Firearms enthusiasts are constantly bombarded by media information about the rules regarding lawful ownership. When it comes to the antique guns and replicas at GunBroker.com, it may be difficult to discern which state and federal laws apply to these purchases. In an effort to clarify how antiques and replicas differ from contemporary models, GunBroker.com offers the answers to these frequently asked questions.
According to the Gun Control Act (GCA), an antique is “(1) any firearm, including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system, which was manufactured in or before 1898.” Basically, any GunBroker.com offering manufactured before 1898 qualifies, with few exceptions.
The GCA states that “any replica of any firearm that I just described if the replica is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or 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.” In terms of purchasing a look-a-like on GunBroker.com, the replica should mirror firearms before 1898, and not be retooled to use contemporary ammo. Basically, the GunBroker.com guns that fall into this category must either be period pieces or function precisely like one.
Black powder firearms emulate some of the oldest American rifles and pistols. There is an entire industry dedicated to making advanced black powder rifles and pistols that do not necessarily mirror antiques. But according to the GCA, they can be purchased, sold, and owned, under the same regulations as antiques. The GCA states that “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,” falls into the antique or replica classification. The National Firearms Act treatment of antiques, replicas, and black powder firearms is almost identical.
These guns are not necessarily considered “firearms” per se, according to federal law. That means anyone who is not restricted by state law or penalty can purchase and own an antique, replica, or black powder pistol or rifle. They are generally intended for recreational use, although many areas have a so-called “black powder” hunting season. However, if modified to receive modern ammunition, it would cease to be considered in this less restrictive class.
One of the federal rules to keep in mind is that adults with a criminal record may be allowed to buy and possess a black powder or antique firearm. It’s important to keep in mind that states have been lobbying to tighten restrictions. Before purchasing an antique, replica, or black powder products at GunBroker.com, check your local laws and regulations.