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Old 05-02-2017, 10:54 PM
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Default Pre 1899 Law; details....

Hi folks,
does anyone know the details of the Pre 1899 Antiques Law?

I think I read somewhere the for firearms to qualify; there must be no Ammunition commercially available also...?

So for instance a Top Break 4th Model DA in .38 S&W made in 1897 still qualifies because the Ammo it was Manufactured & Designed for was a Black Powder Cartridge?

We have a similar Law in my Country/State but there is a dispute that any Top Break in .38 S&W doesn't qualify as exempt because a Cartridge called .38 S&W is still made and will chamber. Even though its a nitro load and not the same Cartridge the top Breaks before 1899 were made for.

i'm thinking I might have to write to the S&WHF to ask for a Letter to clear this up; Collectors here don't want to be outside the Law and are at risk because of this dispute.

The same problem occurs with any gun that chambers 44-40; and they are even trying to make out 44 Russian chambered guns don't qualify. It's a problem for us guys here and I hope it can be cleared up positively.

How do you guys get around this?
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:57 PM
voicomp voicomp is offline
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My understanding is that demonstrable birthdate is the FEDERAL guideline but maybe some local or state law might be more restrictive?
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voicomp View Post
My understanding is that demonstrable birthdate is the FEDERAL guideline but maybe some local or state law might be more restrictive?
I'm referring to your Fed Law; your State Laws are no consequence to us Collectors in Australia. We have our own State Laws which vary a good deal. The dispute is happening in my State in Aus.

it's really more about the 'Obsolete Cartridge' area of things; our Law States that the gun must be Pre 1900 and no commercially available Ammo. Pre 1899 or 1900 is relatively easy to establish; no commercially available ammo is more of a grey area as modern equivalents of some calibres are still made; they are however not the same Ammo that these Guns were made to fire. See what i'm getting at?
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:30 PM
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Any gun (except for full automatic) manufactured prior to 1/1/1899 is not a firearm under GCA-68 nor is it regulated by the feds. Nothing about it concerns ammunition. That's it. Pull up GCA-68 and read it. It's very clear. However, it does not prevent states from regulating antiques.
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:36 PM
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18 USC 921:
"(16) The term “antique firearm” means—
(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."
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:51 PM
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There is no point in trying to equate US law to Australian law.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:06 AM
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Thanks for that Longhorn355; so on the surface, it appears that only Replicas of Firearms [Sections A and B items (i) and (ii)] are subject to restrictions if they fire readily available ammo.

By the way, i'm not trying to equate US Law with Aus Law; simply trying to establish if your Laws also bring ''commercially available ammunition'' into the equation.

Looks like i'll be writing to the S&WHF for some expert advise on this.

What I need to prove is that the modern .38 S&W and 44-40 is not the same Cartridge that a Pre 1900 Antique is manufactured and designed to use.

Last edited by sw44russ; 05-03-2017 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:56 AM
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Read the regulation carefully . . . note the "OR" in the statement. If made before 1899, the rest of the reg does not apply. Longhorn's and this site's formatting is confusing. Here is what the reg looks like:

(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
. . .(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.


Each lettered section is independent and the issue of ammunition only applies to reproduction firearms. More excerpts of interest in the BATF regulations are below:

Section IIIA. Weapons Removed from the NFA as Collectors’ Items which are Antiques not Subject to the Provisions of the GCA: Weapons in this section are not subject to the provisions of either the NFA (National Firearms Act) or the GCA (Gun Control Act).

An antique firearm as defined in both the GCA and NFA is exempt from all of the provisions and restrictions contained in both laws. Consequently, such an antique firearm may be bought, sold, transported, and shipped, etc., without regard to the requirements of these laws.

No all-inclusive list of antique firearms is published by ATF.


There is a good primer on the topic: The Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ by James Wesley, Rawles attached below.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:52 AM
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B(ii) begs the question of just what is an "ordinary channel of commercial trade"? One example would be Buffalo Arms of Sandpoint, Idaho that manufacture a fairly wide selection of antique and obsolete cartridges.
They do make .45 Schofield, so would this exclude a replica Schofield (truly chambered) from "antique" status?
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Old 05-03-2017, 02:25 PM
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Dean, the UK has laws similar to this for determining whether a person can own a particular antique gun. 44 American and 44 Russian are a couple of examples of handguns their citizens can own. It is all about ammo being obsolete in the UK, but I believe there is hardly any caliber that is not loaded somewhere today.

In the US, I would say that any post-1899 firearm in 32 Long or Short rimfire would fit the description. That would technically mean that a 32 Rimfire firearm is exempt from BATF regulations??
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Old 05-03-2017, 04:13 PM
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"What I need to prove is that the modern .38 S&W and 44-40 is not the same Cartridge that a Pre 1900 Antique is manufactured and designed to use."

They are the same, except that in pre-1900, many cartridges were loaded with black powder, even though smokeless powder was coming into widespread use at that time (ca. 1900). Another way of saying that .38 S&W and .44-40 cartridges made today would fit and fire in your old gun. Most cartridges made today which originated in the BP era are loaded very lightly with smokeless powder so they can be used safely in old firearms.

To clarify a bit, it is only modern made replica cartridge arms chambered in "commercially available" calibers that are regulated as firearms under GCA-68. For example, a replica Spencer rifle chambered for the original .56-56 Spencer rimfire cartridge would not be regulated, as no one (to my knowledge) loads .56-56 Spencer ammunition today. But the same replica Spencer rifle chambered for, say, .44 Special CF ammunition, which is commercially available, would be regulated under GCA-68. I don't know exactly what criteria BATFE uses to define "commercially available," as virtually every cartridge caliber ever existing is available in cartridge collecting circles.

An additional comment is that the U. S. Postal Service has its own separate interpretation of what constitutes antique arms, which is somewhat more exclusionary than BATFE's regarding allowability for shipping by the U. S. mail. Basically, they consider any handgun of any age which uses cartridges to be excluded from classification as an antique.

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Old 05-03-2017, 04:58 PM
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Buffalo Arms loads black powder 38 S&W and 44/40.......
H&C from France makes a rimfire equivalent for .32 RF but I don't know if there are any loaded versions available commercially.
(If they were to become viable, I'm sure there would be someone selling them....)
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
"What I need to prove is that the modern .38 S&W and 44-40 is not the same Cartridge that a Pre 1900 Antique is manufactured and designed to use."

They are the same, except that in pre-1900, many cartridges were loaded with black powder, even though smokeless powder was coming into widespread use at that time (ca. 1900). Another way of saying that .38 S&W and .44-40 cartridges made today would fit and fire in your old gun. Most cartridges made today which originated in the BP era are loaded very lightly with smokeless powder so they can be used safely in old firearms.
This is the 'grey area' that is troubling; it will come down to a point of Law. If the point of view expressed here is taken, a lot of collectors could lose their precious Antiques and face Charges. Hand guns are very strictly controlled here and being in possession of one that is deemed 'Registerable' that is not Registered and without the appropriate License can land you in hot water very quickly. As someone noted earlier; somewhere in the World someone makes almost every Obsolete Cartridge; and the Law here is somewhat vague and does not go into what constitutes 'Commercially Available'. It will likely be a case of 'The Spirit of the Law' in whatever interpretation as seen by the Judiciary will prevail. It seems crazy though to outlaw people who simply collect historical Artifacts just because a modern equivalent of Cartridge is made on the other side of the World (basically unavailable here in the case of .38sw)
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:57 PM
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Another one I have wondered about are the C&B revolvers that will accept a conversion cylinder to a modern cartridge.....

I know that"straight line" ML rifles aren't considered as antiques, partly because they aren't a replica of anything and the ease of converting them to a breech loader.
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:05 PM
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Some months back there was a posting made here by someone who I think was from England that I thought was memorable on this topic. I believe he said something to the effect that if there is a crime committed in which an antique cartridge gun in an obsolete caliber was used, that gun and cartridge immediately lose their antique status forever under British gun laws.
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Old 05-03-2017, 08:35 PM
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An easier question to answer is: How high is up? As can be seen, there's no common ground on what is an "antique." In Calif. where I live, the State ignores Federal law and says if a gun can chamber any ammo commercially available it's not an antique. Last year an exhibitor friend of mine was arrested at a CA. gun show having sold a .38CF 1880s Iver Johnson revolver to a Dep't of Justice convicted felon decoy. The decoy was able to buy modern .38S&W at the show, so my friend was arrested and charged with violating state law. He went to trial and the Judge threw out the case based on entrapment plus the fact the modern ammo. was not black powder that the gun was made to use, however it cost my friend $8,000 in legal fees. The moral is: If you are buying or selling a cartridge gun, do the paper work to be safe unless you are willing to take the risk of a set up. Ed.

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Old 05-03-2017, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
[B][I]

An additional comment is that the U. S. Postal Service has its own separate interpretation of what constitutes antique arms, which is somewhat more exclusionary than BATFE's regarding allowability for shipping by the U. S. mail. Basically, they consider any handgun of any age which uses cartridges to be excluded from classification as an antique.
I didn't know about that part.

I do know from experience that an 1891 Mauser, with the correct serial to confirm the date (manuf. in 1893), can be (and was) shipped directly to the door, from seller in Maine, to buyer in Louisiana.

And that you can buy new manufactured ammo for this caliber, both by Norma, and by PPU. And that the PPU, which is boxer primed brass, full cartridges, which are available at SGAmmo and other easily found online sites, is cheaper than empty Norma brass.

Walt, did the USPS decide that recently? I remember there being a pre-1899 "parts gun" in maybe .38 S&W, that may have been shipped directly to somebody's house....

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Old 05-04-2017, 09:32 AM
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431.3 Antique Firearm

Antique firearm means any muzzle loading rifle/shotgun/pistol, which is designed to use black powder or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition (except those that incorporate 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); or any firearm (including those with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured on or before 1898, or any replica thereof, if such replica:

Is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition.
Uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition that is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
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