View Full Version : Blackpowder Revolvers - Exempt from which restrictions?

08-23-2006, 12:55 PM
I've recently become interested in cap & ball revolvers (Civil War era revolvers like the Colt 1860 Army, Remington 1858, etc.). My primary interest is historical and fun plinking, but in researching them a bit, some of the reproductions sound like they could be pretty decent self-defense handguns. For example, a Remington 1858 Army in stainless with a 5.5" barrel and a couple of spare loaded cylinders to act as speed loaders.

I know that under federal law these aren't considered firearms, but I'm not sure of their status under CA law. I was wondering, for example, if I could allow my 15-year-old son to carry a reproduction cap & ball revolver when we go hiking or ATV riding in the woods (I don't think anyone under 21 can carry a modern handgun unless under DIRECT adult supervsion).

Also, would it be legal to keep one of these revolvers loaded and accessible in a vehicle for self defense? Modern handguns must be unloaded and in a locked case. How about concealed carry (though most reasonably powerful cap & ball revolvers are pretty large for this)?

Can people who are legally prohibited from owning modern firearms own these? (I'm not in that category, but I have a relative who is prohibited due to some past legal issues, but might be interested if he could legally own one of these).

Any other uses for which a cap & ball revolver might be a legal substitute for a modern cartridge handgun?

Also, if my assumptions are correct, would this apply to modern design cap & ball revolvers like the Ruger Old Army, or only reproductions of original mid-1800s designs.



08-23-2006, 1:19 PM
From what I understand, reproductions are considered the same as the original article for legal purposes.

And although it's not considered a firearm for purposes of background checks, I've read somewhere that felons still aren't allowed to touch them - it's just easy for them to acquire. But, I've heard conflicting reports here.

No idea what the deal is with your son. I think it's not considered a firearm, but is considered a handgun, or some such silliness. I'd ask the DOJ, personally.

08-23-2006, 8:51 PM
A loaded muzzle-loader is deemed a firearm,
and as such is subject to the same rules.


12031. (a)(1) A person is guilty of carrying a loaded firearm when he or she carries a loaded firearm on his or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or in any public place or on any public street in a prohibited area of unincorporated territory.

(g) A firearm shall be deemed to be loaded for the purposes of this section when there is an unexpended cartridge or shell, consisting of a case that holds a charge of powder and a bullet or shot, in, or attached in any manner to, the firearm, including, but not limited to, in the firing chamber, magazine, or clip thereof attached to the firearm; except that a muzzle-loader firearm shall be deemed to be loaded when it is capped or primed and has a powder charge and ball or shot in the barrel or cylinder.

08-23-2006, 9:15 PM
Modern cartridgeless black powder revolvers and rifles are not regulated. They may be freely bought and sold without 4473 or DROS and are not subject to the 10-day waiting period.

08-23-2006, 10:16 PM
Based on the language of the law regarding black powder weapons that both a percussion cap and a ball must be loaded for a weapon to be "loaded", would it be reasonable to conclude that a percussion cap revolver that was loaded but with NO caps would be lawful to carry in the vehicle console? Could the percussion caps be carried in the console seperate from the firearm?

08-23-2006, 11:16 PM
Thanks for the info. So it sounds like there's no benefit to carrying a cap & ball revolver in a vehicle (if you have to put on percussion caps, you might as well keep an unloaded semi-auto in a quick access lockbox and a loaded magazine nearby).

Obviously acquisition is easier (no wait, no DROS fee, etc.).

I still wonder if my 15-year-old could legally carry a cap & ball revolver when, for example, trail riding on ATVs in a national forest. I'm not even sure I'd let him at this point, but I'm curious to know if it would be legal before he's 21. Right now, he's rarely out of my sight when we go riding anyway, but as he gets older he may go exploring on his own, or with other minors.

I'm sure its covered in the law someplace, but when I start reading through the seemingly endless text of the CA gun control laws, I soon start having thought of using the revolver on myself (just kidding).