AOWs in California

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AOWs in California

Definition of an AOW

An AOW or "any other weapon" is a federally defined term that creates a category for firearms that do not usually fall under any other definition.

Types of AOW's include:

  • Smooth Bore Pistols
  • Cane Guns
  • Pen Guns
  • Disguised firearms
  • Briefcase Guns
  • Firearms with both rifled and smooth bore barrels between 12" and 18"
  • Pistols with a second handgrip
  • "Shotguns" that came from the factory in a pistol grip only configuration and have an overall length of less than 26" or a barrel less than 18"

An AOW is defined in 26 U.S.C 5845 (e) as

 26 U.S.C § 5845  (e) The term “any other weapon” means any weapon or device
capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through
the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed
or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels
12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made
from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be
readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or 
rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder 
and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

California does not have a separate definition for an AOW.

Definition Confusion

Both Federal law and the State of California have their own statues regulating NFA weapons. For definitions of other NFA weapons, see Title II (NFA) Firearms.

AOW's and short-barrled shotguns/rifles are different legal items. If you were to take a shotgun, and cut down the barrel to under 18" or remove the stock and have a total overall length less than 26" inches you would not have an AOW, you would have a short-barrled shotgun.

Does California allow possession of an AOW?

Yes. But it must be properly registered as AOW with a federal tax stamp.

An AOW would normally be illegal under 12020 PC, but you can be exempted if properly registered.

 (8) Any other weapon as defined in subsection (e) of Section 5845
  of Title 26 of the United States Code and which is in the possession
  of a person permitted to possess the weapons pursuant to the federal
  Gun Control Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-618), as amended, and the
  regulations issued pursuant thereto. Any person prohibited by Section
  12021, 12021.1, or 12101 of this code or Section 8100 or 8103 of the
  Welfare and Institutions Code from possessing these weapons who
  obtains title to these weapons by bequest or intestate succession may
  retain title for not more than one year, but actual possession of
  these weapons at any time is punishable pursuant to Section 12021,
  12021.1, or 12101 of this code or Section 8100 or 8103 of the Welfare
  and Institutions Code. Within the year, the person shall transfer
  title to the weapons by sale, gift, or other disposition. Any person
  who violates this paragraph is in violation of subdivision (a). The
  exemption provided in this subdivision does not apply to pen guns.

How do I federally register an AOW?

Obtaining an AOW can be done in several different ways. In all cases a form must be filed with the ATF. The form type denotes the way in which you are receiving or manufacturing said firearm. These forms are used for many different types of NFA weapons, for purposes of this article I will only cover sections relating to AOW's.

Differences in NFA Forms

The most common forms for non-licensed persons are:

  • Form 1 - Application to make and Register a Firearm
  • Form 4 - Application For Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm
  • Form 5 - Application For Tax Exempt Transfer and Registration of Firearm

Form 1 is used when an individual wishes to create their own AOW. This form requires a $200 fee and must be filed before you create the AOW. Form 1 can be used in California.

Form 4 is used from transferring an AOW from a non-licensed person or licensed dealer.

  • The ATF has a complete list of Forms located here located here

Can an AOW also be an Assault Weapon?

Yes. Properly federally registered AOW's are only exempt from 12020PC, other firearm restrictions still apply.

Where can I buy an AOW?

Does the handgun roster apply to AOWs?

Is there an age minimum to get an AOW?

Moving to California with a Registered AOW

Transporting an AOW

ATF Letters