I think it's 18" but it might vary by state. Short barrels clear out a lot of people in a big hurry. The spread is to quick and "uncontrolable". Plus you can conceal a real short shotgun pretty easy. Cops don't want to be on the receiving end.
Federal is 18" on shotguns...from the head of the shell to the end of the barrel;
16" on rifles...not sure whether from the head of the cartridge or the start of the rifling...
States may vary on the longer side...La. used to be 20" on a shotgun....I cut 'em 20 1/4" to keep from error....read it in your states' law...cops are usually the last to know of changes...the first to spread misinformation...and I earned the right to say that....
It's laws left over from clear back in Prohibition days. That is also when "automatic" weapons were outlawed. And actually was enacted to stop gangsters from carrying either a short rifle or "sawed off shotguns". At least, that was the way it was explained to Me, years ago.
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