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Black powder licences … what you need to know

If you're a fan of black powder David Frost has some useful advice

black powder

Clive fills the punt-gun with a 7oz demonstration load of coarse powder

Thinking about using black powder? You’ll need a licence from the local police and a reason for using it. Having a gun proofed for black powder should be enough.

Of course you can make your own black powder cartridges and you can also buy them if you prefer. 

But first of all you’ll need to apply for one of those all-important black powder licences.

Q: Is it difficult to get black powder licences? And what conditions do I have to meet regarding its storage? I have two lovely old Damascus barrelled guns – including a bar-in-wood Purdey, that I would like to use game shooting, but I daren’t put them through the proof house for nitro proving, just in case.

Black powder ammunition

Providing your gun remains black powder proof you should be eligible for a black powder licence

David Frost advises on black powder licences

Provided the guns remain in black powder proof there is no reason why you should not use them. Your local firearms licensing department issues explosive licences for what are known as shooters powders. You must demonstrate a good reason for having one. Possession of, and intent to use, a gun that is only proofed for black powder is a good reason. There are stringent requirements for the transport and storage of black powder and you can get guidance from the BASC website. You need an “acquire and keep” certificate.

  • If you’re going to use black powder you definitely need to get a licence from the local police. You should get in touch with the same people who handle your shotgun and firearms certificate applications.
  • You will have to show good reason for wanting to use black powder, but owning a gun proofed only for black powder will be sufficient
  • There is a limit to the quantity of explosives you can store on any premises and in most cases it will be 10kg for black powder.
  • Read government guidelines here on explosives which will give you up to date legal advice.

Police will visit you before any ‘acquire and keep’ certificate is granted; they will assess your application for buying and storing black powder and advise you about security of the explosive.

You will also need to be seen to fulfil the criteria as a ‘fit and responsible person’.