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Old April 3, 2012, 05:46 PM   #8
dogtown tom
Senior Member
Join Date: January 23, 2006
Location: Plano, Texas
Posts: 2,126
From a THR thread...

How to ship firearms


Federal law allows ANYONE to ship a firearm. (Your state law may differ)
What is below is what is allowed by Federal law.

What is a firearm?
Well, its both the complete firearm and the frame or receiver of a disassembled firearm. It's internet myth that a disassembled firearm magically loses its legal status when field stripped. Whoever promotes or repeats the myth that it is "just machine parts" is a complete and total idiot and should never be consulted about firearms again....because that is contrary to Federal law. (not to mention common sense)

Who can you ship to?
All interstate shipments of firearms must be addressed to a licensed firearms dealer (often called an FFL). The exceptions are:
1. when you ship to yourself at an address in another state and
2. the return of a firearm you sent to a manufacturer to be repaired.

Federal law allows you to ship a firearm to a resident of the same state (intrastate) as long as you have no reason to believe that the recepient is a prohibited person.

How do I know the recepient is a licensed dealer?
There is no requirement for a nonlicensee (mere mortals) to have an actual copy of the receiving dealers FFL. You can verify that the recepient is a dealer through the ATF FFL EZcheck. (When FFL's ship we are required to have a copy of the receiving dealers license before we can ship)

Be aware that some dealers refuse to accept shipments from nonlicensees as their personal business policy. Usually this is because they are terrified that the package will arrive with an RPG inside and no information as to who shipped it. Although it is not required by law, it is common courtesy to include a copy of your drivers license (for nonlicensees) or a copy of your FFL (for dealers). Dealers are required to record the identity of the person from they received the firearm from.....and a DL or FFL makes this easy. If you refuse to comply with the request for a DL or FFL.....then don't ship the gun. As evidenced by recent threads, the dealer may refuse to accept the package or delay the transfer to the buyer until he has the documents he requested.

Newspaper is for dolts, pros use bubble wrap
When you prepare your firearm for shipment, avoid newspaper like the plague. It crushes easily, provides little protective value and if wadded tightly....weighs a ton and weight adds $$$$ to your shipping costs.

A good rule of thumb is to package the gun as if it were a prized family heirloom. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer.....who deserves to get the gun as depicted in the auction/WTS forum, etc

I've received guns wrapped in newspaper, vinyl float tubes, foam mattresses, Saran Wrap, plastic WalMart bags, baby diapers, bath towels.....obviously the shipper does not know the physical nature of package delivery or they just flat dont care whether the gun arrives in one piece. If your shipment is damaged, both UPS and FedEx will deny claims if you do not use PROPER packing materials (and newspaper is not one of them).

Where do i get cheap packing materials?
Try a gun store. They will have loads of excellent USED packing materials: bubble wrap, packing peanuts, kraft paper, air pillows, etc.

As far as packaging, the only Federal law you need to be aware of is identifying the contents as a "firearm"...........DON'T! This means you cannot mark "Fragile...EXPENSIVE GUN INSIDE" on the outside of the box. It also means you don't ship that Remington 700 in the factory cardboard box that has a giant REMINGTON in big green letters on the outside. (this is secret code for STEAL ME NOW) Simply slide the factory box inside another cardboard box. UPS and FedEx will not accept boxes with paper wrappers, although the USPS will.......but don't do it. Your label can easily be torn off.

Where do I get a cardboard box big enough to ship a rifle/shotgun?
Again, try a gun store. I throw out (into my Al Gore recycle bin) cardboard boxes every day. I always have extras stored in my garage. If you are shipping a $1,000 rifle or shotgun don't go get all frugal and jam that gun in a box you handmade from fifteen free UPS boxes that you taped together with duct tape......consider spending $10-15 on a plastic Plano or Dosko hard case. Consider removing the barrel from shotguns, as a short box is more rigid than a long box and that is better.

So, where can I ship my firearm?
USPS- will accept rifles and shotguns from ANYONE. Handguns and other firearms like frames, receivers, AR lowers are not mailable unless you are a licensed dealer or manufacturer. Even holders of an 03FFL "Collector of Curios & Relics" cannot mail or recieve by mail, a firearm other than a rifle or shotgun.

There is no requirement to notify USPS that you are shippping a rifle or shotgun. There are no forms to give them, you do not need to show them the FFL of the receiving dealer.

The ONLY persons REQUIRED to notify USPS that they are shipping a firearms are licensed dealers and manufacturers....and then only when shipping a handgun. If you are not a dealer and are asked to sign a Form 1508......don't do it! You would be falsifying a Federal document and the USPS clerk who asked you to do so is an idiot.

UPS- Will accept firearms from ANYONE as long as you follow their firearm shipping policies:
In short, You cannot ship firearms from a UPS Store, or third party have to ship from a UPS Service Center. UPS policy says you must notify them that you are shipping a firearm. Federal law only requires notification if you are shipping interstate to a nonlicensee. Generally thats a Federal crime (You can ship a firearm to yourself in another state...but only you can ship it and only you can open it)

UPS allows rifles and shotguns to go "Ground". Handguns must go "Next Day". if you choose to ignore UPS policies expect to get nada on any insurance claim for loss, damage or theft.

FedEx-Will accept firearms from ANYONE as long as you follow their firearm shipping policies:
FedEx has changed their firearms policies three times in the last year. It appears that you can still ship from ANY FedEx Office location.

FedEx allows rifles and shotguns to go "Ground". Handguns must go "Priority Overnight". If you choose to ignore FedEx policies expect to get nada on any insurance claim for loss, damage or theft.
FedEx requires you notify them when you are shipping a firearm.

It's in a box, what do I do now?
Go to, and and compare rates!
You'll need to know the weight, box dimensions and destination zip code to get a price.

You can then:
Take it to the carrier or post office and pay at the counter OR..............better yet, pay for and print a shipping label from home. This is CHEAPER than doing it at the post office.

My recommendations:
USPS- ALWAYS go Priority Mail with Insurance for FULL VALUE and Signature Confirmation. "Parcel Post" is cheaper but takes MUCH longer to get to the destination........the longer its in transit, the more opportunity to get lost, damaged or stolen. To me it isn't worth the small difference in price.
As no notification is EVER required at USPS.....they are the option with the smallest hassle factor.

UPS/FedEx- For rifles and shotguns I use UPS or FedEx Ground.....its usually cheaper than USPS Priority Mail and they offer true "tracking". Again, get insurance for the full value and signature confirmation. NOTE:USC 478.31 (d) "No common or contract carrier shall knowingly deliver in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm without obtaining written acknowledgement of receipt from the recipient of the package or other container in which there is a firearm" What does this mean? You pay for Signature Confirmation.

Hey! UPS & FedEx want to charge me $60 to ship a handgun!
Then don't do it.
Find a local dealer who will ship it for you.......via USPS Priority Mail. Handguns that will fit in a USPS medium Flat Rate Box with $1000 worth of insurance and Signature Confirmation ships for less than $27. If the dealer tacks on a reasonable fee (I charge $10) then you pay almost half of what you would pay if you did it yourself......and the receiving dealer won't pitch a hissy fit because you forgot to enclose your drivers license.
Need a FFL in Dallas/Plano/Allen/Frisco/McKinney ? Just EMAIL me. $20 transfers ($10 for CHL, active military,police,fire or schoolteachers)

Plano, Texas...........the Gun Nut Capitol of Gun Culture, USA
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