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:


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.

Steve Hart  -  UK Preppers Guide


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Skip to comment form

    • Bill on April 11, 2022 at 1:33 pm
    • Reply

    Bridal path?

    • Stig on October 10, 2020 at 9:43 pm
    • Reply

    Why do some people insist on referring to their airguns as an “Air weapon”? This country is full of anti’s who would love nothing more than to take your air rifle or pistol away from you and every other law-abiding person who enjoys collecting and/or using airguns. I hate the term “air weapon” as it does not even fit how we use these things. The term conjures up something made for the purpose of doing harm to another but that is not what airguns were made for. Yes, they can be used as a weapon of course but so can a car, hammer, screwdriver or even a big stick. We do not call these tools “hammer weapons” or “car weapons” and I don’t think we should be calling our sporting tools “weapons” as a matter of course either.

    People calling them that as a matter of routine do harm to the general public’s perception of our motives when in reality collecting, and using airguns for sporting purposes is a totally legitimate pastime, above the law, and perfectly honorable as a sport and also as a tool (vermin control for example).

    Yes, I’m talking about you, John Watson. Stop it please! This is not a freedom of speech issue before anyone starts, it’ simply incorrect to be describing these guns in general as “weapons” anymore than it is to call the hammer a “hammer weapon” – even if there are legal documents using the term. I swear it’s done to make the hobby look bad! My airgun has never been used as a weapon and never will be, just like my Stillson wrench or rolling pin.

    • john watson on August 27, 2020 at 8:45 pm
    • Reply

    ok hi so must you always shoot on PRIVATE lland with consent or would it be considered an offence if you are many miles from anywhere or anyone?

    • john watson on August 27, 2020 at 8:32 pm
    • Reply

    hi again also in the law what is the full meaning of public place without lawful authority to do so, or reasonable excuse…….ie lawful authority from who, and how to obtain it ,,,as i understood as long as the weapon is in a secure bag and not loaded or cocked it was safe to transport?? and what is ,,,reasonable excuse? thx guys

    • john watson on August 27, 2020 at 8:26 pm
    • Reply

    hi guys , i am wondering if it is possible to target shoot in an area 50 meteres from a public highway and devoid of people or likelihood of danger .ie alone and the sea to my back in a quarry type situation without it being taken as a serious offence? i do recall even as a boy police stopped me while camping and were happy to join us shooting our air weapons in the wild we were never arrested?i am asking as the price of belonging to a club is kind of prohibitive and im a long time shooter with never an accident ? thxs a lot i look forweard to any advice (altho i suspect any place even TECNICALLY PUBLIC ,,EVEN WITH NO PUBLIC THERE,,,,,IT COULD BE AN OFFENCE?)

    • kas on August 14, 2019 at 6:50 pm
    • Reply

    i want to take an airgun 0.22 streamline out of UK ???
    is it legal and what documents do i need for this ?

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