Legal Measurements of Shotguns

How Long is a Shotgun Barrel Required to Be in the U.S.?

  • 16 inches
  • 18 inches
  • 24 inches
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  • 26 inches

Answer: 18 inches

The National Firearms Act states that shotguns must have barrels at least 18 inches long. Rifle barrels can be 16 inches in length and the full length of a shotgun has to be at least 26 inches.

Now the questions stands: how do you measure a barrel? If you’ve been measuring it in any way on the outside of the barrel, you’re doing it wrong, but you wouldn’t be the first or last one to do it that way.

Close the bolt, then place the tape measure inside the barrel. Feed the tape measure in as far as it will go, then check your measurement at the end of the barrel. If you’re not at 18 inches, you’ll need to apply for a Short Barrel Permit, which is around $200.

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