How to Obtain a C&R License
April 04, 2014
Starting a collection of Curios & Relics (C&R) firearms is a rewarding hobby. Collecting surplus and vintage guns will introduce you to firearms from the history books, and can also pave a path into several other enjoyable hobbies, such as firearm restoration and reloading.
A C&R license is a Federal Firearms License issued by the BATFE—specifically known as FFL Type 03 - Collector of Curios and Relics.
Essentially, a C&R license allows individuals to purchase C&R-eligible firearms without going through a third party and paying transfer fees or filling out form 4473. Individuals can purchase C&R-eligible rifles without a C&R license by transferring through a regular FFL, but possessing a C&R license has certain benefitsâ€”such as reduced dealer prices at many distributors and having eligible firearms delivered to your front door.
The appeal of C&R firearms to collectors is relatively simple: They are functional pieces of history, oftentimes available for reasonable prices. Add to that the fact that many C&R guns have spent decades caked in cosmoline protected from the elements, and its possible to find pristine firearms amongst decades-old military surplus.
The C&R market is very interesting to follow. Collecting certain firearms is often a matter of checking various distributors at the right time and catching an item while it's in stock. A wealth of surplus-themed wholesale distributors such as AIM Surplus and Southern Ohio Gun have emerged online over the past two decades, and locating inventories of C&R-eligible firearms has never been easier.
Since the supply of USA-made military surplus rifles has largely dried up in recent years, the majority of C&R-eligible rifles on the market now are of foreign origin, made circa-WWII. Firearms such as the Chinese SKS, Russian Mosin Nagant, Mauser M48 and Swiss Schmidt-Rubins are currently available from several online distributors.
The author's first C&R eligible firearm was a Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine. This rifle cost approximately $150 shipped, and fires the 7.62x54R cartridge—which many consider the "poor man's .30-06". Currently, 7.62x54R ammo is readily available for around $0.20 per round—compare that to roughly $0.70 or more per round for similar-quality .30-06 ammo.
C&R Eligible Firearms
The BATFE recognizes C&R-eligible firearms as the following:
"Firearm curios or relics include firearms which have special value to collectors because they possess some qualities not ordinarily 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:
1. Have been manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas thereof; or
2. Be certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; or
3. Derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or from the fact of their association with some historical figure, period, or event."
For more information, see the BATFE's complete list of C&R-eligible firearms and FAQs.
It's important to remember that a C&R license comes with specific responsibilities. First, this is only a license to collect for personal enjoyment, and in no way allows a C&R licensee to engage in the business of selling or manufacturing firearms. Participating in these activities requires completely different Federal Firearms Licenses.
C&R licensees must also keep a bound book of all purchases made with a C&R license. These records must remain on your premises and are subject to BATFE inspection. Lastly, it is always recommended to carefully observe all firearm regulations pertaining to state, local and/or federal laws.
Getting your C&R license is a relatively painless task that breaks down into the following steps: