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Old November 8, 2014, 12:50 AM   #1
Ryanxia
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Legal shotgun gauges?

So I recently obtained my first 10 gauge (which is awesome). I was wondering what the biggest legal gauge is we can legally own (Federally) in the US. I read that 8 gauge is legal just not for hunting (which is fine because I'm not asking about hunting laws).

So how big of a gauge can we legally own/make?
Sorry if my google-foo isn't up to snuff, I did a few searches and checked the sticky in the Shotgun section of THR.

Also, I'm just asking from a legal standpoint, not the 'what do you need a XX gauge for?'

Thanks in advance.
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Old November 8, 2014, 01:08 AM   #2
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Far as I know, there is no legal size.

Except for hunting.

I think you might run into problems with a 155mm Howitzer Bee-Hive round.

But as far as I know, there are no limitations on shoulder fired shotguns you can fire from the shoulder, or industrial mount.

Kiln guns are one example of that.

http://firearmshistory.blogspot.com/...-shotguns.html

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Old November 8, 2014, 01:13 AM   #3
Ryanxia
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Thanks RC, I'll check out the link. I was under the impression that certain gauges weren't exempt from being destructive devices, only the more 'common' gauges.
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Old November 8, 2014, 01:30 AM   #4
rcmodel
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See this too.
https://www.atf.gov/files/regulation...uling-94-1.pdf

'Sporting Purposes' is the catch-all words.

A 4 gage double barrel hunting shotgun would be legal if you could lift it to your shoulder.
And survive the recoil.
And if were legal for hunting anywhere.

But, it isn't.

In modern days, the 10 ga shotgun is about it for normal use.

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Old November 8, 2014, 02:26 AM   #5
Frank Ettin
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The issue will probably be the "sporting purpose" test. The definition of "destructive device" at 18 USC 921(a)(4)(B) includes (emphasis added):
Quote:
... any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes) by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter; and ...
So any shotgun with a bore greater than half an inch could be considered a destructive device unless it is likely to be found by the Attorney General of the United States to be suitable for sporting purposes. It's hard to imagine the U. S. AG finding an 8 or 4 bore shotgun suitable for sporting purposes unless they were legal somewhere for hunting.
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Old November 8, 2014, 08:07 PM   #6
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Since punt guns are no longer legal for hunting, I doubt you will see too many 4 or 8 bores. We did have a tripod-mounted 8 bore for blowing slag off the boiler wall tubing at a power plant. Amazing tool, we wore out several 1100s in 12 before we bought leased that thing.
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Old November 9, 2014, 07:48 AM   #7
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You might be reading to much into "sporting purpose". Recreational shooting is considered sporting.
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Old November 9, 2014, 12:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksimons View Post
You might be reading to much into "sporting purpose". Recreational shooting is considered sporting.
I'd hardly consider shooting an 8-gauge from the shoulder "recreational" unless the intent is to have an orthopedic surgeon "re-create" my shoulder joint or an eye surgeon "re-create" an intact retina.

Matt
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Old November 9, 2014, 03:34 PM   #9
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A 155mm Howitzer is a rifle. snicker.
"...So any shotgun with a bore greater than half an inch..." Like a 12 or 20 gauge. The problem with that definition is the "...which the Attorney General finds..." part.
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Old November 9, 2014, 04:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin View Post
The issue will probably be the "sporting purpose" test. The definition of "destructive device" at 18 USC 921(a)(4)(B) includes (emphasis added):So any shotgun with a bore greater than half an inch could be considered a destructive device unless it is likely to be found by the Attorney General of the United States to be suitable for sporting purposes. It's hard to imagine the U. S. AG finding an 8 or 4 bore shotgun suitable for sporting purposes unless they were legal somewhere for hunting.
I doubt even think the ATF would call this W.W. Greener 4-bore rifle non-sporting (and it is arguably not a shotgun, although it is essentially a slug gun). 4-bores are rare but there are a lot of 6- and 8-bore "rifles" out there so I'm pretty sure there is precedent.




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Old November 9, 2014, 04:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arizona_Mike
...I doubt even think the ATF would call this W.W. Greener 4-bore rifle non-sporting (and it is arguably not a shotgun, although it is essentially a slug gun). 4-bores are rare but there are a lot of 6- and 8-bore "rifles" out there so I'm pretty sure there is precedent...
That does raise the question of how the ATF will deal with those old (C&R or antique) large bore black powder guns, which were often intended for large, dangerous game.

C&Rs and antiques might get a pass. But the definition is what it is, and I doubt that anyone trying to make a modern large bore gun using fixed, smokeless powder ammunition, would get too far in a "sporting purposes" test.
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Old November 9, 2014, 05:08 PM   #12
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Frank, I suspect you are right about new vs. old. With respect to import-ability (and I suspect they try to be consistent with terms), the ATF declared in 2012 "hunting, skeet and trap shooting and target shooting" to be sporting but "police and military style shooting competitions" (specifically including three-gun) are not sporting. The letter mentions timed events as being part of the consideration.

I'm afraid it all comes down to different ways to justify finding that engraved blue metal on Turkish walnut=sporting. Black on black=non-sporting. Cowboy Western shooting is a lot like 3-gun except for the funny clothes. If you walked into a hypothetical Gentleman's club (which no longer exist because they have been replaced by Curves) with said gun, would the clientèle "like the cut of your jib"?

"Mother may I?" style regulation is a hell of an inefficient way to regulate a $37 billion industry employing 246,000 people but I'm afraid that is what we have for the time being.

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Old November 9, 2014, 05:30 PM   #13
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The better question is:

"Whats the largest gauge I can afford"

With the proper permits and whatnot, you can own virtually anything......
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Old November 9, 2014, 05:47 PM   #14
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AZ Mike - what does that thing weigh - about 15?
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Old November 9, 2014, 06:01 PM   #15
Kyle M.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin View Post
That does raise the question of how the ATF will deal with those old (C&R or antique) large bore black powder guns, which were often intended for large, dangerous game.

C&Rs and antiques might get a pass. But the definition is what it is, and I doubt that anyone trying to make a modern large bore gun using fixed, smokeless powder ammunition, would get too far in a "sporting purposes" test.
If it's a muzzleloader it doesn't matter, I know of a local gun dealer who passed away a few years ago that was building and selling flint lock rifles with a 2" bore. As far as a modern large bore would work Anzio Ironworks and possibly someone else manufacture a 20mm bolt action rifle but it is considered a destructive device and you must have the correct tax stamp. The .600 and .700 nitro express along with anything between .500-.600 are over the ATF's .50 cal rule but are considered sporting rifles and you do not need a tax stamp or any other licensing to own one.
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Old November 10, 2014, 07:32 PM   #16
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I don't believe there's an ownership limitation on the bore size of muzzle loaders - after all, people routinely buy muzzle loading CANNONS that are working reproductions of those used during the civil war.

Most every punt gun was a muzzle loader, and most are probably antiques.

A number of very large double and single barrel elephant guns - 8 bore, even 4 bore - are around, but they're either pre-1898 antiques or have been otherwise determined to be "sporting" arms. Every now and then, some intrepid soul takes one to Africa to "do it like it used to be done" or some such.

I don't know of any US state that allows use of a shotgun larger than 10 ga. to take birds. As for hunting big game with one . . . consider this: http://www.buckstix.com/howitzer.htm
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Last edited by HankB; November 11, 2014 at 06:24 PM.
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