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Can Felons Own a Muzzleloader?

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Can Felons Own a Muzzleloader? When you are considering hunting again as a felon, you need to think about this very carefully.

After all, you can’t use a traditional firearm.

So, what can you do?

You might think about using a muzzleloader. 

Can a felon own a muzzleloader?

Let’s look at this question.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • Firearms and Firearm Restrictions
  • Muzzleloader as an Alternative
  • Muzzleloader as an Antique Firearm
  • Black Powder
  • Requirements to Own a Muzzleloader
  • What Does That Mean for Felons?


Firearms and Firearm Restrictions

The legal definition of a firearm is “a mechanical device that uses pressure from a burning powder or an explosive charge to force a projectile through and out of a metal tube; a weapon, especially a pistol or rifle, capable of firing a projectile and using an explosive charge as a propellant.”

The law states that it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to own or possess a firearm.

This is because of the 1968 Gun Control Act, which is the United States Federal law that prohibits convicted felons from possessing any kind of firearm.

If you violate this statute, you will be guilty of a Class 6 felony. 

So what do you do?

Muzzleloader as an Alternative

While owning or hunting with a traditional firearm is not possible, there is another alternative.

That is a muzzleloader. Remember a firearm is a piece that relies on pressure to fire a projectile.

A muzzleloader is any weapon a shooter loads by pushing a projectile (and usually a powder charge) through the muzzle (the forward open end of the barrel). 

This loading method is the essential difference between muzzleloaders and most modern firearms, which are loaded from the breech (or rear).

That is the key. Because this type of weapon involves a different way of loading ammunition, it also utilizes a different method of propelling that projectile.

That method is through use of black powder.

Muzzleloader as an Antique Firearm

A muzzleloader is a type of gun with a matchlock, a flintlock, percussion cap, or similar ignition system and typically manufactured prior to 1898.  

Muzzle-loading rifles were in common use in the 19th century. In fact, a gun manufactured before 1898 is considered to be an antique gun. Federal law like the Gun Control Act does not prohibit felons from owning an antique firearm.  

This is true even for a firearm made as a replica of such an antique gun more recently, as long as it is not designed for using conventional centerfire ammunition.  

Black Powder

Any muzzle-loading rifle, shotgun, or pistol made to use black powder or black powder substitute and which cannot use fixed ammunition is considered to be an antique firearm.  

That is an essential difference. So-called antique guns are not the same as those in common use today.

This is unless it incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, is a firearm which has been converted into a muzzleloader, or is a muzzle-loading weapon that can be changed to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, or breech lock. 

There are muzzle-loading guns that are not considered to be an antique because it uses the frame or receiver of a firearm. 

Technically then this type of muzzle-loading firearm is considered to be an antique firearm and not a firearm which felons are banned from owning.

This is the case whether the gun was manufactured many years ago or just recently.

Since felons are banned from owning a regular firearm, they are also prohibited from possessing the ammunition for such a gun.  

However, since it is black powder instead of bullets or cartridges, felons are allowed to have this type of ammunition as long as they have less than 50 pounds of black powder.

It also must be used for sporting, recreational, or cultural purposes.

Requirements to Own a Muzzleloader

Since a muzzleloader is not considered to be a firearm, the requirements to own one are different.

While you must have a permit to own a firearm, you do not need to have a permit to purchase or own a muzzleloader.

Since federal law allows felons to own so-called antique firearms, state or local law may still classify such weapons as firearms, which are banned for felons.

It would be important to check with the specific State Attorney General’s Office before acquiring a muzzle-loading gun.

Because black powder firearms are considered antique firearms, the possession of a black powder firearm by a person subject to federal firearms disabilities is not prohibited by the Gun Control Act. 

This is true for any muzzleloader that takes black powder for its ammunition unless that piece can be converted into a weapon that takes fixed ammunition as a traditional firearm requires.

Basically though, you do need to be at least 18 or even 21 years old in some states to legally buy a muzzleloader.

What Does That Mean for Felons?

This indicates that you can purchase and use a firearm that is a replica of an antique muzzleloader or one that takes black powder as its firing mechanism.

Of course that depends on each state’s laws.

Just having a muzzleloader doesn’t mean that you can hunt with it.

It will still take a hunting license to be able to hunt legally. That will be up to each state to determine.

While you want to return to hunting, it is still important to make sure you are not in violation of the law.

Check to make sure that the firearm you have is considered to be a muzzleloader or an antique firearm.

Then, know the laws for getting a hunting license and be aware of hunting season for muzzle-loading rifles.

It is better to take precautions.

To not do so could result in being arrested and possibly going back to prison.

Don’t make the kind of mistakes you did in the past.

You are not defined by your mistakes but in how you recover from them.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can own a muzzleloader?

Have you or someone you know been in this situation?

What was that like and what happened?

Please tell us in the comments below.

25 thoughts on “Can Felons Own a Muzzleloader?”

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  3. Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed reading it, especially because it addressed my issue. It helped me a lot and I hope it will help others too.

  4. If felons can own muzzleloaders we should be able to hunt with it after getting license and tags question is are you allowed to use muzzleloader for all of gun season or is it just the 3 days alloted per year

  5. Yes it was helpful. As I am a felon for 3 d.w.i. from 1997 got a full pardon then they changed the law on me. And haven’t been in trouble since. And was always wondering if I could own a muzzleloader. Because I would like to get back into hunting. So thanks for the info. Was very helpful

  6. Great article man at least I know on the federal level I’m covered. I live in Kentucky so I’m going to have to check if they allow for me to use a muzzleloader. I’m an avid hunter but ever since my conviction and release all I’ve done is bow and crossbow hunting. It would be great to throw a muzzleloader in the mix for some more range.

  7. Hi, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s actually
    excellent, keep up writing.

  8. Excellent post however I was wondering if you could write a little more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Many thanks!

  9. The problem is a bit complex. Felonies have no rights to use legal traditional weapons according to the firearm act. So what to do. Right? Why didn’r you mention using bows as well as muzzleloader? Don’t you think felons can use this bowhunting tool?

    • Dude the article was over FIREARMS last time I checked a bow isn’t a firearm so one why would he mention it and two hopefully a hunter is smart enough to figure that out. I’ve been using bows and crossbows since my release.

  10. It depends on state law.

    “it also utilizes a different method of propelling that projectile. That method is through use of black powder.”

    This is wrong. Muzzling loading weapons, including cap and ball revolvers are “a mechanical device that uses pressure from a burning powder or an explosive charge to force a projectile through and out of a metal tube; a weapon, especially a pistol or rifle, capable of firing a projectile and using an explosive charge as a propellant.”

    The only difference is in the type of ammo. I assure you, black powder is burning and uses pressure to force the bullet down the barrel.
    Kentucky law does prohibit felons from using muzzle loading weapons. Texas law does not. Check your state law. Contact a local lawyer or have a friend call and ask for clarification from the state police in your state.

    Here is what the ATF says determines the Federal definition of an “antique firearm” “A firearm using an ignition system manufactured before 1899 and
    is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or

    uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.”

    Some state laws are stricter.

  11. Hell yeah. “SHALL not be INFRINGED” should mean something…just do what you do…..let’s all remember “Slavery was a law”….

  12. Why would state laws matter in this area ? Do not federal laws supersede state laws? And lastly are not any laws repugnant to the constitution void and null? Thanks

  13. I own 2 muzzleloading rifles and 2 muzzleloading revolvers. I have been buying a deer hunting license for the last 26 years for muzzleloading season and I have never had a problem. One thing though you cannot buy black powder in bulk if you are a felon the company I buy from runs background checks. My son orders it for me.

  14. Had full pardon in 2009 for a felony growing marijuana in 1986 did 44 days in county jail can a own a black powder pistol

  15. Had full pardon in 2009 for a felony growing marijuana in 1986 did 44 days in county jail 3 yrs probation in 1990 can a own a black powder pistol

  16. Long needed , the gun control act of 1968 does not use the word felon !
    Don’t have to be a conviction in some cases such as abuse or domestic violence.

    • Used the term “crime punishable by more than a one year sentence” to define a felony. In 1987 after completing a 2 year sentence for receiving stolen property I was told by my Bucks County, Pennsylvania probation officer I could legally own guns because I was not convicted of a violent crime. Unfortunately he advised me in regards to Pennsylvania law without reference to federal law. In 1989 one of the gun shops fell under an audit and all the 4473s we’re reviewed for compliance. As a consequence I was convicted of violation of 18 USC 922 in federal court in 1991 and still can’t own a firearm today, all because of nonviolent convictions.


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