Can I Buy Ammo Online In California?

For California gun owners, buying ammunition locally can be a hassle. This leads many to wonder if purchasing ammo online and having it shipped is a legal option. With California’s strict firearms laws, the answer is more complicated than in other states.

The quick answer is yes, you can legally buy ammunition online and have it shipped to California. However, several restrictions apply including background checks, quantity limits, and prohibitions on certain ammo types.

Laws on Shipping Ammo to California

California has stringent laws when it comes to shipping ammunition within its borders. These laws are in place to ensure the safety and security of its residents. If you are wondering whether you can buy ammo online in California, it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations governing the shipment of ammunition.

Dealer Requirements for Processing Orders

When purchasing ammunition online, California requires that the transaction be processed through a licensed ammunition vendor or dealer. This means that individuals cannot directly purchase ammunition from out-of-state sellers.

Instead, they must go through a California dealer who can legally sell and transfer ammunition within the state. It is essential to ensure that the dealer you choose is properly licensed and authorized to conduct such transactions.

Background Check Requirements

In addition to going through a licensed dealer, buyers must also undergo a background check when purchasing ammunition in California. This check is performed by the dealer who is responsible for verifying the buyer’s eligibility to possess ammunition.

The background check involves screening the buyer’s criminal record and other relevant information to determine if they are legally allowed to purchase ammunition. This requirement helps prevent individuals with a history of violence or other disqualifying factors from obtaining ammunition.

Age Verification for Online Orders

When it comes to purchasing ammunition online, age verification is a crucial step in the process. California law requires that buyers be at least 18 years old to purchase and possess ammunition. However, for certain types of ammunition, such as handgun ammunition, buyers must be at least 21 years old.

Online sellers are required to verify the buyer’s age through a reliable method, such as requesting a copy of their identification or utilizing an age verification service. This ensures that only eligible individuals can purchase ammunition online.

It is important to note that these laws and requirements are subject to change. It is always a good idea to stay updated on the latest regulations and consult the official websites of relevant authorities, such as the California Department of Justice, for accurate and current information.

Restrictions on Specific Ammunition

Handgun Cartridges

When it comes to purchasing handgun cartridges online in California, there are certain restrictions in place. The state law requires buyers to provide a valid ammunition eligibility certificate or a firearm safety certificate before completing the purchase.

These certificates are obtained through background checks and safety training, ensuring that only qualified individuals can purchase handgun ammunition.

It’s important to note that not all online retailers are authorized to sell ammunition in California. Buyers should verify the legitimacy of the seller and ensure that they comply with state regulations.

Additionally, some local jurisdictions may have additional restrictions on ammunition sales, so it’s essential to be aware of any specific requirements in your area.

Rifle Rounds

Similar to handgun cartridges, there are restrictions on purchasing rifle rounds online in California. Buyers must possess a valid ammunition eligibility certificate or a firearm safety certificate. This requirement applies to both semi-automatic and bolt-action rifles.

It’s worth mentioning that there is a distinction between ammunition for rifles chambered in handgun calibers and those chambered in rifle-specific calibers. While the former falls under the handgun cartridge restrictions, the latter is subject to separate regulations.

It is always advisable to consult the California Department of Justice website for the most up-to-date information.

Shotgun Shells

Shotgun enthusiasts in California can buy shotgun shells online without the need for an ammunition eligibility certificate or a firearm safety certificate. However, it’s essential to ensure that the ammunition being purchased complies with state and local regulations.

Certain types of shotgun ammunition, such as armor-piercing or incendiary rounds, may be prohibited in California.

As with any firearm-related purchase, it’s crucial to exercise caution and buy from reputable online retailers who comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

Large Caliber Ammo

When it comes to large caliber ammunition, such as .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) rounds, California has specific regulations in place. Buyers are required to obtain a special permit from the California Department of Justice before purchasing and possessing large caliber ammunition.

The permit process involves a thorough background check and compliance with certain eligibility criteria.

It’s important to note that large caliber ammunition sales are also subject to federal regulations, including restrictions on certain armor-piercing rounds. Buyers should familiarize themselves with both state and federal laws to ensure compliance.

For more detailed information on ammunition regulations in California, including a list of authorized online ammunition vendors, you can visit the California Attorney General’s website.

Order Quantity and Purchase Limits

When it comes to buying ammo online in California, it is important to be aware of the order quantity and purchase limits set by the state. These regulations are in place to ensure the safe and responsible sale of ammunition to individuals.

Monthly Purchase Allowance

California law currently restricts the amount of ammunition that can be purchased within a 30-day period. As of July 1, 2019, individuals are limited to purchasing no more than 50 rounds of ammunition per month. This limit applies to both online and in-store purchases.

It’s worth noting that this monthly purchase allowance is subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to stay updated on any new regulations or amendments that may be implemented.

Exceptions for Law Enforcement

Exceptions to the monthly purchase allowance exist for law enforcement officers. They are exempt from these restrictions and can purchase ammunition in larger quantities when necessary for their duties.

Law enforcement agencies often have specific guidelines and procedures in place for officers to obtain ammunition. They may have access to special programs or contracts that allow them to purchase ammunition in bulk or at discounted rates.

For more information on the exceptions and regulations for law enforcement officers, it is recommended to visit the official website of the California Department of Justice,

It’s important for individuals to understand and comply with the order quantity and purchase limits when buying ammunition online in California. By doing so, they can ensure they are abiding by the law and contributing to the safe and responsible use of firearms.

Shipping and Storage Regulations

When it comes to buying ammo online in California, there are specific shipping and storage regulations that need to be followed. These regulations are in place to ensure the safe and legal transport and storage of ammunition.

Signature Confirmation for Delivery

One important regulation is the requirement for signature confirmation upon delivery of ammunition. This means that when you purchase ammo online, the package must be signed for by someone who is at least 21 years old.

This helps to ensure that the ammunition is not delivered to minors or individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms.

According to the California Department of Justice, this signature confirmation requirement is a crucial step in preventing the illegal sale and distribution of ammunition. It adds an extra layer of security to the online purchasing process, making it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to obtain ammunition.

Properly Storing Ammo Shipments

In addition to the signature confirmation requirement, there are also regulations regarding the proper storage of ammunition shipments. It is important to store ammunition in a secure and safe manner to prevent accidents and unauthorized access.

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), ammunition should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat sources and direct sunlight. It is recommended to store ammo in a locked container or safe to ensure that it is not easily accessible to anyone who should not have access to it.

Furthermore, it is essential to follow any additional storage regulations set forth by local or state authorities. These regulations may vary depending on where you live, so it is important to research and understand the specific requirements for your area.

By following these shipping and storage regulations, you can ensure that you are purchasing and storing ammunition in a responsible and legal manner. It is important to prioritize safety and compliance when it comes to firearms and ammunition to prevent accidents and keep our communities safe.

Alternatives for Prohibited Buyers

Going Through a Local Dealer In-Person

If you’re a resident of California and are prohibited from buying ammo online, there are still options available to you. One alternative is to visit a local dealer in-person. Many licensed firearms dealers in California carry a wide range of ammunition for various firearms.

By visiting a local dealer, you can browse their inventory, ask questions, and make a purchase without any legal complications.

When visiting a local dealer, it’s important to bring along the necessary identification and documents required by California law. This typically includes a valid driver’s license or identification card, as well as proof of residency.

By complying with these requirements, you can ensure a smooth and legal purchase process.

Keep in mind that prices at local dealers may vary, so it’s always a good idea to compare prices and shop around before making a purchase. Additionally, local dealers may have limited stock or specific restrictions on certain types of ammunition, so it’s advisable to call ahead or check their website for availability.

Considering Out-of-State Sources

If you’re unable to find the ammunition you need through local dealers, another alternative is to consider out-of-state sources. While it is generally illegal to have ammunition shipped directly to your doorstep in California, you can legally purchase ammunition from out-of-state sellers and have it shipped to a licensed ammunition vendor in California.

Many online ammunition retailers offer this option, known as “ammo transfer” or “ammo shipping to FFL.” FFL stands for Federal Firearms License, and there are licensed ammunition vendors in California that can receive ammunition shipments on your behalf.

By utilizing this option, you can still access a wide range of ammunition choices that may not be available locally.

It’s important to note that you will need to undergo a background check and comply with all the necessary legal requirements when purchasing ammunition from an out-of-state source. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with the ammo transfer process, so it’s advisable to inquire about these fees before making a purchase.

When considering out-of-state sources, it’s crucial to ensure that the vendor you choose is reputable and follows all required regulations. It’s always a good idea to read reviews, check their website for certifications, and verify their legitimacy before making any purchases.


While buying ammunition online is legal in California, numerous restrictions apply. Carefully follow state laws on monthly purchase limits, required checks, storage and prohibited ammo types to legally buy ammo online.

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