We recently received a question under Mailbag which reads, “Under US Gun Laws, what qualifies as antique firearm?”
Antique Firearm Under US Gun Laws
Some Gun Laws by State have definitions for antique firearms while others do not. However, the definition of antique guns are almost the same. Variations in the definition only vary slightly. But for the purpose of arriving at a common understanding of this type of firearm, let us take the definition given by the National Firearms Act.
Based on the Act, the term “antique firearms” points out to any form of firearm that is not intended or redesigned to utilize rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition. It added that it should be manufactured before or within 1898.
These types of firearms also do not use fixed ammunition or its ammunition is no longer made in the US and not readily available within the conventional channels of commercial trade based on US Gun Laws.
If one or more of the stated elements of an antique firearm is missing (for example, if an antique gun can already use ammunition which is readily available commercially due to modification), then, NFA regulations would already apply based on the ATF website. But it should be noted that even though NFA regulations would already apply to a pre-1899 gun, its classification as “antique” remains.
Examples of Antique Guns Based on US Gun Laws
Here are some examples of this type of firearm based on the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) Guidebook published in the agency’s official website are muzzle-loading rifles (Including Replicas) and original percussion shotguns.
It should be noted that despite the mentioned guns having lengths less than 26 inches, they are exempted from NFA regulations. The basis of NFA’s classification of the abovementioned as antique firearms is due to the guns’ primitive ignition system and they do not use conventional ammunition.
A complete list of firearms classified as antique can be found in the official website of ATF.
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