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Classic C&R Short-Barrel Shotguns

By Robert G. Segel

Short-barrel shotguns are gaining a resurgence in popularity for a number of reason that include impressive firepower in a compact package for personal defense, home defense and pest control. These weapons are regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act with registration with the government and a transfer tax. However, prior to the passage of that Act, several companies offered to the public their version of a small, highly effective, close combat short-barrel shotgun.

Often times the term “sawed-off shotgun” is used, but that has a different legal meaning.

A sawed-off shotgun is generally a fully stocked sporting shotgun with a barrel length of 18 inches or longer and has the barrels shortened to less than 18 inches by literally sawing the barrels with a hacksaw or band saw. This alteration requires prior BATFE approval and a $200 transfer tax. However, if the shotgun was originally manufactured with a less than 18-inch barrel and never had a shoulder stock attached, it is classified as an Any Other Weapon (AOW) and only a $5 transfer tax is involved.

The concept of a small compact shotgun is not new, and there are a few examples of classic AOWs that were made in the early 20th century that are classified as Curio and Relics (C&R). The advantage of such a weapon is compactness, firepower, and, with short barrels, the shot pattern expands quickly at a shorter distance making it a close-combat type of weapon not meant for long-distance hunting work. A close quarter shotgun blast has devastating effects.

In the first decades of the 20th century, in the 1920s and 1930s Depression era, lawlessness abounded with home invasion and bank and highway robberies. Not only did banks and other institutions have to protect their valuables and assets with their own security personnel, because there was no government Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to cover losses from holdups, but civilians too had to take it upon themselves to protect their welfare; particularly motorists who were considered easy prey and were frequently robbed on rural and suburban highways in a then-up-to-date version of stagecoach robbery....

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