Buying Ammo and Guns in West Virginia

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 that apply in the state of West Virginia. To do so, the piece starts with the ammo laws of the state, with an eye on explaining the requirements for having ammunition shipped to a home in the state. From there, we dive into the firearms laws, explaining the legal processes for buying a firearm in the state as well as the regulations around carrying guns in WV. To wrap up, the piece offers some resources that we think you will find useful if you are interested in legally buying, owning, and carrying guns and ammo in the state.

We do not intend this piece as legal advice and instead hope that you find the information here useful in your own research and decision-making.

Like most states, West Virginia has preemption: this means that the state has a law that prohibits smaller political subunits like counties, cities, and towns from making their own firearms laws that are stricter than those at the state level. Preemption helps gun owners since it means that once you understand the state laws, that understanding applies to the whole state on a practical level.

West Virginia is very gun-friendly and has some of the most permissive ammunition and firearms laws in the nation. There are some small quirks to the state’s ammo laws, but these do not make the state much less permissive. Most firearms and ammo regulations in the state come from the federal level: these federal laws serve as a baseline for permissiveness across the nation.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in West Virginia 

First, we will cover the ammo laws in West Virginia.

Generally, this state is very permissive when it comes to the actual buying and selling of ammunition. The state does, somewhat unusually, have a prohibition on advertising ammunition where someone can see it from a road or alley. This does not, however, seem to be part of a broader prohibition on billboards, since the state does have a permitting process for those.

Aside from that quirk, West Virginia does not regulate the sale of ammunition beyond those rules set by the government and enforced by the ATF. The ATF has two sets of requirements that buyers must meet in order to be able to buy ammo legally. First is an age requirement: buyers have to be eighteen or older to buy ammo for shotguns or rifles, and at least twenty-one to buy handgun ammo. Additionally, buyers cannot be prohibited persons, which the ATF defines as those who have been convicted of a felony or domestic abuse, people who have been found mentally unfit in a court of law, and people who have been involuntarily committed to a facility for mental health treatment.

As long as those requirements are met, West Virginia does not take issue with ammo being shipped to a residence in the state and buyers are free to shop online. Carriers can impose their own rules, though, such as asking for someone with a valid ID to be present to sign for a package containing ammunition.

Overall, this state’s ammo laws are governed by federal guidelines and thus are very permissive.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in West Virginia 

Next, we will do the same for gun laws.

West Virginia’s permissiveness continues in its gun laws. The state has no magazine bans, nor does it have a ban on assault rifles either by name or by a list of prohibited features. The state is also fine with its residents owning NFA items such as machine guns, suppressors, and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. Of course, federal laws still apply to NFA items, so there will be a fair bit of paperwork, waiting, and taxation involved with those items. 

The process of buying a firearm from a licensed dealer in West Virginia follows federal guidelines. Buyers should come prepared to the store with a form of ID that has their current address, as well as their payment. Once there, the FFL will have the buyer fill out Form 4473 from the ATF, which serves as both a background check and a record of the purchase. Once the background check is complete and the payment accepted, the buyer can leave the same day with their purchase. WV does not impose additional waiting periods on gun purchases.

The state does not mandate that people selling firearms as private citizens conduct background checks on the buyers. It is advisable, however, to ensure that the buyer meets the requirements to own that firearm, including age and prohibited person status. Many attorneys advise a written bill of sale to stay in the clear on the matter.

West Virginia is also permissive in terms of carrying firearms. The state is fine with both open and concealed carriage of firearms and does not require a permit for either.

Many states that have permitless carry also offer concealed carry permits, and West Virginia is no exception in this regard. The permit mainly allows WV residents to carry legally in the many states that recognize WV’s permit as valid for concealed carry in their states.  The process to get the permit in WV is relatively straightforward and is handled by the state police: the application is one of the least onerous in the country as the fees are low and it only requires a single course for the application.

All states have a list of places where it is generally illegal to carry a firearm. In West Virginia, that list includes:

  • Courthouses

  • State Capitol Buildings

  • Any Private Property if Notified that Guns are Unwelcome

West Virginia’s list of prohibited places is among the shortest in the country and does not make the state less permissive. It’s also worth noting that you cannot carry a gun in most federal buildings, and that includes your local post office.  Because of the private property restrictions in the state, it is always worthwhile to take a moment to look around for posted signage. Failure to abide by those signs could result in trespassing charges at the very least.

Overall, West Virginia is among the most permissive states in the country in terms of its ammunition and firearms laws. The state imposes very few regulations on the ownership or carriage of firearms and instead allows federal laws to be the major gun regulations in the state. West Virginia’s politics also make it highly unlikely that any major bans would pass at the state level. This is one of the states that will almost certainly stay gun-friendly for years, if not decades, to come.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in West Virginia 

The sales tax rate in West Virginia is 6%, and some localities have an additional 1% in taxes, making the effective sales tax rate in the state 7% in some spots. This is a small variance, and thus it is not likely worth shopping for an FFL in one of the lower-taxed areas.

Vermont does not impose additional, special taxes on firearms and ammunition. Because the state has no additional fees on guns or ammo, and the fee for the concealed carry permit is also quite low, the state is gun-friendly in financial terms, too.

More Resources:

Here are some resources that we think you’ll find useful in West Virginia.

  • The ATF keeps a list of all FFLs within a given state, and this list is updated somewhat regularly. It can be used to find local gun stores, which are usually Type One or Type Two FFLs. 

  • is an excellent tool for finding ranges that are convenient to you. Use the zip code, city, and mileage filters to find spots to shoot. Users can add more ranges, and the information is regularly checked for accuracy. 

  • West Virginia has a number of well-rated gun stores as well.

  • There is a relatively active subreddit for West Virginia gun owners that is a good space to keep up with relevant local events.

West Virginia Gun Law FAQ:

Yes! As long as the buyer meets age requirements (18 for long gun ammo and 21 for handgun ammo) and is not a prohibited person, WV is fine with having ammo shipped to a home.

The state does not require a permit for either open or concealed carriage of a firearm, but the permit does allow WV residents to carry in other states.

Because the state has very few regulations on guns and ammo, it is one of the most gun-friendly states in the nation.

There is currently no assault weapons ban in WV, and it is unlikely that one would pass if proposed.

The federal government requires that every gun dealer in the country conduct a background check with every sale, so, yes, you have to pass a background check to buy a gun at a store in West Virginia.