UK Airgun Law

We're often asked about the legal side of UK Airguns, so we've put together our own reference on what to look for.

What is the UK legal limit without a Firearms Certificate for Air Guns in the UK?

  • UK Air Rifle Legal Limit - MUST BE UNDER 12 FOOT POUNDS
  • UK Air Pistol Legal Limit - MUST BE UNDER 6 FOOT POUNDS with ANY pellets it can fire.

These limits must be met with any airgun pellet!! Power will vary depending on the weight, size and shape of the pellet you chose. Try not to get fixated about power, power is important BUT accuracy is far more important than power. Air guns with power levels above this require a UK FAC or Firearms licence from the Police.

Most Air Rifles output around 11-11.8 fpe, Co2 Pistols output around 3-3.5 fpe and Air Pistols can be up to 5.5 fpe. Power levels on NEW spring guns or recently re-spring guns tend to increase slightly as the spring and seals bed in.

Velocity or Air Gun pellet speed

  • .177 (4.5mm) Air Rifles have a pellet range from approx 7 to 17 grains, which gives a maximum of 875 fps with a 7 grains pellet and 560 fps with a 17 grain pellet.
  • .22 (5.5mm) Air Rifles have a pellet range from approx 9, to a massive 30 grains gives a maximum of 770 fps with a 9 grains pellet and to 420 fps with a 30 grain pellet
  • .177 (4.5mm) Air Pistols have a pellet range from approx 7, to 17 grains with a maximum of 620 fps with a 7 grains pellet and 395 fps with a 17 grain pellet.
  • .22 (5.5mm) Air Pistols have a pellet range from approx 9, to 30 grains which gives a maximum of 545 fps with a 9 grains pellet and 295 fps with a 30 grain pellet.

How to calculate the power of an airgun

You need to use a chronograph to measure the speed of the pellet coming from the gun in feet per second. You need to know the weight of the pellet in grains.

Then use this formula

Speed (ft/sec) X Speed (ft/sec) X weight (grains)  THEN Divided by 450240  = Foot Pounds of Energy (fpe)

How to calculate the maximum speed of pellet

The formula would be ((Legal Limit in fpe) x 450240 ) THEN Divide by (Weight of Pellet in grains) then take the Square Root of this answer.

Example

12 x 450240 = 5402880

5402880 divided by Pellet Weight in grains 15 = 360192

Square Root of 360192 = 600 fps

How many grains in the gram

15.432 grains = 1 gram

So a 16grn airgun pellets weighs 1.0368g

Most air weapons (rifles, pistols), with the exception of rifles 12fpe and above and Pistols 6fpe and above do not require a firearm certificate, they are still classed as firearms and fall under the control of the firearms legislation in the UK.

A UK airgun shooter needs to know the UK airgun law and stay legal, Or you could find yourself in court facing charges with penalties from heavy fines all the way up to life imprisonment.

Laws UK airgun shooters should know

• It is an offence to sell or make a gift of an air weapon to a person under eighteen years of age.

• It is an offence for anyone under eighteen to carry an air weapon unless - they are under the supervision of a person aged twenty one or more or they are on private land and have permission from the occupier or they are shooting as a member of an approved club or they are shooting at a shooting gallery for miniature rifles.

• It is an offence for a person under eighteen to shoot an airgun unsupervised on private land or to allow any pellets to cross the boundaries of the property.

• It is an offence for any person, regardless of age, to be in possession of an air weapon in a public place without a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse might be carrying a gun to and from a target shooting club or to and from land on which you have permission to shoot. It would also include taking a gun to and from a gunsmith for repair or service or taking a new gun home from the dealer.

• It is an offence to trespass with an air weapon, be that in a building or on land.

• It is an offence to have an air weapon if you are a person prohibited from possessing a firearm by section 21 of the 1968 Act. This section prohibits anyone who has been sentenced to a custodial sentence of between three months and three years from possessing an air weapon or other firearm for five years from the date of release. Anyone sentenced to three years or more is prohibited for life.

• It is an offence to fire your gun within fifty feet (fifteen metres) of the centre of a public road in such a way as to endanger or impede any road user.

• It is an offence to shoot protected wild birds or animals. When live quarry shooting, it is your responsibility to make sure that you only shoot legal quarry.

• It is an offence to shoot pet animals. Besides being abhorrent to most people, this is, above all others, the offence that gives all air weapon shooters a bad name.

• It is an offence to have an air weapon with intent to damage property.

• It is an offence to have an air weapon with intent to endanger life.

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.

A long and list, but most is common sense. Use your gun safely and responsibly, and you should be OK and should be in no danger of committing an offence.