Please recommend a BP revolver that's not classed as a firearm by the ATF

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by DozyRider, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. DozyRider

    DozyRider New Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    Hi, newbie here. I can't buy a firearm because I'm a non-resident but I would like the best weapon permitted by the ATF and the relevant state laws. I want it for self defense and have read many useful posts here about firing every week, cleaning, keeping out the damp etc - very interesting and helpful stuff, so a big thank-you to all those who have contributed their expertise. But despite all that reading I still have some newbie questions:

    - could I legally buy and use cartridges, or are they defined as 'non-antique' because they're, to quote the ATF,"rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition". If so, what cartridges do you recommend and where could I buy them?

    - this item looks very practical for self-defense The ad says 'no FFL required to purchase'. Huh? Wouldn't it disqualify a BP revolver from being an antique?

    Any other tips on how to legally use an 'antique' for self-defense most welome - thanks in advance.
  2. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    This item is not a firearm, and therefore it does not require the purchaser to have an FFL. However, installing this onto a "non-firearm" black powder revolver is making a firearm. For most Americans, making a firearm for personal use is legal. But this is only true if that person is legal to own a firearm.

    If you are not legal to buy a gun, I doubt you're legal to make one, but a lawyer (which I am not) would be a more reliable source.
  3. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

    Feb 25, 2010
    DR, I don't know if we have any lawyers in this forum, and I imagine that people are reluctant to give you legal advice. I'm not a lawyer, either, so my answer may not be 100% correct... here goes.....

    DR, are you in the U.S. legally, on an immigrant visa? If so, I believe that ATF guidelines will allow you to purchase a modern firearm through a dealer, after you establish a 90-day residency in the state where you live.... assuming, of course, that you are not disqualified for some other reason (eg, criminal history, drug abuse, mental defect, etc). As you noted, your local state laws will also apply.

    If you are here on a non-immigrant visa, or if you are a "prohibited person" for some other reason, I would advise you NOT to convert a cap & ball revolver to use cartridges - that would place the gun into the "modern" category, illegal for you to possess.
  4. DozyRider

    DozyRider New Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    I'm here on a non-immigrant visa, and I thought I had met the requirements to buy a firearm - I have a hunting license, an admissions number from US Immigration, and I've been in Fl for 90 days. But according to a dealer here in Miami I have not established residency becasuse I have no rental contract, utility bills, driver's license or SS number. That's because I'm touring around, never stopping anywhere for more than 2 weeks. Mostly I camp - it seems you can't establish residency in a tent - but you need protection more than somebody in a building with walls and doors!

    Anyway, from a legal point of view it might be better to have an antique than a firearm - fewer legal issues when I leave Fl to see the rest of the country.

    CampingJosh, I get your point about making a firearm. Does that mean my only option is cap and ball? I reckon so. But in this video it looks like a lot of fun - a really rewarding hobby - so if only for that reason I want to take it up. And if I keep practicing and I have a nasty surprise in the night, I'll be a hell of a lot better equipped than I would be with bear spray and a knife.

    Bottom line, I'm itching to go to Cabela's and get kitted out! This looks like it would fit the bill - if a bad guy glimpses it he'll probably think it's a modern Smith and Wesson.
  5. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo New Member

    Sep 18, 2005
    Remote Utah desert, separated from Oblivion by a s
    Whatever propellant you use -- black, smokeless or match heads -- it will be a firearm in the eyes of the court if you discharge it.
    There is a common misperception out there that because the ATF doesn't include black powder guns as "firearms" then it must be legally nothing more than a broomstick.
    That kind of assumption will put you behind bars.
    I'd suggest you buy some kind of pepper spray, instead. In some cities, pepper spray is not legal for citizens to carry concealed but if you have to use it, the courts will likely go lighter on you than if you fired a gun -- whatever the design or propellant.
    No, I'm not a lawer. But I've followed this issue for many years, and more than once wrote about it in a guns and reloading column I once had in a newspaper. The local ATF office, sheriff and prosecutor filled me in.
    Pepper spray can still get you in trouble if you discharge (or even threaten with it, for that matter) but the courts will surely look more kindly upon you than if you'd shot an aggressor, or fired a warning shot into the sky, with a cap and ball revolver.
    Even airguns will get you into trouble, since they are designed to propel a projectile through the use of an explosive-like discharge.
    A slingshot with a pocketful of ball bearings will get you into trouble if you kill or seriously injure someone with it.
    It boils down to whether you were in fear of your life, or serious -- permanent -- bodily injury. If your actions don't seem reasonable, and lack these two critical factors, you'll be in trouble.
    You can only employ potentially deadly force when:
    1. You are in reasonable fear of your life.
    2. You are in reasonable fear of being assaulted to the point that you might be killed, or pemanently and debilitatingly injured or crippled.
    3. To prevent the above from happening to someone else, such as shooting a man with a baseball bat who's beating another man who's down, and won't stop beating despite repeated calls to stop.

    The loss of your vehicle, stereo system, lawnmower or whatever are not seen as sufficient reason to take a person's life. Is the loss of these items worth a man's life? The courts say no.

    The issue becomes clouded if your vehicle has guns and ammo in it, but here again you have to convince a jury that the thief would have used the guns later in a deadly manner, and you knew he was stealing your car and its guns for a potentially deadly purpose later (armed robbery, murder, etc.).

    The need to protect yourself is understandable, but save yourself a lot of trouble and -- at most -- use pepper spray. Like I say, it's illegal to carry it concealed in some cities and states, so you'll have to be careful where you take it (subways, airports, city buses, etc.) but it's better than a homicide charge.
    Last edited: May 15, 2010
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    There is a lot of difference between "cannot buy" and "cannot own".

    If he is in the country legally, and has the other documentation he listed, he can buy a rifle or shotgun. He can't buy a pistol because Federal law says you can only buy one, from a Federal Firearms Licensee, in your "state of residence", and he does not have a "state of residence".

    If I was him, I would buy a good copy of a Remington 1858 New Army revolver, in 44 caliber, and then buy a cartridge conversion cylinder, which would allow me to use 45 Colt fixed cartridge ammunition in it.

    The other option would be to find someone that would sell him a pistol directly, without going through a dealer. Florida law says if he is eighteen or over, he can legally own a pistol.
  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    Gatofeo is correct. The laws regarding purchase and ownership usually make exemptions for antique firearms that do not use conventional or readily available ammunition.

    BUT, the laws regarding carrying a gun, carrying concealed, or use of a firearm in a crime make no such distinction. If one is carrying handgun concealed where that is illegal, it makes no difference if the gun is a Colt 1849 pocket revolver or the latest from Glock. If one sticks up a store with a Model 1836 flintlock pistol, it is the same as a stickup with an S&W 642. (In fact, once a judge and jury look at the size of a .54 caliber bore, it might be more of a crime!)

  8. Pustic

    Pustic Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    Western Kentucky
    DozyRider, I take it you live in Florida, sense you mentioned Miami. I live in central Florida and I go to the Suncoast Gun Show when it comes to town and buy some real nice cap and balls, I buy the 1858 Remington model,(I have 5) it's a lot easier to use and much sturdier than the open top Colt, the Civil War proved that.
    They are not classified as firearms, and I don't know why, because technically they are, but thank God they're not, or something like that. You can buy some really nice cap and balls, either Remingtons or Colt reproductions at good prices. The conversion cylinder usually costs as much if not more than the C&B gun does. I found a R&D conversion cylinder at the Suncoast Gun Show for $150.00, I wasted no time getting it.
    Go get yourself a piece of history and enjoy smoking some powder. But I must warn you here, you go shooting that gun and you'll get that blackpowder in your veins, you'll never go back to cartridges again. If you can stand the mess, you'll love the guns, besides, burnt blackpowder smells so darn good. I still shoot both, but I hunt with smokepoles only, but that's a different story for a different thread.
    As far as a C&B being good for home defense, just remember that's a .44 cal. shooting a .454 roundball or a .45 Long Colt shooting a .452 lead slug....,, let's just put it this way, the 1858 Remington will bring down a black bear, easily. When I go hunting I take two guns, either my .50 cal. Hawken or my .44 cal. Kentucky, both flintlocks, and my 1858 Remington Bison. My Bison is the Buntline in a brass frame so it is strictly cap and ball. If I don't feel like carrying a lot of guns, then I'll just take the Bison with an extra cylinder loaded in my little pouch, and extra powder, caps, and balls.
    You're making a good choice, enjoy and keep your powder dry. :)
  9. DozyRider

    DozyRider New Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    Gatefeo makes some great points. If you shoot an antique in the commission of a crime, it becomes a firearm in the eyes of the law. But I already knew that.

    As a Brit I'm hyper-sensitive to owning or using any kind of deadly weapon, and there's no way I'm going to use it on anyone unless I'm in fear for my life. I've shot enough rifles and shotguns not to have any illusions about all this. And I'm still going to buy a Remington New Army replica for self-defense - I'm planning on plenty of wild camping in bear country. And I think I'm really going to enjoy practising with the weapon at ranges, cleaning and maintaining it and so on. It's good to make use of this freedom before it gets taken away.

    Buying a firearm from a non-FFL dealer is out. I'm a non-immigrant alien, so it's a federal offense for me and the seller. End of story. I'm not risking jail time when I can legally buy an accurate .44.
    Last edited: May 29, 2010
  10. TomBk

    TomBk New Member

    Jul 27, 2010
    OK. But is it a crime for a person who is legally allowed to own a loaded black powder pistol, but legally prohibited from owning a firearm (such as a non-citizen, a felon, a person without a permit where a permit is required, etc) to shoot a person with a cap and ball in self-defense?

    The question is not what constitutes justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense. That question is a separate issue that applies whether the gun in question was modern or antique.
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