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.
For more information, visit our toy, look-alike, and imitation firearm business guidance page.
Toy, look-alike, or imitation firearms that are used in the theatrical, movie, or television industry are exempt provided that the firm has requested a waiver that is granted by CPSC. 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 RegulatoryEnforcement@cpsc.gov 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
No. CPSC does not conduct pre-market approval of consumer goods.
Neither the statute nor the regulation specifically defines “permanently affixed”; therefore, it is ultimately the responsibility of the domestic manufacturer or importer of record to ensure that any required plugs or markings are permanent. An example of a non-permanent fixture is a plastic, orange plug that has threading so that it can be removed from the end of the barrel.
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.
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.
GCC Temporary Enforcement Discretion: The CPSC Office of Compliance and Field Operations will exercise enforcement discretion and will not pursue enforcement action against manufacturers, importers, or private labelers of look-alike and imitation firearms for failure to certify or to issue, provide, or make available to the Commission a GCC pursuant to Section 14(a)(1) of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C. § 2063(a)(1). This enforcement discretion will remain in effect until January 1, 2024. This discretion does not impact any other requirements under the law. Please read the entire GCC enforcement discretion letter for more information.
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 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.
A manufacturer or importer certifying product compliance can list multiple products on a single GCC or CPC. However, CPSC staff generally recommends listing only similar products on a single certificate. For example, if five products have the same design with only minor differences (e.g., different colors), all those products can be listed on a single certificate.
The difference is largely based on the material used for the projectile. In general, air guns that fire metal projectiles are considered “pellet-firing air guns,” and are excluded from the scope of 16 CFR 1272. Air-soft guns firing nonmetallic projectiles, such as plastic BBs, are included in the definition of "Look-alike firearm" under 15 U.S.C. § 5001(c), and would be within scope of 16 CFR 1272.
No, this rule does not affect products already owned by consumers. The CPSC does not regulate how consumers use or enjoy their products.