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West Hurley Rear Sights

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I found this on the web.


This is just some of the transcrips:


Cite as Auto Ordnance Corp v. U.S., 822 F.2d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1987)






The UNITED STATES, Appellee.


Appeal No. 86-1569.


United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.


July 2, 1987.



Plaintiff, Auto-Ordnance Corp., a manufacturer of semi-

automatic carbines sued to recover excise taxes assessed pursuant

to 26 U.S.C. section 4181 on the "added value" of adjustable rear

sights and front sight and compensator units sold with certain car-

bines that it manufactured. Auto-Ordnance appeals from an order of

the United States Claims Court, which granted the defendant's

motion for summary judgment and dismissed its complaint.


The questions presented on this appeal are whether the Claims

Court erred in finding that the adjustable rear sights and front

sight and compensator units, manufactured and sold with the Auto-

Ordnance carbines, were component parts of a complete firearm and

subject to the excise tax imposed by 26 U.S.C. section 4181, or

whether the sights and compensators were tax-exempt "accessories"

of firearms. This is a question of first impression for this



The issue before this court is a narrow one: whether the

Commissioner properly imposed the excise tax on firearms on the

additional value of the adjustable rear sight (rear sight) and the

front sight and compensator that were part of the appellant's

Deluxe Model carbine. The stipulated facts are that the appellant

"advertised the Deluxe Model and the Standard Model as separate

models" of the carbine; that its price list showed separate prices

for each of those models; and that in the Deluxe Model the rear

sight was "pop riveted" to the carbine at the factory, and the

front sight and compensator were installed at the factory. The

stipulated facts also are that the Deluxe Model has three addi-

tional features not present in the Standard Model.


In other words, the Deluxe Model was sold as a single unit

that included as two of its features the rear sight and the front

sight and compensator that the Standard Model did not have. This

is not a case where the product is sold in a stripped-down standard

version to which the purchaser could add various refinements. The

two elements in dispute here were integral parts of the complete

weapon sold as the Deluxe Model.


Neither the statute nor the regulations define the term

"accessories," which are excluded from the excise tax on firearms.

Section 48.4181-1(a)(2) of the regulations, however, states that no

tax is imposed on the sale of "parts or accessories ... when sold

separately or when sold with a complete firearm." It then explains

that no tax attaches to "various parts," which it lists, "when sold

separately, or when sold with complete firearms for use as spare

parts or accessories."


Although the rear sight and the front sight and compensator of

the Deluxe Model may be viewed as having been "sold with complete

firearms," they were not sold "for use as spare parts or

accessories." They were integral elements of the Deluxe Model,

which was sold as a single unit.


The fact that the carbine could be fired without either the

rear sight or the front sight and compensator on it, or that it

could be fired from the hip without sighting, does not support the

conclusion that those two elements were accessories. There is no

reason to believe that the Deluxe Model is not designed and

intended to be fired in the usual manner, namely, by aiming at the

target through the sights. One of the stipulated facts is that

"[t]he combination of the front sight and the rear sight of the

Deluxe Model enabled an average marksman to aim the Deluxe Model

more accurately than he could with no sight or just one sight."


The rear sight and front sight and compensator of the Deluxe

Model are not merely accessories, the use of which facilitates,

improves, or alters the performance of the carbine. They are

integral parts of the weapon that have a significant role in its

performance and that presumably influence people to select that

model rather than the Standard Model that does not have those


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