If you’re looking for deactivated guns to buy in the UK, then we hope this ultimate guide explains everything you need to consider when making your buying decision. We discuss what to look for, laws, most popular deactivated guns and much more. If you have any feedback on our content, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to us via our social media channels or email.

What are deactivated guns?

When a gun is modified so that it cannot possibly discharge a round, it is considered a deactivated gun. It ceases to be considered a firearm, and transitions to a deactivated gun. The deactivation process is conducted by a gun smith, and can include cutting, machining, grinding, pinning, rodding, bonding, and welding of parts.

This process is in many ways similar to what happens when a military airplane is converted from an actively flying plane to a display piece, such as the Spitfire pictured below. Most planes on display in a museum have their guns, fluids, and munitions removed. In some cases, engines are removed also due to weight concerns, and the difficulty of getting the oil out of an engine. The key difference here is that a deactivated gun is currently available through this website, deactivated to current UK standards (Sept 2018) whereas the Spitfire is no longer available for public purchase and is difficult at best to display.

Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Legally, a deactivated gun must not be able to perform the following actions:

1) It must not be capable of discharging a bullet, shot, missile or other projectile, so that it therefore does not fall within the definition of a “firearm”.

2) It must not be capable of being readily restored to working order, so that it does not fall within the definition of a “firearm” in the Firearms Act 1982. The Act specifies that “readily restorable” means with the use of ordinary household tools.

Collectable guns are a fascinating insight into our history and range from antique guns such as a black powder rifle to modern era guns. Keep reading to learn more about deactivated guns, and an overview of some of the most popular guns by country.

Why do people collect deactivated guns?

The main reason as to why people collect deactivated guns comes down to their attachment and interest in a shared history. Simply put, the history of the world exists in the homes and the minds of collectors, not only in the basements and store rooms of museums. Museums are a fantastic place of course to view a complete collection, but perhaps an individual collector wants to find all the kit that a soldier used, perhaps a grandfather, during WW1 or WW2. Keeping those physical links to the past is key way to share their history.

Apart from only being a static model to look at, deactivated guns are also used in various manners, a few of which are listed below:

1) Gun collectors enjoy the benefit of owning deactivated firearms without encountering the red tape that accompanies owning a working firearm; it also enables them the ability to own guns that simply cannot be legally owned in working order. Additionally, there are collectors of militaria who may have a uniform in their collection that is completed by a sidearm or rifle who have no real interest in guns but want to preserve historical accuracy of a soldiers complete outfit.

2) Re-enactment societies often use deactivated firearms during their events to provide an air of authenticity. Re-enactments of World War One and Two battles often use deactivated firearms, providing historical accuracy and the chance to see carefully preserved artifacts from over 100 years ago.

4) Deactivated firearms and militaria are also used theatrically, whether it is a live or televised performance. Considerable bureaucracy encompasses the use of live firearms, and thus deactivated firearms or replicas are often the best option for these uses. Deactivated guns also lend a historical component and authencity that is otherwise absent.

4) Museums prefer deactivated firearms; this is especially the case if the main theme of the museum is not firearms, but something that pertains to the same era. For example, a museum of technology might have a display which includes deactivated firearms, such as a squadron of Marines in full dress from the Nelson era. The museum does not need to posess firearms license, and be assured that the weapons themselves do not pose any threat.

5) Many target shooters possess deactivated firearms for “dry firing” practice. Essentially this involves pointing and repeatedly pulling the trigger to master the trigger pull, sighting and balance of the gun. It’s also useful for drawing a weapon, unslinging a gun, and positioning yourself into a proper ready to fire stance without the danger of live ammo in the magazine. Recall gun safety; any weapon is to be treated as a loaded weapon!  Many gun shot injuries around the world trace back to the phrase I didn’t think it was loaded. A deactivated gun nullifies that danger.

Deactivated Gun Laws in the UK

The short answer is yes, if you are over 18 years of age. Deactivation of firearms must be performed by a registered gun smith, and then must be examined and approved to provide proof of inspection at a Proof House. Two Proof houses are in existence, in Birmingham and London. Each deactivated gun that passes inspection is also issued a certificate stating that it is approved, and is no longer considered a firearm. The gun is then stamped with a Proof mark.

deactivated gun proof stamp

Cost of deactivating a gun

The deactivation process differs for each category of gun, but the end result is to prevent the weapon from discharging any kind of projectile. The approximate cost range can be between £80 to £100. 

Types of Deactivated Gun

Deactivated Shotguns

Shotguns have long been used in combat, in law enforcement and in sport. Collectors will find that shotguns range from muskets of the 17th century through to more recent pump action versions and the more edgy sawn off shotguns.

Deactivated Pistols

Pistols are widely popular with collectors and many deactivated pistols feature at the top of collectors wishlists. Popular versions include the Glock range and the Walther P99.

Deactivated Revolvers

The classic revolver is a must have for all deactivated gun collectors. Whether being used in western reenactments or simply for display purposes, the deactivated revolver is sure to impress.

Deactivated Rifles

Deactivated rifles are among the most popular type of deactivated weapons for collectors and investors. The Lee Enfield SMLE, Arisaka Type 99 and PTRS 41 are some of the most popular deactivated rifles in the Alpha Militaria online store.

Deactivated Assault Rifles

Assault rifles have been a deadly development in gun technology over the past century. Popular examples include the Heckler 7 Koch G3, M4 assault rifle and the AK47.

Deactivated Submachine Guns

Submachine guns are typically a light, yet effective short range combat weapon and are popular among collectors. Excellent examples include the Heckler & Koch MP5 / MP5, the Uzi and the Beretta PM12 from Italy.

Deactivated Machine Guns

Machine guns have been around since pre WW1 and are still an effective weapon used by armed forces worldwide. Sizes range from smaller combat weapons to larger anti tank machine guns.

Deactivated Rocket / Grenade Launders and Mortars

Rocket / grenade launchers and mortars are typically the largest type of deactivated weapon available to buy and are an impressive addition to a deactivated weapon collection.

So What are the most popular deactivated guns around the world?

At Alpha Militaria we reviewed search data to show our users which deactivated guns are most searched for using search engines in 2020.

Heckler & Koch MP5Heckler & Kock G3Ariska Type 99
Lee EnfieldGlock 17PTRS 41
Bren Light Machine GunHeckler & Kock G3Grease Gun (M3)
M4A1Heckler & Koch HK416Lee Enfield
Lewis GunHeckler & Koch MP5Bren Gun
Find the Guns above in our online store

Would you like to know more about the most popular deactivated guns around the world? Check out the infographic we created for our blog.

Do you agree with the results? We would love to hear from you. Please reach out to us via our social media channels.