Internal Revenue Service
Rev. Rul. 74-137
1974-1 C.B. 313
Replicas of antique firearms. Sales by an importer of articles manufactured, held out, and sold as replicas of antique pistols, revolvers, and rifles, but which are capable of firing or of being readily modified for firing, are subject to tax under section 4181 of the Code.
Rev. Rul. 74-137
Advice has been requested concerning the applicability of the manufacturers excise tax imposed by section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 under the circumstances described below.
A company imports and sells certain articles as replicas of antique pistols, revolvers, and rifles. Since the articles are manufactured primarily for their appeal as replicas, and not for firing, certain components used in their manufacture are of substandard quality. For example, the metal used may not be as hard as that normally used, or parts assisting automatic action may be inadequate, thus requiring manual operation. However, there is no indication in the company's advertising that the replicas are not for firing. In fact the replicas are either capable of firing a shot by means of an explosive, without imminent danger of injury to the person firing the weapon or of being readily modified for such firing. Examples of such modification include drilling out the flash holes and the addition of nuts to hold the parts more securely together. The projectiles for some of the rifles must be specially made since the proper size projectiles for them are not readily available.
The question presented is whether the importer's sales of these articles are subject to the tax imposed by section 4181 of the Code on sales by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of certain firearms enumerated therein.
Section 4181 of the Code imposes a tax on the sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of pistols, revolvers, firearms (other than pistols and revolvers), shells, and cartridges.
Section 48.4181-2 of the Manufacturers and Retailers Excise Tax Regulations defines the term "pistols" to mean small projectile firearms which have a short one-hand stock or butt at an angle to the line of bore and a short barrel or barrels, and which are designed, made, and intended to be aimed and fired from one hand. The term "revolvers" means small projectile firearms of the pistol type, having a breech-loading chambered cylinder so arranged that the cocking of the hammer or movement of the trigger rotates it and brings the next cartridge in line with the barrel for firing. The term "firearms" means any portable weapons from which a shot, bullet, or other projectile may be discharged by an explosive.
Rev. Rul. 57-606, 1957-2 C.B. 733, states that whether a firearm is an antique is immaterial in determining the applicability of the manufacturers excise tax.
Although the articles in question are manufactured, held out, and sold as replicas of antique firearms, and certain of the components used in their manufacture are of substandard quality, they are capable of firing or of being readily modified for the firing of a shot, bullet, or other projectile by means of an explosive. Accordingly, these articles are pistols, revolvers, and firearms as defined in section 48.4181-2 of the regulations, and the importer's sales thereof are subject to the tax imposed by section 4181 of the Code.