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Legality of Home Manufactured Airguns?

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      I just tested out my single shot 12 ga. air shotgun and was very pleased with the result. Basically, it's a "potato" gun, with a .69 caliber PVC barrel, powered by a PVC compressed air cylinder at 100 psi. The valve is a standard yard sprinkler control valve that activates with a button trigger and a nine volt battery. The valve gives an instantaneous "dump" of the compressed air. By unscrewing the barrel, I can insert a modified 12 ga. shell with the primer removed (no powder of course), a .69 cal. felt wad, 20 buckshot and an overshot card, lightly crimped. The barrel is then screwed back onto the valve. At 25 feet, all of the pellets hit in a 12 inch ring and penetrate two layers of corrugated cardboard. The barrel length is 28", smooth bore, no choke.
     This same configuration will easily put a .69 cal. musket ball through 1/2 inch plywood. It is very quiet and I see it as a covert way to get rid of garden pests. I am, however, a little concerned about the legality of a home manufactured, air powered gun of this caliber. Any thoughts?

     Forgot to mention, I'm in Wisconsin. We have legal open carry and concealed carry with a license.

David in MN:
I spent much of my youth in WI and the key here is that there are two sets of laws. I wouldn't dream of doing this in Milwaukee or Madison but in rural areas you should be OK. I've discharged potato guns on our old farm dozens of times with no problem. The farm was outside of Beaver Dam and most farmers had permanent tree stands. My grandfather routinely shot a .410 for pest control. If hunting and gun use is legal where you are, I'd assume it's no problem.

All that said, I'm sure it's technically illegal. I would certainly never start putting shell components down a tube in front of a cop. Also, I think that there are a lot of laws on the books regarding "guns" and the worst thing would be getting charged with illegally building a destructive device or something like that. When I was semi-rural I stuck with a pellet gun and my bow.

     We are rural and I hunt deer, in season, on my property. Discharging firearms on one's property is legal where I live. Most of the neighborhood is reasonable about the noise from shooting and there is a membership only range, five minutes away. I limit my on property shooting to testing out a reload or "tuning" a flintlock.
     I find the maze of laws concerning firearms to be confusing, capricious, arbitrary, and an affront to common sense. Because I am a rural homeowner, I have the usual assortment of pipe fittings in my shed. Because I'm a reenactor, I have black powder and cannon fuse. I imagine that would qualify me as a "terrorist" for having possession of potential bomb making materials? I could imagine any number of scenarios, such as putting a new handle on an axehead, building a slingshot, making a bow or crossbow as manufacturing "destructive devices".
     Given the desire to "get" someone, I could imagine the authorities dredging up any number of arcane statutes to accomplish their ends. I always play by the rules, never stand out, am not publicly vocal (except on this forum) or combative and am incredibly polite and compliant around the police. That being said, I fear my own country's police, and the legal system that gives them unbridled authority, more than I do foreign terrorists. 

Tread carefully. While the Feds may not consider an airgun to be a "firearm", there could be state or local laws that could jam you up. It could be something as simple as how powerful the airgun is - Canada and GB have laws like that - or you could get caught up in the "destructive device" issues. IIRC, one of Cleveland OH's suburbs completely bans airguns [be it a BB gun or an Olympic air rifle], but allow firearms. Seems some kids were running wild shooting out windows with BB guns, so..... Please make sure you are legal.

That being said, it seems like a fun project. Is it safe, though? Pumping and dumping repeatedly could cause stress fractures in the reservoir over time, and it letting go with you in the vicinity would not be a good thing.



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