Gun LawLegal tipsHow are Curios and Relics defined under federal law and how can I collect them?

March 9, 2018by rjshooklaw0

Curios and Relics: Curios and Relics are defined under 27 C.F.R. § 478.11 as firearms that 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 a Curio or Relic, a firearm must fall within one of three categories:

  1. Firearms which were manufactured at least fifty (50) years prior to the current date, not including replicas;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

In order for an individual to collect and possess these types of firearms, they should acquire an ATF Collector’s License. A collector’s license entitles an individual to acquire firearms, classified as curios or relics, in interstate or foreign commerce. A collector may dispose of curios and relics to any person, not otherwise prohibited by the Gun Control Act of 1968, residing within the same State, and to any other Federal firearms licensee in any State. A C&R license pertains exclusively to firearms classified as curios and relics, and its purpose is to facilitate a personal collection. A C&R holder may NOT engage in the business of buying and selling any type of firearm with a Type 03 license. Applicants intending to engage in the firearms business should apply for a license other than a Type 03, Collector of Curios and Relics, license.

In order to apply for a C&R license, an individual must submit ATF forms 5310.12/5310.16 and select “Type 03” under Part A Number 10 on page 1. A $30 application fee is required. A photograph and fingerprint card are not required. 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 a particular firearm under categories (b) or (c) above and wish for the 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 a 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 at:

244 Needy Rd.,
Martinsburg, WV 25404

The ATF does not make determinations based on drawings, photographs, written descriptions, or diagrams. In order to render an appropriate classification, one must ship the physical item and any supporting information to the address above. The item must be shipped to FATD with a prepaid return shipping label with tracking for the return of the item (providing shipping account numbers, instead of providing 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.

Handgun and ammunition may not be shipped through the U.S. Postal Service. A commercial carrier must be used to ship a handgun. 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. The ATF maintains a list of items classified as C&R at the following link:

Curious and Relics List

Curios and Relics List Update


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Law Offices of
Ronald J. Shook

121 E. Main Ave, Gastonia NC 28052

Super Lawyers 2020
     10.0Ronald James Shook II


Attorney Ronald J. Shook provides clients at our firm with strong, competent representation based on hard work, determination, and a desire to do the right thing.

Our mission is to take the weight off of our clients’ shoulders, and handle their concerns so that they can get on with their lives.


When it comes to making your payments, The Law Offices of Ronald J. Shook offers you the convenience of choice. Choose the method that works best for you. You can pay online, by telephone, or by mail.

Make a payment using your Credit or Debit Card and enjoy the control of our online payment option.

© Copyright 2011-2020. The Law Offices of Ronald J. Shook / All rights reserved.