Historical Arms Collecting & Exhibitions

Historical arms collecting is another crucial facet of our Second Amendment heritage. Those who collect these firearms help preserve a piece of history for generations to come.

Collecting firearms can be done in a multitude of ways. Some people collect different firearms to fill different niches, others collect items from a specific time-period, or try to obtain all of the models of a specific firearm. Others collect to follow the evolution of firearms, collecting everything from flintlocks all the way up through to modern weapons. However, no matter the reason for collecting, every collector has a deep appreciation for history and the stories these weapons have to tell.

Today, it is remarkably easy to get into collecting. All you need is an appreciation for history, the knowhow to find the pieces you want, and the patience to find them. You get to determine how broad or narrow your collection will be. With numerous ways to expand your collection online, in stores, and at gun shows, getting your hands on a piece of history is easier than ever before.

Remember, in California, all firearms sales/transfers must be conducted through a licensed FFL unless the firearm was made before 1898 or is a black powder firearm. Firearms purchased online must be transferred through a licensed FFL in California.

Many collectors opt to get a Curio & Relic (C&R) License to aid in their endeavors. A Curio & Relic License is a kind of Federal Firearms License (FFL) that allows a collector to purchase collectable firearms as a licensed dealer.

Curio and Relic Firearms are defined as those which are of special interest to collectors by reason of some quality other than is associated with firearms intended for sporting use or as offensive or defensive weapons.

To be recognized as C&R items, 478.11 specifies that firearms must fall within one of the following categories:

  1. Firearms which were manufactured at least 50 years prior to the current date, but not including replicas of such firearms;
  2. Firearms which are certified by the curator of a municipal, State, or Federal museum which exhibits firearms to be curios or relics of museum interest; and
  3. Any other firearms which derive a substantial part of their monetary value from the fact that they are novel, rare, bizarre, or because of their association with some historical figure, period, or event.

To learn more about getting your C&R license, we have provided the following helpful links below.

  • To download the C&R application and other related forms, click here.
  • To see answers to commonly asked questions about C&R licenses, click here.
  • To view the C&R regulation handbook, click here.

We hope you found this page helpful; hopefully you are ready to go forth and obtain a coveted piece of history for yourself!