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HQ 086740

May 16, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086740 AJS


TARIFF NO.: 9013.10.10; 9013.10.40

Mr. Arcelio V. Gerardo
Import Supervisor
Tasco Sales, Inc.
7600 Northwest 26 Street
Miami, Florida 33122-1494

RE: Telescopic Sights for Arms Other Than Rifles

Dear Mr. Gerardo

Your letter of February 15, 1990, requesting a tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), has been referred to this office for reply.


The articles in question consist of three models of telescopic sights. One model is used with shotguns, another with pistols and a third with airguns. All three scopes are for use with visible light as opposed to infrared light.


Whether the telescopic sights in question are classifiable within subheading 9013.10.10, HTSUSA, which provides for telescopic sights for rifles not designed for use with infrared light; or within subheading 9013.10.40, HTSUSA, which provides for other telescopic sights for fitting to arms.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

The HTSUSA deals specifically with the classification of arms in chapter 93. However, telescopic sights for arms imported separately are specifically excluded from this chapter. Chapter 93, Note 1(d). The sights at issue are to be imported separately and therefore are covered by this exclusion. Chapter 93 covers a wide variety of items such as military weapons, revolvers and pistols, firearms which operate by the firing of an explosive charge, air or gas guns, munitions of war, and swords. The structure of this chapter indicates that the term "arms" was intended to include a wide variety of weapons.

Subheading 9013.10, HTSUSA, provides for telescopic sights for fitting to arms. More specifically, subheading 9013.10.10 provides for telescopic sights for rifles. A rifle is described as "[a] firearm with a rifled bore designed to be fired from the shoulder. Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (Unabridged ed. 1984). This description indicates that a rifle is a specific type of arm. The sights in question are designed for fitting to shotguns, pistols and airguns. These arms are not rifles. Accordingly, the sights at issue are not described by the terms of this subheading and cannot be classified therein.

In HQ 063818 (August 5, 1980), Customs addressed the classification of archery, pistol, and air rifle telescopic sights under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). We ruled that these articles were classifiable within item 708.56, TSUS, as telescopic sights for rifles. The competing provision in that instance was item 708.58, TSUS, which provided for other refracting or reflecting telescopes. While this ruling is not binding under the HTSUSA, Congress has indicated that earlier tariff rulings must not be disregarded in applying the HTSUSA. The conference report to the Omnibus Trade Bill of 1988 states that "on a case-by-case basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTS[USA], particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remain unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTS[USA]." H. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2D Sess. 548 (1988) at 550, reprinted in 1988 U.S. CODE CONG. & ADMIN. NEWS 1581-83. However, the circumstances required in the conference report do not exist in this case. Both the nomenclature has changed and a dissimilar interpretation from HQ 063818 is now required by the text of the HTSUSA. The competing provision in this case is other telescopic sights for fitting to arms and not other telescopes. In addition, the distinction made between arms in the superior subheading 9013.10 and rifles in subheading 9013.10.10 requires a dissimilar interpretation from that stated under the TSUS. Therefore, we do not consider the conclusion reached in HQ 063818 instructive in interpreting subheading 9013.10.

Subheading 9013.10.40, HTSUSA, provides for other telescopic sights for fitting to arms. The telescopic sights in question are for fitting to shotguns, pistols and airguns. Based on the discussion of arms stated previously, these articles are in fact arms and not rifles. Accordingly, they are accurately described by the terms of this subheading and classifiable therein.

A tariff classification controlled by use is to be determined by the principal use of the article within the United States. Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a). Therefore, telescopic sights which can be used for fitting to rifles as well as other arms are classifiable within the telescopic sight subheading (i.e., rifle or arms) which provides for the arm with which the telescopic sight will be principally used.


The telescopic sights in question are classifiable within subheading 9013.10.40, HTSUSA, which provides for other tele- scopic sights for fitting to arms dutiable at the rate of 8 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Ruling Division

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