Federal Law on Fifty Caliber Rifles

Posted on May 18, 2012

Federal law does not ban the ownership, possession, transfer, transportation or use of 50 caliber rifles. These rifles combine long range, accuracy and massive power for military purposes, but are now on the civilian market. Fifty caliber rifles are classified as long guns, and can be purchased legally from a federally licensed dealer by an 18 year-old.1 By contrast, federally licensed dealers can only sell or transfer handguns to persons age 21 or older.2

Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005 to bring 50 caliber rifles under the National Firearms Act, thereby imposing registration requirements and other regulations on their importation, manufacture and transfer. Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1999, 2001, 2004 and 2005. Some of the bills introduced in the House also would have banned the transfer and possession of 50 caliber rifles. To date, there has been no movement on these bills.

A 2007 report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recommended that Congress enact an effective ban on 50 caliber sniper rifles.3

Click here to view additional information about fifty caliber rifles, including background information and state and local laws on the topic.

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(b)(1), (c)(1). []
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 922(x)(1), (3), (5). []
  3. International Association of Chiefs of Police, Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities 27 (Sept. 2007). []