Certificate of Compliance

Certificate of compliance_Rev21Owning an airgun in the UK without a licence requires us to abide by certain power restrictions.

To be exempt from certification, an air rifle must not be capable of exceeding a muzzle energy of 12ft/lb.

Above that, it requires a Section One Firearm Certificate (FAC). For an air pistol, the limit is 6ft/lb – and it’s effectively a ‘prohibited weapon’ above that. Having an OTT airgun without relevant paperwork is a statutory offence which could land you with a prison sentence.

The Airgun Manufacturers and Trade Association (AMTA) has gone to great lengths to protect end-users, especially when it comes to PCPs which can vary in power considerably throughout their air charge cycle as well as with a change of pellet.

All modern PCPs on sale in the UK are fitted with an anti-tamper device to stop users from breaking – inadvertently or otherwise – the law.

There’s no anti-tamper on spring-powered airguns as their design doesn’t require it: air rifles made for the sub-12ft/lb UK market and sold through gun shops all have a decent safety margin.

However, an unscrupulous person with the required skills and access to specialist tools and machinery could potentially re-machine any springer to boost its power above the legal limit. If they want to risk a jail sentence, that’s their worry – but what if that OTT gun is then sold on?

I cite a case of someone who recently saw a Weihrauch HW80 break-barrel advertised online. He met up with the vendor and, after being assured it was “perfectly legal”, bought it.

As it “hadn’t been used for a while”, he thought he’d take it straight to his local gun shop for a service – only to find out his “perfectly legal” HW80 was, in fact, doing well above 12ft/lb! Because ignorance is no defence in law, the new owner could have received a criminal sentence for possessing it.

The gun shop put the rifle back to the sub-12ft/lb configuration it was originally designed as – but to take a leaf out of AMTA’s book, and to protect readers who may buy (and sell) through the reader classified adverts on our Guns & Gear page, I’m introducing the Airgun Shooter Certificate of Compliance, or CoC.

It’s free to download from the above link.

If you don’t own a chrono to check your airgun’s power, your local gun shop will – it’s a facility you should be availing yourself of regularly, anyway.

All that’s then required in the advert is to state “with CoC” in the wording. For example: FOR SALE – Weihrauch HW80, with scope, silencer, sling and CoC. Or: WANTED – Weihrauch HW80, any condition, CoC essential.

Obviously, it’s not a mandatory requirement when advertising, but I would hope that both vendors and buyers see the value in having such a document at the point of sale and adopt its use.

Nigel Allen

105_Air Arms S510 Carbine1

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3 comments on “Certificate of Compliance
  1. Brian Hughes says:

    Although I agree with this in principle, the document is of little or no value that I can see.
    Any claim as to the muzzle energy of a weapon would have to be carried out with a calibrated instrument, such as the “Skan”. Such an instrument will have a unique identification number and a traceable calibration certificate and history. Your form does not provide for the recording of either.
    Neither does it provide for the weight of the individual pellet used during the measurement on calibrated scales.
    It is highly unlikely that a private individual will possess either of the above instruments and so the certificate would be a best guess and no form of defence what so ever. against what is an absolute offence.
    An individual would be placing trust in a certificate, that they assume to be correct, but has no merit or standing in law.

    I think your idea needs refining.

    Weapons fitted with the anti tamper device can and do go over the limit. Some people will assume that they are safe with their gun fitted with this device, but sadly no. As a warranty seal it holds some merit; but as the possessor of a weapon over the legal limit, the anti tamper won’t excuse you from a criminal record as it is an absolute offence.
    I know this can be a contentious subject, but your friend,s HW80 has demonstrated, in the eyes of the law, that it is capable of exceeding 12fpe and is therefore a section 1 firearm. The law needs to be redrafted to eliminate its contradictory nature.

  2. Tim Hewlett says:

    Since holding an air rifle above the sub 12 limit without FAC is an absolute offence, nothing that AMTA or this certificate does will protect a shooter from prosecution.
    The statement that all modern PCPs sold in this country have A/T fitted is incorrect, many are sold without even by some British manufacturers who will supply without A/T if requested.
    I know of at least one model that can be adjusted with A/T in place.
    Where do the manufacturers stand on new guns with A/T fitted going over power? Will they take the rap and pay the fines? Supply a new gun to replace those destroyed? No, I think not!
    Instead of concerning yourselves with worthless bits of paper maybe you should be addressing the real issues concerning A/T such as making it harder for the law abiding owner to comply with the law.

  3. Mark Holding says:

    At the end of the day the user is responsible for making sure his airgun does not go over the legal limit, not the manufacturer, who’s fitted an anti tamper. People have purchased rifles, with anti tamper and have still been charged with an over the limit rifle, when found that it has gone above 12ft/lbs. The anti tamper didn’t help them one bit, and i supposed they thought that the rifle was legal. My advice is that everyone should have their own chronograph and check their rifle on a regular basis. Anti tamper is more about the purchaser having to return their rifle back to the manufacturer, and spend money. Everyone that was capable of servicing and tuning their rifles or pistols were doing this up to only a few years ago without any problems. In my opinion Anti tamper is a joke, and they treat gun owners as kids. It was never a legal requirement.

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