Guide to Storage of Firearms

The following guidelines cover section 1 firearms and ammunition and section 2 shot guns and give general guidance on how to meet acceptable security standards required by the Police . Any premises applying for a Licence will be inspected as part of the application assessment.

What is a Firearm?

A firearm has a rifled barrel and fires bullets, a shot gun (or musket) is smooth bore and fires cartridges or blanks... however a multi-shot shot gun (capable of holding one in the chamber and more than two in the magazine) or has a detachable magazine requires a firearm certificate as does a short barrelled (less than 24 inches) shot gun. 

Handguns (defined as having a barrel of less than 30cm or less than 60cm overall) were banned by the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 but exceptions are made for muzzle loading firearms and shot pistols in .410 or 9mm rim fire caliber guns. In addition there are other possible exemptions. Anyone who believes they are entitled to own and hold a handgun should contact the Firearms Licensing Department for clarification.

Gun Cabinets

Any cabinet used to store firearms, component parts of firearms, or ammunition should conform to BS 7558 (1992). Gun cabinets must be attached to a sound surface and the force required to pull the fixing bolt should not be less than 2kN. Locks should secure the gun cabinet to BS 3621 or seven lever safe locks. The cabinets should preferably be in a concealed place. It should not be in a garage or outhouse. Principally, only cabinets that meet the specification BS 7558 (1992) are suitable but others may be acceptable if examined by a Firearms Enquiry Officer.

Storing Rifles/Shot Guns

Rifles/shot guns should be kept in a gun cabinet or within a gunroom with adequate door and window security. Rifle bolts and ammunition/magazines should be stored separately in a similar container, which may form part of the main cabinet provided it is capable of being locked separately. Where only one gun is possessed then alternative methods of achieving a similar standard of security will be accepted i.e. gun clamp or similar device (also locked). Gun clamp locks should conform to BS 3621.


Ammunition should be stored separately in a locked container. It may form part of the main cabinet provided it is separately locked. Ammunition boxes should be ventilated.


Where several guns are stored, consideration should be given to the installation of an intruder alarm system conforming to BS4737. All external doors to the premises should be secured with five lever mortice locks as a minimum. Accessible, opening windows should be fitted with window locks. Alternatively, if the premises in which the firearms are to be stored are especially vulnerable e.g. flats, houses converted to apartments or dwellings in high-risk areas, guns should be stored with a Registered Firearms Dealer. In the case of collectors, guns should not be openly displayed.

For more detailed advice contact the Firearms Licensing Department.