So the other night, I'm over at the house of a friend. His grandfather left him several old guns and he wanted me to take a look at them as he knows absolutely nothing about guns.
So we start to uncase them, and the first one feels kind of funny in the case. we open it up and a rather short Iver Johnson Champion single-shot slides out.
"Oh, Damn," I say.
"What is that one?" he asks.
"A ten year felony," I reply.
Long story short, his grandfather used to be a Sheriff's Deputy back in the old days in Southern Louisiana. This was one of his guns from those days. Nickel-plated action and the barrel measures out at around 13", give or take. I immediately took the barrel off of the gun and removed it from his house so that he now only possesses a Champion action, which is perfectly legal.
We discuss what to do about this gun, because he wants to keep it because it's a family heirloom. We look for some other Iver Johnson Champion barrels on line and there are a few out there but they're junk. It's actually a common enough gun, and I knew that I'd seen one before but couldn't recall where. We talk some more, and I tell him that there's a way to preserve this gun as-is, only it'll cost $200 to manufacture it and register it properly as a Short-Barreled Shotgun on a Form 1. Now the best complete IJ Champions out there are about $125, and this one is far from that even if it had a barrel, which it no longer does. I'd value this one at $30-$40. But he's game to spend the $200 to make this receiver that he has into a legal SBS, and while he's doing that I intend to do one of my own--a Remington 870 that I plan to send to Wilson Combat for their SBS rebuild.
Meanwhile though, I go back to my place with the old barrel, which he'll never see until his Form 1 is approved, and I go to set it in my shotgun cabinet...only to see another Iver Johnson Champion looking back at me. DAMN IT! I HAVE ONE!! And now I have an NFA-length barrel for it in the same house!! AAAHHH!!!
Then I realize that the gun I have is a 16 gauge, not a 12, and the barrel won't fit. (And yes, I actually checked to be sure.) But for a moment, I thought I'd tried to do someone a good turn by getting an NFA nightmare out of his house only to bring it into mine.
I'll post more about this old treasure as the paperwork goes through, and maybe about the other guns he got from that Grandfather, too. All are decent guns, but most have been refinished and the serial numbers seem to have been polished off of about half of them during the refinishing process. No idea if the Grandfather did this or if it was done before he came into them, but I'm not seeing any real bad intent there because Grandfather also had his full name engraved into the side of each of them an a rather large and well-done cursive script (even the Iver Johnson) so it's not like he was trying to conceal his ownership of them. It was also likely done back before the 1968 Gun Control Act which made serial numbers mandatory on all firearms. So I'm also going to be talking to BATFE about getting new serial numbers assigned to these guns and having them re-stamped, because they are nice guns--Brownings and Winchesters--and he wants to be able to use them and pass them down to his own kids.
And before people start blasting me about NFA violations--there truly was no knowledge or intent to possess one on the part of my friend and that gun and that barrel are now permanently separated by twenty miles and will never come together again until BATFE approves the union. We're not trying to game the system or get around it here, we're working to get my friend and his firearms into legal compliance through established means. It can be done and we're working on it. But if any of you have constructive suggestions or thoughts, I'd love to hear 'em.