Buying Ammo and Guns in Wisconsin

In this piece, we dive into the firearm and ammunition laws that apply in the state of Wisconsin. To do so, we begin with the ammo laws, describing the legal requirements for having ammunition shipped to a residential address in the state. From there, we unpack the firearms laws, first in terms of buying guns in the state, and then the laws concerning the carriage of firearms. To wrap up, the piece finishes with some resources that you will find useful if you’re interested in legally buying, owning, and carrying firearms in the state of Wisconsin.

We do not intend this piece as legal advice. Instead, our hope is that you find the information here a good starting point for your own research so that you can make better-informed decisions.

Like many states, Wisconsin has preemption. This means that the state has a law that prevents smaller political divisions, like counties, cities, and towns, from making and enforcing their own firearms laws that are stricter than those at the state level. Preemption is handy for lawful gun owners because it means that your understanding of state laws applies in the entire state.

Wisconsin is fairly permissive in terms of its ammunition and firearms laws. There are no major bans in the state, and the only reason the state is not among the most permissive is that it requires a permit for concealed carry. Aside from that slightly stricter stance on the carriage of firearms, this is a permissive state for gun owners.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Wisconsin  

First, we will cover the ammo laws in Wisconsin.

Generally, Wisconsin is permissive in terms of its ammunition laws. There is one small exception to this, however: the state adds additional charges for those who commit crimes using armor-piercing handgun rounds. This will not affect most gun owners and thus does not make the state less permissive by much.

Aside from the possibility of additional charges, Wisconsin does not place additional regulations on ammo sales, and thus buying ammo in the state follows the federal guidelines enforced by the ATF. The ATF has two sets of requirements for ammo buyers. The first is an age requirement: ammo buyers have to be eighteen years of age or older to buy ammo for long guns (rifles and shotguns) and at least twenty-one years old to buy handgun ammo. Additionally, buyers cannot be prohibited persons, which the ATF defines as those convicted of felonies or domestic violence, people who have been found mentally deficient in a court of law, and people who have been involuntarily committed to inpatient mental health treatment.

If the buyer meets both sets of requirements, Wisconsin does not prohibit ammunition from being shipped to a residential address in the state, and, thus, buyers are free to shop online. Carriers might ask for someone with an ID to be present to sign for a package containing ammunition.

Since the threat of additional charges for the use of armor-piercing rounds while in the commission of a crime only, by definition, applies to those already committing crimes, it’s a small restriction that does not make Wisconsin less permissive in a meaningful way.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in Wisconsin

Next, we will do the same for gun laws.

Wisconsin is fairly permissive when it comes to firearms laws, with a few small exceptions. The state does not have an assault weapons ban that would ban guns by either a list of features or by name nor is there a magazine ban. Wisconsin is also fine with its citizens owning most NFA items including suppressors and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. There is an exception to this: the state does not allow for machine guns that fire pistol calibers and adds additional charges for their use in crimes. The sheer price of NFA items will keep this from affecting most people, but it is still a restriction on constitutional rights.

The process for buying guns in the state follows federal guidelines. Thus, the buyer should bring both a form of ID with their current address, and a form of payment to their local gun store. There, the FFL will have the buyer fill out ATF Form 4473, which functions as both a background check and a legal record of the purchase. Once the background check clears and the payment has been accepted, the buyer can leave with their new gun the same day: Wisconsin does not impose additional waiting periods.

The state of Wisconsin does not mandate that private parties who sell firearms do a background check on buyers. With that said, it is always advisable to have a signed bill of sale once the seller is sure that the buyer meets age requirements and is not a prohibited person.

Wisconsin is fairly permissive when it comes to the carriage of firearms. The state allows for the open carriage of both long guns and pistols without a permit.

The state does, however, require a permit to carry a concealed handgun. These permits are issued on a shall-issue basis. Wisconsin’s permit is also fairly widely recognized by other states.

Most states have a list of places where it is illegal to carry a firearm, and Wisconsin is no exception. The state forbids the possession or carriage of firearms in the following locations:

  • Correctional Facilities

  • Law Enforcement Facilities

  • Mental Health Institutions

  • The Wisconsin Resource Center

  • Airport Terminals

  • Courtrooms

  • Federal Property (Including Post Offices)

Lists such as this can be found in even the most permissive states. Wisconsin does its residents a solid by allowing people to legally lock their firearms in their vehicles in the parking lots of all of the above locations: this makes complying with state laws easier.

Overall, Wisconsin is somewhat permissive. There are some restrictions on NFA items, and the state does require a permit to carry a firearm concealed. With that said, the state otherwise follows federal processes for buying firearms. The restrictions that are in place will affect relatively few people, but might well signal a willingness to restrict firearm rights further. Thus, Wisconsin can be considered fairly permissive, but it isn’t one of the most permissive states when it comes to gun ownership or carriage in public places. The politics of the state can swing either way, so things might change in the future as well.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Wisconsin

The overall sales tax rate in Wisconsin is 5%, and some localities tack on an extra half-percent in additional taxes, making the effective tax rate 5.5%. This small difference makes it unlikely that shopping around for an FFL in a lower-taxed area will make much difference in terms of the overall price of a firearm or accessories in the state.

Wisconsin, like most states, does not add any additional, special taxes to the purchase of firearms, ammunition, or accessories.

More Resources:

Here are some resources that we think you’ll find useful in Wisconsin 

  • The ATF maintains a listing 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. 

  • There are a number of well-rated gun stores in Wisconsin to serve the local community’s firearm needs. 

  • The Wisconsin guns subreddit is fairly active and is a good place both for local information about relevant events and deals, but also for the changing political landscape in the state as well.

Wisconsin Gun Law FAQ:

Yes: Wisconsin does not place any ammunition restrictions on law-abiding citizens. As long as the buyer meets age requirements (18 for long gun ammo and 21 for handgun ammo), the state is fine with having ammo shipped right to your door.

The state is mostly gun-friendly. It’s against the law to own a submachine gun and the state requires a concealed carry permit, but otherwise, there are few restrictions in the state.

Yes: Wisconsin allows for the open carriage of both pistols and long guns, and does not require a permit to so do.

Yes, like most states, Wisconsin forbids guns in some locations. But, the state does legally allow people to lock their guns in the car at the parking lot of the restricted locations.

At this time the state does not have an assault weapons ban, but the state’s policies are volatile enough that one might pass depending on when it is suggested.