What is the Legal Length of a Shotgun Barrel?

You may want to own your very own shotgun but you cannot on a proper size. A certain length is legal but if you want to go shorter, yo are required to acquire a license for your firearm. To spare you the trouble and the hassle of applying for one, what you can do is just follow the legal length of the shotgun barrel.

For the rifle, the legal length is 16” while the shotgun barrel should not go shorter than 18”. When the whole shotgun is measured, it should reach 26”. If in case you have a shotgun with a shorter barrel, you have to prepare to register. You also have to pay taxes for it.

History of This Law

At this point, you may be wondering why there is a law for the size of the shotgun. This started because of the gang violence that happened in the 1930s. A lot of criminals favored the short barreled shotgun because they were easy to place underneath their coats and inside the pockets of their pants. There are also other benefits that they stated such as the following:

  • Attractive - Their unique appearance makes them more attractive not only to criminals but to a lot of people.
  • Powerful at Short Range - Short barreled shotguns are highly powerful when used in short range because they are stronger than the usual pistol.
  • Not Much Forensic Details are Retrieved - Examiners and policemen will have more trouble retrieving information about some crimes because not many forensic details are left.

A Few More Legal Restrictions

It is important to note that the legal restrictions regarding the shotgun barrel may differ from country to country. For example, in Australia, no one is allowed to decrease the length of the shotgun barrel at all unless a special license will be acquired from the Chief Commissioner of Police.

In Canada, people are allowed to own short barreled shotguns provided that these shotguns have not been modified in any way. There are some companies that still produce short barreled shotguns in Canada. What is not allowed is the shortening of the barrel by the owner without getting permission.

It can be even worse in some countries. For example, in Ireland, those who shorten the barrel of their shotguns when convicted are subjected to stay in prison for five years. Every time a person will be caught using the short barreled shotgun, he/she will be imprisoned for 5 years again.

There are some countries who do not have restrictions about the short barreled shotgun at all. In Germany, the short barreled shotgun is considered to be like any other gun. If the shotgun is small, then it will automatically be labeled as a handgun and different laws will apply to it.

Making A Sawed Off Shotgun

Let us say that you currently reside in a place wherein creating a sawed off shotgun is considered to be okay, do you know how to make one? Here are the steps that you have to follow:

  • Choose the model of the shotgun that you want to modify. You can choose a shotgun depending on its price or you may also choose a shotgun depending on its capabilities.
  • If you are going to fill in the right forms that will allow you to have a shotgun barrel that is less than 18” then decide how long you like the shotgun to be. If you have no plans of acquiring a special license then leave the shotgun barrel at 18”.
  • Remember that the accuracy of the gun is severely affected if you would remove about 50% of its original barrel size. Take this into consideration when you are choosing the size of your barrel.
  • Using a hacksaw, circular saw or a band saw, you can start shortening the length of the barrel. This is contrary to people’s belief that a special saw should be used.
  • Use a tubing cutter so that you can easily get rid of the imperfections brought about by cutting the barrel with the use of the saw.
  • You can use an emery cloth dress up the cloth for the time being.
  • You need to know the length of the stock that you are going to use. Once again, if you do not have any license, you need to make sure that your whole shotgun barrel measures 26”. You can only go lower than that if you have acquired the license successfully and you have paid the taxes.
  • The whole process should not take long and will only take about 10 - 15 minutes.

It is best that you would check the laws of your state first before you proceed with sawing off your shotgun’s barrel. You do not want to end up paying for fines or getting imprisoned just because you did not know the rules regarding the length of your shotgun barrel.

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