Antique guns are real guns. The provisions of the Firearms Act 1968 do not apply to antique firearms sold, transferred, purchased, acquired or possessed as ‘curiosities or ornaments’. There is no definition of ‘antique’ and no definition of ‘curiosities or ornaments’ in legislation. No licence is required.
Home Office Guidance provides a list of pre-1939 guns which are to be regarded as ‘antiques’.
IDENTIFICATION Because antique guns are real it can be impossible to tell without close examination if a gun being brandished during an incident is capable of firing live ammunition or if it is an ‘antique’, imitation, airsoft, replica, BB, toy or paintball gun, or an airgun. Victims of armed crime are traumatised and not surprisingly unable to identify the gun being used to assault them. Media reporting is unreliable and unless guns are fired or recovered and can be authenticated they are categorised as ‘unidentified’. Many press reports which refer to ‘handguns’ are likely to involve ‘antiques’, airguns* imitations and other non-licensed guns which look like handguns.