Black powder, propellant powder and ammunition


Black powder, propellant powder and ammunition for licensed gun owners - pamphlet - 802 Kb outlines what quantities are exempt from dangerous goods licensing and the safety and security requirements

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What are the requirements for licensed gun owners?

Black powder, propellant powder and ammunition are classed as explosives. To possess these items, authorisation is required from the Police Licensing Services under the Firearms Act 1973. Additionally, there are requirements under dangerous goods legislation regarding licensing, storage and transport.

As long as an individual is storing and transporting black powder and propellant powder at or below exempt quantities for their personal use, dangerous goods licensing is not required. Ammunition does not require dangerous goods licensing.

There is also the legislative requirement to store all these goods safely and securely, and a general duty to take all reasonably practicable measures to minimise risk during storage and transport.

Exempt quantities of black powder, propellant powder and ammunition

Exempt quantity (kg)
Storage Transport
Black powder equal to or less than 4* equal to or less than 4
Propellant powder equal to or less than 15 equal to or less than 50
Ammunition Unlimited quantity Unlimited quantity

* In containers with a 2 kg maximum capacity (also recommended for transport)


Separate and segregate

The United Nations (UN) dangerous goods classification scheme shows the hazards presented by the explosive properties of black powder, propellant powder and ammunition.

UN dangerous goods classification scheme for black powder, propellant powder and ammunition

    UN Number - Class 1 explosives
  Division Hazard description
Black powder 1.1D Having mass explosion hazard
Propellant powder 1.3C Having a fire hazard and either a minor blast or projection hazard
Ammunition 1.4S Having no significant hazard

The divisions reflect the hazard from very high for black powder (easy to accidentally ignite by impact, sparks or friction), to low for ammunition. The hazard presented affects the quantity and how the explosive is stored and handled. It is recommended that individuals store and transport black powder, propellant powder and ammunition separately, to avoid reclassification and licensing.

Though the risk posed by exempt quantities is low, it is best practice that these goods are not transported in the same vehicle or stored in the same carry box, and they should be separated from:

  • other dangerous goods (e.g. pool chemicals)
  • fire risk substances (e.g. LPG, petrol)
  • any other materials likely to cause, spread or intensify fire.

How do I store exempt quantities?

Black powder, propellant powder and ammunition must be kept safely and securely. Where possible they should be located away from residences, in a secure location protected from sources of risk (e.g. ignition, impact).

These goods must be kept at or below exempt quantities within a carry box (or portable indoor magazine) that satisfies specific requirements (see What are the requirements for a carry box). If there are multiple carry boxes, they should be separated from each other (e.g. 5 m recommended).

How do I transport exempt quantities?

A person transporting black powder, propellant powder or ammunition for their own use should take the following preventative measures.

  • Secure explosives in a carry box.
    Note: Except when the explosives are in sealed packages that are immobilised in an enclosed vehicle body (e.g. boot).
  • Attach the carry box securely to the vehicle if not contained within an enclosed vehicle body.
  • Do not stow explosives in, or have them accessible from, the passenger compartment.
  • The vehicle should:
    • be lockable, roadworthy and in good repair
    • have an interior that is clean and in good condition, that does not contain material able to cause damage to the explosives
    • be parked at least 5 m from a fire risk and supervised until 15 minutes after switching off the engine
  • Take precautions to deal with emergencies and prevent the theft of explosives.
  • Handle the carry box or packages carefully when loading and unloading the vehicle.

What are the requirements for a carry box?

Security specifications

  • Lockable (e.g. hasp) – a high security lock with secured keys to prevent access by unauthorised persons is recommended.
  • Remain closed and locked when not in use.
  • Stored in a locked room that is not in the way of emergency exits, but can be easily removed if required.

Design specifications

  • Made from 19 mm plywood or hardwood, or a metal container that is wood lined.
    Note: Wooden boxes insulate from heat, protect from fire, do not allow friction which could generate sparks, and are built to allow pressure to escape. 
  • Screws and fittings inside the container should be covered and filled (to prevent sparks).
  • Brass hinges and fittings should be used for the storage of black powder (to prevent sparks).
  • Painted a light colour inside and out (so spillage can be seen and to prevent seepage into wood).
  • Marked with:
    • a class label indicating appropriate division (100 mm square; refer to Table 2)
    • the words ‘EXPLOSIVES’ (e.g. 75 mm letters) in red letters, and where  appropriate ‘PROPELLANT POWDER’ or ‘BLACK POWDER’ (e.g. 25 mm letters).

Note: Labelling advises emergency services of the danger so that, if safe to do so, carry boxes can be removed from fire situations.

The design, security features and markings on a carry box are the same for storage as for transport.

Related information

Please refer to related information below:

Storage of explosives - guidance note assists in identifying the regulatory requirements for the storage of explosives in Western Australia

Transport of explosives on roads and at mines - guidance note outlines the regulatory requirements for the transport of explosives in Western Australia on both public roads and mine sites.