Definition (long, sorry) fro the Federal Law on firearms:
Curios or relics. Firearms which 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 curios or relics, firearms must fall within one of
the following categories:
(a) Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the
current date, but not including replicas thereof;
(b) 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; and
(c) 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. Proof of qualification of a particular firearm under this
category may be established by 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.
1. A firearm that is one the list published by BATFE - OR
2. Firearm that THE GUN IN QUESTION is 50 yrs old or older- not the model, the individual gun. a 50 yr old Marlin 39A= C&R. 49 year old marlin 39A= NOT a C&R. Gun should be in original config (not sporterized, etc) OR
3. Curator of museum applies to BATF for C&R status for a specific firearm- Chas Lindberg's pistol that flew the Atlantic with him, .45 that belonged to last President of Cuba, etc. Scarcest of the 3.
Advantage of having a C&R FFL- I can collect anywhere in the country- live in VA, go to show in Colorado, my FFL is good there FOR C&R GUNS ONLY. And when I find a gun I like, maybe for sale by a dealer in Washington, we agree on price, I send him $$ and a copy of my C&R 03 FFL, he puts rifle in mail to me. My license is $30, good for 3 years, no need to pay a dealer to receive guns for me. Except for modern guns.
Not limited to milsurps- altho many milsurps ARE C&R. Does not apply to barreled actions- complete guns only. Most fun you can have for $30 without catching something embarrassing.