Buying Ammo and Guns in New Mexico

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.

This piece covers the ammunition and firearms laws for the state of New Mexico. To do so, the piece starts off with the ammunition laws, focusing on the requirements and processes to have ammunition shipped to a residence in the state. From there, the piece covers the firearms laws, with an eye on both purchasing and carrying guns within the state. To wrap up, the piece finishes with some resources that we think would be useful for folks who want to legally buy, own, and carry firearms in New Mexico.

This piece is not intended as legal advice. Instead, we hope that you can use the information here as a basis for your own decision-making.

New Mexico, like many states, has preemption. This means that localities such as counties, cities, and towns are forbidden from making ammunition and firearms laws that are stricter than those at the state level. New Mexico’s preemption is a little more complicated than it first appears, however. Since substantial amounts of territory inside of the state’s borders is land owned by Native American tribes, New Mexico’s laws do not necessarily apply to that land. Instead, the tribes can make agreements with governments, such as New Mexico’s state government and the federal government. Because of these legal relationships, there may well be firearm and ammo laws on tribal land that differ from those inside of New Mexico proper.

New Mexico has generally permissive firearm and ammo laws, with a few exceptions. While the state does not have any major ammo or gun bans, some of the permitting processes in the state are more onerous than necessary, and the state does mandate background checks of firearm sales that are done between private parties in many cases. With that said, the state does err on the side of being gun-friendly overall.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in New Mexico

First, we will cover the ammo laws of New Mexico.

New Mexico’s ammunition laws are permissive: the state does not have any specific bans on categories of ammunition, and the state does not require any kind of special permits to buy ammunition. Because of this, buying ammo in the state is regulated by the relevant federal laws enforced by the ATF.

The ATF has two sets of requirements that ammunition buyers must meet. The first is an age requirement: buyers have to be eighteen years of age or older to purchase long gun ammo (for shotguns and rifles) and at least twenty-one to buy handgun ammo. Secondly, the buyer cannot be a prohibited person. The ATF defines prohibited persons as those who have been convicted of felonies or domestic violence, people who have been found mentally defective in court, and people who have been involuntarily committed for inpatient mental health treatment.

Assuming that those requirements are met, New Mexico does not prohibit people from having ammunition shipped to a residential address. With that said, carriers can and sometimes do impose additional rules, such as asking for an adult with a valid form of ID to be present to sign for a package containing ammunition.

Because New Mexico does not regulate ammunition over federal requirements, the state has some of the most permissive ammunition laws in the country. It is fairly simple to have ammo shipped to a home in New Mexico.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in New Mexico 

Next, we will do the same analysis for NM gun laws.

New Mexico’s firearms laws are something of a mixed bag in terms of their permissiveness. The state does not have any bans on magazines or on so-called assault weapons either by name or by a list of features. Similarly, the state does not restrict its citizens from owning NFA items such as machine guns, suppressors, or short-barreled rifles or shotguns. In terms of what people can legally own in the state, NM is among the most permissive states in the country at the moment, though, as we detail later, things might be moving in a stricter direction in the future.

Buying a firearm from a gun store in the state follows federal processes. The buyer should bring both a form of payment and a valid identification to the store. There, the FFL will have the buyer fill out ATF’s Form 4473 to do a background check and record the purchase. As soon as that background check clears and the payment has been made successfully, the buyer can leave with the firearm the same day.

New Mexico is slightly less permissive when it comes to private sales: the state requires that, except for law enforcement officers and those buying guns from immediate family (or gifting, we suppose), all gun sales have to have an accompanying background check. Most FFLs will facilitate this for a small fee, but it is a regulation that makes the state’s gun laws more strict. 

The state is inconsistent in its stance on the carriage of firearms. Open carry is allowed and does not require a permit. Concealed carry, on the other hand, is allowed but does require a permit that is issued on a shall-issue basis. It’s unusual for a state to allow for permitless open carriage of handguns and also to require a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

This permit is also recognized by a fairly large number of neighboring states.

Like most states, New Mexico has a list of places where firearms cannot be carried at all. This list includes:

  • Bars

  • Wildlife Refuges

  • Correctional Facilities

  • State Parks With Some Exceptions

  • Private Property and Businesses with Posted Signs

All states have similar lists, and New Mexico’s is among the shortest. Also, it is usually illegal to carry a firearm on Federal property, which does include your local post office.

While the laws around buying and carrying firearms in New Mexico are relatively permissive, there are some exceptions to this, such as the requirement to have a background check for private party sales. Some policy proposals would ban magazines over a certain capacity and introduce a waiting period. Thus, while New Mexico is currently fairly permissive, this might well change if the state’s politics continues to change.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in New Mexico

New Mexico’s base sales tax rate is 5.125% (no, that is not a typo, they did decide to be extremely specific about taxation in NM): localities can impose their own taxes and sometimes this makes the effective sales tax rate 9.25%.  Because of this wide variance, this is one of the states where shopping around for an FFL in a lower-taxed area might be worth your while.

More Resources:

  • The ATF maintains a list of every FFL in the country, including in New Mexico. Use this list to find local gun stores, which are usually either Type One or Type Two FFLs.

  • is an excellent tool with which to find ranges: use the city, zip code, and mileage filters to find a range that works for you. Users can add new ranges, and the information is regularly vetted for accuracy.

  • There are a number of well-rated gun stores in the state

  • There is a somewhat active subreddit that caters to gun owners in New Mexico.

New Mexico Gun Law FAQ:

Yes,  New Mexico allows ammo to be shipped to residential addresses. The buyer has to meet federal requirements, though: they cannot be a prohibited person, and they have to meet the age requirements (18 for long gun ammo, 21 for handgun ammo). The carrier might ask to see ID upon delivery, too.

New Mexico does allow its residents to carry a concealed firearm. But, the state does require a permit to do so even though it does not require a permit to carry either handguns or long guns openly.

While the state mandates private sale background checks, the state is more or less a gun-friendly one. With that in mind, the same cannot be said for tribal land as a whole, since the laws on that land are not, for all practical purposes, in New Mexico as the tribes are sovereign nations in their own right. So, check the gun laws for any specific tribal lands you might visit. 

As of now, there are no major gun, ammo, or magazine bans in place in New Mexico. There have been some legislative proposals, however, so this might not always be the case.

It is legal to gift some immediate family members a gun in NM without a background check. But, since these are highly specific categories, it might be worth a call to a local gun store or a firearms-specialized attorney if you are unsure about who you can gift a firearm to in New Mexico.