A regulation implementing federal firearms laws, 27 CFR § 478.11, defines curio or relic (C&R) firearms as those 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 C&R items, firearms must fall within one of the following categories:
Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas of such firearms;
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
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.
How to obtain C&R classification
Firearms automatically attain C&R status when they are 50 years old. Any firearm that is at least 50 years old, and in its original configuration, would qualify as a C&R firearm. It is not necessary for such firearms to be listed in ATF's C&R list. Therefore, ATF does not generally list firearms in the C&R publication by virtue of their age.
However, if you wish for a classification of your particular firearm under categories 2 or 3 above and wish your item to be listed, you may submit the weapon to the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD) for a formal classification.
Please note that firearms regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA) may be classified as C&R items, but still may be subject to the provisions of the NFA. If your C&R item is an NFA firearm (e.g., Winchester Trappers) and you desire removal from the NFA status, you must submit it to FATD for evaluation and a formal classification.
Our division does not make determinations based on drawings, photographs, written descriptions, or diagrams. In order to render an appropriate classification, please ship the physical item and any supporting information to the following address:
244 Needy Rd., Suite 1600
Martinsburg, WV 25405
Please ship your item to FATD with a prepaid return shipping label with tracking for the return of your item. Providing a shipping account number instead of a trackable prepaid shipping label will not be accepted.
The U.S. Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms.
You cannot ship a handgun or ammunition through the U.S. Postal Service. A commercial carrier must be used to ship a handgun. Please check with the specific carrier before shipping to ensure your package meets all of legal requirements.
Do not use packing peanuts or similar types of packing material that may become lodged into moving parts of the item or device and cause safety issues. Small parts and pieces must be placed into a sealed zip-lock type clear plastic bag to prevent loss. FATD may be unable to return the sample if the item is classified as an unregistered NFA weapon (machinegun, silencer, short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, etc.), or any other legally prohibited item.