Buying Ammo and Guns in North Carolina

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 discusses the ammunition and firearms laws in North Carolina. To do so, the piece starts off by covering the ammo laws with the goal of describing the requirements and processes of having ammo shipped to a residential address in the state. From there, we discuss the gun-related laws in the state in terms of the rules around purchasing, and then carrying, firearms in the state. Wrapping things up, the piece concludes with some resources that you will find useful if you’re interested in firearms and ammo in North Carolina.

We do not intend this piece to be legal advice. Instead, it is our hope that you use the information here to do your own research so that you can make informed decisions.

Like many states, North Carolina has preemption: this means that the state government forbids localities from making gun and ammo laws that are stricter than those at the state level. There is one small exception in North Carolina, however: localities can regulate the carriage of firearms in publicly owned buildings. Aside from that relatively uncommon exception, preemption makes life easier for gun owners since once you understand the state’s laws, that understanding applies to the state as a whole with few exceptions.

North Carolina is on the more permissive end of states when it comes to ammunition and firearm-related laws. While there are some minor bans on ammunition and permitting requirements to carry, most of these are implemented in such a way that they are not likely to be extremely onerous to the average gun owner in the state. Some might take issue with the state’s ban on having a firearm at a protest, but the state is otherwise fairly permissive when it comes to the ownership and carriage of firearms.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in North Carolina 

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

North Carolina has a ban on the sale, manufacture, or possession of polymer-coated handgun bullets: there are exceptions to this ban for folks in firearms research or law enforcement. These bans mirror similar federal statutes and are thus unlikely to present a major stumbling block to most people. The ban does not prevent ammo manufacturers from shipping ammunition into the state, which is good news for customers.

Aside from that single ban, which is a fairly niche one, North Carolina follows federal guidelines for the regulation of ammo sales and possession. Thus, to buy ammo in the state, the buyer simply has to follow ATF requirements. These requirements apply everywhere in the US and thus do not make a state more or less permissive on their own. They are, in effect, a baseline for the regulation of ammo sales in the country as a whole.

The ATF lays out twofold requirements for the purchasing of ammunition. First, buyers have to meet an age requirement: people have to be eighteen years of age or older to purchase ammunition for long guns such as rifles or shotguns, and at least twenty-one years old to buy handgun ammo. Secondly, buyers cannot be prohibited persons: the ATF defines prohibited persons as people who have been convicted of felonies or domestic violence, people found mentally incompetent in court, and folks who have been involuntarily committed to an inpatient mental health treatment facility.

Assuming that the buyer meets those requirements, the state of North Carolina does not take legal issue with having ammunition shipped to a residential address. Carriers can and sometimes do impose their own rules, however. For instance, some carriers ask for an adult with a valid ID to be present to sign for packages containing ammunition.

Aside from the ban on polymer-coated handgun bullets, North Carolina does not impose many restrictions on the buying of ammunition. Thus, the state’s ammo laws are pretty permissive, though they could do away with the ban entirely and be even more permissive.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in North Carolina 

Next, we will do the same for NC gun laws. 

North Carolina’s firearms purchasing laws are permissive. The state does not have a ban on magazines of any size, nor does the state have an in-place assault weapons ban that would ban firearms either by name or from a list of features. The state also allows its residents to own NFA-regulated items such as machine guns, suppressors, and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. 

Buying firearms at a gun store in North Carolina follows federal guidelines. The buyer should bring both a valid form of identification and a form of payment to the gun store. There, the FFL will have the buyer fill out ATF’s form 44773 for recordkeeping and background check purposes. Once the background check clears and payment is taken, the buyer can leave with their new firearm the same day.

North Carolina does not require private parties to do background checks when selling firearms, but it is always wise to ensure that potential buyers meet the age requirements and are not prohibited persons.

Carrying firearms is mostly permissive in North Carolina. The state allows for open carriage of firearms without a permit. To carry a concealed firearm, however, a permit is required. These permits are issued on a shall-issue basis. The North Carolina permit is fairly widely recognized by other states.

Like most states, North Carolina has a list of places where firearms are outright forbidden. In North Carolina, this list includes:

  • K-12 schools (permit holders can keep their handguns locked in their vehicles in the parking lot)

  • Police Stations

  • Correctional Facilities

  • State or federal government facilities 

  • Private property with signs

  • Federal Property

  • Picket Lines or Demonstrations 

While lists like these are not unusual, prohibiting the carriage of firearms at picket lines and protests can be considered to be strict in terms of firearms laws: since protesting is protected under the First Amendment and is not thus unlawful in and of itself, being prohibited from exercising one’s Second Amendment rights while doing so is not very permissive.

Overall, North Carolina is fairly permissive in terms of its guns and ammo laws. Since it doesn’t have any major bans, getting firearms is simple and follows federal guidelines. Carriage is also fairly permissive even though the state does require a permit for concealed carry. But, the prohibition of carrying firearms while doing otherwise legal activities such as protesting or organizing might be considered a sign that the state legislature has an appetite for stricter gun laws.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in North Carolina

The base sales tax rate in North Carolina is 4.75%. Some localities add their own, up to an effective sales tax of 7.5%: the lowest we could find is 6.5%. Thus, this is one of the states where shopping around to a different FFL for tax purposes is not likely a good use of time.

More Resources

  • The ATF maintains a list of every FFL in the country, including in North Carolina. This list can be used to find local gun stores, which are usually Type One or Type Two FFLs.

  • is a great tool for finding places to shoot. Use the mileage, city, and zip code filters to find ranges that are convenient for you. Users can add new ranges, too, and the information is regularly checked for accuracy.

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

  • The Carolina Firearms Forum is an active one that covers local events relevant to firearms enthusiasts in North Carolina.

North Carolina Gun Law FAQ

The state prohibits plastic-coated handgun bullets. Assuming that you don’t want to buy those, are old enough (18 for long gun ammo and 21 for handgun ammo), and are not a prohibited person according to the ATF, then it’s legal to have ammo shipped to homes in NC. Carriers might well ask for an adult with ID to sign for the package, though.

Yes, it is legal to openly carry a firearm in North Carolina and no permit is required to do so. There are location restrictions, though, such as correctional facilities and protests.

The state is moderately gun-friendly. While neither purchasing nor carrying firearms is overly regulated in the state, the prohibition of carrying a firearm at otherwise lawful gatherings is slightly strict.

While open carriage of a firearm does not require a permit in North Carolina, the state does require a permit for concealed carry. Luckily, the state is a shall-issue state, so getting the permit is usually a fairly smooth process.

No: the state does not ban assault weapons, magazines of any kind, or even NFA items. Of course, with NFA items, federal regulations still apply within the state of North Carolina.