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, 478.11 specifies that 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.
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 (b) or (c) 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.
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