For the Firearms Registry to work, it’s important the information it holds is accurate and up to date. Find out how to get help identifying the details of your firearm, so you can register it correctly.

How to use our database to register the right firearm

To make it easier for licence holders to register their firearms correctly, we’ve created a database with details of all the most common firearms in New Zealand. Telling us which of these items you possess rather than describing the firearm yourself means the information in the Registry is standardised.

To find a match in our database, you just need to provide a few details about your firearm – for example, its type, make and model. You will then be given a list of options to choose from. Select the option that matches the firearm you want to register.

If you cannot find a match when registering online, or your firearm is custom-made, you must register over the phone instead.

How to register over the phone

If you need help identifying a firearm’s details

To register a firearm, you must know what type (for example rifle, shotgun etc) it is, as well as its make, model, action, calibre/gauge and, if it has a non-detachable magazine, how many rounds it can hold.

Read our guide to identifying a firearm if you’re unsure of these details.

Guide to identifying a firearm

Identify the type

The most common types of firearms in New Zealand are rifles, shotguns and pistols.


A rifle is a long-barrelled firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder. It fires a single cartridge for each pull of the trigger.

It’s designed for accurate shooting and is typically used for firing at stationery targets.

A .22 rifle.
Pictured: A .22 rifle.
A bolt-action 303 rifle.
Pictured: A bolt-action 303 rifle.
A lever-action rifle.
Pictured: A lever-action rifle.


A shotgun is a long-barrelled firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder. It fires a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger.

Shotguns are typically used for firing at moving targets. They are available in a variety of gauges and action types.

A pump-action shotgun.
Pictured: A pump-action shotgun.


A pistol (also commonly referred to as a handgun) is a firearm that is designed or adapted to be held and fired with one hand.

Pistols include any firearm that is less than 762mm in length.

A revolver.
Pictured: A revolver.

If your firearm is something different

If the firearm you want to register is not a rifle, pistol or shotgun, and you need help identifying what type it is, call us on 0800 844 431 between 8.30am and 5.30pm or speak to a local firearms dealer.

Identify the make and model

Most firearms will have the make and model stamped or engraved on the frame or the barrel.

A Smith & Wesson model 916A pump-action shotgun.
Pictured: A Smith & Wesson 916A pump-action shotgun.

Identify the action

The working parts of a firearm, which load, unload, fire and eject the ammunition, are known as the 'action'. The action has a bolt, receiver and trigger as part of its makeup.

A bolt-action firearm operates in a similar way to how you open and close a door bolt. You manually load each cartridge into the chamber . The action can be removed from the firearm.

A lever-action firearm has a large metal lever located behind the trigger. Cocking the rifle loads a round in the chamber, and pulling the trigger fires the rifle.

A pump-action firearm uses a manual sliding mechanism to load and eject rounds. A semi-automatic firearm automatically ejects the case of the cartridge and reloads the chamber after a shot is fired.

A break open firearm has a hinged opening where the barrels drop down exposing the chamber. To load a new cartridge, you break open the barrel on its hinge, place a cartridge into the chamber and then close it.

Identify the calibre or gauge

The calibre of your firearm is usually stamped or engraved into the barrel or receiver. It might also be on the magazine. Look for a number like .22, .223, .308 or 9mm for a rifle or pistol calibre, and 12, 20, .410 for the gauge of a shotgun.

On some pistols, the calibre is stamped on the breech end of the barrel. 

For firearms that have interchangeable barrels of different calibres, use the calibre it is set up as at the time of registration.

Identify the magazine

If your firearm’s magazine (the place where ammunition is stored) cannot be readily removed and replaced while the firearm is in use, you must indicate that it is not detachable. You’ll also need to say how many rounds it can hold.

Find the identification marking (serial number)

Your firearm should have a marking (serial number) on the receiver, action or frame.

Identification markings on a revolver.
Pictured: Identification markings on a revolver.
Identification markings on a pump-action rifle.
Pictured: Identification markings on a pump-action rifle.
Identification markings on a pump-action shotgun.
Pictured: Identification markings on a pump-action shotgun.

Get help with identification markings

If there are no identification markings, or it has one that uses characters other than A-Z, 0-9, slashes and dashes, you must have one applied to the arms item.

Read our guide to selecting and applying a marking where one does not already exist or is in a foreign language and needs to be replaced.

If you need more help

Call us on 0800 844 431 between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If you're not in New Zealand, phone: +64 4 499 2870.


Need help?
phone Phone 0800 844 431 (04 499 2870)
8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday