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Toy, Look-Alike, and Imitation Firearms Business Guidance

Enacted in 2022, the Federal Energy Management Improvement Act Update (P.L. 117-167) transferred implementation and enforcement of existing requirements for toy, look-alike, and imitation firearm markings (15 U.S.C. § 5001) from the Department of Commerce to CPSC. Pursuant to the law, CPSC published a direct final rule in the Federal Register (88 FR 30226) that continues the same requirements that first came into effect on May 5, 1989. Codified at 16 CFR part 1272, they apply to products manufactured and entered into commerce on or after May 5, 1989.

Toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms are any devices that have the appearance, shape, and/or configuration of a firearm. Per 15 U.S.C. § 5001, the term “look-alike firearm” includes:

  • Toy guns
  • Water guns
  • Replica nonguns
  • Air-soft guns firing nonmetallic projectiles

The term “look-alike firearm” does not include:

  • Non-firing collector replica antique firearms
  • Traditional B-B, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns
  • Decorative, ornamental, and miniature objects that have the appearance of a firearm and measure no more than 38 mm by 70 mm (excludes any gun stock length)

The rule that CPSC now enforces carries over, without substantive changes, the existing requirements that toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms utilize one of the below approved markings listed at 16 CFR § 1272.3. Since 1989, these same requirements have been found at 15 CFR § 272.3:

  • A blaze orange (AMS STD 595A–17 color 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the AMS standard color number, solid plug permanently affixed to the muzzle end of the barrel as an integral part of the entire device and recessed no more than 6 mm from the muzzle end of the barrel;
  • A blaze orange (AMS STD 595A–17 color 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the AMS standard color number, marking permanently affixed to the exterior surface of the barrel, covering the circumference of the barrel from the muzzle end for a depth of at least 6 mm;
  • Construction of the device entirely of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the device's complete contents;
  • Coloration of the entire exterior surface of the device in white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern.

A read-only copy of the SAE AMS STD 595A-17 standard is available for viewing at SAE’s reading room.

Firms may request a waiver from the requirements of 16 CFR part 1272 for products that will be used only in the theatrical, movie, or television industry. Requests for a waiver must be made in writing and include a physical sample of the product along with a sworn affidavit. Firms should email their request to and mail samples to:
          U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
          Office of Compliance and Field Operations
          Regulatory Enforcement Division
          7500 Lindbergh Dr, Unit-A
          Gaithersburg, MD 20879-5413


Section 14(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) requires manufacturers and importers of consumer products subject to a regulation, standard, or ban enforced by the CPSC to certify that those products meet the requirements of the standard by issuing a certificate of compliance: Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) for children’s products or General Certificate of Compliance (GCC) for general-use products.

Certifying to 16 CFR part 1272 for general-use products does not require laboratory testing, because the regulation does not contain a testing methodology. A manufacturer or importer of toy, look-alike and imitation firearms can assure a high degree of compliance with 16 CFR part 1272 by conducting an internal quality assurance program for their products.

For toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms, the citation to use in section 2 of the certificate is "16 CFR part 1272 – Toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms".

General-use Product Compliance and Certification

As stated above, certification to the requirements of 16 CFR part 1272 does not need to be based upon laboratory testing. In short, manufacturers and importers of general-use products do not need to conduct third party testing in order to assure product compliance and issue a GCC. Instead certification in this situation can be based upon an internal compliance review, known officially in the law as a “reasonable testing program” (see our reasonable testing program FAQ). For toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms, such a program could be based upon internal quality assurance checks to ensure a high degree of compliance with the requirements. For more information on general-use product certification, visit our GCC business guidance page. In general, preparation and delivery of a GCC is expected to take no more than 2-3 hours per product—and usually less than 1 hour.

Children’s Product Compliance and Certification

In addition to meeting the requirements of 16 CFR part 1272, manufacturers and importers of toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms that are primarily intended for use by children 12 years of age and younger must meet additional consumer product safety requirements. (See our Children’s Product Business Guidance Page)

All children’s products must comply with the total lead content requirements found at 15 USC § 1278a. Additionally, any children’s products containing paint or similar surface coatings must comply with lead in paint requirements under 16 CFR part 1303. Children’s products must further comply with CPSC tracking label requirements (see our training video).

Toy guns designed, manufactured, or marketed as a plaything for children need to meet additional requirements under the U.S. Toy Standard: 16 CFR part 1250/ASTM F963. (Read-only copies of ASTM standards that are incorporated by reference, including ASTM F963, can be viewed at ASTM’s electronic Reading Room). Plastic components on children’s toy guns would need to comply with phthalate content limits under 16 CFR part 1307.

Compliance with one or more of these additional children’s product requirements likely require third-party testing at a CPSC-accepted laboratory. For more information on children’s product certification, visit our CPC business guidance page.

Additional Information


For more information, please contact the Small Business Ombudsman (SBO) team:

Report an unsafe product