Can Felons Legally Own a Muzzleloader?

Felons are unable to legally own and/or possess firearms, so what about antiques? A muzzleloader is classified by the majority of gun dealers and collectors as an antique gun, so, does that give felons the right to own one? In this article we will answer this question as well as explain the legalities behind a felon owning an antique gun.

The Laws Surrounding Antique Weapons.

Antique weapon laws are somewhat of a gray area. The ATF (the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) has certain restrictions in place for antique weapons. Any firearm manufactured or create on or before 1898 is declared an antique weapon. This also applies to fully working replicas of the weapons that were create on or before 1898.

There is no clear-cut answer if a felon is allowed to own an antique weapon. The ATF may declare a specific weapon as an antique while the State Government may disagree and not categorize that weapon as an antique. This can cause a legal headache for felons when trying to figure out if it is legal for them to own a muzzleloader.

The muzzleloaders powder type can help felons gain clarity on the law. The ATF (the Federal agency) says that if the muzzleloader takes Black Powder, it is an antique weapon. The majority of states agree with this statement as well, helping to give collectors a general rule of thumb; “if the muzzleloader was made on or before 1898 and takes black powder, then it is an antique”.

Because every state has their own laws pertaining to firearm ownership and their own definition of what constitutes a firearm to be an antique, it is impossible to provide a clear-cut answer as to whether a felon may own a muzzleloader or any other type of antique weapon. To receive an accurate answer, reach out to your local gun shop/dealer, they will be able to point you in the right direction, and maybe even help you acquire a muzzleloader.

The Appeal of Muzzleloaders for Felons.

Many felons turn to purchasing antique weapons for a variety of reasons; whether they just miss shooting or they want to have a weapon for self-defense while at home, the demand exists.

Felons are not allowed to own modern firearms, firearms such as handguns, shotguns or rifles. It is a felony for a felon to attempt to purchase a firearm, and another felony if caught in possession of a firearm.

Muzzleloaders, for the most part, are legal for felons to possess. Every state has their own rules regarding muzzleloaders, but the general consensus is that they are legal for felons to buy and own.

Muzzleloaders are a great alternative to other firearms because muzzleloaders still offer security and protection, while at the same time being affordable, in some cases even cheaper than modern firearms.

How to Purchase a Muzzleloader.

It is actually quite easy to get ahold of a muzzleloader, many gun stores carry black powder muzzleloaders that price for around $349.99 for the muzzleloader, a case, and a scope. Cabela’s is a large carrier of muzzleloaders. For felons, where they purchase their muzzleloader does not matter. So long as the felon is in a state that allows them to purchase the muzzleloader, the shop or brand that the felon buys from is irrelevant.

In order to buy any firearm at a gun store, identity verification is required. Someone looking to buy a gun may verify their identity by providing a form of I.D. (such as a passport or driver’s license), and by giving their Social Security Number. Background checks are also a part of the process of acquiring a firearm. A background check is used for multiple reasons, the main one being to insure you do not have any items on the background check that would prohibit someone from buying a firearm.

If a felon were to try to buy a shotgun, they would be declined the sale and sent to prison. The reason for this is because when the gun store clerk ran the felon’s background check, they noticed the felony- which does not warrant the sale of the gun.

If the felon was trying to purchase a muzzleloader, the felony on their background check would not matter because of the gun that was being bought, it is okay for felons to own muzzleloaders.

Black Powder and Why it Matters.

The guns a felon can possess reach beyond a muzzleloader. The reason why the muzzleloader is a popular choice for felons to purchase is because of what the gun requires, black powder.

The process of sorting through the hundreds of different guns and declaring which ones were antiques and which ones could be owned by felon’s would be lengthy and subject to change, so instead, the ATF decided to declare that a gun was an antique by the type of powder it required. Black powder makes a firearm an antique firearm, which in turn makes felons eligible to buy and possess the antique firearm.

If the gun does not take black powder, then it does not fit the description of an antique firearm and is unable to be owned by felons.

How Black Powder Weapons Function.

If you are considering purchasing a black powder muzzleloader, or any gun that requires black powder, it is important to know how the guns function.

When the person that is shooting the gun picks up the gun, it is important to make sure there are no obscurities on the barrel or by the lever. Any obscurities can lead to injury and/or the malfunction of the firearm. After the shooter has looked over the weapon and made sure that the weapon is ready to fire, it is time to load the weapon. Ensure that the proper ammo is used and inserted in the correct direction. This step may seem obvious, but it is also a good idea to make sure the gun is loaded correctly. Once the ammo is loaded it is time to prepare to fire. Make sure the shooting environment is safe before turning off the safety (if the gun has a safety, some black powder rifles don’t). Once the safety is off it is time to fire.

When the trigger of a black powdered weapon is pulled the following actions occur.

  • The trigger is pulled, causing a spark to form.
  • The spark travels through the chamber until it hits the powder.
  • Once the spark hits the powder, the powder combusts, and the projectile is sent out of the gun.

It is a rather simple process, but like every firearm, can be very dangerous if not done correctly.


Is it possible to go hunting with a black powder weapon?

Yes. Hunting is allowed with select black powder weapons. The choice of which black powder weapon to use depends on what is being hunted. A good rule of thumb is using a more powerful weapon for the larger the animal.

Do not use a low powered weapon when hunting, you do not want to injure the animal, you want to kill it. Do not make the animal suffer by using too weak of a gun.

Is open carry of black powder pistols legal?

The Federal Government does not consider black powder weapons as firearms; therefore, this becomes a gray area as open carry is for carrying firearms. Some states do officially declare black powder guns deadly weapons, which would not warrant daily carry. It would be a good idea to check with your local county’s office or your local gun dealer, as those people will have the most accurate answer for you.

Do antique guns require an FFL?

FFL (Federal Firearms License) is a license issued by the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) that allows individuals to engage in business relating to firearms. Because antique guns meet a specific criterion, an FFL is not required to engage in related activities with antique firearms, but if you are able too, it would not be a bad idea to get an FFL just for security.

How Much does an FFL cost?

An FFL is relativity cheap, starting at $200 for three years, it is a reasonable price to pay for an entry level gun dealer’s license.

Thank You for reading! Have you ever shot a black powder weapon? Would you ever want to own a muzzle loader? Let us know what you are thinking below in the comments!


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