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Frequently Asked Questions

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An antique firearm is not defined in the law but guidelines from the Home Office suggest the following may be considered as antique:

  • A muzzle loading firearm of original manufacture (not a modern made replica or reproduction).
  • Any breech-loading firearm using a rim-fire cartridge exceeding .23 (but not 9mm).
  • A breech-loading firearm of original manufacture, using an ignition system other than rim-fire or centre (e.g. flintlock or percussion).
  • A breech loading centre fire firearm originally chambered for cartridges, which are now obsolete AND retaining that original chambering.

There is a further requirement that any 'antique firearm' is kept purely as a curio or ornament not to be fired and for which no ammunition is authorised.

If modern ready-made ammunition can be readily acquired and used the weapon may not be considered as an antique (this is a Home Office guidance to help the police, a court will make the final decision if necessary).

If a person wishes to shoot any antique firearm or shotgun it must be shown on his certificate and properly recorded with the police. However, each case should be dealt with on its merits and advice on individual weapons can be sought from the relevant force's firearm department.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.