Dave Henderson

A Muzzleloader Is Not Considered A Firearm

What is the definition of a muzzleloading firearm and why doesn’t the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms view it as a firearm?

According to Section 921(3) of the “Gun Control Act of 1968,” a firearm is “any weapon which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such weapon; any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.”

Dave Henderson
Dave Henderson

Modern muzzleloaders are considered “antique firearms” as they are replicas of pre-20th Century designs, with certain other limitations.

In fact, the Gun Control Act of 1968 defines an antique firearm in Section 921(16) as any firearm manufactured before 1898, including those with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar ignition system. Replicas of such firearms are also considered antiques as long as the replica is not “designed or redesigned to use rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition.”

A replica is also considered an antique firearm if it uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition that is no longer manufactured in the United States and such ammunition is not “readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.” Obviously this does not refer to muzzleloaders.

Finally, a muzzleloader is considered an antique if it is designed to use black powder (or a substitute), and therefore cannot use fixed ammunition.

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6 Responses to “A Muzzleloader Is Not Considered A Firearm”

  1. Charlie Clark

    legal muzzelloaders in Florida have to use percussion caps and musket caps and have rabbit hammers if you have ever been a convicted felon , depending on game warden.ortherwise all other guns are legal

  2. Ryan DeGroat

    I’m a felon, I want to know if I can own a in-line muzzleloader in Minnesota. Don’t want to get in trouble and I’m finding conflicting answers to this

    • Brian

      I am also conflicted being a felon and owning an inline muzzleloader. I called the ATF and they told me that it is considered a firearm. But if it’s considered a firearm how is it I was able to purchase it without a background check. The inline fits the description of a muzzleloader. The only thing that would make it a firearm is a 209 primer which is considered an explosive so it’s illegal for a felon to own.

  3. eddie clay

    i was wondering how short you could you could cut a muzzle loader rifle barrel off that has a 209 primer? i was told it don’t matter becouse its black powder. i live in indiana please advise.

  4. Tim Mercer

    Is a 50 cal Tradition muzzleloader considered to be a firearms if i use a 209 primers in it

    • Phillip

      Yes, it wouldn’t be considered a firearm per sé, however with the 209 inlines you’d have to convert over to musket caps to be legal. Per the ATF.