Utah Legalized Air Rifles for Hunting

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States, Assistant Manager

  • Airguns propel projectiles by means of compressed air or other gas, rather than using an explosive charge.
  • Airguns are not included as taxable equipment through the Wildlife Restoration Program also known as Pittman-Robertson Act.
  • Utah is the first state to allow the use of air rifles for the harvest of game animals and require an individual to obtain a specialized permit to do so, ensuring that airguns contribute to the American System of Conservation Funding.

Why it Matters: Airguns are a tempting option for hunters and recreational shooters as they are considered to be “hearing safe,” producing less than 140 dB of sound when fired. Despite continued advancement in airgun technology, regulations surrounding the use of airguns vary significantly from state to state. Until such time that airguns are included in the Pittman-Robertson Act, states are encouraged to implement state-level funding mechanisms such as a Conservation Airgun Stamp to ensure that all legal methods of take for hunting contribute into the American System of Conservation Funding.

Interest in airgun technology has been steadily increasing in recent years. Divergent of traditional firearms, airguns propel projectiles by means of compressed air or other gas, rather than using an explosive charge. From a hunting and recreational shooting perspective, airguns are a tempting option as they are considered to be “hearing safe” because they lack an explosive charge that has been well documented to cause heading damage. Despite continued advancement in airgun technology, regulations surrounding the use of airguns vary significantly from state to state as discussions surrounding efficacy and their lack of inclusion as taxable equipment through the Wildlife Restoration Program also known as Pittman-Robertson Act commence.

In order to included airguns in the Pittman-Robertson Act, it would require a change in federal tax statute which can take many years to achieve. Therefore, states that are looking to legalize the use of airguns for hunting are encouraged to implement state-level funding mechanisms such as a Conservation Airgun Stamp to ensure that all legal methods of take for hunting contribute into the conservation funding matrix. During the 2022 legislative session, Utah was the first state to do that just.

Utah Senate Bill 205 – Air Rifle Hunting Amendments was enacted which allows for the use of air rifles while hunting as designated by the Wildlife Board and requires that individuals obtain a permit to be able to use an air rife while hunting of approved game species.  To be approved for use, air rifles must be pressurized to a minimum of 2,000 pounds per square inch.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) commends Utah for being the first state to implement an air gun permit to ensure that all legal methods of take contribute to the American System of Conservation Funding. CSF will continue to keep you updated as the Utah Wildlife Board begins its deliberation on allowable species to be harvested with an air rifle and any opportunity for public comment.

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