Nevada Laws on “Assault Weapons” & Machine Guns
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers)

soldier aiming machine gun

Are “assault weapons” legal in Nevada?

The term “assault weapon” is not defined under Nevada law. Nor does Nevada law prohibit possession of any type of gun by people legally entitled to possess a firearm under Nevada gun laws,

However, federal law prohibits the possession of machine guns unless they were lawfully possessed and registered before May 19, 1986.1

Unlawful possession of a machine gun is a serious federal felony. It can be punished by:

  • Up to 10 years in federal prison, and/or
  • A fine of up to $250,000.2

What is a machine gun?

Federal law defines a machine gun as:

[A]ny weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.3

What kinds of guns can I legally own in Nevada?

Unless legally prohibited from possessing a firearm, people in Nevada 18 years of age and older may possess any kind of guns other than machine guns.4 This includes all semi-automatic firearms, including those with a detachable magazine and pistol grip.

However, you are prohibited under federal law from purchasing or possessing armor-piercing ammunition. Federal law defines armor-piercing ammo as:

  • a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
  • a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.5

The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.6

Federal restrictions on transfer of machine guns

Before you can transfer a lawfully owned machine gun, the gun must be registered with, and you must obtain a permit from, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”). There is usually a $200 excise tax to transfer a machine gun.

You must also obtain ATF approval before engaging in interstate transport of a machine gun.

Before taking any weapon to another state – including a lawfully owned machine gun or assault weapon -- you should check to make sure the weapon is legal in such other state. Many states – including California – have weapons laws that are more restrictive than Nevada.

Charged with illegal gun possession in Nevada? Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know has been arrested for a federal or state firearms offense in Nevada, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyers have a great deal of experience defending clients throughout the state on federal and Nevada gun crimes and other weapons charges.

To speak to an attorney, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or fill out the form on this page.

To learn about possessing an assault weapon in California, please visit our page on California assault weapons laws.


Legal references:

  1. 18 U.S. Code 922 (o).
  2. 18 U.S. Code 924 (a)(2).
  3. 26 U.S.C. 5845 (b). See also 18 U.S. Code 921 (a)(23).
  4. People under 18 may usually possess a weapon for hunting, competition or home defense with the permission of their parents or legal guardian. For more information, please refer to our page on Nevada gun laws.
  5. 18 U.S. Code 921(a)(17)(B).
  6. 18 U.S. Code 921(a)(17)(C).

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