Exploring UK BB Gun Laws: What You Need to Know

Firearm Training and Skills Development: Guidance on Improving Shooting Skills, Exploring UK BB Gun Laws: What You Need to Know

BB guns, also known as air guns, have gained popularity over the years for recreational shooting and sports. These guns use compressed air to propel small spherical projectiles, commonly made of plastic or metal. While they may seem like harmless toys, it’s important to understand that BB guns are subject to specific regulations and laws in the United Kingdom. In this article, we will explore the UK BB gun laws to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what you need to know.

Interested in owning a BB gun? You can check this out!

1. What Is a BB Gun?

Before delving into the laws surrounding BB guns, let’s clarify what exactly a BB gun is. A BB gun is an air gun that shoots small, spherical projectiles called BBs. These guns are typically powered by compressed air and come in various designs, ranging from pistols to rifles. guns are often used for recreational shooting, target practice, and competitive sports such as airsoft.

2. Age Restrictions

In the UK, there are age restrictions in place for owning and using BB guns. The minimum age to purchase or possess a BB gun is 18 years old. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, own, or carry a gun in public places. This age restriction is in place to ensure that guns are used responsibly and to prevent misuse by minors.

BB guns fall under the category of firearms in the UK, albeit with some distinctions. They are classified as “air weapons” under the Firearms Act 1968. Air weapons include not only BB guns but also other air rifles, air pistols, and certain paintball guns. The legal classification is important as it determines the regulations and requirements applicable to guns.

4. Power Limitations

One of the key factors that determine the legal status of BB guns in the UK is their power limit. BB guns with a muzzle energy of less than 1 joule are considered “non-firearms” and can be owned and used by individuals who are 18 years or older without requiring a specific license. These low-powered BB guns are often used for recreational shooting and are widely available for purchase.

However, BB guns with muzzle energy exceeding 1 joule are considered “firearms” and require a valid firearm certificate (FAC) or a specific air weapon certificate (AWC) to own and use legally. The process to obtain these certificates involves meeting certain eligibility criteria and undergoing thorough background checks by the police.

5. Carrying and Transportation

If you own a BB gun and need to transport it, there are specific rules you must follow. It is illegal to carry an air weapon in a public place without a reasonable excuse. When transporting a gun, it must be stored securely in a suitable case or container to prevent unauthorized access. It’s essential to keep the gun separate from any ammunition during transportation.

6. Shooting in Private Property

While it is legal to own and use BB guns on private property, there are important considerations to keep in mind. If you intend to shoot your gun on your property, ensure that you have the permission of the landowner or occupier. Additionally, it is crucial to take precautions to prevent pellets from leaving your property and potentially causing harm or damage to others.

7. Shooting in Public Places

It is illegal to discharge a BB gun in a public place in the UK. This regulation is in place to prevent accidents, injuries, and public disturbance. Shooting a gun in public can lead to legal consequences and should be strictly avoided. Always ensure that your gun is used responsibly and within the confines of private property or designated shooting ranges.

8. Airsoft Guns

Airsoft guns, which are similar to guns but designed for competitive gaming, are subject to separate regulations in the UK. Airsoft guns must meet certain requirements, including having a muzzle energy of no more than 1.3 joules for fully automatic guns and 2.5 joules for single-shot guns. Additionally, individuals using airsoft guns must comply with specific rules and guidelines set by airsoft organizations.

9. Penalties for Violating BB Gun Laws

It’s important to be aware of the potential penalties for violating BB gun laws in the UK. Engaging in activities such as carrying a gun in public without a reasonable excuse, discharging a gun in a public place, or possessing a high-powered gun without the required certificate can result in legal consequences. Offenses related to guns are taken seriously, and penalties can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense and any previous convictions.

10. Responsible BB Gun Ownership

Responsible ownership and usage of guns are essential to ensure safety and prevent misuse. Here are some tips for responsible BB gun ownership:

Education and Training: Familiarize yourself with the user manual and safety instructions provided by the manufacturer. Seek proper training in handling and using guns safely, including learning how to load, aim, and fire accurately.

Eye and Ear Protection: Always wear appropriate eye protection, such as safety goggles or glasses, when using a gun. Additionally, consider using ear protection, especially when participating in airsoft or shooting activities with louder firearms.

Safe Storage: Store your gun securely in a locked cabinet, safe, or dedicated container when not in use. Keep it out of reach of unauthorized individuals, especially children.

Respect for Others: Be mindful of your surroundings and considerate of others when using a gun. Avoid shooting near public areas, residential neighborhoods, or places where people or animals may be at risk.

Maintenance and Inspections: Regularly inspect your gun for any signs of damage or malfunction. Clean and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and reliable operation.

If you have specific questions or concerns regarding BB gun laws in the UK, it’s advisable to consult with legal professionals or authorities knowledgeable in firearms legislation. They can provide accurate and up-to-date information based on your specific circumstances and location. Additionally, the local police force or firearms licensing department can offer guidance and clarification on gun regulations in your area.


Understanding the UK BB gun laws is crucial for anyone interested in owning or using these air guns. From age restrictions to power limitations, transportation rules, and responsible ownership, adhering to these regulations ensures both legal compliance and the safety of individuals and communities. By respecting these laws and promoting responsible BB gun usage, we can enjoy the recreational aspects of guns while minimizing potential risks and hazards.

Read More Article: Best Business Energy Deals