Black Powder Revolver Laws in Utah: Legal Complexities

Black powder revolvers, or cap and ball revolvers, hold a significant place in the annals of firearm history. Despite their antiquity, they are still a subject of interest for many firearms enthusiasts. Their legality, particularly in states like Utah, often comes into question. This article delves into the regulations surrounding black powder revolvers in the state, answering commonly asked questions about their use, acquisition, and possession.

The Nature of Black Powder Revolvers

Black powder revolvers are a type of firearm that utilize black powder as a propellant. They are also referred to as cap and ball revolvers. This style of firearm is typically a replica or reproduction of pre-1899 models, which is when smokeless powder began to replace black powder.


Here are the distinguishing features of black powder revolvers:

  • Propellant: The key distinguishing feature of these firearms is the use of black powder as a propellant, which is a slower-burning substance than modern smokeless powders. This results in a more gradual release of energy.
  • Design: Black powder revolvers typically feature a “cap and ball” design, which means that the gun’s cylinder is loaded with loose powder and then a round lead ball (or conical bullet) is pressed into place.
  • Age: The designs for these firearms are usually based on pre-1899 models. These guns can be replicas (exact copies of a specific model), or they can be reproductions, which are designed to look and function like guns from a certain period but aren’t copies of a specific model.

Utah State Law

In Utah, black powder revolvers fall under a specific classification. Here are some key points about this:

  • Definition: In the state of Utah, “antique firearm” is defined as any firearm manufactured prior to 1899 or a firearm for which ammunition is not available or a firearm incapable of firing fixed ammunition. This includes any muzzle-loading firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system.
  • Laws: Despite the federal law not applying many firearms regulations to antique firearms, Utah still does regulate some aspects of their possession, purchase, and use. For example, Utah does prohibit possession of an antique firearm by certain people, such as those convicted of a felony, those who are on probation or parole, or those with a history of domestic violence.
someone’s hand holding wooden law gavel

State Legislation: Understanding Utah’s Laws

The state of Utah provides its own definition of firearms, in addition to federal law. According to Utah Code Section 76-10-501, a firearm is any device that can be used to discharge a projectile via an explosion, combustion, or other means. While this broad definition could potentially include black powder revolvers, they are typically not treated as modern firearms under Utah law due to their antique status.

Possession and Ownership

In Utah, the possession and ownership of black powder revolvers are not regulated by specific laws. This means that individuals can legally possess and own black powder revolvers without the need for a specific permit.

Possession of Black Powder Revolvers in Utah

Under Utah law, there are no restrictions on the possession of black powder revolvers. Individuals who are at least 18 years old can lawfully possess these firearms without needing a permit. This allows enthusiasts and collectors to enjoy and maintain black powder revolvers as part of their personal property.

Ownership of Black Powder Revolvers in Utah

Similar to possession, there are no specific laws in Utah that regulate the ownership of black powder revolvers. This means that individuals are free to own black powder revolvers without any additional permits or licenses. Black powder revolvers can be acquired through legal means, such as purchasing from a licensed dealer or inheriting them as part of an estate.

Important Considerations

While the possession and ownership of black powder revolvers in Utah do not require specific permits, it is important to note a few considerations:

  • Federal Restrictions: Even though Utah allows the possession and ownership of black powder revolvers without specific permits, it is essential to be aware of federal regulations. Federal laws prohibit the possession of black powder revolvers by individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms, such as convicted felons and individuals with certain domestic violence convictions.
  • Transportation and Storage: It is crucial to handle, transport, and store black powder revolvers safely and responsibly. Ensure that the firearm is securely stored in compliance with Utah’s firearm storage laws to prevent unauthorized access, especially if there are children in the household.


When it comes to carrying black powder revolvers in Utah, there are certain regulations to consider.

Open Carry of Black Powder Revolvers

In Utah, individuals can openly carry black powder revolvers without the need for a special permit. This means that you can carry your black powder revolver in plain view, such as in a holster on your hip, without any legal restrictions.

Concealed Carry of Black Powder Revolvers

To carry a black powder revolver concealed in Utah, you must obtain a concealed firearm permit as outlined in Utah Code Section 53-5-704. This permit allows you to carry your black powder revolver concealed, typically on your person or in a concealed holster, where it is not visible to the public.

Process for Obtaining a Concealed Firearm Permit in Utah

To apply for a concealed firearm permit in Utah, follow these steps:

Meet Eligibility RequirementsEnsure that you meet the eligibility criteria, which include being at least 21 years old, being a U.S. citizen or legal resident, and meeting certain background check requirements.
Complete Required TrainingUtah law mandates completing a certified firearms training course that covers firearm safety, Utah law, and practical training. The course must be taught by an approved instructor.
Gather Required DocumentsCollect the necessary documents, which typically include a completed application form, proof of completing the required training, fingerprints, and a passport-sized photo.
Submit ApplicationSubmit the completed application and accompanying documents to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). Pay the required application fee, which is subject to change, and any additional fees for fingerprinting and background checks.
Await Processing and Background CheckThe BCI will process your application and conduct a background check. This process may take several weeks.
Receive Concealed Firearm PermitIf approved, you will receive your concealed firearm permit by mail. The permit is valid for a specific period, typically five years, before it needs to be renewed.

Purchase and Delivery

In Utah, it is legal to buy a black powder revolver online and have it shipped directly to your house. Unlike modern firearms, black powder revolvers are not subject to the same FFL transfer requirements. This means that individuals can purchase these firearms online without the need for an intermediary licensed dealer or undergoing a background check.

Important Considerations

  • Identification Requirements: Although black powder revolvers can be purchased online without an FFL transfer, it is important to note that sellers may still require age verification. You may need to provide proof of being at least 18 years old, as per Utah’s minimum age requirement for possessing black powder revolvers.
  • Compliance with Federal Laws: While Utah does not impose additional restrictions on purchasing and delivering black powder revolvers, it is essential to be aware of federal laws. Ensure that you comply with all applicable federal regulations, such as restrictions on purchasing firearms across state lines and restrictions on firearm possession for individuals with certain criminal backgrounds.
  • Shipping and Delivery Regulations: When ordering a black powder revolver online, it is crucial to ensure that the firearm is shipped and delivered in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Verify that the seller uses a reputable shipping service that follows proper protocols for transporting firearms.

Laws Pertaining to Minors and Felons

Utah law includes specific restrictions for certain individuals, particularly minors and felons, regarding the possession and ownership of black powder revolvers. 

Minors and Black Powder Revolvers

In Utah, minors under the age of 18 face restrictions on possessing “dangerous weapons,” which could potentially include black powder revolvers. The relevant law is Utah Code Section 76-10-509.4. Here are the key provisions:

  1. Possession Restrictions: It is generally illegal for a minor under 18 to possess a dangerous weapon, unless they have explicit consent from a parent or legal guardian.
  2. Exceptions: There are two exceptions to the possession restrictions for minors:
Parental ConsentA minor can possess a dangerous weapon, including a black powder revolver, if they have obtained explicit consent from their parent or legal guardian.
Education or TrainingMinors can possess a dangerous weapon, including a black powder revolver, if they are attending a hunter’s safety or firearms instruction course.

It is important to note that while black powder revolvers are not specifically mentioned in the law, they could potentially fall under the definition of “dangerous weapon.” Therefore, it is advisable to exercise caution and seek legal guidance if a minor wishes to possess a black powder revolver.

Felons and Black Powder Revolvers

Under federal law, felons are generally prohibited from owning firearms. However, the classification of black powder revolvers as firearms varies between federal and state laws. While federal law does not consider black powder revolvers as firearms, it is crucial to consider Utah’s specific definition. Felons in Utah should consult with a legal expert to determine whether the state’s definition includes black powder revolvers.

Important Considerations for Felons

Felons in Utah who are considering acquiring a black powder revolver should keep the following in mind:

  • Consult Legal Expertise: Given the potential variations in state and federal laws, it is advisable for felons to consult with a legal expert before attempting to acquire or possess a black powder revolver.
  • Compliance with Federal Regulations: Even if Utah law does not consider black powder revolvers as firearms for felons, it is important to understand and adhere to federal regulations to avoid any legal issues related to firearm possession.


While black powder revolvers may seem like a relic from the past, they are still relevant today, especially to collectors and firearms enthusiasts. In Utah, their classification as “antique firearms” places them in a unique regulatory category. The laws are generally permissive, but individuals, particularly minors and felons, should exercise caution and seek legal counsel when necessary. As always, when dealing with firearms of any type, safety and responsibility should be paramount.


Do you have to register a black powder revolver in Utah?

No, Utah does not have a firearm registration process. This extends to black powder revolvers as well.

Can I order a black powder revolver to my house in Utah?

Yes, you can. Due to their classification as “antique firearms,” they can be shipped directly to your residence without involving an FFL transfer.

Can anyone own a black powder revolver in Utah?

Generally, any adult who is not a convicted felon can own a black powder revolver in Utah. Minors can also own them under specific circumstances, as described earlier.

Do black powder revolvers need an FFL in Utah?

No, black powder revolvers are exempt from the typical FFL requirements that apply to modern firearms.