UK Weapons and Firearms Law updated January 2018

What UK Weapons Can You Legally Own?

Many UK citizens think that ALL firearms are illegal, and therefore unavailable to the UK public - this is not true.
You have the perfect right to own many types of firearms, but you must be able to have a good reason to do so.

For full, in depth details, check out the UK Home Office Guidelines for firearms.
This is a detailed 270 page document outlining exactly the do's and don'ts of firearm ownership.

Remember this short article is about what weapons you can legally own, it does NOT cover self defence. A lot of people get firearm ownership and self defence mixed up.
You must have genuine reasons for owning a firearm: gun club member, clay pigeon shooting, pest and vermin control etc, not self defence.

However, the range of legal firearms that you can own and use may surprise you. 

Below Is A General Guide:
Firearms You Can Legally Own In The UK

UK Legal Firearms

UK Legal Firearms: Top to bottom

  • Civilian Hunting Rifle
  • Semi-Auto Shotgun
  • AR15
  • AKM
  • Anti-Material/Sniper Rifle
  • Long Barrelled Revolver (LBR)

As well as the above firearms, you can own a shotgun -
*in general*, shotguns under 3 capacity (2+1) Section 2 only require a Shotgun Cert (SGC). 

The list List is by no means exhaustive, there are hundreds of flavours of firearms available in UK.

uk firearms law certificate

All these above weapons will require a Firearms Certificate, but, once you have been fully vetted by the police, and have fully satisfied all the legal requirements they are all perfectly legal for a UK citizen to own.

The information here is true as of article date, and there are no current legislation changes to the UK firearms laws in the pipeline.

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    • Ed on October 2, 2017 at 8:32 pm
    • Reply

    Hate to piss on your parade, but magazine fed rifles are not legal, magazines can be a maximum of 3 rounds for a shotgun, can’t be pump action and have to have a minimum of 40 inch barrel. There are restrictions around handgun type, calibre and size, as laws were changed after the 1996 Dunblaine massacre.

      • BritishGunOwner on October 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm
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      Magazine fed rifles are perfectly legal in the UK, we have a bunch of them down at the local rifle range for Light Sporting Rifle.
      Heck, go onto Gunstar right now and you can pick up UK legal lever release AR15, chambered in .223, that comes with 30 round magazines. Member of a rifle range and want to own one for purposes of target shooting? You can own one under a standard Section 1 Firearms Certificate

      Pump action shotguns are also perfectly legal in the UK.
      If they hold three rounds or less, all you need to purchase one is a Section 2 Shotgun Certificate.
      If they hold more then three rounds, you need a Firearms Certificate to own one. If you’re a member of a clay pigeon shooting club, getting one should be a piece of cake.

      As for “handguns”, the ones shown above with a lengthened barrel and coat hanger sticking off the end of the pistol grip are not really “handguns”.
      Under UK law, they are defined as rifles due to their length, as such, they have the same restrictions as a rifle (IE: Semi-auto only allowed in .22LR).
      There are not however limits on the magazine size of them (again, go to Gunstar, there are long-barrel pistols there for sale with 10 round magazines, and 7 shot long-barrel revolvers for sale in .38 and .357 Magnum)

      Actual “handguns/pistols”, are classed as Section 5 prohibited firearms.
      In order to own one, you would need to have a Section 5 Firearms Certificate, and to get one of those you need to be able to convince a Secretary of State that you need one. IE: You’re a game keeper or vet who needs one for humane dispatch. In that circumstance, then yes, there would most likely be a magazine capacity limit.
      However, if said Section 5 handgun was made prior to 1911 (thus making it an antique), or in the case of modern ones, had certain historical or technological significance (IE: A Glock that was part of the first production run, or a handgun that was tested or used by the military), then you could own one under either a Section 7.1 or 7.3 license. Under 7.1, you can keep the handgun at home, but cannot own ammo for it and are not allowed to shoot it (may as well buy a deactivated one at that point). Under 7.3, you fire it at approved Section 5 ranges, but you also have to keep it stored at said range… permanently

        • Gary T on October 4, 2018 at 7:53 pm
        • Reply

        Looks like ed doesn’t have a clue what he is on about. And we wonder where all the confusion and blurred lines come from. :/

    1. Hi Ed,

      Feel free to piss away, but I’m afraid you are wrong.
      See the above reply by British Gun Owner, he lays the facts out very well.

      Cheers, Steve

  1. hi guys, a word of warning to you. if you are a uk prepper , prepping for civil unrest, nuclear war, or chemical,bio attack or something sinister, forget it. ive just had mine refused because of my stockpile of kit , that officers from the hampshire police saw when they came to my property. apart from your full background checks its very very hard now to convince them that you are not a danger to the public or yourselfs. forget it ,

    • Dave on July 3, 2017 at 11:26 am
    • Reply

    Forget owning any weapons in UK. If your White Heterosexual Christian Male don’t come either. We’re moving to US. Hope Trump will keep matters on track there!!!!! this country is finished, owned by a bunch of liberally minded idiots… The other lot shoot us we hold a min silence and throw a party instead of throwing them out….. Weapons should be a right to protect yourself against any armed attackers…

      • Ed on October 2, 2017 at 8:34 pm
      • Reply

      Surely the gun issues that occur in the US are an example of why not to allow widespread gun ownership? The killing in Vegas today where 60 people died and 500 odd injured is a pristine example of why not to allow widespread gun ownership.

        • David on October 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm
        • Reply

        Seems a fair reply to make, but the USA is not the only country in the world to have lax gun laws, the problem seems to be with their culture. In some countries the ownership of a gun amongst the male population is almost 100%

        • Matt prince on October 28, 2017 at 3:24 am
        • Reply

        Any criminal record would be denied full health and mental checks to everyone applying for licence
        Only sold via police
        Life sentences for having one without a licence (or being involed in putting them into said hands)

        UK would do it right tbf

        Also if them 500 people who had been shot all also had a gun each that could have been a different story.

    • Dave on July 3, 2017 at 11:17 am
    • Reply

    I’m guessing no one has noticed that UK is now occupied by a bunch of liberally minded little girls. I’m ashamed of being English, that’s why I’m leaving. If your white heterosexual christian male your not welcome here anymore…… As for owning any weapons FORGET IT!!!!!! the bad guys have them, and the really bad guys have them, we in the middle are fooked….. (definition) Really bad guys are the LIO, they shoot you just because they can, and you can’t shoot back….

      • p on January 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm
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      You sound like a right twat.

      • Jennifer on January 12, 2020 at 1:21 pm
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      Hello Dave

      As a ‘liberally minded girl’ (and an LGBT one at that) as you so put it I’m sure you’ll be surprised to know some us on the left actually like our guns 😉 Actually I’d prefer them to be able to protect my girlfriend and gay friend from the inevitable muslim takeover that will happen in the UK

      Happy shooting

    • Craig on May 3, 2017 at 3:23 am
    • Reply

    Craig burgess

    • ComradeAJ on April 7, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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    I feel sorry for you gun guys in the UK. This is a lot of work to get a firearm. Even then, you are only allowed so few. Maybe someday, you can get full freedoms on firearms. I know we are hoping for that here in the US. Fight the good fight guys.

    • Gabriel Younts on August 8, 2016 at 3:27 am
    • Reply

    Are all semi auto pistols banned in the UK? I think k this sight is awesome I love hearing from other peppers from around the world.

      • C.t. on September 17, 2016 at 7:34 pm
      • Reply

      You can have long barrelled semi automatic .22 pistols, .357 and .44 calibre. All pistols must be long barrelled, the only standard pistol you are legally allowed in the uk is an air pistol.

    • Steve on July 28, 2016 at 7:41 am
    • Reply

    Darren, why do you say you can only have a Swiss Army knife in the bush for survival? I’ve had mine in my pocket for nearly 30 years, use it almost daily and never had an issue. I’ve investigated knife crimes in the past and most of them involve household (kitchen) knives.

    • E on June 22, 2016 at 10:08 am
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    Wow. Not that I know if the UK would ever even accept me as an immigrant but reading all of this, being from the United States, makes me question if Id even want to relinquish some of my freedoms so readily. Great Britain is beautiful, full of history, and my ancestral home but unfortunately it appears that either people are so afraid they voted away many of their rights OR the government used propaganda to further its own authority and reduced eveeyones rights. Because lets face it, jumping through hoops is for people who follow the law in the first place, not criminals who plan on hsingtweapons illegally in the first place…And even still, under the freedoms crushing legislation of the UK, the criminally motivated could theoretically obtain a firearm just as easily as your average range shooter. Its all nonsense based purely on control. Id still like to come though God forbid I accidentally have my “deadly” lockback knife in my pocket….thanks for sharing the legal end of things here, and honestly i mean no disrespect, im merely surprised to see how strict things are in a place Ive always wanted to go.

      • Russil Alden on July 14, 2016 at 8:08 am
      • Reply

      I am preparing to visit England, the land of my birth, from Canada, where I have lived for many years. I usually carry some kind of knife here, sometimes with a locking blade, but my brother warned me that it was a crime in England and to look it up on the internet. When he told me, I jokingly asked me if they were going to ban knives and forks. I could not believe it when I read that it is illegal to sell cutlery to someone under 18!!! Talk about trading freedom for security (illusory). Has not anyone noticed that there are forces trying to disarm those in all lands of European ancestry. When some armed thug, who cares nothing for gun laws, assaults you it is pretty sad when the only recourse is to shine a light in his eyes. I thought our gun laws were draconian in Canada! When I was a kid here we used to go to the ravine with our pellet guns and 22s. Nobody ever shot anyone. Now our laws have changed that. We need to be vigilant in resisting the move to disarm us in the face of rising crime, and governments ever more unresponsive to the will of the people. I agree with Es analysis totally. Also, the same forces are at work in the US trying to gut and eventually overturn the 2nd Amendment. I think they should be resisted at all costs. After all, as history teaches, dictators love a disarmed population. In the upcoming US election there is only one candidate who has pointed out the threat that the 2nd amendment is under and who has vowed to do something about it. That is one of the reasons he is so hated and lied about.

        • Victor on July 15, 2017 at 10:15 pm
        • Reply

        tbh there’s not really a need for guns in the UK. There’s not much crime and only serious criminals or idiots in gangs carry weapons around. As someone who’s half-American and half-British I hear so much about gun crime in America or fatal accidents with children & guns. I think is sad that people feel so unsafe in their own country that they actually have to walk around armed, clearly it shows there’s something seriously wrong in their law enforcement and justice systems…

          • WJS on February 9, 2018 at 3:53 am
          • Reply

          You hear a lot about shootings in America because many in the US media have an intense hatred of guns, not because it’s in any way remarkable. Despite having the highest rate of gun ownership in the world by a huge margin, the US isn’t even in the top ten when it comes to shootings. France, Norway, Finland, Austria, and Belgium all have both a higher rate in terms of how often mass shootings happen, and how many are killed by them when you adjust for population. Britain is only four places below the US by both these metrics.

      • Shevchenko on January 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm
      • Reply

      Yet we have so little gun & knife crime here. It’s really quite peaceful. Personally (and I appreciate that this is ONLY my view), I’d rather be in a country where people can’t arm them with a small country’s arsenal without any checks on their background.

      I only need to defend me and mine (family, possessions, etc) so I don’t need the things that re not legal. Anyone who wants to carry a short barreled pistol wants to hide it. If the SH “really” HF then I don’t want to hide anything – I want people to leave me well alone!

      • paul emptage on August 11, 2017 at 5:15 pm
      • Reply

      yes sir, things are really strict in the uk, watch this space knifes and forks will be banned next, then lighters try and buy one from waitrose , no shit they will ask your age LOL ive got grey hair, well whos to blame? just take a look in the mirror???? watch v for vendetta great stuff.

    • Gary on January 9, 2016 at 2:46 am
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    If you go for a FAC, (which you will get unless you are < 18 or have a violent criminal police record), you will need to join a local club and shoot targets regularly (once a week or so). There is a fee to the club, both yearly and range fee's every week.

    They take a register of how often you go, which gets submitted to the local Firearms Officer to ensure you are using the firearm regularly.

    You would also need to store the guns in an approved cabinet – unloaded, and hidden, and not readily accessible – this is inspected before your FAC is accepted.

      • Sebastian on March 15, 2016 at 10:38 pm
      • Reply

      Not exactly true,
      I’ve had an FAC (before moving house) i was not the member of a club (not rifle, shotgun only)
      The only reason i was issued a licence was due to the amount of land i had permission to shoot on, there was no regular checks other than the normal inspections and i didnt have to show i was using the rifle on a regular basis.
      If you are a member of a gun club, it does make the application proccess a lot faster though!

    • LAURENTIU on November 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm
    • Reply


    1. Anyone over 18 can buy an air rifle with valid id.
      There are restrictions on the power of the rifle though, see my article here for more info:
      Air Gun Laws

    • Darren Anthony Tynan on September 23, 2015 at 8:05 pm
    • Reply

    Pepper spray can be dangerous around children, but can save you life in emergency situations such as walking alone at night, the best self defence to have and I have studied this is a Torch with 220 Lumens with strobe affect this will help you to get away from the aggressive person whom is attacking you, and as a trainee Police Support Volunteer, I would recommend the Ansmann 5 Torch with strobe affect for self defence.

    1. Hi Darren,

      You are quite right – I personally carry both.!

      The criminal defence identifiers spray and a high lumen strobe torch.

      I have articles and video reviews of both on this site:

      Defence strobe torch:

      Strobe Torch For Defence

      Pepper Sray Alternative For Defence:

      UK Legal Pepper Spray Alternative

      happy prepping,

        • Darren Anthony Tynan on October 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm
        • Reply

        Hi Steve thank you for getting back to me I appreciate this very much, I do have The Criminal Identifier spray that I got from Crime Prevention and the self defence torch I got from Amazon. These work better than guns as in America the other day people got shot for no reason. I do use a Swiss army knife but only for horse stables work and the need to cut bails of Hay.

    • keka on September 4, 2015 at 12:06 pm
    • Reply

    how are these, and crossbows legal but small knives and pepper spray not?

      • JC Denton on July 16, 2016 at 11:03 pm
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      It comes down to the reason for owning them and how easy they’d be to commit a crime with.

      To own a gun you either need to be a full member of a target shooting club who regularly shoots (which means shooting under the supervision of an instructor until you’re eligible for full membership and then paying monthly fees) or need to regularly kill animals as part of your job.
      The restrictions on which guns are legal to own largely revolves around how easy to conceal they’d be (you’ll notice that the revolver pictured has an unusually long barrel) and how many times they can be fired before needing to be reloaded

      If you have a good reason (you’re going hunting or fishing for example) then you can carry larger knives and as long as the blade isn’t capable of locking in place, you can have a knife up to three inches long on you at any time except in airports, nightclubs and schools.

      The reason “self defence” isn’t an acceptable reason for carrying a weapon is that (as this website notes on multiple pages) the best way to defend yourself is to attack preemptively and if the guy you stab/shoot preemptively says he wasn’t going to attack you then it’s basically your word against his on whether you were acting in self defence or just attacking some guy.

      Personally I think the restriction on balisongs and locking knives less than three inches long are totally unnecessary, but overall I’m pretty happy with our knife laws and given the tiny number of shootings that happen here, I’m very happy with our firearm laws.

        • Steve on July 28, 2016 at 7:35 am
        • Reply

        “To own a gun you either need to be a full member of a target shooting club who regularly shoots (which means shooting under the supervision of an instructor until you’re eligible for full membership and then paying monthly fees) or need to regularly kill animals as part of your job.”

        Almost right, you just need to show good reason. I’m neither a club member, or need to kill animals as part of my job but I have a certificate for my semi-automatic rifle with moderator and 10 shot pump 12 bore. Pump is used for large flocks of pigeons and the rifle for bunnies at a friends farm.

        Overall, I’m happy with how tight the gun laws are as they keep us relatively safe.

    • Merica on August 25, 2015 at 7:36 pm
    • Reply

    How misleading. They’re perfectly legal to own as long as big mommy government gives you a permission slip. It must stink having to ask pretty-please to own a AR-15 squirrel gun.

    • Darren Anthony Tynan Dip Pi (UKPIN) on August 5, 2015 at 10:43 am
    • Reply

    Air Pistols should not be made for children to own even at 18 years old because they are dangerous, even plastic BB’s can be deadly and would be best to avoid this situation. I advise not to carry any knife in the UK even the Swiss Army knife type, you can only have the Swiss Army knife out in the bush for survival. I only carry a pocket torch with me for emergency and Farm Stables duties.

    1. Darren. Your opinions on guns for children are yours to follow, But stating that “even plastic BB’s can be deadly” is complete and utter nonsense. Unless you are advocating eating several kilos of the things? Please do a few seconds research before making such claims. Phil…

      • chris on April 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm
      • Reply

      Darren….you are a joking right ? Air pistols have are max 400 fps in uk …more kids get hurt with skateboards than airguns….. and BB’s deadly ?? lol but your best piece of nonsense advice is regarding swiss army knives.. only allowed if you’re in the bush !! what ? anyone is allowed to carry a non fixed blade less than 3inchs so stop the pathetic nanny state bull

        • JC Denton on July 16, 2016 at 11:12 pm
        • Reply

        It sounds stupid but kids do occasionally die from being hit with BBs. It’s most commonly babies as their skulls are soft until they hit a certain age. Stories of being blinded in one eye are really common too though I agree that in the grand scheme of things they account for a tiny number of deaths when compared with any potentially dangerous object.

      • Hunter on November 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm
      • Reply

      Nonsense. Most air pistols are now sold only with a proof of age anyway, and I haven’t seen toy BB gun for sale in general store in ages.

      As for their “deadlyness” – kid would have more chances hurting himself falling of his bike or getting hit in the face by cricket ball, than by being shot by “deadly” BB. Let’s ban bikes, cricket, rugby and whatever else that may potentially cause an injury. Hell – let’s ban lego blocks – they hurt like f**k when you step on them.

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