Nepal Gehendra SBR?
I have several of the IMA Gehendras, one of which I was considering turning into a "hand cannon", since the barrel is buldged at about 15". I was wondering if it would need to be registered as an SBR, despite a manufacture date of probably 1870s-1890, and the ammunition is not "readily available" through commercial trade. I shoot these for fun, they are a blast, and the idea of having one chopped down to maybe 12" is kinda cool. I've tried to find out through research, but I'm not finding anything conclusive. What are some thoughts?
The ATF's position is that if you chop the barrel on a C&R rifle, you are effectively making a new gun and so it loses its C&R status. I'm not sure if this same "logic" extends to antique guns, but being as the MH fires brass cartridge ammunition that is readily available (albeit at stupid prices), my guess is that if you ask the ATF they will give you the most restrictive interpretation they can get away with. I always hate it when folks write in for an ATF opinion letter as this usually gives them the chance to close off whole avenues of interesting gun configurations, and in any case such letters are probably not worth the paper they are written on nowadays, seeing as so many have been reversed.
The better option IMHO would be to send in a Form 1 and $200, chop the gun (after approval of course), then sue the ATF for a tax refund on the grounds that antiques are not covered by the NFA. This is the approach Thompson-Center used back in the day. This way you can make your gun and still be 100% safe. Hell, if you are lucky, they might reject your Form 1 straight away on the grounds that the gun is an antique and thus not subject to the NFA (the result you want).
I must agree with the above. The most important rule that I have found to be almost universal is that if it make sense it will not adhere to NFA rule when it comes to the whimsy of the ATF.