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Why You Want A Curio And Relic License

If you’re like me, you read a few gun rags here and there, with a trusted favorite being Shotgun News. Looking through the advertisements in good old Shotgun News, you are going to see a lot of guns with the “C&R Eligible” printing beside them. Have you ever stopped and wondered what it meant?

I started researching what this meant some years ago, and now I am finally getting around to my license. Basically C&R eligible firearms are defined by your favorite organization and mine, the ATF, as 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.

Now what does this mean to you? Basically, it means any firearm that was manufactured at least fifty years ago. Manufactured is the key word here; replicas such as the WASR 10 will not count, even though the AK-47 design is over fifty years old. In addition, these firearms must be certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum that exhibits curios or relics.

While relics will probably be the weapons your most likely to order, the curio is there for a reason. The description is vague, but the ATF websites says these are any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event. Weapons that fall under the curio portion of the license are rare and undoubtedly expensive.

Now an important thing to know is the weapons must be in their original configuration to be a C&R weapon. Minor changes like swing swivels, scope mounts, or replacement sights will not change the weapon’s status as a C&R weapon. Modifications like a new composite or plastic stock will, however, change the status.

A curio and relic license is surprisingly easy to obtain, and it allows me to buy weapons from dealers and have them shipped directly to my home. If you can legally buy a gun and are at least twenty-one, you can get a license. You have to fill out the application, pay thirty dollars, and have an endorsement from local law enforcement. My local sheriff signed off for me without any issue once I explained what the license was for. The license is good for three years.

How to hide your guns, and other off grid caches…

Why did I want one these licenses? Well I am a prepper, although I use that term loosely. I believe in prepping, but I am on a budget for it. I would love to have a basement full of guns and ammo, but that’s not realistic for me with my budget.

A quick Google search directed me to a lot of C&R dealers, and I was surprised at how much cheaper it is to buy firearms this way. In fact, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this sooner.

I am absolutely in love with weapons from World Wars I and II: these weapons were made to survive the most brutal environments. These weapons were designed in an era where bayonet use was common and your weapon could quickly become a club when things hit the fan. Tough is hardly a word for these rifles. Best of all, these weapons are all curio and relic eligible.

If you are shopping for a reliable, tough-as-nails bolt action, a WWII weapon is an awesome choice. If you thought Mosins were cheap in gun stores, how about paying eighty bucks for a choice Mosin? Mosins are great hunting rifles; they pack a wallop and are perfect for hunting any game in North America. Finding Mausers from all around the world is easy too.

Pistols like the CZ-82 in 9×18 Makarov are available for less than $200. These pistols make great budget CCW pieces. The CZ is a compact pistol, and the 9mm Makarov is comparable to the .380 in firepower.

Walther P38s are renowned well-built handguns firing the commonly available 9mm Parabellum. If your wallet is really being pinched for less than a hundred, you can buy a Russian Nagant Revolver. These handguns aren’t pretty, and they don’t pack a lot of firepower; they are cheap though. You can convert the seven-shot revolver to .32 ACP with a new cylinder if you want an easy round to fire from it.

These weapons may not be your first choice in a tactical weapon for home defense, but the gun you can afford is better than the one you dream about. As I mentioned before, these weapons were meant to survive the toughest wars, so they are perfect truck guns or budget survival weapons. If you already own your black rifle for when things get tough, then one of these bolt actions can be a great hunting rifle or a spare you keep stored away.

Even weapons like the SKS now fall under C&R eligibility, giving you a powerful semi-auto for under three hundred dollars. With all the upgrades the SKS has out there, you can easily make this “relic” into a modern tactical rifle.

The most common and cheapest curio and relic firearms are European models. While American weapons are not going to be as common or nearly as cheap, they are available as well. If you’re shopping on a website like Gunbroker and stumble across a M1 Garand or M1 carbine, they could eligible as C&R. The same goes for 1911s, Colts, and Smiths, and the list goes on and on.

Some of you out there may be thinking that finding rounds for the foreign weapons is going to be a hassle. That’s just not true; granted, you may not find these rounds in any Wal-Mart (although that’s becoming a problem no matter what ammo you shoot here lately), but every gun store I’ve been to carries 7.62 x 54R and 9mm Makarov. This ammo is often military surplus and very cheap, making it affordable to stock up. A good Mosin and 1,000 rounds will run you less than two hundred dollars. The Internet is the cheapest place to find ammo, especially when you buy in bulk.

Preppers can benefit greatly from a C&R license: it’s basically a key to room of affordable, cosmoline-covered rifles and handguns. And these are rifles and handguns that can mean the difference between a full belly and hunger or a safe family versus living in fear.

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  1. You do NOT need endorsement from a local law enforcement
    official. You must send a letter to the Chief Law Enforcement
    Officer (CLEO) in your city or county stating that you have applied
    for a C&R license. You must state as a part of your application to
    the BATF that you have sent the letter. That is the only local
    law enforcement requirement. thanks, Phil

    • Phil.

      Do you have a reference for this that I can cite when I send in my app? I’m sure you are a wonderful patriotic citizen, but wouldn’t the ATF want something besides, “Phil said it was okay?” LOL


  2. Also, one does not need a C&R license just to own a C&R firearm – only to buy and sell interstate without an FFL dealer. You may buy these firearms online and have them shipped to your FFL and go pick them up without any special ATF license.

    If you are only picking up one or two of these types of firearms, skip the ATF paperwork and go through your local FFL – locally, it only costs $25/transaction. If you’re buying a truckload, the C&R license could save you some dough.

  3. I won’t do anything that involves giving my name to the ATF, including buying from any source that requires a background check… Yes, ATF collects names from any source that delivers them into their hands and keeps them even though it’s against the law. Big brother is bigger than most of us realize or haven’t you noticed him coming out from behind his mask more often these days… and not just on gun issues, but in every manner involving freedom of choice in our daily lives.

  4. I have had my C&R license for several years. I have only used it a few times, but I love having it. I got a beautiful WWII German Mauser and an Mosin, both at great prices. They are in excellent condition.
    Big Brother already knows just about everything we do, so I really don’t care if they know I have a couple of antique bolt action rifles.
    One comment about your article…if you purchase an SKS and turn it into a modern tactical rifle as you mentioned, the rifle will lose it’s C&R status. Although ATF has the ability to visit you and check your collection any time they want, I highly doubt they will waste their time. Even if they do, the most that will happen is you lose your C&R license.
    I agree with you. Get your C&R license. It’s cheap and worth it. The ability of having the firearms shipped directly to your door is worth having the license.

    • Chris,

      That is not entirely correct. If you modify a C&R firearm, it looses it’s C&R eligibility and therefore cannot be sold as a C&R, unless it is returned to it’s original configuration. You will not loose your license over modifiing the firearem. I refer you to the article by Jeremy D. Clough in the 2013 Premier Issue of Military Surplus magazine. Page 88. “Curio & Relic License: Find out how a C&R gets you into military-surplus guns!”
      I do plan to get my license, justnot where I am living now, as I plan to move soon.

      • This is a perfect example of the Tower of Babel that the bureaucracy has become. I just read 5 different opinions supposedly on the same issue. Apparently, it is impossible to even follow the rules anymore. I doubt this is by plan, but it really doesn’t matter. Every petty bureaucrat will believe that they act with unlimited authority to execute their own personal opinion, regardless of the gibberish that regulations have become. I suspect this is self reinforcing, if not by design, and results in an evolution of ever more sociopathic dictates, generated by unsympathetic, unelected and unsupervised minions of the executive branch. God help us all. The Tower of Babel will fall.

  5. If you are going to count Alaska as part of North America then you can’t say that the 7.62 X 54R is an ideal all purpose caliber. It is a good one to be sure but woefully inadequate for brown bears and these animals are a factor to be reckoned with here.
    That might be splitting hairs and while I would rather have the “7.62 Russian” than nothing at all – I’ll rely on my .338 or even .375H&H for a survival rifle up here. I could be wrong but the venerable .375 Holland & Holland is old enough that if you were to keep your eyes open for a while you might be able to find a rifle that fell under the C&R qualifications chambered in one. For those of you lucky enough to live in elk country there’s not much better for clean one shot dispatch of that wonderful game animal.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

  6. a better investment would be thirty dollars of cosmoline, they are coming for your guns and will probably get them if you dont have them stashed somewhere.

  7. OK, Vernon….I’m just getting into purchasing some guns/rifles….please explain “cosmoline” to me.

  8. I got my C&R License almost 10 years ago. I purchased my 1st SKS for $150 with free shipping. Now they sell for $350 +. The license cost $30.00 and is good for 3 years, that’s the price of one FFL retail background check. I also just reviewed the new NY Assult Rifle law (SAFE Act) and C&R items have an exemption.

  9. Yeah but….government is coming after all guns soon and even more so if you have lots of them like a dealer does. What I want to know is how to get what is needed without those that should mind their own business don’t and come snooping! How to hid it so they will never find it when they come for guns! Does this license stop them from bugging us and we all can’t go get one of these licenses ….they would know that it is a cover….

  10. Sunshine says: please explain “cosmoline” to me. Cosmoline is is the special grease used on issued new military weapons for shipping and/or storage. It protects the weapon even if it is buried underground and is a pain in the A$$ to clean but worth the effort,c ~ WWII. I am ret. Army and have had to clean my new issued weapon several times. Not sure but I think the weapon is dipped so that it penetrates all internal parts and the barrel where it sets up but is still pliable

    ” redrover says: ‘ .Yeah but….government is coming after all guns soon and even more so if you have lots of them like a dealer does ‘ That’s when Civil War II begins IMO.

    “illuminoughtu says: ” God help us all. The Tower of Babel will fall.” True and Amen! But Almighty God has this ungodly nation under “judgement” since 2008 and before. Our only hope is II Chronicles 7:14.

  11. Replying to my own reply. Here is what the ATF Form 7 says:

    “3. Applicants must submit copy 2 of this form to the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in the locality in which the premises sought to be licensed are located. The CLEO is the Chief of Police, the Sheriff, or an equivalent officer, or the designee of such individual.”

    Please note the second word – must. This indicates that there is no choice for the applicant.

    • So I can I just mail the 2d copy to the sheriffs office? I just printed and filled out my C&R form today and am sending it out tomorrow. I did take it to the sheriffs office, but the officer at the front desk had never received one of the C&R forms before therefor had no idea what to do with it….I explained that it must be turned into the CLEO..he just gave me a web address to the state police…

  12. where do you get the app.???

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  14. My wife is applying for her c&r to save $ on transfers. She knows i buy these guns and go thru an ffl at 20 bucks a gun. I think she is going to start charging me that amount lol. Keeping it in the family as it were.

  15. The article seems to indicate that to qualify as a C&R firearm, all three conditions must be satisfied. Actually, only one of the three conditions must be satisfied. Note the preface in this excerpt from the ATF Web site:

    “To be recognized as C&R items, 478.11 specifies that firearms must fall within one of the following categories:”

    “Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas of such firearms;”

    “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”

    “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.”

    Note that it says, ” one of the following categories.”

  16. Have a question. On the C&R application it asks if you have a hunting lisc. It states if you answered no then you do not need a lisc. Therefore denying the application. Our family has a large collection of WW1 and WW2 military rifles and I want to continue to collect more. I want to get the lisc in order to make this easier. Do I need to go out and get a hunting lisc?

  17. I agree with many here that I don’t want the ATF/FBI to know anything about me or what I own or don’t own. But they do dammit. I get around the call in FFL b/g check because of my Texas LTC when I purchase a firearm. But my NFA items …SBR’s,cans,…. through my NFA trust they know about me for sure. I have nothing to hide at all,I just don’t trust the Feds at all ! I will blow off getting the C&R license.

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