My grandfather recently passed away. He was a veteran, and owned a Nazi P38 Luger handgun, registered as a Trophy of War, manufactured in 1941. It appears I may inherit the Luger. We are both from CA, and I have no reason I would not be allowed to own a handgun (not a felon, 39 years old, no mental issues). We have all the paperwork from the DoD showing the handgun is a registered Trophy of War. But I don't know how that applies once the item is passed to me. Does it lose its Trophy of War status once its handed down to me? Would it need to be registered as a handgun in the state of CA? Or is it old enough to qualify as a collectable? I've found conflicting answers on the web. The weapon is not modified in any way, and to the best of my knowledge is in working order and capable of firing. I would appreciate any advice or pointers anyone can offer. Thank you for your time and assistance.


@Putvi has the better answer, but I just wanted to add a few things. First, while it is not an antique, it's very collectable in the WWII Memorabilia Market, from my understanding, and a working gun always sells better than a broken gun. So if you're uneasy with firearms, you could sell it and make some money.

Alternatively, you can keep it and have it on display. It'll be a great conversation piece, though again, that's your call. Either way, you'll probably want to talk to an FFL holder (you need one to work in a gun shop, so go to one of those). It's their job to know the ins and outs of the law and should be able to answer any questions you might have.

Finally, if the thought of parting with Grandfather's trophy for money and the thought of keeping it is too scary, you can always split the difference and donate the piece to a museum (a WWII or California History museum, or even the museum in your grandfather's town) where it can be enjoyed by everyone. As already discussed, the documents clearly show its the real deal and it's worth a pretty penny. It will probably be an amazing piece in a more locally dedicated museum and could be a great way to celebrate the sacrifices your grandfather made.

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  • I feel this answer is good too, tbh. – Putvi Apr 16 '19 at 17:43

The gun would not be considered an antique, as it was not made before 1898.

There are a lot of gun laws in California, but there is an overview of guns gained from inheritance here: https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/california-regulates-the-inheritance-of-guns/

Yes, you will need to register it and you must have taken the required classes to posses a gun.

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  • I see that one needs to take a written test in CA to get a required Firearm Safety Certificate, but do not seen anything about a required class or classes. Can you elaborate on "required classes"? – George White Apr 16 '19 at 23:22
  • @georgewhite You have to take the test from a "DOJ certified instructor" so being that his title is instructor I called it a class, but yes the certificate is what you need. crossarmory.com/five-steps-to-obtain-firearm-in-ca – Putvi Apr 16 '19 at 23:27

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