I have always been relatively versed about limits on ammunition in South Africa, however, the details confused me and it seemed like there were a lot of loopholes and grey areas in this regard. It was only until last week when I was asked about some of these loopholes, was I compelled to do the research and find out what exactly the law has to say about the amount of ammo we are allowed to own in South Africa.
A licensed firearm owner may own 200 rounds of ammo for each license he holds, according to the Firearms Control Act. The the license holder has dedicated sports shooting or hunting status, they may own an unlimited amount of ammunition for any type of firearm that he has a valid license for.
But one of the biggest grey areas I have noticed has always been when it comes to people who reload. I also found out that there are strict storage requirements for ammunition, as well as reloading supplies such as primers and propellants. I urge you to read on to find out more.
How do the ammo limits apply to firearm owners in South Africa?
As a licensed firearm holder in South Africa, you are allowed to own a maximum amount of 200 rounds for every firearm licensed in your name. The ammunition in your possession must match the type of firearm for which you have a license for.
For example, if you have one 9mm handgun and one shotgun, you will be allowed to own 200 x 9mm rounds and 200 x 12 gauge rounds. Remember, it is 200 rounds PER firearm licensed. This means that if you have two licensed firearms in 9mm, then you will be allowed to keep a total of 400 rounds of 9mm.
For many, having 200 rounds is more than enough. For others, it is not practical, especially those who participate in sport shooting matches and practice regularly. For this reason, there is provision made for those who have been awarded “dedicated sport shooting (or hunting) status”
The only exception to this limit is firearm collectors and those who have special permission. This is not practical for most firearm owners and for the purposes of practicality, I will leave those out of this article.
What is a dedicated sport shooting (or hunting) status?
When you have “dedicated sport shooting (or hunting) status” with an accredited shooting organization such as NHSA (National Hunting and Shooting Association), you will be allowed to own an unlimited amount of ammunition, as long as you have a valid license for the firearm which the ammunition is designed.
To get to the point of dedicated sport shooting (or hunting ) status, you need to become a member of an accredited sport shooting or hunting organization such as NHSA which offers “dedicated sport shooting (or hunting) status” to qualifying members. This involves a written and practical shooting test.
How to get dedicated sport shooting or hunting status?
Dedicated sport shooting status gives you a lot more freedom when it comes to licensing firearms (such as semi-automatics) and owning larger amounts of ammunition. Dedicated hunter status does give you the ability to license more firearms and store more ammunition, however, you will not be able to license semi-automatics under this category. For this reason, I recommend that you opt to pursue a dedicated sport shooting status rather than hunting status.
When it comes to choosing an accredited shooting organization, I highly recommend NHSA because 90% of the process can be done via correspondence and the test is open book – online. You are able to study the books in your own time and do the test when you are confident that you know the material.
Once you have completed the online test, you will then be required to go to your nearest approved shooting range and complete a shooting test under the supervision of a witness, which could be anyone, including a range officer, a member of staff at the range, or even a friend or family member. They will be required to sign the shooting target stating that they witnessed you complete the shooting test and you did it according to the rules of the test.
How many primers can you own in South Africa?
According to the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000, this is what I found:
As a firearm owner without dedicated sport shooting (or hunting) status, you are limited to a maximum of 2,400 primers. The primers may only be for the type of firearm you have a valid license for. For example, you may not keep large rifle primers if you only have a valid license for a 9mm pistol.
A firearm owner with dedicated sport shooting (or hunting) status, you may keep an unlimited amount of primers for the purposes of reloading. However, you may only keep primers designed for the type of firearm you have a valid license for.
You are also required to store primers separately from any black powder or firearm propellant and they need to be stored in a lockable safe or cabinet. There is also no smoking allowed in the room where primers are stored.
How much reloading propellant can you own in South Africa?
According to the Explosives Act, 2003 (Not yet approved, but used as a guideline by Police and Cheif Inspector), in South Africa, a person is limited to keeping no more than 2,5kg’s of propellant on his or her premises.
Special permission to store no more than 10kg’s of propellant can be acquired from the Chief Inspector through a written application and will require certified copies of your firearm licenses and proof of dedicated sport shooting or hunting status.
Obtaining permission to store more than 2,5kg’s is really not worth the effort. Because a dedicated sport shooter or hunter is not limited by the amount of actual ammunition they can hold, as long as you are reloading often enough, you can just keep topping up your propellant as you go and build up your amount of ammo instead of hoarding propellant.
Storage requirements for black powder and propellant are quite strict. They must be stored in either a safe, or lockable cabinet. They may not be stored near any other flammable materials, open flames, and smoking in a room where black powder or propellant is stored is not allowed.
How many bullets and cases can you own in South Africa
Actual bullet heads and empty casing arent classified as ammunition in South Africa and are not regulated as such. You are allowed to keep as many empty casings and bullet heads as your heart desires. So when you see your favorite bullet’s or casing’s go on sale, fill your boots!