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Thread: Limitations of a percussion revolver

  1. #1
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    Limitations of a percussion revolver

    It has recently come to my attention that anyone can own a revolver so long as it is antique (I.e. not a replica) and doesn’t fire a centerfire or rimfire cartridge (uses percussion caps), and it is then classified as an antique firearm.
    Would said antique firearm still come under the limitations of use that a pistol does, namely only being allowed to be fired at a certified pistol range, or could it be fired anywhere a rifle can be fired?

  2. #2
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    Yes thats true, an antique firearm that is not loaded with metallic cartridges its not considered a firearm.
    So, to answer your question, I would be circumspect, and shoot it privately, while knowing that I could argue I was acting lawfully if anyone challenged me.
    I beleive that you could argue that you would be legally alright to shoot it at a pistol range but, you know, someone is going to try and mess with you, you know what some of these handgun club people are like. Go on the days no one else is there.

    I know someone with a goldrush era English revolver. Your biggest problem will be finding a percussion cap that will fit the nipple I think.
    Last edited by Carlsen Highway; 24-01-2018 at 10:35 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tanqueray View Post
    It has recently come to my attention that anyone can own a revolver so long as it is antique (I.e. not a replica) and doesn’t fire a centerfire or rimfire cartridge (uses percussion caps), and it is then classified as an antique firearm.
    Would said antique firearm still come under the limitations of use that a pistol does, namely only being allowed to be fired at a certified pistol range, or could it be fired anywhere a rifle can be fired?
    Only if nobody knows, or you have a dealers licence and have to check its safe! I think?
    Boom, cough,cough,cough

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    OKay, section 35 (requiring a permit to procure) and 44 (selling a firearm to an unlicensed person) in the Arms act do not apply to antique firearms.
    Antique firearm is defined as one that is old, and does not take metalic cartridges.
    According to 41, you do have to have a firearms license though.

    So its legal for you to own it - I can't find anything that says you cant shoot it, but I cant find anything that says you can either. Hmmm.
    Last edited by Carlsen Highway; 24-01-2018 at 10:50 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tanqueray View Post
    It has recently come to my attention that anyone can own a revolver so long as it is antique (I.e. not a replica) and doesn’t fire a centerfire or rimfire cartridge (uses percussion caps), and it is then classified as an antique firearm.
    Would said antique firearm still come under the limitations of use that a pistol does, namely only being allowed to be fired at a certified pistol range, or could it be fired anywhere a rifle can be fired?
    I’d say the intent of the law is quite clear and that this is not a loophole to get into pistol shooting without a licence.

    I expect by loading it you will have converted it from an antique into a pistol. So if you were ever caught firing it, you would face charges relating to unlawful possession and use of a firearm (assuming you don’t have a B cat – that could be different).

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    "An antique firearm is any firearm which is held in the
    possession of any person, solely as an antique..."

    First line of the antiques page in the 2013 arms code. "Solely as an antique" would rule out "for the purpose of shooting".

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    “Solely as an antique” doesn’t scream out to me that it can’t be shot. People still use antique clocks to tell the time, even if they’re kept as an antique.
    Since reading this clause I have an irrepressible urge to shoot a deer with a cap’n ball revolver.
    nor-west likes this.

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    Had a go with one last year navy colt from around the United States civil war time.
    Big Bang LOTS OF SMOKE. Followed by a lot of complaints from those trying to see there targets
    Oh and bloody good fun.
    All the complainers wanted a go as we pointed out that there groups would be better as the smoke gave them time for there barrels to cool.
    On a deer himmm nar
    It's all fun and games till Darthvader comes along
    I respect your beliefs but don't impose them on me.

  9. #9
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    Similar rule in th uk if the round is not in production then it's considered antique and you can buy without a license.
    You just can't buy our posses any of that ammo.
    It's all fun and games till Darthvader comes along
    I respect your beliefs but don't impose them on me.

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    I would do it privately and argue the point if I ever had to. But thats me...

    Percussion revolvers foul up very quickly, after a cylinder or two, you will find it difficult to turn the cylinder due to fouling. But the biggest problem with a percussion revolver is cleaning - the black powder fouling gets blown right through the entire gun, unlike, say, a lever action rifle like a '73 where with the .44-40 you only have to clean the bore and your good.

    The BP fouling gets blown through the entire gun, so this means every time you shoot it, you have to not only take the cylinder out and clean that and the bore with hot water, but you also have to dissassemble the rest of the gun and clean the fouling out of the trigger group and everywhere else, other wise you will get rust forming, and very quickly.
    This might be a problem for an antique revolver if you cant get it fully apart due to worn screwheads, lack of knowledge, or do so regularly. Cleaning a percussion revolver has to be thorough, and its much more elaborate than a rifle.

    Interestingly enough, back before 1900 in New Zealand just about every man has a pistol or a revolver of some kind. There were no 111 calls and no police response time under three days on horseback in many areas, so a revolver was considered standard, like owning a cigarette lighter and a pipe. Police work was showing up two days later and trying to arrest the perpetrator if he was still drunk. There was no protection of the public possible.
    (I note that in 1880 due to wild cattle roaming between Port Chalmers and Dunedin, travellers were advised by a council sign that they should carry a revolver when traveling the road to town.)

    The NZ law change that made pistols illegal in 1920 was due mostly to labour unrest in the UK (government fear of an armed citizenry just returned from the Great war) and because of widespread possession of semi- automatic pistols that ex-soldiers had brought back from WW1. The law was solely aimed at these. Revolvers initially were not included in the ban on handguns, and the public were advised in the newspaper announcements that it was not necessary to hand them in. (By the end of the next year they had been included, I suspect simply because the legal mechanism was there, plus if you were to ban a seven shot automatic, a six shot revolver was no less dangerous in the hands of an anti-government -anarchist -trade unionist -communist who had been brutalised by shell shock in the trenches and desired to alter the hierarchy of society in favour of the working masses.)

    I make the point here that hanguns were made illegal in New Zealand (and the UK) not because of any association with crime or criminal use, but rather as a way of disarming what the government of the day considered to be serious political opponents; they were actually afraid of a revolution in the wake of WW1. Soceity changed a great deal because of WW1. Anarchy was the belief of the day after 1918, and the social systems of the Empire were under threat from within. It had already happened in Russia, and Unions were promoting civil unrest as a protest against the division between classes and lack of work for returning soldiers. The government was afraid of what they regarded as the experienced killers they had created at the Somme.
    Last edited by Carlsen Highway; 24-01-2018 at 12:53 PM.

  11. #11
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    An interesting piece of history CH.

    And so far as your first sentence is concerned, I concur.

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    Here is the deal. Anyone may own genuine antique firearms (not modern replicas) without a Firearms Licence, however those antiques must comply with the definition in the Arms Amendment Act 1992 (held solely as an antique, not designed for or capable of firing rimfire or centrefire ammunition), and they may not be taken from your dwelling except for specific purposes (gun show, gunsmith, Police station). They may not be fired unless they are rifles or shotguns and the owner has a Firearms Licence. Antique pistols may not be fired at all.

    The risk of damage to genuine antiques by firing is quite real (and the consequent dramatic loss of value). I would recommend going to visit your local pistol club and experience the firing of the much stronger modern replica black powder pistols in a safe environment. That experience is both lawful and satisfying, and may influence your desire to continue with the sport. Wear old clothes as black powder shooting is a messy business!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlsen Highway View Post

    I make the point here that hanguns were made illegal in New Zealand (and the UK) not because of any association with crime or criminal use, but rather as a way of disarming what the government of the day considered to be serious political opponents; they were actually afraid of a revolution in the wake of WW1. .
    Handguns have never been 'illegal' in New Zealand but have been rigidly controlled since 1920 for the reasons outlined. Revolvers and single shot pistols were only registerable firearms but the Permits to Procure were very hard to get. 'Automatic pistols' were lumped into the same category as machine guns (ie. Unlawful Weapons) and required the permission of, originally, The Minister of Defence, and later, the Commissioner of Police. A surprisingly large number of handguns were lawfully owned in NZ between 1920 and the 1970's when pistol club members were allowed to own them. The situation now is a much enlightened set of legislation.
    timattalon likes this.

 

 

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