New Rules on Antique Firearms

The Government has now laid the Statutory Instrument before Parliament setting out the new criteria for what can still be possessed as an antique firearm which is exempt from control, as per section 58(2) Firearms Act 1968. We previously stated here that unless objection was taken in Parliament these new regulations were expected to become law on 1st December 2020. In fact, some errors were identified in the draft Statutory Instrument after it was published, resulting in it being withdrawn and replaced by a revised draft, which was approved by both Houses of Parliament on 13th January 2021. The revised and approved Statutory Instrument is here.

Note, this has not yet come into force, but is expected to very shortly. We will post a further update here when the implementation date for this significant change to the law is confirmed.

In short summary, to qualify as an antique firearm which is exempt from control, so that it can still be possessed without certification, it must fulfil the following criteria:

Firstly, it must have been made before September 1939.

in addition, it must be operated by a propellant and ignition system which is classed as obsolete under these new regulations. Rimfire is permitted, except in .22, .23, 6mm and 9mm, as are firearms which take centrefire cartridges in the calibres shown in the list attached to the Statutory Instrument. A number of cartridges have been removed from the Obsolete Calibre List: .44 S&W, .442CF, .41CF, .320 British, 11mm French, 10.6mm German and 9.4mm Netherlands.

It will be possible to apply for a firearm certificate for old firearms which are now not permitted in the calibres listed above. This will allow continued possession of historic handguns under either Section 7(1) or 7(3) of the Act. The ‘good reason’ test will not apply, but the general ‘suitability’ of the applicant will be taken into account in deciding whether to grant a certificate.