Firearm Laws in

The UK

When you plan on any kind of shooting its important you know the firearm laws that affect you. A simple misunderstanding of the gun laws can mean a very heavy prison sentence. I have written this page in a simple manner to help clear up any confusion and give the best information possible.

In the UK firearms are organized into categories or sections each with their own firearm laws and resections. I have arranged the explanations for each category in order of danger, least dangerous to most dangerous. Take your time to fully understand the gun laws.

Air Powered Weapons

An Air rifle

The lowest on the list, air powered weapons are anything with a power output below 12ft per pound(or under 6 ft per pound on pistols). This is an ideal starter weapon as they require no gun license and have no real restrictions. The only restrictions are that you must only use it on enclosed private land (with the owners permission of course) and that you are 17 years old or over.


If someone under the age of 17 is in possession of any air weapon (or even just the ammunition for it) they are committing an offence. The excepts in the firearm laws to this are:


• If the shooter is in a shooting gallery where only air weapons or under .23 caliber rifles are used



• If the shooter is a member of any approved club of target shooters



• If the shooter is being supervised by a person over the age of 21



• If the shooter is on private premises with permission from the owner, the shooter can be unsupervised from 14 years old and up.


Never tinker with your air weapon. If your weapon is over the limit it is classed as a “section 1” firearm and you will be in serious trouble.

Antique Weapons

An antique Revolver, a section 58 class weapon

Also know as section 58, these guns are purely for ornately or history ownership. The firearm laws state they should never be fired, and even owning ammunition for them will most likely lead to a prison sentence. These weapons may be sold and bought without a license of any kind.

Shotguns in section 2


A common sight in hunting, the shotgun is defined in the gun law as “ A smooth-bore gun with barrels of not less then 24 inches”. For the shotgun to be a section 2 weapon is must be able to hold no more then two shells with a third in the chamber. This means some semi-auto or pump actions shotguns will need restricting. If you load a shotgun with more then 3 shells using any method (including using smaller shells) you might be prosecuted for using a section 1 firearm.


Buying, Selling or Possessing

To own a section 2 shotgun you will need to be the holder of a valid shotgun certificate. These can be applied for via your local police station. You will have to fill in a form and pay a fee of £50. You will be granted you certificate unless the chief police officer believes there are grounds to stop you from having it, such as a conviction for a serious crime. Your shotgun certificate must list all the shotguns you own and you must inform the police of each purchase and disposal. If you don’t inform the police of any new shotguns you are breaking the firearm laws.


Security Requirements

The police will inspect where you plan to store the shotgun and advise you on what they require you have for the shotgun to be safe. The Firearms laws states your guns must be safe from theft. The normal method of security is a locked cabinet that is carefully secured flush to a supporting wall, to stop it being ripped down.

It is advised that you try not to leave your weapon unattended, even in a vehicle. It is wise to remove the fore-ends to prevent them being used if stolen. You don’t want your name linked to a shooting im sure!

Section 1 Firearms

A .22 Rifle, a Section 1 Firearm

This section is used for weapons above the power or spec of those above, such as .22’s or 17.HMR. For these weapons you must hold a section 1 firearms certificate. The certificate will allow the holder to own the exact caliber, type and number of rifles that the license states for the purpose that it states. In other words, if the certificate says you own one .22 rifle for lamping rabbits you are committing an offence for using it for anything but lamping rabbits. This section also includes shotguns that are able to hold more then 3 shells. But unlike the firearm laws in section 2 you need a “good reason” for wanting the weapon. The police will need to be convinced that you need the firearm for a specified purpose or you will not receive the weapon certificate.

Security Requirements

The police will inspect where you plan to store the weapon and advise you on what they require you have for the firearm to be safe. The Firearms laws state your guns must be safe from theft. The normal method of security is a locked cabinet that is carefully secured flush to a supporting wall, to stop it being ripped down. Unlike section 2 weapons, the ammo must also be locked away securely and will sometimes be required that it is separate from the firearm/s. Section 1 weapons are more likely to need a monitored alarm then section 2 guns.

Section 5

Also know as prohibited weapons, this section is for the big tools. Automatic weapons, high powered handguns and military grade firearms are covered by section 5. To get your hands on these beasts you need special permission from the Home Secretary, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the details.

Still not sure or want to know more? I strongly suggest that you carefully check with your local police station before you attempt any kind of shooting. You can find you local station using this page . You may also want to read the Gun Law legislation.


Return from " Firearm laws" to "Shooting"



Return to "The Home Page"


Click Here to Subscribe