Under federal law, you can legally own an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) in the United States. Some US states prohibit RPGs entirely, while others have different regulations for these weapons.
What Does Federal Law Say About RPGs?
Under the original National Firearms Act (1934), which regulates the transfer of weapons through taxes and registration, RPGs were not mentioned. However, when the NFA was updated with the Gun Control Act in 1968, the definition of the term “firearm” was expanded to include “destructive devices.”
This is the classification that RPGs fall under. An RPG can be found in Section II of the ATF’s Firearms Guide, classified as a “US Rocket Launcher (Bazooka).”
How Do I Qualify to Legally Own an RPG?
To legally obtain an RPG, you’ll need to apply for an NFA tax stamp for a destructive device. This process can take nearly a year, so make sure you get started as soon as you decide you want to own one.
- Download and fill out this form (Application to Make and Register a Firearm), found on the ATF’s website.
- Pay the $200 tax.
- Provide a copy of your fingerprints.
- Go through a background check.
Once you complete those steps, you should receive ATF approval to possess your RPG.
Related Can You Buy a Gun in a State You Don’t Live In?
Where Are RPGs Illegal?
RPGs are illegal to own in the states of Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Though federally legal, these states prohibit the use of destructive devices and RPGs.
Possession of a destructive device is illegal in the state of Delaware according to Chapter 411 of their state law and is considered a class E felony. However, this does not apply to certain non-civilians, such as military branch members or police forces. You may be permitted to own an RPG if you have authorization from a state or federal agency.
Illinois is another state where civilians cannot legally own an RPG. Illinois has strict laws against it, and Section 58-52 of their state code forbids civilians from possessing destructive devices.
In the state of Iowa, only certain people or entities have legal permission to own “offensive weapons.” In Iowa, RPGs are listed as “offensive weapons” and are prohibited under chapter 724.1 of Iowa’s state law.
Section 2C:39-3 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice states that destructive devices are illegal in the state. It’s considered a third-degree crime to own one and could result in up to five years in prison.
RPGs are illegal in the state of New York, according to Section 265.02. Owning a destructive device such as an RPG is also considered a third-degree crime in the state of New York and will be punished accordingly.
Rhode Island’s strict statewide firearms policy extends to RPGs. Section 11-47-8 of their state law bans most Class II weapons, though not specifying rocket-propelled grenades by name.
Where Are RPGs Legal?
RPGs are legal to own in most states within the US. In fact, it’s only illegal in six states. However, the regulations surrounding RPGs vary from state to state.
To find your state’s policies on destructive devices, look at the ATF’s State Laws and Published Ordinances. In the above-listed states, RPGs are banned outright. However, not all states impose such harsh restrictions.
Here are some states that allow RPGs under certain circumstances.
California allows RPGs with fixed ammunition of a caliber over .60, but anything over that is illegal, according to Section 18710 of its state law. Some exceptions are allowed for those who want to collect them as curios & relics and for movie studios with the proper permits.
Otherwise, owning such a weapon is punishable by a fine of $10,000 or a year in jail or prison.
Massachusetts state law does not specify whether or not destructive devices such as RPGs are legal or not. Massachusetts residents will have to look to their city ordinances to determine whether or not destructive devices are legal.
Minnesota state law Section 609.668, which defines RPGs as “explosive devices,” states that they are normally illegal. However, RPGs determined to be relics or collector’s items are permitted.
Bombs, grenades, and launchers such as RPGs are prohibited offensive weapons in Pennsylvania, and they are not legal. However, they may be permitted if used in some theatrical productions.
RPGs are legal under federal law and in most US states. Simply apply for the proper registration for your weapon through the ATF, and ensure that you don’t live in a state that prohibits ownership of an RPG.
For more, don’t miss How To Choose the Best Gun To Buy (Based on Your Needs).
Hey, I’m Jim, and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!