Black powder legal question


July 10, 2004, 03:21 PM
From what I'm reading, I am getting the idea that most (if not all) black powder firearms are not actually considered to be firearms by state (and federal?) laws, but are considered curio/relics. Is this true? I'm specifically asking about black powder cap-and-ball revolvers.

If it is, I have a few questions. Does this mean that a person could wear one, concealed or otherwise, in a state or district that strictly regulates handguns, such as Maryland or DC? I did a search and found this ( link under the MD code that states an antique firearm is not considered a handgun.

From this, it looks like if I wanted to carry in MD w/o a CWL, I could do so if I was carrying a C&B revolver.

Edited: Hmm... it appears my link is not working...

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July 10, 2004, 04:31 PM
Short answer, you will go to jail if caught. Illegal.

4v50 Gary
July 10, 2004, 04:40 PM
Blackpowder firearms are not considered "firearms" under federal law. Don't bet that there isn't any state law that says otherwise. Even if there is no violation of state law "per se," does anyone have the time to go through all the headaches and the $ for the attorney fees?

July 10, 2004, 04:46 PM
According to DC law, a "firearm" does not include "antique firearms". However, according to MD law, a "firearm" does include "antique firearms". Antique firearms in MD just aren't considered "handguns". However, when you get your CWL in MD, it is to carry a handgun. Does anyone know the regulations about carrying "firearms"?

Edited: I emailed Assistant Attorney General Mark Bowen about carrying an "antique firearm" w/in MD borders. Hopefully I'll get a reply back.

Edited again: well apparently the email address listed on was not his address anymore. Well phoey... :(

Edited one last time: searched on the net for his email, and got it sent. Now I hope I get a reply back.

4v50 Gary
July 10, 2004, 05:16 PM
FSCJedi - you're right statutorily. Charges will have to be dropped because there is no "law" proscribing the proposed conduct. However, got time & $?

Best thing may be to pre-arrange things and have an attorney (with a recorder) and a newscrew (or someone with a camcorder) follow the bearer so when the arrest takes place, it's lawsuit city.

July 10, 2004, 05:18 PM
4v50 Gary,

I thought I was right, too. Would carrying around a copy of the statuets help keep me out of jail since they could just call it in and ask for verification?

July 10, 2004, 05:31 PM

I'd be willing to bet that the NRA (of which I'm an Easy-Pay-Life member) would help me out if it ever went to court over this. I actually think they'd jump at the chance.

Chuck Dye
July 10, 2004, 06:20 PM
deleted by author

July 10, 2004, 06:48 PM
State or federal law may not consider them "firearms" but most state laws will consider them dangerous weapons and they will be controlled under different statutes.

July 10, 2004, 06:50 PM
I'd be willing to bet that the NRA (of which I'm an Easy-Pay-Life member) would help me out if it ever went to court over this. I actually think they'd jump at the chance.

I'll take that bet. Also, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that help if I were you.

4v50 Gary
July 10, 2004, 06:58 PM
Suggest you contact the NRA first to see if their legal dept would be willing to help you. It's not just being legally right - it's the hassle of dealing with the law & hopefully the reward of a lawsuit.

July 10, 2004, 07:08 PM
Good idea. I'll do that first thing monday morning to see if they can offer any advice on the subject at hand.

Dave Markowitz
July 10, 2004, 08:00 PM
What some people seem to be overlooking here is that regardless of whether is black powder arm is a firearm subject to state or federal regulation, it's still a weapon. As such, it's going to fall under many states' laws regarding carrying of weapons, concealed or otherwise.

July 10, 2004, 08:38 PM
In NY if you own a cap and ball revolver you don't need to place it on your pistol permit unless you are going to shoot it. Then you do need it on your permit, or it's a minimum 1 year trip in club fed. Thank you Chuck Schumer

July 11, 2004, 12:50 AM
Unloaded BP pistols aren't firearms under NY law. Loaded ones are.

Bill St. Clair
July 11, 2004, 07:51 AM

True, but you need to remember the definition of "loaded". From
S 265.00 Definitions.
14. "Antique firearm" means:
Any unloaded muzzle loading pistol or revolver with a matchlock,
flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system, or a
pistol or revolver which uses fixed cartridges which are no longer
available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.
15. "Loaded firearm" means any firearm loaded with ammunition or any
firearm which is possessed by one who, at the same time, possesses a
quantity of ammunition which may be used to discharge such firearm.
Hence, you can order a black powder revolver through the mail (from, e.g., Cabelas (, and keep it in your house, as long as you don't also have powder, cap, and ball that would make it possible to fire.

4v50 Gary
July 11, 2004, 10:43 AM
click here for post on black powder "firearms" & the Federal laws (

Once again folks, muzzle loading black powder firearms and replicas thereof are not federally regulated. It's the state laws or local ordinances that will getcha into trouble.

July 12, 2004, 01:03 PM
In Michigan, we have to register pistols and revolvers. Black powder revolvers are excluded, ie; no permit required to purchase and they do not have to be registered. However, a few years ago the Michigan DNR stepped in and mandated that if a black powder revolver or pistol were to be used for hunting, it must be registered with the State of Michigan, just as smokeless pistols and revolvers.

The problem is a person wishing to transfer a registered BP revolver must do so to a person with a valid purchase permit and few people are going go through the hassel of obtaining a permit when they can just go to the gun shop and buy one; sans the hassel.

July 12, 2004, 08:12 PM
I looked this up once myself, but it was a while ago so I don't have the links you may need handy.

In MD, for sales blackpowder follows fed law, they aren't firearms. No need for a background check and you can buy them through the mail. However, in every other way they are firearms in MD. You can't carry them without the impossible for average folks to obtain permit, and you have to follow MD transport laws.


July 13, 2004, 06:00 PM
Here's what the Assistant Attorney General sent back to me:

I am in receipt of your recent e-mail message in which you asked whether you could carry, concealed or otherwise, an “antique firearm.”

Section 4-203(a) of the Criminal Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland prohibits the wearing, carrying or transporting of a “handgun,” openly or concealed, on or about the person or in a vehicle. “Handgun” is defined in Section 4-201(c)(3) to exclude “antique firearms.” Accordingly, wearing, carrying or transporting an antique firearm, even without a permit to carry a handgun (issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article), would not violate 4-203(a).

I do note, however, that Section 4-101(c) of the Criminal Law Article states that, “A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.”

The wearing, carrying or transporting of an antique firearm may also violate some other provision of State or local law of which I am not aware. I would suggest that you contact your local State’s Attorney’s Office for information relevant to your jurisdiction.

The information contained in this message is being provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an official Opinion of the Office of the Attorney General.

Mark H. Bowen
Assistant Attorney General

Thought you all'd be interested in seeing the reply.

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