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Thread: is it legal to make a "howdah Pistol" from an antique breech loader?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    is it legal to make a "howdah Pistol" from an antique breech loader?

    is it legal to make a "howdah Pistol" from an antique breech loader?

    the definition of antique guns:

    26 U.S.C. 5845(G)

    For the purposes of the National Firearms Act, the term “Antique Firearms” means any firearm not intended or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar type of ignition system or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898) and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

    suppose you had a Werndl or Albini action and a smoothbore barrel for it. could you rebuild the barreled action into a howdah pistol?

    suppose you had a smoothbored snider chambered for 577 snider?

    buffalo arms offers it on an occasionally available specialty basis:

    577 has been produced by 10X:

    the action would be manufactured pre '98. could the occasional specialty production be construed as "no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.?

    for reference we have short barreled shotguns being made from pinfire euro shotguns which are exempted from SBS rules because of their antique status.

    even so, suppose a custom cartridge is created for and chambered in said action which has never been commercially made? this surely mets the definition of manufactured before 1898 and ammo is not readily available. yes?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Way up in the Cascades
    I think that you're entering a sticky area of the firearms laws. Were I you, before I embarked on such a project, I'd phone BATF and chat with them about it. They're usually very willing to help with opinions and definitions. I'm not saying that it can't be done, or shouldn't be done, but you might save yourself some grief by checking before the fact, and also check with your State authorities. Some of the potential pitfalls I see are that, antique or not, you're making a pistol from a rifle, and could then be construed to have manufactured something new and losing the antique status.
    And, of course, the carrying, storage, and transportation of such a firearm would then be subject to all of the State laws pertaining to a modern pistol. Good luck with this, and I for one would like to hear what you find out and how your project turns out.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Massachusetts, South Shore
    For what it's worth, here's a page from the ATF website:

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    I wonder if straight rifling like in a slug gun would make a short barrel "shotgun" qualify as a pistol. You could shoot shot and not sling pellets everywhere.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    WebMonkey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    missouri ozarks
    making your own firearms is a bit different from assembling a new firearm from an old firearm.

    i realize an antique is an antique but the last time i asked, manufacturing a firearm is considered fabricating from "scratch".
    like the difference between making an AR from an 80% lower that is considered a chunk of material, or from a serialized "firearm" lower.

    so, i SURE DON'T KNOW

    good luck
    Retired 19D
    Psalm 91:9
    Honda 919

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Puyallup, Washington
    Then there's something about the ammo being available through normal commerce. I was told by the atf that the internet is normal commerce now. Sort of telling me not to make anymore 58 Remington in 44 Colt. So you might be able to make a wildcat where the ammo can't be bought.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Not in California. All cartridge firearms that ammo can be made for, are considered the same as modern.
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

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