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NY 849633

CLA-2-93:S:N:N1:119 849633


TARIFF NO.: 9303.10.0000

Mr. R. Robert Hickey
Connecticut Valley Arms, Inc.
P.O. Box 7225
Norcross, GA 30091

RE: The tariff classification of percussion cap revolver from Italy.

Dear Mr. Hickey:

In your letter dated February 7, 1990, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The firearms under consideration are replicas of revolvers originally manufactured in the 1800's. They use black powder as propellant and a percussion cap ignition system. These replicas are not designed to nor are they capable of firing a fixed cartridge. The black powder and projectile are loaded into the chambers through the front of the cylinder.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States percussion cap revolvers were free of duty under the provision for "Muskets, shotguns, rifles, pistols, and revolvers, all the foregoing which are firearms designed to fire shot, pellets, or bullets, but which are not designed to fire and are not capable of firing a fixed cartridge; and parts of the foregoing."

In the Harmonized Tariff Schedule the above wording was dropped and a new provision for "muzzle-loading firearms" was substituted.

You are of the opinion that the term "muzzle-loading" also embraces percussion cap revolvers that are loaded through the front of the cylinder. In support of your position you have cited author George C. Nonte, Jr. a retired Army major who has written extensively on firearms and ammunition. Major Nonte defines a muzzle loader as "a firearm designed to be loaded from the muzzle or front end by means of a ramrod. Percussion revolvers are included, as their chambers are loaded from the front of the cylinder." You have also cited dictionary definitions and firearms regulations which do not in fact sustain Major Nonte's definition of a muzzle loader.

Definitions we have obtained from other dictionaries and firearm encyclopedias also contradict Major Nonte's position. The following definitions taken from "Small Arms Lexicon and Concise Encyclopedia" by Chester Mueller and John Olson (copyright 1968) are representative of what is to be found in the firearms literature:
muzzle loader - a gun loaded with propellent powder and projectile only through the muzzle end of the bore.
muzzle loading - the act of loading a gun through its muzzle end, as in the case of a muzzle loader.
muzzle - the front end of a barrel from which the bullet emerges.

However we did find one source that referred to the Colt revolvers of the 1800's as being "muzzle loaded and cap fired". See "Small Arms of the World" by W.H.B. Smith (7th edition, pg. 174).

Indications are that the term "muzzle loader" is not generally used in the trade to designate a percussion cap revolver. Neverthe- less such usage appears to have been adopted in some circles and has found its way into the language of the tariff. In addition we have found no evidence of Congressional intent to change the free status of the percussion cap revolvers.

The applicable subheading for the percussion cap revolvers will be 9303.10.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for muzzle-loading firearms. The rate of duty will be free.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Section 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


Jean F. Maguire
Area Director

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