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antique firearm and obsolete cartridge law change

11 March 2021

antique firearm and obsolete cartridge law change

As many members will be aware, the law on antique firearms is changing. This follows a Home office consultation exercise, which SACS, many of our partner bodies and interested folk have responded to.

Antique Firearms Regulations 2021

From 22 March 2021 some firearms (mainly pistols) previously regarded as antique due to the cartridge they are chambered for being ‘obsolete’, will no longer qualify as such and must now be licensed via a Firearm Certificate. This follows advice from law enforcement that these cartridges feature in crime.

There will be a 6-month transitional period. Owners of these firearms must act by midnight on 21 September 2021 or lawfully dispose of them.

This affects the small number of cartridge chamberings listed below, but a potentially significant number of actual firearms. If this affects you or someone you know, then at the bottom of this news piece there is a link to further information.

Cartridges to be removed from the obsolete cartridge list from 22 March 2021:

.320 British (also known as .320 Revolver CF, short or long)

.41 Colt (short or long)

.44 Smith and Wesson Russian

.442 Revolver (also known as .44 Webley)

9.4mm Dutch Revolver

10.6mm German Ordnance Revolver

11mm French Ordnance Revolver M1873 (Army)

Some good news too

The good news is that there are new additions to the obsolete cartridges list, which follows on from constructive and evidence-based engagement between the Home office and shooting bodies.

From 22 March 2021, firearms chambered for the cartridges listed below, and which meet the other statutory criteria for antique firearms, will be exempt from licensing control and can be possessed without a firearm certificate or Section 5 authority if they are possessed only as a curiosity or ornament.

Cartridges added to the obsolete cartridge list:

.26 BSA (.26 Rimless Belted Nitro Express)

.33 BSA (.33 Rimless Belted Nitro Express)

.360 No 2 Nitro Express

.40 BSA (.40 Rimless Belted Nitro Express)

.400/360 2 ¾ in Nitro Express

.425 Westley Richards Magnum

.475 x 3 ¼ in Nitro Express

.475 No 2 Jeffery Nitro Express

.475 No 2 Nitro Express

.476 Nitro Express (.476 Westley Richards)

.50-90 2 ½ inch

.50-110 2.4 inch

.577 – 3 in (Black Powder & Nitro Express)

.577 – 3 ¼ in (Black Powder & Nitro Express)

6.5 x 53mm R Mannlicher (Dutch/Romanian)

8 x 56mm Mannlicher Schoenauer

8 x 58 mm R Krag

8 mm Murata

9 x 56mm Mannlicher Schoenauer

9 x 57mm R Mauser

9 x 57mm Rimless Mauser

9.5 x 57mm Mannlicher Schoenauer

8mm Roth Steyr


An information circular on the new Antique Firearms legislation is available from the link HERE:

SACS was asked by the Home office to comment on the circular draft. We provided a number of sensible comments and suggestions to provide clarity for persons affected, particularly with reference to transitional arrangements and future sales. Regretfully, these suggestions did not find their way into the final draft.

As such, it is our view that the circular is not as well-worded as it could be and potentially raises more questions than it provides answers. Anyone affected by this change in legislation and unclear on the information within the circular, should contact their representative body for guidance. Please do make an effort to read the circular in full first.


Please forward this on to anyone you think may be affected by this change in law. Many may not be members of shooting bodies and may not even shoot, the vintage firearms being held simply as curiosities and antiques. SACS has made a number of suggestions to the Home Office and Police as to how owners of firearms being removed from the obsolete calibre list can hopefully be reached e.g. antique arms dealers and auction houses.