Firearms - Guides - Importation & Verification of Firearms - National Firearms Act Definitions - Destructive Device

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Firearms Verification

National Firearms Act Definitions

Destructive Device

26 U.S.C. § 5845(F)

For the purposes of the National Firearms Act, the term “Destructive Device” means:

  • A missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than 1/4 oz.
  • Any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may readily be converted to expel a projectile, by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore greater than one-half inch in diameter.
  • A combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a device into a destructive device and from which a destructive device can be readily assembled.

Image of various destructive devices such as grenades, M79 grenade launcher, and artillery cannon.


  • A shotgun or shotgun shell which is determined by the Attorney General to be generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes.
  • a device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon,
  • a device which is designed or redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line-throwing, safety, or similar device,
  • surplus ordnance sold, loaded, or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to law such as antique, obsolete bronze or iron cannon,
  • a device which the Attorney General determines is not likely to be used as a weapon.
  • An antique firearm, or
  • a rifle which the owner intended to use solely for sporting purposes.

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Last Reviewed April 26, 2018