Collectors of Curio and Relic (C&R) Firearms
A special type of FFL is available to collectors of curio or relic (C&R) firearms. C&R firearms are defined in Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 478.11 as those "...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." An application for a C&R FFL is filed using ATF Form 7CR.
To be recognized by ATF as a C&R firearm, a firearm must fall into at least one of the following three categories:
Firearms manufactured more than 50 years prior to the current date, not including replicas
Firearms certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum that exhibits firearms as curios or relics of museum interest
Any other firearms that 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. Proof of qualification of a particular firearm under this category requires evidence of present value and evidence that like firearms are not available except as collector's items, or that the value of like firearms available in ordinary commercial channels is substantially less.
C&R firearms include most manually-operated and semi-automatic firearms used by a military force prior to 1946. This includes most firearms used by the warring nations in World War I and World War II. However, the firearm must normally also be in its original configuration to retain the C&R designation. So, for example, an unaltered Mauser Karabiner 98k rifle used by the German Army in World War II is a C&R firearmbut the same rifle "sporterized" with a new stock and finish is generally not considered a C&R firearm. There is an ambiguous point in how the license is currently administered, in that some firearms altered by the militaries that issued them have been confirmed by the BATFE to retain C&R status, though whether this applies to all such conversions (the examples given by the BATFE were the Spanish M1916 Guardia Civil, FR-7, and FR-8 Mausers) also remains ambiguous. However, as long as the receiver (the part of the firearm that is regulated by the BATFE) is over 50 years old (was manufactured before 1961) the firearm qualifies as a Curio & Relic the BATFE states explicitly that, in addition to newer firearms it individually approves, firearms automatically achieve C&R status upon turning 50. Certain automatic weapons have been designated as C&R firearms, and although a C&R FFL can be used to acquire these as well, they are also subject to the controls imposed by the National Firearms Act of 1934. ATF maintains a current list of approved C&R firearms on its website.
Licensed collectors (who have been issued a C&R FFL) may acquire C&R firearms in interstate commerce, e.g., via mail or phone order or the Internet, or in person. (This is especially important for collectors of pistols and revolvers since they may not otherwise be acquired outside a collector's state of residence.) However, the selling FFL dealer or collector must have a copy of the buyer's C&R FFL before the C&R firearm can be shipped to the licensed collector. Licensed collectors are not considered to be FFL dealers and have no special privileges concerning non-C&R firearms, nor may they "engage in the business" of regularly selling C&R firearms to persons who do not have an FFL. The purpose of the C&R license is to enable a collector to acquire C&R firearms for his/her personal collection and not to become a firearms dealer.