How To Mail A Firearm


A lot of people have recently brought up that they mail their firearms instead of check them as baggage.  If you don’t have an FFL, then you may be violating Federal law.  The big exception is when mailing rifles or shotguns.

Here’s a couple ways to stay on the right side of the law and ensure your concealed carry firearm makes it safely to its final destination.

Whenever mailing a firearm, always:

  • Place the unloaded firearm in a sealed, locked container.
  • Loaded and unloaded magazines should not be kept inside the weapon.
  • Ammunition should be in an approved, original cardboard, metal, or wood box.
  • Neither weapons nor ammunition should be labelled as such.
  • A sender (with FFL) mails to a recipient with an FFL.
  • The recipient with the FFL must be present to receive the package.

Process 1: Business FFL to FFL Transfer

Some gun shops will agree to mail your firearm to another approved FFL business.  There is usually a fee associated with this, in addition to the stipulations for packaging guidelines from the USPS, UPS, or other approved courier service.

This is potentially the most painless way to send a pistol if you don’t have an FFL.

Q: Why not just mail it in pieces to my destination’s address?

A: Do not mail it in pieces to the address of your final destination unless you have a Federal Firearms License (FFL).

A.) It’s more efficient to just check it as baggage.

B.) If you are unlicensed (no FFL), you can mail parts of handguns that are not handgun frames, receivers and other parts lined out in Chapter 44, Title 18, U.S.C. to other unlicensed people.  This makes it all but virtually impossible to mail a complete concealed carry weapon through the mail without either violating Federal law or through the use of a Federal Firearms License.

NOTE: According to the USPS, if you don’t have an FFL, you can still mail your shotgun or rifle outside your state just so long as it is addressed to yourself in the care of another.  This is predominantly intended for hunting trips and the like.  Your rifle or shotgun should:

  1. Be addressed to you.
  2. Include an “in the care of” endorsement immediately preceding the name of the the person who you intend to receive that weapon.
  3. Be opened only by you.
  4. Follow USPS rules for shipping firearms outlined in 432.3a.

Process 2:  Self to Self with FFL

If you do have an FFL and mail your weapon to your final destination, it still needs to be unloaded and someone with a valid FFL needs to be on the other end to receive it. If that is you, good deal.

Your Name
c/o Resident’s Name
City, State, ZIP

Please keep in mind you need to have a clear return address and you MUST be present to receive the package when it arrives on the other end.  If not, your weapon will be returned to sender and held at the Post Office pending your return.

This is a Federal law, regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) and is concurrent with existing policies from UPS and the USPS.

Process 3: (FFL) Self to FFL Destination

If you have a buddy on the other end of your destination who has an FFL and will hold the gun for you until you arrive, you can mail it out to him and be confident that when he receives it – it’ll be waiting there for you.

This process only works if you have an FFL and you can reasonably guarantee you’ll be there by the time it arrives.

With any of this, of course, you need to make sure that you can legally possess the firearm in the new location. If you have a pistol shipped from Florida to New York, for example, and do not have a New York State Pistol Permit, you’re breaking the law.

Final Notes

While a state may acknowledge your concealed carry permit (reciprocity) or you have a non-resident permit for that state, there may be additional restrictions based upon magazine capacity, ammunition types, and even specific weapon classifications.  Just because the mail successfully arrived with your firearm doesn’t mean you can legally carry it as-is.  Check with the state you’re visiting in and make sure your concealed carry weapon is good to go!

Disclaimer: It is up to you to determine what laws you will need to follow, and it is your responsibility to do the research for the state(s) that you will be working with. As laws change on a regular basis, be sure that you’re up-to-date. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only.


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About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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