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Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases

If you’re a California customer, you may have heard that there will be changes to ammunition purchases as of July 1st, 2019. We’ve put this together to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that customers have, and hopefully clear up a few rumors that are going around.*

  • What’s happening on July 1st, 2019?
    • Beginning on July 1st, 2019, all ammunition purchases in California will require a background check.
    • Prior to July 1st, 2019, California consumers can purchase ammunition without completing a background check.
  • What about online ammunition purchases?
    • Just like today, all California ammunition transfers must be completed in stores. You can still order online from and have it shipped to one of our California locations before or after July 1st, 2019. The only difference is that once the new law goes into effect, you’ll need to have the in-store background check before the ammunition can be transferred to you.
  • Will there be limits to the caliber or amount of ammunition that I can purchase?
    • No, this is a rumor.
    • There will be no limit to the amount of ammunition that you can buy in a single purchase. There will be no limit to the number of purchases you can make in any given time period or the number of locations you can purchase from, either.
    • There will be no restriction to the caliber(s) of ammunition you can purchase. You will not be limited to purchasing only ammunition for your registered firearms.
  • What is the background check going to cost and how long will it take?
    • That depends on a few factors, outlined below. Basically, based on your qualifying information at the time of purchase, you’ll either have a $1.00 background check that will take a matter of minutes, or a $19.00 background check that may take 3 to 10 days. This will be per transaction, not per box of ammunition or per day.
  • What do I need to know for this new background check before I buy ammo?
    • You will need to bring your valid California driver’s license (or other qualifying, valid CA state-issued identification) for your background check.
    • Attention CA Customers with “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” Driver Licenses or Identification Cards: Effective July 01, 2019 You will need additional credentials to purchase firearms and ammunition. For all eligibility checks, if the applicant presents a federal non-compliant California driver license or identification card with the notation “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” on the front, the applicant shall also submit proof of lawful presence in the United States, as specified in subdivisions (d) through (g), in the form of one of the following documents: (1) Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card. (2) Certified copy of U.S. birth certificate. (3) U.S. Certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen. (4) Valid, unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. immigrant visa and approved Record of Arrival/Departure (I-94) form. (5) Certified copy of birth certificate from a U.S. Territory. (6) Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship. (7) Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card.
    • For most California consumers that have previously registered a firearm with the State of California (California refers to this registration as creating an Automated Firearm System or “AFS” record), the eligibility check will cost $1.00 and can be completed in a matter of minutes. You may purchase an unlimited amount of ammunition under one eligibility check and that ammunition does not have to be for use in a firearm you have registered under your name.
    • Purchasing a firearm from Sportsman's Warehouse will create a qualifying AFS record. An unlimited amount of ammunition can be added to the firearm Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) at time of firearm delivery for no additional background check fee. The ammunition does not have to be purchased for use in the firearm listed on the DROS. The new DROS will create an updated AFS record, entitling you to complete the "Standard" $1.00 eligibility checks in the future.
    • For California customers that have previously created an Automated Firearm System (AFS) record for a firearm, but have changed their name or address since that transaction, the AFS record must be updated using the California Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) found at This process may require several days to complete and will require you to create a CFARS account and submit supporting documentation.
    • California residents that do not have an AFS record or are unwilling or unable to update an existing record may complete what is known as a "Basic" eligibility check. This check is good for one ammunition purchase, will cost $19.00 and may take 3 to 10 days prior to approval. There is no limit on the amount of ammunition purchased on one transaction. Unfortunately, this "Basic" eligibility check will not create an AFS record and any subsequent ammunition purchases would require an additional $19.00 fee, background check, and waiting period.

*This content is provided for informational purposes only, and does not serve as legal advice.