UK: To Hang Or Not To Hang (Guns That Is)?

Last Updated: 24 April 2002
Article by James Taylor

The debate on hanging is one which carries on and on. If you do hang, you might be making a mistake which can’t be corrected later, but if you don’t hang, you might regret it also.

I’m talking about antique firearms in this issue. If you hang something up on the wall which looks absolutely superb over the fireplace, and it is not on your certificate because it’s just a wall-hanger, you need to be sure that you are not going to fall foul of the law. It could get stolen, or your local Constabulary might pay you a call.

Your average police officer doesn’t have the same expertise in firearms matters. Because firearms training is given to so few, not all officers know the difference between prohibited guns, those subject to the two main licensing procedures, and those which can be kept without a licence.

Like many others, I started out with a hammergun. It was made in the 1950s, in the Gardone Valley in Italy. It weighed about the same as a modern O/U, and was choked full and extra-full, but it didn’t half bring down high pigeon, and when I started game shooting (high birds only), it always aroused great interest. One chap who asked to look at it practically dropped it straight away – he explained that he had never, on principle, touched any gun which wasn’t English, and this one had taken him in because the barrels bore the legend "Made in Sheffield – Whitworth Steel" or some such.

It was getting a bit loose a couple of years ago, and needed too much investment in lockwork too, so I tried without success to persuade my interior designer to let me get it deactivated and hang it up in a suitable spot. I part-exchanged it for an AYA No4 instead, and sort of regret not keeping it in my cabinet.

There remains in me, and if truth were told, in the heart of every shooting man, the desire to accumulate pieces of history around us relating to our wonderful sport. That gun, although just 50 or so years old, was something special because of its age. Many others have a grand collection of guns which they hardly use, but can’t bring themselves to dispose of due to sentimental reasons. Some go to the trouble and expense of getting a FAC just to hang onto the old short-barreled 9mm garden gun which Father used to start them out on.

There is no definition of "antique" in the Firearms Act 1968, so each item is assessed on its own merits. Certain general guidelines have been given about particular matters, however.

Not for Use

Antique firearms are exempt from certificate controls, either FAC or SGC, provided they are kept as curiosities or ornaments. The Home Office Guidance, and the approach of most police forces over the years has stated that that excludes any intent to fire the gun concerned, even with blank ammunition. If you wish to fire the gun, no matter how infrequently, it should be on the appropriate certificate. You should be allowed by your local licensing office to take it on and off your certificate to change its status from "antique" to "part 1 firearm" or "shotgun" as and when. Bear in mind, also, that the exemption does not cover live ammunition.

Normally exempted

You can usually keep : -

  • Muzzle-loading firearms
  • Breech loading rimfire guns (other than 4mm,5mm,.22 or .23, 6mm or 9mm chambers)
  • Pin-fire/needle-fire, or anything which is not rimfire or centrefire
  • Various obsolete calibre firearms and
  • Shotguns of certain unusual bores, i.e. 32 bore, 24 bore, 14 bore and certain larger bores in certain chambers

provided that it is not a modern reproduction (i.e. manufactured post 1939).

Not exempted

Certain guns which you or I might think of as antique cannot be exempt from certification. These include

  • Shot guns or pistols chambered for standard cartridges
  • Rifles & handguns chambered for 4mm,5mm,.22, .23, 6mm or 9mm rimfire
  • Other revolvers, single shot pistols and self-loading pistols unless of certain obsolete calibres
  • Modern reproductions modified to shoot modern standard shotgun cartridges
  • Extensively modified guns
  • Signaling pistols of certain calibres
  • Self-loading or pump centrefile rifles, subject to certain exemptions ref original chambering.

For specific guidance, I recommend calling the BASC if you are a member, or consulting the Home Office guidance yourself. The web address is:

So, if that old 12 bore ‘keeper’s gun which you see in so many country pubs takes your fancy you should make sure that it is legally de-activated. That means stamped by the Proof Houses and duly certified in writing as such. De-activation itself is a different topic and will merit another article in due course.

To summarise, if in doubt, seek advice from your gunsmith, the BASC or consult the Home Office guidance. These old guns can bring a lot of pleasure to their owners, but a mistake could result in loss of other, certificated guns if the Police chose to prosecute.

For further information on firearms law, please contact Mr James Taylor, firearms expert at Bevans solicitors.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions