Types of Firearms Permitted for Individual Possession
The Law on Weapons defines three types of firearms based on the purpose for which they are used and their technical characteristics: civilian, service, and combat firearms, and edged weapons. Manual combat firearms and edged weapons are intended for official operational tasks carried out by agencies and services, as defined by federal legislation. The list includes the armed forces, police, border protection services, tax police and customs, and some other agencies. “Service weapons” include weapons intended for use by officials of government agencies and employees of companies who have been permitted by law to bear, keep, and use arms for self-defense and for performance of the duties assigned to them for protecting individuals and their property, nature and natural resources, valuable and dangerous freight, and special correspondence.
This report focuses on the circulation of civilian weapons, which can be used by Russian citizens for purposes of self-defense, hunting, and sports activities. The definition of the “circulation” of weapons was provided by the Russian Supreme Court in 1996 and includes the production (research, development, testing, artistic finishing, and repair), trade, sale, transfer, acquisition, collection, exhibition, accounting for, possessing, carrying, shipment, and transport of weapons. The distinguishing characteristic of civilian firearms is that such firearms cannot be fired in bursts or have a cartridge capacity of more than ten bullets.
According to the Federal Law on Weapons, only Russian citizens can own civilian weapons in Russia. Foreign nationals are not allowed to own guns. They may receive police permits to acquire weapons based on requests from the embassies of the countries of their citizenship but are required to export their acquired weapons within five days after acquisition. Foreign hunters and sportsmen can bring their hunting and sporting weapons into the country for the duration of a hunting period or sporting event, as specified in their invitation.
Article 3 of the Federal Law on Weapons specifies the types of guns that can be used by individuals for self-defense, hunting, and sports activities. These include smooth-bore long-barreled firearms, smooth-bore long-barreled firearms if the rifled part of the barrel is no longer than 140 millimeters, and pneumatic weapons with power of up to 25 joules.
Bearing long-barreled weapons for the purpose of self-defense is prohibited. [emphasis added]
An individual cannot have more than ten guns in his/her possession, with the exception of guns included in a registered collection of weapons. An individual’s possession of weapons cannot exceed five hunting rifled-bore guns and five smooth-bore long-barreled guns.
On the basis of a decree issued by the President, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, or head of a federal military organization, Russian citizens can be awarded with weapons. This could include any type of civilian or short-barreled combat handgun. Award weapons are subject to possession and carrying requirements. Carrying permits must be issued by local gun registering authorities at the individual’s place of residence following the registration of an award weapon by the owner within two weeks after receipt. A weapon that can be fired in bursts and one that is prohibited by law for circulation on the territory of the Russian Federation cannot be given as an award.
Special restrictions are imposed on the circulation of civilian weapons. Prohibited firearms are those with a cartridge capacity of more than ten bullets, those that can fire in bursts, those with a barrel length of less than 500 millimeters or an entire length under 800 millimeters, and those that can be shortened to a length of under 800 millimeters without losing their shooting capacity. Rifled-bore sporting guns and pneumatic guns with a pumping power of more than 7.5 joules and a caliber of more than 4.5 millimeters must be kept at shooting ranges.
 [emphasis added]
The list of prohibited firearms includes (1) those with shapes that imitate other objects; (2) cartridges with bullets for armor-piercing, incendiary, explosive, or tracer action; and cartridges with shot charges for gas pistols; (3) weapons and other objects whose destructive action is based on the use of radioactive radiation and biological factors; and (4) gas weapons charged with nerve-paralytic, toxic, and other substances not permitted for use by the government or gas weapons that can cause a medium degree of harm at a distance of more than one meter. Also, the sale and installation of silencers and sights for night vision are prohibited, with the exception of sights for hunting. The policy for using such sights has been specifically established by law. The Law on Weapons does not allow the shipping of weapons by individuals.