Shipping box of primed shells from U.S. to France, Legal?


A collector in France would like to buy a vintage box of primed but otherwise unloaded revolver shells. I’m in the U.S.

Is it legal to ship unloaded but primed shells to France? Would it be legal if I used UPS or a similar service instead of the regular mail?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.


You cannot ship primed cases via USPS. You’d have to look at other options, such as UPS/FedEx although you will probably find the shipping costs to be astronomical.

Have you considered inerting the primed cases by killing the primers? USPS would then be an option.


Then there’s the legality of international shipment of munitions if primers remain. Would depend upon the laws of France and the US. I am sure there many on this site who know the answer to that. Might be easier to de-prime the cases for shipment assuming the other legalities are surmountable. It’s complicated enough to ship ammunition within the US, let alone overseas.



I have traded a lot of cartridges with guys all around the world and have never had problems with primed cases as long as the primers were killed. Bullets pulled and powder dumped also. But, that’s not to say that we did not violate the letter of State Department rules and regualtions. This question comes up very often on this, and other guns/shooting Forums, and I don’t think it has ever been answered to everyones satisfaction. Probably never will be because bureaucrats are inclined to avoid committing to something as simple as an “OK” on anything. They’d rather quote the law as it’s worded, leaving the individual guessing.

I also thought about de-priming the cases. But, if they are old, that alone could destroy their value.



Do you remember the Ranch Products situation in, I think, the mid- or late-90s? Ranch Products made full moon clips for using .45 ACP cartridges in revolvers (S&W/Colt 1917, etc) and got hit hard by the state department for export violations because it considered shipping those products overseas as constituting unpermitted export of munitions? And they were nothing but pieces of flat stamped sheet metal, not even cartridge cases or gun parts. I guess it shows that selective enforcement is always possible if you get caught.

As a result, if I sell gun parts on Gun Broker, etc., I always make the statement that there are “NO OVERSEAS SHIPMENTS, PLEASE DO NOT ASK.”


I have shipped inert cartridges all over the world, primers deactivated, bullet pulled and no powder. I do not know the complete rules when sending inert cartridges overseas. I try my best to comply or I use common sense. I’m just an ordinary bloke who collects cartridges.

I suspect/know that sometimes parcels I have sent and parcels that have been sent to me have been checked at some point by customs/ mail workers. They are just ordinary blokes carrying out their daily work and know little more of the rules than I do, so they use common sense, if the description on the customs declaration matches with what he can see and it’s obvious that they are not loaded cartridges, the common sense kicks in and there is no problem.


Thank you for your kind assistance.

By the way: How do you “kill” the primers in the shells and keep them looking presentable for a collection?


Squirt some oil into them.


[color=#FF0000]Don’t[/color] use WD-40, which is often recommended. It only works until the WD-40 evaporates leaving the primer live again a good percentage of the time. If the cartridges are post WW-II, it helps to use some acetone, in a well ventilated area first to dissolve any lacquer sealer, followed my some light machine or gun oil.


I wonder if the importation rules for Europe are standardized per EU regulations on this sort of thing, or does it still vary between countries as to licenses needed and to overall legality or definition of munitions / “cartridges”?

As to oil use for killing primers, just make sure you oil them from the inside, and not the outside (which seems obvious, but anyway…). Some tests done by “theboxotruth” show how various oils on the outside of a primer does nothing over the course of several weeks:


I don’t like the hypocrite people.
This message is to the moderator who deleted my post.

[b]Somebody as asking for an illegal thing, and when we give you the answer, you act like a frightened virgin, seeming to be chocked !!.

And this because it is kreaking your US law and you delete the post;

But as soon as it is legal in your country you don’t care if the law is broken in the other countries and you carry on .

It is not working like that, I am sorry.[/b]

I will react exactly like you did :
All the people answering to the guy called 45Auto are giving very bad advices and I hope they are kidding !!

It is unlawfull in France

  • to receive cartridges or even empty cases (fired or new)
  • from abroad (USA or even European Union)
  • even if the ctges (or cases) are subject to no paperwork in france
  • even if the ctges (or cases) need a license to own them and despite the fact you have such a license

Indeed there is a big difference between the right of owning ctges and importation (or exportation) of ctges.

You need to apply for an AIMG (Autorisation d’Importation de materiel de Guerre) = License for importation of war material.

As a regular guy (I dont say collector because there is no collector statute in France) you will never get such a license.

Therefore if the guy has not such a license (and he will never have it), it is forbidden and both sides (the sender and the addressee) are breaking the law.

I can add french government can contact the US goverment to take the people sending such devices (or the organisation giving information how to break the law) to court.

Therefore, all these posts breaking the French law must be deleted, it is under your moderator liability.



Since this thread has become contentious and prone to misunderstanding it is now locked. If anyone has a legal question about something, then they need to ask a lawyer.