For any gun to qualify as an antique, it must have been designed and manufactured before or at the beginning of the 20th century. However, different rules govern the qualification of an antique gun depending on the country. You might wonder why people would collect firearms as an antique. The answer is for historical purposes or monetary value. One of the best places to obtain antique firearms is from antique gun auction houses.

On the other hand, gun laws in the US also differ according to the state. Even though you might be a collector with no intention of using the gun to fire, you must follow the rules, just like some owning modern firearms. However, some states have exceptions to licensing requirements for antique guns.

Types of Antique Guns

There are two types of antique firearms, namely muzzle-loading and cartridge firing.


They aren’t owned with a firing intent, although they can be used to fire after they have them inspected. Most of these guns people have for display or historical value.

Cartridge firing

These antique firearms are collected as shooting pieces. The antiques manufactured in the 1860s to 1880s were designed to use black powder and were made of mild steel. They had a low bullet velocity and heavy arcing.

How do I possess an antique firearm without getting into trouble? Well, let’s check out the process.

How to Possess an Antique Gun

Know Your State Laws

Since gun laws differ according to state, ensure you learn about the gun laws in your state before possessing the first one. Don’t assume the laws just because it’s an antique gun or you owned it legally in another place.

Here are some gun laws:

If you have a history of being convicted of a felony, you’re prohibited from owning a firearm, although this law doesn’t apply to most firearms.

Antique guns are included in your state laws. It could be muzzle-loading rifles, pistols, or shotguns using black powder, not ammunition felons can use.

If your weapon can be converted so that it can fire fixed ammunition, it’s prohibited.

Most states have additional regulations such as barrel length, flintlocks, and who owns the antique gun.

Check Antique Firearms Exemption

Most states have antique firearms exemptions different from general gun licensing. Here are some laws, but some states define firearms differently.

Federal law states an antique firearm is any produced before 1898. The rule also includes the replica meaning a firearm manufactured recently but same with that made before 1898 follows in the same category

Although some states adopted a federal law on antique firearms, some added newer firearms under the antique firearms bracket.

Those states consider a firearm an antique if it’s over 50 years old and it’s no longer getting manufactured.

With newer weapons being defined as antique, there are more restrictions on the owner. The rules depend on the ammunition they use.


You cannot just wake up and decide you want to own an antique firearm, and since every state has different rules and regulations regarding antique guns, always evaluate state laws before purchasing. You might have moved to another state; you should also check the new state laws to ensure you don’t get into trouble. Importantly, always check with antique gun auction houses.

If you are interested in finding out more about firearm consigning or selling to Blackwell Auctions, please contact us at 727-546-0200 or visit us at