Henry Axe .410 explained

I’ve been puzzling over the the Henry Axe .410, which looks remarkably like a short-barrel shotgun but isn’t. I’ve been trying to figure out how it isn’t an NFA SBS or AOW.

Thanks to a very patient customer service rep for Henry Repeating Arms, I got enough data to figure it out (it would have been quicker if they simply sent me a copy of the determination letter).

Basically, they squeezed past the NFA restrictions the same way that Mossberg did with their Shockwave.

26 U.S. Code § 5845(e) Any Other Weapon:

  • 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

That would seem to apply to the Axe .410. But then, it would seem to apply to the Shockwave as well. As we can see from Mossberg’s determination letter, the ATF decided the concealability factor applied.

is a “firearm” subject to GCA provisions; however, it is not a “firearm” as defined by the NFA. Please note that if the subject firearm is concealed on a person, the classification with regard to the NFA may change.

That is, with an overall length just over 26 inches — note that the Axe .410 is also over 26 inches — it wasn’t concealable, therefore the NFA does not apply. But if they catch someone tucking one under a coat…

This is another example of just how arbitrary the ATF can be. In these cases, “arbitrary” worked in favor of firearm manufacturers and owners. I hope Henry includes a copy of their determination letter with every Axe.

I also hope the ATF doesn’t play the same reclassification game that they did with the Reformation. All they have to do is decide this is concealable after all, and it magically becomes an AOW.

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