Air Rifles and South African Law

This note is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted or construed as legal advice. If in any doubt, please contact an attorney with specific knowledge of South African Law as it applies to firearms.

Currently South Africa does not require a license for airguns, provided they are below 5.6mm (no energy restriction), but they will still be inspected and the serial numbers recorded in the firearms register by the South African Police (at all International airports) upon entering and leaving South Africa.

  • The law regarding firearms and similar devices is governed by the Firearms Control Act, Act 60 of 2000.
  • In terms of section 5(1)(f) an airgun is not considered a firearm. Section 1 defines an airgun as; “any device manufactured to discharge a bullet or other projectile of a caliber of less than 5,6 mm (.22 caliber), by means of compressed gas and not by means of burning propellant.
  • It should be noted that there is no limit on the energy value of the airgun, provided it is of less than 5,6 mm caliber you do not need a firearm license, permit of certificate to possess an airgun.
  • There is no prescription as to the storage or transport of airguns, a safe or other secure lockup is not required, nor any locks on a case of bag.
  • Despite the above, section 120 of the Firearms Control Act create certain offences regarding the use or handling of airguns. The penalties can be severe and a South African prison is not a recommended holiday destination, please take heed.
  • It is an offence to;
    • Cause bodily injury to any person or cause damage to property of any person by negligently using an airgun – 5 years imprisonment.
    • Discharge or otherwise handle an airgun in a manner likely to injure or endanger the safety or property of any person with reckless disregard for the safety or property of any person – 5 years imprisonment.
    • Have control of a loaded airgun in circumstances where it creates a risk to the safety or property of any person, and not take reasonable precautions to avoid the danger – 5 years imprisonment.
    • Handle an airgun while under the influence of a substance which has an intoxicating or narcotic effect – 3 years imprisonment.
    • Give control of an airgun, knowingly or under circumstance where you ought reasonably to know, to a person;
      • That is mentally ill; or
      • Under the influence of a substance which has an intoxicating or narcotic effect – 3 years imprisonment.
    • To point an airgun, irrespective of it is loaded or capable of being discharged, at any person, without good reason to do so – 10 years imprisonment.
    • To discharge an airgun in a built-up area or any public place, without good reason to do so – 5 years imprisonment.
    • If you intend to extend you stay in South Africa and see more of our beautiful, large and diverse country, please note that only South African Airways (SAA) will transport airguns. All other airlines British Airways, Kulula, Mango, etc. will not transport airgun under any circumstances. This should not dissuade you from exploring more of South Africa. If you experience any difficulty in this regard, please contact us suitably in advance, we should be able to arrange that you prized possession is look after in Gauteng, negating the need to take it with you, whilst you explore the dark continent.