43 Firearms, 431 Definitions, 431.1 Firearm:
A firearm is defined as any device (including a starter gun) that is designed, or may readily be converted, to expel a projectile by an explosion, a spring, or other mechanical action, or by air or gas pressure with sufficient force to be used as a weapon.
Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (for example, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles) are defined as handguns. The following definitions apply:
a. Pistol or Revolver. A pistol or revolver is a handgun designed to be fired by the use of a single hand.
b. Short-Barreled Rifle. A rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches long is defined as a short-barreled rifle. This includes any weapon made from a rifle (by alteration or modification) resulting in an overall length of less than 26 inches.
c. Short-Barreled Shotgun. A shotgun having one or more barrels less than 18 inches long is defined as a short-barreled shotgun. This includes any weapon made from a shotgun (by alteration or modification) resulting in an overall length of less than 26 inches.
431.3 Antique Firearm:
An antique firearm (including those with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) is any firearm manufactured in or before 1898, or any replica of such a firearm, that meets either of the following conditions:
a. It is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition.
b. It uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, which is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available through ordinary commercial trade channels.
431.4 Rifles and Shotguns:
A rifle is a shoulder weapon having a barrel that is 16 inches or more in length. A shotgun has a barrel of 18 inches or more in length. Rifles and shotguns have an overall length of 26 inches or greater and cannot be capable of being concealed on a person.
431.5 Licensed Manufacturer/Licensed Dealer:
A manufacturer of firearms or a bona fide dealer in firearms is one duly licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), U.S. Department of the Treasury, under the Gun Control Act of 1968.
432 Mailability, 432.1 General, The following conditions apply:
a. Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (referred to as handguns) are nonmailable in the domestic mail except as permitted in Exhibit 432.1 and DMM C024.1.0.
b. The disassembled parts of a handgun or other type of nonmailable firearm that can be readily reassembled as a weapon are nonmailable except as permitted in Exhibit 432.1 and DMM C024.1.0 or C024.2.0.
c. Unloaded antique firearms sent as curios or museum pieces are generally permitted as specified in Exhibit 432.1 and DMM C024.2.0.
d. Unloaded rifles and shotguns may be mailed if the mailer fully complies with the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-618) and 18 U.S.C. 921. The mailer may be required to establish, by opening the parcel or by written certification, that the gun is unloaded and not excluded from mailing because of the restrictions in 431.2b and c.
432.2 PS Form 1508:
PS Form 1508, Statement by Shipper of Firearms, must be completed by each firearm manufacturer or dealer who deposits firearms for mailing. The form must be filed with the postmaster of the post office of mailing.
Mailability Requirements for Firearms:
Handguns may be mailed by a licensed manufacturer or dealer, an authorized federal agent, or an authorized state, territory, or district agent ONLY when addressed to one of the following addressee categories for use in official duties:
Addressee Affidavit Requirements:
a. Officer of Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or organized reserve corps.
b. Officer of National Guard or militia of a state, district, or territory.
Mailable with affidavit signed by addressee and certificate signed by commanding officer:
c. Officer of the federal government or a state, district, or territory whose official duty is to serve warrants of arrest or commitment.
d. USPS employees specifically authorized by the chief postal inspector.
e. Officer or employee of a U.S. enforcement agency.
Mailable with affidavit signed by addressee and certificate signed by head of agency employing the addressee.
f. Watchman engaged in guarding federal, state, district, or territory property.
Mailable with affidavit signed by addressee and certificate signed by chief clerk of department, bureau, or branch of government agency employing the addressee.
g. Purchasing agent or other designated member of an agency employing officers and personnel included in c, d, or e above.
Mailable with affidavit signed by addressee and certificate signed by the head of agency stating the firearm is to be used by an officer or employee cited in c, d, or e of the opposite column.
Mailer must be licensed manufacturer or dealer mailing to another licensed manufacturer or dealer. Addressee is FBI (or it's director) or scientific lab or crime detection bureau of any agency whose members are federal law enforcement officers, or state, district, or territory officers authorized to serve warrants of arrest or commitment. Manufacturers or dealers must complete PS form 1508, Statement by Shipper of firearms, and file with postmaster.
Postmasters may forward an unsatisfactory mailer statement to their RCSC for a ruling.
Unloaded Rifle or Shotgun:
Short-barrelled rifles or shotguns that can be concealed on a person are nonmailable.
Mailer must comply with Gun Control Act of 1968 and with the state and local laws. USPS may require mailer to open parcel or give written certification that weapon is unloaded and not concealable. Registered mail service is recommended.
Unloaded Antique Firearm:
Unloaded antique firearms sent as curios or museum pieces are acceptable for mailing.
432.3 Packaging and Marking:
No markings of any kind that indicate the nature of the contents may be placed on the outside wrapper or container of any mailpiece containing firearms. Mailable matter must be properly and securely packaged within the general packaging requirements in DMM C010.
433 Mailer Responsibility:
Even though certain types of firearms are permitted to be mailed within the provisions of the postal law in 18 U.S.C. 1715, it is the mailers responsibility to comply with all federal and state regulations and local ordinances affecting the movement of firearms.
434 Legal Opinions on Mailing Firearms:
Postmasters are not authorized to give opinions on the legality of any shipment of rifles or shotguns. Mailers should be referred to the nearest regional ATF office for further advice. See 435 and Exhibit 435.
435 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF):
Exhibit 435 lists the locations of the Department of the Treasury's regional ATF offices.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Regional Offices
Office Area Served
North Atlantic Region
6 WORLD TRADE CENTER SIXTH FLOOR
NEW YORK NY 10048-0622
212-264-2328 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
841 CHESTNUT BUILDING THIRD FLOOR
PHILADELPHIA PA 19107-4403
215-597-4107 Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
2600 CENTURY PARKWAY RM 430
ATLANTA GA 30345-3104
404-679-5130 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands
550 MAIN STREET
CINCINNATI OH 45202-3263
513-684-3334 District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia
300 SOUTH RIVERSIDE PLZ STE 310
CHICAGO IL 60606-6613
312-353-1967 Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming
221 MAIN STREET 11TH FLOOR
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94105-1927
415-744-9419 Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington
436 Nonmailable Firearms Found in the Mails
Nonmailable firearms discovered in the mailstream must be immediately reported in accordance with POM 139.117.
This information was taken directly from the USPS Website.
Questions? Contact Douglas L. Bowen at, Phone 417-581-4570 or by email at