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Legal Info for Reloaders

Edward L. Burlew, LL.B., Barrister and Solicitor, CSSA

Reloaders, Powder horns, and Gunpowder

Most of the sportsmen who reload are very careful in handling powder and primers. They know that it is very important to provide for their own safety and their family�s safety. They keep their powder under lock and key when not using it. But some often forget the powder in the reloader.

This is the same powder that must be kept under lock and key. This is a requirement of the Explosives Act. There is room to interpret gun powder as ammunition under the Criminal Code and this could be interpreted as unsafe storage of ammunition.

To keep your rights safe always empty your reloader and lock the gunpowder up. Keep your powder horn under lock and key.

These same comments apply to primers.

Store Your Powder Safely

The storage of gun powder is regulated by the explosives act, r.S.C. 1990. you may keep a maximum of 12 kg. In a dwelling if it in a suitable container. this is specified to be a box of 3/4 inch thick wood, no ferrous fittings (use brass, bronze, or glue), be locked and labelled aexplosives@. only 2 kg. Can be out of the box at any one time to be used. this means that when you are finished reloading you must return the unused powder to the locked box. the ministry of energy mines and resources recommends that anyone who contravenes this be charged under the criminal code with unsafe storage of ammunition. to the ministry there is no distinction between black powder and smokeless powder. primers are to be similarly stored.

Reloaders Bulletin

To clarify a number of questions dealing with the storage of gun powder this bulletin has been prepared from the Explosives Act, Statutes of Canada, chapter 59 and after consulting with the relevant department heads.

Black powder and smokeless powder are not distinguished. All information contained assumes that the quantities are aggregate.

Primers include boxer style, berdan style and percussion caps. These are not distinguished and quantities are to be aggregated.

Storage by an individual who is not licensed as an explosives magazine:

  • at a home, a detached house, is not to exceed 10 kg in the aggregate
  • if kept in a separate out building dedicated to the storage of gun powder then the storage can be up to 75 kg in the aggregate (this is a detached store)

A detached store is defined in the Explosives Act. In short this says the storage building must have a door of substantial construction that opens outward which is closed and locked except during access, there is ventilation, no iron or steel is exposed to the interior, which shall be scrupulously clean, no water to affect the stored explosive, no other inflammable substance shall be in the store or even nearby. No matches, fire, lights, oiled waste, iron, steel or anything that can cause spontaneous combustion can be in the store. No smoking. No iron or steel tools in the shed. Only copper brass, copper, gun metal, wood. The exterior shall have AExplosives@ in large contrasting letters. A wood building of 3/4" plywood is recommended.

If you keep your gun powder at home then you must keep it in a Asuitable container@, away from other inflammable substances such as paint, thinner, lighter fluids, other ammunition and it can be removed if there is a fire. The container shall not be of steel for iron, it must be kept locked except when being accessed, only gun powder and primers are to be kept in it. Suitable materials are wood and copper. No iron or steel fittings. It must be scrupulously clean. The word AExplosives@ in large contrasting letters must be on the outside. A box of 3/4" plywood is recommended. This is what I call the Alocked box@.

When you are reloading you should be in an area dedicated to reloading, no fumes, matches, smoking, no lights that can cause an explosion. Only 2 kg can be out of the locked box and in the room with you. At the end of the session all the explosives must be returned to the locked box. And you cannot resell or give away these cartridges. If you intend to, you need a license and more restrictions must be met. If you do not follow this you will be liable to be charged with unsafe storage under the Criminal Code.

There is no present limit to the number of primers you can possess. Keep in touch with 1-888-GUN LOSS to find out of future restrictions.

Importation is another matter. Without a permit to import you may not import more than:

  • 2000 safety cartridges
  • 1000 percussion caps (or primers)
  • 500 primed safety cartridges
  • 2 kg of smokeless powder

A business that sells gun powder and explosives must comply with the storage provisions and the maximum gun powder allowed to be stored is 12 kg unless in a separate detached store. 10,000 percussion caps or primers are the maximum, and they have to be a separate locked box not with the gun powder.

All reloaders are reminded to check their fire insurance and leases to see if they are allowed to have explosives on their premises.

Presently there is no limit to the number of safety cartridges (loaded ammunition) except that it must be reasonable as required for a rifle, revolver or shotgun where a person may lawfully so possess the firearm. This last statement from the Explosives Act is insidious because if you can not legally own a weapon because it is prohibited you are not qualified to own the ammunition for it because it is not reasonable.

In the mean time remember to empty the powder hopper on your reloader after every session and put it in a 3/4 inch plywood locked box made with brass screws. No iron nails. Put the word Explosives on it and keep it away from paint and paint thinner.


Barrister and Solicitor

16 John Street

Thornhill, Ontario L3T 1X8



This advisory was prepared October 1, 1998. Information in this advisory is general in nature and should not be acted upon without specific professional advice.

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