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  • Ken Kraushaar

Gun Trivia

Did you know?.....

That according to the ATF blackpowder revolvers are not considered firearms? the reason for this is that they use obsolete technology (cap and ball) and thus original and replica versions, as long as they use black powder, are exempt from normal regulations. They are considered antiques (even modern day replicas.)

a readily available black powder revolver "replica" "antique"

Because of this, persons banned from owning a firearm according to the GCA are actually able to procure a black powder antique, which the ATF's own FAQ on the matter talks about:

"1. Can a person prohibited by law from possessing a firearm acquire and use a black powder muzzle loading firearm?

The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) prohibits felons and certain other persons from possessing or receiving firearms and ammunition (“prohibited persons”). These categories can be found at 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and (n) in

However, Federal law does not prohibit these persons from possessing or receiving an antique firearm. The term “antique firearm” means any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898. The definition includes any replica of an antique firearm if it is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or uses rimfire or conventional centerfire ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States, and which is not readily available in ordinary channels of commercial trade. Further, any muzzle loading rifle, shotgun, or pistol which is designed to use black powder or black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition, is an “antique firearm” unless it (1) incorporates a firearm frame or receiver; (2) is a firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon; or (3) is a muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breech block, or any combination thereof. See18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), (a)(16).

Thus, a muzzle loading weapon that meets the definition of an “antique firearm” is not a firearm and may lawfully be received and possessed by a prohibited person under the GCA. In addition, the GCA defines the term “ammunition” to mean “ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellant powder designed for use in any firearm.” Because an “antique firearm” is not a “firearm,” it would is lawful for a prohibited person to receive or possess black powder designed for use in an “antique firearm.” Also, the Federal explosives laws do not make it unlawful for a prohibited person to acquire and possess black powder in quantities not exceeding fifty pounds if it is intended to be used solely for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes in “antique firearms.” See 18 U.S.C. § 845(a)(5)."

a cylinder conversion for a black powder revolver which allows for shooting of centerfire cartridges

However, once you use a conversion kit, which replaces something like the cylinder in a black powder revolver to allow it to shoot a centerfire cartridge, (such as the one pictured above,) you've just created a "firearm" and thus, it must follow all the rules which the GCA sets forth for firearm ownership.

So that nice black powder revolver you bought which had the serial number filled in and came with the conversion kit, or was converted, is now in violation of the GCA, as the serial was removed AND it can fire centerfire cartridges. Even more so if you're a felon in possession of a firearm (which it now is.)

The best advice for these guys: leave them in their original condition.

I know of a local entrepreneur (who will remain nameless,) who specifically would go to gun shows, buy black powder revolver frames, have their serial numbers filled in by a local welder, and then add in his cylinders which allowed the former black powder guns to use conventional ammunition, which means they were now "firearms" according to the laws on the books, atf, doj, etc. I was even contacted about doing work for him when I first got my start working on firearms, but didn't have enough experience milling or using a lathe to create cylinders for him.

I eventually stopped taking his calls. Why you ask? Well, producing and then selling firearms with no serial numbers (which his pistols now were,) is illegal, regardless of whether I'm a manufacturer of firearms or not. I still have to serialize any firearm I produce or convert.

As a manufacturer of firearms, much like my FAQ states, I want no part of producing "ghost guns," which are simply firearms with no serial numbers, for sale, or otherwise.

If you decide to convert your blackpowder guns, be extremely careful and make sure they are in accordance with federal, state, and local laws; otherwise, it's best to leave these guys the way you got them.

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