I think I get your point -- its the status at time of import that defines & locks its classification into the unrestricted firearm level; any post-import 'customizations' made after the fact do not change that classification down to replica?
Originally Posted by The Saint
You have a car.
It is fully working and therefore classified as a car.
You take the wheels off, but the change is not permanent, so it's still classified as a car. You can always put the wheels back on.
You run your car over with a steamroller; it can no longer ever work as a car again, so it's no longer classified as a car.
Does that help? I'm not having a good analogy day.