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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.
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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