Buying Guns and Ammo in Colorado

DISCLAIMER: It is your full responsibility to make sure the firearm, ammunition, or accessories you are purchasing is legal for you to own in your state or jurisdiction. The information contained throughout this web site, including the firearm and ammunition state guide provided below, is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

Colorado is a generally permissive state when it comes to buying, owning, and carrying firearms and ammunition. While there are not many hurdles to buying firearms and ammo beyond those instituted at the federal level, there are some state laws that make carrying firearms more difficult, and a few restrictions that can curtail people’s rights to possess and carry firearms.

While this piece should not be considered legal advice, we hope that it can serve as a guide for those who plan to purchase and carry firearms in Colorado. Keeping things relatively simple, Colorado law prevents localities from making firearms laws that contradict those at the state level. That means that there is one set of firearms laws throughout the state as a whole, although there are a few exceptions, which we note in this piece.

This piece covers the legal processes for buying, owning, and carrying firearms and ammunition in Colorado. We’ll start with the ammo laws before getting into the firearms laws and finishing things out with some resources that we hope you’ll find useful.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Colorado

First, we will cover the ammo laws of the state.

Colorado does not have laws that prohibit people from purchasing ammunition beyond those already existing at the federal level. Thus, federal law is the source of guidance for buying ammunition in CO. There is an age requirement to purchase ammunition: people have to be 18 to buy rifle and shotgun ammunition, and 21 to buy pistol ammo.

Additionally, prohibited persons cannot purchase ammunition anywhere in the country. This includes people who have been convicted of most felonies or domestic violence, folks who have been ruled mentally incompetent by a court, and those who have been admitted to a mental health facility against their will.

Because CO does not impose additional restrictions in terms of ammunition, people can, generally, have ammunition shipped to residential addresses in the state assuming that they meet the above-mentioned requirements. Keep in mind, though, that carriers might institute their own rules for ammo shipments. Commonly, carriers may ask for someone with a valid ID to be present to sign for the delivery of a shipment containing ammunition.

While ammunition is not heavily regulated in the state, Colorado does have a magazine ban. The state prohibits people from owning magazines with more than a fifteen-round capacity. While this makes the laws in the state more restrictive, the ban does allow people to keep the magazines they owned before the effective date of the ban and does not apply retroactively.  Thus, Colorado can be considered permissive overall in terms of ammunition, but the magazine ban is indicative of a state where there is at least some political will to enact stricter gun laws.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in Colorado 

The ammo laws in Colorado are generally quite permissive, with the exception of a magazine restriction. This mixed bag of both permissive and restrictive practices in CO continues with its gun laws as well.

For instance, the state does not ban any particular type of firearms: there’s no assault weapons ban to be found in the state. There is, on the other hand, a mandatory waiting period of three days for all gun sales in the state that are done through an FFL. The state also mandates that there be background checks when someone sells a firearm to anyone who is not in their immediate family.

Buying a firearm in Colorado then, requires the filling out of a Form 4473 with every purchase, since all of them will be done through an FFL. Then, once the background check and payment clear, people have to wait three days to pick up their purchased firearm. This makes CO somewhat restrictive on the actual buying of firearms, even if the state is fairly permissive in terms of what firearms can be legally bought in the state.

Openly carrying a firearm is legal at the state level, but this is one of the exceptions to the general rule that the state controls the firearms laws in Colorado. Denver, for instance, has outlawed open carry within city limits.

Colorado currently requires a permit to concealed carry a firearm, though there have been bills introduced at the state level in the past to waive this requirement. As things stand as of the time of this reading, Colorado is a shall-issue state. Attaining the permit is a matter of paying a relatively modest fee to the relevant county sheriff’s office, as well as fingerprinting and a background check.

Like every other state, CO has prohibitions on places where firearms can be carried, including:

  • Federal Facilities 

  • K-12 Schools

  • Airport Terminals

  • Private Property with posted signage 

  • Colleges and Universities that prohibit CCWs

  • Court Buildings

These restrictions are common to even the most lax state. Where CO is somewhat unusual is that it also imposes a penalty on possessing a firearm while intoxicated.

Speaking of possession of a firearm, the state also has a red flag law: this means that it is possible for someone’s firearms to be removed from them without a trial, a hearing with them present, or conviction of any kind of crime.

While the lack of assault weapons bans or the like, and the relatively simple process to get a concealed carry permit in the state may sound permissive, the waiting period and red flag laws make Colorado a more restrictive state in terms of carrying and using firearms. While the restrictions in the state are not placed on the purchasing of firearms, some of the laws do make it easier to take guns from people. Again, this shows at least some political willingness to become a more restrictive state. As the population in cities grows, more restrictive gun laws might well begin to pass at the state level in Colorado.

While they are not currently a firearms manufacturing company (although they did briefly hold the rights to an all-polymer gun, the ACR), one of the most popular magazine and accessory companies, Magpul, is headquartered in Colorado. Interestingly, as the article points out, Magpul puts “Denver” on their products mostly to make a point to the anti-gun folks who tend to live in that city.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Colorado 

The sales tax in Colorado is 2.9%, making it one of the lowest in the nation. But, localities impose their own taxes, meaning that the effective tax rate in the state is sometimes over 10%.

There are no additional taxes on firearms and ammunition sales in the state: picking an FFL in one of the areas that do not impose local sales taxes might be a good way to bring down the cost of a gun purchase in the state.

More Resources:

While it is focused on private party sales, ColoradoGunTrader is an active forum with good information about local events, gun stores, and spots to shoot.

Colorado Gun Law FAQ:

In general, Colorado does not have bans on any specific firearms or types of firearms. There is, however, a magazine ban that limits people to owning magazines that can accept fifteen or fewer rounds.

Assuming that the buyer is of the right age (18 or older for rifle and shotgun ammo, 21 or older for pistol ammunition), ammunition can be shipped to residential addresses in Colorado without issue. The carrier might ask for an ID for delivery, though.

If someone convinces a Colorado judge that a gun owner might be dangerous to themselves or others, the judge can order that person’s guns to be seized. This can occur even without the accusation of a crime, let alone a conviction.

Generally, open carry is allowed in Colorado, but there are exceptions such as Denver, and there is always a list of where people cannot carry a firearm at all within a state, which usually includes places like courthouses and airports to name two examples.

Yes. Colorado currently requires a permit to carry a pistol concealed. That permit is relatively easy to get and is accepted in many states, though there will be caveats and exceptions specific to each individual state.