Ammunition Regulation in Montana

Regulation of Unreasonably Dangerous Ammunition

Montana does not prohibit the possession, transfer or use of armor-piercing or other unreasonably dangerous ammunition. Montana does mandate a sentence enhancement for any conviction for a crime in which bodily injury was inflicted, attempted, or threatened by someone who knowingly used or carried a handgun loaded with armor-piercing ammunition, however.1 Federal law also regulates armor-piercing ammunition.

Montana does not:

  • Require a license for the sale of ammunition;
  • Require sellers of ammunition to maintain a record of the purchasers;
  • License persons who purchase or possess ammunition; or
  • Prohibit persons who are ineligible to purchase or possess firearms under state law from purchasing or possessing ammunition, although the federal ammunition purchaser prohibitions apply.

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-18-224(1). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Montana

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Montana is not a point of contact state for NICS. Montana has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background check prior to transferring a firearm. In Montana, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions. As a result, concealed weapons permit holders in Montana are exempt from the federal background check requirement when purchasing a firearm.2 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state firearms licenses if the state fails to remove these licenses in a timely fashion.)

For further information, see the Montana Concealed Weapons Permitting section.

Firearms transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in Montana, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the Montana Private Sales section.

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at (last visited Aug. 2015). ⤴︎
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Jun. 10, 2014), at: ⤴︎

Child Access Prevention in Montana

Montana prohibits a parent, guardian, or other person having charge or custody of a minor child under the age of 14 from allowing the child to carry or use in public any firearms, except when the child is accompanied by a person having charge or custody of the child or under the supervision of a qualified firearms safety instructor or an adult who has been authorized by the parent or guardian.1 A violation of this statute constitutes a misdemeanor.2 The county attorney is required to prosecute reported violations of the law.3

State administrative regulations address storage of firearms in youth foster homes and licensed child care facilities.4

See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-344. ⤴︎
  2. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-345(1). ⤴︎
  3. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-345. ⤴︎
  4. Mont. Admin. R. 37.51.901(13) and 37.95.121(4). ⤴︎

Concealed Weapons Permitting in Montana

Montana is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons license if the applicant meets certain qualifications.

Montana requires a county sheriff to issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon, within 60 days of receiving an application, to any applicant who:

  • Is a United States citizen or, as of 2017, a lawful permanent resident;
  • Is 18 years of age or older;
  • Holds a valid Montana driver’s license or other form of picture identification issued by the state; and
  • Has been a resident of the state for at least six months.1

A license may be denied to a person who:

  • Is ineligible under Montana or federal law to possess or receive a firearm;
  • Has been charged with and is awaiting judgment in any state or federal court, for a crime punishable by one or more years of incarceration;
  • Has been convicted in any state or federal court of a crime punishable by more than one year of incarceration;
  • Has been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, or carrying a concealed weapon in a prohibited place, within the last five years and has not been pardoned;
  • Is the subject of an arrest warrant issued in any state or by the federal government;
  • Has been adjudicated in any state or federal court to be an unlawful user of an intoxicating substance and is under a court order of incarceration, probation, suspended or deferred sentence, treatment, education, or other condition of release or state supervision;
  • Has been adjudicated in any state or federal court to be mentally ill, defective, or disabled, and remains subject to a disposition order;
  • Has been dishonorably discharged from the United States armed forces; or
  • Has been convicted in any state or federal court of a crime that includes as an element an act, attempted act, or threat of:
    • Intentional homicide;
    • Serious bodily injury;
    • Unlawful restraint;
    • Sexual abuse; or
    • Non-consensual sexual intercourse or contact.2

The sheriff may deny a permit if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that the applicant is mentally ill, defective, or disabled, or a threat to the peace and good order of the community to the extent that the applicant should not be allowed to carry a concealed weapon.3

However, a person who has been denied a permit for any reason – other than conviction for a crime involving intentional homicide, serious bodily harm, unlawful restraint, sexual abuse, or non-consensual sexual intercourse or contact – and who has had their rights restored pursuant to Article II, section 28 of the Montana Constitution, is entitled to issuance of a concealed weapons permit if otherwise eligible.4

The fee for issuance of a permit is $50.5 In addition, the sheriff may charge the applicant $5 for fingerprinting.6

Montana generally prohibits a person from carrying a concealed weapon without a license.7 Montana defines a “concealed weapon” as any weapon wholly or partially covered by the clothing or wearing apparel of the person carrying or bearing the weapon.8

Firearm Safety Training

Montana does not require firearm safety training as a prerequisite to obtaining a concealed weapons permit; however every successful applicant must demonstrate “familiarity with a firearm” by means of one of the following:

  • Completion of a hunter education or safety course approved or conducted by the department of fish, wildlife, and parks or a similar agency of another state;
  • Completion of a firearms safety or training course approved or conducted by the department of fish, wildlife, and parks, a similar agency of another state, a national firearms association, a law enforcement agency, an institution of higher education, or an organization that uses instructors certified by a national firearms association;
  • Completion of a law enforcement firearms safety or training course offered to or required of public or private law enforcement personnel and conducted or approved by a law enforcement agency;
  • Possession of a license from another state to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, granted by that state upon completion of a course described above;
  • Evidence that the applicant, during military service, was found to be qualified to operate firearms, including handguns; or
  • Passage of a physical test in which the applicant demonstrates his or her familiarity with a firearm.9

Duration & Renewal

A permit to carry a concealed weapon is valid for four years.10 A permit may be renewed for an additional four-year period, upon payment of a $25 fee, within 90 days before the expiration of the permit.11 Renewal applicants are required to complete a form that includes, at a minimum, the applicant’s name, address, physical description, signature, driver’s license number, state identification card number, or tribal identification number and photograph.12 The sheriff may deny the renewal of a permit if circumstances arise that would require the sheriff to refuse to grant the permittee an original license.13

Disclosure or Use of Information

The county sheriff must keep a copy of each application for a permit to carry a concealed weapon for at least four years.14 In addition, within seven days of the sheriff’s receipt of the application, a copy must be mailed to the chief of police if the applicant resides in a city or town with a police force.15 When a permit is issued, the sheriff must keep a copy and send a copy to the Montana Department of Justice, which shall keep a central repository record of all permits.16  All of the information on the application is confidential, however, and Montana law requires the sheriff to treat the confidential information on the application as confidential criminal justice information.17 


A concealed weapon permit from another state is valid in Montana if:

  • The permittee has the permit in her or his immediate possession;
  • The permittee is in possession of official photo identification; and
  • The state that issued the permit requires a criminal records background check of permit applicants prior to issuance of a permit.18

Montana requires the state attorney general to develop and maintain a list of state permits recognized in Montana.19 The current list can be found at the Montana Department of Justice website.

See our Concealed Weapons Permitting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321(2). ⤴︎
  4. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-321(6). ⤴︎
  5. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(3). ⤴︎
  6. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(4). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension or disqualification information, are detailed under Montana Code Ann. §§ 45-8-322 through 45-8-324. ⤴︎
  7. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-316. The state does not prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon without a license while the possessor is: 1) outside the official boundaries of a city or town or the confines of a logging, lumbering, mining or railroad camp; 2) lawfully engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, farming, ranching, or other outdoor activity in which weapons are often carried for recreation or protection; or 3) At his or her home, on his or her own premises, or at his or her place of business. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-317(1)(i) and (j). ⤴︎
  8. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-315. ⤴︎
  9. Mont. Code Ann. §45-8-321. ⤴︎
  10. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-316. ⤴︎
  11. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(3). ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-323. ⤴︎
  14. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(2). ⤴︎
  15. Id. ⤴︎
  16. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(3). ⤴︎
  17. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-322(7). ⤴︎
  18. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-329. ⤴︎
  19. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-329(2). ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in Montana

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Montana does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license or otherwise significantly regulate firearms dealers. For laws:

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Design Safety Standards for Handguns in Montana

Montana does not specifically regulate junk guns or unsafe firearms. However, according to research conducted by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (now Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence), Montana’s Attorney General may have the authority to regulate junk guns, as well as promulgate other firearms safety standards.1

See our Design Safety Standards for Handguns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 30-14-104(2). For details, see Legal Action Project, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Targeting Safety (2001), available at ⤴︎

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Montana

Domestic Violence Incidents

Montana law requires a peace officer responding to a call about a partner or family member assault to seize a weapon used or threatened to be used in the alleged assault.1 See the Montana Domestic Violence & Firearms section for further information.

Montana has no other laws requiring the surrender or removal of firearms from persons who have become prohibited from possessing them.

  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-6-603(1). ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Montana

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

Unlike federal law, Montana does not strictly proscribe domestic violence misdemeanants from purchasing or owning firearms.  However, courts do have limited authority to regulate firearm use and possession by anyone who has used a firearm to perpetrate domestic violence. Namely, a court may prohibit the domestic violence offender from using or possessing a firearm that was used in a domestic violence assault.1 In addition, a court, at its discretion, may have the county sheriff in the domestic violence offender’s county of residence revoke or deny renewal of a concealed weapons permit.2

Montana defines domestic violence (which it terms “partner or family member assault”) as:

  • Purposely or knowingly causing bodily injury to a partner3 or family member;4
  • Negligently causing bodily injury to a partner or family member with a weapon; or
  • Purposely or knowingly causing reasonable apprehension of bodily injury in a partner or family member.5

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Montana prohibits subjects of certain domestic violence protective orders from possessing or using certain firearms. District courts, justices’ courts, municipal courts and city courts are authorized to issue a temporary protective order that prohibits the respondent from possessing or using a firearm used in an assault.6 In order to secure a temporary protective order, a petitioner is required to file a sworn statement asserting that the petitioner:

  • Is in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury; or
  • Is a victim of one of the offenses listed in Montana Code Ann. § 40-15-102, which includes partner or family member assault, and has a relationship to the respondent if required by Montana Code Ann. § 40-15-102; and
  • Is in danger of harm if the court does not immediately issue a temporary order of protection.

Thereafter, a court will grant a temporary protective order prohibiting the offender from using and possessing a firearm used in an assault only if it determines both that the petitioner will be in danger if it fails to act immediately and that the firearm restriction constitutes appropriate relief.7 Federal law is broader.

Removal or Surrender of a Firearm at the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident

Montana requires a peace officer responding to a call about a partner or family member assault to seize the weapon used or threatened to be used in the alleged assault.8 The seized weapon may not be returned to the offender until: 1) the offender has been acquitted; or 2) return of the weapon is ordered by the court.9

Montana does not require the removal or surrender of firearms for persons subject to a domestic violence restraining or protective order.

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-206(7). ⤴︎
  2. Id. See Mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-323 (authorizing denial of renewal or revocation of a concealed weapons permit). ⤴︎
  3. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-206(2)(b) defines “partners” to include spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common, and persons who have been or are currently in a dating of ongoing intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex. ⤴︎
  4. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-206(2)(a) defines “family members” to include mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, stepchildren, stepparents, in-laws, adoptive children and parents, and other past or present family members of a household regardless of the ages of the parties and whether the parties reside in the same household. ⤴︎
  5. Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-206(1)(a)-(c). ⤴︎
  6. Mont. Code Ann. § 40-15-201(1), (2)(f). ⤴︎
  7. Mont. Code Ann. § 40-15-201(1) and (2)(f). ⤴︎
  8. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-6-603(1). ⤴︎
  9. Mont. Code Ann. § 46-6-603(3). ⤴︎