What is the Legal Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms in Texas?

How old do you have to be to purchase a gun? It depends on what type of gun and what type of transaction. Under federal law when dealing with a Federal Firearms Licensee, also known as an FFL, you have to be at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun, and at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun. Here in Texas to purchase a long gun the rules are the same. But unlike federal law, Texans can purchase handguns at 18.

How does a Texas resident purchase a handgun at age 18? The answer is simple: through a private sale. A Texas resident 18 or older but under 21 won’t be allowed to purchase a handgun through an FFL dealer but that person can purchase a handgun from another Texas resident. Sales between two people who aren’t licensed dealers are called private sales. We often receive questions from members asking whether they can allow their children or other family members to use or access their guns. The question’s answered differently depending on federal and state possession laws.

Under federal law you must be at least 18 years old to possess a handgun and handgun ammunition. But fear not, there are exceptions that balance out this rule such as defense against an intruder, target practice, hunting, or as part of a safety course. When it comes to long guns, the federal government doesn’t restrict possession for someone under 18. On the state side, Texas law doesn’t criminalize the child’s possession of firearms, child being defined as someone under 17 years of age. A child with a firearm might not get into trouble, but any person who transfers or makes readily dischargeable firearms accessible to a child can be liable.

To review, if you’re 21 or older, you won’t run into any problems purchasing handguns or long guns, either in a private sale or from an FFL. If you’re 18 to 20, you can buy a long gun from an FFL but are limited to private sales for handguns. And remember, purchasing a firearm, and legally possessing or carrying a firearm all involve different legal issues. For example, an 18-year-old can legally purchase a handgun in a private sale but is generally prohibited from carrying that same gun on their person in public without a license to carry. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and you have to comply with both the law of purchase and the law of possession.

We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions about purchasing firearms, please call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

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Comment section

17 comments on “What is the Legal Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms in Texas?

  1. Can a 20 year old carry a gun in the car for self defense ?

  2. I believe the castle doctrine would say yes, it is leagal. Look it up.

  3. Open carry is legal in Texas does that mean I can open carry a handgun at 19?

  4. Bit of a dummy question, but I’m currently 15 living in Wisconsin. When I’m 18 I plan on moving to Texas and purchasing an old Western revolver. Would that classify as a hand gun? Would I be able to purchase it?

  5. In your term old western revolver if your talking about a black powder gun then yes you can purchase and own a black powdered gun. There is no age requirement stating you cannot purchase a black powdered gun because of the fact it is not considered a firearm. Also everyone should know already convicted felons are not allowed to own or be around any type of firearms, well that’s not true when it comes down to black powdered guns. A convicted felon may purchase and possess a black powdered weapon on he/she at all times if willing to do so. Hope this helps y’all out.

  6. I was wondering if It was legal if I were 18 and I bought and gifted a rifle to a friend who is 17?

  7. Joe,

    From what I understand, with parental permission a minor (under 18) can be gifted a firearm.

  8. The question on the form is “are you the actual purchaser?”

    If you received any good, services, or money (including any intent to deliver such) for the firearm prior to buying it. That is a “Straw Purchase” and highly illegal.

    If you buy it and then barter with goods, services, or monies. Then it is a sale.

    If you buy it and accept no goods, services, or monies. That is a gift.

    So if your money, your time, and no a straw purchase. Then you are the actual purchaser of the firearm. But remember you have to be 18 to own a firearm.

  9. What would be classified as a long rifle in Texas could you direct me to a dependable site please.

  10. If I’m 16 and hunting with my family can I secondarily carry a heritage revolver on the hunting trip

  11. you silly goose. of course not. thats a 5000 dollar fine

  12. If I am 18 and own a handgun am I able to use it only for home defense maybe a dummy question but I didn’t understand the article throughly

  13. If I am 17 in Texas would I be able to carry a rifle in my vehicle with no adult in the vehicle with me?

  14. I’m 18 and live in houston texas and want to purchase a 357 Winchester magnum at a pawn shop can I buy it?

  15. This is all great information. Nobody bothers to ask at what age does a brain fully develop..anybody? 25. So let’s give that 17 year old a shotgun, that 18 year old to carry it in their car for “self defense” – that can give him/her the right to mock other people and “ask for it” that way they can be a big strong person and “defend” themselves. Oh, lets not forget about the little 15 year old who’s dream is to move to Texas and buy a revolver as soon as he turns 18. All these comments start with, “I’m 15..I’m 17..I’m 18..” all children… very sad.

  16. So say that someone wanted to buy a C&R eligible handgun such as a WWI or WWII pistol between ages 18-20 in the state of Texas. Is that also legal through a private sale or is there a separate law about that?

  17. If I own a handgun and a 20 year old with a clean record (they say), wants to buy it from me through a private sale can I legally sell it? Its in my name, I purchased it from an ffl not private. They aren’t old enough to get a LTC, so I’m a bit skeptical. Thanks!

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