How to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

How to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

How to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

Whether you want to purchase a firearm to take up hunting, competitive shooting, or for self-defense and home protection, buying a gun in Pennsylvania is easy and straight forward but does have requirements and takes some time to process. We will walk you through the step by step process of how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania.

Step 1: Gun Purchase Legal Requirements

Pennsylvania state has several requirements for purchasing a gun.
First, you must be 18 to buy a gun. You are not allowed to have a gun if you have been convicted of a violent crime nor can you have a gun if you are an undocumented immigrant, are declared mentally ill by the court, are a drug addict or habitual drunkard, are a fugitive from justice, have been convicted of three separate DUI charges within a five-year period or are subject to an active protection from abuse order.
If you aren’t disqualified from the legal requirements, continue reading on about how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania!

Step 2: Go to a Pennsylvania gun store

There are more than 2,500 federally licensed firearms dealers in Pennsylvania. The chance is, there’s one nearby you. Some gun stores, like 717 Armory Gun Shop in Harrisburg, has an indoor shooting range where you can try out the most popular guns on the market before you decide on one to buy! They also have an Online Gun Shop.

how to buy a gun in pa state

ATF Form 4473

Step 3: Fill out an application to purchase a gun in Pennsylvania

People interested in purchasing a firearm — whether it be a handgun, rifle, or shotgun — must fill out an application. The application will ask for your basic information, as well as ask questions regarding your criminal and mental health history to ensure you meet the legal requirements in step 1.

Step 4: Pennsylvania State Police Background check and fees

At this point, your firearms dealer will plug that information into the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) to determine if you are legally allowed to own a gun.
There is a fee for this background check to be performed and it usually ranges between $20 and $30 depending on whether you are buying a handgun or a long gun.
“In most cases, the check goes through within minutes — very quickly,” says Adam Reed of the Pennsylvania State Police said. “If there’s an issue that pops up, the gun dealer then is instructed to get on the phone with an operator here [at our PSP] headquarters.”
Issues like this typically arise when the applicant has an active protection from abuse order or is convicted of a crime in another state.

Option 2: Buy at a gun show or from a friend

Aside from purchasing at a gun shop, Pennsylvanians may also purchase firearms at a gun show or from a private dealer.
If you purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer at the gun show, the process is the same as if you purchased it from a gun shop. You will have to fill out an application to purchase a firearm and go through a PICS background check.

But the process changes if you purchase a gun from someone that is not a federally licensed dealer — known as the gun show loophole — or from someone privately.
You are allowed by law to purchase a long gun which includes a rifle or shotgun — without having to go through a background check.
But If you wanted to purchase a handgun privately, you would have to go to a FFL dealer to complete the transfer of a firearm. There is a fee for this transfer which is between $40-$70 depending on the dealer.

The FFL transfer deal will require you to fill out the same application and background check as if you were purchasing the firearm from them.

How to buy a gun in PA

Man with gun and permit application documents

Rules about carrying your firearm in Pennsylvania

The laws surrounding carrying your firearm is a little tricky in Pennsylvania. Gun owners can carry their firearms in public, as long as it is in plain view, like on the front part of a belt or over a jacket.
It is not legal to conceal the weapon behind a jacket or have it placed in a vehicle without having a concealed carry license. Open carry and concealed carry gun owners alike should followup their gun purchase with firearms training and legal training to protect themselves and those around them to the maximum extent shall they find themselves in a life-threatening situation.

Transporting your firearm around Pennsylvania

If you don’t have a concealed carry license but want to transport your gun to the range to practice shooting, you must carry your firearms and their unloaded ammunition in two separate containers in your vehicle.


  1. Stephen Halpin

    I have a few good friends that talked to me about target shooting,I have done this many times, I also own a 5 shot pump shot gun and a double barrel for skeet,I am interested in a hunting rifle for targets only

  2. Jamal Carson

    I recently got my license to carry a concealed firearm. I have never owned a firearm, nor operated any. I was looking for some pointers on operating, also tactical training. Just looking to educate myself before running out buying a firearm. It’s very SERIOUS business.

    • Christie

      What are some things you learned? I also have a permit but no gun. Thank you!

  3. Russell De Souza

    What are the restriction for out-of-state gun purchase? I live in Maryland and wish to purchase an AR lower receiver.

    • Maximas

      I’m not a gun owner but I plan on buying myself a rifle. However, I’m going to be moving from Pennsylvania to Florida here in a few months. Am I allowed to bring the rifle with me down there if it keep the rifle and its ammunition in separate containers in my truck or am I not allowed to bring it period?

  4. Partha Mukherjee

    I am a permanent resident of US and stay in Downingtown, PA. I am interested in buying a handgun (Pistol/Revolver) but I need training to load and fire it.
    I have couple of questions.
    1. Can I fill up and submit the form online?
    2. Can I do the online payment for all the requisite formalities for buying process?
    3. While buying the handgun, Do I have to visit the store to buy or could buy it online from the registered store in my locality?
    4. Do I need to initiate the police verification during the gun buying process?
    5. After purchase of the handgun, do I have to visit the Police station in-person to let them know about this?
    6. Is there any place I can be trained how to handle and fire handguns in my locality (Zip: PA 19335)? (Could you suggest any such facility?)

    • Raw

      I’m a legal resident of South Philly, PA. First of all I’m eligible to bear a pistol for self defense as a C08 with a pending asylum status?
      I would like to purchase a pistol from a federal licensed entity and want information on where to go buy it with in my area near me .
      Please guide me in the process to avoid trouble or breach of the Pennsylvanian law.

      Thanks for your time.

      • Sam

        Can i buy a complete lower even if im not a PA resident?

  5. Edwin

    Interested in buying a firearm to take up tactical shooting and home defense my Question is would I be able to purchase firearms with a CDL license that’s out of state? But yes I do live in Pennsylvania and have Been residing here for the past four years and travel to and from New Jersey for work but I can prove I have been here at the same residence the time I have lived in Pennsylvania

  6. Dennis Zinkevich

    Can a corporation be a purchaser of a firearm in PA?

  7. Ken

    So if I was denied a carry permit does that mean I can’t buy a gun in Pennsylvania?

  8. Bobby

    I’m not sure if I can legally own a firearm, how can I find out

  9. Christopher J Renner

    Hello my name is Christopher I always wanted to go to the range and shoot I would love to get a license the carry but also to protect my family I have no criminal record AKA I have a clean bill of health no history and I’m looking for a good place to buy a gun and go to a range

  10. Scott

    I recently bought property in Wayne County. But my driver license is still NYC. Can I purchase a long gun or shotgun

  11. donald freeman

    Where can i find a handguns a b zhuk book ?

  12. Ray

    I was recently at a shooting range and asked the same question. i was told yes, as long as you can provide a Pennsylvania property tax bill with your name on it. You would not be able to bring the weapon to NYC, the weapon must remain in Pennsylvania.

  13. Ken

    I have a South Carolina drivers license. Can I buy a gun in Pennsylvania?


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