Shipping Replica Guns to the UK

An acquaintance has asked me about shipping a Denix Webley MK IV to England. I am inclined to think that even non-firing replicas are prohibited or tightly controlled over there, at least those resembling modern guns. There are jurisdictions in the US which have that prohibition. If there are any British resident forumites out there who can confirm what the regs are in that regard I would appreciate it.
The relevant law is the Violent Crime Reduction Act (2007, iirc), which severely restricts the sale of Realistic Imitation Firearms - broadly considered to be replicas or imitations of post 1870 firearms in a realistic size and colour scheme.

I'm not sure what restrictions it places on import, but from the perspective of someone in the UK shopping at UK retailers, it typically means that I can't buy such items unless I can show that I'm on one of the exempted lists. Membership of a registered airsoft club, registered re-enactor, film and TV, and a few other uses are all viable, and normally one has to show some paperwork or the like to prove it.

If you don't have a VCRA exemption, you can buy Imitation Firearms, which are basically the same thing but at least 50% in a non-realistic colour, such as bright blue, red, orange, pink, or clear. They're quite common for cheap airsoft over here as a result.

However, there's no restrictions on owning Realistic Imitation Firearms, nor licensing requirements to do so. And because it only applies to replica firearms, deactivated ones are entirely legal with no restrictions, which is a bit hilarious. But they do tend to be more expensive.

As said, I'm not sure how this applies for buying something from outside the UK and having it shipped in. It may well be that's not regulated, although I'd guess it's more likely to just be prevented at customs or something. But I'm not a lawyer or an expert on this.

I have however just realised that you might be talking about a personal transfer, not a sale. I think those are actually entirely legal for RIFs, but you'd definitely want to check that. And it might be easier if someone carried it in instead of posting it.
Thanks very much. Here is a photo of the replica (top) alongside an original. Clearly the replica is too realistic, if I understand your comments correctly. The plan was to send this from the US to England. I would not put you on the spot for a ruling on this but based on my understanding of your comments I should probably forget about sending to my friend in the UK. By the way, it would be a sale.

Thanks again...

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BB Webley.jpg

and normally one has to show some paperwork or the like to prove it.

the most understood bit of paper, and one less likely to disputed, is public liability insurance. I do know of cases where a club/group membership card was discounted as being too 'homemade'. Most airsoft/reenactment groups will only be doing small runs of their own design so that's an easy trap.

One thing to bear in mind though is that its UK customs who will find the item first and they are extremely tough on such things and pretty much have a 'destroy first, never bother to answer questions later' attitude. If they do let it through then whoever is carrying it, if its changed once it gets into the UK, a third party courier, might also refuse, many companies have stopped carrying anything even vaguely contentious or 'dangerous' now.

My advice would be to get your carrier to take the strain, get their advice and have them shepherd it through. You might also want to consider sending it to a local firearms dealer for your friend to collect. There is absolutely no legal need to do so but 'Mr Smith, Registered Firearms dealer' looks a lot more likely than 'Mr Smith, ordinary citizen and potential troublemaker'.

And if its successful, let me know, I'd like one!



Relics will sell you one, as you have VCR exemption, I'm sure:

Anywhere that does Denix stuff will get you one to order. There are a number of importers (SOF, for instance).


Edit: Just one thing to note, the ones I have handled have no indexing mech (pawl etc.) so the cylinder just spins freely. And no extractor/ejector. And the finish can be a bit rough (it's just die cast zamac after all).
I must admit to not being totally impressed by the Denix replicas I've seen: they're not 100% in terms of their mechanisms, some bits of which are just moulded on, and the dimensions aren't totally accurate either. That said, my experiences are from handling a grand total of two of them, so YMMV.

Where Mk 4 Webleys are concerned (assuming you mean the .38 version), deacs aren't ludicrously expensive, typically hovering around the 200 pound mark, so that might be a better bet. Seems rather absurd that they're less subject to restriction, as already pointed out, but nobody claimed that the law makes any sense!
Just an opinion from an amateur gunsmith - don't do it. GB has decided that a firearm, or anything that looks like a firearm(including certain ECig box mods) = "WITCH!". Proceed to kill and burn :).

No political comment here - respect that nations wishes, don't upset them, and avoid any ugly international consequences :). Treat GB in a similar fashion to California.... Great folks, just don't do business with 'em when the word "firearm" could in any way appear :).
Those who posted replies have convinced me not to handle this transaction. There is no need to cause trouble for my friend, who should know the laws covering these firearms any way.

Regarding the modern Denix replicas, they are not top of the line reproductions by any means but they do look good considering their price. My concern about any of these things is that at first glance a law enforcement officer could easily mistake one for the real thing - an orange plug is in the end of the barrel but at night that won't be very evident. A child in California was recently shot dead by an officer who spotted him carrying a toy M-16. So my take on these, and what I would advise anyone who buys one to do, is that they should be kept at home, on display and carried out only when going to a reenactment event where there are equipment inspections and definite rules for handling and displaying armament. Keep them under wraps when going to and from.

Thank you again for all your advice and assistance.

The thing about UK firearms laws, is that the authorities don't like you to own anything unless you have jumped through a great many hoops and have paperwork up to your neck. Very few categories of firearms are outright banned in the UK (rocket launchers and firearms disguised as other objects). Everything else can be owned so long as you have the right permissions. That's the tricky part, as the permissions can be hard to get for certain categories.....

Ironically, although I can perfectly legally buy a live-firing cannon or a semi-automatic assault rifle tomorrow (with the paperwork that I already have), if I were to buy a plastic rifle that fires plastic peas, that would be illegal unless it was coloured bright orange.

Go figure. It's madness.

Lin Robinson wrote:
... So my take on these, and what I would advise anyone who buys one to do, is that they should be kept at home, on display and carried out only when going to a reenactment event where there are equipment inspections and definite rules for handling and displaying armament. Keep them under wraps when going to and from.

Yeah, my understanding is that anything resembling a weapon of any sort (firearm or sword) should be kept safely at home, as the police could potentially become quite interested otherwise. I suspect even reenactment activities are potentially risky, at least without suitable proof of legitimate participation, though that's not an area I'm currently familiar with (at least not yet).

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