Legal Air Rifle & Air Gun Law | What Is The UK Law

UK Airgun Law 
Air Rifle And Air Pistol Law

man with air rifle

What you can, and cannot do with an air rifle are very strictly laid down in the UK law. In 2011 the UK Laws on airguns were amended and are the current standard to work from.

As with most firearms the duty of care is very much on the gun owner and no one else.

If it's your weapon then you need to make sure it safe, secure and unlikely to get into the hands of children as well as transporting it lawfully and using it safely.

From February 2011, the Crime and Security Act 2010 makes it an offence for a person in possession of an air gun to fail to take “reasonable precautions” to prevent someone under the age of 18 from gaining unauthorised access to it.

* Who can buy an air rifle.?

To purchase an air rifle or pistol you must be over 18 years of age and show a photo identity as proof of this.

You will also require two methods of identity from your authorised suppliers, including proof of address as well - you cannot buy on-line.
You can, however, order online and pick up in person, with proof of identity.

I would always suggest going to a tried and tested, Reputable Airgun Dealer.  You will get expert advice and not be fobbed off with some old rubbish.
I personally use the Airgun Centre (shown below) and never had one single problem. 

However, be aware that you can only freely buy an air rifle that has a muzzle energy of below 12 ft lbs or a pistol below 6 ft lbs - anything with a higher velocity than this will require a FAC ( Fire Arms Certificate ) - Air pistols that produce more than are prohibited.

The FAC is not necessarily that difficult to obtain but you will need to fulfil a very strict set of criteria and be inspected by your local police as to why you actually need a more high powered rifle in order to be granted permission to have one.

This process applies to all high velocity rifles in the UK including semi automatics and gauges up to .50 cal.

*this does not include Northern Ireland..

* Duty Of Care

As the gun owner, you, and only you, are responsible for that weapon - and you must behave in the appropriate way and take all the necessary precautions to ensure you act in a common sense way that will not cause injury to anyone, including yourself...

Special attention should be given to storing your rifle or air pistol in a manner where it cannot be removed from its 'safe store'. - this now means, you must keep any rifles or pistols in a sensible place - for example, a sensible place would NOT be in a garage or outbuilding.

Under the amended laws of February 2011, the Crime and Security Act 2010 now makes it an offence for a person in possession of an air gun (the gun owner) to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent someone under the age of 18 from gaining unauthorised access to it.

*the obvious thing to do here is store your gun in a cabinet under lock and key - that way you are completely covered and within the law - however, for a sub 12 ft lb air rifle you do not necessarily need to do this - just reasonable precautions. This can mean out of sight and high up away from prying eyes and stored separately from any pellets.

Of course, if you own several air rifles I would very much suggest a gun cabinet at best or a securely locked cupboard.

I will also add that sensible precautions means that the rifle is NOT loaded with a pellet or cocked ready to be fired - in the case of a PCP rifle I would also suggest it has no charge in the air cylinder.

You are simply taking all the precautions available to you to ensure it cannot be accidentally picked up and fired.

As a final step, I would also keep the pellets and guns separate from each other - preferably in a different room.

* Using An Airgun

It is perfectly OK and legal for any person over the age of 14 to shoot an airgun, unsupervised and on private land

Full permission to shoot has to be been given by the landowner.

Anyone under the age of 14 may also shoot an airgun but only if closely supervised by someone over 21 years of age. The supervising adult is legally responsible for the actions of the junior shooter.

You must have the full permission to shoot on any land - this includes your garden or on private land, or land that is owned or leased by any club or an individual owner.

*All pellets must remain within the boundaries of that land.

 * It is illegal to fire an airgun on the following land:

  • common land
  • recreational land
  • playing fields
  • land that is covered by water e.g. ponds, lakes, canals and rivers *where you do not have the owner's permission

 * It is also illegal to fire an air rifle:

  • closer than 50 ft [15mtrs] of the centre of a highway, if by doing so you cause any member of the public, using that right of way, to be injured, interrupted or endangered.
  • closer than 50 ft [15mtrs] from the centre of any bridal path or footpath

*This offence could be committed, for example, by someone on private property close to a road who uses an air rifle in a way which endangers people on the road.

* Transporting Airguns

Anyone over 18 years of age can transport their air rifle or pistol, however, all airguns should be transported in a securely fastened case - this case must prevent the air gun from being freely picked up and fired.

The gun cannot be cocked and ready to fire.

The gun cannot be loaded with a pellet (whether cocked or not)

Anyone between 14 and 18 years of age cannot transport an airgun - they must be accompanied and supervised by someone over 21.

*it is illegal to have an airgun, loaded or not, and whether in a secure case or not, in any public place without lawful authority to do so, or reasonable excuse.

**REMEMBER THIS:  it is illegal to have an air gun in a public place - so, if you have an air gun in the boot of your car, even if travelling to/from a shooting range, you cannot stop and get it out for any reason. I, personally, would not get my rifle out of its case even if asked by a police officer..!!

If you keep to these basic rules you'll be safe and within the law. But remember, the onus is very firmly on you, the gun owner.

Failing to comply with any of the above laws you risk potential penalties, which are extremely severe.

Please make it your priority to learn and understand these UK airgun laws as they apply to you and your shooting, and always use a reputable Airgun Centre for all you advice and information:

Steve Hart UK Prepper
Providing you take sensible precautions, you should not have any problems, and enjoy shooting in your garden, on private land or at a club.
It is when you get a bit silly, or lend out your airgun to others that things can become dangerous.

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Skip to comment form

    • John on November 4, 2018 at 8:19 pm
    • Reply

    I am 38 years old and I hunt on my private land but i dont know where to get the ‘full permission’ from. Plz reply it will be much appreciated

    • Chris on October 27, 2018 at 6:50 am
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    Is a fully automatic .177 Co2 pistol legal such as the Deseret storm commemorative edition Beretta?
    Is there a limit to how many rounds can be fired over time? Those things do about 18 BBs in .75 of a second

    • tyrlle on September 18, 2018 at 1:22 am
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    so is air gun with a joule energy of 7.5 illegal?? which is around muzzle energy?

    • Lee Sangster on September 15, 2018 at 11:52 am
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    Air gun laws differ in Scotland than to the rest of the UK. Remember to check those laws before possessing an air weapon in Scotland.

    • Scott on August 4, 2018 at 2:43 pm
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    How are you suppose to transport your airgun in a locked case if you have no wheels? Uk sucks

    • Kamil on June 4, 2018 at 1:01 pm
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    Are you saying that in the UK I cannot carry a pistol airgun hidden with me when walking down the street? What is this, USSR?

    • John Tarrington on April 11, 2018 at 2:59 pm
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    I was recently the victim of a the theft of 1000 litres of domestic oil from a tank on my property.

    Would it be legal to aim an air pistol at a person committing a theft on my property ?

    1. Hi John,
      As far as I am aware, you’d be on very sticky ground there with the police, especially as, technically, they are not threatening or attacking you..?!
      But as I’m not a lawyer, it’s difficult to say with accuracy.
      With the way the UK law is at the moment, I would of thought that even if you look at them funny, you’d be the one getting arrested!!!
      Maybe asking the police for advice, or if anyone here can help, that would be good.
      All the best, Steve

    • John on March 24, 2018 at 12:42 pm
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    Can you shoot a hired air rifle at a controlled range if you have served an 18 month prison sentence..

      • Rufus on August 23, 2018 at 8:37 pm
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      No you are a prohibited person for 5 years after the expiry of your sentence. You are not allowed to have a gun of any description.

    • peter sears on March 19, 2018 at 12:02 pm
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    can a person whos been in prison over 30years ago own an air rifle

      • rufus on August 23, 2018 at 8:39 pm
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      Depends how long you were given as a sentence. If you were given over 3 years even if you were released early you are prohibited by law for life.

    • Paul on March 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm
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    Can I transport my air gun out from UK to Germany on the back of my van?

    • Elliott on January 26, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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    I looking to transport my air rifle I have a the Guna case (zip up gun bag) would I Be able to walk my Guna to another location like that??

      • jon Elmes on March 20, 2018 at 8:27 pm
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      I would like to know the answer to this one too

    • Antony on December 27, 2017 at 4:33 am
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    I’m in a council house can I shoot my air guns in the back garden if I’m sensible

      • Kevin kelley on January 21, 2018 at 12:29 pm
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      Yeah course you can as long as the tenancy holder has given permission and your not closer then 50 metres from a bridle path or footpath. Use a back board like a door or something covered in carpet to stop pellets leaving your problemo

        • Bruce on April 29, 2018 at 11:09 am
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        Feet, mot meters

    • Sam on November 29, 2017 at 7:25 pm
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    Great guide, However i’m looking to sell my air pistol that i bought from a gun shop about a year ago. What are the rules / law regarding selling a Co2 air pistol privately?

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