If you’re handling firearms, you must have a complete understanding of the Firearms Safety Code. You can buy a copy or download it for free.

Get the Firearms Safety Code

Download the code

It's free to download a PDF of the code in either English or Te Reo Māori.

Buy a hard copy

The Firearms Safety Code is available in libraries, online book sellers, Kindle for Amazon and all good bookshops. Or you can purchase a hard copy of the code in either English or Te Reo Māori for $34.99 from our online store.

Purchase the Firearms Safety Code

The two versions of the Firearms Safety Code in English and te reo Maori.

What’s in the code?

The code is the fundamental guide for the safe use of firearms in New Zealand. It contains detailed information and pictures to help you stay safe.

7 rules of firearm safety

This section of the guide goes into detail about the 7 safety rules.

You can also read about the rules here:

7 rules of firearm safety

Firearms licensing and obligations

This section of the guide explains licensing periods and your obligations as a licence holder.

You can also read about licensing here:


Basic firearm types

This section of the guide explains what a firearm is, describes its parts, how firearms work, and important information about a range of firearms, including: 

  • rifles 
    • bolt-action rifle 
    • lever-action rifle 
    • semi-automatic rifle 
  • shotguns 
    • break-open shotgun 
    • pump-action shotgun 
    • old shotguns, especially if Damascus barrelled 
  • pistols and target pistol shooting 
  • muzzle-loading      
  • airguns – conditions for having or using 
    • paintball and airsoft guns 
    • Specially Dangerous Airguns (PCPs)
    • safe storage of airguns 
  • prohibited firearms and prohibited magazines. 


This section of the code covers the following topics, including pictures: 

  • using the correct ammunition 
    • commonly available ammunition calibres and gauges 
    • how to know you have the right ammunition 
  • cartridge types and how they work 
    • modern cartridges 
    • common projectiles 
    • components of a modern cartridge 
    • shotgun ammunition 
    • components of a shotshell 
    • drill rounds and snap caps 
    • blank cartridges 
  • range and impact potential of your firearm and ammunition 
    • maximum and effective range of projectiles 
    • terminal ballistics 
  • safely dealing with ammunition faults and malfunctions 
    • misfires 
    • hang fire (delayed discharge) 
    • squib load 
    • what to do when you experience and ammunition fault 
    • destruction of unsafe ammunition 
  • safe ammunition storage 
    • security of ammunition 
    • correct storage conditions. 

Firearm states of readiness

This section of the code covers: 

  • firearm states – load, action, instant, unload 
  • how and when to use the different states. 

Preparing your firearm for use and zeroing

This section of the code covers: 

  • when to check your firearm 
  • how to prepare a firearm for use 
  • zeroing (or sighting-in or sight adjustment) 
  • shotgun patterning. 

Safe firearms practice

This section of the code covers: 

  • what is safe handling? 
  • handing a firearm to another person 
  • dealing with fences, obstacles, and rough terrain 
    • trips or falls in rough terrain 
    • thick vegetation 
  • carrying your firearm 
    • two-handed across body hold 
    • slung 
  • moving as a group when carrying firearms 
    • moving in single file 
    • moving in line formation 
  • safety in maimai 
  • transporting firearms (also see: Storage and transportation for more detailed information) 
  • shooting in low light 
    • night vision devices (NVDs) 
    • spotlights. 

Safety equipment and first aid

This section of the code covers:

  • protecting your hearing 
  • protecting your eyesight 
  • first aid 
    • trauma training 
    • self-help 
    • first aid kits 
  • personal locator beacons (PLBs) 
  • harmful substances. 

Safety at a shooting range

This section of the code describes shooting ranges and the rules known as Range Standing Orders. 


Appendix 1 of the code lists all offences under the Arms Act applying to firearms holders.

Last updated
30 October 2023


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