy Rholes at one time had a letter from the BATFE confirming this. Thus a 41 Colt SAA made in 1915 can be mailed directly to an individual in most states as if it were pre-1899.

    Does anyone have that statute or maybe a copy of such a letter?

    This is why the NRA needs to stop the infighting and fight for us collectors for a change! I told them that on the phone only a few days ago, and urge you to do the same.
    Last edited by victorio1sw; 02-25-2020 at 06:05 PM.
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    Conflicting responses from the BATFE are not uncommon. Unless it is found in a BATFE publication or on their website I would continue to use the pre-1899 regulation until I received my own letter.

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    Here is ATFs definition of antique firearm:

    Antique firearm.(a) Any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; and (b) any replica of any firearm described in paragraph (a) of this definition if such replica (1) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (2) 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.

    It is located in 27CFRPart478 CFR is code of federal regulations The definition of terms is in part 478.11

    So it depends on if the ammunition is readily available and the definition of that term. With all the sources for what was once considered obsolete ammunition I think it would be hard for an FFL to make that call.
    Last edited by Colt1860; 02-25-2020 at 08:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colt1860 View Post
    Here is ATFs definition of antique firearm:
    Antique firearm.(a) Any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; and (b) any replica of any firearm described in paragraph (a) of this definition if such replica (1) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (2) 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.

    It is located in 27CFRPart478 CFR iscode of federal regulations The definition of terms is in part 478.11

    That is the key clause: "any replica of any firearm described in paragraph (a) of this definition if such replica (1) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (2) 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."

    They use the word "replica", but isn't a 1906 Colt SAA a replica of one made in 1898?

    The 41 colt is no longer readily available. In the early 1960's I bought the last boxes of 41 Colt from OLD hardware stores, and would bet that these were made before Dec 7, 1941. WWII ENDED production of many cartridges and makes/models of firearms, as the nation re-tooled for wartime production.

    This link is an example of a "modern" gun made in an obsolete caliber. In the bottom of the last paragraph the seller states: "Obsolete calibers not readily available are considered antique under federal law, no FFL is required.". I am sure that better examples than this can be found.

    Antique Arms, Inc. - Navy Arms Henry Rifle UPPR in .44 Rimfire "Made in USA" --Super Rare--
    Last edited by victorio1sw; 02-25-2020 at 08:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by victorio1sw View Post
    That is the key clause: "any replica of any firearm described in paragraph (a) of this definition if such replica (1) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or (2) 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."

    They use the word "replica", but isn't a 1906 Colt SAA a replica of one made in 1898?

    The 41 colt is no longer readily available. In the early 1960's I bought the last boxes of 41 Colt from OLD hardware stores, and would bet that these were made before Dec 7, 1941. WWII ENDED production of many cartridges and makes/models of firearms, as the nation re-tooled for wartime production.

    This link is an example of a "modern" gun made in an obsolete caliber. In the bottom of the last paragraph the seller states: "Obsolete calibers not readily available are considered antique under federal law, no FFL is required.". I am sure that better examples than this can be found.

    Antique Arms, Inc. - Navy Arms Henry Rifle UPPR in .44 Rimfire "Made in USA" --Super Rare--
    Yes, I know of one of those modern Navy Arms Henry .44rf replicas on an antique dealer's web site and he states he will ship direct without an FFL transfer. The rifle is mint-unfired of course, original box and papers, and a Feb. 1981 issue of, "Guns and Ammo" magazine which introduced it. All this can be yours for $2,250.
    Last edited by krag96; 02-25-2020 at 09:02 PM.
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    My advice: Do not "bush-lawyer" such a question for yourself or accept a dealer's interpretation that runs counter to conventional wisdom.

    If the interpretation of the law is incorrect, it will probably be fine because gun transfers largely work as a honor system and the chance that anyone from ATF will ever look at the transaction, let alone ask the right questions, is remote. Unless something happens with or to the gun. And if it is shipped, that's a real possibility.

    If the gun was manufactured after 1898 and you or the dealer used personal logic to decide it's an antique, however "obvious" it may appear, insist on an FFL transfer or walk away. The hassle is small compared to the potential risk.

    The .41 Colt may have been practically obsolete, but I would not be comfortable to make that as a legal argument, reading the "no longer manufactured" and "not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade".
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    The Navy Arms / Uberti reproduction Henry in .44 Henry Rimfire would probably fall under the; "ammunition that is no longer manufactured in the U. S.' but with the modern reloading components available just about any center fire cartridge could be replicated.

    And with the reproduction firearm market as well as new interest in shooting vintage guns the .41 Colt would be questionable, as ammunition is probably being made by somebody.

    For the price of a transfer fee the question is "would it be worth it." If nothing goes wrong fine, but Murphy's Law is always out there. Defending one's self could get expensive if in the remote chance this transaction ended up in ATF's lap.
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    44 Rimfire, 25 rimfire, 30 rimfire, and 41 rimfire are some calibers that are not readily available. Some other odd rimfire US calibers would also qualify. I suppose pinfire stuff would also classify as no longer made. Most centerfire stuff can be found somewhere. I am sure there are some odd European calibers that one can no longer locate. I would stick with 1898 cutoff myself.
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    The way I read it, the operative phrase is "no longer made in the United States" AND (not OR) readily available.
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    Here in NY, local jurisdiction is our problem. NYS writes laws, counties 'interpret" and "add" to them. So, I have a NYS pistol license that would allow me to carry in most of the state. However, the county in which I reside, Suffolk, adds a designation as "sportsman", which means I can carry only to and from the range. No citizen has been able to mount a legal action, but it is always discussed around here. My police friends tell me that most officers would give a pass to a lawfully behaving individual if found to be carrying. Locals have joined "24 hour ranges" in an attempt to meet the requirement.

    So, when it comes to transfers, I was informed by our local Pistol License Bureau (where all handguns must be registered) that any firearm that uses a self contained cartridge must be registered and transferred through and FFL. In addition, I have to register my percussion firearms IF I possess the powder, cap and ball all stored with the gun! I would never take a chance around here with "no longer made in the US or not readily available".

    In case this doesn't sound crazy enough, when I shipped my 1861 conversion from Pa. to NY, the NY police officer, a nice guy, had no idea what was in his hands. He kept asking me for the "other cylinder" that I could convert the firearm to. I had a few cops sticking there noses in. Even they had to laugh at the process.
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