A few bloggers that I know of, as well as myself, have Type 03 FFL licenses; or as they’re referred to in the vernacular, a C&R license. As you probably know, C&R stands for Curio & Relic, which is a specific class of firearm as defined by the BATF. Sebastian gives a pretty good explanation of what exactly a C&R gun is – basically it’s a gun that is either A) on the list, or B) more than fifty years old. I’ve talked a wee bit about C&R in the past, and now that I’ve had my license for a while there is plenty more to talk about.
One of the big things about C&R guns is the old “collect or shoot” question. Some firearms that are classified as C&R are quite valuable, and there are plenty of people who purchase C&R firearms for the collector value, and never really shoot them. That’s fine, but it’s not my cup of tea. While the historical and collector appeal of certain guns is still there for me, my primary goal when purchasing C&R firearms is to have more guns to shoot. Sitting there and looking pretty isn’t really a concern.
Something neat about being interested in C&R guns as shooters is that you will sometimes get really good deals. For example, an old Colt revolver that’s been reblued has lost a lot of its collector value due to the reblue process. If you’re lucky, that means it gets priced lower and you can snap it up. Similarly, guns that have barrels shortened, or different sights installed can also loose a lot of their collector value; again that should lower the price on the C&R market.
I’ve had a couple of people ask me about using a C&R gun as a carry gun. If you can find one that works for you, go for it. The biggest issue with that is since you’re probably dealing with a gun that is 50+ years old, make sure it is in perfect functioning condition before you carry it. Now that I’ve said, the CZ-82 in 9mm Makarov was recently classified by the ATF as a C&R. This is a thoroughly modern, and recent manufactured pistol. If you were going to get a carry gun via a C&R license, that would be my first recommendation. If you’re leaning more towards the revolver side of things, the C&R market is littered with old S&W’s and Colts. If you pick carefully, you could quite easily get a fine functioning .38 Special.
The other “fun” thing to do with C&R guns is make projects out of them. There are some guns available that are in “almost” functioning condition, or are pretty beat up, etc. You get an old wheelgun for $100 bucks and then you can tinker with it; if you damage it beyond repair it’s not like you just broke your $1000 CQB Tactical Destroyer. Or, if you’re like me, you’re scheming ways to buy an old Smith for $150-$200 and then it off to Bowen Custom and have all sorts of fun things done to it. Sure, it would tank the “value” of the gun, but I’ve always wanted a Bowen customized S&W.
The long and short of it is that C&R is a fun, and often inexpensive hobby. While the major drawback is that the ATF can audit your records at any time, it is really, really cool to have guns shipped directly to your house.