US Ammunition Laws

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US Ammunition Laws

Federal Laws

US laws on ammunition regulation are similar to those of firearm regulation.

However, federal laws on ammunition regulation only cover prohibition on purchase by certain individuals and a prohibition on the manufacturing, importation, and sale of armor- piercing ammunition.

Prohibition on purchase by certain individuals

Certain categories of people are not allowed to purchase ammunition. These include people who have:

  1. been convicted of gun-related or violent


  1. a track record of drug or alcohol abuse
  2. been convicted of juvenile offenses
  3. suffered from severe mental illness (i.e. committed in a mental institution or have been deemed “mentally defective” in court)

Minimum Age

Laws on the minimum age of possessing ammunition vary on the type of gun:

  1. Handgun ammunition: Under-18s are not allowed to possess handguns and handgun ammunition
  2. Long-gun ammunition: No minimum age provided by federal law
  3. Exceptions: temporary transfer and possession for certain activities


Under federal law, ammunition manufacturers and importers must get a license from the Attorney General.

Armor-Piercing Ammunition

Manufacturing, importing, and selling armorpiercing ammunition is prohibited, with certain exceptions:
a. Licensed dealers are not allowed to transfer armor-piercing ammunition “willfully”
b. Armor-piercing ammunition may be used for certain sporting and industrial purposes, as long as it has been deemed exempted by the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives
c. Federally-licensed dealers must keep a record
of transfers

State Laws

Certain states have created their own laws to further regulate ammunition, so it’s best to check your local state laws if you’re considering purchasing or owning ammunition.
Some additions to ammunition laws include:
a. Mandatory background check for purchasers and owners
b. Licensing and additional requirements for sellers
c. Restrictions for purchase by certain categories and ages of people, in addition to those determined by federal law