UK illegal projectiles?

This is an area of great confusion I believe, so before I consider restarting collecting, i’d like to try and get clarification on just what I can and cannot collect WITHOUT a certificate! (ie Inert)

OK, so Im ok with blanks up to 1 inch, and empty cases with no projectile. I believe im also ok with any FMJ or normal ball projectiles. I believe I am also ok with the types with the plastic tips which I understand to have been introduced to replace soft nosed types?

So, without a UK FAC, am I correct that ANY bullet type with exposed core at the tip is illegal?

This to me would also include truncated cone/wadcutter types?

So would I be right to think that the only projectiles legal to me would be FMJ, lead ball types, and those with the plastic cap?

My apologies if some of my terminology is wrong, its been a long time!

Any projectile designed to expand cannot be possessed even if it is unloaded and/or in an otherwise inert cartridge. It most certainly does include plastic tips.

Hunters can get an exemption but its over regulated. Even if the buyer is legal he has to buy face to face etc

There are grey areas such as a lot of target projectiles that have a small opening which causes endless confusion. Frankly, I would choose an area to collect that stays out of such muddled thinking, because that’s what it is. A knee jerk piece of legislation after the school shooting at Dunblane.

Thanks Vince

Im a tad more confused now though - ACS were supplying the plastic tipped inert rounds instead of the soft nosed etc, after the changes to the law from Dunblane.

Does ‘expanding’ include the wadcutter types with exposed lead/half jacketed?

I still see all these at flea markets etc

Perhaps it would be easier to try and get a list of bullet makes and models that ARE legal!

It is confusing, its very confusing, the rules have firmed up over time but its still not clear. There is a lot of ignorance and a few people with interpretations that differ widely from mine.

You will still see lots of things at flea markets and offered for sale by dealers and collectors who will assure you its all legal. I would say why risk it?

You mention ACS, a very good example of an honest business supplying inert ammo to collectors. The lack of certainty and the risk of being made an example of drove him out of business.

You wont find a list of what’s legal and what’s not and there lies the problem. It may be the coward’s answer for me to say this, and I have no doubt others will disagree with me, but I will say it anyway. Its only a hobby, stay away from the risky stuff.

Shotgun cartridges are good, they don’t have all the FAC and storage red tape and there is a lot of social history wrapped up in them.

I wondered what happened to ACS! Ive been out the game a very long time. Im just going through what I have left of my collection and so far its all legal, as far as its possible to tell these days!

You mention shot shells, which I believe are legal to own even live!? Therein to me lies the absurdity of the law - an honest collector cannot possess even one single ‘expanding’ projectile, in an inert cartridge, of absolutely no danger whatsoever (unless perhaps someone swallowed it!) yet could possess a whole crate of varied, but none the less all ‘technically’ the same 12g cartridges! Whats the biggest risk! Even a single live rifle cartridge, if stolen from a collector, is incredibly unlikely to be of any nefarious use, but the ubiquitous 12g shotgun is far more likely to be used for a criminal act, yet we could have a whole stack of ready to go ammo for one!

Oh well, I at any rate, am not prepared to state my point from the inside of one of her Majesties hotels!

Martin, nobody ever said it was going to make sense! the deeper you get into these discussions the more annoying it gets because the stupidity is so apparent.
Where are you? it would be better to hook up with some of the serious collectors on here than fall in with some of the more ‘anarchist’ fringe of collectors that do exist.
There is a good cartridge collecting network in this country although its small.

I have always believed that squeaky clean is the only way to be in this country with such draconian laws in place.

Your certainly right there Vince! It really doesnt make sense!

Im up in Yorkshire. I’d been considering restarting collecting, or maybe restarting shooting, but both seem to have far too much hassle involved at the present. Maybe once my kids have left home i’ll consider it again, but in the meantime, I think i’ll confine my collecting to collecting information! I think I can still own books on the subject at least!

I’ll remain a lurker on this forum though, i’ll live my ‘collection’ through the posts and pictures of others!

Martin, I don’t believe it is legal to own live shotgun cartridges without a shotgun certificate.


Rich, as I understand it you can possess live shotgun cartridges without a certificate - but you can’t buy them without a certificate. Clear as mud eh!?

RichT, I’m with Jim on this one. Clear as mud sums it up!

So you and Martin are both right in your own ways. Its probably not possible to aquire shotgun cartridges without a SGC these days but possession is a grey area. Its because the “law” has had this infernal creeping effect. Nobody can tell you what is law and what is custom and practice.

I have bought shotgun cartridges within the past decade or so without being asked to show a SGC but I don’t believe that would happen now. The dealers are all paranoid

As always on these matters, my advice is don’t chance it, since the police don’t know the subtle details of the law either you are all too liable to spend time in the cells while it gets sorted out. Thanks for raising it

[quote=“martinb”]Your certainly right there Vince! It really doesnt make sense!

Im up in Yorkshire. I’d been considering restarting collecting, or maybe restarting shooting, but both seem to have far too much hassle involved at the present. Maybe once my kids have left home i’ll consider it again, but in the meantime, I think i’ll confine my collecting to collecting information! I think I can still own books on the subject at least!

I’ll remain a lurker on this forum though, i’ll live my ‘collection’ through the posts and pictures of others![/quote]

Martin, stay lurking by all means but if I was living in Yorkshire the Diggle ranges would be worth a look. Probably the best range in the country. It doesn’t have to be hassle

How difficult is it to get one of these “collecting certificates”?

My take on these sort of laws is that if you meet the requirements then get the highest level licence/certificate you can get. There might be some hoops to jump through but they are there to make people say its too hard and not bother.
If people don’t bother, the antis have a win.
If people dont bother then the next set of laws get made easier because there is “no demand” due to the fact there are only X number of certificates.

Here in Australia some people are starting to realise that so called “banned” firearms are not actually banned but there are higher requirements and reasons to purchase them. I am working my way up the licencing ladder as far as legally possible partly because I have a professional need (as a vertebrate pest controller) and partly as an action against restriction and further laws.

Interesting question Matt and I’ll take the opportunity to suggest that in my opinion the UK collecting scene isn’t quite as dire as some of the hype would suggest - if you go about it correctly. A ‘collecting certificate’ is simply a firearms certificate with a variation that allows you to possess the so-called ‘prohibited’ projectiles (armour piercing, incendiary & expanding). Anybody residing in the UK can apply for a certificate through their local police force and ultimately it is the decision of the Chief Constable of that area whether he will grant a certificate or not. If he declines to grant a certificate he does not have to give his reason(s) to the applicant - however he must have a valid reason to refuse an application. If the applicant decides to appeal against the refusal in a Court the Chief Constable would then be obliged to reveal his reason for refusal and if the Court decide that reason isn’t valid the police force involved could be liable to pay a lot of compensation. I don’t know the figures but I would suggest that most genuine applications would be successful. The only complication with a certificate to collect ammunition is that you will have to prove that you are a genuine and established collector - membership of an organisation such as ECRA and/or IAA will normally suffice. An application costs £50 and a certificate will last for 5 years and renewal for a further 5 years is £40. When you apply you give the police an indication of the quantity and type of ammunition you would like to possess and they will simply endorse this requirement on your certificate. I asked for a limit of 5000 cartridges under 20mm in calibre and to include armour piercing, incendiary, & expanding types - and that is exactly what my certificate says I can have. If I wish to increase these amounts I can ask and I’ve been assured it will be done. Live ammunition does need approved storage and I use a large lockable steel cabinet to house my collection. The police provide guidelines for the construction of suitable storage and your local Firearms Enquiry Officer will visit you at home to check your cabinet meets the standard. He’ll make this visit when you initially apply for the certificate and thereafter every five years when you renew your certificate. In my experience this has always been by mutually arranged appointment. I’ve never heard of the police making unannounced visits to inspect firearms or collections nor do I think they will ever have the time or resources to do so without good reason. An F.E.O. recently told me that they are now so under-manned and over-stretched that future renewals are likely to be done without any home visit at all. As an ex-police officer I agree that the police should have the right to make unannounced visits to licence holders but common sense says they’re only going to make such a visit if they reasonably suspect they’re going to find something seriously amiss - and, after all, that’s what they’re there for!

The condition here is (as far as I am aware) that they must have five or more projectiles, and these must all be under .360" Diameter. This would exclude Single ball, Brenneke slugs and types with large buckshot. These are classed as section 1 ammunition, which is the same category as FMJ Rifle cartridges.

I have done the same except that I added spotter/tracer bullets to my list, as I think these could be something of a grey area. The only exclusion is HE projectiles, which I wouldn’t want anyway.

P.S. I should add that I was told that this list was only approved because I don’t possess any firearms to shoot the ammo with.

A lot of interesting information, thanks guys,

Ive run through what I have in my collection and as far as I can reasonably tell, it is all legal. One or two curiosities turned up where I couldnt be entirely sure how I came to have them (mostly items picked up from biscuit tins at the ECRA show in Bisley!), so they went through the kinetic puller to be absolutely certain! (A neat trick I think I read on here for using the puller backwards to reseat a bullet proving invaluable to allow a quick disassembly and reasembly!), probably over cautious on my part - I simply spent a few hours separating and rebuilding perfectly legal and inert cartridges!

I do have some shotshells but all are normal game loads so fine there. I do have one that im a little uncertain of though - its a shot loaded .30 ‘walking stick’ cartridge. Being a shot loading rather than a shot shell, im nervous of this one being out of scope as a shotgun cartridge, can anyone advise? If theres any doubt i’ll pull it straight away -Update - Not taking any chances! Pulled, powder destroyed and primer oiled.

I like to have esoteric hobbies, but have to consider how appropriate they are at any given time. Im considering arranging an appointment with the local FO to discuss the licensing, to see whether its worth considering in the future